The Paleo lifestyle has many advantages. If you are looking for a simple, healthy approach to life, it will always be near the top of the list. The next step is making some meal plans that are both easy to do and won’t break your diet! Whether you want breakfast recipes, a healthy smoothie or even a birthday cake, you can do this on Paleo. It all comes down to a little thought and planning. To help through the maze that is Paleo Food, we’ve created this Paleo Food 101 guide.
Making whatever you want is easy if you have the right things in your cupboards. The paleo diet food list was originally compiled by Dr. Loren Cordain,
There are a few essentials that should always be in your kitchen. Here is a basic list:
A staple of all Paleo cake recipes without the negative health consequences of your standard all-purpose white flour.
Great for that chocolate cake recipe that won’t pack on the pounds!
Make sure you chose organic.
These add flavour and texture to many recipes. Some people worry about saturated fat content, but they are full of healthy fats. Don’t be too heavy-handed if weight loss is your aim.
Perfect for decoration and also for adding texture to both sweet and savoury dishes.
You really need both. They have different flavours and shouldn’t be used in the same way (for example, high and low-temperature cooking)
Essential for dairy-free cuisine.
Whilst these aren’t an ingredient, they should be in every kitchen. It makes it easy to produce healthy, wholesome food, especially for the Paleolithic diet.
There are lots more things you will use regularly in the various paleo recipes you will (hopefully!) try. For example, herbs and spices can make even the blandest foods taste fantastic. However, this is a very individual thing. What you might read in a recipe book is perfect for one person but doesn’t work at all for someone else. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You will probably need to try a few different things before hitting on what works best for you and those you cook for.
Following any traditional recipe can be a real pain on paleo. For example, let’s say you bake a cake. Top of the list of ingredients is refined sugar followed closely by chocolate chips and cream cheese frosting, chocolate frosting or caramel sauce. See the problem? Anyone who is interested in healthy eating gets good at finding alternative ingredients to replace these unhealthy ones.
The two key things you need are alternatives for flour and sugar. It might seem impossible to make your favourite upside-down cake, pound cake or, worse still, grandma’s German chocolate cake without these two things. Obviously, you can’t replace sugar with something like maple syrup or even agave nectar because you are just swapping one problem for another.
Don’t panic. There are some easy solutions.
First, get rid of that white flour. There are plenty of great alternatives. Here’s a list to get you started:
• Almond Flour or Almond Meal
• Coconut Flour
• Tigernut Flour
Give all three a try. They all have different tastes and textures. Almond, for example, has a nutty, rough texture and a taste that works perfectly with organic dark chocolate or cocoa powder in some classic paleo desserts. If you are used to the rather tasteless experience of processed white flour, be pleasantly surprised by these. You can also replace flour with something different. Why not make a carrot cake recipe and use a vegetable instead? The health benefits are clear, but the taste advantages are just as nice.
Sugar might seem a little more difficult to replace. The obvious answer here is: stop eating sugar! While this is one aim of Paleo and it is important to wean yourself off this sugar dependence, there are things you can do to get a sweeter taste of Paleo food. The most common choice is raw honey. This differs from the pale stuff you find in your supermarket. Raw honey has a strong smell and taste and needs to be used sparingly but is useful in lots of Paleo cake recipes.
One thing hard to replace is dairy. True paleo should be dairy free. This means no whipped cream, not even any grass-fed butter to make that buttercream frosting! You do have a couple of possibilities. The first is to use almond milk instead of milk. This is fine if you need liquid for your recipe but won’t work if you need to add butter to something, or whipped cream.
This is one area where some people extend their Paleo diet food list. We know that the caveman diet is supposed to be dairy free, gluten free and grain free. Paleolithic humans were hunter-gathers, not farmers and didn’t keep livestock or grow crops. However, lots of people make the choice to bend the rules slightly at this point and add in dairy in limited amounts. If you are thinking of doing this, it is important to start slowly and see how your body reacts. At the first sign of inflammation (a runny nose, aching joints or lethargy) it is best to just eliminate the dairy products completely. How hard is it really to go without milk in your morning coffee?
If you will add milk into your paleo plan, I strongly suggest using Kefir grains. These are one of the natural foods – they can’t be manufactured and the benefits of fermented food for your intestines are huge. Remember that the digestive system is the key to overall health so you need to take care of it and the absolute minimum would be regularly using products like this and water kefir.
So we’ve found some solutions for that sweet tooth and a way to get rid of the processed foods in parts of your diet. But what about your morning meal? Are there any Paleo breakfast ideas to get your day started in the healthiest way possible?
Easy Paleo breakfast recipes take two forms, either a green smoothie recipe or a cooked meal. I like to use both, depending on how much time I have. When I need to be out the door and off to work in two minutes flat, a paleo breakfast smoothie is perfect. Just throw everything in the NutriBullet, blender or food processor, hit the button for thirty seconds and you are good to go. I can get everything from quality carbohydrates, clean paleo protein, and healthy fats and a whole lot of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.
Diet smoothies are also a clever way of hiding ingredients you know you should eat, but really don’t enjoy. I have a friend who regularly puts his green vegetables for the day in his morning shake. He will drink this down with no problem at all. However, if you give him a side order of broccoli there is no chance of him eating it!
Some of my favourite ingredients for my morning smoothie are :
• Chia Seeds
• Flax Powder
• Hemp Seeds
• Protein Powder (Non-Dairy)
I would guess that I have these four in 90% of my breakfast concoctions. They are full of amino acids and other boosters for my immune system. Don’t be afraid to experiment here. Even things like chocolate chips made from 100% natural chocolate are delicious (and good for you).
I use water, almond milk or coconut water as the base for my mixture. If I want something a little richer, I usually throw in a spoonful or two of coconut cream too. Put in a few ice cubes or some frozen fruit like a frozen banana and blend it all together for a minute or so.
As for fruit (and vegetables!), it really is a matter of personal taste. As mentioned previously, a healthy smoothie is a perfect way to ‘hide’ a few extra portions if you aren’t someone who normally eats enough. Maybe try something a little more exotic or something you haven’t tried before like Medjool dates and give your taste buds a treat. Remember, breakfast food need not be boring.
The other popular option is to cook in the morning. This is fantastic for the weekend and is the perfect opportunity to share the Paleo lifestyle with the whole family. It is easy to find food that fits your diet for this type of meal too. Free-range eggs (not just the egg whites), cooked however you prefer (although I prefer scrambled eggs straight out of the frying pan!), breakfast sausage and sweet potato hash are delicious on a cold winter morning with a couple of egg muffins. Your breakfast options, if you will cook, are pretty varied. Just make sure you are using top-quality ingredients from trusted sources. Your beef must be from grass-fed cows and your eggs should always be free-range.
But what if you are a toast and cereal sort of person in the morning? Don’t worry, paleo has options for you too! In the same way, that you can make a great Paleo cake, there are ways to make Paleo pancakes and Paleo breakfast cookies too. Using the same tips and tricks we suggested above, you can even make Paleo bread. In fact, serve it to your friends and family-I bet they don’t even realize just how different this is from their usual unhealthy diet!
If you prefer to go egg-free or meat-free in the morning, give Paleo granola or Paleo oatmeal a try. Using nuts and seeds in the place of grains, you can enjoy a bowl of ‘cereal’ smothered in almond ‘milk’. If you add a little cinnamon and ginger, this is about a million times better than anything you might buy in a box from the supermarket!
Eating Paleo isn’t about making sacrifices. It is all about making choices that are good for your health and also enjoyable. There are thousands of delicious Paleo recipes you can try, from ice cream to pumpkin pie and banana smoothies to Pina Colada. Draw up a meal plan, maybe buy a Paleo recipe book or two, stock your cupboards with some basic ingredients from butternut squash to baking powder and you are ready to go.
Why not keep a copy of the graphic below with you at all times. To help remind you what is acceptable when you first following a Paleo diet and lifestyle.
This will help to ensure that you choose the right Paleo foods when you go shopping or out for a meal.