As a follower of the Paleo diet*, I try to adhere to the basic principles as best I can, unless I absolutely must eat French fries and drink beer. I have zero dietary allergies or restrictions, but do this more to maintain a healthy lifestyle with some flexibility.
A lot of people as why I care so much about eating things that follow the Paleolithic diet, and why I think it’s a relevant lifestyle in 2017. Let’s be honest, if it were 45,000 BCE and I were wearing a mammoth loincloth, running around barefoot and gathering nuts, seeds and berries for my young…. I probably wouldn’t be ordering Coconaise off of Amazon, or eating Dijon Crusted Chicken (which you should definitely try….).
But… that was then, this is now, and we have OPTIONS! Woo! The concept of the Paleolithic diet is to eat things in the purest form your body can tolerate. I don’t recommend tearing at raw meat as I’m sure someone out there does, but you don’t want to eat processed and refined foods if you can help it. The idea is to avoid an overabundance of carbs from the wrong sources, or to eat anything that inherently impacts the digestive system of an omnivore/carnivore. This part is debated — I am not a scientist, an anthropologist or anything certified to make assumptions about the human body– I have done my own research and have concluded that I feel best when eating this way, except with limited red meat.
So, how easy is it to make the swap on your favorite things? Easier than you think. Don’t be afraid to get creative, and as always, load up on the spices. Always. Bland is only ok when you’re sick! Bring on the zest!
While I used to drink milk as a kid in my cereal, I have really grown out of the idea of dairy as a whole, but most importantly, no milk. My mom only ever bought skim anyway, so there wasn’t anything big as far as taste. If you’re dairy-sensitive, vegan, or just don’t feel like drinking another animal’s by-product, you can enjoy plant-based milks. I find almond milk to be the most versatile when cooking dinner, but specific ones can be used depending on your need. Almond, flax or rice milk work best in desserts, whereas coconut milk and cream work best when making a “cream-based” dish, like this Caprese Chicken recipe.
Though this isn’t a great swap for vegans, I love using ghee when cooking, whenever I can. It lends a nice richness to the dish, and is a good saturated fat, just like avocado. It’s good for people who have casein or lactose sensitivities, and it’s a great source of vitamin E. Also, it has a higher smoke point than butter, so it’s great for the frying pan.
Who doesn’t love a fresh hot French baguette out of the oven? I mean, I do. But honestly, since I could and would probably eat an entire one myself, I’m glad to stick to a paleo regimen that avoids bread. If I’m making a burger, or want to eat a little crostini, I love to roast sweet potato or eggplant until crisp so that I can use it as a bun. If you want something a little more wild, put whatever you’re eating between a roasted slab of bell pepper.
This one can be tricky, and you have to get creative. There’s a ton of alternatives to all-purpose wheat flour, and sticking to a paleo diet is great if you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy. I tend to stick to almond flour, as it’s a 1:1 ratio to all-purpose flour, but depending on how “wet” the other ingredients are, sometimes it requires more egg or another binding agent. so the recipe might need to be altered. Cassava flour is also 1:1 and a great alternative. Coconut flour is on the rise, but is MUCH more absorbent than its counterparts. For a cup of regular flour, you’ll only need to use 1/4-1/3 of coconut flour. Typically, you’ll need to add more liquid or eggs. While baking, this usually means more eggs.
Again…. I love bread, so it’s a disappointment when I have to think about giving it up. Especially panko bread crumbs! A great alternative to breading things with breadcrumbs is crushed plantains, flax meal, or crushed almonds. If you’re adding breadcrumbs to a recipe like meatballs, almond flour is a good alternative.
This is for all my sushi lovers and marinade fans out there. I LOVE the nutty flavor of a good soy sauce or Tamari, but neither are 100% gluten free. This is where coconut aminos comes in – I love this stuff, and it only has two ingredients. Soy sauce, while tasty, contains phytoestrogens – these are unfavorable because of their association with hormonal disruption and disease. A little bit here and there won’t cause you immediate harm, but coconut aminos are a safe alternative.
Rice…. The unfortunately delicious part of sushi. While I have yet to make “sushi” with cauliflower rice, I do like throwing it in the food processor and then a frying pan with some lemon, garlic and parsley. It’s light, a good alternative to rice, and a perfect standalone side dish when you add some flavor. The good thing is you can make it into pretty much anything – Mexican, Asian, Indian… add the right spices and you’ve got yourself a good staple.
Ever heard of a “Vegetti”? Think it sounds dirty? Because it does. Once you stop giggling about its name, it’s a lifesaver of a spiralizer when you want some noodles. Throw a zucchini on this thing and you’ve got yourself some delicious pasta! Another alternative, which I’ve made before but doesn’t absorb flavor as much (but is still good!) are kelp noodles. Both of which have the same texture as cooked spaghetti, so load on the spices and you’ve got yourself a great Paleo alternative.
Potato Chips. I love them. Honestly, I can remember when I was younger and they came out with Ketchup flavored potato chips, and I toured the Herr’s factory when they were giving out samples to see if the public liked them. They were gross, as expected, but there are so many other good flavors…. I’m drooling. The good news is, if you go get yourself a mandolin, you can make a chip out of just about anything. I prefer sweet potatoes, kale, parsnips, and really any other root veggie. Salt em a little with some sea salt and olive oil, and put them in the oven at 250 degrees F until they start to brown just slightly.
And there you have it! Not so hard – and you’ll find you get creative to start prepping things the way you like them. If you’ve made a swap for something paleo, gluten free or vegan and want to share, post in the comments!
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*Note – Products or foods recommended on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I am not a medical doctor, licensed healthcare professional, or dietician, and should you have any concerns regarding your health, contact a healthcare practitioner.