Paleo Eating 101
Have you heard of “The Paleo Lifestyle”? Chances are if you are HERE, then you have not. Or you’ve gotten SO confused thanks to Google and the 3+ MILLION hits you’ll get you don’t know where to turn.
First off, calm down…it’s not as bad as you might think. Oh, and put down the Pringles..they are off your list now.
The Paleo lifestyle Ian and I have recently adopted is so simple…
Eat REAL food.
That’s it…eat food as it would typically come to your hands in its natural state….ish.
I say “ish” because in these modern times you are likely NOT going to be tromping off to the woods and fetch your meal yourself. You will go to your local supermarket and choose wisely from the array of goodies laid out before you. But before you shout “woo hoo let’s go shopping!!” a little prep work and planning is in order. Don’t worry, this won’t hurt..much.
Step 1: get a number of bags, boxes and go to your kitchen.
Step 2: open the pantry door.
Step 3: remove ANYTHING that contains grains, legumes, gluten, refined starches and sugars. This includes SOY! Your refined white sugar, gone. Flour, pasta, sauces that contain sugar, out out out. Your cereals, granolas, granola bars, snack cakes buh-bye. The ONLY thing you might have left if you followed the typical USDA guidelines might be some extra virgin olive oil and maybe some canned fish such as salmon or tuna. You can keep those. All of your canned veggies, those are gone too. Far too much in the way of salts. Betcha they are corn and beans huh. Guess what honey, corn is a grain, not a veg. It’s off your list. Canola, corn and any other seed oils you have lurking there are also gone. Far too high in omega 6 fatty acids which can cause inflammation. You will need to re-think any artificial sweetners too. Stevia is really your only option here. Your pantry will be pretty much empty now. Anything open, throw out, anything still sealed, donate to the food bank. I think I fed 4 families with the amount of pasta, sauces and other treats I had loaded in my pantry.
Step 4: go to the fridge and open the door. Remove your dairy products. Milk, yogurt and cheese should be going. I will admit here, I still keep a little bit of old cheddar in my fridge for a sprinkle on salads. Hey, I’m learning too! This was actually the hardest for me because I LOVE milk. I will tell you right now…even many of the experts are on the fence about some dairy. They are of the “if you can tolerate it, OK in small small moderation”. I put table cream in my coffee and as I said, a smidge of cheese on my salads. Yogurt is out though…toss it. Get rid of again, anything with refined sugars, gluten, legumes and grains. That left over pizza, sorry. Most of your sauces will have to be scrutinized. Many of the experts include ketchup, mustard, relishes in the “out” category due to the sugar content. We actually keep salsas and I made AWESOME pico de gallo for a garnish on eggs, chicken, you name it.
I know…this is hard…What do I do NOW you cry.
I have a cunning plan….
You will go to your local supermarket and stick to the outside path of the store. This is where the fresh and frozen foods are. These foods will make up about 80% of your new lifestyle. You will need some occasional supplies from the inner depths, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Produce: load up on fresh leafy greens! Use them for salads, taco wraps (instead of tortillas) and if you own a magic bullet or similar, add some spinach to a smoothie. Fruit is going to be your FRIEND. Their natural sweetness will help curb carb cravings. Berries are the best choice for those of you who are diabetic or have severe autoimmune issues. As I don’t have any issues like that, my game plan is pretty open with the fruit. My kids LOVE pineapples, pears, apples, and strawberries. You will also find a variety of raw unsalted nuts such as almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts. Feel free to use these as quick snacks, but keep in mind, they are high in omega 6 fatty acids so again, moderation is the key here. Tubers such as yams or sweet potatoes are OK for those that don’t really have glucose problems. Skip the white potatoes. They just do terrible things to blood glucose. Get enough produce to fill your plate for a few days. Much beyond that and you can risk spoilage.
Meat: Ahhh yes…the butcher. Beef, chicken, pork and FISH. Load up on the protein here kids. Sure you can try to get some of the leaner cuts, and if you are not able to get grass fed or even organic meats, you might want to stick to leaner cuts. The fat in grass fed beef has some really beneficial fatty acids your brain NEEDS. Again, some Paleo guru’s will tell you to step away from the bacon. It’s often loaded with fat, salt and other scary chemicals. Guess what, you can get nitrate free bacon. Even some big names are going natural smoke and nitrate free. Love thy bacon! However I will suggest if you are already overweight, you might not want to consume this goodness more than a day or two a week. Keeping your portion sizes in mind here. Example 2 sirloin steaks feed all 4 of us along with lots of greens and maybe a sweet potato.
Dairy: yes, the dairy case. This is where you will find coconut milk which is a fantastic choice over cow’s milk. For those of us with kids, here is where you make a switch out. It might take the kids some time to get used to it, and you might even have to compromise with a chocolate variety just so they’ll drink it. You can also use almond milk, but again, watch the omegas. One:one ratio is your target. Do NOT use soy milk! Soy is a legume…you are now legume free. Now, for the eggs…you WILL want to spend the extra cash on Omega 3 eggs. Free range omega 3’s are the best, but if all you can afford this week is the normal Omega 3, it’s better than nothing! This family of 4 goes through about 2-3 dozen eggs a week. Eggs are so damn versatile they really do become a staple in a Paleo diet. Especially with kids. My kids will often turn up their noses at roasts, pork chops, chicken, but they’ll pretty much always eat eggs. Get yourself some butter too. Throw out that plasticine marketed as “margarine” as it’s nothing but chemicalized vegetable and corn oils that have no purpose in the natural world. Buy real butter dammit and use it sparingly. I put a bit in mashed cauliflower for “mock taters”. I also like to cook eggs in it sometimes.
The Frozen aisle: Only visit here for some fruit, broccoli, spinach. Pass through quickly and try to keep that Hagan Daaz from jumping into your cart..he’s not welcome here anymore.
The inner workings of the store: OK, you do have to venture here as you will need some pantry supplies too.
Fats: Coconut oil. Get some…that’s all I’ll say…get yourself some of this stuff and this is what you will using for most of your higher temp frying/sauteeing. Get the Virgin variety. The refined stuff you need to pass on.
Olive oil…get the best you can afford or even go with avocado oil. Ian and I splurged and got some extra virgin avocado oil and man…good stuff. Use these low temp oils on your salads and marinades.
Vinegars such as apple cider (from apples) and Balsamic are good to go. White vinegar shouldn’t be in your food pantry. I use it for cleaning myself.
Almond butter is a nice staple for putting into celery sticks for kids.
Coconut and Almond flours. You can use these to bread chicken for nuggets or strips. Could also even try to use them to thicken up any gravies or sauces. I’ve never tried it but hey…feel free.
Spices: lots and LOTS of spices. You don’t want to get bored with your Paleo goodies do you? Have fun with spices.
One thing you will notice as your body and palette rid themselves of the refined sugars and grains, you’ll start to TASTE food as it’s supposed to taste. These natural ingredients and foods are only limited by your imagination. Anything from a box or can will only be prepared ONE way…real food however, the possibilities are endless. You’ll make mistakes, we all do. But you’ll learn to ENJOY what you are eating and when you stick to this style of eating, everything you eat will benefit your health and wellness over all.
I know you are saying…but I can’t afford all of this! Oh really? The money you normally spent on the extra boxes of juice, pop, chips, candy bagels and cookies can be put towards your organic grass fed steak. Besides, no one is going to read you the riot act for getting your beef at the grocery store. There ARE smarter choices, however tough times call for tough measures. I coupon BIG TIME. The money I save by couponing and stock piling during big sales + the coupons yields the ability to buy the omega eggs and nitrate free bacon.
Watch those flyers, have a plan, experiment and above all….Happy Eats!