Unless you’ve been living in a cave like, well, a true caveman, you’ve undoubtedly heard the buzz about the paleo diet. This way of eating is becoming more and more popular, thanks to its healthy nutrient-rich foods and the elimination of commonly allergenic foods. High in protein, healthy fats, fiber and complex carbs, the paleo diet is definitely worth a shot if you’re looking to eat clean and feel great. It might feel intimidating to dive in! Follow these steps to easily start a paleo lifestyle without feeling overwhelmed.
Learn the Guidelines
The paleo diet is quite simple: you eat the foods we ate as hunter-gatherers, before the agricultural revolution. That means plenty of vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and poultry, meat and seafood. There’s no need to count your calories, but instead, focus on getting plenty of produce, healthy fats and protein in your meals. Avoid dairy (though some people eat grass-fed butter or even cultured yogurt, and ghee—clarified butter—is an exception), legumes (including peanuts), grains, and processed sugar. A lot of people who follow a paleo diet avoid white potatoes, but there’s no strict rule about them either way. The Sprouts Stocking a Paleo Pantry article goes into detail about many of the items you can and can’t have on a paleo diet, and it’s a great reference when you’re unsure of a sweetener, fat or flour.
Create a Recipe Bank
Once you’ve learned the paleo guidelines, you might feel like you can’t eat anything you ate from your past! Luckily, the next step to going paleo will totally dispel that myth. (And will have you craving paleo cupcakes!) Head to Pinterest and create a paleo recipes board. Start searching for paleo recipes and pin anything and everything that looks good. Pinterest will adapt to your new searches and show you more and more paleo recipes. You’ll find paleo breakfasts, dinners, treats and drinks—almost anything you could possibly think of! It’s nearly impossible not to get excited about these new dishes on your horizon, and you’ll think less about the beans you’ll miss and more about the coconut waffles you can’t wait to make. And, having tons of delicious recipes at your fingertips makes meal planning and getting dinner on the table easy—simply reach for your smartphone!
Stock Your Pantry
Trying to stick to a paleo diet without plenty of paleo ingredients in the house is a recipe for disaster. When you decide it’s time to go primal, fill your pantry with the paleo foods you need to make the dishes you want. With a well-stocked pantry, you’ll be able to whip up whatever you’re craving, making it easy to switch-over to a paleo diet. From condiments and healthy fats, to flours and sweeteners—here are some of our favorite paleo substitutions:
- Animal Fats – sustainably sourced and organic preferably
- Avocado Oil – great for higher-temp cooking, baking, salads, mayonnaise
- Coconut Oil – when heated, mixes well into soups, warm drinks, smoothies
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – great for salads, best when not heated
- Ghee / Clarified Butter – lactose free, great for higher-temp cooking
- Grass-fed Butter – great for cooking and baking
- Palm Oil – sustainably sourced, great for higher-temp cooking
- Palm Oil Shortening – sustainable-sourced, great for baking and frostings
Paleo Baking Paleo baking can take a little bit of experimenting to find out what you like best, but it’s absolutely doable! Everything from muffins, to cakes and tortillas can easily be converted using some grain-free substitutions.
- Blanched Almond Flour – can usually be substituted 1:1 for refined white flour
- Cassava Flour – can usually be substituted 1:1 for refined white flour, however, it often needs a bit less flour or needs more liquid (like coconut milk) or more moisture (like pureed fruit or vegetables—applesauce, bananas, dates, pumpkin, squash)
- Coconut Flour – this flour absorbs a lot of liquid and usually requires a lot less flour and often more eggs
- Tapioca Flour or Starch – can be used in combination with other grain-free flours
- Baking Soda – use instead of baking powder
- Apple Cider Vinegar – a liquid leavening substitution
- Chia Seeds or Freshly Ground Chia Seed Meal – can be used in baking as an egg-free substitute
Non-Dairy Milks Coconut milk and cream is usually best used in recipes that need a higher fat content and a creamier texture. Nut and seed milks are usually best used in recipes that need liquid like smoothies or hot chocolate.
- Almond Milk
- Cashew Milk
- Coconut Cream – great in curries and homemade ice cream
- Coconut Milk – great for creamier recipes that need the fat content
- Hemp Milk
- Macadamia Milk
Natural Sweeteners Skip the agave and refined white and brown sugar and reach for the natural sweeteners!
- Coconut Sugar – great lower-glycemic granulated sugar, darker in flavor
- Date Sugar – great granulated sugar, mild in flavor
- Maple Sugar – great granulated sugar, mild in flavor
- Maple Syrup – great liquid sweetener with more moisture content, quality is important
- Medjool Dates – pitted and soaked, a great addition for natural sweetening, add to smoothies, ice cream or baked goods
- Raw Honey or Quality Honey – great sweetener with more moisture content
- Frozen Riced Broccoli
- Frozen Riced Cauliflower
- Riced Broccoli
- Riced Carrots
- Riced Cauliflower
With a well-stocked pantry, you’ll be able to whip up whatever you’re craving, making it easy to switch-over to a paleo diet. While you’re at it, check out the Top Paleo Products at Sprouts, and get ready to load up that cart with delicious, caveman-inspired foods that’ll make your life easier!
Let’s be honest, as fantastic as a paleo diet can make you feel, it can be hard to do it alone! Try to find a buddy to make the switch with you—bonus points if you can get your spouse and family on board! If not, no need to throw in the towel, there are plenty of resources on the internet to help you find the support you need when going paleo. Facebook groups make it easy to find like-minded people who are either converting to a primal diet with you or who have been paleo for a while. Either way, they’ll be fantastic resources when you have questions, want to know if your “carb flu” is really real or need a great recipe for paleo carrot cake.
Information supplied by our friends at 40Aprons.com and RecipesToNourish.com