May 14, 2013 Leave your thoughts
When removing all grains and almost all dairy from your diet, there’s sometimes that initial shock of, “Oh my gosh, what do I do now?!” After living your whole life eating cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, pretzels for snack, and pasta for dinner, there can often seem like there’s nothing to eat.
Happily, there’s actually a boatload of tasty, healthy foods that are perfectly Paleo! Here are 4 tips that will help you stay on track whether you’re new to or familiar with this eating style.
#1: Get the right ingredients.
A lot of “Paleo” foods are things that you already eat. Vegetables. Fruits. Meat. Poultry. Nuts. The only big changes in any of these areas are buying organic produce and pasture-raised/grass-fed protein.
Snacks and treats are where it gets tricky. Without wheat, man-made oils, and a lot of excess sugar, most, if not all processed fare is out. And at home, how are you supposed to make a cake without flour?
To create a seemingly “normal” product, you’re going to need to visit Whole Foods and/or Trader Joe’s and seek out some unusual ingredients. Here are three of my baking staples:
- Refined Coconut Oil: When I first started making Paleo desserts, my parents and I noticed that everything had a coconut-y taste. This was because we were using extra-virgin coconut oil, which is bottled with pieces of the coconut meat in tact. Refined coconut oil, however, has no coconut-y taste and holds up well to high temperatures. Make sure you’re buying an organic, non-hydrogenated product! My favorites are Spectrum and Whole Foods’ 365 house brand.
- Raw Honey: If you’ve ever perused the internet in search of Paleo recipes, you’ll notice that the majority use maple syrup. Mine, however, usually do not. I have nothing against maple syrup—really, sugar is sugar once it’s in the body—but my family prefers the lighter, less-noticeable taste of honey. Try to find a local seller in your area for the best quality product.
- Blanched Almond Flour: Yes, Honeywell Almond Flour is really expensive and the bag is huge, but I promise you, it’s worth it. Why the high price? Unlike wheat flour, which is made in massive quantities from a cheap product, almond flour is manufactured on a smaller scale…and because almonds are pricier than wheat, the flour is naturally more expensive. You’ll be amazed at how well your gluten-free desserts turn out.
#2: Prepare meals ahead.
There is nothing more frustrating than being hungry and not having anything to eat. We’ve all been there…and what’s most likely to happen? You’re going to pig out on something you probably shouldn’t.
To prevent this problem, it really helps to prepare meals in advance. These Juicy Pork Wraps, for example, take 10 minutes to put together and will yield at least 5 or 6 servings for lunch, dinner, or even breakfast.
The night before you want to eat your “in-advance” dinner, combine a little over 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of chipotle chili pepper, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a little less than 1 tablespoon of raw honey, 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke, and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but if you already have everything in your pantry, it’s not a big burden.
Rub everything all over a 4 1/2 to 5 pound piece of pork shoulder and stick skin-side up in the slow cooker for 16 hours. Yes, 16 hours, folks.
No slow cooker? Grease a large Dutch oven with about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, put in the pork, cover tightly, and let braise at 300 degrees for 4 to 6 hours. (However, I recommend the former preparation.)
When you’re ready to eat, simply remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred it with two large forks. Serve with cut up jicama, guacamole (I just mixed together 1 1/2 avocados with about 1/4 cup of my favorite salsa), and Boston lettuce leaves for wrappers.
That wasn’t too hard now, was it?
#3: Buy good meat.
You are looking at probably one of my favorite places on Earth: The Saugatuck Craft Butchery.
Every week, my dad and I venture to this magical land of meat to pick out our meals for the coming days. They’ve got EVERYTHING…and the best part? All the meat is sourced within 150 miles, so you know its fresh.
Sure, you can buy good quality meat at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but it’s nothing like at the butcher. I’ve been able to experiment with so many different cuts of meat: tri-tips, spare ribs, whole ducks, quails, ground goat, oxtails, lamb sirloins…things you just can’t get at the supermarket. And I promise, it just tastes so much better.
#4: Eat a well-rounded breakfast.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Think about it this way: if you eat dinner at 6:30 P.M. and wake up at 7:00 A.M., you haven’t eaten in over twelve hours! Even if you aren’t hungry when you wake up, it’s critical to at least eat something.
Your morning meal should include a good amount of protein and fat, plus some carbohydrates. You don’t necessarily have to eat “breakfast food” for breakfast! Take today, for example: I had salmon and cauliflower rice instead of my usual eggs.
Here’s my recipe for the tastiest granola EVER. Make sure you limit yourself, though: it’s so delicious, you could easily go overboard!
In the bowl of a food processor, chop up 1 cup of raw almonds and 1 cup of raw cashews until small, but not powdery, about 30 seconds to 1 minute total. Then, pour into a bowl and mix with 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil, 1/4 cup of maple syrup or raw honey, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.
Spread the mixture out onto a greased baking sheet, and place in a 350 degree oven until brown and crispy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Give a good stir every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning.
Stir in 1/3 cup of dried raisins or cranberries, if desired, and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes before storing in a large ziploc bag at room temperature or in the fridge.
The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easily customizable. Feel free to use macadamia nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, cacao powder, or other dried fruit in the place of or in addition to some of the ingredients!
And there you have it! What are your best Paleo tips? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!