Paleo Food List

My most recent post was a basic introduction to the Paleo lifestyle in general. In discussing the post, What is Paleo?, with a few of my readers, it was brought to my attention that what people really want to know is precisely what they can and can’t eat. That seems like a simple task, considering I live this lifestyle every day. The trouble with it is that the Paleo “diet” is interpreted differently by most everyone who attempts this way of life. Often the terms Paleo and Primal are used interchangeably (I do it all the time), however some argue that they aren’t technically the same thing. Recent leaders in the Paleo/Primal communities have asserted that the premises are the same and for the most part, should be considered as one approach to living.

Putting all of those issues aside, it is possible to come up with a pretty extensive list of foods that are good for your body, great for your mind, and will keep your tummy full until your next meal. Keep in mind, this list is by no means all-inclusive. It would be impossible to list every food that meets Paleo/Primal guidelines. Use it as a tool to help you when you are walking down the aisles at your local grocery store, or when a craving hits and you are about to make a bad choice, or even when you sit down to plan your meals for the week. The easiest way to stay on track is to ensure that you have the right foods at your fingertips.

Paleo Food List*Starchy fruits/vegetables are higher in calories and carbohydrates, so eat them in moderation. **Fruits are high in fructose, a type of sugar. While this is okay on the Paleo plan, they should be consumed in moderation to ensure proper insulin production.
***Check out Mark’s Daily Apple for a great post on the Great Dairy Debate in the Paleo/Primal community. Choose for yourself if you want to include it in your diet.
****Not actually dairy items, but people often like to know what they can use in place of actual dairy.

 

Wild Salmon & Ratatouille

Salmon

After embracing the Paleo lifestyle, one of the most difficult issues to tackle has been finding creative dinner dishes that are easy to prepare on a weeknight. One of my go-to creations has been a sausage ratatouille that is on the table in less than 20 minutes. It’s delicious, nutritious, and hearty (don’t fret – I’ll post that recipe, too). I also find myself struggling to get enough fish into our diet. As a chef, I know how delicious it can be, I’ve just never been a seafood fan. However, when you pair it with a delicious tomato-based sauce and fresh vegetables, it becomes a dish that pretty much anyone will enjoy.

For this recipe, you can use whatever fish you’d like. We happen to live in the Pacific Northwest, so when it’s salmon season, you can’t find a better filet. You can also leave the skin on, just be sure to get a hard sear on the fish to ensure it turns out crispy. There’s nothing worse than flabby fish skin! I like to use Mezzetta pasta sauces; they are a Californa-based company that makes a canned product that rivals even the homemade stuff. It’s completely Paleo and adds nearly all the flavor you’ll need in this quick and tasty dish.

Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients: 
2 T. avocado oil – divided
1 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 bunch kale, de-veined and chopped
1 – 25 oz. jar marinara sauce
4 – 4 oz. portions salmon, skin-off
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Shaved parmesan, for garnish

Method:
1. Add a tablespoon of avocado oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high until shimmering.
2. Add the onion, bell pepper, and zucchini. Sauté until softened and starting to brown.
3. Add the marinara sauce to the pan and cook until heated through.
4. Add the kale and sauté until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Hold warm.
5. Make sure your fish portions are dried on both sides and that all pin-bones have been picked. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
6. Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat with the second tablespoon of avocado oil until shimmering.
7. Add the fish to the pan, skin-side down (or where the skin would have been if you have removed it).
8. Cook until nicely browned and then flip with a fish spatula. Continue cooking until medium-rare, or about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
9. Place your ratatouille mixture in the center of your plate and garnish with a few halved tomatoes. Perch your fish on top of the ratatouille. Garnish with a sprinkling of shaved parmesan.

Paleo Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup
This simple recipe for delicious Paleo Tomato Soup should be a staple in your collection. It utilizes canned tomatoes (which can really help stretch your budget) and a few other simple ingredients to produce a crowd-pleasing dish.

Feel free to adjust the seasonings to your personal preferences – including the varietals of olive oils, tomatoes and wine. I love San Marzano tomatoes, which can be found at most grocery stores. There may be some citric acid in the ingredient list (as a preservative), but that should be all you see. Be sure not to pick up a can that has sugar, herbs, or additional salt added. When you choose an olive oil, get a high quality brand that has a robust flavor – it will come through in the final product. Also, I like to use pinot noir for the wine in this recipe. It stands out against the acidity of the tomatoes and provides a great foundation.

Yield: about 7 cups
Ingredients: 
3 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 T. minced garlic
2 T. tomato paste
12 oz. red wine
2 – 28 oz. cans whole, peeled tomatoes
1 small bunch basil, chopped
1 t. paprika
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Method:
1. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion and sauté with a wooden spoon until softened, about 4 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Cook, stirring continuously, until you smell roasting garlic and the tomato paste has cooked down, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the red wine and reduce until it is a syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes.
5. Add both cans of tomatoes, the chopped basil, and paprika to the pot. Stir to combine.
6. At this point, you can use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes, or just use the end of your wooden spoon.
7. Continue cooking until the tomatoes are heated through, about 15 minutes.
8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
9. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth.
10. Check again for seasoning and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Tips:
1. You’ll probably need more salt than you think. It really brings out the nuances of the tomatoes, so don’t be afraid to keep adding it. For this recipe, I generally use at least 1 T, if not more, depending on the quality of the tomatoes.
2. If the soup is thicker than you’d like, thin it out with some chicken or vegetable stock. It will adjust the consistency without sacrificing flavor.
3. Always taste the dish before you store it. If you thin it out, it will need more seasoning.
4. This soup freezes really well. Portion it into FoodSaver bags, seal, and lay flat in your freezer. It will keep for up to 6 months.

Paleo Chocolate Coconut Creme

Chocolate Coconut Creme

A piece of fruit is a great option for a sweet Paleo snack, but sometimes a cup of berries just isn’t going to cut it. Add a bowl of chocolate into the mix and we’re moving in the right direction. This Paleo take on classic chocolate fondue hits the spot and satisfies those annoying sweet cravings. It’s foundation is coconut milk, so it’s dairy-free and sweetened with honey. Kids love it and they can choose a variety of dippers – strawberries, bananas, or even Paleo chocolate chip cookies (a revelation stumbled upon by my husband).

If you want to make a batch for a party, you can reserve half of the cooked creme and omit the cocoa powder for a strictly vanilla coconut version. A duo of dips always seems more complicated, but it’s really just a matter of leaving out an ingredient!

Yield: 16 oz.
Ingredients
2 cans coconut milk (14 oz. each)
1/2 c. honey
1 oz. cocoa powder
2 T. vanilla

Method
1. Combine coconut milk and honey in a medium sized heavy-bottom saucepan.
2. Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat to low.
3. Stirring occasionally, cook 40-60 minutes, or until it has reduced by nearly half and is the consistency of thick cream.
4. Whisk in cocoa and vanilla, stirring to combine.
5. Taste and add honey if it isn’t to your desired sweetness.

Paleo Raspberry Lemonade Gummies

Paleo Gummies
The benefits of gelatin are preached throughout the Paleo community. It boasts some fantastic health properties and is a great source of protein. It’s also the ingredient responsible for setting Jell-O, giving marshmallows their iconic texture, and the ever-popular gummy bear. Of course, none of these are standard in the Paleo lifestyle. The good news is that you can make most of these treats Paleo-friendly.

Gelatin
A great way to get some extra protein in your diet and reap the benefits of the amino acids found in gelatin is with these delicious little gummies. They taste just like a pop of raspberry lemonade and are a handy treat to have around when the sugar-cravings start to hit. These aren’t overly sweet and rely heavily on the natural sugars found in the fruit you use. Honey is included in the list of ingredients, but it can be adjusted based on the sweetness of your berries.

Nearly any fruit can be substituted for the raspberries, just be sure to keep the liquid volume the same in order for the gelatin to properly set. Frozen berries are a good option as they are picked at the peak of ripeness, flash frozen, and are generally less expensive than fresh produce. Just be sure to choose the product that doesn’t have any added sugar.

To make fun shapes, you can use any silicone mold. I love these tiny little heart molds from Amazon. They are the unique ones pictured here and are the perfect size to showcase these gummies. Alternatively, you can pour the mixture into a sheet pan lined with plastic wrap and cut out squares or other shapes.

Yield: 60 gummies (1/2 ounce each)
Ingredients
10 oz. package frozen raspberries
15 oz. lemon juice
1/2 c. powdered gelatin
1/2 c. honey

Method
1. Line your silicone molds on a sheet pan that will fit in your refrigerator. Or, just make sure there is room in your fridge to place them individually.
2. Combine the raspberries and lemon juice in a blender. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth.
3. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid in a large bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the liquid in the bowl and allow it to bloom for 5 minutes.
4. While the gelatin is softening, pour the remaining liquid mixture into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the honey.
5. Heat on medium-high until the honey has dissolved and the liquid is simmering.
6. Remove from heat, add the gelatin liquid mixture and whisk thoroughly. Be sure to dissolve all of the gelatin.
7. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove all of the seeds and any gelatin that has clumped together.
8. Portion evenly into your desired molds.
9. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow to set completely.
10. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

Candied Pecans

Raw Pecans
After over a year of adopting a Paleo lifestyle, I still struggle with sugar cravings. Granted, I don’t indulge myself like I used to – cookies, snacks and candies don’t have a place on my pantry shelves any more. Sometimes though, you just need a little something to curb the craving and it will pass.

These little pecan gems do just the trick. They are crunchy, slightly sweet, and full of warm spicy flavor. They remind me of pecan pie – without all of the guilt. You can adjust the seasonings to your liking, but keep in mind, after they bake, the spices will mellow. Keep a container of these in your desk drawer so when the 2 o’clock craving hits, you have something handy that you won’t regret later.

Spices
Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients
4 cups pecan halves
3 ea. egg whites
1/2 cup honey, slightly warmed
1 T. cinnamon
2 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. salt

Method
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. Set aside pecans in a large bowl.
3. Whisk together the whites and honey in a small bowl, just to combine.
4. Add all of the spices and salt, whisking again to combine.
5. Pour the egg white mixture over the pecans and toss to coat completely.
6. Spread the pecans out evenly on the parchment-lined sheet pan.
7. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, checking often to ensure they don’t burn. They will still be slightly tacky to the touch, but will have a fully roasted color.
8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, they will no longer be tacky to the touch. Store in an airtight container.

Candied Pecans

Guacamole + Salsa

Guacamole + Salsa

To kick off the snack series, I thought I’d begin with quite possibly the best Paleo duo imaginable. There’s something about the creaminess of guacamole, spice of salsa, and satisfying crunch of fresh veggies that ties it all together.

Both recipes are fairly basic, but what is important to keep in mind that the final product is entirely in your hands. The salinity, heat level, and overall flavor can be altered to your unique preferences. Additionally, depending on the quality of your avocados and tomatoes, you may need more or less of each accompanying ingredient. Taste as you go, adjust your seasonings, and taste again. If you add too much salt, balance it out with another squeeze of citrus, and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to try adding additional ingredients – make it your own!

A few interesting facts:

1. If your avocados aren’t ripe enough, throw them in a brown paper bag with a banana. The banana will produce ethylene, which triggers ripening. Within about 24 hours, your avocados will be perfect!

2. Roma tomatoes are the best tomatoes to use for salsa because they have a lower concentration of seeds and liquid than most other tomato varietals. Of course, if it is the peak of summer and you have some gorgeous heirlooms, by all means, use them!

3. My mom grows a whole host of vegetables in her garden, including jalapeños. She rarely uses all of them during the season, so she throws them in a blender, purees them, and then freezes them in ice cube trays. When she needs some, she just cuts off what she needs and it is defrosted in no time. It provides all the great flavor of a fresh jalapeño without a lot of hassle. For this recipe, I would use about a tablespoon (or half of an ice cube-sized portion) for each batch of guacamole or salsa.

I pair these with Paleo crackers as well as fresh cut veggies – bell peppers, carrots, celery, and romaine spears. For the ultimate indulgence, cook some crispy bacon and use as a vehicle for the guacamole. I’m pretty sure I’ll include a post for that in this snack series!

Raw Guacamole

Guacamole
Yield: approximately 3 cups

Ingredients
4 large ripe avocados
2 small roma tomatoes, ripe, small diced
1 small onion, small diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeño, ribs & seeds removed, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt & Pepper

Method
1. Cut the avocados, remove the seed, and scrape the flesh into a large bowl. Discard the skin and keep two of the seeds.
2. Mash the avocado until it is creamy with a few chunks remaining.
3. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro. Stir to combine.
4. Taste at this stage and then add the jalapeño, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Continue adjusting the seasonings until you find the right balance of salt, citrus, and heat.
6. Store in an airtight container with the reserved avocado seeds (coupled with the lime juice, it will prevent browning).

Raw Salsa

Salsa
Yield: approximately 3 cups

Ingredients
8 small roma tomatoes, ripe, medium diced
1 small onion, small diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeño, ribs & seeds removed, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt & Pepper

Method
1. Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro. Stir to combine.
2. Taste at this stage and then add the jalapeño, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
3. Continue adjusting the seasonings until you find the right balance of salt, citrus, and heat.
4. Store in an airtight container.

Paleo Snacking

Well, it’s officially that time of year. Everyone is making a resolution to trim down, get to the gym, and shed those holiday pounds. It happens every January and it seems that by the end of February, everyone has given up. It’s a vicious cycle that we’ve all been a part of at one time or another. The first month of the year is so invigorating; we feel like we have a unique opportunity to start fresh, try something new, and really succeed. Unfortunately, we generally fall short when our busy schedules, lack of self-control, and general laziness takes over.

What makes you fall off the wagon? There are so many opportunities for us to “cheat” every day. When the 2 o’clock cravings start kicking in, it’s pretty easy to stroll through the break room, grab a handful of mini chocolate chip cookies, and pretend it never happened.

The best way to combat this situation? Have an arsenal of snacks at your disposal that are filling, nutrient dense, and taste fantastic. If you have a healthier option available, you are more likely to make a better choice. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting loads of fantastic snack ideas that are simple, delicious, and most importantly, are great alternatives to the processed junk we often end up consuming. But before we get to the recipes, I’ve come up with a list of basic snack choices that require no preparation. Stock your pantry with these staples and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier 2015!

Paleo Snacks

Here’s a link to the Paleo Snacks list as a .PDF. It’s great to print out and put front and center on your refrigerator – that way you’ll have a go-to when you want something quick.

Paleo Movie Mix

Movie Mix
One of the most recognizable smells for me is the glorious waft of movie popcorn. I’m convinced I can smell if from a mile away and after walking past a movie theater, the scent remains with me for days. Living a Paleo lifestyle doesn’t allow for the indulgence of popcorn, so enjoying a movie in the theater has never quite been the same. There are never any snacks at the concession stand that we could even trick ourselves into “being okay just this one time”. Everything is loaded with processed sugar, preservatives, and additives.

So how to you combat the snack attack that inevitably happens every time you go to the theater? Bring along your own Movie Mix! This recipe can really be altered to suit your personal preferences – omit any item, or add in something that you love. It’s a great balance between sweet and salty, and gives you a satisfying crunch without the stomach cramps and weight gain that your pseudo-butter coated popcorn offers.

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 cup Cashews
1 cup Almonds
1 cup Macadamia nuts
1 cup Pecans
2 t. avocado oil
1/2 t. salt
2 cups Flaked coconut
1 cup Pepitas
1 cup Dried cranberries
1/2 cup Goji berries
6 oz. Dark chocolate chunks

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line two sheet pans with parchment.
2. Combine all of the nuts with the oil and salt. Toss to coat.
3. Spread the nuts out evenly on one of your prepared sheet pans. Roast for 14 minutes, or until evenly toasted and you can smell their aroma.
4. Spread your flaked coconut evenly on the second sheet pan and roast for 6 minutes, or just until the edges start to brown. You may need to stir them around a bit halfway through roasting.
5. Allow nuts and coconut to cool completely.
6. Combine all of the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

 

Notes:
1. I buy dried cranberries that are sweetened with apple juice instead of cane sugar. They are a nice addition to the mix without being cloyingly sweet.
2. You can use any chocolate you like, but I love to break up my favorite Theo dark chocolate bar instead of using the chocolate chunks you find in the baking section of your grocery store.

Movie Mix

Paleo Parmesan Herb Croutons

The last recipe for Paleo Almond Flour Bread has inspired a number of bread-based recipes. If you end up with a couple of left-over slices (I’m not sure why you would – but hey, it could happen), these croutons are a great way to use up the extras and they keep for quite a while.

Mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to create a unique flavor blend.
Mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to create a unique flavor blend.

The best part about these crunchy little nuggets is that they are easily customized to your own preferences. I use an array of herbs and spices, as well as a generous helping of parmesan. If you don’t like something, leave it out. It is best to use dried herbs, as fresh won’t hold up well in the heat of the oven. You’ll want to choose flavors that are bold and will stand up to the robust flavor of the parmesan.

The oil and cheese can also be customized to your preferences.
The oil and cheese can also be customized to your preferences.

We are lucky enough to have a friend who presses olives into olive oil every year in Italy. We get a single bottle from him and make it last as long as we can. This oil is fantastic unheated and simply drizzled over a salad. It’s also fantastic with these croutons. Because they aren’t in the oven for an exceptionally long amount of time (only about 20 minutes), the olive flavor still peeks through.

You’ll want to be sure to toast the croutons for enough time to get a nice crunchy exterior. Don’t be afraid of a little color – that’s where you get the deep flavor! If you end up with extra herb/spice mix, not to worry, just tuck it away in a zip-top bag and use it next time.

Ingredients:
1 t. salt
1 t. onion powder
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. mustard powder
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dired oregano
1 t. paprika
1 t. ground pepper
1 oz. parmesan, grated or shaved (depending on your preference)
2 T. oil (olive, avocado, etc.)
1 loaf Paleo Almond Flour Bread, cut into cubes

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Line a baking pan with a silpat mat or parchment.
2. Combine all the herbs and spices in a small bowl, stir to combine.
3. Toss the oil and bread cubes together in a large bowl, coating the bread completely.
4. Sprinkle the herb/spice mixture over the bread and toss to coat. Reserve any extra mixture for another use.
5. Spread cubes on prepared baking pan in an even, single layer.
6. Sprinkle parmesan to on top to lightly coat.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, tossing once half-way through, until toasted and crispy.
8. Allow to cool completely on the pan.
9. Store in an airtight container.

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