A loaded question, I know. And it’s what everyone wants to know. Before I break it all down for you, I want to give you a warning, don’t panic! It’s going to seem like you can’t eat anything. You will probably whine and think, “I can’t do it!” But, are you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired?? Then try it for a month and see how you feel. You can live without for a month. I think you will be amazed with what you find.
What You Can Eat On Paleo:
Protein: Grass-fed beef, organic free-range chicken, pork (yes bacon and sausage!), turkey, lamb, bison, wild game and pretty much any other meat you can think of. Also, wild-caught fish and pasture-raised eggs are a great source of protein.
Side Note: You may be asking, “Why grass-fed, organic, free-range and wild-caught?” Basically, all of these terms allow the animals to be animals. The cows get to graze the land instead of being cooped up in a steal box and fed grains that make them sick, which forces the farmers to pump them full of antibiotics. The chickens get to range the grass, looking for worms and bugs to eat, instead of being fed synthetics and antibiotics. The fish live free in the ocean, instead of being farmed with insufficient nutrients and dyed the color that they are supposed to be so no one asks questions. Yes, farmed salmon is dyed pink. Ok, I went on a tangent a little. The lives of the animals are just as important as what we are ingesting. The grains, antibiotics and synthetics they eat are eventually what we eat. It can be more costly to buy proteins this way, but it truly adds to your health. I will add suggestions in another post for budgeting while eating Paleo. If you would like to read about it now, check out this post by Stupid Easy Paleo, one of my favorite sites for Paleo eats.
Vegetables: Anything!!! If it grows from the ground, eat it!!! Just kidding, that’s totally not true. But pretty much any vegetable is Paleo. Always look for organic, non-GMO. The best produce and prices can usually be found at local farmer’s markets. Some of my favorites to cook with include: broccoli, spinach, kale, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions, lettuce, cabbage, squash, peppers, garlic, carrots, celery and my favorite sweet potatoes.
NO: Avoid corn and regular potatoes as they have similar qualities to grains and can cause inflammation and gut irritation.
Fruits: Berries are the best as they have a low glycemic index. Basically, you don’t want to consume too much sugar. Eat other fruits in moderation. If you are terrible at moderation like me, I suggest sticking only to berries for your first thirty days. Also, avocados, tomatoes, limes and lemons are always delicious.
Nuts: Nuts can be high in omega-6 fatty acids and you want to get an even balance between your omega-3s and omega-6s. So, also eat in moderation. Your best choices are cashews, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts. You can consume other nuts and seeds in moderation like almonds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios.
NO: Avoid peanuts, as they are not a nut, but a legume and can cause inflammatory responses and gut irritation.
Fats: Use coconut oil, lard or tallow for cooking with high temperatures. Use olive oil and sesame oil for cold temperatures.
NO: Avoid vegetable and seed oils, such as safflower, soybean, canola and corn oil. Here’s a great post from Eat Drink Paleo to explain your oil options in more detail.
Other Items: Other things can be useful while cooking like: Anything coconut! Coconut water, milk, butter, you name it, it’s delicious!! Any herbs and spices you want, but switch your table salt to sea salt. Also include broths, canned tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, canned fish, nut butters, mustard, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, curry paste, coconut aminos (to replace your soy sauce), almond and coconut flours in moderation, and honey and maple syrup in moderation. Almond milk and goat’s milk and cheese are good substitutions for dairy products. Fermented foods also offer great probiotics, including kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut.
NO: Soy. It’s GMO ridden and processed like crazy! Not to mention the high estrogen content that can throw off your hormonal balance.
NO: Avoid grains, legumes, dairy, soy, processed foods, refined sugars and vegetable and seed oils. If you are wondering, Paleo is more than gluten-free. Avoid all grains, even if they boast to be gluten-free.
I’m sure there are many more things I have left out. I found most of my direction from cooking Paleo recipes off of Paleo food blogs. Here are some that I recommend:
For the amateur cook (as I definitely was when I first started):
If you want to get a little fancy:
Thanks for reading! Leave comments below if you have questions or any items to add that I left off.