Have you heard of the Paleo eating style and wondered what it was all about? Maybe you saw the picture of the cave people, and the list of what you can’t eat and you freaked out just a little (or more than a little)! When I first heard of Paleo I was curious, but I dismissed it and told myself that we were eating healthy and that this Paleo thing was probably just another fad! Not so much! Here we are a few years later and I am pretty passionate about how we eat and where our food comes from!
To help you avoid the Paleo Beginners Overwhelm, I am going to give you a simple break down of what Paleo is and how to go about changing your eating style! I know that we need to understand the list of what you should not eat, but I find that concentrating on the “can’t have’s” makes this whole thing a drag and feels overwhelming! So, let’s face the fact that changes need to be made and get on to some really good eating and healthier living!
I am not a nutritionist or a certified anything! I am just a women on a mission to restore my own health and bring my family the most nutritious food I can. That being said, here is a list of the common foods to avoid if you are eating a Paleo diet…..
Grains, corn, legumes, processed dairy, sugar, processed foods, soy, and vegetable oils. Yep, that’s a bunch!
Don’t get all overwhelmed here though! You are left with amazing food choices! Ready?
Meats and Seafood –
I try to buy as much of my meat grass fed or pasture raised as possible! Check out your local Costco, farmers market and friendly neighborhood butcher to see what is available in your area. I don’t buy deli meats often as most brands are full of additives and nitrates, there are a few brands made with great ingredients that I buy on occasion.
Healthy Fats –
Fats! I grew up during the “low fat” craze. I remember my best friend in high school and I keeping track of how “low fat” we could eat everyday. Thankfully now I know better! We need fats people! Good, healthy, nutrient dense fats!!!
Some of my favorite oils and fats are, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, ghee, Kerry Gold butter, palm shortening (it’s not actually shortening) and bacon fat (yup, bacon grease, I almost can’t believe it myself!). I look for cold pressed and organic oils whenever possible.
There are so many wonderful nutrient dense veggies to choose from! Be adventurous and try some that you have never tasted or even heard of! I like to wander my local grocery store and read the little descriptive labels above the produce! (I admit it, I’m a food nerd!!!!)
If you are thinking that your children won’t eat their veggies, I have a couple thoughts on that. First of all, I don’t make different dishes for the adults and the kiddos! Nope, not at all! Everybody has to eat what is made and often if they don’t love it the first time, they are surprised that they start to like a food after a few try’s (there are a few foods that my girls aren’t fond of that they eat rather quickly with a lot of water!!!). We also believe that a child will eat what is offered them if they are hungry enough! This is just a non-negotiable at our house! I do try very hard to make everything I serve my family taste delicious, but if I get a wrinkled nose or a frown I don’t worry about it!
If your looking for a “fast food” snack for yourself or your kiddos fruit can be a great option! I am mindful that consuming too much fruit can cause blood sugar imbalances though. So, keep it as a treat or at least don’t let it be your main food group! Veggie’s still rule!
Nuts and Seeds –
Raw nuts and seeds are a great snack or treat! I do use almond flour in a lot of my baking, but I try to rotate the flours I use to keep us from getting a nut overload! Nuts and seeds are calorie dense foods and can also be hard to digest. Check the labels carefully on your nut packages, not all nuts are gluten free! I learned that one the hard way!
It is my opinion and personal experience that having some baked goods around the house keeps my family happy eating a Paleo diet. Some people would disagree and that is fine! For us though, it works out just dandy! Baking is something I enjoy, and my family, especially my husband, is rather fond of treats! Dessert at my house is referred too as “something for the taste”!
Sweeteners I use are, honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar and once in a while xylitol.
Switching to grain free baking was a little challenging at first for me! As I mentioned, I love to bake and there were just certain recipes that I had trouble parting with! Baking our “famous” chocolate chip cookies and having a full cookie jar for any child (or adult for that matter) to always help themselves too was just part of our home. You can ask all the little people that are in and out of my home constantly, they check the cookie jar! So, I set out to create recipes that would taste delicious and my cookie loving little people would still have the cookie jar to go to!
Flours I use are, blanched almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot starch, potato flour and potato starch.
*Note: Honeyville is my favorite brand of almond flour. Bob’s Red Mill almond flour is too coarse for baked goods, they will turn out soggy. I do use Bob’s Red Mill for my pizza crust and buns if I’m out of Honeyville.
Dairy seems to be a grey area for people. While some tolerate full fat dairy with no problems, others only tolerate raw dairy or goats milk. Still others can’t consume any dairy at all! Paleo is certainly not a cookie cutter eating style, you need to figure out what works best for you!
Dairy free milks that I use are, coconut milk, cashew milk and almond milk.
Herbs and Spices –
My spice drawer is overflowing! I love to create healthy meals using many different dried and fresh herbs and spices! Consider growing some fresh herbs yourself in a garden or in containers. Involve your children in the growing process and watch them grow more interested in the origin and flavor of food!
Hopefully this has taken some of the brain overload away for you! Keep things simple when you start an eating change and once you feel you have a handle on your food again try some new things! I found that once I figured out some basic recipes and knew what food to buy where, I could more easily try new foods and recipes! You can do it! Your health is worth every effort!