Beginner’s Guide to Eating Paleo
You’ve seen it all over Pinterest. Cookbooks are popping up in stores and online. Blogs are springing up seemingly out of nowhere. Restaurants are touting specialized dishes for it. What is it? The Paleo Diet.
The Paleo Diet is a way of eating based on what our ancestors ate, in theory. The basic premise of this lifestyle choice is complete avoidance of all grains, dairy, sugar and legumes (including soy, corn and peanuts!). Paleo eating embraces vegetables, meat, nuts/seeds, some fruits, and fats. The thought behind it is that, without having refined and often times genetically modified foods, you can reduce inflammation, heal your gut, lose weight and live a healthier life. Almost all of my clients have seen drastic reductions in joint pain, fibromyalgia symptoms, food sensitivities, IBS symptoms, body fat, eczema, psoriasis, acne, wrinkles and chronic bloating after following the Paleo Diet. They tend to notice they sleep better, have more energy, better stamina and performance, and feel freed from the sugar addiction.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the Paleo way of life, as there is with most radical approaches to eating. I always say that there is no one-size fits all approach when it comes to food and I especially don’t like “demonizing” a food group (except for sugar- that nasty stuff can go). However, the Paleo Diet can provide a starting point or framework for figuring out which foods will work for you for the long term. Once you see the difference that eating Paleo can make, it’s hard to go back to eating the way you did before. At first, it will take some adjustment in addition to careful research and planning. I recommend trying thirty days strict Paleo just to see if you notice any positive effects from eating more veggies, meats and fats. For me, it made all the difference in the world.
I used to struggle with weight gain, acne, bloating, IBS symptoms, sleep and a nasty sugar addiction, which included binge eating. Once I went Paleo, I was able to enjoy healthy foods and finally kick the sugar addiction and binge habits! My skin cleared up and my stomach has never been more agreeable! I have been able to do so much more in the gym and with far less pain and soreness. I eat as much as I want without gaining weight- no calorie counting, macronutrient ratio profiling or food logging!
So, where to start? I would begin by cleaning out your pantry, cupboards and fridge. Go through all of your sauces, boxed and canned foods and clear out anything with sugar, excess sodium, words you cannot pronounce and anything with wheat, corn or soy in the ingredients list. Toss it out or donate it, but don’t leave it in the house. It is much harder to stick to eating Paleo when you have junk in the house. Stock up on fresh or frozen vegetables, fruit, raw nuts (watch your portions!), hormone-free high-quality meats and eggs and some coconut oil. Check out Paleo blogs online, grab a cookbook or a how-to book and research how to successfully change your lifestyle. Finding a Meet Up group or support group can be a huge help, especially if you have questions.
Here are my three favorite Paleo recipes to get you started!
Anytime Egg Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Ingredients:7 eggs 1 cup spinach or kale, chopped 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 4 slices thick bacon, chopped 1/4 cup almond flour (or 1 Tablespoon coconut flour) 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder 1/2 teaspoon white pepper Pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with coconut oil or butter and set aside. Cook your bacon and drain the grease. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until combined thoroughly. Pour into tin and bake for 20 minutes, or until middle is firm. You can easily change up your muffins by adding different ingredients. Make a big batch and store in the freezer for an easy on-the-go meal option.
Crunchy Coconut Curried Fried Chicken
Raw, thawed organic chicken (you can use whatever part, I use breast)2 eggs
2 tbsp coconut, ghee, butter, tallow, or avocado oil
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup almond flour
2-3 tbsp curry powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
In a large skillet, melt your coconut oil, ghee, butter, tallow or avocado oil. While warming up, rinse and pat chicken dry. Combine coconut, almond flour and spices in a wide bowl or on a plate. Mix eggs in a small bowl until fluffy.
Dip chicken into egg mixture, then roll chicken in flour mixture until evenly coated. Fry in pan for about 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook for 3-4 minutes more, depending on the thickness of your chicken. I recommend using a meat thermometer to ensure the meat is well cooked.
Let cool slightly and devour!
Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Swirl Brownies
Ingredients:3 oz dark chocolate (I use Bakers Unsweetened) 2 tbsps melted coconut oil 2 eggs 1/4 cup raw honey (more if you like it sweeter) 4 oz unsweetened applesauce 1 tsp vanilla 1/2 cup almond meal 2 tbsps unsweetened cocoa powder 3-4 tbsps smooth almond butter
Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease an 8×8 inch glass pan. On the stove, melt coconut oil and chocolate on low until oil is melted- careful not to overcook the chocolate! Mix all other ingredients (except almond butter) in a bowl until well combined. Pour into greased pan.
Now, add tablespoons of almond butter and use the end of a knife or toothpick to swirl it into the brownies. Bake 18-23 minutes until firm to the touch. Try and let cool before cutting and enjoying!
By: Kim Ludeman
About the writer:
Kim Ludeman is a personal trainer, nutritional specialist, and Paleo blogger. She has been featured in Shape magazine, Paleo magazine, and Clean Eating magazine. Her blog was awarded “Top 50 Paleo Blogs 2012” by the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.