Cheat Sheet

Paleo Cookbook For Dummies

From Paleo Cookbook For Dummies by Kellyann Petrucci

If you love results, then cooking Paleo is for you. Eating Paleo boils down to one simple philosophy: eating real, fresh foods your body is designed to have. Making this lifestyle change work means getting into the kitchen — cooking quality foods, swapping out non-Paleo ingredients, using oils and spices to your best advantage, and revamping your view of snacks.

Paleo Grab-and-Go Snacks Fit for a Caveman

Paleo snacks aren’t like other snacks. When you stick to Paleo snacks, you’re building health with every bite — consuming nutrients and balancing your blood sugar. These snacks avoid Paleo-shunned ingredients, such as gluten, sugars, and additives, you find in most modern-day snacks. Try these great Paleo-approved options to keep you energetic, lean, and healthy and avoid the midday slump!

  • Beef jerky and fruit

  • Berries drizzled with coconut milk

  • Celery sticks and almond butter

  • Hard-boiled eggs

  • Leftover cooked meat with salsa and avocado

  • Mashed avocado or guacamole and veggies

  • Olives and raw veggies

  • Paleo-approved deli meat with avocado rolled up inside

  • Sliced apple with nut butter

  • Smoked salmon wrapped around cucumber spears

  • Steve’s PaleoGoods brand PaleoKrunch and PaleoKits

  • Unsweetened coconut flakes with berries and nuts

Do’s and Don’ts of Cooking Paleo

The Paleo cooking do and don’ts are pretty straightforward. These easy guidelines make your Paleo cooking easier by making sure you don’t accidentally do something to sabotage your Paleo lifestyle. From cooking ahead to stocking your cupboards, this list is your blast into Paleo.

  • Do keep yourself organized by batch cooking. Pick one or two days a week to prepare as many staple or convenience foods as you can. Prepare hard-boiled eggs, cut and chop veggies, precook some meats, or mix up dips or sauces.

  • Do stock your kitchen with Paleo foods: quality meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fats and oils, small amounts of fruits, nuts, and seeds. If you have non-Paleo foods in the house, you’ll be tempted to cook with them.

  • Do incorporate healthy fats. You may be inclined to skip cooking with fat because you’re afraid of getting fat, but consuming healthy fats in the right quantities actually helps you lose weight. Animal fats such as bacon fat (lard), duck fat, chicken fat (schmaltz), beef fat (tallow), and lamb fat are all natural fats that you can cook at a high temperature and they remain stable. Coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and ghee (clarified butter) are all excellent choices as well.

  • Don’t overdo natural sugars. Raw honey, maple syrup, whole dates, fresh fruit juice, dried fruit, and even mashed bananas are the best natural sweeteners to use in baking or for a dash of sweetness, but they’re still sugars. Don’t use their “natural” label as an excuse to go to town on these sweets.

  • Do avoid all grains (including whole grains), legumes, soy, refined and processed foods, liquid carbohydrates (like sugary drinks), and dairy products. (Some people — about 20 percent of the population — can tolerate dairy, so you can revisit that restriction after the first 30 days as you get in touch with what your body can handle.)

  • Do find your way back into the kitchen to make Paleo work long-term for you. Start cooking the basics such as stir-frys and slow cook meals and slowly work your way up to more advanced recipes.

  • Don’t be scared off by Paleo superfoods like bone broths, organ meats, sea vegetables, and fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut.

  • Do stock up on the wonderful Paleo pantry foods available, such as coconut aminos, canned coconut milk, canned fish in water, olives, pumpkin puree, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, canned chilies, tomato sauce, almond flour and coconut flour.

Spicing Up Paleo Dishes with Herbs and Spices

Paleo herbs and spices take meals from ordinary to extraordinary. Spices can warm up or cool a Paleo dish or even add health benefits. Many Paleo recipes include some of these wonderful spices and herbs:

  • Chili powder: Chili powder adds heat to food and is delicious when added to ground meat.

  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon is great for reducing blood sugar and cholesterol, and it adds a sweet and savory flavor (plus a great smell) to food. You can add it to anything, from Paleo treats to sweet potatoes to root vegetables for a noticeable improvement.

  • Nutmeg: Nutmeg has a warm, nutty taste that’s great with soups, chicken, and eggs and is delicious paired with cinnamon on a sweet potato for a Paleo-approved post-workout fuel.

  • Cumin: This spice is related to parsley. You can use ground cumin in a citrus-based marinade for meats and in chilies and stews. Try toasting it and adding some olive oil to serve over roasted vegetables.

  • Rosemary and thyme: Grouped together, these herbs are called bouquet garni, which is popular in soups and stews. It’s also great with chicken, eggs, and lamb and in fresh marinara sauce, which you can pour over squash or zucchini “noodles.”

  • Celtic sea salt and ground pepper: These are a must-have pair in almost any kind of dish. This healthy salt can provide your body with minerals processed salt doesn’t. The pepper adds that extra zip. Celtic sea salt is also filled with minerals and totally unrefined, so it fits well with the Paleo lifestyle.

  • Garam masala: Peppercorns, cumin, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaves are some of the spices that are often used in this Indian spice blend. It adds so much flavor to chicken, stews, soups, meatloaf, and lamb.

If you don’t want your spices to taste like dirt, buy them as fresh as possible. Buying the whole spice (versus a ground version) tends to be fresher and less expensive. You can use an inexpensive coffee grinder to grind them up. For larger spices such as cinnamon, use a grater.

Buying in bulk is another way to ensure you are getting the freshest possible spices; purchasing in bulk at an Asian or Indian market means less turnover so they tend to be fresher. Penzey’s is an excellent source for online spice shopping.

Swapping Ingredients for Paleo Cooking

Knowing how to swap out non-Paleo ingredients for their Paleo-approved brethren is essential if you want to create healthy Paleo meals that satisfy. When you swap out modern-day ingredients for healthier Paleo ones, you turn ordinary foods into superfoods. Who doesn’t love that? Here are some suggestions:

  • Coconut oil in place of processed oils: One of the most important things you can do for your health is ditch processed oils (such as canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and all vegetable oils). When you use unhealthy oils, you still can create inflammation in your body no matter how good other ingredients in your meal may be. In fact, this change is probably the most important swap you can make.

  • Coconut aminos in place of soy sauce: When you want that salty soy-sauce taste for stir-frys, sauces, or dips, ditch your sodium-filled soy sauce for coconut aminos. Straight from the sap of a coconut tree, this sauce is healthier and mirrors the taste of soy sauce.

  • Almond and/or coconut flour in place of white flour: These natural nut flours are so easy to work with and you will never miss the grain laden sugary treats, once you discover how fantastic these flours fit the bill.

  • Sweet potato in place of white potato: By making this easy swap, you avoid antinutrients (substances that inhibit nutrient absorption) found in the skin of white potatoes and getting more beta carotene and vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are totally Paleo-approved and are a great post workout recovery food.

  • Honey or maple syrup in place of white sugar and artificial sweeteners: Sugar is sugar, but some sweeteners (such as honey and maple syrup) actually add a small amount of value to your health. Organic maple syrup contains B vitamins, and honey comes with naturally immune-boosting properties. Whereas white sugar and artificial sweeteners actually leach nutrients from the body.

  • Celtic sea salt in place of refined table salt: The processing and anticaking ingredients in refined table salt are unhealthy. Natural salt such as Celtic sea salt provides minerals. Note: This salt is completely natural with no processing whatsoever, so it doesn’t have iodine added. Make a point to supplement your diet with a good source of iodine.

  • Salmon burgers in place of vegetarian burgers: A gluten-filled vegetarian burger (often called a frankenfood because it’s so processed) has no redeeming value. A better choice is salmon burgers, which are filled with healthy omega-3 fats and protein to make you look and feel great!

Knowing Which Fats and Oils Are Most Stable for Paleo Cooking

Fats and oils are only stable up to a certain cooking temperature; after that, they become damaged and can result in inflammation — a definite Paleo cooking no-no. Your Paleo fat’s/oil’s stability before cooking is crucial. If you cook an oil at a high heat, make sure your oil is stable enough to handle that temperature.

Here are some guidelines on oil stability; whatever oil you choose, buy organic, if it’s available.

  • Very stable oils for hot uses

    • Bacon fat (lard)

    • Chicken fat (schmaltz)

    • Coconut oil

    • Duck fat

    • Ghee

    • Grass-fed butter

    • Lamb fat

    • Tallow (beef fat)

  • Moderately stable for very low temperatures (best purchased extra-virgin and cold-pressed and used with no heat)

    • Avocado oil

    • Flaxseed oil

    • Macadamia nut oil

    • Olive oil

    • Walnut oil

Understanding the Food Quality Component of Cooking Paleo

Paleo cooking is about using well-balanced, high-quality, real foods. Cooking with quality Paleo foods (within any budget) decreases toxins and increases nutrition. This table shows you the highest-quality Paleo standard of food you can purchase. Every step up in quality adds more nutrition and makes your body healthier.

Food Best Practice Gold Standard Great Good
Beef/Lamb Local, pasture-raised, 100% grass-fed and finished Pasture-raised, grass-fed Organic Mainstream conventional, lean cuts with the visible fat trimmed
Pork Local, pasture-raised Organic, free-range N/A N/A
Poultry Local, pasture-raised Organic free-range Organic, cage-free Mainstream conventional
Seafood Fresh, wild-caught Wild-caught Non-grain-fed N/A
Produce Local, organic, seasonal Local, organic Organic Conventional
Fats and oils Organic, first cold pressed Paleo approved Organic, cold pressed Conventional N/A

Even if you must purchase from the okay list, rest assured that just by eating other Paleo-approved foods (cutting out grains and sugars) you are still going a long way to looking and feeling your best.

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