A Few Paleo Tips

Paleo can be overwhelming at first. For most people, it is very different from any diet they have ever tried and any way they have ever eaten. They are often trying to find foods in the store that they have never bought and never cooked before.

Often while I am preparing food, I think of little tips that would be helpful so I thought I would compile some of them here.

1 – At the grocery store stick to the perimeter and avoid the inside aisles. All the good stuff is on the perimeter – fresh veggies & fruits, meat, fish and eggs. The inside aisles are full of processed food so just avoid them. I go down aisles for about 4 things – canned tomatoes (diced or crushed depending on what I am making), coconut milk, olive oil/coconut oil and spices.

2 – Save money making your own almond meal, coconut meal, etc. These make great flour substitutes, but have you noticed how much they charge for them? I buy all my raw nuts from Costco in 3 lb bags and I grind my own meal using my food processor. It only takes a few minutes. I grind the whole 3 lb bag at once (it takes about 3 batches in my 11 cup food processor). Then I store the meal in a large tupperware container and it's ready to go whenever I need it. A 3 lb bag lasts us about 1 month but we have a toddler who eats a lot of paleo pancakes so it would probably last most people longer. For coconut, I buy the 'Lets Do Organic" brand -unsweetened and finely shredded at whole foods. It's only a couple of dollars a bag. And I prefer to use my Magic Bullet for turning it into meal, but you could use the food processor too.

3 – Plan ahead. There is no quick drive-thru paleo food that I am aware of. So you have to be willing to cook if you plan to eat this way. Of course, everyone has busy lives and sometimes it's hard to fit in cooking a fresh meal for breakfast or for dinner after a long day. I do a lot of cooking on Sunday afternoon to make my week run smoother. I always make a quadruple batch of paleo pancakes (told ya he likes them!) and 2 paleo quiches every Sunday. This feeds the 3 of us for breakfast all week and no one has to cook or do any dishes in the morning. We just throw it on a plate and reheat (or if you are Kyle you eat it stone cold – he's weird like that). Also on Sunday I cook some sort of meat for mine and Kyle's lunch for the week (pork tenderloin, chicken breasts, steak, hamburgers etc).

4 – Don't get bored. In the south we love side dishes like hashbrown casserole, mac & cheese, fried okra, etc. When people try paleo for the first time and switch to steamed broccoli or spinach for a side dish they are quickly bored and unimpressed. But paleo veggies don't have to be boring. I LOVE roasting veggies. It's super easy and it really brings out all the flavor. Plus it's an easy way to make sure you're eating a large variety of fresh veggies without having to prepare them all seperately. Beets, carrots, parsnips, any squashes (butternut, acorn, etc), broccoli and cauliflower are all really delicious when roasted. Here's how I like to roast them: Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Wash, peel, chop veggies (in about 1" pieces). Throw them on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt & pepper and bake for 20 minutes or until a little crispy on the outside. If you make a big batch you can pair them with different meals throughout the week. They also make a boring salad really tasty (I just throw them on cold). If you have extra time and want to get fancy sometimes I make an herb marinade. Just grab whatever fresh herbs you have (my favorites are sage, thyme, rosemary & oregano), throw them in a Magic Bullet or blender along with olive oil and salt & pepper and blend. Toss veggies in marinade before roasting. (This makes a great marinade for meat too).

Grilling veggies is good too (especially if you're already using the grill for steaks or hamburgers). Asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes and onions are all good on the grill.

Oh and don't forget about the magic of cauliflower! You can make cauliflower "mashed potatoes" (with a little coconut milk, olive oil, salt & pepper) and cauliflower "rice" to go with stir frys, curries or paleo jambalaya. Yum!

That's all for now. As I think of more, I will post them. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments.


  1. GREAT INFO, Alima! When I grow up I want to run a kitchen like you.

  2. Brittany B says:

    This is great! I was just about to go buy some almond meal this afternoon!

  3. Brittany B says:

    Alima, this might be a long shot, but is nutritional yeast allowed with Paleo? I think it is some kind of fungus-type product and I loooove to cook with it!

  4. Alima, do you have a cauliflower mashed potato recipe??? I would love to give that a try!!

  5. Great post! I love the recipe posts, but I think these types of “Paleo lifestyle” tips are always welcome and needed. Even if it is something that I may be aware of, reading them and having them reinforced again makes me want to stay committed because I KNOW it can be done.
    🙂 BTW, could you do a post only about side dishes? I know you mentioned roasting veggies and stuff, but sometimes I’d like some ideas for quick and easy veggie sides. I’m trying to be creative, but my sad knowledge of what spices to put with which or how to make veggies more flavorful are slowly killing my creativity.
    Another question, completely random – is it a carb issue when you just eat all this food and you still feel empty? Sometimes my belly is full but I just don’t feel that satisfaction, even though I had a lot of veggies and meat (so I feel physically full but am still craving something). I have a sneaking suspicion it may really be fat and not carbs, though, because there were times when I ate Korean food and it was mostly veggies and rice, and I had that full but empty feeling afterwards. Anyway just wondering how to fix that issue, because that can derail me sometimes – I keep going around searching for something, and seeing Yogurt Mountain or Five Guys makes me want to veer off and get a yogurt or french fry fix! And that’s when I wonder if I’m craving carbs? Do I need to balance out some things better so that I feel more satiety?

  6. Good questions guys! I am going to go through and answer each one, but it might be tonight after I get Aubrey in bed before I can do that! Just wanted you to know I wasn’t ignoring your questions!
    And thanks Donna – I’m glad I can be your kitchen inspiration 😉

  7. Brittany – I don’t know much about nutitional yeast. I did some googling, but didn’t get a lot of info. What is it made from and what are the ingredient on the container? Just the word yeast makes me think no, but I could be wrong. What I read said it ” is produced by culturing the yeast with a mixture of sugarcane and beet molasses for a period of 7 days and then harvesting, washing, drying and packaging it” But then in the next paragraph said it conatined no sugar so that sort of confused me.
    Just curious, why do you like cooking with it? Does it just add flavor?

  8. Casey – I haven’t made it in a while and I just sort of made it up and tasted as I went, but here’s what I did.
    Cut up 1 head of cauliflower and steam it until soft. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut milk (best to start out with a small amount and add more if you want to thin it out), a little butter if you aren’t opposed (I eat butter on paleo, some people don’t). If you are opposed you can skip that or sub EVOO. And then salt & pepper. Then either throw it in the blender or mash with a potato masher (depending on whether you like it very smooth or a little more rustic and lumpy).
    Sorry this isn’t super specific. Like I said, it’s been a while and I don’t usually measure. 🙂 I’m sure you could google it and find a few things too!

  9. Su Jin – I know exactly what you are talking about because I have been there and to answer your questions it’s not a carb or fat issue. It’s a mental issue! That sounds kind of funny, but seriously for most of us food is more than just fuel. For most of us, we are very attached to food mentally and emotionally. That is why food is addictive just like a drug. I have battled with a sugar addition and that is when I felt the same feelings you are feeling – stomach full, but not satisfied. For you it might be carbs like bread and rice or french fries or whatever. Most of us have them and until you really break that addiction or emotional bond with that food you will feel that way.
    That is why I really like whole9life.com. If you haven’t checked out their blog you should. They are not paleo purists, but they are very big on breaking food addictions. So on their whole 30 program (which is basically like a 30 day paleo detox) they suggest NO alchohol whatsoever. No sweetners of any kind (even stevia), etc, etc. The reason they say this is not because they think people should never eat those, but for the first 30 days they are trying to break people’s bad food habbits. And if you have a sugar addiction and you do paleo and continue to eat honey you are never really breaking the sugar addiction. When I read their reasoning it made a lot of sense to me. It’s also why I don’t like Mark’s primal stuff as much. He sorta has made his version of paleo – a version that he thinks people will like better. You can have lots of alchohol. You can have dairy, etc, etc. But just because we like it better doesn’t mean it’s doing our body any benefit. And the whole point of this is to eat in a way that benefits our body and makes us the most healthy, right?

  10. Oh and P.S. I will try to do some more side dish recipes. I found a recipe for a butternut squash casserole the other night that looked tasty. It wasn’t paleo, but I am going to attempt to convert it!

  11. Brittany B says:

    Alima, the ingredients per the label are:
    Inactive Nutritional Yeast (Dried Yeast, Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12), which s basically the yeast and all the other stuff I’m pretty sure is just vitamins/minerals. Yeast is a fungus, so similar to a mushroom, and I guess the sugarcane stuff that you read is just what they use to grow it. Maybe it eats the sugar? Anyway, the labels always say that inactive yeast is dairy, gluten, and sugar free. A lot of vegetarians and vegans use it because it is a “complete” protein and also because it has a nutty, cheesy flavor. I like to sprinkle it right on top of salads (similar to parmesan cheese) or in my scrambled eggs. I also used to make fake fried chicken which was just cubes of tofu coated in nutritional yeast cooked in olive oil on the stove top. It makes a crust that tastes similar to the fried flour crust on fried chicken. I was hoping to try to use it on real chicken now. 😉

  12. I’m still not sure, but I don’t see the nutritional benefit so I am thinking I would avoid it. Whole 9 always makes their decisions based on whether that particular food has a net health benefit not just on the “would a caveman eat it” basis. Which I really agree with.
    I am always weary of foods that add a whole list of vitamins to their product. That tells me right away that their product on it’s own has no nutritional value so they are adding it with synthetic vitamins. That’s my second problem with it. All those vitamins they are adding are most likely sythetic, of very low quality and your body won’t absorb them the way you would absorb vitamins from fresh vegetables or fruit.
    Sorry to rain on your parade. I am going to check around and see what else I can find out. I might email Melissa from Whole 9 and ask her what she thinks about it. I will let you know if I get a response.
    In the mean time, my suggestion would be to use do a nut-crusted chicken instead. Pecans are really good that way. Unsweetened coconut flakes are good to use as crusts too!

  13. Apparently, Mark Sisson states that Primal’s biggest difference from Paleo (in the tradition of Loren Cordain) is its greater allowance for saturated fats(he’s all about butter and bacon, which, um, sounds great because they are both tasty – LOL), and yes, he does allow for more things that Paleo doesn’t, but I don’t know if he’s saying go ahead and eat a lot of all these things. He does like his wine and cheese, but I think those are things that are personal preferences too. Since he’s already where he wants to be, he could probably work those into his diet without detriment. Whereas, for some folks who aren’t quite where they want (or ought) to be, having a glass of wine is probably a bad idea. Even on Paleo, if you have dialed in your nutrition pretty good and are at a maintenance stage, having a bit of non-Paleo stuff is okay occasionally (says Kyle, if it makes you happy, it may be worth it to you). I agree with that, and maybe that’s why Primal seems less stressful to me (I say that, but I usually stick to Paleo-style of eating when I am trying to be stric; when I’m relaxed about it, I have some wine, cheese, butter, and rice – you shoulda known the rice was gonna be on that list! LOL~). He acknowledges that everyone’s different and that dairy or alcohol doesn’t work for everyone. Either way, I think it’s also using common (Paleo) sense and listening to your body. Some people have worse reactions to certain foods, so then you shouldn’t eat it (duh). And some folks do okay with having a glass of wine a day. So I try to maintain a balance, taking wisdom from both camps. 🙂
    Okay, enough about that. Yes! More side dishes! And I have read the Whole 9 30-day challenge, and it scares me off every time…LOL~ Like, literally, I make up my mind and clamp down and try to do it, and then I read over it and I go run and hide in a corner. I’m a wuss! But at some point, I know it has to be done so I am working up to it.
    Oh! And I found some coconut crystals (I was really looking for the liquid form, but I don’t think WF has it). Nichele said you talked about it. I’ve only used it in a smoothie to sweeten it up a bit and tried to make coconut butter chocolate (I think that one’s a failure…). What have you used it in?

  14. I think we disagree on a few fundamentals of paleo. When you use words like

  15. Kyle Deneke says:

    I have to agree with Alima on this. I don’t want anyone to confuse the idea of it being “worth it to you” with the idea of it being ok to do. “Worth it” is just a nice way of saying “if you are to weak to give it up then…” However the goal should be that you realize that it is not “worth it” in the long run.