Healthy steps part 2- The Pantry
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When I started eliminating things from my diet, I felt very overwhelmed. What in the world can I eat? I love to bake, and any diet without sweet treats would be unsuccessful for me - what ingredients can I use? Are fries gluten free? It was definitely a learning curve for me, but I dove right in and after a short time, it became easy to spot what is and is not allowed. Thankfully, my family is on board and that makes it so much easier. If you don't have a support system to bounce things off of, please feel free to contact me with questions! The overarching rule to your pantry is this: If it's not a natural ingredient or whole food, it shouldn't be in there.
One of the biggest helps to me besides reading books, was facebook. There are so many paleo bloggers out there who are brilliant cooks and have come up with amazing recipes so I don't have to! I definitely have my favorites, so today I'll share some pantry swaps, facebook pages you may be interested in, and some of my favorite recipes from them.
- Instead of wheat flour, we use Honeyville Almond Flour - Their flour is better than Bob's Red Mill which is at most grocery stores. Bob's is too clumpy and coarse. You have to buy Honeyville online and 3 or 5lb at a time, but it's totally worth it if you like desserts or breads. Plus if you want to have it on hand but don't bake that frequently it lasts quite a while in your fridge or freezer!
- Coconut flour: Any coconut flour seems to be fine - Bob's Red Mill is at most grocery stores. It is super absorbent, and the recipes will usually call for a smaller amount. I usually buy my coconut flour from Honeyville as well, it's very fine and great quality!
- Arrowroot Flour - Bob's Red Mill also makes this, and while I haven't used it often, it is occasionally used as an addition to other flour in baking recipes.
- Almond Butter - I know it's not a flour, but just as a point of information, some baking recipes use nut butters as the base. No flour at all! (*Most nut butters can substitute for each other like sunbutter, almond butter, and cashew butter, so use what you have on hand, or what is cheapest at your grocery).
This depends a little bit on how strictly paleo you want to be. Depending on your health goals, there are lots of options!
- Rice noodles: Taste great, works well as a regular pasta substitute. If you are avoiding grains altogether, this is a no go, but if you are just trying to avoid wheat and you have no issues digesting rice, then this is a yummy option.
- Quinoa noodles: These also taste great! Same caution as above - it depends on how sensitive your tummy is, you can certainly see how you do with them. Taste-wise they are very god, and sometimes a box is rice+quinoa.
- One of my favorites is spaghetti squash! It's a vegetable and works really great in place of spaghetti noodles. Added bonus, it's super low calorie and counts as your vegetable intake for dinner! See how to prepare it here: Cooking Spaghetti Squash
- Shiritaki Noodles - I haven't tried these yet, but I can't wait! They are made from yams, have no carbs, and are either ZERO, or very very low calorie! (whaaaaaaaaaat??). Here is how to prepare them: Cooking Shiritake Noodles
I mostly use coconut oil - you can find it at most grocery stores. Don't bother looking in the "healthy" or "gluten-free" sections, as those brands are usually way more expensive. Just go to the baking isle and it's right next to olive oil.
Olive oil - yes I use it!
I try to use either grass fed butter, or coconut oil (recipes will often tell you if you can substitute).
- I am dairy free as much as possible, and no longer buy dairy milk. We do always have Almond Milk and/or Coconut Milk in the fridge for baking, or for the gluten-free cereal I let my son eat. I usually get unsweetened, but sometimes Vanilla.
- Don't get this confused with Coconut Cream or Coconut Milk that come in cans. This is the type of coconut milk generally called for in baking recipes. Generally coconut milk in a can separates into coconut milk AND coconut cream. Unless the recipe says otherwise, always get the full fat (not the LITE) version. You can find the cans in the ethnic isle.
- You can make your own Coffee Creamer with coconut milk too! I did this for quite awhile myself, and got used to it but now I cheat and buy premade So Delicious Coconut Creamer which I know isn't as great, but it tastes so good and it's less work for me!
- Honestly, I hardly use any anymore! A lot of recipes call for dates (I like Medjool!) as a sweetener and they work really well.
- Also, cocoa powder for chocolate recipes - it really adds a lot of flavor without needing extra stuff.
- I do use 100% Maple Syrup on my pancakes.
- I've gotten away from adding it to my coffee, but sometimes I use Stevia or Truvia (basically the same thing) for my coffee.
- Honey, or Raw honey.
- Coconut Palm Sugar
- And for a lot of recipes that are chocolate based like my favorite brownie recipe that call for added chocolate chips, I use dairy free, soy free, gluten free Enjoy Life chocolate chips. I have found them at Kroger, Walmart, Health Foods, and Earth Fare. Different stores carry different sizes, like chunks vs. minis. I know that's a long list of things those chocolate chips DON'T have, but let me tell you, they DO have the most amazing taste!
If you have boys in your house, you probably need easy snacks on hand! This has actually been a process for me, as I now think I might also be sensitive to corn. If you have no issues, then switch from chips made from flour tortillas, to chips made from corn! Watch for the non-GMO
But don't despair! Even with sensitive tummies, you have lots of options.
- Potato chips (believe it or not) are an occasional treat. Look for bags that only list potatoes, oil, and salt on the ingredients like Cape Cod Potato Chips.
- Vegetable chips like Terra Chips are soooooo yummy and come with lots of different seasonings.
- Rice chips like Lundberg Rice Chips also come in several varieties and are super delicious.
- You may also see options in your grocery store for lentil, or black bean chips. My suggestion is to always check the labels until you get used to brands that you like. They should only consist of ingredients you are familiar with.
My husband and my son are not dairy free. They kind of refused that step, and love to indulge in crackers and cheese! Oh how I miss that. Crackers however, I do love on occasion and Blue Diamond NutThins are awesome!
What's great about these swaps is they are yummy and you can find most of them at your regular grocery store!
Paleo Blogs/Website I Love
Be sure to favorite the sites on your computer or "like" the facebook pages so you can get updates on new recipes, and you have easy access for menu planning day! Also, most of these have pinterest pages as well.
Elena's Pantry and her facebook page. I love her, because her site is organized by category. Whether you are gluten-free, paleo, egg-free, nut-free, candida diet, etc....she makes it easy to navigate. Plus, her recipes are ALL amazing. She really experiments a lot before posting her final recipes to make sure they are truly wonderful. You are not disappointed with her recipes, and you will find several below when I link to lots of my go-to favorites! Her recipes were a big help during my transition!
Against All Grain and her facebook page. I. LOVE. HER. Not only do I love her recipes, Danielle Walker seems to be an incredibly sweet, genuine, loving person. Her recipes are truly delicious and I recently bought 1 of her "old" cookbooks and pre-ordered her new one. So far, I am loving her recipes. Just yesterday my son and I made homemade JELLO using gut-healing gelatin and no sugar added fruit juice. It was a success!
PaleOMG and her facebook page. Her site is also well organized, and one of my favorite things about her site is she has a whole crockpot section! In a world where you have to make most of your own food, the crockpot is a time saver!
The Paleo Mom and her facebook page. If you are interested in more information on paleo for kids, autoimmune diseases and paleo, and the paleo lifestyle, she posts lots of interesting articles that might help you! She also has several recipes on her site and she has a cookbook I'm interested in getting The Paleo Approach.
Nom Nom Paleo and her facebook page. Looking for more recipes? She has lots on her site and she also has a cookbook I haven't purchased yet Nom Nom Paleo for Humans. She also has a resource section on her site where you can find lots of information about the paleo lifestyle and link to the websites of other paleo gurus.
Taylor Made it Paleo and her facebook page. You won't believe that she is only 21 when you try her recipes! They are really yummy! She may love dessert as much as I do :) Muffins, scones, cookies, ice cream.....she has a recipe for that!
Slim Palate and his facebook page. Even younger, is 18 year old Joshua who had a weight transformation and started cooking paleo, creating scrumtions creations himself! He has one of the most amazing Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes I've tried so far! Plus, he does all his own photography! Truly talented. This up and comer just came out with his first cookbook The Slim Palate Paleo Cookbook
The Spunky Coconut and her facebook page. Kelly seems like a really wonderful person as well. While she has some dinner recipes on her site, I feel like she really specializes in sweet treats - specifically - ICE CREAM! I am so thankful for her new cookbook Dairy Free Ice Cream - the recipes are sooooooooooooo good.
Finally, Stupid Easy Paleo and her facebook page. She not only posts recipes, but articles that help you make informed decisions for your personal choices, like "Are White Potatoes Paleo?" "Why am I still hungry on Paleo" etc...
You will find out who your favorites are, and soon build up some go-to sites and favorite recipes! You can't go wrong with any of these paleo chefs. They know what they are doing, so we don't have to do the legwork. YAY!
You may wonder why there are so many recipes for desserts vs dinners when the point of paleo is eating fruits vegetables, nuts, and meat. Well like Elana said on one of her posts recently, it's not very hard to make a chicken dinner recipe paleo is it? Much more tricky to figure out how to make our desserts and satisfy our sweet tooth without the bad ingredients. And I am so glad that there are so many options out there!
Some of my Favorites
(besides eggs, sausages, fruit and coffee)
3 Ingredient Plantain Pancakes
Apple Coffee Cake
Sweet Potato Hashbrowns (I throw in tons of my own spices and sometimes add onion!)
Chocolate Chip Scones - whaaaaat? I just made these and they were UH-MAY-ZING. House guests wouldn't know they are paleo. Great for a weekend treat!
Green Chili Turkey Burger (I use beef usually because that's what I have on hand!)
CROCKPOT Chicken Enchilada Stew (if you want less spice, skip the jar of jalapenos)
Chicken with Ginger & Green Onion Salt Dip - one of the easiest AND most delicious meals EVER!
** I really only use the recipe for the dip, and I usually double or even triple it. Cook the chicken however you want and just use 5 minute rice! Just drizzle the dip on top of your plate filled with rice and chicken. Extremely flavorful and a little bit goes a long way!
Paleo Pad See Ew
Summer Vegetable Tian - I made this before being more strict with dairy, but let's be honest, I'll probably cheat occasionally. When I do, I like to use natural cheese like ORganic Valley Raw Cheddar Cheese
Brownies so easy and delicious.
Christmas Cake - This is SOOOOOOO amazing. A little bit of work because you have to watch boiling the orange for an hour and a half (keep an eye on it, mine doesn't take that long to split and become soft) but the end result is so worth it. Everyone that has tasted it has told me how much they love it. Plus it's so healthy I have eaten it for breakfast before. Definitely a great recipe for Christmas gifts to neighbors and friends!
Chocolate Layer Cake - This is definitely involved. But everyone deserves a cake for their birthday and this won't disappoint!
Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt
For more breakfasts, dinners, snacks, and treats, I highly recommend the following cookbooks. They are packed with AMAZING recipes I can't post here!
Practical Paleo - If you have specific health issues you want to address by changing your diet, this is a great resource for you.
Against All Grain
She has everything you need through your day, breakfast, snacks, treats, drinks, and dessert!
Dairy Free Ice Cream
Craving that mint chocolate chip ice cream from ColdStone? What about Rocky Road, or Bing Cherry? She has those recipes plus vanilla, chocolate, fried banana and many more!
I hope that this has helped you! This is by far the most comprehensive list I have ever put together, but I'm sure it's incomplete! If you have questions about something specific I didn't mention, let me know! I may not have an answer, but if I do I'm happy to share and I'll try to update this post accordingly!