Paleo Pantry Basics
Whatever your goals are, you’re made up your mind to try the paleo diet! A most hearty welcome to the tribe! Yet, getting started isn’t so always easy. In order to really make a go of it, one of the first things you need to do is adapt your kitchen from a place of constant temptation to one that promotes a healthy paleo lifestyle. Here’s what you need to get stated creating a basic paleo pantry:
Out with the old…
The first step is to remove all the most obvious foods that aren’t part of your new paleo lifestyle. This means that any gluten-containing foods, processed foods, refined sugar, snacks, treats, candy, and any “convenience” foods, are to be removed from your pantry. Having convenient, quick to grab snack foods around is the best way to derail your paleo efforts!
Learning to read food labels can help you to discern the quality and contents of your pantry items. Doing so can ensure your food doesn’t contain gluten, preservatives and other additives, artificial sweeteners or other non-paleo ingredients. If they do, ditch them!
However, if your family isn’t willing to give up their cookies and chips, ask them if they are willing to store these items elsewhere so they won’t be encountered in your daily routine, especially during the first 30 days while you’re still adjusting to your new way of eating.
In with the new…
Once you have your pantry is cleared of the old, it’s time to stock it full of paleo-inspired ingredients! Your pantry should be filled with easy to store items that are commonly called for in paleo cookery, plus those in case of emergency foods when you have no other options available, such as canned fish. Here are the main ingredients to keep on hand:
Coconut flour: Made from the dried flesh of coconuts, coconut flour can be used for paleo baking and desserts
Almond flour/meal: Great for breading meat as well as baking occasional paleo treats!
Arrowroot starch/flour: Used as a thickener and a good replacement for corn starch
Tapioca flour: Used as a thickener (some people with gluten intolerance can be sensitive to tapioca, so opt for arrowroot)
Coconut oil: An excellent cooking fat with many uses in paleo cooking and baking. Look for products that are not processed with heat or chemicals
Avocado oil: Great to have on hand for salad dressings and other cold applications. Look for cold-pressed varieties and store it in a opaque bottle away from light and heat as it oxidizes easily.
Extra-virgin olive oil: Excellent for using cold, like adding to already cooked recipes or salad dressings. Choose high quality, pure oil that is sold in an opaque bottle, and store away from light and heat.
Palm shortening: Can be used in place of butter or coconut oil in gluten-free baked goods. Look for non-hydrogenated options.
Dried Herbs & Spices
Keep a small stock of dried herbs such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, basil or tarragon in your pantry.
Spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, ground ginger and cloves can be kept on hand. Avoid spices blends, as they often contain anti-caking agents, monosodium glutamate, or other unpleasant ingredients.
Fresh spices, such as garlic and ginger are always great to have available, as well as fresh turmeric if you can find it in your area.
Any type of vinegar is acceptable on the paleo diet, but make sure you check the label first for it’s gluten-free status.
The most commonly vinegars used in paleo cookery are apple cider vinegar, ume plum vinegar and coconut vinegar.
Coconut Aminos: Made from coconuts, this can be used in place of soy sauce in many Asian-inspired recipes.
Fish sauce: Made from anchovies and sea salt, fish sauce adds a splash of umami to a host of paleo dishes.
Honey: If possible, choose raw honey local to your area. Use sparingly!
Maple Syrup: Delicious in paleo desserts, but again, use sparingly! Grade B maple syrup is preferable because it is richer in nutrients, and more delicious!
Coconut sugar: Made from the evaporated syrup from coconut trees. Can be used in paleo baked goods, but be careful to go overboard on it!
Sea salt is full of trace minerals and free from anti-caking agents and additives. The most popular choices are grey Celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan salt.
Nuts & Seeds
Most nuts (not including peanuts) and seeds are paleo-approved, but purchase the raw sort, and without added salt.
Nut butters such as almond or cashew or sunflower seed butter are great to have on hand, but check the labels for added sugar, seed oils or other non-paleo contents.
Canned salmon, sardines, tuna, anchovies, herring or oysters make for an excellent choice for emergency meals, or for convenience when on the go.
Choose brands that are certified for sustainable fishing practices and that pack their produces in BPA-free cans. Avoid produces packed in soybean oil or other seed oils. Olive oil is fine.
Dried fruit: Keep on hand for the occasional sweet treat or added to a dessert recipe. Dates, raisins, currents and dried apricots are all terrific options.
Olives: Can be used as a recipe ingredient, added to salads or simply eaten as a snack. Buy olives packed in olive oil or vinegar, and always check the label for nightshade spices, seed oils and other non-compliant ingredients.
Gelatin: Keep on hand for making broth if you can’t source bones, thickening desserts and making gummy candies. Look for gelatin from grass-fed animals.
Coconut milk/cream: Use to thicken soups and stews, add to smoothies, whip for desserts, or simply drink it by itself. Keep an eye out for brands that come in BPA-free cans or are free from guar-gum and other non-paleo thickeners.