Thursday, June 5, 2014

Preparing a Paleo Pantry

After providing some suggestions on preparing Paleo meals efficiently, I also wanted to include a list of good Paleo staples to have on hand so that given some fresh or frozen meats and veggies, you can whip up a variety of healthy meals.

A good place to start is with the list of basic cooking styles and what staples each one typically needs (this is by no means exhaustive):
  • Sautes - olive oil, garlic, fresh or dried herbs, salt and pepper, hot sauce, chopped or sliced nuts, coconut milk
  • Stir fry - olive oil, coconut aminos (soy sauce alternative), chili-garlic paste, vinegar (plum, balsamic), garlic, sweetener (coconut sugar, agave, stevia, etc.), sesame oil, ginger (I like a garlic and ginger paste), broth, lime juice
  • Tomato sauce with veggies and ground meats, put on zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, baked potatoes, eggplant slices, etc. - high quality canned tomatoes (I like crushed, but they can be any style and work), olive oil, fresh or dried herbs (oregano, basil, paprika, garlic) 
  • Salads - dried fruits and nuts (sweet or not), olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I love trying new flavors of both at Con Olio.  Adding these pantry staples will really improve a basic salad.  Also, you can make it more antipasti style with marinated/pickled veggies and canned tuna
  • Roasting - olive oil, canned tomatoes, salt and pepper, dried herbs, meat rubs, jarred bell peppers
  • Grilling - olive oil, dried herbs or rubs, BBQ sauces and marinades, salt and pepper
  • Tex-Mex Style - salsa, jalapeños, olives, spicy rubs for meats
  • Smoothies - juice, canned coconut milk, almond milk, dried powders, nut butters
A condensed list of basics:
  • Olive oil (Corta is a cheap but high quality brand), vinegars (balsamic, plum), dried herbs, salt and pepper, coconut aminos, chili-garlic paste, ginger (dried or paste), hot sauce (Tabasco, Sriracha, etc.)
  • Nuts - I usually buy large bags of almonds, pecans, and walnuts at Costco; other options - pine nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Dried fruit - cranberries, cherries, raisins, blueberries,
  • Canned/jarred items - tomatoes, keep a mix of large and small cans of various types; mushrooms; artichoke hearts, pickles, roasted red peppers, olives (black and green), jalapenos, tuna/salmon, salsa, nut butters, canned coconut milk
And, as you might notice from my picture, I also have a large selection of Paleo snacks which is indispensable with kids and if you go out for large amounts of time.  Here are some of my favorites (I may be addicted to variety!):

  • Large bags of trail mix from Costco; also home-made mixes; snacking nuts; dried mangos
  • Lara bars
  • KIT's Organic
  • Power Snack
  • SeaSnax roasted seaweed
  • Epic bars
  • Tanka bars
  • Paleo Diet Bar
  • Fruit Clusters
  • 180 Snacks (nut and fruit)
  • Nick's Sticks (at Snap kitchen)
  • Happy Squeeze coconut squeezes
  • Fruit Chia bars
  • Raw Revolution
  • Simple Squares
Hope this helps you get started and makes trying a Paleo lifestyle a little easier.


How to Prepare Paleo Efficiently

Now that we have been eating Paleo for almost 8 months, I feel like I have some tried and true suggestions to share about how to go about it as easily and time effectively as possible.  Of course, this needs to be tailored to your own tastes and preferences and allergies, but here are some guidelines to get you started.

1) Chop large quantities of vegetables at a time - nothing kills more time than prepping 1/2 a zucchini at a time.  You can then either make a double/triple meal with them or have them pre-chopped and on hand for omelets, salads, sautés and stir-fries.  You can always freeze them if they start to get too ripe and then pull them out for cooked meals (sauces and soups especially)

2) Cook large quantities of meat at a time - grill two chickens (or four), larger roasts, then use them with different mixes of veggies and sauces or salads later in the week for meals.

2) Prepare larger quantities of meals than you are used to - you will find yourself hungry if you just cut out grains and dairy and don't eat more.  Use the extras for breakfasts, lunches and dinner again.

3) Even eating lots of extra meat and veggies, you will need to eat higher fat foods like nuts, seeds, olives, coconut oil and avocados to feel satisfied.  I often bake muffins with almond flour or make my own granola bars or desserts with nuts and dried fruits.  Smoothies are another great way to boost your nutrition and get some healthy fats - use avocados, coconut milk and oil, bananas, and fresh, frozen or dried fruits - the variety is endless.

Fresh from the Farmer's Market and my pantry

4) Get good at a few simple cooking techniques and then get creative with lots of variations:

  • Sautes 
  • Stir fry
  • Tomato sauce with veggies and ground meats, put on zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, baked potatoes, eggplant slices, etc.
  • Salads
  • Roasting
  • Grilling
5) Breakfasts are often rushed and there aren't a lot of Paleo cereals out there to buy.  Some easy options are egg-based meals, or sausages, leftover meat, with some fruit or a smoothie, and some leftover veggies (or pre-chopped).  If you bake, then make a double batch of almond or coconut based muffins, extra points for putting veggies in them!

6) Snacks - you can make your own, but luckily there are also lots of new Paleo snacks out there, and trail mix, fruit or raw veggies are always a good option.

7) Have fun and when you miss something a lot - you can almost always find a Paleo-fied recipe of it on Pinterest!