We’ve heard the buzzword Paleo and we want to be in the know, but words are just words. Let’s got to the practical here, shall we? Which foods exactly should we stock our pantry with to keep us Paleo-friendly? According the the experts, there are a few staples you should always have in your kitchen. And if you want to cook some Paleo dishes, you need recipes, too.
Stick with us, kids.
OUR FAVE PALEO ESSENTIALS
Made from tropical roots, this starchy powder is a good stand-in for wheat flower or cornstarch in “breading” meats and thickening sauces. The substitution ratio in recipes is 2 teaspoons of arrowroot per 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or wheat flower.
Use organic, unrefined coconut oil for optimal health benefits. It lends a somewhat buttery flavor to dishes and can be used at higher temperatures without oxidizing (which means it remains good for you, even if you turn up the heat). Because it’s saturated, it’s solid at cooler temperatures, so it’s a good stand-in for butter in baked treats.
Fish sauce is a key ingredient that gives many Asian dishes their singular taste. Most brands include sugar, but Red Boat Fish Sauce is 100 percent paleo and Whole30 approved. It’s available online and at stores like Whole Foods. If you don’t have fish sauce handy, you can substitute 1 tablespoon coconut aminos mashed with 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (or 1 anchovy).
SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER
A healthier alternative to peanut butter, get the sugar-free variety that includes only seeds and salt. (Prepare for lusciousness!) In most recipes, you can substitute almond or cashew butter for sunflower seed butter, if you prefer.
TOMATOES & TOMATO PASTE
For quick sauces and to add depth to soups, stews, and sautés, tomatoes are like a secret weapon. Look for brands that contain only tomatoes and salt. I recommend all of the Muir Glen varieties because the cans are BPA free; I especially like the fire-roasted options.
OUR FAVE PALEO SNACK
Serves 2-4 | Prep 20 minutes | Cook 30 minutes | Whole30 compliant
Tacos versus nachos. It’s a timeless rivalry with no clear winner. I think we can all agree that a basket of crispy things, ready to be smothered in tender, spicy meat and fresh toppings can perk up a weeknight meal. So why choose?
This recipe combines the best of tacos and nachos—crispy, salty, spicy, sloppy—while ditching the soy, sugar, and grains hidden in most commercial taco seasonings. It also replaces the corn tortilla chips—verboten on the paleo diet—with homemade plantain chips that deliver a healthy dose of resistant starch. This is perfect food for refueling on a workout day—or just celebrating Taco Tuesday.
WHAT YOU NEED
2 green plantains
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1/2 medium onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- minced scallions
- jalapeño slices
- diced avocado
- shredded lettuce
- chopped tomato
- fresh lime juice
WHAT YOU DO
Preheat oven to 350F. Cover two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Prep the plantains. Cut off both ends of the plantain, then with the tip of a sharp knife, make shallow slits lengthwise along the skin. Use your fingers to pry off the strips. With a mandoline slicer on its thinnest setting, slice the plantains into coins. Use two wooden spoons to toss the slices in a large bowl with the olive oil.
Bake the plantains. Use four coins to make each “tortilla:” Lay them flat on the baking sheet with edges slightly overlapping and sprinkle with salt. While they bake, the natural starches make them stick together. Bake for about 30 minutes until very crisp and beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with additional salt, if you’re feeling it. Meanwhile…
Make the taco meat. Heat the coconut oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat, about 2 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 7-10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, cayenne, and salt. Add to the onions and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Crumble the ground beef into the pan and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Push the meat to the side of the pan and drop in the tomato paste, frying until it darkens a bit, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and vinegar; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and thickened. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Dig in! Pile the meat on top of the plantain chips and top with your favourite garnishes.
MAKE A BOWL!
Bake individual chips instead of the “tostadas” described above and serve them alongside a taco salad bowl made with lettuce, taco meat, and your favourite toppings.
Recipe courtesy of Melissa Joulwan, author of the cookbooks Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat, Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat and coming in November, Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes or Less.