If you are just learning about the Paleo diet, one of the first challenges is to figure out which food groups are acceptable and which are not.  We know that the idea behind this diet is to eat the way the cavemen ate. That means lots of lean animal protein, fresh fruits and vegetables. Whether you strictly follow the Paleo diet or just want to implement some of the core practices, here are some tips to getting started.

Take a look in your refrigerator and in your kitchen pantry. What do you see? If there are lots of packaged foods, breads, pastas, cookies, crackers and chips, get rid of them. Do you have milk, cheese, yogurt, mayonnaise and ice cream in your fridge? Throw them out. Then open your crisper drawer and take inventory. You should have lots of fresh green vegetables and fresh fruit. And be sure to stock up on eggs. They are a great source of protein and are very versatile.

Let’s get started with breakfast. Since the main ingredient in the Paleo diet is lean meat, how about your basic bacon and eggs? Or better yet, how about some steak and eggs? Or you could take some fresh vegetables like spinach, broccoli or asparagus and sauté them with scrambled eggs or fold them into a nice omlette. Breakfast, quick and easy and delicious.

Working off this same theme, let’s keep it simple and delicious. Start with a nice big bowl of leafy greens like romaine, spinach, arugala. Then add your favorite lean protein like tuna, salmon, roast beef or chicken. Top with a fresh vinaigrette of olive oil and lemon juice and you have a healthy salad that is also a meal!

Dinner combinations are endless. Simply select a protein of your choice, maybe some shrimp or scallops or fish if you like seafood, or go for pork chops or maybe some ribs. Then add two or three of your favorite vegetables, season with fresh herbs, salt and pepper and roast them in the oven. Seafood and roasted vegetables – delicious! 

At any time during the day, you can snack on fresh fruit. If it’s fruit, it’s good! And really it’s the same with your vegetables. If it’s a vegetable, it’s a good thing with one exception. Try to stay away from potatoes.

The third category of Paleo diet foods is nuts and seeds. They are very nutritional, make great snack foods and can help curb your hunger between meals. And there is such a wide variety to choose from. Some of the best are walnuts, cashews, almonds and pistachio. Or munch on some pumpkin or sunflower seeds, both good sources of potassium and dietary fiber. When you select your nuts and seeds at the grocery store or natural food store, try to stay away from the seasoned and salted varieties. They can add a lot of unwanted sodium to your diet.

Let’s get started! Just remember, no ice cream! 

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    Sherri Simons is a writer and food enthusiast. She also collects cookbooks.


    July 2012