Getting Started: Grocery Shopping Guide

This is a guide to grocery shopping when you are trying to start eating paleo.

Step 1: Meal Plan.  Look up paleo recipes online and look at the lists of what foods you can and can’t eat.  Figure out what you will be eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for a week.  Your meal plan can be as detailed or as simple as you want.  Remember to account for everyone in your household who will be eating the food.

Step 2: Create a grocery list based on your meal plan for the week. Account for how many servings will be needed for each meal to get an idea of how much you will need to buy.

Grocery List Categories: [fresh] vegetables, [fresh] fruit, [fresh] meat / seafood, frozen meat/seafood, frozen vegetables & fruit, eggs/almond milk, sausage/bacon, baking/spices, condiments, canned goods

Separating your list into categories will make it easier to find items and figure out if the store does not have certain things.

Avoid processed foods.  If you need to buy something that comes in a package, always read the ingredients list before buying.  You will basically be shopping around the edge of the grocery store and bypassing the middle.  You will need to go down the baking aisle for spices, natural oils, nuts, vanilla, cocoa, and other baking items.

Vinegar is usually in the condiments aisle alongside salad dressing.  Honey is usually next to the peanut butter and jelly.  Pure maple syrup can be in the baking aisle alongside agave nectar or by the other syrup, usually by peanut butter and jelly.  Almond butter will also be next to peanut butter, but I have yet to find a paleo version and simply make my own.  Almond milk is with silk in a case next to regular cow’s milk.

Coconut milk comes in a can and is in the ethnic/asian food aisle.  A higher fat content means it is “full fat” and will naturally separate into coconut water and coconut cream.  A lower fat content is not full fat, and will more likely stay homogenized.  If you buy the full fat coconut milk and need it to be mixed together, simply shake the can vigorously right before opening.

I also buy canned tomato products like tomato puree and tomato paste for making tomato based soups and sauces.  If you need to buy canned goods, make sure to always check the ingredients list.  There should only be a few ingredients listed, and you should be able to identify them all as natural foods.  If you can’t, find a different brand.

Give yourself time to adjust into eating paleo.  It will take a while to figure out which stores carry the different items you will be eating regularly.  A natural food store or a grocery store that offers a bulk option may be the best place to go to buy nuts.

Try not to buy more than a week’s worth of vegetables.  Don’t go overboard, or you will end up throwing away fresh vegetables at the end of the week when they go bad.

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Simple Homemade Chicken Soup

This recipe is adapted from the Chicken Stock recipe in the cookbook, How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  When my husband and I are sick, we eat mostly chicken soup and clementines for lunch/dinner and smoothies for breakfast.

Chicken Stock

Total Time: 5 hours or more, largely unattended

The longer your stock cooks, the better and more nutritious it will be.  I aim to cook the stock for at least 3 hours, and that’s before turning the stock into soup.  You can make your stock ahead of time, and it is very nice to keep some on hand in the freezer.  If you are freezing it, Put in in the fridge for the first day.  After the stock has fully cooled, scrape the fat off of the top and then freeze.  If you do not freeze your stock, boil it every 3 days.  This will keep it from spoiling.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds raw chicken parts and bones.  I use breasts with ribs and/or thighs, bone-in.  You could also use a whole chicken, but it is more work to clean the carcass.
  • 1 roughly chopped onion, peel and all
  • 3 roughly chopped carrots
  • 2 stalks roughly chopped celery
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4+ quarts water
  1. Put meat, vegetables and seasonings in a stockpot.  Fill with water and cover.
  2. Cook on medium for at least 2 hours.  I generally cook for at least 3.
  3. Turn off the heat and let cool
  4. Strain.  Put a large pot or bowl in the sink and rest a strainer on top.  (The kind used for pasta is fine.)  Carefully pour the contents of your stockpot through the strainer.
  5. If you are making soup now, pour the stock back into your stock pot.  If not, set it aside to cool, and then pour it into containers for storage.
  6. Toss out the vegetables and bones, saving your chicken.

Chicken Soup

Any vegetables can be used in this soup.  We are not big on carrots, celery or onions in our soup so we use greens, but you can use any vegetables you have on hand.  Next time I make this, I’m planning to try watercress.

Ingredients

  • Prepared stock
  • cooked chicken, de-boned and shredded
  • 1 head bok choy
  • 1/2 head green cabbage
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 Tbls poultry seasoning
  • 1 heaping Tbls herbed poultry seasoning
  • 1 Tbls black pepper
  • 2 heaping Tbls dried parsley
  • 1 tsp savory
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • salt to taste
  1. Pour strained stock back into stockpot.
  2. De-bone chicken and shred, add to pot.
  3. Chop vegetables and add to pot
  4. Turn heat to medium and add seasonings, adding more if desired.
  5. Cook for at least 30 minutes
  6. Eat within 5 days or freeze

Crepes!

Lately I have grown tired of plain eggs and my typical omeletes, so I decided to make crepes. Yum!  So far I have made a savory crab cake (that recipe still needs tweaking), blueberry and cream, and pumpkin pie and cream, but the filling options are limitless!  Here’s how:

Crepe Shell

Ingredients:  1 egg & 1 tsp tapioca starch per crepe.  We usually eat 2 crepes per person.

  1. Heat a small (8 or 10 inch) non-stick pan on low.  I use the number “2” for frying eggs.
  2. Mix up your batter.  I think it is easier to mix each crepe individually as I go, that way I know they will all be the right size.  For each crepe, scramble 1 egg together with about a teaspoon of tapioca starch.  You could also add almond flour and/or any seasonings you like, but this is my base.
  3. Pour batter into your hot non-stick pan and swirl to coat the entire bottom of pan.
  4. When the egg batter has set on top, the bottom should be done and it is ready to flip.
  5. After another few minutes, your crepe should be done.  The first crepe usually does not come out right.  So if your first crepe is a mess, don’t give up! Clean off your pan and try again with fresh batter.  You may need to add some oil or melted bacon grease if your batter continues to stick.

FILLING: Pumpkin Pie & Cream

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 c almond milk
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten

Mix pumpkin, honey, and spices in a medium saucepan.  Scramble the eggs and stir in with milk.  Cook on the stove at medium temperature until fully set (to guarantee eggs are fully cooked).

Blueberries & Cream

Adapted from PALEOMG’s Cherry Jam Crepe Stack

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 Tbl Agave nectar (you can use any sweetener, like honey or pure maple syrup)
  • 1 Tbl coconut oil
  • 1 – 2 Tbl tapioca starch
  • water

Add fruit, agave and oil to a saucepan and heat until all ingredients are thoroughly combined and berries are fully cooked, having turned into a blueberry syrup.  In a small cup or measuring cup, mix an equal amount of tapioca starch and water.  Stir into blueberries and watch as the filling begins to thicken.  Add more starch-water mixture if needed for desired thickness.  It should look like pie filling when you are done.

Cream:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla

Open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the cream on top.  Save the water for another use.  Mix in cinnamon and vanilla, and enjoy!  The cream will set nicely if chilled, but it will melt on hot crepes.

Assemble your crepes and enjoy!

Soft-Diet Paleo Foods

Hello All!  Living with TMJ, I sometimes need to eat a soft-food-only diet, which is the same thing I did when wearing braces after getting them adjusted.  Now that we are eating paleo, I have found that I can’t eat most of the soft foods I used to.  Hence this list!  Stay tuned for recipes off of the list.

BREAKFAST

  • Eggs, cooked any way
  • Eggs with spinach and avocado
  • Crepes
  • sweet potato / squash mash
  • smoothies – I like to make them thick and eat them like ice cream, out of a bowl with a spoon.  Yum!

ENTREES

  • SOUPS:
  • Tomato Basil Soup
  • “Pizza” soup
  • chicken soup (this has chunks, so not as soft)
  • roasted red pepper soup
  • chili (this has chucks, so it is not as soft)
  • Fish
  • Paleo Spinach Quiche
  • Spaghetti Squash & Tomato Sauce

SIDES

  • sweet potato or squash, cooked anyway besides chips
  • mashed cauliflower
  • French Cut Green beans
  • sauerkraut
  • Cooked greens (spinach, collards, mustard, turnip…)

SAVORY SNACKS / APPETIZERS

  • deviled eggs
  • avocado
  • Hard boiled eggs

DESSERTS

  • Paleo Ice Cream: blend frozen bananas and almond milk for your base.  The less milk, the more your finished product will resemble ice cream.  Add any other ingredients depending on what kind of ice cream you are in the mood for!  Frozen fruit, cocoa,  & nut butters will be my first to try. For chocolate ice cream, use cocoa powder and only add a sweetener (like honey) AFTER taste testing.
  • Paleo pie fillings
  • citrus fruit, skinned
  • cooked fruit & coconut cream
  • Smoothies

Getting on Track: Figuring Out Proper Nutrition

We’ve all heard that in order to lose weight, calories in must be less than calories out.  We also know that not all calories are the same.  Once I decided to try to get healthy (in other words, lose weight as quickly as I could for my wedding), I started thinking about what foods are the best for weight loss.  My main approach was to pay attention to how many calories were in every single thing I consumed, including drinks and condiments.  My new plan was to eat whole grains, fruit, veggies, meat, beans, and nuts, and watch how many calories I consumed a day from dairy products, condiments and beverages.  I also did my best to only eat grains with breakfast, so I would have the whole day to burn them off before bed.  This did not usually happen, although I did my best to count calories and only have one serving of grains per meal after breakfast. (This meant measuring my pasta, having one burrito and a salad instead of two, etc.) I usually had half a serving of leftovers for lunch with a salad, greek yogurt, and/or fruit.  I ate protein like cheese and peanut butter or an energy bar as snacks to help keep me full.  I also tried to only drink alcohol sparingly.  It was hard not to cheat when I did not pack a lunch and was tired of fast food salad, when I did not feel like cooking dinner, or when my significant other wanted a meal that I knew wouldn’t help me lose the pounds.  How could I resist?  The pizza and mac’n’cheese smelled amazing, I was hungry, and I was tired. I really didn’t want to cook an entirely separate meal just for me. So yes, I cheated, but I did succeed in losing a good deal of weight.  When I went to try on my wedding dress a month before the wedding, I found that it was too big and ended up getting it altered last minute.

The entire time I was dieting this way, it was a struggle.  I was never entirely sure about what I should and shouldn’t eat to best lose weight.  I figured eating healthy was the best way to go, but more often than not I wasn’t sure what “eat healthy” really meant.  So I tried to eat no more than one serving of “normal” food and fill the rest of my stomach with salad or vegetables, and then snack on fruit and “healthy” proteins like cheese, peanut butter, greek yogurt, and hummus.  It seemed like a lot of work, and I was hungry all the time.

I stopped dieting after our wedding.  I still made an effort to eat healthy, but I stopped counting calories and allowed myself pizza or a burger and fries every now and then.  As I mentioned earlier, my husband decided to get fit and healthy since our move to California.  Of course I was ready!  He spoke with a personal trainer at the gym about his new goals, and she recommended cutting out all carbs.  He did some research, and came across the Paleo diet.  He thought it sounded like just the diet he was looking for, so he told me about it.  I looked into it further, and decided that this diet made a whole lot of sense.  I had been searching for an explanation of healthy eating, and this diet offered one that was logical to me. If you are thinking about going Paleo, I would recommend doing some research on the diet first.  Here are some articles I found helpful: Beginners Guide to the Paleo Diet; Ultimate Paleo Guide.  There is also something called the “Whole 30.”  The Whole 30 is spending 30 days eating clean, whole, non-processed foods, 100% of the time – no cheating allowed.  This is meant to flush your system of any toxins and to cut out any foods your body could be allergic to.

Here are some links to great Paleo Recipe Blogs to help you get started: Stupid Easy Paleo, PaleOMG, and Paleo Plan.  You can also check out the recipes I have saved on Pinterest here.  I haven’t made all of them yet, but I will be posting the recipes I have made – and my changes to them – in the near future!

I am not going to lie to you – starting a new diet is a lot of work.  I spent  lot of time figuring out what we could eat, finding recipes, grocery shopping, and cooking during the first few weeks.  The first grocery trips were a lot of work because I didn’t know what many of the items really were on my list.  Almond butter – that’s in the butter aisle, right? Nope, it is with peanut butter.  I have yet to find a Paleo almond butter in a store, but it is very simple to make.  Eating all natural foods means cooking every meal yourself, which is not as easy as ordering a pizza or sticking a frozen lasagna in the oven when you are too tired to cook.  You can cook enough to produce leftovers though, and you can freeze things like chili for a quick and easy dinner.