Image above from What’s Wrong with Legumes? from Easy Paleo
The exclusion of legumes in the Paleo approach is probably one of the top 3 topics that I receive a lot of questions, skeptical looks and outright criticisms of. (The other 2 being the omission of grains & liberal use of fats in the diet, especially animal fats.)
Just to clarify, legumes are beans & peanuts.
These are both foods that I previously enjoyed before going Paleo. I mean, who doesn’t love peanut butter? Also, I am from Missouri and George Washington Carver is one of our state heroes and a part of our state history. Sometimes credited with the invention of peanut butter, but legitimately found 300+ uses for peanuts. How could our beloved peanuts be bad for us?
Beans were also one of my favorite foods, I loved all the different varieties. Butter beans, black beans, refried beans, beans & cornbread…OMG. Now I am really starting to get nostalgic One of my favorite pre-Paleo recipe creations was a really amazing Smoky BBQ Chili that had 3 or 4 different kinds of beans in it. Also, a lot of people out there rely on beans as an inexpensive food to sustain their family. My great-uncle was just telling me that he probably ate beans everyday of his life growing up with a big farm family.
Nearly any dietitian or conventional wisdom based health article will tell you that beans are an excellent source of fiber & protein that spare you the fat & the calories of meat. We should be increasing them in our diets. Even planning meat-less meals, using beans as a substitute. My 1st grade daughter recently brought home a nutrition handout from school that promoted peanut butter & beans as good sources of protein.
This is simply one of those areas of the Paleo diet that is in direct opposition to conventional dietary advice.
So, why no beans? Why no peanuts? If you are thinking about this as you visualize cavemen hunting and gathering, beans require A LOT of preparation (soaking and extensive cooking) to be edible. If you aren’t into the whole caveman thing then consider this:
Read more from the Whole9 crew in The Legume Manifesto.
It was really hard for me to give up beans. They were a food that I enjoyed and considered “healthy.” It was so easy for me to give up gluten and soy, because I had such a skin reaction when I did eat them. I didn’t have that experience with beans, so I still “wanted” them, from time to time. After a few months of pretty strict Paleo, I decided to indulge in some yummy hummus at a Middle Eastern restaurant and I ENJOYED. EVERY. BITE. A few hours later I was sleeping in the spare room because I was too embarrassed to sleep in the same room as my hubby! Yep. You know what I am talking about. I was lying in bed till 2 AM, unable to sleep. Not worth it.
Growing up, we even seemed to know that beans weren’t going to agree with us. They have their own song:
So, enjoy a quieter digestive system without your beans. And with peanut allergies at an all time high, with very serious risks and complications, replacing peanuts & peanut butter seems to be a great idea. My kids have no issues with peanuts, but attend nut-free schools and have classmates with severe allergies.
Fortunately, all kinds of nut butters are available in regular grocery stores and even more options in specialty markets. With a good food processor you can pretty easily make your own! Using nuts besides peanuts is a little more expensive, but still affordable and full of nutrition. (You know, the kind of nutrition that your body can actually absorb!) We use almond butter & sunflower seed butter regularly for snacks and in recipes.
Beans are more difficult to “replace,” but you can have meat, so that is even better, right? I have modified my chili and now it is delicious. Even without beans. And when I have cooked it for a (non-Paleo) group, no one has ever yelled out in horror “Where are the beans?”
But, if you are a person, like me, that is missing hummus …
Paleo & kids. How does it work? It can work, but I think it is about 1000 times harder than if you are a single, Cross-fitting, 20-something. One of the reasons I started blogging, about 1 1/2 years ago, was because very few of the Paleo/Primal resources I was using seemed to have families in mind. I loved the blogs, websites and recipes, but they just didn’t seem to “speak to” my situation. Things have changed a lot in the last couple of years though and there are now lots of incredible, informative resources out there for you and your family. I can’t wait to share them with you in this post! I am really excited that some of the big names in Paleo (Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser, Dallas & Melissa Hartwig) are beginning their journeys into parenthood and I am sure some amazing resources will result! My plan for this post is to:
When I first went Paleo, I had already been on a path of “Clean Eating”. (Few processed foods, rare fast food visits, careful reading of labels, varied whole grains, more veggies & fruits, etc…) I had very healthy pregnancies, deliveries & breastfeeding experiences. Baby #1 was healthy as a horse. Never sick. Then, quickly along came Baby #2 and was he a whole different story. My boy was practically born with an ear infection. He was an excellent nurser and a great eater, but he had an ear infection every 3 weeks until 7 months. Trip after trip to the Dr, where we were given antibiotics over and over. To the point at 7 months when the meds were so strong, he couldn’t even keep them down. We were told our only option was tubes in the ears. I had been reading and researching like crazy & decided to go dairy-free (He & I, because of the breastfeeding). Within days, the congestion was gone and never an ear infection again. After a few months, we tried reintroducing a little yogurt here, some cheese there and no ill effects. Straight milk, however immediately resulted in a little bit of congestion or his actual ears turning bright red for a few minutes. We weren’t quite ready to go Paleo, but you could say that this was our first adventure into looking at specific foods as a trigger for medical, health and behavioral issues. (Grapes/grape juice or any artificial coloring would turn this kid UPSIDE DOWN within 15 minutes.)
So, a year or so later when this Mama was struggling so much with her own issues, I was open-minded about eliminating specific foods to see if I noticed a difference. I never thought the path would lead us here, but it did. I am lucky that my kids were already used to eating healthier than the average kid. However, what I wouldn’t give to have been Paleo a little earlier. Just like many of you out there, my kids are “transition” kids. They have had some of the ‘good stuff’, and they know how light, fluffy & sweet it is! I also have quite the range. My daughter is a VERY PICKY eater, but my little guy will eat ANYTHING! (I also do not claim to be “Perfectly Paleo” at anytime. My kids are 80-90%, but with my damaged stomach, I don’t have that kind of wiggle room.)
The Godmother of Paleo. A personal friend of Robb Wolf, she had the first blog, the first cookbook, the first everything. And it is all good stuff. I highly suggest that you get both of her cookbooks and not just for the recipes. Her personal story is very motivating. At the same time, she gives excellent advice on time management, exercising & how to spend family time in meaningful ways. While two of her children were young when she “went Paleo,” she also had a teenager that was difficult to transition. She shares the story in the cookbooks & blog. Great visuals in her first book on how to workout with your kids at home. They are essentials in a Paleo library! She also has an informative & fun FREE podcast, Paleo Talk, with Chrissy Gower (see below) that covers all parts of being Paleo that is geared towards women and mothers.
Chrissy Gower’s cookbook is really great for a couple of reasons. First, the introduction explaining her personal path to Paleo and her challenge in cooking for a husband that is a very picky eater is a lot of fun to read. Robb Wolf is Chrissy’s brother-in-law. However, she didn’t run to Paleo with open arms. Second, the recipes really are delicious & SIMPLE. These recipes do not require a lot of fancy ingredients & as you can gather from the title are primarily CrockPot cooking. If you don’t consider yourself much of a cook, check out her cookbook & website. Simple ingredients and simple recipes with an emphasis on flavor. She has learned to cook for a picky eater and you can tell with this book. She is also a very integral part of the Paleo Talk podcast & might be one of the first bloggers I have run across to really detail a Paleo pregnancy. She loves using Penzey’s spice blends, just like I do, but is kind enough to develop spice blend recipes to mimic Penzey’s for her readers.
Paleo Parents (Eat Like a Dinosaur: Recipe & Guidebook for Gluten Free Kids, Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes That Respect The Whole Hog) – Matthew McCarry & Stacy Toth
These folks are a powerhouse of information when it comes to Paleo & kids. They transitioned 3 kids to Paleo while losing a combined total weight of 200 lbs. In the meanwhile, they solved a bunch of health & behavior issues with the kids. All while writing a very in-depth and visually stunning blog, working full time jobs (he is a stay at home dad, she works outside the home) & putting together the 1st Paleo kids cookbook. There really isn’t a thing that they aren’t willing to share about their journey & struggles with Paleo. (Everything from loose skin, entertaining vegan relatives, packing Paleo lunches for a nut-free school & how Paleo affects your sex drive.) This is one of my go-to sites for baking recipes! You will love them for their Pumpkin Pucks & Easy Peasy Pancakes, alone! Although they have LOTS of other great stuff! I am really looking forward to their Beyond Bacon book which is available for pre-order now. (Just click the link above.) Stacy also co-hosts a FREE podcast with…
The Paleo Mom – (The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease, Heal Your Body) -Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D.
Direct from the blog: “The Paleo Mom is a scientist turned stay-at-home mom who shares recipes, explains the science behind the paleo diet and its modifications, and blogs about the challenges of raising a paleo family.” This is a SMART blog, but don’t think it won’t be full of everyday ideas. Sarah has everything covered and then some. Her personal story (120 lb weight loss, health & healing) is remarkable and worth a look. She is also an expert on the Auto Immune Paleo protocol (AIP). When adopting a paleo diet isn’t enough to take care of some intense health issues, this is the route to take and she is one of the best resources for those following it. Sarah collaborates with Stacy on The Paleo View, another FREE podcast that is full of information geared towards women & families.
This is one of my favorite blogs. I think sometimes that i read it and check in just for motivation to be a better person! Shanti is married to Superman, as she lovingly refers to him, and he, like me, is a late in life celiac diagnosis. So their path to Paleo is spurred by his health journey, but as usual everyone benefits. They have 5 kids, age 10 and under. She is a stay at home, homeschooling Mama & he is a high school teacher. Now you are starting to understand the title of their blog! Now, what is your excuse for not doing Paleo again? It’s too hard? —This a very warm, inviting and motivating blog that isn’t super-polished. She is a real wife and mom and it comes across it each post. Another great feature that she offers is very detailed 30 Day At Home CrossFit Challenge Workouts. If you don’t have a CrossFit box near you, or the expense of a membership is a problem, she has you covered.
This is my Go-T0 resource for anything related to baking. Her recipes are foolproof. Although she began as gluten-free, she has evolved to Paleo and her recipes are very easy to follow. I have made substitutions for various oils to coconut oil & sweeteners to maple syrup/honey with no issues. Looking forward to the newest cookbook.The cookbooks are wonderful, but an extensive amount of recipes are available on her blog, for FREE! The Chocolate Cupcakes have passed the non-Paleo test at several parties & the Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies have been winners everywhere I have taken them. Cooking has trial and error opportunities, baking does not. Save yourself money, time & energy by following recipes by an experienced baker!
Paleo Non Paleo -Alison Golden
I love Paleo Non Paleo! Alison is one of the few people out there that are writing about how difficult it is to be Paleo when you don’t know ANYONE ELSE that is following the lifestyle. She also chronicles specifics on how she has dealt with her own health issues. She has a real gift for breaking the problems down and is honest about how her family handles them. You will find a friend in Alison as you read her posts about family, kids, jumping hurdles and dealing with all life’s little surprises. She happens to score really great interviews with some of the big names in Paleo, as well. Read Top Paleo Bloggers: Their Best Tips and Nighttime Reads.
3 Diets One Dinner - Brittanie Duncan
I stumbled upon this site through Facebook. The title caught my eye: Brittanie is Paleo, her husband and kid are not. Her blog posts & yummy looking recipes can give you some ideas on how to handle a family, when not everyone is following the same dietary plan that you are. Check out Spaghetti Night. She has a really great post if you are interested in The Paleo Diet for Weight Loss.
Nom Nom Paleo is the blog for you if you love yummy food and lovely food photography. She is a foodie, that just happens to be Paleo. In collaboration with her husband (Fit Bomb), she has created a really beautiful site that has one several awards for photography and content. Not just “best of” the Paleo community, the entire food blogging community! She also manages to crank out a lot of delicious food while raising two boys and working night shifts. This blog is beautiful, mouth-watering, entertaining and real. A great place to stop and figure out how to cook with a pressure cooker or a sous vide. There is no cookbook available, but they created an app for iPad that not only features recipes, but step by step cooking processes and TONS of pictures. I don’t have it (we don’t have an iPad), but all reviews seem to think it is the BOMB. Personally, I can vouch for her Slow Cooker Lemongrass & Coconut Chicken Drumsticks & Slow Cooker Kalua Pig. Michelle also did an extensive blog series on packing Paleo lunches which is another must read.
Whole Family Strong – Brandon & Jacque
Some blog readers sent me to this site and I have just been blown away by the great content. Jacque is a homeschooling stay at home mom to 3 (and another on the way) young children. Everything is covered here including transitioning to Paleo, how Paleo affects her son’s Type 1 Diabetes, spirituality and relationship with Jesus Christ, finance, time management & of course it covers all her cooking. Written in preparation for the new baby, the post on Healthy Freezer Meals should be appealing to any family. Real Food Munchies & 12 Tips for Pinching Your Paleo Pennies are other must reads for your family!
I found this site when looking for posts on packing lunches. Getting Your Family’s Buy-In for Real Food Lunches is a post that everyone, Paleo/Primal or not should read. There are literally hundreds of pictures of lunches that the blogger is packing for her young daughters and her husband. If you are a visual person and looking to be inspired, this is the blog for you!
Civilized Caveman - George
Okay, George isn’t married & doesn’t have kids. Why am I suggesting him as a family friendly Paleo blogger? Because his food is delicious. Recipes like Paleo Banana Bread (with 3 variations), Apple Dijon Burger & Crock Pot “Smoked Beef Brisket are family favorites of ours.
The Wellness Mama – Katie
Food & recipes is just one thing that The Wellness Mama offers. I love this crisp, fresh site. Some of the articles I have found most interesting lately include: Oil Cleansing for Naturally Perfect Skin, 12 Uses for Gelatin, 9 Easy Ways to Boost Your Child’s Health.
This is another new blog I am following and it is a GOLD MINE of useful posts. I was in love as soon as I saw the header for the blog. I have been sharing the weekly meal planning posts on my FB page. For a taste of what they have to offer check out: Paleo Meal Planning – Family Favorites, Paleo Meal Planning – K.I.S.S, Paleo Meal Planning – Cheap & Easy.
This list was meant to be extensive, but I chose to only profile sites that I visit on a regular basis. I am sure that there are many more out there that would be useful for those of us struggling to survive the “real world” while teaching our kids the Paleo lifestyle. If you know of any great sites that I have missed, please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you follow my Instagram account, you may have noticed that sweet potato fries are one of our new favorite foods. Mostly because my picky eater has grown to love my new method for making them. She requests them twice a week! I am so thrilled to have another healthy food that she looks forward to!
The bad news is, I can’t really give you the recipe.
To clarify, I have been using the recipe from Paleo Indulgences, but have altered it a bit to make it easier! She includes an extra step in the prep of the sweet potatoes that is quite genius. It really makes a difference in the final texture of the sweet potato fries. This recipe is not published on her website/blog & I searched through lots of Paleo blogs to see if someone else was doing a similar thing. No such luck. I am not really into giving away other people’s recipes or infringing on copyright, so I will just say buy the book, flip through it at the bookstore or check it out from your library. You will not be sorry. My review of Paleo Indulgences can be found here.
My little adaptation of the recipe includes tossing the prepped fries in coconut oil, crushed garlic & Penzey’s Tsardust Memories Seasoning (salt, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg & marjoram) before baking.
There are TONS of recipes for Sweet Potato fries on various blogs & in some of the published Paleo cookbooks. I have tried a few of them and they have all turned out well. These are just the ones that have turned out GREAT!
I may have a bit of a cookbook collecting problem. That Amazon Prime free shipping offer is just too tempting. For months, the cookbook Paleo Indulgences was recommended for me available on Pre-Order. I wasn’t that familiar with the author, Tammy Credicott of The Healthy GF Life, & honestly felt a little guilty about buying a book that was “all desserts.” However, after reading some positive reviews and looking for some reliable coconut flour baking recipes, I decided that having a dessert heavy Paleo cookbook might not be such a bad thing.
I was pleasantly surprised when Paleo Indulgences arrived on my doorstep. It is very striking and simple. The images are crisp, but cozy.
The recipe organization is a bit whimsical:
Yes, you read that right. It is a PALEO cookbook, complete with introduction by Robb Wolf. In just a few pages, Tammy Credicott gives a nice little summary about what Paleo IS and ISN”T, along with some guidelines on how to apply it to your family life.
The book really won me over with my initial flip through, when I stumbled upon recipes to make some “copy-cat” Girl Scout cookies. Finally, a Paleo author that gets me! It isn’t that I can’t live without Thin Mints, because I can. And have for a couple of years, now. The dilemma is that I am a mother to a wonderful little Girl Scout, that I try to keep gluten-free. Having a Paleo friendly version of those little fundraising munchies is going to make cookie season much more bearable for us. Just knowing that we have that option helps take the stress out of an unavoidable part of the year.
The biggest surprise with this cookbook has been that it is not all desserts. There are several main dish, appetizer and snack recipes. I immediately made the Chicken ‘n Dumplings recipe. It was wonderful. The dumplings were made of coconut flour, which made them very light and fluffy. By the end of the week, I made Mandarin Chicken and Asian Pork Lettuce Wraps. Everything was delicious!
What I really liked about Tammy’s recipes were that they were simple with not a lot of “unusual” ingredients. Pantry staples. Also, every recipe in this book is one you recognize as being home cooking or a restaurant favorite. This is the book that I want to hand out to my friends and family and say “Hey, LOOK! You can STILL HAVE THAT!” In my opinion, this would be the perfect book to hand a friend that is interested in experimenting with Paleo or transitioning to Paleo. Especially if they have kids!
Now for the baking and the desserts!
I have been looking for more reliable coconut flour based recipes. I made the Blueberry Crumb Muffins, which were excellent. I especially liked her creativity in using chopped seeds as a crunchy topping. It made these muffins an extra delicious bakery-style treat, but safe to send to our Nut-Free schools. (Don’t mind the fact that they are a little green in the picture below. I used frozen blueberries and my little guy was none too gentle when mixing. Still delicious!)
The biggest hit in the house were the Decadent Brownies. This coconut flour recipe will be in our regular rotation. In all honesty, it is probably the BEST coconut flour baking recipe I have ever made. The husband and the kids just loved them. They are perfect for cutting up, freezing and packing in our little Nut-Free lunches. This recipe made purchasing the book worthwhile.
I really couldn’t be more pleased with this cookbook. I plan on cooking my way through it. I am also really excited to have this book for the holiday season. There are several coconut oil based candy recipes that I am glad we can have on hand for holiday parties. I have already made a shopping list so that I can do some cooking and baking here and there, freezing the goodies for the holiday season. It is really nice to know that I can continue some holiday traditions with my kids to share with our non-Paleo friends and family. The perfect resource is right on our bookshelf!
Don’t take my word for it! Here are some other great reviews of Paleo Indulgences, some include a recipe you can experiment with on your own:
Paleo Parents is still, hands down, one of favorite Paleo resources. Of the big names in blogs, cookbooks & podcasts, they are the ONLY ones that have kids (3) and have transitioned to Paleo from a Standard American Diet. This is huge! They freely share their obstacles, their compromises, their inventive baking recipes and their health obstacles and successes. If you have a family and are trying to figure out how to do the best for your health, but navigating the “real world” as well, it is a great blog to follow.
I knew these Pumpkin Pucks were supposed to be really good, but I just hadn’t got around to making them. Wow, I am glad I finally did. They were very easy, used pantry staples and tasted delicious. They have a dense texture and really taste just like pumpkin pie! Matt and I loved them. Probably one of the best things I have baked in a while. The kids were not that thrilled, but I think it is just because pumpkin isn’t their thing. Elliot was happy to run the mixer for me and I think he would have liked them better if his sister hadn’t announced that she didn’t like pumpkin that much. Peer pressure.
The only substitutions I made in the recipe (my version is below) were using canned pumpkin and using only maple syrup instead of the honey. That was out of laziness. We topped the Pumpkin Pucks with Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds from Trader Joe’s for a little fall decoration. Next time I will probably sprinkle with the seeds about halfway through the baking time so the pretty colors don’t melt. This recipe is on my list for holiday baking and taking to parties.
(only a couple of minor substitutions made from the original recipe from Paleo Parents)
Makes 1 dozen pucks. Store at room temperature only for a day or two, otherwise keep in the fridge or freezer (if they last that long!).
A little glimpse in how to live Paleo-ish and still live in the real world, among other folks who aren’t on the same path. We had a family party today to celebrate my little guy’s upcoming 5th birthday. I think birthdays are worth bending strict Paleo rules a bit and it is easier to catch flys with honey right?
I let him pick the menu: A huge pot of chili, salad, chips and salsa, veggies & dip with an “ice cream bar with toppings” for dessert. This turned out to be a great way to have a Paleo-ish party with some gluten free treats. It was also really easy and I didn’t have to work my tail off.
1. In a blender, blend coconut milk, baby spinach, salt, vanilla, honey & mint extract till well blended.
2. Depending on your blender, you may want to strain to avoid any visible spinach. I did not have to do this.
3. Chill mixture for at least one hour, better overnight, in the fridge.
4. Follow ice cream maker’s directions.
5. When ice cream gets to soft serve stage, stir in chocolate chips.
6. When you get to desired consistency, stick in freezer to keep until serving time.
This is our favorite Paleo-ish baking recipe hands down. I make it at least once a week. Very simple and if you have some almond flour, you have pretty much everything you need. This recipe pleases Paleo folks and regular folks taste buds for a bakery good.
I have blogged before about how great Elana’s Pantry is, and the quality of her cookbooks. Quite simply, her recipes turn out every time and there are no wasted ingredients. Picking up The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook ($9.90 today with Amazon Prime!) will save you a lot of time, money and frustration, if you plan on doing much Paleo/Primal/Grain-free/Gluten-free baking for your family. One of the reasons I haven’t blogged this recipe, even though I have been making it weekly for months, is it is one of her originals that is not available on her website. I don’t like stepping on people’s toes or crossing murky lines of recipe ownership. I did find this recipe pretty similarly blogged on another site, and i have made my own little tweaks from the original, so I am ready to publish it.
Moms, girlfriends, friends….this is the recipe to try if you want to win over someone with your Paleo baking. Made purely of almond flour, eggs & coconut oil, with just a touch of sweeteners, you can feel pretty good about enjoying these with a breakfast or packing as a snack. The protein and good fats are very filling. My kids will eat 1-2 for breakfast or snack and are full for a few hours afterwards. Anybody else notice that regular chocolate chip scones/cookies/brownies don’t have that effect?
adapted from Elana Amsterdam’s Chocolate Chip Scones
I get a lot of questions about what to eat for breakfast when you don’t want to cook in the morning. I also get a lot of questions about what we snack on. This simple, easy & tasty dish fits both of those needs. We probably don’t eat this daily, but at least a couple of times a week. Since I like to keep my pantry stocked up with coconut flakes, nuts, seeds & my fridge/freezer with berries, it is a go-to, no special shopping trip snack. I have even won my not-so-Paleo sister over with this as a late-night snack. (Adding a couple of mini-chocolate chips makes a nice indulgence! )
There is no recipe, of course. Just add the ingredients you like, pour on some milk of choice (ours is canned coconut milk or grass-fed Whole milk), mix and enjoy.
It is nice to use fresh fruit when it is available, but using frozen is just as good and often cheaper and more convenient. The added bonus to using frozen (as I did in the picture) is the way pouring the coconut milk over the frozen fruit makes for a nice, slushy almost ice creamy treat.
Elliot helped with staging the photo shoot today by stealing blueberries between shots, purple cheeks to prove it.
Even the kids love this one and there is no reason you couldn’t pack this as part of a school lunch. I found these great little leak proof Nalgene containers (pictured above) at The Container Store for a couple of bucks and I use them to store the leftover coconut milk after a can is opened. I keep them in the fridge and can pop them in my purse if I think I might be stopping to get a coffee while I am out running errands.
Hope you enjoy this little Paleo Cereal as a breakfast, lunch or late night snack. Let me know if there are any other ways I can help you to incorporate Paleo/Primal/Grain-free/Whole Foods more easily into your very busy life!
You will be hard pressed to find a food that people get as passionate about as bacon. Like most important and controversial subjects, you will have two opposing groups: the “Bacon is What Makes Life Worth Living” and the “That is Going to Kill You” groups.
Just as the Atkins Diet brought out a mainstream love for bacon a few decades ago, Paleo is often the source of a lot of pro-bacon blog posts. You may have gotten a laugh at some of these Internet memes that have been passed around via Twitter & Facebook:
We love bacon at my house.
Actually, if someone ever wanted to get me this T-shirt, Mrs. Picket Fence Paleo would love it. V-neck, grey or black, size Medium.
We used to joke growing up that frying some bacon & eggs was the only way to get my truck-driver father out of bed after he returned home from a couple days of trucking. The smell of bacon throughout the house would motivate The Snoring Bear to get out of bed. (He used to go by Dad, but now he is known as Papa or Snoring Bear.) I still fix bacon often for breakfast & my kids love it. I crumble up the rare leftovers and add it as a garnish to some of our favorite dishes. I even sometimes pack some strips of bacon into the kids’ school lunches.
I don’t worry about my weight, heart health, my cholesterol or my triglycerides. (Just for the record, the hubby and I have both had blood work done since “going Paleo” and it is off the charts awesome!) I won’t give a scientific explanation for my choice, because I am not qualified to do so, but Diane Sanfilippo at Balanced Bites wrote a great article, Bacon: Health Food or Devil in Delicious Disguise?, that summarizes some of the top blog posts and research on the subject. Balanced Bites is such a great resource that this post could be called “B is for Balanced Bites.” If you don’t already follow her site, listen to her podcasts, or haven’t already purchased her book, Practical Paleo, you should. She is smart, down to earth and makes a lot of this information easy to understand and accessible in the form of graphics and other charts.
At this point you are either with me, a bacon lover, or still skeptical. If you are still skeptical, re-read the Balanced Bites article. At the end of the day I firmly believe that grains, sugars and other processed foods are MUCH WORSE for me than bacon. One to three simple ingredients on that label of that package of bacon is always going to win out over an unpronounceable list of chemicals, preservatives and added junk on any quick breakfast product.
Confused about what bacon to buy? Local and pastured pork is better. Uncured and nitrate-free is up to you. Sometimes it is going to come down to what is accessible for you, but I encourage you to branch out and try to source some local bacon. Try a farmer’s market, butcher shop or eatwild.com. I have also ordered from U.S. Wellness Meats.
Also, don’t forget the delicious bacon fat, grease or drippings that results from cooking bacon. It can be used for sauteing veggies, making homemade 3 Minute Mayo (just swap out some of the olive oil for bacon grease) or even added to baked goods for an extra crazy bacon indulgence day!
No special instructions needed here, but bacon makes nearly all vegetable dishes tastier. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, spaghetti and butternut squash, kale, cauliflower and others all become a bit more appealing with the addition of bacon. Wins over even the most reluctant of vegetable eaters.
Chances are, you cook your bacon on the stovetop. Check out this tutorial from Nom Nom Paleo on baking bacon complete with tips to reserve the bacon grease! I use the stove top sometimes, but I also love to cook quick small batches of bacon for the kids’ breakfast or a garnish for a main dish in what we have nicknamed “The Spaceship,” but is actually a Sharper Image Super Wave Oven. I use my “Spaceship” for everything: bacon, burgers, fish & chicken.
Infamous Bacon Cookies from The Food Lovers’ Primal Palate
Bacon Brownies from Practical Paleo
For families and mothers like me, August signals the beginning of the school year.
We have bought supplies, sharpened pencils and are refocused on getting our learn on. My kids are still pretty young, so we still practice our alphabet skills and I have always had a love of Alphabet books. I have a small collection. I thought it might be fun to explore my approach to Paleo through some short blog posts in an alphabet theme. Over the next couple of months we will hit 26 different short topics & share some recipes.
Almonds. Switching over to almond products can be a big part of “going Paleo.” Besides snacking on raw almonds, we use a lot of almond flour/almond meal & almond butter at my house. Peanuts & peanut butter are standard staples in most non-Paleo pantries. However, peanuts are legumes, not nuts. Legumes are not Paleo. (I will expand on the topics of legumes, lectins, omega 3 & omega 6 fatty acids later in this series.) Almond products are extremely nutritious and a good source of fat and calories, which is great for kids. I prefer the taste & texture of baked goods made from almond flour over ones made from coconut flour. Almond products are expensive, so taking some time to find sales and to purchase in bulk can be worth the time.
Almonds – look for raw & unsalted if you can. Keep on hand, in the car and at work for an emergency snack. Great combo of fat and protein.
Almond meal – unbleached, ground almonds. Great for baking & coating chicken or fish for baking and frying. Trader Joe’s usually has the best deal on almond meal.
Almond flour – bleached, ground almonds. This is ideal for baking and is most similar to flour in baked goods. You can often purchase this at regular grocery stores, but will get the best deals in ordering in bulk from Honeyville or Nuts.com. I have ordered from both companies and enjoyed their product. I bagged the bulk order in large Ziplocks and froze the bags until I was ready to use them. If you subscribe to their sites and “like” them on Facebook, you will receive alerts to their sales and free shipping offers. I wait and take advantage of those to get a better deal.
Almond Butter – ground almonds with a bit of oil added for consistency. I encourage you to buy Raw and Organic, when possible. More importantly, check the ingredient list, make sure it is clean with no added sugars. I like to check Sam’s or Costco to get a good deal on almond butter.
You can also make your own almond meal/almond flour/almond butter if you have a good food processor. Here is a nice post by Budget Paleo…Made Easy.
In terms of expense, baking with almond products is expensive. The whole point of the Paleo movement is to cut down on our use of processed foods and sugars, so I probably bake a lot less or purchase less baked goods than a traditional household. With expensive, quality ingredients, we do bake less and bake smaller batches. The cookies, muffins, scones and pancakes that I make are much more nutritionally dense and filling than their Standard American Diet (SAD) counterparts, so we eat less of them. I find it to be an acceptable trade-off. We still get to enjoy our favorite “treats” and I know that when I send my little boy and little girl off with a scone, they are getting a big dose of protein in their snack. Win-win!
After a lot of baking experimentation, I am happy that I purchased the cookbooks by Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry. They have been very reliable. I have substituted coconut oil and various sweeteners in her recipes, they still turn out perfect. I appreciate saving money & time by having these to refer to.