The paleo diet is a hot trend, but it's not a new eating plan. This diet emphasizes foods and beverages that would have been the only means of sustenance for humans in prehistoric and pre-agrarian times -- fruit, vegetables, nuts, and meat. It eliminates processed foods, along with sugar, table salt, caffeine, legumes, and dairy. This doesn't mean there is any shortage of delicious paleo meals, however.
One of the simplest meals that meets the paleo requirements is steak salad. The meat provides plenty of protein and iron for energy, while fiber-rich leafy greens keep the body sated. Shred kale or spinach and top it with other fresh vegetables such as broccoli, onions, and carrots. Then, grill steak, cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, and scatter it on top of the greens. Whenever possible, paleo food should be organic and non-GMO. The steak should also be from grass-fed and pasture-raised sources to more closely resemble the meat that paleolithic humans would have eaten.
Vegetable omelets make an excellent paleo breakfast. Sautee onions, spinach, tomatoes, and peppers, or opt for fresh veggies. The combination of eggs and vegetables delivers protein and vitamins. Most importantly, omelets can be tailored to suit anyone's taste, making them a flexible option for households in which only some members participate in paleo diets, or one with picky eaters. Ideally, use cage-free, humanely raised eggs.
Salmon is one of the best fish to eat on the paleo diet, especially wild-caught options. Salmon is a brain superfood, packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids essential to cognitive function and heart health. There are many ways to prepare this healthy fish. Try roasting summer vegetables like zucchini and yellow squash seasoned with natural herbs and flavors like garlic, rosemary, and lemon. Broil or bake the salmon filets, then serve over the roasted squash.
Try this paleo alternative to classic Chinese beef and broccoli: shrimp and broccoli. While most broccoli dishes use sauces or gravy to provide flavor, stay paleo-friendly by seasoning with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and chili pepper. Roast the broccoli for ten minutes, then add lemon and pepper-seasoned shrimp to the pan for another ten. This delicious dish is loaded with omega-3 oils, vitamin K, and protein.
Burgers are always an option on the Paleo diet, but with one caveat: no bun. That doesn't mean picking at a lonely patty on a plate, though. Many paleo advocates wrap their burgers in iceberg lettuce or use ground turkey to make a protein-loaded grilled patty chopped up over a kale or spinach salad base. Enhance the experience by adding burger favorites like onions and tomatoes. Instead of dressing, use lemon zest or olive oil with pepper and kosher salt.
Instead of smothering sweet potatoes in butter or sour cream, bake these healthy root vegetables in the oven, then split them open and stuff them with veggies and meat for plently of nutrients and protein. Add browned beef and fresh tomato salsa for a Mexican-inspired option. Shredded chicken and cranberries can lend an air of Thanksgiving dinner. Bacon, spinach, and chives create a potato skins-esque game-day treat, just be sure to use bacon that doesn't contain any chemicals or preservatives.
Chili is one of the best options for a paleo-friendly spicy and flavorful meal. Add as much organic chili powder, cumin, and garlic as you want to give the chili some kick, then combine the spices with browned ground turkey and cubed butternut squash, tomato sauce, bell peppers, jalapenos, and onions. The squash adds a healthy dose of vitamin E, potassium, and other important nutrients, while the meat provides essential protein.
Pork lettuce wraps make a great low-carb dinner, even if half your family isn't eating paleo. Sautee onions, carrots, bean sprouts, and ground pork sausage in olive oil, seasoning with lime juice and spices like garlic and ginger. After cooking the mixture, scoop it into whole lettuce leaves and wrap it up tortilla-style for a delicious Asian-inspired meal. Processed meats like sausage are okay every once in a while on the paleo diet, but this recipe works with a variety of cuts of meat if you're avoiding it.
Lemon is one of the best ways to flavor paleo dishes thanks to its all-natural sweet and sour kick. A great way to showcase the power of lemon is a grilled chicken dish. Lemon marinates, along with pepper and sea salt, can take boring chicken to the next level, especially when it's served with a loaded salad or grilled seasonal vegetables.
Stir-fry doesn't have to include rice; instead, double up on vegetables and meat. Brown beef strips with broccoli, red peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Add in minced garlic and ginger and spicy red pepper flakes for a little extra kick. There's no need to add soy sauce; instead, saute the ingredients in olive oil and a splash of beef broth for that umami flavor. This dish makes a great meal paired with zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice.
Grains are one of the oft-missed staples when people take up the paleo diet, but cauliflower rice makes a great substitute. To turn cauliflower into rice, simply cut up the cruciferous veggie and blend it all in a food processor until it's about the size of rice. Saute the cauliflower in olive oil to soften. Cauliflower contains several critical nutrients, including vitamin K, folate, and fiber.
Stuffed cabbage is a European favorite that is easily made paleo-friendly. Substitute homemade cauliflower rice, brown hamburger with kosher salt and cracked black pepper, and add a bit of garlic and onion for flavor. Toss in some homemade tomato sauce, then roast the completed rolls in a tomato juice broth for maximum flavor. The meat will provide the protein, while the cabbage and cauliflower add plenty of other nutrients.
Tuna salad gets a bad rap, but with a few alterations, it can be quite healthy. Try topping a spinach and kale bowl with shredded, grilled tuna. Mix avocado, tomatoes, onions, and lime for healthy toppings, and customize with various veggies, or toss in some nuts.
When potato chips are off the menu, cravings for salty, crunchy snacks can take over, and ignoring them isn't the only solution. Slice zucchini or yellow-neck squash into thin slices and coat them with olive oil, then season with kosher salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, or some favorite herbs and spices. While the chips are baking, whip up a batch of guacamole using avocados, tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos. This heart-healthy snack will be a hit with everyone, paleo or not.
Muffins aren't often seen of paleo lists, perhaps because it can be tricky to bake with gluten-free flours. But apple cinnamon muffins using almond or coconut flour and honey instead of sugar can hit the spot when cravings for carbs kick in. Even though muffins don't fall into the category of meals our ancient ancestors ate, everyone needs a treat once in a while, so there's no shame in finding a recipe that rewards your dedication while staying faithful to the paleo diet.
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