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Paleo Diet Basics and Recipes

The Paleo (or Caveman) Diet is one of the easiest diets to stick with, as well as one of the healthiest. The premise is simple: eat the way some of our earliest ancestors, the cavemen, ate to achieve a healthier lifestyle. The diet is so not limiting on what you can eat; it’s more about how to eat. Well, let me back up a bit. There are a few things that are not included in this diet. Remember, this diet mimics the way cavemen would have eaten, so there will be exclusions such as cereal grains, potatoes, dairy (this is a hard one for me), legumes, sugar, and of course, processed foods. However, even with those exceptions, there is still plenty to eat.

The Paleo Diet follows a high protein/low carb/high fiber regimen. Seafood including fish, scallops, crab, lobster are available. Organic or grass-fed meats, eggs, fruits and vegetables (fresh), nuts, and seeds are also allowed. You can use healthful, or “paleo oils” to prepare your food. These include olive, coconut, avocado, and flaxseed to name a few. Animal fats such as beef and pork can be used to cook with as well, so don’t drain the bacon grease! Use it to cook your eggs in for a yummy, paleo friendly breakfast. Some people also use butter even though it is not strictly paleo. If you want to stay completely true to the diet, try ghee or another type of clarified butter instead. This should eliminate any guilt you may feel since the milk constituents have been removed.

Below are my versions of a couple of my favorites recipes that I have come across over the years. I hope you enjoy!

Paleo Taco Salad

  • Romaine lettuce
  • 2-3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp. chili powder (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tsp. Avocado oil

Preheat skillet on med-high heat; add avocado oil and heat for 20-30 seconds. Add garlic and small onion and sauté for 2 minutes then add ground beef and cooked until browned. Add ground cumin, paprika, chili powder, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Mix well and continue heating for another minute then remove from heat. Shred romaine lettuce onto serving plate. Top with meat mixture, tomatoes and bell peppers. Top with salsa or pico de gallo. Garnish with green onions.

Variation: Paleo Taco Fries. Instead of romaine lettuce, use sweet potato fries as your base for a tasty change-up to this Tex-Mex favorite. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut up 6 large sweet potatoes into wedges and mix with some avocado oil and black pepper. Place in a single layer on baking tray and bake for 30 minutes, or until wedges are crisp. Top with meat mixture, tomatoes and bell peppers. Top with salsa or pico de gallo. Garnish with green onions.

Caveman Chili

  • 2-2 ½ lbs. ground beef
  • 6-8 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 tsp. chili powder (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 jalapeños, chopped (optional)
  • 1 can tomato paste

Heat large skillet to medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy. Set bacon aside to cool, but do not drain bacon grease from skillet. Add ground beef to bacon grease and cook until brown. Move meat mixture from skillet to a pot. Stir in garlic, onion and jalapeños and cook about 2 minutes. Add seasonings and continue cooking for another minute. Crumble bacon and add to mixture. Add tomato paste and tomatoes (do not drain) then bring to a simmer and continue cooking at a low heat for at least 30 minutes. Top with salsa or hot sauce if desired. Note: the longer these ingredients are left to simmer and marry with each other, the better the chili will be. Next day leftovers are the best! Enjoy.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

  • 12 thick bacon slices, halved
  • 24 large dates, pitted
  • 24 whole almonds
  • toothpicks (optional-to hold together)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice dates just enough to stuff the almond inside and wrap with the half slice of bacon slice. Secure with toothpick if using. Place in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake with bacon seam side down for about 6-7 minutes. Turn over and continue baking an additional 6-7 minutes, or until bacon is crispy. Cool for 10 minutes. May be cooled in refrigerator and served cold. Please do not let the name gross you out, they are so good! These things are better than Lay’s Chips…you will definitely eat more than one!!

Paleo Tuna Salad

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 1 tsp. onion, chopped (red, white, or green)
  • 1 tsp. celery, chopped
  • 1 small avocado
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp. carrot, shredded (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime (your choice)
  • Black pepper (to taste)

Put romaine lettuce on serving plate and set aside. Mashup avocado and put into mixing bowl. Gently mix in rest of ingredients with avocado. Place mixture on romaine lettuce. Enjoy.

Variation: Tuna Avocado Wraps: Place a paleo wrap* onto a serving plate. Lay a piece of romaine lettuce over the paleo wrap. Top with tuna mixture.

Paleo Wrap Recipe

  • 1 tsp. water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. ghee (or alternate paleo oil)
  • 1/8 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp. arrowroot powder

Melt ghee (or alternate paleo oil) into small or medium skillet on medium heat. Add water and eggs. Whisk together. Add baking powder, coconut flour and arrowroot powder. Beat well to combine. Heat a small skillet over medium heat for one minute. Add 1/3 of the batter to the skillet and roll around to evenly coat the bottom. Cook for one minute then flip and cook another minute.

I have made each of these dishes on multiple occasions and I can say even those not on the Paleo Plan have enjoyed these immensely. I hope you and yours enjoy them as much as my family has. Grazie.

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