From Purely Primal – Where Do I Start?
Where To Start?
A good friend, a link, or maybe even talking with us has led you to this site. You are probably thinking, “Hey great, a lot of delicious recipes, but I need a plan of attack guys!” We hear you. There are many great sites out there with a lot of wonderful information (see More Resources section), but here are a few things that have worked for us and some fantastic ways to get that healthy ball rolling, so to speak. Instead of you having to reinvent the wheel, these tips and ideas will hopefully help you get a good jump on this. (Scroll to the bottom for a list of some great recipes to start with! Note all of these recipes have a “printable” version).
1. DON’T TALK ABOUT “DIET” – Take it from us, if you haven’t mentioned the words “paleo” or “primal” to your family (i.e. those you will be cooking for) then don’t. We don’t like to say “paleo DIET.” This is not a diet. Human beings are meant to eat this way and our bodies just haven’t adapted too well to grains, processed foods, and tons of sugar. If your family thinks what you are cooking is putting them on a “diet” or if they hear the words “healthy,” “paleo,” “primal,” or “caveman diet,” they may rebel from the get-go. Just cook up a few meals, serve, see how the family responds. If they don’t like your “new recipe” then try another (However, we do list below some recipes that we feel are good starters and most members of the family, yes even the kids, will enjoy them). If anyone questions the different foods, just say that you are feeding them foods that have many more nutrients to nourish their bodies, while some of the “other” foods they may be used to eating can actually make us sick and unhealthy. For the adults, let them do their own research. Take a look at our Amazon Store link where we suggest some great books. Don’t just take our word for it!
2. GET RID OF IT – If you have grains and other processed or unhealthy foods in your home you may feel it hard to part with them. After all, you are facing the true fact that you are ready to get out of your comfort zone and get started. Some people find it easier to just toss those “foods” out, while some don’t want it to go to “waste.” This is up to you. While we understand the part about watching your money being tossed out in the form of processed food, we do feel the sooner you rid your home, and most importantly your body, of these foods the sooner you will begin to feel a whole lot healthier.
3. PICKY SCHMICKY – Have a picky eater? Well, we have one too, but she gets to eat no differently than we do and she doesn’t buy the food. Most of the time children are picky not because of any fault of their own, but because of us as parents. We give in. We don’t want them to starve. They will not starve, trust us. With more and more children dealing with obesity, type 2 diabetes, allergies, etc. (this does not even scratch the surface), we truly need to get a handle on this. We have many recipes your picky child will enjoy as ours does. They may not enjoy it all at first, but they will find what they like. Work with them. Let them dish up their own plates. Encourage them to help in the kitchen and let them choose a few recipes. When they are involved, they are more likely to eat what they make. Have patience.
4. COOKING IS PRETTY EASY… REALLY – We get the fact that not everyone is a cook or even likes to cook that much. Yes, it is true; in order to eat better you either have to cook yourself or have someone do it for you (we are not talking about the fry cook at the fast food place or your favorite restaurant here either!). We were guests on Whole 9′s site here where we (along with some other chefs) offer up suggestions (some listed below) on spending less time in the kitchen and more time doing other things you enjoy. And if you do enjoy time in the kitchen, even better!
Pick out a few recipes on our site you think you may enjoy. Look in your refrigerator, see what you have on hand, then pick some recipes that include these ingredients and that way you are using up what you have and shopping is minimal. Plan a menu for the week around these recipes. Sunday is usually our day to plan and shop. You can also cook up more than one meal on Sunday and freeze some to save at a later date. This works great if you are limited in time for cooking during the week. Make extra so that you have some leftovers for your lunch the next day.
Everything – from shopping to cooking – gets done faster and better when well organized. We use a custom-made shopping check list sorted by the sections of the stores we shop at and inclusive of about 90% of the things we buy on a regular basis. A detailed list gets you into the store, looking for what you need, and cuts impulse buying. Print the list ahead of time and post it in the kitchen. When an ingredient is running low, check it on the list immediately. When putting together a weekly menu keep the list at hand and make sure to include any ingredients not currently “in stock.”
Before you start, have everything you need ready. Get the family involved too and the prep/cook time is very minimal. The recipe should be printed (even if it’s shorthand notes on a napkin) and placed within an easy glance of where you are working. The ingredients (including all spices and herbs) should be rounded up and roughly measured out. The pots, pans, knives and any other utensils should also be assembled and ready to go. Have the sink empty, the dishwasher put away, and the countertops clear. Keep the garbage can and compost buckets within an arm’s reach. Get all of your prep work done at one time – chopping the veggies or fruits first, and then the meat last.
5. WHAT DO I EAT FOR BREAKFAST? – We love this question. Who decided that pancakes, donuts, and waffles were good for us, let alone breakfast foods? Whatever you eat for lunch or dinner you can eat for breakfast. Of course there is always the ‘ol standby of bacon and eggs, which is fine with us. Here are a few of our favorite breakfast recipes. Check out the link on our site marked “Breakfast” for even more ideas.
- Bacon and Beef Frittata
- Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash
- Almond Pancakes (don’t over-use this one)
- Omelettes and Scrambles
- Turkey-Veggie Breakfast
6. WHAT DO I EAT FOR SNACK? – Ideally if you are getting a good hunk of protein at each meal and filling your plate with veggies and getting in some good fats then you really shouldn’t feel like you need a snack. Our friends at Whole 9 use a great example of this. If you feel like you are so hungry you could eat up some chicken and broccoli right now, then by all means have something good to eat, but if you don’t feel like eating that, then it is just a craving. We suggest steering clear of items such as Lara Bars and the like, unless in a pinch. We did a blog post about having food on the go which gives some great snack ideas that we list here:
- Any meat you have leftover
- Hardboiled eggs
- Deli Meat (Applegate or Boars Head are good brands)
- Tuna (we made this up before we left, but you can also get this in the pouches at the grocery store and just eat it out of the bag with a fork. Works out great and saves you from having to pack the can opener).
- Pretty much all the veggies and some fruit. Including, but not limited to, jicama, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, sweet potatoes, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, plums, apples, bananas, pickles, peppers. Slice up the veggies and put in a container with water in ice to keep them cool and fresh.
- Unsweetened coconut flakes
- Mixture of nuts that we made up ourselves of macadamia, cashews, walnuts, almonds.
- Homemade mayo is quick to make and can be a base for a great salad dressing or dipping sauce. Just add some balsamic vinegar and some “No-Salt” seasoning (we get this at Costco).
- Coconut butter/manna. Just a good bite of this and cravings will pass.
- Unsweetenend applesauce
- Yogurt – homemade. Fage’s “Total” brand (full-fat) is also great to add in some berries.
- Water can be flavored a bit with cucumber or lemon if you want a bit of a treat.
- Blackberry-Nut Clusters
- Kale Chips
7. CAN’T COOK WITHOUT IT – Some kitchen utensils we have not been able to live without include a food processor and a large Crockpot. A good set of All-Clad measuring cups and spoons, although a bit spendy, are sturdy enough to use as mini-saucepans to melt coconut oil and will last you forever. You will never have to buy another set. Well worth it. Nice knives are also a good investment, but not necessary at first.
For food, we suggest stocking up on some good spices. We go through a lot of ”No-Salt” Seasoning, Old Bay, and cinnamon, but use plenty of other spices too. Make sure to check the bulk section for your basic spices as buying them in that area is so much cheaper than the baking aisle. Balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and pastured butter are also musts – olive oil for great taste when added after cooking (it is unstable if heated), and coconut oil or butter as the workhorse oils for cooking. If you aren’t a fan of the “coconut taste” in everything you cook, we recently discovered the Tropical Traditions Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil that is void of coconut flavor but still full of all the good stuff. We keep this on hand as well as the regular “virgin” coconut oil. Finally, we always make sure to have a batch of homemade mayo made up also.
8. DON’T GET TOO OVERWHELMED – We talk a lot about organic and purchasing locally. Don’t get hung up on that. Start by just heading to your local grocery store. You can gradually work in as you learn more. Here is a link to a good article written by Robb Wolf about the cost of the “diet” and another written by Diane Sanfilippo here. Think about how much less you will be spending on meds and doctor visits. Save up all the money you had been using for that latte every day and invest it more wisely.
9. YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO AT IT ALONE – Find a friend to help hold you accountable, preferably one who is also on board and you in turn can hold him/her accountable. Get outside or get into the gym. Get a partner to train with. Please remember, however, that you cannot outwork a crappy diet – so do not think for a minute that spending a few hours in the gym a week will negate any bad eating. It doesn’t work that way. We see it all the time. Set some fitness and eating goals. Log your progress. This helps to set trends and is a good way to see which foods agree and disagree with you, as this is definitely not a “one size fits all.”
10. TRY THESE RECIPES TO START – Delicious main dishes, sides, and desserts. This doesn’t even scratch the surface, but they are great ones to get started. Most of these are our own “fall backs,” the recipes we go back to time and time again in our own kitchen.
- Sloppy Joes
- Lemon Chicken with Veggies
- Shepherds Pie
- Sausage and Kale Soup
- Teriyaki Stir Fry
- Salmon with Blueberry Sauce
- BLT Salad
- Chicken Taco Soup
- Onion Pepper Burgers
Sides, Salads, Dressings, and Soups
- Balsamic Italian Dressing
- BLT Salad with Homemade Mayo
- Honey Mustard Chicken Salad
- Roasted Eggplant with Peppers and Onions
- Coconut Creamed Greens
- Mango Salsa
- Sauteed Mushrooms
- Sweet Potato Fries
- Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
- Green Beans with Hazelnuts
Desserts (in moderation please)
- Triple Berry Crumble
- Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes
- Apple Crumble
- Coconut Ice Cream
- Chocolate Coconut Bars
- Karen’s Chocolate Chip Cookies