After tons of research, you finally settled on following a Paleo diet plan. That means you focus on fresh, unprocessed foods such as what would have been eaten by mankind in the Paleolithic period: meat, fish, eggs, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, and you exclude dairy products and grains. You’ve stocked your pantry and your fridge with lots of meat, fresh produce and non-wheat flour substitutes such as almond or coconut flour. That’s a great start, but there are five more staples you may have missed that you should have on hand to expand your recipe repertoire and fill in some nutritional or flavor gaps in your perfect Paleo pantry.
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
One of the toughest parts of a Paleo diet is cutting out all the sugar, so having some unsweetened cocoa powder on hand can really help with your sweet tooth. It’s got all the chocolatey goodness without all that sugar, but don’t discount it in savory as well as sweet dishes. For instance, it’s a fairly well-known fact that chili peppers and chocolate are a match made in heaven, so next time you cook up a big pot of Paleo chili, try adding a little cocoa powder to the mix and see if you like a little twist on that traditional dish.
One of the best things about unsweetened cocoa powder is it’s easy to find, as you can find it in the baking section of any supermarket. Just be sure you get unsweetened dark cocoa, not hot chocolate or one of the sweetened cocoa powders.
Okay, I see you wrinkling your nose at the mere mention of fish sauce. But this is a key ingredient in many Asian dishes, and if you’ve never really cooked much Asian food before, if you’re going on a Paleo diet, this is a great time to learn how. A little goes a long way, so use it sparingly, but it will give your Asian cooking a little tangy punch you’ll miss if you don’t stock this Paleo staple. This is a sauce you won’t use very often; but when you need it, you really need it, and luckily, it can be found in pretty much any grocery store.
Speaking of Asian dishes, here’s a great way to make your sushi Paleo-friendly, since rice is considered a no-no on that Paleo diet. Due to the salty taste of dried seaweed, it makes a great addition to many other foods such as soups, broths, or stews, as well.
As an added benefit, it’s loaded with minerals and iodine, which can help keep your thyroid healthy. Plus, since your Paleo diet doesn’t allow dairy products, dried seaweed makes an excellent alternative source of calcium. Check the Asian food aisle of your local grocery store, as they probably stock it near the sushi rice and rice noodles.
Nutritional yeast makes a great flavor substitute for cheese in recipes. That’s not to say you’ll be satisfied using it on crackers as a substitute for a big block of cheddar, but it does add a cheesy flavor to your dishes. It’s also loaded with vitamin B-12 and protein, not that you’re probably lacking from the latter with all the meats and eggs in your diet. Nutritional yeast is commonly used by vegetarians who do need that extra protein boost, so if you are minimizing your meat and fish on a Paleo diet, nutritional yeast goes a long way to filling in the gaps in your protein intake.
Gelatin is a chef secret for creating velvety smooth sauces, but you can also to use it to create sweet or savory puddings in pretty much any flavor under the sun. You can even use it to make your own natural Jell-O-type desserts without sugar, and filled with fresh fruit.
But gelatin is not just about the taste, as it’s a nutritional supplement that helps keep your joints healthy, and many sing its praises in promoting healthy skin elasticity. Some say it slows down wrinkling and improves the appearance of skin that already has a few laugh lines. You might be able to find this at your grocery store in the baking section, but if not, never fear, because you can order it online through Amazon.
Add these five ingredients to your Paleo pantry to kick up the flavor and the nutrition a notch, while expanding your list of recipes for Paleo-friendly dishes.
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