When it comes to the paleo way of life my motto is KISS – Keep it simple Sally….or Simon.
I’ve met and spoken with so many people, new to the paleo life, who have said that they find eating paleo `so complicated’….and thus `so difficult’. And sadly, this often causes them to quit! Sometimes even before they start.
This aside, I know that many people do find it hard to get their head around it all. The most common question is `Where do I get all the foods that I `need’ to do paleo?’
The fact that people even ask this question is a sad state of affairs. We have gotten so far away from real food that it’s now hard for people to find it in the regular shops. Thus the person who wants to eat real, whole, unprocessed food finds themselves like a fish swimming upstream – going against the strong current of society.
How do we get started?
So, what’s the answer? We’re here to offer you some suggestions as you begin….
1. Don’t think about all the foods you `can’t have’, but rather focus on the huge variety of things that you can have. After all, this is a life-style, not a diet. (Some good positive thoughts to start with there.)
2. Focus on each of the major categories of food and determine where you are going to get them. Clue: it’s probably not going to be in the aisles of the supermarket.
3. Just start. This will involve a whole lot of changes – but that’s why you’re doing it, you want to see some changes. Start with baby steps if necessary. You won’t get it all right to start with – that’s OK.
Let’s go through it and talk about some of those steps….
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs.
What are you looking for? Ideally…
- `Free range’ – free to roam outdoors and eat natural foods
- `Wild caught’ is the equivilant of free range when talking about fish
- `organic’ – no nasty chemicals used in the growing and processing
- `grass fed and finished’ – the animals have been fed on pasture ALL of their lives – no grains, no feed-lot
You may find these in some supermarkets, though I’m wary of labels that say `grass-fed. They usually mean that cattle have been `finished’ (made ready for market) in a feed-lot (ie this = grain fed) for their last 30 – 90 days. However we were surprised to find that our little local butchery has grass fed beef from a local farm.
Free-range, organic eggs are somewhat easier to find, though free-range does not always mean that the chickens have not been fed a supplement of grains (organic grains of course). This is one of the benefits of a farmer’s market where you can meet the farmer and ask questions about how the eggs are produced. The other advantage of a farmers market is the price. I’ve seen free-range, organic eggs at $8.99 a dozen in the fruit and veggie store, and just $5.00 at the farmer’s market.
Fish – ocean fresh is always going to be the best. Here is Newcastle we are fortunate to have several fish markets where you can buy fish on the day it is caught. If you don’t have this available then look for a frozen fish that says on the label that it’s wild caught. We’ve found a brand of Hoki fillets from New Zealand that fit the criteria.
Vegetables and fruit
Always go for what is fresh and in season, and organic if possible. I’ve heard it said that there are no seasons in the supermarkets. We are so used to having most fruits and vegetables available all year round. You may just need to start by having more veggies and then build up to finding the `right’ veggies. The tendency is to go for lots of fruit, but try to make veggies a priority for a while. Again, a farmer’s market will be the best place to shop, both for quality and for price.
One of the things we find ourselves always needing to focus on is getting plenty of green leafy vegetables. They’re so easy to grow – spinach, kale, lettuce, rocket – all easy. Don’t forget herbs for added flavour, variety, and lots of great minerals. I like to grow a range of herbs in pots just outside the kitchen door – parsley, chives, basil, mint, Vietnamese mint, a variety of chillis, basil, lemon grass, lemon balm, thyme, oregano. This way they are easy to grab when a dish just needs that little bit extra.
Olive oil – here is a time that it is important to `Buy Australian’. Did you know that many of our imported olive oils have vegetable oils blended with them – to cut costs. Fresh is best – look for a date of processing. It’s also best if you can buy it in a dark glass bottle or a can as light causes the oil to deteriorate. We have a thriving olive industry not far from us, so I often get olive oil from the farmer’s market. Very nice. And most of our supermarkets have good quality Australian grown olive oil so this one shouldn’t be a problem.
Coconut oil – As coconut oil has become more popular there are more and more brands on the market. They range from really good to …….really awful. We would suggest that you go for the best that you can afford. (It tends to be a case of `you get what you pay for’) The oil you get should look, feel, smell and taste beautiful. If it’s hard then it should look a nice, pearly white. If liquid, then it should be perfectly clear. We recommend Niulife, which we get direct from the supplier through their online store.
Nuts and seeds
Look for raw and organic ….with nothing added. With seeds this is fairly straight forward, but not so with nuts. Most have some combination of roasted, salted, anti-caking agents or vegetable oil added. We’ve not found a brand where the whole range is OK. This is another one where you have to be careful to read the label on EVERY pack, EVERY time.
Strictly speaking dairy doesn’t into fit into the paleo template. However many people have limited dairy in what is more often called the primal template. So for those who do have diary….
Our first criteria is to get milk from a Jersey herd. That is, A2 milk – not by brand, but by classification. I’d love to say that we are able to get raw (unpasteurised) milk from pasture fed cattle. What we usually have to settle for non-homogenised Jersey milk that has been pasteurised (but not ultra-pastuerised). We can also get yogurt, cream cheese, cream and butter from Jersey cattle. Yes, it costs more – but it tastes better, we don’t have allergies or reactions, and it keeps fresh longer.
So if you’re ready to start out into the paleo way of eating (& eating is just a part of the whole deal) – then dive right in. Just get started. Remember KISS. As you go you will get into a routine of where to shop for the things you want and it will become much easier.
Feel free to ask questions, ask for recipes etc. We’d love to help.