LOREN CORDAIN, Ph.D., is one of the top global researchers in the area of evolutionary medicine. Generally acknowledged as the world's leading expert on the Paleolithic diet, he is a professor in the Health and Exercise Science Department at Colorado State University. Dr. Cordain and his research have been featured on Dateline NBC and in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other media. He is the author of The Paleo Diet and The Paleo Diet Cookbook, among other books, and makes regular media and speaking appearances worldwide.
"Snacks can seem like a challenge," when you go paleo, admits registered dietitian Sonya Angelone, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That's why you should keep the ingredients for these quick and easy paleo snacks on hand. Because TBH, even if cavemen didn't eat snacks, well, they also wielded clubs on the regular, so things are just different now.
Which brings us to my second point: there are few science-backed benefits to getting wrapped up in every nitty gritty ingredient in attempts to truly follow what your ancestors ate. I mean, there are now Paleo-approved packaged snacks, and I doubt cavemen were wandering the aisles of Whole Foods. If you take the basics and tweak them to fit your lifestyle, you’ll be better off.
It’s easy to find more guidance online, but a book also makes a handy reference. "The Paleo Diet," for example, outlines basic Paleo principles and offers three “levels” that allow for different degrees of cheating – three “open meals” per week on the “entry level” plan, two on “maintenance” and just one on “maximal.” Depending on the level, you might also get “transitional” condiments (low-fat dressing and salsa) and drinks (coffee, beer or wine in moderation) to wash down the meat and plants. You can use the levels as you like. Start with the first and move gradually to the more restrictive – or just stay put. For more dramatic changes, head right to the third.
A more controversial argument for why legumes and common grains are avoided is because of their high phytic acid content, which is thought to reduce the absorption of certain nutrients like iron zinc and calcium (6). However, phytic acid is also found in many paleo approved foods (like almonds and hazelnuts), and is associated with some health benefits - like protective benefits against kidney stones, antioxidant properties and a suggested link to lower risk for colon cancer (7,8,9). Bottom line, there really isn't any evidenced based reason to avoid these foods because of phytic acid.
This recipe is using grass-fed ricotta cheese stuffed into strawberries, which are then wrapped in proscuitto. The ricotta cheese will be an issue for those strictly following the no dairy rule, while others may choose to give it a pass because it comes from grass-fed cows. Many food items on Paleo fall into a gray area, and it is up to the individual to decide how far they want to take it, and how their body processes these types of foods. You end up getting a meaty, fruity, cheesy mouthful, which is sure to make a great snack or appetizer for a party.
The Sugar Addict's Total Recovery Program by Kathleen DesMaisons. While this isn't really a paleo book, it does point out issues with the foods we aren't eating. The books claims the excessive processed sugar consumed is responsible for "mood swings, depression, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, PMS, impulsivity ... [and] unpredictable temper." She says her research shows indulging in sugar highs should be treated much more seriously, akin to heroin or alcohol dependency, because sugar causes spikes in the neurotransmitters serotonin and beta-dopamine just like those drugs.
My blog, cookbooks, cooking app, and podcast, are intended to help you translate the “rules of the road” into delicious, easy-to-prepare meals for you and your family. Here, you’ll see the way I eat on an everyday basis, and my recipes, too. In case you’re wondering, I cook entirely gluten- and soy-free, and steer clear of legumes and refined vegetable and seed oils.
Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh meat—the paleo diet is all about eating foods straight from the Earth just as our ancestors did. Those ancestors didn't have livestock or crops to call their own, so Cordain advises to go with grass-fed and organic varieties whenever possible to limit exposure to pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals that didn't exist back then. Research from Emory University suggests that Paleolithic people obtained about 35% of their calories from fats, 35% from carbohydrates, and 30% from protein.
Cooking becomes an overwhelming chore when we get too wrapped up in complicated, time-consuming recipes. To be practical and sustainable, ancestral nutrition has to be easy. As a working mom, I’m always on the lookout for shortcuts in the kitchen, and often rely on modern conveniences that cavemen never enjoyed, like pressure cookers, slow cookers, and food processors. (I also appreciate indoor plumbing, for what it’s worth.)
We cannot time travel and join our Paleo ancestors by the campfire as they prepare to eat; likewise, shards of ancient pottery and fossilized teeth can tell us only so much. If we compare the diets of so-called modern hunter-gatherers, however, we see just how difficult it is to find meaningful commonalities and extract useful dietary guidelines from their disparate lives (see infographic). Which hunter–gatherer tribe are we supposed to mimic, exactly? How do we reconcile the Inuit diet—mostly the flesh of sea mammals—with the more varied plant and land animal diet of the Hadza or !Kung? Chucking the many different hunter–gather diets into a blender to come up with some kind of quintessential smoothie is a little ridiculous. "Too often modern health problems are portrayed as the result of eating 'bad' foods that are departures from the natural human diet…This is a fundamentally flawed approach to assessing human nutritional needs," Leonard wrote. "Our species was not designed to subsist on a single, optimal diet. What is remarkable about human beings is the extraordinary variety of what we eat. We have been able to thrive in almost every ecosystem on the Earth, consuming diets ranging from almost all animal foods among populations of the Arctic to primarily tubers and cereal grains among populations in the high Andes.”
However, as I already mentioned, the Paleo template simply gives us a starting point from which to decide how to feed ourselves in the modern world. I make my own choices by weighing the health consequences of the foods I eat—and I also consider the gustatory pleasure of the experiences, too. Over the past few years, my attitude toward food has evolved. When I first adopted a Paleo lifestyle, I strictly followed the rigid dictates of the Paleo diet because this new way of eating made me feel so much better. I didn’t even think to question why it worked. But with time, I’ve learned that it’s more important to stay curious about the science behind the approach, and to be fully conscious of my food choices. I learned that I don’t need to strive for “Paleo perfection” as long as I’m mindful of what I’m choosing to put into my mouth, and why.
NeanderThin: Eat Like a Caveman to Achieve a Lean, Strong, Healthy Body (Hardcover) by Ray Audette, with Troy Gilchrist, was one of the early paleo diet authors. His home page NeanderThin [now restored from archive.org] has a diet based on the ideas of paleolithic nutrition. The diet can be followed as a low-carb, moderate or high carb diet, depending upon whether and how much fruit is used. You can read up through page 19 of the book at Google Books. The original press release from 1999. [The webmaster has an extra copy with the author's signature for sale. It has the original lime-purple cover. Pristine new condition. $60 (shipping included). Paypal only. Use e-mail link at page bottom.]
Food and Western Disease: Health and nutrition from an evolutionary perspective by Staffan Lindeberg (MD at Lund University in Sweden) is the newest book promoting the paleo diet. It covers the link between diet and disease in the Western world (all major diseases, including cancer, heart disease, obesity, stroke and dementia) and towards a greater knowledge of what can be defined as the optimal human diet. Benefits and risks are detailed. The Amazon reviews are all 5 stars. Especially read Susan Schenck's detailed review. You can read a preview at Google Books
Cordain argues that chimpanzees and horses avoid meat, and they have big bellies that we would have if we didn’t ditch plants for meat. He also says meat increased human brain size, and decreased stomach size so we can have the six-pack abs that chimps can’t. But I looked at his endnotes with citations to research and couldn’t find the source for these theories. I also couldn’t find research showing that legumes and grains were invented by humans.
Larabar is another bar made from simple ingredients but also higher in the sugar department. That’s because the sugar is the all-natural kind from dates. The other ingredients are just as simple: almonds, unsweetened apples, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon—super clean and also incredibly tasty. We recommend these before a workout when your body needs more simple carbohydrates for quick energy.
Cooking and consuming seaweeds can be intimidating because they can seem quite bland, tough or bitter at first glance. With the proper seasonings and cooking though, they can become a real treat. In the following snack, nori sheets are simply rubbed with coconut oil, seasoned with sea salt and a small amount of sesame oil, then roasted very briefly.
These cashew butter balls are made raw so you don’t have to bake them. They’re ready to eat after just an hour in the fridge. The good thing is that you can make many of them at once, and just eat them a bit at a time as you go through your week. Having snacks made ahead of time is really helpful when you’re trying to stick to any diet plan. These are so simple to make it’s just dates, cashews and cashew butter. Roll it into a ball and cool it off and they’re ready to nosh.
These chips are made from parsnips, and most new Paleo followers will probably have a very limited experience with the parsnip. It does find its way into a lot of Paleo cooking because it can be used in many different ways. Don’t knock it till you try it, because they tend to take on the surrounding flavors, in this case yummy maple syrup and coconut oil. So while you may have ignored parsnips a thousand times before, maybe it’s time to give them a chance. You may end up liking them, especially since you can’t go wrong when they’re baked in fat and sugar.
The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us about Weight Loss, Fitness, and Aging by Arthur De Vany. Art is the grandfather of the "Paleo Lifestyle" movement. The plan is built on three principles: (1) eat three meals a day made up of nonstarchy vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins; (2) skip meals occasionally to promote a low fasting blood insulin level; and (3) exercise less, not more, in shorter, high-intensity bursts. Note that the book is anti-fat. All oils are to be avoided, though canola is considered okay for higher temperatures. Egg yolks are to be skipped now and then. Published December 21, 2010.
These snack bars will definitely cure you of any food cravings, which makes them great as an emergency backup while you’re on the Paleo plan. Paleo is definitely not about starving yourself, or torturing yourself by depriving yourself of enjoyable foods, and these bars are proof of that. Imagine having a supply of these at the ready for times when you’re hungry but your next meal won’t be for a few hours. You’d be able to quell any signs of hunger which can often lead to diet-ruining food choices. However, as long as you’re eating balanced Paleo meals in the proper portions you shouldn’t be getting hungry until several hours after you’ve eaten.
Justin’s is all about being natural. Their almond butter is made with dry-roasted almonds and a bit of sustainably-sourced palm fruit oil, which lends the spread its creamy texture. These squeeze packs are perfect for throwing in your purse or lunchbox when you’re craving a creamy treat. Better yet, pair with apple slices or a banana for a complete snack.
The Paleo Answer: 7 Days to Lose Weight, Feel Great, Stay Young by Loren Cordain. The author shows you how to supercharge the Paleo diet for optimal lifelong health and weight loss. Featuring a new prescriptive 7-day plan and surprising revelations from the author's original research, it's the most powerful Paleo guide yet. Published December 20, 2011.
This is a cute snack that can help you cool off on a hot summer day or night, and won’t impact your Paleo eating one bit. That’s because it uses just two ingredients in this sandwich, so it’s just a matter of cutting them up and eating them. The way they’ve presented it makes it a great party dish, because who doesn’t like eating things off of toothpicks. The trickiest part is getting the cucumbers and watermelon to be cut into the same sized squares so that they look good. If you’re just making a snack for yourself you don’t have to be so exact.
The number of things that modern day cooks can do to vegetables is growing, and they’re coming up with new ways to make eating vegetables fun and desirable. This time they’ve managed to make a jerky out of eggplant, which makes it great to include when you’re having some beef jerky. Paleo is all about balancing out your meat intake with veggies, which would make a snack of beef jerky and eggplant jerky a pretty balanced way to go. They provide two different ways to make these, one for those that own a dehydrator and one for those that don’t.
At it’s core, the Paleo diet is a plant-based diet, with two thirds or more of every Paleo meal consisting of plant foods and only one third of every plate taken up by animal foods. Of course, meat consumption is enthusiastically endorsed as well because it provides vital nutrients not obtainable from plant sources. Sourcing the highest quality food you can is encouraged, meaning choosing grass-fed or pasture-raised meat, wild-caught seafood, and local organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. See The Diet We’re Meant to Eat, Part 3: How Much Meat versus Veggies? and The Importance of Vegetables.
Maroon: White Sweet Potato – Blackberries – Raspberries – Lemon Juice – Coconut Butter – Pink: Strawberries – Orange: Carrots – Oranges – Orange Sweet Potato – Yellow: Parsnips – Lemon – Green: Spinach – Pears – Kiwis – Peas – Avocado – Indigo: Blueberries – Vanilla – Burgundy: Beets – Cherries – Vitamix 750 – Nesco Food Dehydrator – Excalibur Food Dehydrator