Joel Runyon is the founder of Ultimate Paleo Guide and CEO of Paleo Meal Plans. He's a precision nutrition, and Gym Jones Level 1 certified, and helped millions of people get healthy and lose weight since 2012. Joel is also an ultra runner and endurance athlete - and in 2017, he became the the youngest person to run an ultra marathon on every continent in the world to build 7 schools with Pencils of Promise in developing countries.Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Athlinks and read his full bio here.


I believe in parchment paper. It’s a DREAM for clean up and prevents burning. I hardly ever bake without it, and these ginger cookies are no exception. Some ginger cookies have a tendency to scorch on the bottom, and I’ve found that a light-colored baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a silicone baking mat) is a fail proof plan for perfectly baked ginger cookies. (I think even Ina would approve.)
While dairy products are fairly obvious, grains and legumes can be confusing. Wheat is an obvious grain, but corn and corn-based ingredients also fall into this category. Pseudo grains, such as quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat, are generally not recommended because they can cause grain-like digestive problems. Legumes means not only beans (including soy), but peas, lentils, and peanuts (including peanut butters and oils).
This recipe makes soft, cakey cookies that are also hearty! They held up very well in the freezer! They’re great to have on hand for the mornings when you don’t have the brain power to think about breakfast. You can just pull some out of the freezer, heat in the microwave for about 1 minute, and have a healthy delicious breakfast you and your kids will love!

This is a classic gingerbread cookie recipe Paleo-style. Yup, you could make these and decorate your tree with them and eat a few too. You could make these and give them away to your friends and neighbors if you do that sort of thing. Whatever you do with them you will have so much fun because you can actually make and eat gingerbread cookies like everyone else now. Yeah, for eating “normal” even when you are on a Paleo diet.
This means that embracing the Paleo diet means upping the meat ante, but with one major addendum: that meat must be from high quality sources! Quality, in this instance, is synonymous with grass-fed/pasture-raised, organic, free-range, and (ideally) humanely-raised. (Avoid the additives and nitrates of cured meats.) If your budget won’t allow for meats carrying these labels all the time, go for organic and pastured when you can, prioritizing it for fattier cuts and going budget-friendly on leaner varieties.
Even if you’re not purely Paleo, boiled eggs should be a part of your diet for so many reasons. Not only are they super easy to cook (12 minutes on the stove on average with no mixing or stirring), but eggs are filled with proteins, vitamins, minerals, and good fats. Plus one large egg has only about 80 calories. Boiled eggs can even be found at the grocery store precooked and in packs of two, making it a great grab-and-go Paleo snack. If you’re not a fan of the hardboiled variety, try one of these egg-tastic breakfast cooking tips that we promise you’ll love.
I’m vegan, and my boyfriend is (mostly) paleo. As soon as November hit I got a serious craving for chocolate chip cookies! I wanted to make something we could both enjoy, and after much research, I landed here. My guy is a chef, so he’s quite the critic. Until NOW, I haven’t been able to impress him with vegan/grain free cookies. This recipe is perfect! I made my own almond butter (wouldn’t have if I hadn’t run out…a blessing in disguise!), and used the coconut sugar, chilling it like you said. Luckily I didn’t bake them all at once, or they’d be gone! Thank you for this! :)
6/30/16 update: I’ve been making these paleo chocolate chip cookies with chia eggs lately to make them vegan and they’re just as delicious! To make a chia egg, mix together 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds and 2.5 tablespoons water. Let sit 5-15 minutes or until goopy like an egg. I’ve also tried these cookies using a flax egg but I didn’t like the taste.
I think granola bars are pretty healthy so my kids and I eat them for snacks all the time. They aren’t just for breakfast anymore. These granola bars come together quickly and are so easy to make. Chopping the nuts is the most time-consuming part and you probably know that isn’t very hard. You can use whatever nuts you like or have on hand. You can forget the chocolate if you’d like.
Hi. I used 1/4 cup of molasses and 3/4 cup of erythritol. When I first tasted the cookie I thought it was a little bit too sweet, but now the taste seems perfect. With the erythritol and molasses in place of sugar, I can eat the cookie without a negative impact on my blood glucose. I like them so much I’m going to bake more and send them to my mother who is also diabetic.
We have a penchant for finding an absurd amount of ways to sweeten our food, as evidenced by our sweetener-laden grocery store aisles. Our many sweeteners also have many names, making it difficult to suss out the added sugars in foods. There are only a few Paleo-friendly sweetening agents: fruit, raw honey, pure maple syrup, and coconut sugar, all of which are low on the glycemic index. Still, these should not be a diet staple.

My past four years have been some of the best of my life, and I’ve learned more, grown more, and evolved more from my experiences since stepping foot on the University of Puget Sound campus in 2011 than I have in any other time in my life. I’m not going to get sappy, because let’s be real, I’m sure the closer I get, the more I’ll write about how crazy it feels to be done with this chapter of my life.
Bell peppers are a member of the nightshade family and although some people don’t tolerate digesting them well, they are considered paleo as most people don’t experience any ill effects and only benefit from their high nutrient content. Enjoy these vitamin C loaded vegetables raw or add them to meals for the disease protecting, anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin A, E and potassium content.

When it comes to selecting the best fats to include in your paleo diet, almost any natural source is acceptable. This includes refined animal fats (choose naturally-raised, organic varieties), nuts oils (except for peanut which isn’t a nut), avocados and all parts of the coconut. Always avoid processed fats that contain harmful trans fats and try to ensure that you’re consuming a good balance of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids to minimize inflammation within your body. To help you to do this, avoid seed oils such as canola, soybean and vegetables oils and include fatty fish in your diet regularly.


I have been a follower of yours for a VERY long time as well as Paleo for 2 years now. I have Iost 50 pounds and way more inches I can account for. I went from a fluffy size 16 to a very thin size 4. I feel incredible. Better than going GF alone. I think to myself, I must have had intolerances to other grains and not realized it. I truly appreciate your sharing your dabbling in Paleo. I can relate to needing a cookie just for mom every once and a while. True, made me giggle. Make sure your Paleo readers get the lowest sugar content chocolate chips possible. We get the bars and chop them up.
6/30/16 update: I’ve been making these paleo chocolate chip cookies with chia eggs lately to make them vegan and they’re just as delicious! To make a chia egg, mix together 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds and 2.5 tablespoons water. Let sit 5-15 minutes or until goopy like an egg. I’ve also tried these cookies using a flax egg but I didn’t like the taste.
I just made these with Stevia. I replaced all coconut sugar with about 1/2 tsp Sweet Leaf Stevia powder then tasted the batter before I divided & baked. I added just a hint more stevia because (true confessions) I LOVE SUGAR! I also went heavy on the vanilla because really, stevia has a little bitter aftertaste and the vanilla helps cloak that. These are delicious. I am expecting that the swap brings the caloric value of the cookie down by approximately 30 calories/cookie if the bath made 12. I only got 10 after sampling a few spoons (heaping) of the batter.
The diet focuses on unprocessed, whole foods – healthy fats including saturated fat, grass-fed, free-range meat and eggs, lots of fish and seafood, vegetables, fruit, berries, nuts, seeds and some natural sweeteners. It excludes grains, legumes, processed sugar and most dairy. Some people include healthy dairy foods like kefir, full fat natural yogurt, some aged cheese and butter. That, of course, really depends on your sensitivities. We love this way of eating because it also focuses on local, organic produce and good farming practices.
These clusters are great for popping, and they’re made from one of the healthiest seeds out there, pumpkin seeds. In fact there’s only four different ingredients to these, so they’ve kept it very simple, and you don’t have to worry if there are any unapproved items here. These are going to be sweet from the use of honey and coconut sugar, with a strong vanilla flavor from the vanilla extract. You can use these to satisfy your sweet tooth without the need to eat an entire dessert.
Grass-fed meat is recommended on the paleo diet because it is leaner than meat from grain-fed animals and has more omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats that reduce inflammation in the body and protect your heart. A typical American diet is high in saturated and trans fats and lower in healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats, hence the paleo diet's emphasis on grass-fed meats, as well as seafood.
This step is actually optional if you do not mind having flecks of zucchini visible in your zucchini cookies! However, in my house, my kids would not approve of anything green in their cookies, so I always blend the zucchini with the other wet ingredients! I also really enjoy the texture of these paleo breakfast cookies when the zucchini is fully blended.
Here’s a great game day dip that you can serve up and feel like you’re having a real treat. Use one of the chip recipes on this page to scoop up this flavorful dip. It’s a sure winner when bacon and bleu cheese join spinach and artichokes. It’s like taken a proven success and adding two more delicious ingredients to it. You may want to drop the bleu cheese if you know for certain that you can’t handle any cheese, but many Paleo eaters will make an exception for a bit of cheese on occasion.
The second my mom saw these, she immediately started making plans to hide and portion them. She has the same problem I do with, ya know, not eating the whole batch. In one sitting. She gushed over them, and asked me, “HOW do you do it??” And I’m like, “HOW do you cook so well?!” My mom thinks it’s the funniest thing in the world that she cooks savory food like a boss, and I pretty much exclusively bake.

Meat and poultry (including offal) – grass-fed, free range meat is not only a kinder and more ethical way to consume animal products but it is also much higher in nutrients because of the way the cattle was fed and raised. We have a great little interview with a cattle farmer talking about the benefits of grass-fed, pasture raised cattle meat here.
The fact that vegetable oils are still so prevalent in today’s world is a testament to just how aggressively they’ve been marketed, lobbied, and subsidized. But just because everyone else is using them doesn’t mean you should, and you most definitely shouldn’t if you’re planning on going full paleo (or Primal). The following oils are typically ultra-processed and pro-inflammatory on account of their high levels of omega-6 fatty acids.
These crackers are easy to prepare and it’s always a good idea to have a crunchy food around to munch on. These are very versatile, you can use them to scoop up any dip you create, or you can make a chicken salad and use them for that as well. They only have three ingredients, so it’s easy enough to keep stocked up and since it doesn’t take long to make these you don’t have to worry about storing them you can just make them as you need them so they’re fresh and crispy.

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.
Oils are trickier. Loren Cordain, Ph.D., founder of The Paleo Diet Movement, breaks down which oils are healthy on the paleo diet: olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado and coconut oils are all allowed because they were gathered directly from the plant. While our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably did not consume flaxseed oil, it is allowed because of its content of high alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid.
With high amounts of heart-healthy omega-3’s, fish is a great form of protein to regularly include in a paleo diet. Select wild-caught fish to avoid ingesting the harmful chemicals that farmed fish are regularly fed. Both low-fat, white varieties of fish are considered paleo as well as high-fat fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel and should both be included to satisfy your daily protein and fat requirements. 

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If you crave soda, you might be low in calcium. The best source of calcium is in your leafy greens. Make yourself a big salad out of spinach, kale, watercress, turnip greens, some broccoli, and sesame seeds. If you do dairy, throw some cheddar in there, too. Top it all off with some homemade Ranch dressing or a nice oil and vinegar dressing. This snack will not only help increase your calcium intake, it’ll also fill you up and leave no room for that soda you want to drink.

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.


6/30/16 update: I’ve been making these paleo chocolate chip cookies with chia eggs lately to make them vegan and they’re just as delicious! To make a chia egg, mix together 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds and 2.5 tablespoons water. Let sit 5-15 minutes or until goopy like an egg. I’ve also tried these cookies using a flax egg but I didn’t like the taste.
Edible seaweeds are too often overlooked on a Paleo diet, but they boast an unparalleled nutritional profile. Among many essential nutrients, most kinds of seaweeds are loaded with iodine, an essential trace element to life. Iodine is especially important for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. For most people on a SAD diet, the only reliable source of iodine is iodized salt. Many people on a Paleo diet decide to shun added salt completely or to consume unrefined sea salt instead of regular iodized table salt. This is great, but with such a change, an effort should be made to eat iodine rich foods occasionally. Seaweeds are a great option.

Beer is made from a trio of paleo offenders — wheat, barley, and hops — so it’s safe to say that’s off the menu. Organic wine is an alcoholic beverage that is considered paleo friendly in some circles, but because it goes through a process of fermenting sugar and starches, it’s not strict paleo if you’re living the way our prehistoric forebears did. Remember: Too much alcohol on a consistent basis has been associated with a higher risk of liver disease, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and brain health issues. (11)

Hi Kate! While I still use blanched almonds occasionally, I do use raw organic almonds, with skins, for most of my almond flour needs! Since I eat raw almonds with skins often, I don’t see how grinding them into flour would make them toxic. I’ve actually never heard of that before! After doing a bit of internet research, I believe the almonds you’re thinking of are called “bitter” almonds, and as I understand it, they are not the type of almonds you’ll find in any grocery store (because they’re toxic!).


These fig bars have a lot going on, and your taste buds are sure to thank you for such a nice midday treat. At the same time they are loaded with healthy things like apples, peaches, and the figs themselves. They’ve removed any trace of grains, and are using coconut flour to put them into bar form, with just the right amount of honey to make these sweet but not overly so. The use of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger really balances out the flavor profile for these, and you can eat them between breakfast and lunch, or between lunch and dinner so they’re very good to have handy.
These researchers point out that there are plenty of reasons to suggest that the low-fat-is-good-health hypothesis has now effectively failed the test of time. In particular, that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic that started around the early 1980’s, and that this was coincident with the rise of the low-fat dogma. (Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, also rose significantly through this period.)
OMG! To me, these are the “holy grail” of chocolate cookies and even better because they are paleo! They were so easy to make and better than the usual tollhouse recipe I grew up with. I chopped up the chocolate super fine so when it baked, the cookies came out into flat discs- which I happen to LOVE a cookie like that. So I was very pleased! The best part about paleo baking is that you actually get filled up and even though they are such delicious cookies, I was very satisfied after only eating two. With other cookies made with regular flour, I tend to overeat. Thank you for this recipe. It is absolutely going to be a keeper! I have a feeling this might be one of those recipes I have memorized after a while! 🙂
Now, there are lots of people who feel iffy about snacking. And I get that. The snacks many of us were brought up and traditionally reach for (animal crackers, pretzels, cheese flavored crackers) are kind of just filling up the belly instead of actually feeding the body what it is actually asking for...which is nutrients and protein! Since moving our family to a mostly-Paleo way of eating a few years ago, our snacking game has totally changed!  Out with the starchy crackers. In with real food, nutrient dense nibbles! Nibbles that a little growing body will actually put to good use! That will actually keep them going until their next meal....with their sanity (and your's) intact.
Grains like wheat, barley, oats and corn simply don’t stack up on the nutritional front, with modern cultivars engineered for speed of growth and pest resistance rather than nutrient density. What’s more, the milling process tends to remove most of the nutrients that remain in those grains, meaning the end product is virtually pure carbohydrate. Throw in a heady dose of anti-nutrients like lectins and phytates, and one starts to see why grains are better left off the menu.
Sure, there's a bit of debate as to whether true Paleo-ers can have foods like chocolate (which is made with milk solids and sugar). As articulated on Paleo Leap, an online resource for all things Paleo, "In the true sense of whether our Paleolithic ancestors enjoyed [foods like chocolate], the answer is almost always no, but the real question we should ask ourselves is whether they are healthy when consumed in moderation." In essence, it's up to the individual to decide whether or not to include chocolate in their nutritional regime. Paleo-ers who do say yes to chocolate often choose the dark variety -- it tends to be less processed and lower in sugar.
As paleo guru Robb Wolf puts it, think of a 100-yard football field. The first 99.5 yards are how long Homo-Sapiens spent as hunter-gatherers. As they became REALLY good at hunting and gathering our bodies adapted to that lifestyle over thousands of years. That last half-yard represents our species after the agricultural revolution, where our diet has shifted (but our genetics haven’t).
I like these Paleo pumpkin chocolate chip cookies because they are full of pumpkin flavor, they are not too sweet and they have kind of a cakey texture. That’s what I expect from a pumpkin cookie. These are really good, I don’t want to brag but they are a lot better than the ones you buy from the store. Even those made in a bakery. They are actually pretty healthy too because they only have 1 tablespoon of oil in the whole batch and only 2 tablespoons of honey. I sweetened them up with a little applesauce too.
Hi Monique! I love all your paleo recipes but am not a friend of the texture/flavor eggs add ( I know it’s not super obvious and noticeable but I generally bake vegan treats so do tend to notice a difference) Your double chocolate paleo bars worked super well with a chia egg (I ate those bars every chance I got!), do you think that would work here too? Thanks so much!

Kale chips are one of the healthiest snacks on the planet, and you don’t have to be a gourmet chef in order to get them right. The beauty of eating kale chips is that there’s no debate over whether they are Paleo or not. The ingredients are as simple as it gets: as much kale as you want with enough olive oil to coat them, and then some salt and pepper until you’re happy with the way they taste. Making them is super easy, and doesn’t take long from start to finish, maybe 20 minutes total. Eat these for a protein and fiber packed snack with lots of vitamins and minerals.
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