This has been a really great week! I got some new workout clothes for the first time in a long time–when I took them out of the box they were shipped in, I was upset because they looked too small to fit. And then I put them on and it hit me that they are my size. I am their size. My brain can’t catch up with what’s happened to my body. And there were other awesome things: coming home from work to find the office repainted (by my talented husband), a surprise beer koozie featuring a t-rex on rollerskates (now I’m seriously considering recreational roller derby as a new fitness option), and some beautiful grilled peaches, red onion, and poblano that turned into Whole 30 compliant bbq sauce (thanks to NomNomPaleo’s recipe, subbed the poblano for the jalepeno).
As the day closes on day 14 of my Whole 30 journey, things are on the up-and-up. But they were not always so easy. Even the other night we grabbed dinner with friends and the tater-tots on the plate across from me were tripping something fierce in my brain. This is going to happen, since our brains are hardwired to seek out salty, sweet, and fatty foods: things that would be hard to come by in nature. And even when you’re doing your very best to stick to whatever you’ve decided is healthy for body, that cake with the frosting roses on the conference room table, or chocolate croissant in the pastry display case at the coffee shop, or order of crispy fried chicken fingers and onion rings the waiter just walked past your table is going to attract your attention. And you can’t help it (according to this woman).
But if I’ve learned anything in my brief time on this journey, it’s that you can redefine how food fits into your life. I used to believe that every occasion could and should be celebrated with food. I was hurting myself and pushing sweets and takeout onto my husband. I gained 50lbs. in the five months after we moved in together when we were dating, and he got bigger too. Chinese food was the cure for feeling sad or sick, chocolate lava cake was the reward for a productive week at work, fresh baked cookies (especially “paleo” cookies because they were “healthy”) were the way to end a great day [and we never had any left over]. Recently I went to a concert and didn’t drink a beer, or have a hot dog, and…surprise…it was still a great night out! This week, I am scheduled to fly across the country, and I have another trip later this month, and while these too will be challenges, I am excited to put an end to my “anything goes in the airport” attitude. No Cinnabons, no fried rice for breakfast, and, my signature move, no ritual chocolate bar, Real Simple magazine, and Figi water at the airport newsstand. (Well…probably still going to get the water and the magazine.)
Last night I made a meatloaf that combined grassfed beef, pork, ground organic bacon, and pureed grilled veggies, glazed with leftover peach bbq sauce–which sounds great–but it isn’t perfect yet. So, while I work on that and a few other things, I’d like to share my favorite pantry items that make paleo just a little bit easier and that I wish I had in my starter kit when I decided to go primal.
Paleo Pantry Starter Kit
Coconut Aminos: joy in a tiny bottle! Soy sauce is filled with soy and wheat, but coconut aminos have come to the rescue. Put them in your stir-fry, use them to add some deliciousness to your burgers/meatloaf, use them to make paleo-ish teriyaki chicken (recipe forthcoming)! Pretty much, anywhere you would use soy sauce, use this now.
Ghee: is clarified butter. It has a nutty flavor, a negligible amount of lactose, and Purity Farms ghee comes from pasture-fed cows, is certified organic, and is likely available at your local natural foods retailer.
Dorot Spice Cubes: frozen cubes of garlic and spices. Super easy to use, we keep the basil, garlic, and ginger on hand in our freezer. Sometimes you need to bust a boring food-slump, and these are always ready to go. Pop a few of these into whatever you’re cooking and be amazed!
Coconut Flour & Almond Meal: two staples of the paleo pantry, they can be used for good or evil (aforementioned paleo cookies). Once these are mastered, you can move on to tapioca flour, or into controversial territory, like potato flour (my personal favorite to thicken soups and gravy). A word to the wise: coconut flour absorbs moisture like crazy. I like to use a 2/3 almond meal 1/3 coconut flour ratio when substituting for wheat flour–the almond meal adds protein and keeps it moist, the coconut flour helps everything combine nicely.
Coconut Oil: a lifesaver. We buy the Nutiva 54oz jugs of the stuff off Amazon, as we use it for dry skin as a moisturizer, a treatment for dry scalp, and as our primary cooking/baking oil. It has a slightly sweet taste and smell, but we’re used to it and we like to eat spicy food, effectively combatting any residual sweetness. We still use olive oil as our back-up (which was controversial for a while and now it seems like that’s faded away) but this is our go-to and, good news, you can buy it pretty much anywhere (most grocery stores carry at least Spectrum brand).
Raw Honey/Real Maple Syrup: for when you need to sweeten things up. Raw honey is creamy-looking, as it hasn’t been pasteurized and still contains all kinds of good stuff for your body, and local is best as it might even help alleviate your allergies! Real Maple Syrup is decadent and delicious, albeit pricey. I hail from New England, so maple syrup is nostalgic for me, but I find honey to be more versatile. Choose whatever fits your tastes/budget and try different brands or, even better, different farms if you can get to a farmer’s market.
And that’s it! If anyone has anything to add to the list, leave a comment! And promising new recipes in the near future.