My wife and I decided to make some changes to our eating habits. While we didn’t want to go on a “diet” exactly, we looked to popular diet plans as guides to form our own food plan that would address our unique health situations. The Paleo Diet was a good fit for us.
We won’t follow the Paleo Diet exactly, as it’s a bit too limiting for us. And because of our individual health concerns, from past illnesses to future plans, we want to include a few specific foods not covered in it. But it served as a guide. Despite its limits, we were surprised by how many delicious foods were allowed on a Paleo plan.
Here are our personal 25 favorite foods allowed on the Paleo diet (though a few of them vary based on what source you talk to).
Here are some of the major protein sources allowed under the Paleo Diet.
You don’t have to give up beef if you want to follow a Paleo diet. The trick is finding grass-fed beef that isn’t loaded with hormones.
The same is true of chicken. You can still eat it. You just want to look for organic, free-range options without the hormones.
Most fish is fine on the Paleo diet, which is great news if you’re a seafood-lover like me.
Eggs are a very versatile protein source, and they’re allowed on a Paleo diet. You don’t have to limit them to breakfasts either. Hardboiled eggs make great snacks, and eggs can be used as an ingredient in Paleo-friendly baking.
Okay. Here’s our first debatable item, but it’s one I thought was worth including because there’s no way I’m giving up bacon. The problem with bacon is largely the issue of how traditional bacon is made. But you should be fine if you’re lucky enough to have fresh, uncured bacon available to you like we do. We live in farm country and can get fresh meats easily directly from farmers at farmer’s markets or a local butcher who sources meats locally. We can also make sure our local meat isn’t treated with unnecessary hormones. But if you don’t know where your meat comes from, how the animals were raised, or if you rely on basic supermarket bacon, you’re out of luck on the Paleo plan and would be best to leave it out.
Fruits overall are fine on the Paleo diet. I’m not a big fan of fruit in general, so I relied on my wife to pick some tasty options.
People often mistake avocados for a vegetable, but they’re actually fruit. They work well in salads, as guacamole, with chicken, baked with eggs, and much more. They’re also a healthy fat source.
Berries are loaded with antioxidants. A few basic varieties you can keep on hand include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
Grapes can make for a great sweet snack. We often keep red seedless grapes around, but you can also use green grapes, black grapes, or larger seeded types.
Mangos are a good fruit to not only snack on but to turn into smoothies.
Peaches are great for snacking, and also for baked dishes.
There’s nothing quite like enjoying cool watermelon on a hot summer day. It’s a great summer party food too.
Like fruits, most vegetables are safe for the Paleo diet.
I know, I know. A lot of people can’t stand brussel sprouts. But we love them. It’s often a matter of knowing how to cook them well so they don’t get an overly cabbage-y taste. We blanch them, cut them into halves or quarters, and cook them on the stovetop with a bit of olive oil and slices of fresh garlic. It takes a while to cook them, but you want to cook them until they’re tender. They almost melt in your mouth. We also add chestnuts and pieces of bacon to ours when we make it around the holidays (but see my notes on bacon before you do that on the Paleo diet).
Cauliflower is a very versatile vegetable. You can eat the florets simply boiled. You can mash it up as an alternative to mashed potatoes (which aren’t allowed on the Paleo plan). You can use it to make soups. And it’s bland enough that you can flavor it in a wide variety of ways.
This is one of the biggest alternatives to pasta on the Paleo plan. You cut it in half, bake it, and scrape spaghetti-like strings out with a fork. Plus it’s great with pasta sauce.
Sweet potatoes are another questionable entry. I found sources that said it was Paleo-friendly and others that disagreed. But we’re continuing to use them as they have specific nutrients we want. They’re also a good, filling potato substitute.
Zuchinni can be cooked as you normally would, but it’s also a good alternative for pasta. Use a peeler to remove fettuccini-like strands before cooking.
Now let’s move into things that aren’t exactly “foods” but that still deserve to be on this list. First, let’s look at a couple of beverages you can enjoy.
This is a good alternative to sugary sports drinks if you’re an athlete. My wife also likes to use it in mixed drinks to cut the calories of fresh juice (something we’re continuing to have in moderation even if it’s not 100% Paleo-friendly).
There are a lot of herbal tea varieties out there that you could try. A favorite in our house is chamomile tea in the evenings.
Now let’s look at things you might not always eat outright, but that you can use as ingredients when cooking Paleo dishes.
This, along with coconut flour, is a common Paleo substitute for wheat flour. You can use it for baked goods or sometimes for breading things (such as in some chicken dishes or breading and baking vegetables for snacks).
Fresh garlic is one of the best flavorings around. Plus, it’s great for you! We keep minced garlic around for days when we’re in a rush, but the preference is to always use fresh garlic.
Olive oil is a healthy fat option, and it can be used to cook up vegetables, meats, or as a salad dressing.
You can use pretty much any spices you want to season your dishes on the Paleo plan.
Here are some other foods that didn’t fit in well anywhere else.
Okay. So this is another debatable item, but I saw enough references to chocolate being Paleo-friendly that I’m including it here. No need to give it up if you don’t want to. The trick is sticking with dark chocolate, preferably 70% or more.
Nuts are okay on the Paleo plan. But legumes (like peanuts) are not. Instead, enjoy options like almonds, pecans, or walnuts.
Because peanuts are off limits, so is peanut butter. Thankfully many supermarkets carry other nut butters these days. Try almond butter as an alternative. They all have their own distinct tastes, so if you don’t like one, be sure to try others.
What are your favorite foods allowed on the Paleo diet? Do you make exceptions to any of the Paleo rules if you aren’t following it strictly? Tell us what works for you in the comments.