Going Paleo: Top 10 Ingredients

Paleo.  You've probably heard or read something about Paleo.

But what exactly is Paleo and how do you eat while Paleo?  Well, let's just say that when you decide to go Paleo, you will not find any Paleo foods that come in a box.  In other words, you will have to cook.  Now I know that for some, cooking three meals a day may seem like a lot, but if planned just right, you will and can spend less than a couple of hours one day a week prepping and cooking all meals for the week.

The key thing is to have all your ingredients purchased ahead of time (well, most of the staple items). You will notice in most Paleo approved recipes, there are a few key ingredients that are used pretty routinely.

Below are my all time top 10 ingredients used in Paleo baking and cooking that you will need to have on hand when going Paleo.


When cooking/baking Paleo, you will tend to use different flours than just your typical flour.  You will use several different types.  The main ones are almond and coconut (discussed below).  If you do not have a nut allergy, almond flour is a great alternative to plain flour.

One note about almond and coconut flour (or any other type of flour):  each type of flour reacts differently in that when mixing them with liquids or other ingredients to form a batter, they tend to not be on a 1 to 1 ratio as your typical white flour.  In other words, if you have recipe that calls for 1 cup of flour, you can not sub out that 1 cup of flour for 1 cup of almond or coconut flour.  Due to the consistency of these flours, you will have to do some experimenting in terms of how much almond or coconut flour to substitute for white flour.

1.  Almond Flour

Almonds are high in Vitamin E and a good source of protein.  When choosing almond flour, you want to make sure it is almond flour and NOT almond meal (they are two different textures that will effect your baking outcomes tremendously) and you also want to make sure it is blanched almond flour.  My favorite almond flour is Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour.  

2.  Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is another great cooking/baking flour to use.  This is an alternative to using almond flour and can be used if you have a nut allergy.  It is also a great source of fiber (daily recommended intake is between 25 to 38 grams per day).  

The brand that I prefer to use is Nutiva Organic Coconut Flour.


3.  Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has many uses other than using in baking and cooking.  Coconut oil is great for using on your skin as a moisturizer, is great for those who have skin issues such as eczema (a post on this is in the works) as it helps to soothe and seal the dry cracked skin, boosting your immune system, helping your digestive system (important if you have digestive issues), among many others.  Coconut oil is also anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antioxidant and antimicrobial, which makes is a great alternative for its healing properties.

2 preferred choices for coconut oil are:

You want to choose refined as it does not smell and taste like coconut (something you want to make sure that when you are cooking a chocolate chip cookie that it doesn't taste like coconut) and it is easier on the digestive system.

Coconut oil also has a high smoking index which means that it is one of the healthier oils to fry and cook with.  The higher the smoking index for an oil, the better.  The lower heat index means that when you heat an oil to a certain temperature, it starts to break down the impurities in the oil and can even become somewhat toxic.  Unrefined coconut oil has a smoke index of 400 degrees while olive oil is between 325 and 375 degrees.

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature but can easily be turned into a liquid by placing the container in a sink of warm-hot water for about 5 minutes.    

4.  Olive Oil

When choosing an olive oil, you want to make sure of a few things:  Make sure it is a "extra virgin" olive oil, comes in a dark green bottle (stay away from oil in clear plastic as the light destroys some of the health benefits of the oil and can turn it rancid).

One of my favorites to use is California Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  

Remember: If you tend to use olive oil for frying, olive oil has smoke index temperature of 325 to 375 degrees (coconut oil has a smoke index of 400 degrees) so you will want to consider using coconut oil in terms of frying as opposed to olive oil.


5.  Palm Sugar

Palm sugar (also known as coconut sugar) is derived from the sap of the coconut palm tree.  It is high in vitamins, minerals and amino acids.  Palm sugar is also low on the glycemic index.  The glycemic index of pure palm sugar is 35 (foods considered low are 55 and under on the glycemic index).

6.  Chocolate Chips

Chocolate chips are not considered Paleo by any means. However, we all need a little chocolate in our lives every now and then, right?  Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips are gluten free, soy free, and dairy free.

Please note that these are NOT sugar free - they do contain sugar, but they are the only brand that I have found my family will actually eat (since they taste very similar to "regular" chocolate chips).

Milk Alternatives

7.  Almond Milk

Since going Paleo (which is also dairy free), almond milk has become one of the two "milks" we use in our house.

You will want to get any version that is unsweetened so that it cuts down on the amount of sugar intake.

8.  Coconut Milk

Native Forest Coconut Milk (Canned) is what is recommended for baking.  If a recipe calls for the cream of coconut milk, you will need to turn the can over so that the "cream" will settle to the bottom for you to use.  Otherwise, you can shake the can to mix the cream and water for milk.

So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk (Carton) is good for use in baking too, but also drinking and using over cereals.

Baking Items

9.  Baking Powder

Make sure it is aluminum free.  There is no taste difference in baking powder containing aluminum and one that is aluminum free.  However, by using baking powder that does not contain aluminum, you are also cutting your exposure to metals in your diet.

10.  Spices

You want to make sure that your spices are organic and preferably from a source that is known to be gluten free.

Two of my favorite brands are:

Simply Organic

Simply Balanced (Target's line of organic foods)

These ten are just a few of the many different ingredients that are used in Paleo cooking.  For those that are Paleo, what are your favorite Paleo foods used in baking and cooking?

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