The paleo diet attempts to recreate the diet of early humans, but does that mean it can’t be delicious? We don’t think so. Try our favorite paleo recipes.
The paleo diet is having a moment. It seems everywhere you look, you see restaurants offering paleo meals, you see books hawking different variations on the diet, and you even see news stories discussing the benefits of “going paleo.” But just what is it, and what’s the best way to eat paleo style?
The paleo diet comes from a simple idea: that humans evolved to eat a certain diet, but with the advent of domesticated plants and animals, the diet of modern humans has diverged substantially from that original heritage diet. In essence, it’s an attempt to replicate the diet of ancient humans. Effectively, this means a massive reduction in grain intake—modern humans eat an order of magnitude more grain and carbohydrates than our ancestors probably did. The theory is that the human digestive system evolved to be perfectly calibrated to eating certain foods and that we should do our best to continue to eat those foods.
So what is paleo? Aside from a huge reduction in grain and carbohydrate intake, it’s relatively meat-focused, with an additional emphasis on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and roots. Dairy is more of an open question: there is no consensus in the paleo diet as to the role of dairy in early human nutrition. It’s also a diet that attempts to cut out refined sugars entirely, arguing that aside from honey and raw grain syrups like malt rice syrup, pretty much nothing similar to refined sugar existed in the natural world before humans made it.
So is it healthy? The jury is still out on that. Some people have lost a lot of weight from eating paleo, but this may be due to the big reduction of carbohydrates. Some critics have pointed out the diet’s reliance on red meat, which can be unhealthy, and in some people has been shown to raise cholesterol. But we don’t know about that. What we do know is that the paleo diet can be delicious, and we’ve got the recipes to prove it. Read on, and see if the cave life is the life for you!
Paleo zucchini spaghetti and meatballs recipe
One way that the paleo diet copes with the huge carbohydrate reduction is by using vegetables to simulate them. Zucchini spaghetti is a popular one: zucchini are cut into long strips to mimic pasta noodles, which are then briefly sauteed to soften and cook them. Meanwhile, juicy meatballs are stewing in a flavorful tomato sauce in the pot next door. You know the rest of the story—dress your “pasta” with the spaghetti and meatballs, sprinkle on some cheese, and dig in! Zucchini spaghetti and meatballs is the perfect meal for your special caveman or -woman.
Paleo lemon cake with pine nuts recipe
Even though paleo dieters are banned from eating refined sugars, that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy something sweet. This unusual lemon and pine nut cake gets its sweetness from delicious honey (use raw honey if you can find it—it’s more paleo) and naturally sweet coconut milk. The result is further refined by a generous sprinkling of crunchy pine nuts, which add a unique flavor and texture to this paleo cake. A bit cakey, a bit custardy, and all the way delicious, this paleo lemon and pine nut cake is perfect for your next healthy dessert.
Paleo homemade vanilla ice cream recipe
This recipe is deceptively simple. Built like a normal custardy ice cream, it gets its sweetness from rice malt syrup, a browned, deeply flavorful syrup made from unrefined brown rice. It adds a delicious malty, nutty flavor to the vanilla, which is enhanced through the use of real vanilla beans—careful! These are intensely flavorful and go a long way. To make this paleo vanilla ice cream, simply throw everything into an ice cream machine and pop it in the freezer: you’re bare minutes away from one of the tastiest and healthiest bowls of ice cream you’ve ever had.
Paleo granola recipe
Paleo granola sounds like an oxymoron, right? Granola is typically made with oats, making it decidedly un-paleo. But lucky for us, some enterprising caveperson decided to make this recipe paleo, and we couldn’t be happier, because it’s delicious. It’s also far healthier than ordinary granola. Instead of oats, we use a variety of seeds and nuts, including favorites like almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. It gets its sweetness from dark brown maple syrup and just a touch of greasiness from coconut oil. Mix them together and roast them in the oven. We have to warn you to keep an eye out for granola thieves: this paleo granola recipe is so delicious, we bet it won’t last a day!