If you are new to a grain-free or paleo diet and find yourself a little confused and intimidated, you are not alone. It is a big transition, and many of the items that were staples in your kitchen can no longer be used. Paleo eliminates processed ingredients and opts for nutritious, whole foods. But you don’t have to trade flavor for your health! Throw out your soy sauce, canola oil, white sugar, and table salt and stock your pantry with the items below to create tasty, healthy paleo meals. Below are a few of my favorite paleo pantry basics that I utilize every day to cook with and add flavor to my meals.
Ghee is clarified butter, which means that the milk solids have been almost entirely removed, leaving only the healthy butterfat behind. It can be used in place of butter and still has a rich flavor. Very pure ghee is 99 percent pure butter oil, but may have trace amounts of casein and lactose. Unless you are extremely sensitive, it normally does not cause problems, even if other dairy does. Ghee can easily be prepared at home from grass-fed butter with a little time in the kitchen, and it can also be purchased online and in health food stores.
Coconut aminos are made from naturally aged coconut sap and blended with sea salt. This soy- and gluten- free soy sauce substitute has a low glycemic index and is wonderful in Asian cuisine. Use them just like you would soy sauce, and add a dash of sea salt since they are a bit sweeter.
Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of a coconut. It has many medicinal properties and is a heart-healthy fat. It is heat stable, slow to oxidize, and resistant to rancidity, making it suitable for high-temperature cooking or frying. It is always best to use virgin coconut oil. One of the best attributes of coconut oil? It has so many different uses! Use it in the kitchen, on your skin or hair, or even to combat diaper rash.
Honey is a wonderful, unrefined sugar to use in cooking and baking. Raw, local, organic honey has wonderful health benefits. It boosts both energy and the immune system, and locally produced honey can greatly help with seasonal allergies. Honey contains only monosaccharides (single sugars), making it easier for the body to absorb and process. We all need a little something sweet at times, and honey or pure maple syrup are a great alternative to refined sweeteners.
Sea salt has more health benefits than iodized table salt and provides minerals like iron, zinc and potassium. I find you don’t need as much of it to flavor dishes as you do with table salt. I love to use a fine-grain Celtic or Himalayan pink sea salt, both of which are unbleached and unrefined and contain healthy trace minerals.