Since I’ve started my paleo journey I’ve had people ask me tons of questions. How hard was the transition? What do you miss the most from your old diet? Do you crave cookies and cake and sleep walk to the kitchen to find them? Okay the last one hasn’t been asked, but I did worry about it happening.
One of the questions that comes up the most often is however is: What are staples in your pantry/fridge? I’ve taken a few weeks to come up with a list and I’ve detailed it below.
What’s in My Pantry??
Olive Oil – This is my oil of choice. As in I use it in just about everything I make. One day Fly Boy came in and stated, “I just heard on NPR…” I haven’t mentioned it yet, but when he says that it’s a mixed bag as to whether the idea about to come out of his mouth is good or just dangerous. In any case, he stated “I just head on NPR that lots of the olive oil we see on the shelves are using mostly over ripe olives and mixing it with just a little bit of good olive oil. One way you can tell is if the olive oil lists more than one country of origin.” (The piece he was referring to can be found here.) I blinked for a moment and immediately went to check the bottle we had, and sure enough it fell into the category he was talking about. Even so it took me another few months to spring for a purer extra-virgin (Italy all the way! I’m biased.) One thing I have learned is that when it comes to the olive oil you choose don’t go cheap. The old stuff I cooked with was passable, when I opened this new bottle and sniffed I immediately wanted some crusty bread, some cracked pepper and a really, really fresh grated parmesan. It matters.
Coconut Oil – I remembered coconut oil as a kid, mainly I remember my mother using it in my hair. That smell stays with you for years. So I admit to inwardly sneering when I came across a recipe that called for it, and then sighed when I came across quite a few more I wanted to try that called for it as well. So in it went into my cart the next shopping trip, and now when I come close to running out a new one shows up in the house so that I’m never out. The oil lends a slightly lighter and nuttier taste to food than olive oil does, and I find that most of my Asian type foods work better with it. I also use it in my Bulletproof Coffee. I haven’t ventured out to other uses yet, but the time is coming fast when I will.
Ghee – So you might be missing butter. I was a butter fanatic to be sure and I thought I’d never get over not having salted butter, let alone unsalted butter. Both of which were no-no’s in the paleo world. I didn’t want to be stuck cooking with olive oil forever. I have since learned that the nut oils are amazing, but they’re kind of hard on the check book. Everywhere I looked I kept seeing ghee mentioned, so I looked around for some and just about hid under my shopping cart at the price tag attached. Enter Nom Nom Paleo, and all I can say is thank goodness for Michelle Tam and her mobile app. If it hadn’t been for her I wouldn’t have known that making my own ghee takes only 15 mins and very little frustration. I’ve made several batches since, and have even gone so far as to infuse garlic into batches for when I don’t want to take the time to mince some up for use.
Coconut Aminos – An ingredient in Filipino food is soy sauce. Imagine my heart ache to find that soy sauce is very, very not paleo. First my dear friend E, who happens to be gluten free, mentioned in passing that she can’t have soy sauce because of the wheat content. Second, soy is a bean. Double whammied right out the gate. So I went looking for alternatives and once again Michelle Tam came to my rescue and pointed out she replaced it with coconut aminos and it worked just as well. So ratio wise this is what I found, if your recipe calls for 1 tbsp of soy sauce you want to use 1 tbsp of coconut amino. It is sweeter than soy sauce, so I took Michelle Tams advice to me and added just a little of the next item to give it a bit of the saltiness that soy sauce usually adds.
Fish Sauce – Another staple in a lot of Asian cooking, it falls under the same curse as soy sauce does. Often it has ingredients that just aren’t paleo. So you see that picture to the left? That is the only brand I’ve found that actually is paleo. I add just 1 tbsp of that to 3 tbsp of coconut amino to give me the soy sauce equivalent I’m looking for. I’ve found it’s also a great salt substitute if you need a little bit extra. Careful though and don’t get heavy handed. A little goes a long way.
Spinach – I swear the people at the grocery store must think my household is iron deficient. At least 4 – 6 bags of spinach make it into my cart every week. It’s the main ingredient to a dish I make every weekend, Spinach Adobo (recipe to follow later) and it’s a great add to my eggs in the morning, a quick salad and when I’m in the mood for a green smoothie. It boggles my mind to realize that just under a year ago a bag of spinach would just lay in the fridge until it became a mess that wasn’t near appetizing. Now it disappears as quickly as it goes in.
Eggs – The same grocery employees must be just itching to suggest we start raising chickens. Eggs are quick, simple and easy to cook up for breakfast and bakes. Couldn’t do without them.
Almond Milk – So coffee. I was a froufrou coffee drinker pretty regularly. At least once a week Caribou Coffee would see my shiny face enter their door. But I don’t drink coffee because I need caffeine, I drink it because I actually do enjoy the taste of it. (I just felt a collective shudder from people who just think I’m insane.) Although Flyboy and I are of the ilk that doesn’t think that all milk products are off-limits, I do try to keep away from it as much as possible. One of the ways I do that is almond milk in my coffee. So it’s always in the house.
Honey – This is another one of those ingredients that once was a luxury, but is now a necessity. It’s our sugar substitute in recipes that need it. That being said, we do buy our honey from local beekeepers.
Bacon – Bacon makes everything better. I’m not kidding either. It astounded me at first just how many bacon wrapped, bacon braised, and bacon fried recipes I came across. On the plus side we already loved bacon so this was a happy little discovery. We use it so much that we bought part of pig from a farmer and are going to make our own. Now we just need a smoker…
Spices – Any spices really. Because we no longer use processed foods primarily we don’t have any of the extra additives that used to make food taste good to us. Our spice selection has not only expanded, but gets used often.
Garlic – Garlic was another taste we’ve always loved in this house. The amount of garlic flavored anything that we bought in processed foodstuff was impressive. So now instead garlic is present at all times and gets thrown into a lot of the cooking I do.
I hope the list above can give someone just starting out a ground work of things they can have on hand that will make the transition that much easier. If you’ve already started or are well into this journey and this way of eating yourself add to the list. What do you have in your pantry you just can’t live without?