Paleo Store Cupboard - Le Menu Paleo
One of the essential principles of the Paleo way of eating is to maximise the nutritional value of the ingredients used in order to maximise health.
In an ideal world, our food would come from the back garden, it would be free from chemicals and we would eat it whilst in season…
In my world, the sourcing is affected by geography, economics, logistics, culture, the mood my daughters are in and the direction of the wind.
So I try my best, but more often than not, I compromise on many levels.
For example, I don’t only buy products from local organic producers but also from supermarkets. I don’t eat seafood regularly because geographically, I struggle to source it at all. I don’t always soak nuts because soaking, drying, then grinding them to make flour is a little time consuming… although now that I have a Nutri-Bullet which I discovered by accident, also grinds nuts, I take five minutes here and there to soak nuts and dry them so I can grind them on demand – most of the time.
Because I do try to follow some guidelines which I know will make a difference. I source most of my vegetables from a local producer who uses organic farming methods and who delivers to my door (go Groobarbs!). The vast majority of the fish we eat is caught from the sea and sustainable. I source most of my meat from a farm which raises grass fed meat.
If I do buy from the supermarket or the internet – which let’s face it, I also do rather a lot for economical, logistical and geographical reasons – I try to buy organic to minimise my intake of chemicals. I also try to buy fair-trade and relentlessly try to treat the ingredients in a way that will get the best out of them – hence the soaking of nuts overnight.
I do all of this because my motivation is to maximise my health as well as the health of those around me who I feed on a daily basis.
Yet it took me a long time to settle into sourcing ingredients and I found that it seems to be one of the bigger hurdles people face in trying to adapt their diet – they do not know where to find the alternative ingredients in question and ask me again and again where I find all this stuff.
So in this section, you will find where I source my ingredients – not the ultimate ingredients mind you, just the ones I use.
There will also possibly be a note or two on how I treat them once I’ve got hold of them, if it is relevant. Just bear in mind that this list is put together within the parameters that restrict me, and that therefore, there is no doubt room for improvement or for alternatives if the parameters that restrict you are different.
What is actually in my store cupboard?
There are a number of ingredients which I keep in the cupboard or freezer at all times, either because I use them all the time, because they are easy to use for a last minute meal or because they are hard to get hold of and therefore, I like to keep some in reserve, just in case (there are a lot of those).
For all these reasons, there tends to be a rather large amount of ingredients in my larder…so much so that I am the only one who can actually find anything.
Reassuringly, I have outlined below the ingredients which I feel I could really not do without because I use them all the time.
Always in the Freezer:
Grass fed meat, joints, bones and paleo sausages
Sea caught fish fillets
Always in the fridge:
Goose fat, beef dripping
Home-made bone broth (stock)
Home-made coconut yogurt
Lettuce, baby spinach and other leaves
A large fruit bowl
Always in the Store cupboard:
Coconut milk, coconut flour, coconut oil
A variety of dried fruits
A variety of seeds and nuts, whole, ground, as well as in butter form
Vanilla, pods and essence
Tinned fish, including mackerel, tuna and sardines
Apple cider vinegar
Olive oil, hemp oil and avocado oil
Himalayan and coarse sea salt
A variety of dried herbs and spices
I hope this list of notes about specific ingredients will be useful, be it to source a particular ingredient or be able to use it at its best. I know I could have done with it when I started.
Please be aware however, that, just like the rest of the information on this site, these notes are only an attempt at sharing what I do, nothing more.
It is often used in the recipes I make, partly because I am a ‘Charentaise’ and butter runs through our veins, partly because it is delicious and versatile, and partly because it is accepted in the Paleo diet, provided it has retained its health benefits. That means the cows the milk comes from must have been grass fed. Preferably it should be unsalted due to the fact that the salt used is of the processed variety and therefore deprived of minerals, getting the downside of salt without the benefits. I get Kerrygold which is widely available in supermarkets.
Bone broth (stock)
I drink bone broth on its own but also use it throughout the week to make stews for dinner, soups for lunch or to de-glaze a pan and make sauces.
It has many health benefits, which is why I make my own – to maximise them by using grass fed meat bones and making sure it has cooked long enough. Check the Basics section for the recipe if you wish to do the same.
Occasionally, for purely culinary reason, I have sometimes bought ready made stock (oh..shock horror!) but I do read the label (always) and make sure there is nothing else but meat, vegetables and seasoning in it.
Until the day when we can find chestnut flour off the shelf in supermarkets (like I do in France) or health stores, I source my organic chestnut flour from the internet; the big A seems to have what I need….
Cocoa is full of health benefits if unprocessed and I therefore thrive to source chocolate that is very high in cocoa and contains no refined sugar. If I could get away with using 100% cocoa in recipes all the time I would. But others complain. So I use several types depending on what the recipes require. Please also note that the taste of cocoa varies widely so bear in mind that these suit our taste buds.
Willy’s Cocoa do a 100% cocoa block of chocolate as well as Chef’s Drops (chocolate buttons/chips) close to being 100%, both of which I use regularly. With regards to cocoa powder, I alternate between Green & Black’s organic cocoa, which gives a deep dark cocoa flavour and Creative Nature’s 100% cocoa powder, which is a lot less flavoursome and sweeter but suitable for some recipes when I don’t want the chocolate flavour to be too strong.
I use Green & Black’s dark cooking chocolate occasionally in baking or for chocolate ganache.
For the odd square to savour or to perk me up if it is going to be a long night (pure cocoa is strong in caffeine), I find a 100% chocolate bar at my artisan market which is the most palatable I have found yet – Chocolat Madagascar, organic. A little goes a long way.
I use coconut milk a lot: to make custard and yogurt, in stews and soups, to make cream for cakes…the list goes on. Since I wish for it to be free of anything else other than coconut milk and water and need it to be good value (due to quantity), I buy mine in tins and in bulk from a Chinese supermarket. I go for a brand that has a minimum of 60% coconut, the rest is water.
I do not like to run out and always keep at least four tins in the fridge so that the coconut and water separate, and always have coconut cream (which rises to the top of the tin) at my finger tips!
Coconut based ingredients
Other coconut based ingredients are now widely available. I try to source ingredients from coconuts that are organic, fair-trade whenever available and responsibly farmed. This is true of coconut oil, butter, flour, flakes and shavings. I am told that it is also best from a nutritional perspective if oils and butters are cold pressed and chips and shavings are raw. So I try to oblige.
I often purchase on-line, mainly because it is easier, I get a wider choice and can buy in bulk. The big A strikes again…
Wild (as opposed to farmed) seem to be best in terms of nutritional purposes. So I thrive to source my fish from a local fishmonger and from renewable wild stocks. Or my dad’s fish nets…
Tinned fish: I always check the label to ensure that there is only fish in the tin and that it is responsibly sourced. Some fats (sunflower oil for example) and brine are not recommended from an auto-immune protocol perspective so I try to stay away form those, going instead for ‘naturally steamed’ or ‘in water’, and occasionally for olive oil.
I use the Great Lakes Bovine Gelatine, simply because it is the one used by Sarah Ballantyne, author of the Paleo Approach. From a Paleo nutritional perspective and if made responsibly (I think you can see a theme recurring…), gelatine has valuable assets and so I have now embraced its uses. Beside the obvious wobbly jelly, it is particularly useful to make mousses and terrines. I found mine on the internet.
Although it is widely available, it is mainly from honey that is cold-pressed that one gets the full health benefits from it.
I am very lucky that there is an artisan market in my town every month. It is where I source my local, cold-pressed honey, runny and set.
As per the recommendations I found throughout my research, I try to source meat from animals that come from pastures and have been grass fed. There are a number of sites on the internet now that act on behalf of farmers who raise their animals responsibly. I mainly get my meat from them (Green Pastures, Levinstoke Farm or For Heaven’s Stake) and fill my freezer.
This is true of sausages and bacon to so they are nitrate free.
As far as poultry is concerned, I get the best I can. If I can not source it from one of my usual suppliers, I go for the best I can, mainly organic and at the very least free range. I do not buy otherwise.
I always try to find out where the meat comes from and what kind of life the animal has had. This is both altruistic and selfish: I like the idea that the animal has had a good life, and the better its life and diet, the more nutritious its meat will be.
Nuts can be a contentious ingredient, and not just because of allergies.
Some of you may already know that they should be soaked overnight (apart from macademia and brazil nuts) to avoid their irritability to the gut. Some say that they fit right into the paleo way of eating. Some say they should not be eaten at all because the damage they can cause outweighs their benefits.
I use macademia nuts to make nut milk (without soaking them), try to soak the nuts we eat whole or when I make granola, but have yet to make sure the ground nuts I use have been soaked first…I know…bad move…minus two points. But we come back to the limitations I have outlined before. I try to make an informed decision and is all that I can ever do.
In terms of sourcing, they are widely available but some prices on the internet are cheaper due to the ability to buy in bulk. I do get organic though (one bonus point back for me…).
I use plantain flour for many recipes because I like the texture it turns into when cooked. It is useful to make American style pancakes as well as savoury dishes like the Tuna Bites.
It is not widely available in my neck of the woods and when I do find it, it tends to be mixed with other starches. The brand I get is 100% plantain and I buy in bulk from cubancuisine.co.uk. It is not a cheap flour but a little goes a long way.