Getting started with Paleo

When it became evident that I needed to make changes to my diet, I found myself paralysed by my inability to see where to start. The problem wasn’t where to go, I knew where to go, I knew the things I wasn’t meant to eat, and I could see the objective of better health very clearly. It was how. How was I supposed to move on from where I was? Which changes did I need to make first?

Following the struggle I went through to change radically by going into many new directions at once, I came to the conclusion that I should have started with what I was already doing. Indeed, with insight, I now realise that many of the meals I was preparing where already within the realm of the Paleo principles. And although I would still definitely cut out the things that were contributing to my ill health in a radical way, I would start introducing new ingredients in a much more gradual way.

First I would just tweak meals that were so very nearly there. Then, when I was comfortable with that, I would experiment with the odd dessert which used ingredients that were new to me, gradually. I would have seen the woods from the trees a lot earlier and moved the focus from what I couldn’t eat to what I could eat, a lot earlier too.

The key is: there is an awful lot more variety of choice and deliciousness available from what I can eat than from the groups of foods I can’t. That’s the absolute truth to hang on to: what I can eat is endless. It includes the vast majority of fruits and vegetables (including sea vegetables), nuts and all the meat, eggs, fish and seafood. And the best part of it is, these ingredients are so much more tasty.

So don’t be daunted, just look at your family favourites and the likelihood is that most of those meals will only need tweaking rather than a radical change. You can then introduce new dishes one at a time, giving you time to get use to the new ingredients.

To give you an idea, I have highlighted below some of those dishes that you might already be making. Just bear in mind that this list is based on the assumption that these dishes are homemade.

STEP 1 – simple meals that are already Paleo:

*  Sunday roast! Roasted chicken (duck, beef, pork…), roasted root veggies, boiled peas and sliced carrots. Hooray!
*  Stews and other casseroles – meat, veggies and stock, Paleo in a pot.
*  Bolognese – if homemade it’s already there, just serve it with veggies such as spaghetti squash or a baked sweet potato.
*  Soup – great blended to introduce new veg to kids as well.

STEP 2 – easy swaps or tweaks to transform a family favourite:

*  Use cauliflower or celeriac mash on top of cottage and shepherd’s pie.
*  Make sweet potato wedges instead of white potato.
*  Serve your favourite homemade meatballs and tomato sauce on a pea mash, sweet potato or celeriac mash.
*  Use honey or maple syrup instead of sugar to sweeten lemon curd and other desserts.
*  Use arrowroot flour to thicken gravy instead of corn flour.

Pain d'epices

STEP 3 – the new recipes to try first:

*  Fish cakes made with sweet potato mash and coconut flour (see the Leftovers section).
*  Dinosaurs’ nest recipe from the Quick and Easy section.
*  Fish and veg medley (like a chowder) from the Quick and Easy section.
*  Cupcakes made from the Almond cream (see September) covered in melted chocolate.
*  Chestnut flour Crepes (see November).
*  Caulichamel sauce (Basics section) to make Double cauliflower no cheese or other veg gratins.