Paleo is all the rage these days. From your friend who does CrossFit to celebrities in the tabloids, it seems like everyone is trying to eat like it’s 10,000 BC. But if you haven’t just finished your WOD or aren’t on the cover of US Weekly, you might not be familiar with the latest dietary craze. (We wrote that in 2015, and while the keto diet may be more of a darling these days, paleo hasn’t gone anywhere.)
The Paleolithic Diet—or paleo for short—focuses on eating foods that our ancestors would have eaten during the Paleolithic period. Since our ancestors would have been hunters and gatherers, their diets centered on items like fresh vegetables, lean meats, and nuts/berries. Practitioners of paleo also try to avoid dairy, legumes (including peanuts), and processed grains. It’s quite similar to the Whole30.
Paleo for Beginners: Essentials to Get Started, $8.99 on Amazon
A paleo primer you can keep on hand.
And while paleo might be seen as a fad to some (and even dead to others), mindful eating is always a good idea, and basing your diet around meat, vegetables, and healthy options will always be rather timeless. So with that in mind, here are 15 recipes to help you kick off your paleo lifestyle, or just to help you eat a little healthier. See our Paleo Meal Prep Guide for more ideas.
One of the first things you’ll notice about paleo recipes is that if you make it gluten-free, chances are it is also paleo-friendly. With almond flour—or any natural alternative—replacing unbleached flour, our blueberry and banana waffles are a great way to start your paleo diet (and day). Get our Gluten-Free Banana-Blueberry Waffles recipe.
If you’re more of an on-the-go type person, these blueberry muffins are a great snack for the morning or any other point in the day. Coconut flour, which you can find nowadays in most higher-end grocery stores, make these muffins paleo friendly. Get the recipe Paleo Blueberry Muffins recipe.
Eggs, especially if they are organic or free range, are very popular amongst the paleo crowd. This hearty frittata should be started the night before, although you can substitute ground pork if you’re feeling lazy. It takes 30 minutes in the oven to finish the dish, giving you just enough time to get in a quick workout. Get the recipe Pulled Pork, Caramelized Onion, and Red Pepper Frittata recipe.
With all of the workouts we’ll be doing to complement our new paleo lifestyle, it’s nice to have a few simple recipes for the nights when we might be a little too tired to cook. There might not be a recipe simpler than this. Get our Crispy Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus recipe.
While dairy is generally avoided if you are a strict practitioner, most people on the paleo diet are OK with it every once in a while. If you’re more of a stickler, coconut milk helps make a paleo-friendly spinach artichoke dip creamy and rich (without being quite so heavy as the original). Get the Paleo Spinach Artichoke Dip recipe.
Bone marrow, while still in the bone, can be an intimidating dish. This recipe from Food52 is an easy way to get some of the more picky eaters to give it a try. We’re not going to say they will LOVE it, but trying is half the battle. Get the Roasted and Whipped Bone Marrow recipe.
7. Bone Broth
Bone broth is certifiably A Thing…and it’s trickled down such that you can buy cartons of it at the store. But making it yourself is the preferred method (since it’s less processed), and it tastes better too. Get the Bone Broth recipe.
8. Kale Chips
With any diet, it’s easy to cheat a little bit when you are hungry between meals. Avoid heading to the vending machine and try our recipe for homemade kale chips. They are healthy, easy to make, and the perfect in-between option to help you stay away from eating something you’ll regret. Get our Baked Kale Chips recipe.
Brussels sprouts, kimchi, and bacon–oh boy. All of these strong flavors complement each other extremely well, making it a great option for a weekend meal. If that’s not hearty enough for you, this dish can also be served as a side along with one of our other healthy options. Get our Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi and Bacon recipe.
Our Thai grilled chicken breasts are an easy, healthy option for a quick weeknight dinner. You can serve them along with a fresh salad, rice noodles (not strictly paleo), or some fresh vegetables. Nam pla (fish sauce) is available in most supermarkets. Get our Easy Thai Grilled Chicken Breasts recipe.
Simple is often the best, which is the case for our recipe for roast chicken. The trick to great roasted chicken is to start off with some really high heat and then reduce the temperature to a more manageable heat for the majority of the cooking time. Get our Basic Whole Roasted Chicken recipe.
While beer is not strictly paleo (unless gluten free), it’s the alcohol that is most objectionable. Since you’re cooking out the booze, this dish should technically be paleo-friendly. Feel free to substitute another dark-bodied, gluten-free ale for the Guinness if you want. We like Guinness for the caramel flavors it imparts to the stew. Get our Beef Braised in Guinness recipe.
Although most paleo practitioners try to avoid soy, it is generally accepted that miso is a healthy option due to the fermentation process. Substitute the soy sauce with coconut aminos to make this dish 100 percent paleo friendly. Get our Miso-Ginger Glazed Salmon recipe.
Tapioca flour and coconut flakes help to make this dish paleo friendly (and delicious). We’re also big fans of their simple mango sauce for dipping. Get the Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Mango Sauce recipe.
You may think that substituting sweet potatoes for flour will make your brownies taste like they came from the vegetable patch, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The sweet potato won’t impact taste and will actually add some beneficial fiber and other nutrients to your dessert. Imagine that–a healthy dessert. (Black beans do the same for brownies, but paleo rules forbid them.) Get the Paleo Sweet Potato Brownies recipe.
Note: This article was originally published on March 15, 2015 and was updated with new text, images, and links on January 3, 2019.
Header image by Chowhound.