“What can I snack on?” is a question I often see in forums and blog comments, especially from people who are new to Paleo, Primal or gluten-free eating. I think people feel they need to replace cookies, cakes, chips, pretzels, candy bars and Starbucks designer coffees with Paleo versions of these snacks. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is where thinking outside the box really separates the cavemen and cavewomen from those folks still stuck in the Standard American Diet (SAD) mindset.
Now, technically, if you are eating Paleo meals with plenty of protein or fat, you are far less likely to have the desire for between-meal snacks. But we are human, so snacking
Paleo snacks are dead easy:
It really is that easy. But, maybe a few expanded ideas might be helpful…
A small handful of nuts is a great Paleo, Primal or gluten-free snack, but even better (and more fun) is to put a basket of unshelled nuts on your desk or coffee table and add a nutcracker. (If you really feel like Grok, you can crack them with a big rock I guess!) A basket or bowl of unshelled pecans is beautiful. The colour of food lifts our spirits and helps digestion get started, so those mahogany-coloured pecans will do more for you than a handful of shelled ones. And shelling the nuts will slow down your eating and make you feel more satisfied than mindlessly tossing back a handful of shelled nuts. Mindful eating is a very important step towards better health and weight loss.
A banana, an apple, a handful of grapes, watermelon slices… those are all obvious fruit snacks. But want to know my very own favourite fruit snack? Pomegranate seeds!
Cut a nice, big pomegranate in half, stretch and break up the membranes by pulling on the sides, then whack (hard!) the back of each half with a wooden spoon. Pull out any remaining seeds with your fingers.
Now you’ve worked for your snack, had some fun and your reward is a bowlful of sweet deliciousness! Eat with a spoon and savour every juicy mouthful. The benefits? Antioxidants, cancer-fighting flavonoids and polyphenols, improved blood flow, reduced atherosclerotic plaque, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol.
If plain hard-boiled eggs sound boring, add a dollop of homemade guacamole! Or try dipping them in some fancy homemade Paleo mayonnaise such as:
- Chipotle Mayonnaise (Mix together 1 cup homemade mayo, 2 tsp. minced garlic, 6 tsp. lime juice and 2 T chipotle sauce.)
- Baconnaise (Replace 1/2 of the oil in your homemade mayo recipe with liquid bacon fat. You can replace all the oil with liquid bacon fat, too!)
- Jalapeno Mayo (Mix together in a small bowl: 1/2 cup plus 2 T homemade mayo; 1-2 finely chopped jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds removed; 1 tsp lime juice; 1/2 tsp minced garlic; 1/4 tsp salt; 1/8 tsp dried crushed oregano.)
- Spicy Mustard Mayo (Add 1 T spicy yellow or brown mustard to 1 cup homemade mayo.)
- If you eat dairy, here’s Bobby Flay’s Goat Cheese-Sage Mayo (Combine 1/4 cup mayo, 1/4 cup soft goat cheese, 1 T chopped FRESH sage leaves.)
Non-starchy vegetables are a great snack for people on a low-carb Paleo diet or who are watching their weight. Tomatoes are technically a fruit, but we use them more like vegetables, so I’m putting them in this category. (So there!) Cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half and garnished with a dab of mayo make a delightful snack (see “Eggs” above for flavoured mayo ideas!).
Another way to eat non-starchy vegetables (like tomatoes, sweet peppers, cabbage, Romaine lettuce, etc.) is to grill them in the oven or on the barbecue. Grilling vegetables brings out their delicious sweetness. Eat grilled vegetables hot, warm or cold with some homemade Ranch Dressing or drizzled with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar (equal parts). Add some fresh herbs, if you want, like rosemary, thyme, parsley, etc.
Don’t forget about kale chips! My friend introduced me to homemade kale chips; they are 100% better than those packaged ones you get in the health food store. I love, love, love homemade kale chips, but I do NOT like the packaged ones at all!
Use Romaine lettuce leaves to hold thick slices of ripe heirloom tomatoes, crisp bacon slices, mayo or guacamole. Paleo BLT!
Starchy vegetables are fabulous when roasted. They become candy-like in their sweetness! Eat them hot, warm or cold. I slice carrots diagonally into 3/4″ pieces, toss them in coconut oil, salt and pepper, then roast them in a baking dish for 20-30 minutes… OMG good! I eat them right out of the pan!
Starchy veggies also make great veggie chips (crisps, if you live in the UK)! You can find plenty of recipes online!
DIPS AND FILLINGS
If you’re not one to snack on boring celery and carrot sticks (I know I’m not!), try something a little more interesting. Use non-starchy vegetables like celery, red peppers, endive, Romaine lettuce, etc. to scoop up dips or hold fillings like tuna salad. Fill Romaine lettuce leaves or tomato cups with canned tuna mixed with homemade Paleo mayo and seasonings like chopped onions, chopped artichokes, unpasteurized dill relish (Bubbie’s is delicious), etc.
Tips for Kids’ Snacks: Core an apple, then slice it crosswise into rounds and spread almond butter (or other nut butter) on each round. Finally, rebuild the apple! Kids find this fun and tasty! Or give them apple/pear slices they can use to dip in almond butter, thinned with a little coconut milk (or water, in a pinch). Fill celery sticks with almond butter and add a few raisins in a row (ants on a log!). Slice a banana in half lengthwise, spread slices with almond butter and dot with raisins (more ants on a log!).