Are you embarking on a grain-free or paleo type diet? You’ll never feel deprived with these 9 essential grain-free and paleo recipes.
The foundation of many grain free diets is basing your meals on quality protein (fish, meat, poultry, eggs) and lots of veggies. Though it’s simple (and delicious food) knowing some essential recipes makes it more nutritious and fun.
Nine Essential Recipes for Grain-Free Diets
1. Salad Dressing
Chances are you’ll be eating lots of salads as part of your meals. Don’t ruin a healthy salad with bottled salad dressings. Have you read the ingredient list of store bought salad dressing? They usually contain rancid oils, processed sweeteners, and preservatives. But all a salad needs is good quality extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and some sea salt. Shake it up in a jelly jar for a low-cost, no mess, quick prep dressing. Want to get fancy? Make some dijon vinaigrette or add some herbs, spices, shallots, or crushed garlic.
Healthy fats are crucial to a healthy diet, so no need to give up mayonnaise. But store bought mayonnaise is a health disaster. Making your own is much easier than you think. Just throw the basic ingredients in a mason jar and and mix with an immersion blender. Make sure you use the best oils and freshest pasture raised eggs. My mayonnaise 101 post lists the different kitchen tools you can use and how to make it.
Fermented vegetables are a probiotic superfood. Sauerkraut and other vegetable ferments provide your body with beneficial bacteria just as well as yogurt, kefir and other dairy ferments. For those that cannot tolerate dairy, sauerkraut and other vegetable ferments are especially important to add to your diet. Be careful about store-bough versions, most have been pasteurized. Make your own saurkraut or look for real sauerkraut at farmer’s markets and health food stores.
4. Bone Broths
It’s not just what you’re not eating on a grain-free that counts, but to optimize a healthy diet you must include nutrient dense foods. Bone broths are one of the most healing foods around. You make bone broths by gently simmering in water fish, chicken, or beef bones. This is another food that you cannot buy at a store. For all the health benefits (joint, bone, liver support, digestive health) homemade is best. You can easily make chicken broth in a slow cooker and beef broth by roasting meaty bones and then simmering in water. And don’t skip over fish broth- it’s the best multi mineral supplement around, and also very easy to make.
And just a quick note not to forget liver, and other offal – these foods are packed with nutrition and should be part of your repertoire.
5. Squash Noodles
Pasta is so ingrained in the American diet – it’s almost its own food group! But you don’t need to give up favorite dishes like spaghetti and meatballs. It’s just a matter of getting creative with vegetables. For example roasted spaghetti squash makes a great replacement for pasta noodles. You can also use zucchini and yellow squash to make noodles either in ribbons – fettucini style, or in long thin strands. One store bought grain-free option is kelp noodles found in refrigerated section.
6. Cauliflower Rice
Have you discovered the versatility of cauliflower yet? You can steam then mash it with butter for a healthy version of mashed potatoes. But my favorite is making cauliflower “rice”. You can take the basic cauliflower rice recipe and use it in all your pilaf recipes. It can also sub in for other grains like bulgur in this cauliflower tabbouleh.
7. Kale Chips
Hopefully you are no longer snacking on processed foods. Once you’re eating balanced meals based on quality proteins, vegetables and fats (please don’t forget the fats), you shouldn’t feel the need to snack between meals. But there are healthy options for when you want a salty, crunchy type snack; kale chips. Make oven-baked kale chips, or use a dehydrator if you have one. Collard greens also make great chips.
8. Nutty Granola*
Breakfast should also be based on the simple paradigm of healthy proteins and veggies. There is no nutrition in cereals, fruit juices, low-fat processed milk, muffins, etc., that are standard in our times. But I love having a batch of this nutty, grain-free granola in the fridge. It’s great for snacks, especially if you have kids around, and can serve as breakfast with some full-fat coconut milk (or full-fat raw dairy if tolerated) once in a while. You can also make it into a trail mix by adding in dried fruit, mini chocolate chips, and coconut flakes.
9. Fruit Crisps*
Well, maybe I shouldn’t call a dessert recipe essential, but it is nice to have an easy and delicious go-to recipe for holidays and special occasions. My go-to dessert is a fruit crisp, like my apple macadamia nut crisp. It’s great any time of the year, just use whatever fruit is in season. You can’t mess it up, since you’re making a crumb topping there is no complicated pie dough to shape and you can get creative by changing the seasonings and kinds of nuts you’re using. My second favorite is a crumb bar, same idea, but you are pressing the crumb topping into a pan to give it a crust, like this cranberry crumb bar with pecans and rosemary.
Actually, you don’t even have to bake to have a great grain-free dessert, just melt some dark chocolate (you can even make a slow cooker chocolate fondue) and serve with some berries.
*If you are doing the Whole30 Program or the 21 Day Sugar Detox, the Nutty Granola or Fruit Crisp are not allowed. These programs are all about breaking addictions to sugar and processed carbs, you don’t want to rely on grain-free versions of unhealthy foods to break these habits.
Are you on a paleo, grain-free, or SCD diet? What are some of your essential recipes?