In order to create my recipes you will need to begin to phase out the processed, unhealthy ingredients and replace them with nutrient dense alternatives. I recommend doing this over time so to not blow your budget and be overwhelmed by the thought of having to throw out everything in your pantry. Once you have embraced eating Fit Food, you will notice that most of your food shopping requires just a trip to your local farmers markets for fresh veg, fruit, meat, eggs, nuts etc…but these pantry staples are the exception.
If you have ever had a close look at store-bought salad dressings/vinaigrettes you’ll notice that they are high in sugar, salt and they are more often than not made with “bad oils” like canola oil, vegetable oil or some cheap, toxic oil. The best bet is to make your own using a quality vinegar and “good oils” (see fats section).
Apple Cider Vinegar
What Is It? Made from fermented apples, it’s rich in potassium and has a wide variety of health benefits.
Used For: Salad dressings, baking, added to sauces to give depth of flavour and much more.
Where Do I Get It? It is available from all health food stores (both in Australia and overseas). The best one is one labeled “organic” and has a cloudy sediment at the bottom.
Slowly but surely, people are realising that fat doesn’t make you fat. Well – good fats don’t! Phase out every other oil/fat apart from the ones listed here. And fat from meat, tallow, lard and ghee are ok too. Get rid of margarine, canola oil, vegetable oil and palm oil – for good!
What Is It? Made from avocados but look for ones labeled “Cold Pressed” (or if in France “Extraite à Froid”) and preferably organic.
Used For? Salad dressings, sauces, marinades and roasting. Not for frying or high temperature cooking.
Where Do I Get It? Every supermarket in Australia stocks it in its oil isle. In France, you will find it at health food stores (Magasin du Bio like L’Eau Vive).
Butter (grass fed)
What Is It? Butter is one of the “good fats”. Butter should actually be labeled as a health food as it is high in vitamins A, D, & K-2, heart disease preventing CLA.
The best butter is made from raw (unpasturised) milk where the cow lives on a pasture (pastured) and therefore eats only grass, bugs etc as nature intended. Not only does this tick all the nutrition boxes but the ethical ones as well.
Used For: Baking, frying and smearing on absolutely everything.
Where Do I Get It? While unpasturised milk products are illegal in Australia, there is still a buzzing industry here in France. If you live in Aus, you will need to settle for “grass fed” or “pastured” butter. In France, grass fed raw butter (Beurre Cru) is available from some supermarkets. It will always be the most expensive one but once you have tasted it, you won’t ever want to go back.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
What Is It? Made from pressing olives but look for ones labeled “First & Cold Pressed” (or if in France “Première Extraite à Froid”) and preferably certified organic.
Used For: Salad dressings, marinades, roasting but not for frying or high temperature cooking as it (like Avocado Oil) turns toxic.
Where Do I Get It? Every supermarket in Australia stocks it in its oil isle. Go for a very good quality one-it will be more expensive but you get what you pay for. In France, you will find organic cold pressed EVOO in health food stores (Magasin du Bio like L’Eau Vive) and some supermarkets. Even better – buy it from a local merchant at your farmers markets.
What Is It? Made from coconuts, it’s packed full of the good stuff like medium chain fatty acids and antioxidants and has heaps of health benefits. Look for ones labeled “Cold Pressed” (or if in France “Extraite à Froid”) and preferably organic.
Used For: Roasting, baking, pan-frying (and other high temperature cooking as it does not turn rancid at high temperatures).
Where Do I Get It? Every supermarket in Australia stocks it in its oil isle now. In France, you will only find organic cold pressed coconut oil in health food stores (Magasin du Bio like L’Eau Vive).
What Is It? Made from macadamias, it’s packed full of essential fatty acids but is only beneficial if used unheated. Look for ones labeled “Cold Pressed” (or if in France “Extraite à Froid”) and preferably organic.
Used For: Cold pouring on salads, in dressings, marinades and sauces such as paleo Mayonnaise.
Where Do I Get It? Australian supermarkets and health food shops. In France, you will only find organic cold pressed macadamia oil in health food stores (Magasin du Bio like L’Eau Vive).
Because your home cooking won’t be full of artificial flavours, sugar and enhancers, you will find yourself adding these nutrient rich and natural ingredients to your dishes.
What Is It? Not to be confused with its processed and sugar-laded ugly relative called “cocoa”, raw cacao [ka-cow] is ridiculously high in antioxidants and magnesium and is deemed a “super food”.
Used For: Baking and anything that requires cocoa – simply replace it with raw cacao. Cacao has a much stronger (and more chocolaty) taste so you need less of it.
Where Do I Get It? Unprocessed raw cacao is available from some Australian supermarkets (in the health food isle) and all health food shops. Just ensure the only ingredient listed is raw cacao and NO sugar. In France, it is very tricky because they have “cacao” in health food shops and supermarkets but upon close inspection of the ingredients – it is just cocoa! So I recommend buying it online from somewhere like iHerb.com. Cacao should be quite expensive as it hasn’t been cut with sugar and fillers. If it’s not then you are most likely just buying cocoa.
Celtic or Himalayan Sea Salt
This one is pretty self-explanatory. As long as it is says Celtic or Himalayan Sea salt on the packet it’s fine. It may also be pink in colour. Sometimes it comes in a packet and looks moist. This is my favourite kind. Never use table salt for cooking…ever. It’s void of any goodness. You can get sea salt from health food shops in Australia and France.
What Is It? Made from coconuts, this is a secret ingredient in many of my recipes and is a great soy sauce alternative. Most of us know the danger is using “westernised” soy products so this is your answer. It has more of a sweet flavour than soy or tamari so I recommend for every 1 portion of soy/tamari, substitute half coconut aminos and half fish sauce.
Used For: Anything that you would typically use soy sauce/tamari – like salad dressings, marinades, sauces, sushi, stir fries etc.
Where Do I Get It? In Australia, it is available at most health food stores. You may have to ask them to order it in for you. In France, it is impossible to find, so I order mine from iHerb.com.
What Is It? Made from fermenting fish with sea salt but look for ones that are made with 100% fish and salt and NO sugar. As well as being incredibly tasty, it is also packed with essential amino acids, B vitamins (including B12), calcium, phosphorous, iron, iodine, riboflavin, and niacin.
Used For: It can be used in nearly any dish, anything that you would like to add depth of flavour to.
Where Do I Get It? While any fish sauce without sugar in it is great, the best quality is Red Boat Fish Sauce. It’s the only one on the market still made in the traditional way, 100% organic and pure. Apparently it has reached some health food stores and Asian grocers in Australia. To find out where it’s stocked near you in Aus, call the stock list line on 03 9391 4319. If you are in France, then you may struggle. I cannot find Red Boat Fish Sauce anywhere (stores or online) but I shall keep looking.
What Is It? Made from the ground up root of a plant grown in Peru, maca is high in protein and other nutrients.
Used For: Baking, adding to smoothies, making protein balls etc.
Where Do I Get It? Available from all health food shops in Australia but only available online if you live in France from stores like iHerb.com.
Gluten intolerance is becoming more prevalent as our bodies are rejecting the refined, processed products we aren’t designed to consume. Here are some great natural alternatives.
This one is self-explanatory but it comes in many different forms. It can be blanched, or not, quite coarse like almond meal or fine like almond flour. Unless stated, I recommend using whichever the recipe calls for as they produce a different result when substituted. These is easy to find in both Australia and France in normal supermarkets and health food stores.
Used For: Baking, thickening sauces etc.
Where Do I Get It? In Australia it is available from all health food stores and in France, you will need to order it online from iHerb.com.
What Is It? Made from out of the ground up dried meat of a coconut but it is unlike any other flour in that it soaks up a LOT of liquid and has a rather strong taste. It also results in a very cakey mixture. It’s high in protein and fiber.
Used For: Baking – but very careful with it, as 1 tsp more or less will yield a very different result.
Where Do I Get It? In Australia it is available from all health food stores and supermarkets in the health food isle. In France, it’s called “farine de coco” and you will find it only at health food stores (Magasin du Bio like L’Eau Vive).
What Is It? Buckwheat flour is made from buckwheat seeds from a flowering fruit. It is high in protein, amino acids, iron, antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, copper and niacin.
Used For: Baking.
Where Do I Get It? Buckwheat flour is available from all health food stores and supermarkets in Australia. In France, it’s called “farine de sarrasin” and you will find it only at health food stores.
While not strictly paleo it is, however, gluten free and as the name suggests, made from rice. It is used for baking, thickening sauces etc and has an ultra mild flavour. It is readily available from all Australian supermarkets, health food shops and health food shops in France by the name “farine de riz”.
What Is It? Made from powdered cassava root, has a very mild flavour, but offers very little in terms of nutritional value.
Used For: Baking to create a chewy consistency.
Where Do I Get It? Sold in all Australian health food stores and available online for those living in France on iHerb.com.
Once you start cutting out processed foods, you subsequently start cutting out sugar. Therefore, as your taste buds start to go back to normal, you will find you won’t rely on sweeteners so much. But remember, just because these sweeteners are better for you than processed cane sugar it doesn’t mean you can go nuts with them.
Please note that you should never consume agave! It is 90% fructose (the fattening part of sugar)!!
Made form the crystalised nectar of coconut palm tree flowers, coconut sugar contains nutrients like amino acids, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and B vitamins BUT it still contains sugar. It is in fact it is about 45% fructose – so be mindful with it.
Honey and Maple Syrup
Ok – no explanation needed with these but make sure you buy “raw”, “unheated” “unpasturised” or “untreated” honey so that it still contains the natural enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Local farmers markets are the best in both Australia and France. Honey and maple syrup are about 40% fructose – so again be mindful with it.
Rice Malt Syrup/Brown Rice Syrup
What Is It? Made from fermented rice it can be used as a honey substitute. It is the ONLY sweetener that is 0% fructose (the fattening part of sugar) and my sweetener of choice.
Used For: Baking or anything you would want to add honey to.
Where Do I Get It? Every supermarket in Australia stocks it in its health food isle. It is also available from all health food shops. In France, you will find it at health food stores (Magasin du Bio like L’Eau Vive) or online on iHerb.com.
While dairy is strictly not paleo, I still use dairy as I do not have a lactose intolerance but I ensure I only use products with no added sugar. Lactose is a form of sugar so there will always be “sugars” present in the nutritional information, but if there is more than 4.6g of sugar per 100g then there MUST be added sugar. And remember, fat is your friend. So opt for full-fat versions of everything. If they’ve taken out the fat then they have to add emulsifiers, coagulants, artificial flavours, enhancers and SUGAR!
This rule goes for yoghurt (only buy natural or Greek), milk (raw is best), coconut cream, coconut milk and almond milk. Be careful with almond milk. I generally don’t buy it as it can contain carrageenan. Or you can make your own.
So there you have it – some of the paleo pantry staples that I use often in my recipes. If you have any questions or would like more information on any of these products, or ones I haven’t listed, feel free to comment below.