Tag Archives: getting started on the primal diet

Getting Started 2nd edition

19 Jan


My local gym is about to embark on a 6 week paleo challenge so I thought it would be an appropriate time to re-visit some how- to-get-started tips and tricks. The process does not always have to be “cold turkey,” but I’m going to focus on that strategy this time. Plus, I’m a very all or nothing type of person. If I have a purpose (a WHY!), clear instructions, and a plan, I am all over it. Hopefully this will help you wherever you are on your journey. No one’s perfect, I know I could use a little re-set to knock out the little things I’ve let creep back into my life.

1. Read, read, and read some more. For those of you know me well, I’m not a big read for pleasure kind of gal but the minute I opened Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint, I couldn’t put it down. The same thing happened when I started reading the Hartwig’s It Starts With Food. The key for me is knowing the science behind WHY eating a primal/paleo diet is beneficial and HOW it’s going to help me build lean muscle, burn fat, and fight silent but deadly inflammation throughout my body.

2. Understand it, share it with your loved ones, and OWN it. Be able to explain to your loved ones and co-workers (in an excited, yet not overpowering or demeaning way!) why eating real foods will heal you from the inside out. Don’t pass it off as a trend or only do it because “CrossFit people are into it.” Own it for yourself and know how it will change your life.

3. Purge the pantry, fridge and freezer. Don’t let yourself be tempted by past vices. Start fresh and don’t give yourself the option to fail.

  • processed, packaged, or preserved foods
  • grains and grain products (pasta, rice, breads, frozen pancakes, flour)
  • sugar and all artificial sweeteners
  • chemically altered fats and certain oils (vegetable oil, margarine, anything that says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated)

4. Donate non-perishables. A couple of years ago my local Salvation Army was readily accepting of my Costco stock pile of whole wheat pasta and Goldfish crackers.

5. Immediately (if not sooner!) stock up on staples. We updated and organized our shopping list staples just for you!

6. Develop meal plans to ease transition. Pick 6-7 meal ideas and make shopping lists for the week. Or, make ahead meals for busy nights and easy access.

7. Have no/minimal prep snacks readily available. Arm yourself so you don’t have the option to make bad choices.

  • hardboiled eggs
  • fresh fruit
  • trail mix with unsweetened dried fruit
  • nitrate free beef jerky
  • nitrate free deli meat rolled up with some mustard inside
  • cut up veggies/fruit-our dear friend Suzanne always has a big Tupperware type tray of pre-sliced veggies and fruits stocked in the fridge when the snack bug hits–brilliant!
  • larabars
  • canned tuna and salmon
  • egg cupcakes

8. Keep it simple. Stay away from the baked goods and desserts tab for now. Don’t immediately try to re-invent old favorites, start new habits first.

  • Eat lots of meat and veggies first. Then, add some fruit, nuts, and seeds.
  • It doesn’t always have to be fancy. Sauté a couple of pounds of ground meat, throw in some spices, and steam a huge bag of frozen veggies. Or, pick up a rotisserie chicken and serve it on a huge bed of spinach. Done.
  • “Paleo” desserts and baked goods have their place for special occasions, but a muffin is always a muffin unless it’s made out of meat. While the almond flour and honey may not spike your insulin quite as much or cause inflammation from gluten, they are still calorically dense and will not help you if you have any weight loss or body composition goals.
  • Pack your lunch, even if you’re not going anywhere. Make a big salad with lots of veggies and protein in a Tupperware and eat it at lunch time. Fuel your body when it’s not crying out for food, and you will always make better choices. It’s kind of like never going grocery shopping on an empty stomach!
  • Think of food as fuel. Don’t get emotional with it. Let go of the need to use food to satisfy cravings, calm your stress, or fill some sort of void. 


OK, enough information overload. Bookmark this post and refer back to it as you continue on your journey. I’ll leave you with a statement from It Starts with Food that I repeat to myself many times throughout the day…

“The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy.
Those are your options.”

Happy weekend,



Getting started and what’s for dinner tonight?

31 Jan

We had a reader who found that her particular rut on the hamster wheel of life was food, and decided to start her primal food journey last week! She requested some real life tips for getting started and some meal ideas to help transition herself and her family. YAY!

The first thing you have to ask yourself is are you an “all or nothing-cold turkey” or “a little bit at a time” type of person?  I was an “all or nothing” type of gal so my steps went something like this:

1- Purge the pantry, fridge and freezer of:
-processed, packaged, or preserved foods
-grains and grain products (i.e. pasta, rice, breads,frozen pancakes, flour)
-sugar and artificial sweeteners
-chemically altered fats and oils

2- Make a trip to the Salvation Army or  to families in need with donatable food. I, for one, had Costco style bulk whole wheat spaghetti, Goldfish crackers, graham crackers, and pretzels (to name a few!) that were happily received.

Immediately (if not sooner!) stock up on:
our shopping list staples

4- Make meal plans for the first couple of weeks to help the transition.

5- Have no-prep snacks ready like hardboiled eggs, fresh fruit, trail mix with unsweetened dried fruit, nitrate-free beef jerky, nitrate-free sliced deli meat, cut up veggies, Larabars, and canned tuna/salmon.

6- If you are “a little bit at a time” kind of person then start with one meal a day. How about making the family dinner primal every evening?

7- Talk to your loved ones about the science behind why these types of foods are better for our bodies, understand it, and then finally–own it!

l will go into more detail about transitioning with kiddos in a future post, but for now I challenge you to wow them with some primal dinners. I promise you will be amazed by their reaction. They will be fighting over the last roasted brussels sprout in no time!

I leave you today with an easy, go-to dinner choice in my normal rotation that gets a thumbs up from this family of five. When it comes to week night meals I don’t generally follow a recipe. I pick a meat, pick some vegetables, throw in some spices and go with it. Bear with my recipe translation and feel free to sub and experiment with spices as you wish!

Primal Stuffed Pepper Bowls with Cauliflower Rice

-5 large bell peppers
-2lbs of ground beef, pork or a combination
-2 cloves garlic
-1 onion finely chopped
-1 8oz. can tomato sauce (check label for strange additives–Hunts is a good brand)
-a bunch of dried basil and oregano
(or perhaps chili powder and cumin the next time!)
-a pinch or so of red pepper flakes
-salt and pepper

1. Prep your peppers by cutting off the tops like a lid and gutting them clean
2. Sauté onion and garlic in some olive oil in a large pan
3. Add ground meat and cook until near done
4. Add in your spices and tomato sauce, stir.
5. Spoon meat mixture into pepper bowls
6. Top the pepper bowls with their lids
7. Brush some olive oil on the outsides and lids of peppers, maybe sprinkle some extra garlic
8. Bake at 375 for 30min or until desired pepper doneness
9. Serve individual pepper bowls! (My kids LOVE eating meat from these colorful and edible bowls!)

Cauliflower Rice

-large head of cauliflower
-olive oil or butter
-1/2 onion finely chopped
-garlic or other spices of your choice
-1/2 to 1 cup water or chicken broth
-salt and pepper to taste

1. In a sauce pan, sauté onion and other spices in some olive oil or butter until slightly caramelized
2. Chop cauliflower into large chunks
3. Pulse in food processor until a rice like consistency is achieved
4.  Add “riced” cauliflower to pot mixture and continue to cook on medium heat
5. Add water or chicken broth slowly as you stir, but just enough to keep  moist
6. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, adding salt, pepper, or a  bit of butter to taste
7. Serve along side pepper bowls. Alternatively, you could combine the rice and meat mixture inside the pepper bowls before baking. My family prefers them served separately. The “rice”serves as a great side to the meat mixture that falls out of the bowl or with any pepper left at the end!

Happy Tuesday,


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