Wednesdays used to be our Guest Blogger Series day; but, there’s just so many new and wonderful Paleo and real-food bloggers out there that we’ve expanded our series. We hope you enjoy the new view points and unique content; if so, we encourage you to show these guest bloggers your support by visiting their blog and social media links at the end of this post!
This week we’re visited by Sunny of And Love it Too, a blog dedicated to gluten and dairy-free living. At Sunny’s site you can find a number of delicious recipes and practical tips on living a healthy life. Today she shares her ever important tips on assembling a paleo pantry.
I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to over-think and over complicate almost everything. Food is certainly no exception.
As my family of eight has slowly but surely transitioned to a paleo lifestyle, I have learned a number of things about stocking a paleo-friendly pantry. By keeping a properly stocky pantry I have been able to stay on track and focused, and ultimately avoid getting sick from cross contamination.
In an ideal world, we would be able to eat nothing but fresh produce, herbs and spices from our own garden, locally grown grass-fed beef, free-roaming chickens and eggs fresh from the farm.
Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world.
Because of the location we are in, deep in the heart of the West Texas desert, farms and ranches are few and far between.
Drought has made it difficult, if not impossible, to grow many of the foods my family enjoys.
And let’s admit it…to be really creative, we want to use foods from all over the world.
Even in our dry and dusty climate, there is still a great farmer’s market where we are able to purchase grass-fed beef, eggs from free-roaming chickens, spices from organic fields, local raw honey, organically grown fruits, vegetables and even pecans!
While we are not fortunate enough to have a Community Supported Agriculture group, what we are not able to obtain locally we often receive from Bountiful Baskets, a volunteer based food co-op that strives to obtain produce from sources that are small, family based farms, which are as local as possible to ensure the best quality and variety to every area they serve.
Even knowing that we do have resources that allow for fresh produce and deliciously healthy meats, there is a desire to maintain some sort of food storage and the need to maintain an extended shelf-life for certain foods.
This is where creating a ‘Paleo Pantry’ comes into place.
So how do we go about this?
First, keep it simple, silly!
From spices to flour to the type of tuna fish you buy, the easier an item is to read, the safer it is to consume.
Ideally, packaged foods should have only one or two ingredients, and certainly no more than five ingredients, which includes things like water and sea salt.
Anything more than that creates a red flag in my book.
While I do 98% of the shopping for our home, my mother-in-law and children do bring in foods that fall outside of my personal paleo protocol.
Still, a vast majority of our pantry is loaded with foods that I know my entire family can eat. And those pesky items that don’t fall under the paleo protocol are generally hidden behind large bowls of yummy fruits and vegetables that do.
Suggestive placement? Maybe
To ensure safety 100% of our foods are gluten-free, paleo or not. Save those Adkins bars my MIL loves (bleh).
Mind you, she doesn’t eat those here. And she certainly won’t eat them in front of me…because, really, those are not food, and she knows opening a package of those in front of me will likely lead to a long-winded conversation about what food is and how she is far better off enjoying the over abundance of items we have in our home than she is those nasty things…
But I don’t have to tell you all of that.
Next, I would tell you to embrace coconut.
In our pantry you will find everything from whole-coconuts to coconut cream, canned coconut milk (get it without the guar gum if you can), to coconut aminos.
Coconuts are not only rich in healthy medium chained triglycerides, they are delicious! Given the dairy allergies my family suffers, we rely on coconuts to replace everything from butter to milk.
To keep food interesting and delicious, stock up on the spices you use most.
We keep a variety of bulk spices for the spices I use every day, and smaller containers for the spices which get used a bit more infrequently.
You may notice the mason jars and little baggies on the shelves…
My mason jar spices are generally the spice-mixes I use on a regular basis, and the little baggies are spices I picked up from the farmer’s market the day these pictures were taken.
Speaking of mason jars…
We use a pressure canner to safely can everything from home-grown green beans to homemade bone broth. A large stainless steel turkey-fryer is perfect for hot water canning for things like honey-sweetened apricot preserves and Plum Pickin’ Pineapple Jam.
Some day my pantry will be filled with nicely labeled, pretty little mason jars of all sizes. In fact, now that I am working from home, getting everything transitioned over is high on the priority list.
Goodness knows I have the jars to do it…
Until then, our transitioning pantry is becoming a little more paleo perfect every day.
Remember, slow and steady wins the race. By keeping things simple, a perfectly stocked paleo pantry is well within reach.
Thank you for inviting me back, Stacy and Matt! It is always an honor to work with you.