This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Whether you are brand new to Paleo or have been around for a while, it often helps to know exactly how to swap out ingredients to make something healthier. Let's face it, the majority of the world eats a conventional diet and that means the majority of recipes and food pictures in magazines, etc are all conventional. But you don't have to turn your head the other way. Being prepared with the Paleo equivalent to ingredients can help you feel empowered to make things that look enticing to you, but in a healthier way.
If you are new to Paleo, certain swaps will be difficult to remember at first but by the time you've done this for a while it almost becomes second nature. It's like learning a 2nd language, eventually you'll just automatically translate.
Here are 4 swaps that I use on a regular basis. I'll have more later, but don't want to overwhelm you!
The graphic has a lot of detail in it, but I will just explain a bit more here.
(1) Swap Wheat Flour for Coconut Flour When Dusting Chicken Breasts –> You CANNOT swap coconut flour 1:1 for Wheat Flour in the grand majority of things (please see my post on coconut flour for more info) but when making simple pan fried or oven baked chicken with a flour coating, coconut flour is awesome. All you need to do is use coconut flour in your mix instead of wheat flour. BAM, swap done. The recipe I mention in the graphic is easy too – just take 1/2 cup coconut flour, a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic salt/powder and paprika and mix together in a bowl. Beat an egg with a fork in a separate bowl. Heat a pan over medium heat and then melt about 1 tbs of coconut oil or other cooking fat in the pan. Dip some boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (we prefer thighs because they are much harder to overcook) in the egg and then in the coconut flour mixture and place in the pan. Cook 5-7 min a side or until done (try not to lift up until at least 5 minutes is done or else the coating will fall off).
(2) Swap Canola Oil for Avocado Oil –> Some of you might be going “wait, what? I thought Canola Oil is healthy!?!” But really, it's not. It's full of what are called Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) that easily go rancid (not a good thing) and that cause inflammation in the body. If you are familiar with why a lot of us do the Paleo diet, it is to remove inflammatory foods from our diet because we are suffering from chronic diseases and inflammation is the cause of and/or it exacerbates those diseases. Plus they unnaturally speed up the aging process, and I don't think there are many of us that want THAT to happen. So an easy swap is to use avocado oil instead. Is it more expensive? Definitely. But so is that retinol-A face cream you are applying to get rid of the wrinkles. How about swapping out the oils instead and nourishing your body from within and not actually needing the retinol because you aren't getting wrinkles? 🙂 Avocado Oil is full of nourishing properties and also stays in a liquid form at all times so you can easily swap it 1:1 in any recipe that calls for canola oil. You can find Avocado Oil in most grocery stores and Costco sells the brand shown above in the graphic.
(3) Swap Milk Chocolate for Dark Chocolate –> Dairy is one of those grey areas on Paleo. Some people can handle it, some cannot. I am one of those people who am not completely sure where I fall in this, but think I do better without dairy. But when it comes to milk chocolate, it's the sugar that is the real problem. I hopefully don't have to go over the dangers of sugar consumption (or as my 6 year old calls it, “the evil villain” ). We could probably all do better with less sugar. I also know though that many of us love some chocolate. Dark chocolate is a great alternative. If you are used to really sweet things, a really dark chocolate like 85% is going to seem pretty bitter to you at first. So I suggest starting off at a lower amount, like even perhaps a 45% and then gradually working your way up. I pretty much have settled in at 85% – the 90 and above is just too much for me personally. After all, I want a LITTLE bit of sweetness. As I mention in the graphic above, one of my favorite combos is a bit of dark chocolate, some almonds, and a bit of sea salt sprinkled on top. And if you need a bit more sweetness, you can always drizzle some honey on this too. Easy, quick dessert option that is really not bad at all for you and won't send your insulin levels into a tailspin.
(4) Swap Corn Starch for Arrowroot Powder –> Besides the fact that the majority of corn in this country seems to be GMO these days, corn can cause a lot of issues with people. The protein in corn is extremely similar to gluten, so if you are sensitive to gluten and haven't healed leaky gut, corn could be causing you just as much of an issue as gluten does. I personally had to go a good 9 months without any corn in my diet before I was able to successfully digest it without issue. But sauces need thickening, right? And if you don't use wheat flour and if corn starch causes the same issues as wheat flour, what do you do? Arrowroot powder! This is a starch from the arrowroot plant and it thickens things wonderfully. You can pretty much use it 1:1 in place of corn starch in recipes. You can find it at most grocery stores in the specialty flour aisle (we use Bob's Red Mill) or on a variety of online sources like Amazon. (Plus you can use it as a base for a chemical free natural blush!!)