Paleo Diet Food List

The paleo diet food list consists of items that our cave dwelling ancestors from long ago would have had on their menu. Depending on where on the planet they resided and what the climate and surrounding areas were like, they gathered all the roots, seeds, leafy greens, fruits and vegetables they could along with any meats available like fish or elk for example. ...basically anything that a cave man would have had access to...and nothing he didn't.

This paleo diet food list is meant to enable you to create paleo grocery lists and paleo recipes quickly and easily. Really, paleo diet recipes come pretty easily when you conceptualize the simple ingredients from this list and get creative with putting them together. Many of the best paleo meals we've had were times when we just threw together whatever we had and it came out delicious! 

I've tried everything you're going to read here. All of it is delicious. All of it is easy to find and come by if you know where to look.

The paleo diet food list doesn't have to be complex and we're keeping it simple. Below, I will outline the food groups the FDA would needlessly cringe over since it doesn't go along with the status quo of the standard American diet. But trust me, you won't be missing anything except the negative health effects.

Paleo Diet Food List: Meats

Our paleolithic ancestors were hunters. They ate meat from any reliable and easy to catch source depending on where they were located geographically.

We may not be hunting much any more, so in our modern times, we head to the grocery store. But there's a few tricks and twists you MUST be on the lookout for. Just any meat won't do because of the nutritional differences between conventionally raised meats and organic grass fed meats. 

Don't think that there isn't a difference! The ratio and amount of fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are critical to optimum health. Get it wrong with conventional meats and you could be wreaking havoc on your health while you're trying to do the right thing by eating the paleo diet.

Read the organic grass fed meat page for a better understanding about why this is so important.

At the end of the day, remember this: All meats harvested by our ancestors were what we call today "organic grass fed" or "wild caught". The term "conventional" is the factory farmed method of raising animals for meat and is the deviation from what we should be eating.

Here are my favorite paleo meats (all organic grass fed or wild):

  • Steak / Beef
  • Chicken
  • Wild Boar (very good)
  • Elk
  • Wild Turkey
  • Shrimp
  • Jerky  (Make sure there are no added sugars or soy based ingredients)
  • Wild caught grouper from Florida
  • Bison
  • Quail
  • Antelope
  • Wild caught Atlantic salmon
  • Venison 
  • Lamb

Paleo Diet Food List: Vegetables And Roots

Our paleolithic ancestors gathered wild veggies and roots and would have formed a large percentage of the foods they ate. Their geographic location would have dictated what they had available to them.

All veggies and roots they collected were what we call today "organic". In modern terms, this means that their food was not genetically modified or doused with synthetic poisons. Again, modern conventional growing methods used today are the new way and are the deviation from the original organic foods that kept mankind healthy for a millennia.

Here are my favorite vegetables and roots for a paleo diet food list:

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower 
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Radish
  • Beets
  • Sweet potato
  • Asparagus
  • Onion
  • All kinds of leafy greens like spinach or kale
  • Celery
  • Tomato
  • Artichoke
  • Leeks 

Paleo Diet Food List: Fruits

Continuing on with our gather ancestors, fruits were certainly included in their diet and their geographic location made the difference about what they had available to them.

Once again, all fruits they gathered were what we call today as "organic". This is important because fruits have a tendency to absorb many of the toxic chemicals used in conventional agriculture and it's best to avoid these unseen threats to your vitality, health and strength.

Here are some of my favorite fruits:

  • Apple
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Kiwi
  • Grape
  • Melons
  • Dried goji berry
  • Blueberry
  • Blackberry
  • Banana
  • Pineapple
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Strawberry
  • Avocado (yes, it's a fruit!)

Paleo Diet Food List: Herbs And Spices

Herbs are a great way to spice up the flavor of any dish and many have excellent health benefits. Gram for gram, some herbs and spices have as much of an antioxidant and nutritional profile as the veggies and fruits that go along with it! This is why they made the paleo diet food list.

Tumeric, for example, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, a range of antioxidants and is high in iron and manganese. This is a great spice to help relieve irritable bowel syndrome.

Use spices to change up the flavor of your paleo diet dishes and you'll just add to the benefits of eating in this way. I use mostly dried spices that you can get in the spice isle of the grocery store but I also pick up fresh herbs from time to time as well.

And, yes, organic is the way to go!

Here are some of my favorite herbs and spices that I use all the time:

  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Cinnamon
  • Basil
  • Black pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Tumeric
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Sea salt

Paleo Diet Food List: Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds were surely eaten by our ancestors and would have been gathered as they searched for other food sources. And so, it makes the paleo diet food list!

Nuts and seeds make great snack foods because they are easily portable and are high in protein and unsaturated fats that help keep you going and reduce hunger for longer periods of time.

Of course, as I'm sure you can guess, I recommend organic.

I also get seeds that are dry roasted and don't have any added salts or anything. Too much salt can increase blood pressure by increasing blood volume.

Here are my favorite nuts and seeds:

  • Walnuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pine nuts
  • Cashews
  • Pecans

Paleo Diet Food List: Raw Foods

Many of the foods listed here can be eaten raw, meaning, not cooked and eaten in its natural state.

Cooking foods changes the chemical structure of many foods and can alter the nutrition it contains. Raw foods also contain beneficial enzymes that cooking removes.

The reason I added this section on here is to recommend that you eat some foods raw and cook others to gain a variety of the nutritional benefits from both ways of eating them.

Here's a list of some of my favorite foods to eat raw:

  • Carrots
  • Just about any fruit
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Celery
  • Fresh leafy greens such as kale, chard and spinach (salads)
  • Tomato
  • Honey 

Easy Paleo Ingredient Substitutions

Incorporating the paleo diet into your daily routine is easy. In some instances, you may want to substitute some ingredients that didn't make the paleo list to modify some of your favorite meals. For instance, if spaghetti night is going to be a tough one for you to give up, I can say from experience and with confidence that replacing your wheat-based spaghetti pasta with squash works out really well!

All the substitutions should be organic, of course!

Non-Paleo Ingredients

  • Vegetable oils
  • Genetically modified foods
  • Cows milk
  • Sandwich bread for sandwiches
  • Flour
  • Pancake syrup
  • Pastas
  • Potatoes
  • Peanut butter
  • Milk chocolate
  • Farm raised fish 

Paleo Substitutions

  • Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil
  • Organic foods
  • Almond milk and coconut milk
  • Lettuce wraps
  • Coconut flour and almond flour
  • Real maple syrup or honey
  • Zucchini
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Almond butter
  • Dark Chocolate (70% or more)
  • Wild caught fish

Putting It All Together

So, we've been through the paleo diet food list, what not to eat and how to identify the right kinds of foods to seek out -- such as organic grass fed meats and organic veggies.

Putting it all together is easy and you can get creative!

The great thing about this is that you can build recipes from any combination of ingredients which create endless meal choice possibilities. This is why I really don't have much in the way of recipes here because you can make anything you want for any meal of the day consisting of these whole food groups and you're good to go.

Although I have certainly tried paleo recipes, I usually end up just combining paleo ingredients together to make meals and literally make it up as I go. We've had great meals doing this!

For example, here's a great breakfast recipe that we use all the time. It's delicious, super healthy, loaded with nutrition and protein and very low on the glycemic index. Oh, and it's super fast to make it:

  • 4 scrambled eggs
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • Half of a red onion
  • A handful of fresh spinach
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Some mushrooms
  • Coconut oil

Saute' all the ingredients except the eggs in a skillet for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the eggs and heat until done. Serve it up! You won't be disappointed! Serve it with a side of apple.

Another tip is to use what you've got using fresh perishable items first and them moving to less perishable as the week wears on. Get creative and you'll be surprised what you can come up with!

Paleo Diet Food List: Misc.

A few things not mentioned above include a few things that didn't neatly fit into one of the paleo diet food list above:

  • Organic free range eggs
  • Raw, unfiltered honey. Don't get honey that's over processed, over heated and force filtered.
  • Coconut. It's a nut but you can also get coconut milk, water and oil out of it. Very important to get this one organic and all of its sub-foods like the oil and water.
  • Purified water. Don't need the fluoride of the added chemicals found in our water supply these days.

What's Not On The List?

Although it may seem obvious at this point, it's worth mentioning some items that are not going to make the paleo diet food list but thought I'd throw in a few things on this list for fun...

  • Diet sodas
  • Regular sodas 
  • Frozen processed foods
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Fried foods
  • Meat from animals fed grain and soy
  • Potato chips with sour cream dip
  • Bread or any grain-based products including corn (which is a grain)
  • Sugar cookies
  • Brownies
  • Fish from a fish farm and are fed...you guessed it...more grains.
  • Frozen pizza
  • French fries
  • Donuts
  • Candy
  • Genetically modified foods laced with dangerous synthetic pesticides
  • Ice cream
  • Milk and cheese
  • Margarine
  • Reduced fat anything, like, uh, I don't know...yogurt

That's pretty easy stuff. If they didn't eat it, you shouldn't eat it if you want to get the maximum effect from the paleo diet.