They’ve never heard of paleo. And you’ve never told them. Yet you’ve invited them over for dinner. Now you’re in knots over what to give them.
Or maybe your pizza-loving, french-chomping, soda-guzzling kids and their friends are over to watch a ball game but you’ve had a pantry clear-out and from now on it’s mom’s paleo way. Or starve.
You put the food on the table, they look at it. Then they look up at you. And you’re not sure whether to meet their eye with defiance, or busy yourself with the dishwasher. Hey, it happens.
When I was asked to write a post about paleo food that looks normal to non-paleos, I sat back and had a think.
What is ‘normal’ food?
To paleo-istas, ideally it is fresh, natural, humanely-raised and locally-grown seasonal food, prepared minimally but taste-fully: meat, fish, fowl, veg, some fruits, nuts and seeds, some dairy (maybe.) And no grains or legumes, of course.
Regular food in our western culture is typically strongly-flavored, brightly colored, highly processed and has had additives, um, added. So what are the commonalities between the two types of food that will bridge the gap?
Bacon is your friend
The typical food we experience here and in many countries who have embraced the Standard American Diet or adapted it to make it their own is characterized by two flavors: salt and sugar.
Even before I was paleo, I would routinely cut the amount of sugar in a recipe by 30-50%. It was completely unnecessary and made anything unbearably sweet even to this sugar-lover. I mean, have you had a non-paleo cookie lately? But this level of taste is what most people are used to. Anything else tastes bland or ‘off.’
So when you are making paleo food for non-paleo peeps and don’t want them to notice, why not start here? High taste. Not subtle. Powerful, strong flavors.
Spices, salt, sweeteners, even alcohol have a place when transitioning and feeding non-paleo people who are used to high flavor foods. I still cut the amount of sugar in even paleo recipes when I’m making for my own family but not when making for others.
Blue energy drinks, orange cheese snacks, red velvet cupcakes and the like are the norm outside paleo land. Just look around your local supermarket. Even fruit is treated with food dyes in some instances.
But instead, we can choose paleo foods that are vibrant in natural color and easy on the eye. While we can’t turn frosting blue naturally (and why, pray, would we want to?) there are plenty of paleo dishes awash in color to choose from.
And let’s not forget fat…
In addition to being satiating and helping our bodies run efficiently, fat adds texture, a smoothness to food making it more palatable and sensuous. It makes it taste better. Fat is good for us and we have a genetic predisposition to like it. So let’s use it to help convert our friends even if only for one night.
I’ve challenged myself many times to make food for non-paleo people, some of them hardcore SAD, without telling them. And my kids are extremely hard taskmasters in this regard. Following are recipes I’ve had great feedback on and which contain the triple threat of flavor, color, fat to defeat those skeptical non-paleo palates. For people in transition, resistant kids, special occasions and dinner parties with non-paleos and just people you want to keep on-side, these are winners.
I made these recently (without the chocolate chips) for a crowd of non-paleo peeps and they were a huge success. The muffins on their own might do it, but really it is the frosting that just helps it all go down nice and easy. You can also double this recipe and make it into a sandwich cake for a special occasion. See main pic above.
I make this recipe using leftover meat from Everyday Paleo’s Giant Stuffed Mushroom recipe. The spiciness mixed with the egg makes for a tasty blend. And no non-paleo peep would know you’d used coconut milk instead of dairy. I make them in muffin pans for lunches, pot lucks or snacks.
This banana bread recipe is awesome. For personal use I make as-is but for others who are not used to my sugar-free ways, I’ll add another banana, add a dash of extra almond meal and include a tablespoon of raw honey.
I’ve mentioned these before but I’m gonna mention them again. They are awesome enough on their own but for additional sensation, you can top with frosting made from palm shortening, cocoa powder and some sweetener.
I have to put this in because before I was paleo, when I had friends over I’d always give them coffee and a selection of baked goods. Now I give them eggs and bacon and I’m famous for it! Nothing else, just eggs, bacon, coffee or tea. <3
Love, love, love this recipe. I think it is the red wine that gets ‘em every time!
I regularly give this to my non-paleo friends and the spiciness and saltiness give it huge flavor, maybe too much if you’re not used to it so go easy until you work out your own preferred level.
These are fabulous, either with a sauce or simply plain for snacks or school lunches. Salt to taste and go heavy on the garlic if you like it.
When I made this my kids requested, no, demanded I make it again. They took leftovers the next day for lunch. Even if you don’t care for sun-dried tomatoes this is an awesome way to cook chicken.
From Sarah’s post: “I made my famous sweet potatoes: pressure cook about 6-8 sweet potatoes, add half a jar of apple sauce, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a bunch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. ” Yum.
You really can’t go wrong here. A great way to get brussels into people. Go heavy on the bacon if you need to! I also use shredded cabbage in place of the sprouts.
I love roasted vegetables and I love root vegetables, especially since I learned that carbs are the way to go for some of us trying to balance hormones so I always like to make this up as a side. It’s easy and looks so gorgeous too, especially next to roast chicken. Even my beet-and-parsnip hating kids eat these (although watch for the beets turning everything pink!.) Any root vegetables will do and I particularly like Sarah Fragoso’s recipe in Everyday Paleo that uses coconut oil, basil and lemon zest in addition to salt.
These are awesome. Flavor them how you like – do what the recipe says and add a good quantity of flavoring or the dark chocolate will overpower it – and roll them in your favorite coating. I chose almond meal, unsweetened cocoa powder for those who like their chocolate really dark, and slightly sweetened cocoa powder for those who don’t. Make them small, much smaller than the golf-ball size ones you see in the store. They are to be savored and a little goes a long, long way!
I used to hate scallops. I thought they were spongy, gooey and chewy but I knew they were good for me so I persevered. Then my son wanted to cook them with bacon and gave me proof that bacon makes anything taste good. Now this dish is a regular on our family dinner menu. If you wrap them like this recipe from Primal Palate, make sure the scallops are big enough or skewer them like a kebab. If you’re primal, you can cook this combination together in heavy cream.
What do you like to make for non-paleo peeps? Do you tell them it’s paleo? Tell us in the comments!
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