14 Paleo Recipes So Delicious Non-Paleos Won’t Even Notice

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Cinnamon Honey Cake with Honey & Chocolate Frosting
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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.

Vibrant color

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 paleo 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.

Here we go…

14 Paleo Recipes So Delicious Non-Paleos Won’t Even Notice

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoCinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins with Honey Frosting

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.

 

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoFrittata

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.

 

Banana Breadpaleo recipes, paleo diet, paleo

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.

 

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoBlueberry Espresso Brownies

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.

 

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoEggs and Bacon

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

 

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoBeef Burgundy

Love, love, love this recipe. I think it is the red wine that gets ‘em every time!

 

 

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoPulled Pork

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.

 

 

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoSpinach  & Roasted Garlic Meatballs

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.

 

 

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoSun-Dried Tomato Chicken Bake

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.

 

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoCinnamon Ginger Apple Sweet Potatoes

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.

 

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon  paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleo

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.

 

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoRoasted Root Vegetables

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.

 

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoDark Chocolate Truffles

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!

 

paleo recipes, paleo diet, paleoBacon-Wrapped Scallops

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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Written by

Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Rusty October 30, 2012 at 9:33 am

I actually do this all the time. People know that I don’t eat “normal” food (like meat and veggies are abnormal, sheesh!), but they thoroughly enjoy our 4th of July Blowouts. I also invite others to bring dishes, but all my goodies are Paleo or Paleo-ized, and get gobbled up quickly!
I think the main trick is keeping it simple.
Great posting!
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Alison Golden October 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I agree, Rusty. I held a tea recently and the paleo items were indiscernible from the non-paleo items in popularity. :-)
Alison Golden recently posted..14 Paleo Recipes So Delicious Non-Paleos Won’t Even NoticeMy Profile

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Lauren October 30, 2012 at 10:10 am

Half (more!) of those are “incidentally paleo” recipes – I’ve been making sweet potatoes with apple and brussel sprouts with bacon for years! Frittata is a great weeknight dinner or brunch dish that uses up what’s left in the crisper. These kind of no-contest recipes are so important to have up your sleeve because you’re right that as soon as you’re dealing with someone with a different diet than yours, the only thing that comes to mind are all the things they *can’t* eat. And when dinner’s over and you get to chatting, they can’t very well accuse you of a Spartan or extreme diet if they’ve just enjoyed a “legal” meal along with you, without even noticing.

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Alison Golden October 30, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Hi Lauren! I think it is the absence of pasta, corn, rice, bread and potatoes in a meal that most gets people wary which is why I included ‘fancy’ vegetables because, as you say, much paleo food is regular everyday food or food with a few tweaks.
Alison Golden recently posted..14 Paleo Recipes So Delicious Non-Paleos Won’t Even NoticeMy Profile

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Roger October 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

Perfect timing. We’ve got some friends coming over for the weekend and I thought they would find our steamed vegetables and grilled meat a bit boring, but these look great.
Looking forward to cooking them.
Roger

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Alison Golden October 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm

LOL! Yes I’ve had some meals like that – plain but I like it. Used to start second guessing myself when I had people over. Now, though, it’s cool. :-)
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Dawn October 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Everyone seems to love bacon, so I also make bacon wrapped chicken and bacon wrapped water chestnuts. There’s never any leftovers :)

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Maria October 31, 2012 at 1:34 am

Thank you so much. Terrific post. Bacon is, indeed, a lifesaver.

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Stefan November 21, 2012 at 7:55 am

Hi Alison – for those of us the other side of the pond, how much is a cup (of almond flour) in grams?

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Alison Golden November 21, 2012 at 8:08 am

HI Stefan: 1 cup = 8oz = 128g. :-)
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Sharon Rieske January 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Dear Allison, my husband and I are looking into the Paleo way of eating. Is it necessary to bu un-cured bacon and grass feed meats. I can’t get them where I live. I talked to two of my farmers at our farmers maket this past Saturday…none of them can afford to feed there animals non-GMO feed. Is this absa loutely necessary? Thank you so much.

Sharon.

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Alison Golden January 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Sharon, buy the best you can afford/get hold of. If you can’t do it perfectly, then buy the next best thing. Farmers market beef is better than your local Safeway, most likely. However, also do your research. I have a post on buying meat direct from the rancher you can check out. http://paleononpaleo.com/paleo-grass-fed-beef-buy/. Hope that makes sense.
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Erin D. January 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Great collection of recipes! Thanks for posting. I like the variety; breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

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Kirsten Thomas March 12, 2013 at 8:50 am

I had a party last weekend. Everything was paleo except for the birthday cake for my son, which I just skipped. For appetizers I did the recipe for prosciutto wrapped asparagus, some grass fed summer sausage I ordered online, grass fed cheese (that wasn’t paleo, but it was healthy,if you eat cheese), and some toasted nuts. Dinner was Scottish comfort food: mince and tatties, which is an old family recipe, that I tweaked. It does have potato in it, but I only had a few pieces of that, and I did not thicken my sauce with any fake stuff or flour. There were vegetables with it. I agree that alot of times my family is great with dinner, except that they need the rice or pasta or whatever with the meat dishes, while I eat them with vegetables. They are ok with borderline carb choices like sweet potato, regular potato etc., and the cauliflower “rice” that alot of paleo recipe books have. I am converting people to the flavor and healthy choice of grass fed beef. I buy from farmers out of my area, or use USWellnessmeats.com and order. Very reasonable, and great in CLA and omega 3.

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