Spice Up Your Paleo Diet
with Suzanne Klein
Chief Yummy Officer
paleo salt-free sugar-free
Our spice merchants are often asked for guidance on seasonings that fit all kinds of diet requirements. Ashley Stricker, manager of the Savory Spice Shop in Greensboro, NC, has seen a lot of customers lately wondering which spices they should try if they are on a Paleo-friendly diet. So many, in fact, that she decided to explore Paleo herself to become better educated about the diet and be able to give customers recommendations that she’s tried out for herself. Ashley’s takeaway? You don’t have to sacrifice flavor when you’re cutting out certain foods from your diet. Check out our interview with Ashley below for some of her favorite Paleo-friendly seasonings and recipes.
How did you discover Paleo?
Paleo-friendly spice guru Ashley Stricker, manager of the Savory Spice Shop in Greensboro, NC
My Paleo journey started in our shop. I was introduced to the Paleo world by one of our wonderful guests, Jennie Harrell, the former writer of the blog Easy Paleo. (Jennie is a mom now and has passed the baton onto her younger sister, Katie.) At first, I thought Jennie was a bit insane (I mean this in the nicest possible way) with her no-bread, no-cheese, no-sugar world and all. But I like to try out new ways of eating—vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and now Paleo—as a way to explore new foods, or maybe even to explore the same foods differently. So I gave Paleo a whirl and was very happy with the world of food that I found. I actually found some of my favorite new spices and flavors from dabbling in the Paleo world.
Which seasonings do you guide customers to when they ask for Paleo-friendly recommendations?
Some of my go-to Paleo seasonings are our Cantanzaro Herbs, French Style Bouquet Garni, Bohemian Forest European Style Seasoning, Vindaloo, and Tandoori Seasoning, as well as our Mild, Medium, or Hot Chili Powders. These are all salt-free and sugar-free spice blends that offer a lot of variety in flavor. If you’re exploring part of the Paleo world that allows salt in your diet, I highly recommend our Hidden Cove Lemon Garlic Blend, Gourmet Santa Maria Sea Salted BBQ Rub, Capitol Hill Seasoning, and Pike Place Protein Rub.
Are people surprised to find that many of our products are Paleo?
You'll never have bland meals if you incorporate flavorful spice blends, like our Bohemian Forest European Style Seasoning, into your Paleo diet.
Honestly, I think what surprises folks most when they are shopping with us for any type of diet is how many flavors are still available to them even when they have to avoid certain foods. Some people view Paleo as a "restricted" way of eating and think they will be feasting on bland chicken and veggies. I think customers are excited to find that we have so many spices, seasonings, and recipe ideas that will fit their new diet. Customers can also consult our "free" lists to find spice blends that are salt-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, etc., so we can help them meet their diet needs without sacrificing flavor.
Are there any Savory products you suggest customers avoid if eating Paleo?
For the most part, our BBQ blends are not Paleo-friendly because many of them contain sugar and salt. That’s not to say that you can’t still enjoy great BBQ flavor when eating Paleo, because often times it’s the addition of paprika that invokes the flavor of BBQ. Some spice blends you can use to add a Paleo-friendly, BBQ-inspired flavor to your cooking, however, include our Table Mountain All-Purpose Seasoning, Red Cloud Peak Seasoning, or Flat Irons Prime Rib Rub. Other products I typically stay away from when eating Paleo are our bouillon cubes, achiote paste, and demi glazes, as they all contain some additives (although natural) that Paleo eaters generally try to avoid.
Which of our Savory recipes do you recommend to Paleo customers?
You don't have to skip dessert if you're on a Paleo diet! This rich Chocolate Avocado Pudding tastes just like the real deal.
Oh, there are lots! Some recipes depend on how strictly you follow a Paleo diet. For example, some folks follow a super clean Whole 30 Paleo diet, with no sweeteners, salt, additives, diary, alcohol, etc. Some practice sustaining Paleo, where they add back in some grains (e.g. corn, rice), high-fat dairy (e.g. yogurt, butter), natural sweeteners (e.g. honey, maple syrup), and some salts (e.g. unrefined sea salts). Others follow an 80/20 Paleo plan, where they eat Paleo-friendly but allow themselves a little more leeway to add ingredients into their weekly diet that aren’t 100% Paleo (e.g. alcohol, potatoes, kosher salt, natural additives like citric acid). We have many Paleo-friendly recipes or recipes that can easily be adapted to be Paleo with a few simple substitutions. Here are some of my favorites:
- Chocolate Avocado Pudding: This tastes amazingly like a true chocolate pudding. It’s rich and chocolaty and flavored with black onyx cocoa powder, maple syrup, coconut milk, and coconut extract. I have also Paleo-ized our Black Onyx Pudding recipe by using almond milk, arrowroot (in place of cornstarch), and coconut sugar (in place of white sugar).
- Thai Green Chicken Curry: I’ve really gotten into curries with my Paleo diet. There are so many curry blends and recipes that are Paleo-friendly. This is one of my favorite curry dishes.
- Pseudo-Creamy Tortilla Soup: This is a great one if you’re allowing corn in your Paleo diet. If not, you can make your own coconut tortillas and substitute those instead. Other substitutions I make in this recipe include using our tomato powder to make a paste, using a homemade vegetable stock, and using coconut aminos in place of tamari.
- Easiest Ever Slow Cooker “Roast” Chicken: Simply rub a whole chicken with Bohemian Forest European Style Seasoning and stick it in the slow cooker and you’ll bust the myth about Paleo food being bland. Serve it with hearty braised greens to make a full meal out of it.
- Bajan Marinade: Many of our seasonings make great marinades. This one, featuring our Caribbean-inspired Bajan Seasoning, is deliciously tangy with apple cider vinegar and grapefruit juice. Simply substitute olive oil for the grapeseed or canola oil to make the recipe Paleo. It works well for grilled meat, veggies, and even pineapple.
What are some of your favorite resources for Paleo information and inspiration?
For those who are new to Paleo, I always send them to Whole 30. This website has all the basic information plus links to other great resources. They also have a book, It Starts with Food, which is revered in the Paleo circles. Danielle Walker, the writer of Against All Grain, is another big name in the Paleo world. And the blog Nom Nom Paleo is popular; it’s very conversational and easy to follow. There are so many other resources but these are some of ones I search through and follow when I am looking for ideas and guidance.
What advice do you have for those considering Paleo?
My advice is give it 30 days. It can't hurt, right? The focus of Paleo is not so much on what you can't eat but all the whole foods that you are eating...taking it back to the basics if you will. It's also interesting how much more you appreciate what you are eating when you make a lot of your food from scratch. Also, try not to get overwhelmed! There are many resources out there with lots of tips and recipes. And, as your spice merchants, we've your back in the spice and flavor department!