As a word, Paleo has become a catch-all for a dietary protocol informed by evolutionary nutrition. The term alone may raise some eyebrows, as this practice is still so often associated with cavemen and, lets be honest, lots of meat. But a reductive definition robs us of the nuance that makes something like the Paleo diet so interesting — and oftentimes very helpful when it comes to the eternal question of what should I eat? In conversation with some of my friends who have eating habits informed by some of these principles, I've discovered a few snacking principles that have made their way into my daily routine with much success.
The Semantics: "Micro Meals" and "Paleo-Inspired"
It feels wrong to call some of these suggestions snacks, when in fact they are small meals — or micro meals. Perhaps it's the when and why you eat them that determines whether you call them a snack or not. And while we're on the subject of semantics, it's worth noting that some of the snacking tips I learned from my friends, Sarah Johnson and Ashley Pardo, veered from the strict definition of Paleo. In my opinion, having to announce these caveats is why naming the way you eat can be cumbersome. The world seems so hell-bent on policing the term and holding you to it. So rather than explicitly naming these snacks Paleo, let's go with the much more forgiving definition of Paleo-inspired whole foods.
1. Choose fat.
If I had to name a common theme about what to snack on, it has to be fat. And glory be, because fat is flavor and flavor is always a good idea. Both Sarah and Ashley floored me with their delicious suggestions on how to bring more dietary fat into the snacking equation. You'll notice avocado and hot sauce was a repeat offender, one that has happily made it's way into my routine. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Tinned smoked oysters in homemade garlic aioli, eaten with Mary's crackers.
- The infamous chia seed pudding with full-fat coconut milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and touch of real maple syrup.
- Medium decaf coffee with whole milk — no sugar added. The milk serves as the snack.
- Full-fat sheep/goat milk Greek yogurt.
- Avocado with salt or hot sauce.
- Coconut butter on anything.
- Kite Hill almond cream cheese and jam on Mary's crackers.
- Epic Bars. "A lot of people can't get past the thought of a bar made of meat, but I love the chicken Sriracha and bison cherry. Don't even get close to the salmon one; it'll scar you for life. I'm still recovering"
- Gelatin gummies.
- Avocado with crunchy salt or hot sauce.
2. Get clever with protein.
Fat has become a nutritional darling, which for me, has been a refreshing turn of events given how long it's been demonized. However, as we continue to shuffle one macronutrient for another into the spotlight in our quest for what to eat, protein in particular has been widely celebrated as well. Here are a few ways to snack with protein, the whole foods way.
- Smoked salmon and capers over full-fat Greek yogurt.
- Bearbrook Farms mixed game salami.
- Field Trip brand turkey jerky in cracked pepper flavor.
- Marinated artichoke hearts and pesto wrapped in turkey deli meat.
- Smoked salmon with avocado.
- Deli turkey or prosciutto/salami wrapped with avocado and honey mustard (and maybe some basil if I'm feeling fancy, but this is rare).
- Vermont meat sticks.
3. Go hard on the veggies, easy on the fruit.
Just like any diet purporting health, vegetables are essential. They made up a larger proportion of the snacks both Ashley and Sarah suggested. Many of their ideas were refreshingly new, and I've enjoyed adding quite a few of them into my routine. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Whole fresh red or orange bell pepper (eaten like an apple and worth the major public crunching).
- Chopped tomatoes and cucumber with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, garlic powder, and fresh basil.
- Fresh cut coconut.
- Whole fresh fruit. My favorites are pluots, cherries, raspberries, and blueberries. I tend to avoid dried fruits.
- Fruit that's in season that tastes amazing makes my day sometimes. Currently, it's mango with salt and a squeeze of lime. But I also love stone fruit, Honeycrisp apples with lemon, cherries in an ice-water bath, raspberries and blackberries with a teensy bit of molasses, strawberries with vanilla bean and maple (fancy, so again, really rare), and pineapple. Always really cold.
Little bowls of vegetable salads (like cucumber or a good mayo-less slaw),
Mini roasted vegetable bowls with coconut aminos.
Do you have any Paleo snacks to share? Any of these snacks sound like something you're already eating? Let us know in the comments below!