While a Primal, Paleo of Ancestral lifestyle promotes simplicity over all else, there’s certain things we simply can’t do without. Here’s the essentials we eat and use every single day. Life just wouldn’t be the same without them!
Paleo essentials: foods and supplements
Obviously, getting back to basics with whole foods and fresh produce is the way to go. But modern foods aren’t what they used to be, meaning you’ve sometimes got to seek out certain nutrient-dense products and supplements to fill in the nutritional gaps.
Both Chris Kresser and Tim Ferriss firmly believe that the average person isn’t getting nearly enough protein in their diet. We do too, as it happens. And despite the fact that we eat lots of animal protein (meat, eggs, dairy, fish etc), it often isn’t enough to keep on the muscle and keep off the pounds. For this reason, you really can’t go wrong with Protein 17 organic grass-fed whey protein powder. I literally use it every day, whether I work out or not, and it actually makes a great addition to baking recipes. To find out why this is literally the best protein powder money can buy (and far better for you than plant-based protein powders!), check out this post.
Every second or third day, we also use Great Lakes Gelatin – it’s also an excellent source of protein, it’s dairy-free, and its amazingly beneficial for joints, bones, ligaments, and connective tissues in the body.
Apple cider vinegar
Yes, yes, we’re back to apple cider vinegar (ACV) again! But hand on heart, we really do use it at least a few times a day. Sprinkled on salads as a dressing and nutrient-absorber, added to water as an alkalizer and probiotic, used in bone broth recipes, used as a moisturizing hair conditioner…you name it, ACV is there with guns blazing! As long as it’s raw, unfiltered and organic, any old ACV will do, but Braggs cider vinegar is always a winner.
You know the drill with coconut oil. It’s legit. As I write this, I’m oil pulling with our organic cold-pressed coconut oil. We use it as a moisturizer, hair “gel”, and massage oil, in addition to using it for higher heat cooking and baking. You’ve GOT to have a tub of this in your kitchen at all times.
We don’t use olive oil as much as coconut oil or grass-fed butter, but we do use it at least once a day. It makes a great oil base for salad dressings and tastes great sprinkled over fresh-steamed veggies. Olive oil isn’t great with heat, so we generally only use it for low-heat cooking or just sprinkle it on after cooking.
We always make sure there’s a tub of raw, organic honey in the pantry. It can be used to sweeten dishes and baking without many of the detrimental effects found in conventional sugars, it contains digestive enzymes that help your stomach to do it’s job…and it just tastes amazing! I put a little bit of honey on my tongue just before bed to reduce cortisol production during the night and help me sleep better. It’s also an immediate go-to if we feel a sore throat or cold coming on.
We seem to go through a whole pack of organic cinnamon powder a week these days. It’s nature’s guilt-free sweetener, providing a sweet taste without the sugar. It also helps to reduce insulin resistance after eating sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods, and is a potent anti-bacterial to boot. We sprinkle it in our coffee instead of sugar, use it prolifically in baking, and even use it along with bentonite clay and baking soda as a natural antibacterial toothpaste.
We don’t use a lot of supplements, simply due to the fact that our diet is just so nutrient dense. But there are certain vitamins and minerals that you simply can’t get from food, not matter how healthy you eat. One of those minerals is magnesium, a vital nutrient that our bodies use for anything from muscle recovery to sleep and stress regulation. If you suffer from lots of cramps, poor sleep, constantly sore muscles, diabetes, hypertension, or have constant skin issues, you’re probably lacking in magnesium. We use this high-quality magnesium oil, as it’s absorbed by the body far more efficiently than magnesium oral supplements.
Vitamin D3 is another of those vitamins that we simply can’t get enough of at certain times, and it’s not one you want to be lacking in. Along with vitamin C, it’s absolutely vital for proper immune function, and it also plays a key role in both skin and bone health. If you can’t get 20+ minutes of sunshine each day, consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement. And remember, vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning you should either eat it with a fatty meal or grab a D3 supplement that already has fat added, like the one I linked above.
Personally, I don’t take fish oil, but Liivi does and I’m seriously considering taking it up as well. If you’re suffering from inflammation, are struggling to heal properly from injuries or have constant joint pain, a good fish oil supplement might be a good choice. Multiple experts continue to recommend Rosita’s extra virgin cod liver oil as the highest quality, most therapeutic product on the market. Give it a go and see if you notice any differences in your health!
Paleo essentials: household and kitchen
In a perfect world, we’d all have access to fresh, uncontaminated spring water. But seeing as that simply isn’t feasible, we’ve invested in the next best thing – a high quality water filter. And it goes beyond simple carbon filters that reduce chlorine in the water – you also want to be filtering out fluoride, chemicals and microorganisms that are doing you harm every single day. We’re fans of the widely acclaimed Big Berkey, which is a hefty investment but one that’s well worth it.
We’re big on bone broth, and we’re also big on making it ourselves – that way, you know that only the best ingredients have been used to make it…and it’s a great way to use up the bones from your meals! The best way, in my opinion, to make bone broth is to use a good quality slow cooker/crockpot. We use ours at least once a week to make a big batch of broth (more on how to do that, here), and also regularly use it to make delicious stews, soups and casseroles.
What would a Paleo or Primal kitchen be without a blender? We’re constantly making smoothies, either pre- and pos-workout or simply when we can’t be bothered cooking up a batch of eggs for breakfast. For a good all-rounder, choose a blender that is made from glass (to avoid BPA and ensure it’s ok for blending up hot ingredients like soup) and is rated to churn ice (so your frozen berries actually get blended into your smoothie, rather than hanging out at the bottom as a frozen surprise!). This blender meets all those requirements and is amazingly cheap, considering the quality.
If you’ve joined the wonderful world of essential oils, you’ll know that a diffuser is a must. In this post, I looked at which diffusers are best, based on both budget and quality. And the winner? The Purespa Deluxe Ultrasonic Diffuser. We use our doTERRA petal diffuser every day, and it’s still going strong.
Every Paleo household needs a good vacuum cleaner. Why? Because lots of nasty things live in your carpet or between your floorboards, including mites, dust, and toxin sediments. I make sure the house is vacuumed once a week so that we’re not constantly breathing in those nasties!
Paleo essentials: bedroom
Fact: most people aren’t getting enough sleep. While they may not realize it, that sleep deficiency filters down into every part of their lives, negatively influencing concentration, energy, immunity, and weight. Get your sleep sorted, and you’re halfway towards getting your whole LIFE sorted!
We’ve written time and again about how blue light at night (say that ten times!) is the enemy of sleep. 3 hours before bed, without fail, we slide on our super classy amber glasses. They may look goofy, but we have trouble getting to sleep without them.
As with carpet, pillows can harbor a wide range of harmful chemicals and microorganisms. This is particularly the case for pillows made of synthetic materials, which just so happens to be 99% of pillows out there. 6 months ago I bought both of us pure untreated wool pillows with organic cotton pillowcases, and we’ve never looked back. The wool is all-natural so there’s no fumes or chemicals seeping into our skin/nostrils as we sleep, and I’m yet to wake up with a sore neck since making the swap!
The reason I’ve included humidifiers in the “bedroom” section rather than household is that our humidifier pretty much permanently stays in the bedroom. Ensure adequate humidity while sleeping is super important as it ensures our airways don’t get clogged up (contributing to snoring), our faces don’t wrinkle as much, and our skin stays smooth and supple. This is the humidifier that we use, and it’s been very reliable and effective so far.
These are the essentials that I can physically see right now around our house. We’ll likely get more Paleo essentials along the way, and when we do I’ll be sure to update the list. Are there any items that we’ve missed out, or that you’d like our opinion on? Post a comment below and we’ll be sure to help out.