If I Can’t Eat Grains, Sugar Drinks and Hot Pockets, Then What Can I Eat?

You know what they say — the "critics," that is: "Avoiding entire food groups is a mistake." Hand in hand with such unmitigated balderdash is the blank stare: "then what can I eat?"

Here’s a few modest ideas from some of my meals over only the last few weeks or so, here and there. These are all phone cam pics, so quality isn’t super.

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Eggs, potatoes and a flank steak with green chili sauce
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Mushroom omelet with bacon and sliced tomatoes
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Baby back ribs and smoked chicken
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Ribeye steak and salad
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Salmon roe: "Ikura"
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Steak, eggs & fruit
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Steak & salad
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Ground sirloin, eggs & fruit
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Carne asada, guacamole and salad heavy on the bacon bits
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Grilled flank steak and red wine reduction
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Surf, surf & turf

That last one was last night up here in the mountain home in Arnold, CA, along with my mom & dad, brother and his GF unit. Dave brought the lobster and clams, I provided the NY steaks cut in half, and the salad.

Dave broiled the tails, dad grilled the steaks, Beatrice made the salad and I did the clams and clarified butter. The clams are done the same way I do mussels (see above). Assuming you have enough to fill a big stock pot, crush & chop 2 cloves of garlic and either 1-2 shallot or about 1/3 of a yellow onion. Toss em in the bottom of the pot along with about 1/2 -1 tsp of dry thyme and 1/3 to 1/2 cube of unsalted butter and saute until the onion or shallot is translucent and slightly browned. Then in goes about 2/3 of a bottle of any white wine and about a cup of chicken stock. Sprinkle in more dry thyme. Bring it to a boil, toss in your clams or mussels, cover and simmer for ten minutes.

Serve in a bowl and be sure and ladle in lots of the cooking juice and bits of shallot & garlic. Eat with your hands and use the shell as a spoon.

Sorry, I have omitted all the Hop Pockets, Pop Tarts and other various and sundry crap in a box I had no need of eating over this time period. It’s not "Paleoish on a Budget" to be sure, but this is more to illustrate that there are tons of options without resorting to "Lazy mindlessness on a budget."

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  1. Jan on May 14, 2011 at 09:35

    Whenever I hear someone say a paleo diet is unsustainable because it’s boring, I always point them here:

    The paleo section of my food blog. Boring? I think not.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 14, 2011 at 09:41

      Excellent food pics, Jan.

      • Jan on May 14, 2011 at 09:48

        Thank you! I enjoy it. A lot. Even if I rarely eat things hot any more. :)

  2. Lute Nikoley on May 14, 2011 at 09:09

    All that was left on my plate was the lobster tail shell and the clam shells. Do I need say more?

  3. Peggy The Primal Parent on May 14, 2011 at 09:13

    Can I move in with you?

  4. Brett Legree on May 14, 2011 at 09:18

    I am (sadly) the only true Paleo eater in my household – the others dabble in it, but struggle.

    Most often I hear “what you eat is boring” or “what else is there to eat on your diet?”

    (Umm, open up a cookbook and pick something – then make whatever it is without grains, sugar and so forth – easy stuff, lots of variety… I certainly have not been bored after 18 months.)

    I also hear from time to time, “there’s nothing to eat” which then results in a “grazing fest” by everyone but me.

    “There’s nothing to eat” actually means, “dammit, I have to *cook* something”… hell, the last time I heard “there’s nothing to eat”, I went and looked.

    In the fridge there were two grass-fed t-bone steaks (about 14 oz. each)… 36 eggs… about 5 or 6 tomatoes… some cucumbers… some pickled hot peppers (I like spicy stuff!)… in the pantry, some sweet potatoes and onions.


  5. Be on May 14, 2011 at 09:23

    There is nothing boring about that week’s take down! That a diet without sugar, grains & processed crap isn’t sustainable is simply nonsense. On the contrary, eating has become so much more fun – now I live to eat, I used to eat to live. And guess what? I don’t miss any of the crap I used to eat.

    P.S. Yum – I LOVE me some smoked chicken!

  6. Paleo Peeps on May 14, 2011 at 10:01

    I had a co worker ask me what she could do about her arthritis (aka her joints ache). With no medical confirmation that she had arthritis, I told her that some some people find relief with an anti inflammation diet – meaning Jack Challem’s books. I was going to eventually ease her into the paleo idea untill she flipped out when she realized that anti inflammatory essentially means no grains or sugar. She actually said “you can’t live with out grains.” I said “I have for nearly fifteen years.” She said that it was “impossible” – thank goodness – lunch time was over and I could get on with my impossible life.

  7. Sophie on May 14, 2011 at 10:06

    This post cracked me up, because as “vegaquarian” of 20+ years I hear this a lot, too! (Yes, I’m vegetarian + fish, and I like your blog!) “What do you eat?” Um…pretty much anything, minus the meat and processed foods. “What do your husband and sons eat?” Uh…FOOD? My husband hunts. One of my sons likes meat; the other one does not, but he’s five so he doesn’t like much else either. Personally, I’ve never enjoyed meat nor how it made me feel after I ate it, but that’s just me. But even with such varied preferences in our household, we eat extremely well, with minimal processed crap. I enjoy what you have to say about food and agree with a lot of it. I just wish more people would wake up to the fact that their foods are killing them, or at the very least making them live very sub-par lives!

  8. Bill on May 14, 2011 at 10:28

    I’m struggling with the Omega 3/6 balance deal. My diet is pretty much just like yours, but I keep getting reminded how much different grass-fed and organic is than commercial.

    • Shane on May 14, 2011 at 11:36

      Yah, grass fed is better, but it’s not life and death. Remove the other omega 6 friendly fats from your diet and even with conventionally raised grain fed beef I think you are fine.

      • Cheese on May 14, 2011 at 21:43

        Yup, just make sure you get some seafood in there and stay away from the vegetable oils and it’s just fine.

  9. Cromagnon on May 14, 2011 at 10:49

    Richard, this post reminded something i have been pondering lately. How to store paleoish foods for long-term, emergency stuff etc? I am paleo since 2007, mostly meat (love lamb, generally got a whole lamb and freeze it), seafood (twice or so weekly), some vegies (whatever is in season and roots/tubers) as long as they do not get in the way, cheese, yogurt, kefir, eggs of course, butter, olive oil, and little to no fruit. I am not anal about it either and do not turn downa nice risotto if a friend invites me for dinner etc. My wife eats the same way, and we eat at home mostly and whenever we dine out we stick with meat and seafood (not big fans of chicken). I have a freezer and i tend to replenish it with whole lamb, some beef steaks, shrimp and fish e ery couple months.

    I am also interested in preparedness (not ‘end is nigh, run to the hills’ kind of nonsense but being prepared for whatever might come for myself and family) and Ferfal’s thinking has influenced me a lot about this subject (ferfal.blogspot.com). I am not connected with the guy in anyway btw. At any rate what i have been thinking is how to ensure that i have enough supplies, say to last for 6 months for me and my wife, while keeping it paleo. The traditional beans, rice, flour, lentils etc do not work naturally. Getting a bigger freezer and having more meat is an option but in that case you depend on having access to electricity and in a case of emergency that might be problematic. I thought about canned tuna, but what else? Freeze-dry stuff is an option but tends to be expensive, and not readily available (i am not in the US). Any suggestions?

    • Wojciech Majda on May 14, 2011 at 23:56

      Think about jerk and other dried meat. You can buy big cans of coconut oil or ghee as your main energy source. They don’t need refrigeration.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 14, 2011 at 11:04

      Other than rice, beans & lentils, I really don’t know and if I was into the survivalist thing I’d just do that and forget about it. Otherwise, various canned foods would be fine and perhaps pemican, perhaps vacuum sealed? Don’t know how long it keeps but if you could get six months or more out of it, you could just rotate it and consume the stuff you’re rotating out of the food store.

    • Josh on May 14, 2011 at 18:29

      The goal of survival food is to be storable indefinitely and to keep your ass alive… rice, wheat, beans, and honey will do that. In a SHTF situation paleo goes out the window in my book.

      • Richard Nikoley on May 14, 2011 at 19:45

        I agree with you, Josh. On the other hand, and good survival kit is going to have a store of firearms and amo, and an excellent set of hunting knives. Fishing gear. Now, whether those firearms & ammo are used to defend your stash against other humans or for hunting meat is something that is to be determined. I say, be prepared for both eventualities.

      • Josh on May 15, 2011 at 07:08

        No doubt about that! But that’s a whole ‘nother thread…I doubt you want me junking up your site with reams of gun talk. haha

    • A Lady on May 14, 2011 at 19:37

      Buy goats. The Paleo survivalist plan is basically ‘keep livestock alive’ and ‘learn to make pemmican’ instead of ‘guard your barrels of wheat berries’.

  10. […] Finally, Richard Nikoley has some mouth-watering food photos. […]

  11. Kevin on May 14, 2011 at 11:32

    Oh bit too much carbon on those steaks….i like more blood :)

    nice post

  12. Rob on May 14, 2011 at 13:06

    I got a culinary hard-on from those pics.

  13. Jo on May 14, 2011 at 14:37

    Now that’s what you call food porn.

    I totally need to cook up some mussels one of these days. They look delish!
    Oh and I just figured out this morning how to kick up scrambled eggs about 100%… add some basil. ( i also add some rotel, which also gives it a nice touch! ) Simple but amazing.

  14. Be on May 15, 2011 at 04:49

    If you haven’t heard Jim Gaffigan, you will also like this clip:

    You will really start to appreciate this at about minute 5!

  15. Sara on May 14, 2011 at 19:50
    • Richard Nikoley on May 14, 2011 at 20:29

      Ha, Sarah. That might call for a Sunday blog. In case you don’t know, Hot Pockets have long been my blogging touchstone for crap food.

  16. Al on May 14, 2011 at 23:01

    Hey Richard,

    What are you looking like these days? What does your training program consist of/how’s the shoulder? How do you feel in your skin/clothes?

    Just asking.


  17. TrailGrrl on May 15, 2011 at 06:09

    I was hoping forcsome food porn today!

    The egg yolks in the first picture look awesome in their orangeness.

  18. Lila on May 15, 2011 at 09:39

    Nice photos! Good thing I’ve had my breakfast of bacon and eggs. So when are you opening a paleo restaurant?

  19. Bill on May 15, 2011 at 10:38

    Gaffigan has another great rant about BACON. “Bacon is so good that it’s the food they wrap other food in to make it even better.”

    • lucy on May 15, 2011 at 13:59

      I was hoping someone would mention the bacon bit Jim Gaffigan does. I love that one!

      Your food looks delicious. I’ve always loved to cook, but I’m still fairly new to paleo. I just started documenting some of the stuff I’ve been doing (http://www.flickr.com/photos/heylucyloo/sets/72157626654662046/), I actually am really enjoying the creativity of cooking this way, and I have made some damn good meals, if I do say so…

      • Richard Nikoley on May 15, 2011 at 17:20

        Very creative, delicious looking work, Lucy. Great meals.

  20. 05/15/2011 » CrossFit Mount Laurel - on May 15, 2011 at 11:50

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  21. timmah on May 16, 2011 at 10:48

    Smoked turkey legs and greens, boiled together.

  22. Rachel on May 15, 2011 at 22:25

    Simple, yet integral, combinations. Nice starters for those who worry about becoming bored with red meat. :)

  23. Cath on May 17, 2011 at 10:57

    Hi Richard,
    I only just started reading about the Paleo diet and have been dabbling with it a little bit. I came across your blog a few days ago and just wanted to say thank you for all the info you are posting.
    I just read a book written by Cordain, so I was pretty surprised to see potatoes on your plate….?

    • Richard Nikoley on May 17, 2011 at 11:05

      Hi Cath. Cordain in no way represents the Paleo diet and the Paleo diet is NOT necessarily low carb. In fact, it can be high carb. Paleo is merely real foods, and that includes potatoes, if they work for you. Paleo is merely a framework for determining what works best for you.

      • Cath on May 17, 2011 at 13:06

        I am beginning to learn that. Thanks for the reply, I will check out your blog for more info on potatoes and other things… :-)

    • Richard Nikoley on May 17, 2011 at 11:06

      Also, if you search the blog for ‘potato’ or ‘potatoes’ you can find a number of posts and comment threads where this is hashed out.

  24. Paleo Josh on May 17, 2011 at 16:33

    I am salivating. WHo would want hot pockets after seeing this post!

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