When that 3 p.m. craving hits, it can be tricky to find something satisfying that won’t make you feel bloated—or give you a sugar high that will cause you to crash later. Even that nutrition bar touting good-for-you benefits on the packaging might be fooling you.
Fortunately, health snacks is something Australian chef and Paleo guru Pete Evans gets asked on all the time—which he details in his newly published The Complete Gut Health Cookbook. Despite the confusion surrounding the munchies, his advice is super simple: Eat real food, always Paleo.
“Eating the Paleo way is primarily about healing the gut and helping it thrive,” Evans writes. By embracing animal protein, vegetables, fermented foods, bone broth, and good fats—and ditching dairy, sugar, and grains—the author claims you’ll experience less systemic inflammation and improved digestion, while eliminating toxins from the body and repopulating your good good bacteria.
And once that happens, he says, you may experience a dip in anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, depression, and PMS symptoms—all of which can make not-so-healthy snacks seem irresistible in the first place. Bet your coffee-shop scone can’t do that.
Keep reading for three gut-healthy snack recipes that Paleo chef Pete Evans swears by.
Warm Flaxseed Porridge
Yields 2-3 servings
According to Evans and his co-author, naturopath and nutritionist Helen Padarin, the first step to healing your gut is reducing inflammation. This hearty mid-morning snack more than delivers on that front. “Flaxseeds are a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and lignans,” Evans writes. “They also have a demulcent (slippery or jelling) property, which is both very soothing to the gut and helpful for keeping you regular.”
1 1/3 cups flaxseeds
2 cups almond milk (recipe below), plus extra to serve
1 Tbsp honey (optional)
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Blueberries and blackberries, to serve
1 cup almonds (activated if possible)
For the porridge
1. In a saucepan, combine the flaxseeds with the milk, honey (if using), and vanilla seeds. Mix well, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the porridge from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the porridge is light and fluffy, about three minutes.
3. Let cool a little before stirring in the cinnamon.
4. Spoon the porridge into two bowls and scatter with the berries. Serve with some extra almond milk on the side.
For the almond milk
1. You will need a one quart glass bottle for this recipe. Wash the bottle well in very hot soapy water, then run it through the dishwasher on a hot rinse cycle to sterilize.
2. Place the almonds in a blender, add one quart filtered water and blend for a couple of minutes until smooth.
4. Pick up the edges of the cheesecloth, bring together, and twist to squeeze out all the milk. (The leftover solids can be used in place of almond meal or other nut meals in baking recipes.)
5. Pour the almond milk into the sterilized bottle, cover, and place in the fridge. Give the bottle a good shake each time you want to use it. Almond milk will last, stored in the refrigerator, for three to four days.
Beet Hummus with Veggie Sticks
Yields 6 servings
This hummus recipe has a non-traditional twist: It’s made without chickpeas. (Legumes are a Paleo no-no, after all.) “This delicious dip is a take on the classic hummus, but one that, in my eyes, is a lot better for your digestive system,” writes Evans. “Add some fermented kraut juice to the beet hummus for a probiotic kick.”
1 lb beets (about 2 large or 4 small)
3 Tbsp unhulled tahini
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
Vegetables (such as purple and orange carrots, celery tips, cucumber, asparagus, broccolini), cut into batons
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Wrap the beets in foil and roast in the oven until tender, between one and two hours.
3. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and roughly chop.
4. Put the beets in the bowl of a food processor. Add the tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, cumin, and salt, and process until smooth. Let cool completely before serving.
5. Spoon some hummus into small jars, glasses, or bowls.
6. Stick the veggie batons in the hummus, and serve.
Turmeric Cabbage Rolls with Larb
Yields 16 servings
Jerky’s not the only way to get in a meaty, mid-day snack. “Travel through Thailand or Laos, and on most menus you will notice a dish called ‘larb’—which, loosely translated, is a chopped meat salad,” Evans writes. He recommends eating it with raw and fermented vegetables, or wrapping it up in cabbage leaves for a taco-style snack.
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp sea salt
8 large green cabbage leaves
2 Tbsp coconut oil or good-quality animal fat
1 lb ground chicken
3 red Asian shallots, finely diced
1 large handful mint leaves, torn
1 large handful cilantro leaves, torn, plus extra to serve
1 small handful Thai basil leaves, torn, plus extra to serve
3 Tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted
1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1 Persian cucumber, seeded and cut into thin matchsticks
1 handful bean sprouts
1 lime, cut into wedges
Lime Fish Sauce Dressing
1/2 cup lime juice
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 long green or red chile, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced, plus extra to serve
1. Bring six cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Add the turmeric and salt. Cook the cabbage leaves in batches until tender, about three minutes. Drain on paper towels. Set aside to cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, to make the dressing, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, chile, and green onion in a bowl, and mix well.
3. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil or fat and the ground chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked and crumbly, about three minutes.
4. Pour in half the dressing, add the shallots, and toss to combine. Remove from the heat and let cool for one minute.
5. Toss the mint, cilantro, Thai basil, and sesame seeds through the chicken.
6. Cut the thickest part of the vein from each cabbage leaf, then cut each leaf in half.
7. Place a leaf on a flat surface and spoon two heaping tablespoons of the chicken and herb mixture along the base. Arrange some carrot, cucumber, and bean sprouts on top. Roll up the cabbage leaf, folding in the sides, to enclose the filling. Repeat with the remaining cabbage leaves and filling.
8. Arrange the cabbage rolls on a platter, sprinkle on the extra herbs and green onion, and serve with the lime wedges and the remaining dressing on the side.