"A Paleo diet focuses on foods that our ancestors—hunters/gatherers—ate thousands of years ago,” says Amy Shapiro, RD, CDN, founder of Real Nutrition in New York. “The diet includes animal proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats, and oils. It excludes processed foods, sugar, sodas, dairy, soy, grains, legumes, vegetable oils, margarine, and trans fats."
Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, explained in a previous episode of Well+Good's show You Versus Food that following a Paleo diet may help manage blood sugar, reduce blood pressure and inflammation, and support consistent energy levels. However, it may be difficult to follow because it cuts out so many foods (including whole grains and legumes) and often focuses on grass-fed, organic ingredients, which aren't accessible or affordable for all.
Here's the 311 on the Paleo diet, straight from Beckerman herself:
That said, if Paleo eating is your jam, here are some delicious Paleo breakfast ideas to help you power through your morning that don't just involve a massive plate of grass-fed bacon.
Keep reading for 11 Paleo breakfast ideas, from quick weekday morning options to brunch-worthy spreads:
1. Chia pudding
Since grains like oatmeal are not part of the Paleo diet, chia seed pudding makes a great alternative. "Chia seeds deliver a lot of really nutrient-dense power," says Serena Poon, CN, a chef, nutritionist, and Reiki master. "They contain protein, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids." Combine some with your nut milk of choice and let sit in the fridge overnight to thicken.
Once you've let the nut milk and chia seeds do their thing, it's time to add the toppings for extra nutrition and flavor. "Top your chia pudding with a spoonful of nut butter for added protein and unsaturated fats and then with Paleo-friendly fresh fruit to brighten the dish and add another layer of fiber and antioxidants," Poon says.
Get the recipe: Caramelized pineapple chia seed pudding
2. Eggs, half an avocado, salmon, and broccolini
Fish for brekky? Yup, it's Paleo-approved. "This meal is great for fueling a workout or for a long, stressful day as animal foods carry a lot of energy," Poon says. "Eggs are a great source of B vitamins, which support the body's energy production, as well as protein and omega-3s. Avocado is full of fiber and healthy fats, and salmon delivers omega-3s." Cook eggs how you like them, then serve with the avocado, a serving of smoked or pre-cooked salmon, and steamed or sauteed broccolini, the latter of which helps round the meal out and adds a nice dose of fiber.
3. Breakfast egg muffins
If meal prepping is your thing, you'll love breakfast egg muffins. Cook them ahead of time in large batches and have a hearty Paleo breakfast ready to go every morning. You can even eat it on the go when you're super busy. To make them, fill up greased muffin cups with beaten eggs or egg whites, sauteed spinach, and salt and pepper. Then bake them in the oven. "Eggs are a rich source of protein, omega-3s, and B vitamins," Poon says. "Spinach contains fiber and is a great source of iron, folate, and calcium, which are sometimes more difficult to find in plant foods. You can add more cooked protein (think leftovers of roasted chicken) and other veggies into the mix."
Get the recipe: Paleo egg muffins
4. Sweet potato breakfast bowl
A sweet potato bowl makes for an unexpected yet delicious Paleo breakfast option. Simply mash up a cooked sweet potato and top it with hemp seeds and blueberries. "Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, antioxidants, and fiber, making them a great unprocessed source of carbohydrates," Poon says. "Hemp seeds are high in protein, fatty acids, and vitamin E. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and will add a little bit of sweetness to the dish."
Get the recipe: Mashed sweet potato breakfast bowl
5. Paleo Eggs Benedict
Give the eggs Benedict brunch classic a Paleo makeover with sweet potato toast as a base. Slice your sweet potatoes and bake them in the oven. For the sauce, whisk together eggs, lemon juice, melted butter, cayenne, and salt. Top the toast with Canadian bacon, avocado, and a poached egg. Lastly, drizzle the hollandaise sauce over the top, and garnish with chives.
Get the recipe: Paleo eggs Benedict
6. "Blue" eggs and hash
Yes, blue eggs are a thing, and they're delicious and Paleo-friendly. The egg white's blue color comes from chopped purple cabbage. Serve them on a sweet potato hash and serve with a cherry tomato, parsley, and avocado salad for a pretty and unexpected breakfast.
Get the recipe: Blue eggs and hash with salad
7. Sheet pan breakfast bake
When you need something quick and Paleo to pop in the oven, a sheet pan breakfast bake will do the trick. Vanessa Rissetto, RD, co-founder of Culina Health, recommends adding peppers, sweet potatoes, and a Paleo sausage to your bake for a high protein and high fiber breakfast. "The fiber is slow to digest," she says. "It will help keep you full for longer and ensure you don't overeat at later meals."
Get the recipe: Sheet pan breakfast hash
8. Smoothie bowl
Rissetto's recommendation for a Paleo smoothie bowl includes fiber-rich and low-sugar ingredients. Throw your liquid of choice into a blender (water, almond milk, coconut milk) followed by soft vegetables like spinach, kale, or collard greens. Then add a bit of frozen fruit. Blend until it's smooth and add Paleo-approved toppings (think grain-free granola, nuts, and seeds) of your choosing.
Get the recipe: Coconut smoothie bowl
9. Avocado boats
When you're super pressed for time, make a quick avocado boat. "Simply slice a medium avocado in half, remove the pit, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and red pepper flakes," Shapiro says. "Avocados are as creamy and nutritious as they are full of fiber, heart-healthy fats, and potassium." It also makes a great post-workout breakfast. Kick it up a notch by filling that center with egg and baking in the oven for even more protein.
Get the recipe: Avocado egg boats
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