We know you live busy lives and that eating good, fresh food takes time. In one way we shouldn’t make any apologies for this—a stay in the hospital takes much longer. But the fact is that to be successful in the paleo diet we have to find some quick solutions to our hunger or else that box of donuts in the office break room will overcome us.
Below are some of my favorite go to paleo snacks that require zero preparation. In another post I’ll provide some recipes for other easy and quick snacks that require a little prep time up front.
Nuts are easy to store, require no cooking and are a great source of nutrients. We have to be careful with them though. For one thing many nuts sold in stores are “enhanced” with lots of salt and added oils like the very non-paleo soybean oil. This destroys the health benefits of the nut. Eat only raw nuts that have not been roasted or otherwise adulterated. You can make nuts easier to digest by soaking them.
Also nuts are very high in Omega-6 fatty acids which are tied to inflammation. All of our fish oil is meant to counteract this inflammation, but if we start eating too many Omega-6s we could be counteracting that good. Fortunately, Omega-6s in pure, raw nuts are not going to act the same way in the body as the extremely detrimental ones in a processed soybean or vegetable oil. Nevertheless, we might want to choose most of our nuts from the group that has the lowest levels of Omega-6s. Macadamia nuts are particularly low in Omega-6 fatty acids. You can find raw macadamia nuts at Whole Foods. Cashews and hazelnuts are also fairly low on the Omega-6 scale.
You need to learn to love sardines. When I was a kid I used smelly sardines to attract and trap raccoons. When I realized that they were a nutrient dense source of food it took me a while before I could get myself to eat them. But with time and a lot of mustard I’ve learned to love the little fish. Sardines are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids than tuna, and since they are fairly low on the food chain they have much lower levels of mercury than larger fish like tuna. I’ve found that they’re best canned with mustard or smoked. If you use mustard, make sure it is a variety that has no sugar.
Kipper Snacks are a good Norwegian treat. These smoked canned herring are an acquired taste, but they can be an easy snack that is chock full of nutrients. If you can’t get these or sardines down straight, just douse them in lots of mustard.
Tuna is the classic fish snack. It is mild in taste and you can get it fairly cheaply. The problem is that tuna are really large fish which means that they accumulate large amounts of mercury in their bodies by eating smaller fish. Many tuna are also fished in ways that damage the environment. If you can, buy tuna that specifies that it was “line caught.”
Berries can be a great treat if you feel the need for something sweet. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are probably your best bet as both are lower in sugar than choices like Strawberries and are high in anti-oxidants. It’s hard to find good berries out of season, so go with frozen berries. Pour a little coconut milk over them for a nice ice-creamy treat.
Coconut is a key paleo ingredient. Coconut milk is great in smoothies, coconut flour can be used in baked goods, coconut water is high in electrolytes, coconut oil can fuel your workout with Medium Chained Triglycerides, and then there’s just plain old coconut flesh. Dried coconut chips, which can be found at Whole Foods and some Asian markets are a great snack to take the place of something like popcorn. Just make sure you get the variety that doesn’t have sugar added.