Tag Archives: Cooking

Fire | The Paleo Diet
In August of 2014, Dr. Peter Turchin of Cliodynamica published a blog post titled “Paleo Diet and Fire”. In it, he discusses Richard Wrangham’s book Catching Fire: How Cooking Makes Us Human. The article explores Richard Wrangham’s theory that the significant jump in the cranial capacity of Homo erectus and Homo sapiens was fueled by fire; specifically, the ability to cook underground roots and tubers.

A student of Dr. Cordain’s read the post and brought it to Dr. Cordain’s attention. Dr. Cordain disagreed with Wrangham’s hypothesis and reached out to Dr. Turchin to discuss the theory. Dr. Cordain argued that the ability to control fire came quite late in our evolutionary history, thus roots and tubers that need to be cooked for consumption should not be part of the Paleo Diet. Following the discussion, Dr. Turchin published a follow-up article titled “When Did Human Beings Start Using Fire? Wrangham versus Cordain”.

In the new article, Dr. Turchin countered that “any alternative to the Wrangham hypothesis would have to come up with an explanation of where the calories came from and, even more importantly, how early humans could afford to shrink their guts.”

After Dr. Turchin published the article, he invited Dr. Cordain to comment. Dr. Cordain crafted a thorough response, which is featured as a guest post on Dr. Turchin’s blog. Read Dr. Cordain’s full response here »

Are Oats Paleo? National Geographic Asks | The Paleo Diet

The firestorm continues to spiral out of control following the publication of the article titled “The Importance of Dietary Carbohydrate in Human Evolution” in The Quarterly Biology of Review.1  Now, a new paper titled “Multistep Food Plant Processing at Grotta Paglicci (Southern Italy) around 32,600 cal B.P.” published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)2 fuels the misconception that our hunter-gatherer ancestors may have consumed oats in large quantities. I was approached by National Geographic to set the record straight.

I read the PNAS paper.  Nowhere in the paper did the authors indicate that people at the archaeological site were utilizing large quantities of oats. Indeed, their primary evidence comes from an assumed single “grinding stone” dated to 32,614 +/- 429 BP which maintained residues of starch containing granules upon its surface.  The authors provide no evidence that this stone was regularly used as a “grinding stone” and no control stones found next to it were examined for similar phytoliths.  Could it be that the starch concentration on this stone was similar to the starch (unreported) concentration on other non-grinding stones in the proximity?

My point here is that this evidence is indirect and in no way indicates that humans 32,614 years ago were regularly consuming “large quantities of oats” as the media has publicized. In fact, there is absolutely no way of determining whether starch phytoliths on a stone, assumed to be a grinding stone can directly quantify the amount of any dietary element (starch or otherwise) assumed to be consumed by people living 32,614 years ago. Indeed, the authors admit that the identification of the starch phytoliths’ plant origin from a specific species is not certain.

If you were to analyze the phytolith remnants from a modern cook’s knife, cutting board, or mortar and pestle or a farmer’s or woodcutter’s tools (knife, axe, grinding stone) could you make any accurate quantitative inferences about their diet? Or even any quantitative inferences about consumption of any food or non-food residues found on these tools?

A huge theoretical obstacle that the authors of this paper did not consider is that isotopic analyses of fossilized bones of hunter gatherer living in Southern Italy during the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic show no trace of cereal grain consumption despite residing in the same general geographic location (more than 20,000 years later) where these foods have always been available.3

The importance of this PLOS paper is that it is direct dietary evidence from the fossilized bones of humans living in Southern Italy rather than from inferences based upon indirect evidence of inadequately identified starch granules found upon a single stone assumed to be a grinding tool.  Further, to a scientific paper, over the past 30 years, no isotopic skeletal evidence of any fossilized European skeleton (or for that matter, from anywhere in the world) during the Palaeolithic demonstrates cereal grain consumption as evidenced by direct Carbon delta 13 data.

If we buy into the PNAS paper’s hypothesis and contrast it to the PLOS One paper’s data, why would have early humans in Italy discovered grain consumption 32,000 years ago and then have abandoned this practice almost 20,000 years later? Further, as the authors of the PNAS paper readily admit oat starch is largely inedible unless cooked.  Accordingly, to eat oats or any cereal grains, the seeds must be first ground, wood must be gathered, and fires must be lit and the cereal grain must be slowly cooked in order for the starch to be hydrolyzed. 32,000 years ago pottery hadn’t been invented, hence boiling of oats would have been difficult or impossible. Placing oats into an open fire or even upon hot coals would have quickly incinerated them. In order to achieve digestibility in the human GI tract,  the starch in oats or any grain has to be slowly cooked and hence broken down (hydrolyzed) to make it edible.

Further, optimal foraging theory suggests that gathering tiny grass seeds (cereal grains) of low caloric density that require grinding, wood collection and fire production to make the food edible is energetically inefficient.  In other words, lots of energy must be spent to make a low energy food (oats, cereal grains) edible.  All animals must derive more energy from the food that they consume compared to the energy they expend to acquire the food (Optimal Foraging Theory).  The ethnographic hunter gatherer data which our group has compiled indicates that cereal grains (grasses) were rarely or never consumed except as starvation foods.

In summary, the isotopic data, the enthnographic data and the human physiological data do not support the notion that cereal grains were a major component of human diets until after the advent of the Agricultural revolution.

So, what do I make of this “growing evidence” from starch granules, dental calculus, etc., that Paleolithic people relied on tubers, starchy plant stems, and similar foods the media continues to sensationalize?4, 5, 6

The experts in archaeology don’t read the nutrition literature, and the experts in nutrition don’t read the archaeology literature. Hence we have a huge disconnect when interpreting prehistoric dietary data.

Starch (polymers of glucose) in plant foods are generally indigestible in the human GI tract unless the cell walls of the plant foods are broken down (via grinding or other mechanical means) and then hydrolyzed via cooking.  Modern humans cannot digest raw cereal grains, raw potatoes, or raw legumes/beans and experience huge gastrointestinal upsets and toxic symptoms if we try to eat these foods in their raw state.  Hence these foods would not have been part of our ancestral dietary menu until we were able to control fire.

Controlling fire generally occurred late in our species evolution. Here is a quote from the most recent comprehensive review of ancestral fire control:7

“However, surprisingly, evidence for use of fire in the Early and early Middle Pleistocene  of Europe is extremely weak. Or, more exactly, it is nonexistent, until 300–400 ka.”

An enormous caveat here is that the ability to control fire is far different from the ability to make fire at will. The best available evidence indicates that Neanderthals living in Europe never had the ability to make fire at will.8, 9

Accordingly, plant food starch from cereal grains, tubers and legumes would not have been a usable caloric source until fires could be lit at will and cooking became a normal part of the human technological repertoire.  The best available evidence suggests that the ability to make fire at will did not occur until modern humans (Homo sapiens) developed this technology via fire drills about 75,000 to 100,000 years ago.

Hence dental starch calculus on teeth does not represent digestible, hydrolyzed starch in the GI tract to be used as a source of calories in our bodies but rather only represents remnants of plant consumption in which little of the apparent starch granules are available for digestion and metabolism.  Recent studies of Neanderthals and Denisovan DNA evidence indicates that they had not yet evolved the genes coding for the enzyme (amylase) necessary to hydrolyze starch either in the saliva or in pancreatic enzymes.10  This empirical evidence in no way supports the notion that cereal grains, tubers or legumes could have been part of the ancestral human diet until after fire was produced at will.

In our modern world, cereal grains represent a ubiquitous and inexpensive source of calories, whereas in our ancestor’s Paleolithic world these plant food grains were inedible for most of our species sojourn on planet earth.  Only until the innovation of fire starting at will could cereal grains have ever been consumed as staple foods.  This technological advance only occurred very recently on an evolutionary time table.  Hence, humans are poorly adapted to a food group which now represents more than 50% of the food energy consumed by all peoples on earth.

We are adapted, however, to closely mimic the eating patterns of our hunter-gather ancestors and whether we can truly adopt an authentic Paleo diet.

Our studies and those of my colleagues indicate that the nutrient composition of wild plant foods is identical or nearly similar to their domesticated counterparts for vitamins and slightly lower (5-7%) for minerals.  Our laboratory analyses of the nutrient content of animal foods (meats and organs) show that wild animal meats contain less fat, more protein, more omega-3 fatty acids and less omega-6 fatty acids than grain produced domestic meats.  Grass produced meats have nutritional characteristics which more closely resemble wild meats than feed lot produced meats.

Given this information, it is entirely possible to mimic the nutritional characteristics of our ancestral hunter-gatherer diets with common modern foods available at your local supermarket by consuming fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grass produced meats, fresh fish, fresh seafood and free ranging eggs.  There is absolutely no nutritional requirement in our species for cereal grain consumption, dairy food consumption or processed food consumption.



[1] Karen Hardy, Jennie Brand-Miller, Katherine D. Brown, Mark G. Thomas, Les Copeland. The Importance of Dietary Carbohydrate in Human Evolution. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 2015; 90 (3): 251.

[2] Marta Mariotti Lippi, Bruno Foggi, Biancamaria Aranguren, Annamaria Ronchitelli, and Anna Revedin, Multistep food plant processing at Grotta Paglicci (Southern Italy) around 32,600 cal B.P. PNAS 2015 ; published ahead of print September 8, 2015.

[3] Mannino MA1, Catalano G, Talamo S, Mannino G, Di Salvo R, Schimmenti V, Lalueza-Fox C, Messina A, Petruso D, Caramelli D, Richards MP, Sineo L. Origin and diet of the prehistoric hunter-gatherers on the mediterranean island of Favignana (Ègadi Islands, Sicily). PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49802. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049802. Epub 2012 Nov 28.

[4] Revedin A, et al. (2010) Thirty thousand-year-old evidence of plant food processing. Proc Natl Acad Sci. USA 107:18815–18819.

[5] Henry A., Brooks A. & Piperno D. Plant foods and the dietary ecology of Neanderthals and early modern humans. J Hum Evol 69, 44–54 (2014).

[6] Buckley, Stephen et al. “Dental Calculus Reveals Unique Insights into Food Items, Cooking and Plant Processing in Prehistoric Central Sudan.” Ed. Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg. PLoS ONE 9.7 (2014): e100808. PMC. Web. 11 Sept. 2015.

[7] Roebroeks W, Villa P. On the earliest evidence for habitual use of fire in Europe. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Mar 29;108(13):5209-14

[8] Sandgathe DM, Dibble HL, Goldberg P, McPherron SP, Turq A, Niven L, Hodgkins J. Timing of the appearance of habitual fire use. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jul 19;108(29):E298.

[9] Sandgathe DM, Dibble HL, Goldberg P, McPherron SP, Turq A, Niven L, Hodgkins J. On the role of fire in Neandertal adaptations in western Europe: evidence from Pech de l’Aze IV and Roc de Marsal, France. PaleoAnthropology 2011;216-242.

[10] Perry GH, Kistler L, Kelaita MA, Sams AJ. Insights into hominin phenotypic and dietary evolution from ancient DNA sequence data. J Hum Evol. 2015;79:55-63.

Keep the Kids’ Diets On Track, Despite School Lunch Pitfalls | The Paleo Diet

‘Back to School’ is nearly here and while it’s time to bid the lazy, hazy days of summer goodbye, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean putting healthy eating habits on hold.

It’s one thing to allow the kids to enjoy a piece of cake at a friend’s birthday party or reach into the Halloween candy bowl in moderation, but the long term ramifications of in-school dining are far worse than the one-off treat. Eating unhealthy lunches for years can take a seriously negative toll on both the mental and physical health of children.

In 2012, the U.S. government updated the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Changes included counting fruits and vegetables as separate meal groups, offering fruit every day, making half of grain choices whole grains, giving different grades different meal sizes and reducing sodium and trans fat in meals. However, not all schools implement the NSLP and not all students eat the healthier choices schools provide.1

A third of kids and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese,2 and even if the government regulates the number of calories a child’s school lunch has, as it does with the NSLP, many schools allow children to purchase a la carte foods on top of the calorie-rich main entrée high in fat, sodium, sugar or all three.

And, these a la carte options tempt children ages 2-18 who, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, get their calories from milk, cakes, cookies, quick bread, pastry and pie! 3 Their carbohydrates come primarily from soft drinks and rolls; their fat from cheese and from crackers, popcorn, pretzels and chips.

So rather than setting the kids up for health problems including diabetes, kidney stones, bone loss, cancer, heart disease as well as lower IQ scores, parents and kids can proactively take control of what they’re cooking and eating not just at home but to take to school as well.

It’s not just a matter of assuming that lunches brought from home are inherently healthier; in fact, quite the contrary. Lunches brought from home contained almost double the amount of sodium as government meal program lunches, 40% less fruit and 88% fewer vegetables. Additionally, 90% of packed lunches included desserts, chips or sweetened beverages, not permitted in school lunch program meals, and students almost always entirely consumed them, according to a study done at Baylor College of Medicine.4

Now, here is where being a health conscious Paleo parent becomes a crucial part of ensuring the kids are eating properly. You’re practicing mindful, conscientious sourcing, shopping and healthy, regular food preparation, and simply by doing that, you’re doing the single most important thing: leading by example for your kids. The second:  get the kids involved right away; the more they contribute, the more likely they are to be inclined to eat what they’ve prepared.

Researchers at Teachers College at Columbia University5 studied how cooking with a child affects the child’s eating habits and found that children who had cooked their own foods were more likely to eat those foods in the cafeteria, and even ask for seconds, than children who had not had the cooking class. When children are involved in meal preparation, “they come to at least try the food,” said Isobel Contento, professor of nutrition education at Teachers College and a co-author of the study.

As you likely already do for yourself, keeping foods looking, tasting, and smelling delicious is key to preventing boredom and to demonstrate that healthy can equal tasty and satiating; it’s not one or the other.

Got picky kids? Try the theory of repetition. Susan B. Roberts, a Tufts University nutritionist and author6 suggests a “rule of 15” which involves putting a food on the table at least 15 times to see if a child will accept it. Once a food is accepted, parents should use “food bridges,” finding similarly colored or flavored foods to expand the variety of foods a child will eat. If a child likes pumpkin pie, for instance, try mashed sweet potatoes and then mashed carrots.

Feeling like you’re not going to be able to find all the time you suspect you’ll need to allocate to add in that you’ll spend teaching the kids about properly sourcing fish and meat, choosing and preparing the best in season veggies and how to cook economically? Think about how much time the family is spending on other group activities, such as watching television or even sitting around on smartphones or tablets.

A new study by Common Sense Media7 found kids ages 0-8 spend an average of two hours a day with screen media like smartphones, video games, computers, television, and DVDs. And adults aged 35-49 watch more than 33 hours of television per week, according to data from Nielsen.8

Looks to me like there is quite a bit of wiggle room right there! Why not reallocate those precious hours to spending time as a family gardening, cooking, and enjoying meals both at home, as well as sent to the school lunchroom with love. Don’t be surprised if other parents begin to reach out to get your two cents on how on earth you got the little ones to eat broccoli and grilled chicken for lunch with gusto!



[1] “The Effects of Children Eating Unhealthy School Lunches.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 24 June 2015

[2] “Weight-control Information Network.” U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. N.p., n.d. Web

[3] Ogata, B. N. and D. Hayes. 2014. “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutrition Guidance for Healthy Children Ages 2 to 11 Years.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 114(8): 1257-76

[4] “Brown Bag or Cafeteria Tray, Kids Don’t Eat Healthy School Lunch.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, n.d. Web

[5] Parker-pope, Tara. “6 Food Mistakes Parents Make.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 Sept. 2008. Web

[6] Roberts, Susan B., Melvin B. Heyman, and Lisa Tracy. Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health: Birth through Age Six. New York: Bantam, 1999. Print.

[7] Lee, Sarah H. “Kids And Technology: How Much Time Are They Spending With Screens?” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 10 Aug. 2015

[8] “Average American Watches 5 Hours of TV per Day.” NY Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Aug. 2015

Spicy Salmon | The Paleo Diet

Spicy salmon with avocado and yams balances your omega-3 intake with healthful fats. Nothing beats a little heat to ring in the sizzling summer season.


Serves 1-2

  • 1/3 Salmon fillet, skinned
  • Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Sage, chopped
  • Black Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3-4 Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • ½ Medium onion, diced
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • Coconut or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Medium yam or sweet potato
  • Green chile sauce or salsa Optional


1. Dice yam into .5 x .5 inch sections.

2. Heat 1 tbsp coconut or olive oil in a Cast Iron pan on Low.

3. Stir in diced yams, and brown edges, ensuring they do not burn. Yams tend to cook slower than the salmon, so if you timed this recipe correctly, both the salmon and yams should finish cooking at the same time.

4. In a second Teflan pan, combine garlic, jalapenos and onions with 1 tbsp of coconut or olive oil.

5. Add salmon fillet and sprinkle chopped basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, and black and red pepper over the salmon fillet, to taste.

6. Break up salmon with a spatula and distribute spices and ingredients evenly.

7. Cook salmon until flaky.

8. Garnish with diced avocado and a generous serving of Paleo-approved green chili sauce or salsa.

9. Side Note: Freshly brewed green tea complements this meal very well!

10. Bon appétit!

The Paleo Diet Recipe Library

Portobello Mushrooms | The Paleo Diet

We love to create new ways to prepare chicken, one of the more versatile meats enjoyed by Paleo Dieters. Chicken breasts with portobello mushrooms in white wine has recently become a favorite for its ease of preparation and the incredible flavor that comes from the infusion of just a few simple ingredients.


Serves 3-4

  • 4 free range organic chicken breast fillets, rinsed thoroughly
  • 2 cups organic, portobello mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 cup organic marsala wine (don’t use cooking wine as it contains added salt)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, removed from stems
  • 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Freshly cracked pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Place chicken breasts in baking dish and cover with mushrooms.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine wine, 3 tbsp extra virgin oil, red wine vinegar, and rosemary.

4. Saute onion and garlic with 1 tbsp extra olive oil in shallow pan until onions are tender.

5. Spread onions and garlic over chicken and mushrooms.

6. Pour liquid mixture over chicken making sure all pieces are well coated.

7. Bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked.

The Paleo Diet Recipe Library

Junk Food | The Paleo Diet

When it comes to raising school aged children, many health conscious parents are dismayed with the choices their older children make when it comes to snacks and eating out. Kids are bombarded on a daily basis with advertisements glamorizing fast food, junk food, cereals, and dairy products, to name just a few. We want our children to live active and healthy lives, participating in sports and social events on a regular basis.

Along with these life experiences comes healthy and not-so-healthy food adventures. When our boys were growing up they were very active with team sports. Every weekend we enjoyed cheering them on in soccer, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, cross country, swimming, and track. I will never forget our oldest son’s first soccer game when he was just 6 years old. Parents of the players were each assigned a game during the season to bring snacks for the boys after the game. After running up and down the soccer field and working up a healthy appetite, the kids were presented with a large box of sugary doughnuts for their post-game “treat.”

We were a bit taken aback that anyone would think that this was a good idea, but more astounded with the message to young children that this is an appropriate food to eat any time, let alone after exercising. When it was our turn to bring the post-game snacks, we brought fresh strawberries and grapes for the kids to enjoy. These healthy snacks were met with just as much enthusiasm and were devoured by the hungry athletes.

Before our children are able to drive themselves around, we had quite a bit of control over the foods we provide, both inside and outside of our home. The key to raising children to live healthy and active lives is not so much in controlling their food choices as it is in educating them about the importance of making their own positive lifestyle decisions. Throughout their growing up years, our sons were learning about the Paleo Diet and the importance of good nutrition. Children learn by example, so we educated them as to why were eating certain foods and why non-Paleo foods are detrimental to their health, consistently gave them the information they would need as teens and young adults when making personal choices.

It is important in all aspects of life to allow our kids to make choices and experience the consequences, good or bad. This is especially true with nutritional decisions. Now that two of our kids are living on their own, and our youngest is in high school, we are thrilled to see that they enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle that includes eating mostly Paleo foods.

So, what can you do? Give your children the information and include Paleo meals on your menu. Teach your children to cook and prepare meals so that they will be able to care for their nutritional needs when they are no longer living under your roof. Bring your children to the grocery store and show them how to pick out organic produce and meats. Walk down the cereal aisle and let them read the ingredients, discussing the health implications for eating sugar, grains, and dairy. Model healthy attitudes, refraining from presenting food as a reward or punishment. Most importantly, allow them to make their own choices. There will be times when you will cringe at the foods they choose, but remember that you have established a strong foundation. Once your child experiences the after effects of downing a greasy hamburger, french fries, and soda, the probability of them returning to healthful habits is high.

Stay the course! Your mature, adult children will one day appreciate your efforts and pass them on to future generations.

All the Best,

Lorrie Cordain, M.Ed., Co-Author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook

Spicy Watermelon Salad | The Paleo Diet

Special thanks and congratulations to Susan D., The Paleo Diet Recipe Contest Winner

Spicy watermelon salad is a spicy twist on a springtime favorite.


Serves 3-4

  • 2-3 cups watermelon
  • ½ cup shallot, chopped
  • 3 leaves basil, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno, chopped
  • lime juice and zest, to taste
  • Cracked pepper, to taste
  • Micro greens optional


1. Toss chopped ingredients in a mixing bowl.

2. Season to taste.

3. Chill and enjoy!

The Paleo Diet Recipe Library

Paleo Parenting | The Paleo Diet

Being a new parent is really hard. There is very little time for yourself, and most likely, that time is spent washing bottles and baby clothes, or taking a beloved five minute shower. When my son was born it seemed like I would never again find the time to cook and eat my once healthy Paleo meals. It was frustrating in the beginning finding time to eat, let alone prepare a meal. As a parent of a newborn, the idea of three leisurely meals a day became a joke, and the idea of going through a drive-through window, or sitting down with the baby and a bag of chips became all the more tempting. Yet, I knew that eating well would give me the energy to conquer the long, sleepless nights, and sometimes longer days. In fact, the one thing I’ve learned in this journey is that taking the small amount of time you do have, to prepare healthy meals, is completely worth your time, and has long lasting beneficial effects.

When it came to preparing food, I kept it very simple. I chose a few meals I knew would be satisfying, and I would continuously repeat those meals. Satisfaction aside, I needed meals I could eat with one hand, often over my newborn’s little head. Yes, I hear you, repeating the same foods sounds boring, and it often was lackluster. But, most of the time, I was just happy to have something in my stomach!

Limited time and a hectic schedule are no excuse to eat whatever you want. And, to be honest, the few times I did get overtired and reach for the donuts or muffins, I woke up the next morning feeling miserable and barely able to get through the day. I knew a slippery slope was quick to happen if I continued down this path. So, I used a food delivery service, allowing me to easily order my groceries from my phone. No excuses, healthy options, and the promise I would feel my best putting good in my body.

Paleo Parenting | The Paleo Diet

Weston Howell post Paleo lunch. Source: Olivia Howell

As a mother, my son’s nutrition took on added importance. When it came time to start my son on solid foods, I discovered something wonderful: I had serendipitously chosen a Paleo pediatrician! She bucked the trend of starting a baby on oatmeal or rice, and we chose sweet potato instead.

People think it’s crazy that I’m not giving him “traditional baby foods,” but I actually find it so much easier! His food could not be more simple to prep. If I’m eating a sweet potato, I’ll mash him some, with coconut milk and cinnamon. I’ll make a thick fruit smoothie of blueberries, bananas, and coconut milk, and freeze portions in non-bleached cupcake cups. When I make a pot of chicken soup with carrots, onions, parsnips, and fresh chicken, I simply blend some for him and freeze it for dinner.

Families often buy special foods for their kids, babies, toddlers, and even teenagers. My son eats what we eat, just a little more mashed up. If I’m on-the-go, I toss an avocado or banana in my bag to mash up for later. We all know food is best shared and having a Paleo baby means we can enjoy it together! Sometimes I’ll just whip up a giant batch of coconut milk-sweet potatoes, and we will eat out of the same bowl.

I’m not going to lie, finding time to prepare food isn’t easy. However, if I’m going to find time for anything in life, it is to make sure that I’m leading a lifestyle which will enable me to feel my best, and be the best parent I can be.

Children learn by example. When you commit and steer clear of the “traditional” baby (and adult) foods your kiddos will follow suit. I’m not wavering when it comes to my health, and especially the health of my child.



Olivia Howell is a new mom living with her son, Weston, and husband on Long Island. When she’s not blogging about parenthood, she is teaching middle school Latin and Ancient History. She is also a quilter, Paleo cook, and loves rearranging her living room on Saturday nights.


Bison Roast | The Paleo Diet

We love a dish that keeps on giving. A crock pot, grass-fed bison roast does just that. Plenty for dinner and then some for lunches in the week to follow.


Serves 3-4

  • 1 grass-fed bison roast
  • 2 cups red wine
  • ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 whole sweet onion thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 – 2 inch spear fresh rosemary leaves with stem removed
  • 2 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves


1. Rinse bison and place in large crock pot.

2. Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl and pour over bison.

3. Cook on low heat for 5-6 hours.

Kenny Cordain, The Paleo Diet Team

Sea Salt | The Paleo Diet

One of the most gratifying rewards of having written The Paleo Diet in 2002 and having been involved in the Paleo movement from its very beginnings is that I receive numerous queries about various nutritional aspects of this lifelong way of eating. Clearly, I nor anyone else, have an inside track to all dietary questions that may arise about contemporary Paleo diets. However, I am happy to share with you the information I have compiled over more than 25 years of my research into this fascinating topic.

As the Paleo Diet gains traction and notoriety worldwide, it seems that part of the original idea has become partially diluted as more and more people discover and write about this lifetime nutritional program. I am flattered by the huge number of Paleo books and cookbooks released to market and available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets. These books and authors are a testament to the worldwide success and effectiveness of The Paleo Diet.

Unfortunaely, as I browse Paleo cookbooks and magazine recipes, I see that many authors have decided to add sea salt to their recipes, presumably in lieu of regular salt. Before I get into the scientific details let me make it clear from the beginning that neither sea salt nor conventional manufactured salt should be considered “Paleo,” as both were rarely or never consumed by our hunter gatherer ancestors, and both maintain nutritional qualities that adversely affect our health when consumed regularly.1

Sea salt contains high concentrations of sodium chloride (NaCl), just like manufactured salt. Sea salt is nothing more than evaporated sea water and can be mined from naturally occurring beds of rock salt or manufactured by solar evaporation of sea water. The salinity (concentration of all dissolved salts) in sea water is usually 35 parts per thousand (35 0/00), but varies somewhat in various oceans.

Salinity of Seawater | The Paleo Diet

The salinity of sea water near the mouth of a large fresh water river, like The Amazon, is lower, but the percentages of all salts in all sea water remains constant.2, 3

Salt Dissolved | The Paleo Diet

Dissolved Salts | The Paleo Diet

You can see from the Table 1 and Figure 2 that sea salt contains high concentrations of salt (NaCl) amounting to 85.62% of all the dissolved salts. Now let’s contrast sea salt to commercially manufactured table salt. Table Salt is refined sea salt, rock salt or lake salt in which almost all impurities are removed leaving pure NaCl. Most table salt is produced using vacuum pan refining and is typically 99.8 to 99.95 pure NaCl.4 Under US law, 2% of salt by weight can include the following additives:

1. Anti-caking agents (typically calcium silicate) are added to table salt.
2. Frequently iodine (a mineral that prevents goiter) is added to table salt in the form of potassium iodide (0.006% to 0.01%).
3. Along with stabilizers (sodium bicarbonate, sodium thiosulfate or dextrose) to prevent degradation of the iodine.

There is absolutely no doubt that the average American consumes excessive amounts of salt which in turn may adversely affect health and well being.1

Total Salt | The Paleo Diet

Sources of Salt | The Paleo Diet

From Table 2 and Figure 3, you can see that far and away, processed foods are the highest contributor (77%) of salt to the American diet. Because processed foods generally are not part of the contemporary Paleo Diet, you will not have to worry about salt – that is unless you add sea salt to your Paleo menu and Paleo recipes. And if you do so, you can see that the salt (NaCl) concentration of sea salt (85.62%) is not much better than manufactured salt (99.8%).

In Table 3, I have presented the top 10 food sources of salt in the U.S. Diet.5 Note that almost all of these high salt foods are not part of The Paleo Diet. If you decide to prepare your Paleo meals or recipes with sea salt, you will be changing a once healthful, low-salt Paleo diet with to high salt diet. The choice is yours, but know that sea salt is not healthier than conventional salt and in fact, may be worse.

Top 10 Salt Sources | The Paleo Diet

On paper, it appears that sea salt is more nutrient dense than table salt and may be nutritionally superior? Unfortunately both salts have undesirably high concentrations of salt (NaCl) as I have pointed out. Animal studies show sea salt to increase hypertension (high blood pressure) compared to table salt.6, 7

Many people including physicians and nutritionists assume that salt’s (NaCl) detrimental health effects occur only from the sodium ion (Na) contained within salt. Yet human experimental studies show the chloride anion is also responsible.8, 9 Chloride (Cl) yields a net acid load to kidney producing a slight metabolic acidosis that promotes high blood pressure, osteoporosis and kidney stones. These diseases along with stomach cancer and stroke are also associated with high salt consumption. Other less well recognized chronic illnesses known to be caused by a high salt diet include: Menierre’s Syndrome (Ear ringing), insomnia, motion sickness, asthma and exercise induced asthma.

Finally, an obscure fact in medical literature is dietary salt loading in even healthy subjects has been shown via MRI to:

  • Increase intracellular Sodium (Na)
  • Reduce intracellular Potassium (K)
  • Increase intracellular Calcium (Ca)
  • Decrease intracellular Magnesium (Mg) and reduce intracellular ph (increases acidity)10

All of these intracellular ionic changes are known to be associated with or promoters of a variety of cancers.11-13

Salt is definitely not Paleo, and neither is sea salt.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus



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2. Castro P, Huber M. Marine Biology, McGraw-Hill, 9th Ed., New York, NY, 2012.
3. Baseggio G. 1974. The composition of seawater and its concentrates. Proc. 4th Int. Symp. Salt Vol. 2, pp. 351-358. Northern Ohio Geological Society, Inc., Cleveland, OH.
4. Kurlansky M. Salt, A World History. Penguin Books, NY, NY, 2002.
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vital signs: food categories contributing the most to sodium consumption – United States, 2007 – 2008, February 7, 2012.
6. Dahl LK, Heine M. The enhanced hypertensogenic effect of sea salt over sodium chloride. Am J Cardiol. 1961 Nov;8:726-31
7. Dahl LK, Heine M. Effects of chronic excess salt feeding. Enhanced hypertensogenic effect of sea salt over sodium chloride. J Exp Med. 1961;113:1067-76
8. Kurtz I et al. Effect of diet on plasma acid-base composition in normal humans. Kidney Int 1983;24:670-80
9. Boegehold MA, Kotchen TA. Importance of dietary chloride for salt sensitivity of blood pressure. Hypertension. 1991 Jan;17(1 Suppl):I158-61.
10. Resnick et al. Intracellular ionic consequences of dietary salt loading in essential hypertension. J Clin Invest 1994;94:1269-76
11. Jansson B. Geographic cancer risk and intracellular potassium/sodium ratios. Cancer Detection and Prevention 1986; 9:171-94
12. Lee AH, Tannock IF. Heterogeneity of intracellular pH and of mechanisms that regulate intracellular pH in populations of cultured cells. Cancer Res. 1998 May 1;58(9):1901-8.
13. Mijatovic T et al. Cardiotonic steroids on the road to anti-cancer therapy. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Sep;1776(1):32-57.

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