Would You Like To Know The Right Paleo Food Substitutes?

If you decided to go Paleo, you don’t have to miss out on all of your favorite recipes as long as you know the tricks to tweaking them. You can still have delicious meals that not only taste good, but also make you feel good about yourself when eating them.

With these easy swaps, you can enjoy delicious recipes that you didn’t think possible, while still avoiding the non-Paleo foods that can cause gut irritation and inflammation.

(in alphabetical order)


Bacon = Nitrate-Free Bacon

In my opinion, bacon is one of the best reasons to go on a Paleo diet!

I just LOVE bacon!

I mean, let’s be serious now… Who would have thought that a diet including bacon could help you lose weight and solve your gut problems? If you told me that 10 years ago before I knew about Paleo, I would have thought you were crazy! Just make sure you are getting the “real deal.” Get the closest to natural bacon you can, with no nitrates added for one of the best paleo food substitutes.


Bread Crumbs= Almond meal, Flax Meal

Paleo doesn’t have to mean no meatballs or meatloaf. Instead of using breadcrumbs, you can use almond meal or flax meal as a substitute. Personally, I think flax meal works best. I can’t really taste the difference. Plus, you’ll get more health benefits from flax meal than bread crumbs can give you, such as omega-3 fatty acids.


Conventional Grain-Fed Beef = Organic Grass-Fed Beef

Conventional? Maybe you’re wondering, “What does that even mean??”

When meat and produce that you find in the grocery store is labeled as “conventional,” it is referring to the production method.

“Organic” is the opposite of conventional.


When foods are labeled as “organic,” it means that they were produced without genetically modifying them or using synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones.

When it comes to any kind of meat, I can’t stress enough the importance of being careful when selecting it.

Most beef in the stores comes from cows that were treated with antibiotics and hormones, which you end up eating because they linger in the meat.

In addition, the cows are often fed genetically modified corn. The reason for this is because there has been an oversupply of corn in the United States, so it’s cheap to feed the cows with it.

Do yourself (and the cows) a favor and buy organic, grass-fed beef. This means the cows were not treated with antibiotics or hormones, and the cows enjoyed a life of grazing on grass.


Butter = Grass-Fed Organic Butter, Ghee, or Coconut Oil

Dairy products including butter are really in the grey area of the Paleo world. There are differing opinions on whether or not dairy is Paleo-friendly or not. Some say that it makes sense that a “caveman” would drink milk from a cow if he knew it were available. Others think not. Some Paleo followers believe that butter is not okay, but ghee is because it is “clarified.” And some think that all dairy, including butter, should not be consumed. It is really up to you, and what your beliefs are. Coconut oil is a good alternative if you believe in the latter. As far as paleo food substitutes are concerned, replace butter by ghee. 


Conventional Eggs = Organic, Free-Range Eggs

In addition to meat, it’s also important to be choosy when selecting eggs.

Just like cows, chickens are often treated with antibiotics and hormones, and are fed….you guessed it… genetically modified corn!

Eggs can be so incredibly useful in a Paleo lifestyle because they are a great source of protein and keeping boiled eggs around make for a super fast on-the-go Paleo snack.



Conventional fruits and vegetables = Organic fruits and vegetables

Pesticides can be absorbed into fruits and vegetables, leaving residues. Choosing organic avoids this, and research shows that organic produce is richer in nutrients and antioxidants than conventional produce.


Cow’s Milk = Coconut Milk, Almond Milk, Cashew Milk

Cow’s milk has been associated with increased risk of ovarian and prostate cancers and may play a role in type 1 diabetes and acne.

You may be wondering, “but people have been drinking cow’s milk for such a long time. My grandpa drank 3 glasses of milk a day and lived to 93 years old.”

Well, times have changed.

For one, we are treating milk cows with antibiotics and hormones, which leak into the milk. We didn’t do that 100 years ago.  

Two, the food that the cows are fed are mainly genetically modified and produced in fields covered in pesticides and man-made fertilizers. We also didn’t do that 100 years ago.

Third, even if you buy organic, it still contains natural cow hormones. Cows have hormones, just as you and me, and they are present in the milk. Cow’s milk is meant to grow a baby cow (55-99 pounds) to an adult cow (600-over 1000 pounds) in about 15 months. Do you want those hormones in your own body?

Why no soy milk? Soy contains high amounts of phytoestrogen, or a plant based estrogen (sex hormone). Estrogen plays a role in everything from breast cancer to sexual reproduction.

Your best bet is to use coconut milk, almond milk, or cashew milk as paleo food substitutes. 


Cream = Coconut Cream

Check – Cow’s Milk = Coconut Milk, Almond Milk, Cashew Milk


Wild-Caught Fish vs. Farm-Raised Fish

Farm raised fish are raised just like other animals on farms: they are often fed junk (made from you, guessed it… corn), antibiotics, and hormones. However, some healthy grocery stores, such as Whole Foods only partner with farmers who prohibit these practices and have very high standards for farm-raised fish.

Wild-caught is also an option, although you should watch out for “predator fish” such as shark, swordfish, and marlin, which have been found to contain higher amounts of mercury than in other fish lower on the food chain.

Need a quick guide to selecting eco-friendly and healthy best choices? You can access it here.


Granola = Nut Mix

If you love the taste and texture of granola, you can make a mock version using a combination of nuts and seeds as a paleo food substitute. 


Hummus (chickpea) = Cauliflower Hummus

Cauliflower puree is a great alternative to hummus made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans). It is a low-carb, Paleo food swap that has the same consistency in texture. It can be flavored with lemon, garlic, tahini paste, chili pepper flakes, or whatever else you like in your hummus.



Ice Cream = Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Ice cream made from coconut milk is a delicious Paleo food substitute. 


Iodized Table Salt = Sea Salt, Himalayan Rock Salt

Using iodized table salt isn’t usually a big deal in the Paleo world. However, the closest to natural is sea salt or Himalayan rock salt. Regular table salt is highly processed and contains iodine, a non-metallic mineral that was first added to salt in 1924 to eliminate iodine deficiency in the United States. However, we can get iodine naturally by eating seafood, eggs, and most vegetables, which are staples of the Paleo lifestyle.



Juice = Coconut Water

Fruit juice is a big source of sugar (sometimes as much as a soft drink!), and if you’re trying to lose weight, that’s not a great thing. Coconut water is refreshing, contains less sugar, and is rich in electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium, which can help you maintain proper balance especially when you exercise.


Margarine = Ghee

If you’ve never heard of it (like me before I learned about Paleo), ghee is clarified butter and is considered to be Paleo-friendly and a great paleo food substitute. You can find jars of it at most supermarkets.


Mashed Potatoes = Mashed Celery Root, Parsnips, cauliflower

Even tastier than mashed potatoes is mashed celery root! Mashed parsnips have a similar taste. Although not as naturally flavorful, there are so many options for spicing up mashed cauliflower. Garlic, chives, broth, olive oil, chili flakes… The possibilities are endless!


Mayonnaise = Paleo Mayonnaise

Most mayonnaises are made with canola oil, but you can make your own easily if you can’t find a Paleo mayonnaise near you. Or, you can get some online. I like this one, made with avocado oil.




Milk Chocolate = Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cacao)

I am here to share the wonderful news with you if you aren’t already aware…

Dark chocolate is GOOD for you and it’s Paleo-friendly! Great paleo food substitute.

Just make sure it’s made with at least 70% cacao. Otherwise, it’s full of sugar and milk. Just check the label.


Oatmeal = egg white and flax seeds

Looking for a breakfast idea that satisfies your sweet tooth? Simply mixing egg whites with flaxseed meal over medium heat with some vanilla, cinnamon, banana, or whatever else you like in your “oatmeal” will give you the creamy bowl of goodness you were craving.


Oil = olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, macadamia oil, flaxseed oil, animal fat

You can still bake great recipes without oils that have been genetically modified and/or highly processed. Not only will your recipes still taste amazing, but you’ll reap some great health benefits from using the healthy oils listed above.


Peanut Butter = Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, Sunflower Seed Butter

Life does not end when peanut butter is removed from the picture. And this is coming from a girl who was seriously obsessed with peanut butter! There are plenty of equally great if not better alternatives. Almond butter is probably the most popular, however, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter are also becoming prized in the spotlight. Check out these almond and cashew butters that have ZERO added sugar.




Pizza Crust = Cauliflower Crust (Mashed Cauliflower)

One of the most popular ways of creating a Paleo-friendly pizza is by using mashed up cauliflower as the crust. This is a great paleo food substitute. Top with all the meat and veggies you want, and you have a Paleo pizza.  

Potatoes = Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a delicious Paleo food substitute, and for a good reason. They are high in vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, and C, and are a great source of fiber, potassium, niacin, phosphorus, manganese, copper, and pantothenic acid.

Just make sure you buy them organic, as research has found that potatoes contain the highest amount of pesticides and herbicides than any other vegetable. In fact, 35 different pesticides have been found in conventional potatoes, of which 6 are known or possible carcinogens (cancer-causing).


Potato Chips = Plantain Chips, Kale Chips

There are plenty of yummy alternatives to potato chips if you’re in a snacking mood. Plantain chips are a great Paleo food swap and you can find them at any supermarket. Kale chips are definitely my favorite, and are so easy to make.


Processed Oils (Canola oil, Corn oil, etc.) = Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Rice= Cauliflower

Want to make a delicious Asian dish or maybe a risotto? Chop up cauliflower into tiny pieces to resemble rice. Or use a food processor..


Spaghetti= Spaghetti Squash, Zucchini

If you don’t own a vegetable spiralizer, you need to get one of these wonderful little gadgets. You can easily slice almost any vegetable into noodle form! Zucchini makes a wonderful Paleo swap for fettuccine. And, you don’t need anything to turn spaghetti squash into a “pasta” dish. Just slice open and scoop out the insides!


Soy Sauce = Coconut Aminos

Are the coconut possibilities driving you coconuts yet? Well, I’m going to tell you another one. Actually, one that you may not have heard of yet. Interestingly, when a coconut tree is tapped, it produces a nutrient-rich, very low glycemic “sap” from the coconut blossoms. When it is aged with salt, it becomes a great alternative to soy sauce.  

Sugar = Honey, Maple Syrup, Coconut Palm Sugar

Added sugar is a no-no for Paleo and should be for every other lifestyle out there. In my honest opinion, I blame sugar on a huge portion of our obesity epidemic in the United States, along with cancer and diabetes type 2. We are addicted to sugar. I was, for sure. If you can’t get rid of that sweet tooth, as I often struggle with as well, try honey, maple syrup, or coconut palm sugar.

Never heard of coconut palm sugar? Check it out here.



Tortillas = Collard Green leaves

Blanched collard green leaves are a great Paleo food swap when you want to roll a burrito or serve fajitas. They will keep all the fillings in place even better than a tortilla will, actually.


White Flour = Coconut Flour, Almond Flour, Tapioca Flour

Want to bake up a storm without breaking your Paleo lifestyle? There are plenty of alternatives to using white flour. Coconut flour, almond flour, and tapioca flours are great replacements. It might take a little time adapting to baking with, but you will discover that you can make awesome baked goods with these Paleo food swaps.

My first choice: Coconut flour

Coconut flour contains high quality fat, iron, manganese, copper, and other minerals. Because coconut flour is so absorbent, you will need less than you would with white flour.

Try this ratio: 1 cup white flour = 1/4 cup coconut flour

Keep in mind though that depending on what you’re making, the recipe may not turn the same.

My second choice: Almond flour

Although almond flour is rich in vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, and other minerals, it is also rich in Omega-6, which can be inflammatory in large amounts. Coconut flour is potentially less inflammatory, making almond flour my #2 choice for a flour Paleo food substitute.

Try this ratio: 1 cup white flour = 2 cups blanched almond flour

Keep in mind though that depending on what you’re making, the recipe may not turn the same.

To improve texture: Tapioca flour

Since tapioca comes from a sticky root vegetable, it has binding properties that will give your Paleo baked goods more elasticity when blended with coconut or almond flours. Just be careful not to use too much or your baked goodies will be become too chewy. Tapioca flour is not nutrient-dense, and it’s a bit high in carbs.

Keep in mind though that depending on what you’re making, the recipe may not turn the same.


Wine = broth

When a recipe calls for red or white wine, bone broth makes a great Paleo food substitute to add flavor. Just make sure it is organic. Or, if you’re super spiffy, make your own!


Yogurt= Coconut Milk Yogurt

Luckily, you can find coconut milk yogurt in almost any supermarket now. Deliciously thick, creamy, and satisfying, yogurt made from coconut milk and culture is a fabulous dairy-free, probiotic spoonful of yummy.

Are you enjoying this article?.. You might also enjoy my paleo-inspired weight loss program, based on my own transformation

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