7 easy steps towards a Paleo diet {recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes}

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes on simplebites.net

The following is a guest post from Hanna of Honey & Huckleberries. Welcome, Hanna!

I’ve always tried to eat well.  Whole foods, lots of veggies, dark chocolate (because it’s healthy then, right?), all that good stuff.  So when my best friend told me that she had started to eat paleo, and then explained what that entailed, I have to admit I thought it was a bit crazy.

The Paleo diet cuts out processed foods, sugar, all grains, legumes, and usually dairy.  I was very excited that she was trying to feed her family less take-out, but not eating whole wheat?  Brown rice?  Cheese!?  Even if it was helping her lose weight, I couldn’t see how it could be healthy to cut out entire food groups and replace them with bacon.

It didn’t help that I was pregnant with my second little girl at the time, and horribly sick.  Bread was one of the only things I could keep down, no one was taking away my bread.

Then Sunny was born, my sweet wonderful baby girl.  She ended up with terrible eczema and I went on an elimination diet that was ironically very close to the paleo diet.  Her skin cleared up and I lost five pounds in a month.

It turned out that her issue was with dairy so I added wheat back in, only to find that it made me feel really weird.  My lovely, homemade, whole grain bread made my stomach hurt if I ate it for breakfast and gave me heartburn whenever I had some.  This had always been the case, but I hadn’t noticed until I cut it out completely.  I was pretty annoyed.

I didn’t want to believe it, but clearly the wheat was not my friend.  I did some serious reading and came to the conclusion that our family was going paleo.  I convinced my husband, tossed the toddler’s crackers and started our journey towards healthier eating.

kids in the kitchen and Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

It is, however, a journey.  We aren’t super strict as we don’t have any real health issues, so we still eat white rice and dairy (full fat, organic, and raw if we can find it).  I don’t focus as much on the restrictions as I do on feeding my family the most nutritionally dense foods that I can.

Even by sticking to it about 85% of the time (because I still love pizza!), my kids are eating better and I am slowly losing the baby weight.  I have more energy and I get hungry less.

7 Easy Steps towards a Paleo Diet

So, if going paleo sounds interesting to you, but the idea of a Whole 30 (go Tsh!) is a bit overwhelming, here’s some little steps you can take to improve your diet.

You can just choose one and try it for a week or a month and then start another one.  Every little step you take helps you (and your family) eat healthier than you were before!

  1. Switch your fats.  Try cooking with butter, coconut oil, bacon grease (for real!) or grass fed lard.
  2. Choose one meal a day to eat paleo, then another.
  3. Stop buying (or making) bread and force yourself to figure out other things to eat.
  4. Switch to rice pasta (while not strictly paleo, rice pasta is a much better choice than wheat)
  5. When you get a sweet tooth, try out some paleo treats, like almond butter cookies.
  6. Replace your starch at dinner with another vegetable side.
  7. Look through your favourite recipes and see if any of them are already paleo, or easy to adapt.

We started by making breakfast a grain-free meal.  Gone are the days of toast, cereal, or even oatmeal for breakfast.  We eat a lot of bacon and eggs, as well as omelets loaded with veggies.  I usually make everyone a fruit and yogurt smoothie on the side.

I feel so much more ready to face a day of chasing toddlers around the house with a solid protein for breakfast, it’s fantastic.

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

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These pumpkin pancakes are a breakfast favourite around here, and a welcome change from bacon and eggs (apparently there can be too much bacon?).  I usually have mine with some butter and maple syrup, but the girls love to eat them with apple sauce.

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes
3.8 from 5 reviews
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Recipe type: Breakfast
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 4
This recipe is adapted from Practical Paleo, which is a wonderful resource if you’re interested in learning more about paleo eating.
Ingredients
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ cup coconut flour (optional, add it if your pancakes aren’t holding together well)
  • Butter for frying
Instructions
  1. Whisk eggs, yogurt, pumpkin, and vanilla together in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Add in the baking soda and spices, stirring until everything looks evenly mixed.
  3. Heat a large skillet (I prefer my cast iron) over medium heat. Melt a teaspoon or so of butter, enough to coat the bottom of your pan.
  4. Spoon batter into the pan (I like to use an ice cream scoop) making fairly small pancakes, they're fragile so it's easier to flip them if they aren't too big.
  5. Let the pancakes sizzle until bubbles appear and they start to dry around the edges. Flip and continue frying until both sides are golden.

 

Are you interested in introducing more paleo foods into your diet?

About Hanna Sandvig

Hanna Sandvig is a mommy by day and freelance illustrator by night, living in the mountains of BC, Canada. She has two little girls and blogs about their adventures in real food at Honey & Huckleberries.

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Comments

  1. We went Paleo in July of 2012, and I wouldn’t eat any other way now. Eliminating gluten and dairy from my diet changed my life, and took care of a lot of my stomach problems and joint pain. We’re not super strict, still occasionally eating rice and some legumes, but the basis for all of our meals starts with paleo/whole food principles.
    Alexis’s last post: Learning to be Adults

  2. I’m not against the Paleo diet per say. I do think the science behind it is suspect in some cases but it’s still a healthy diet mostly. However, when people eliminate foods, whether it be dairy, grains, or even meat, the body adapts to not eating them and reduces the enzymes in the stomach that are needed to digest those foods. So, when people add the foods back in, like you did with bread, it makes you feel “odd” or sick because your body is no longer so great at digesting those foods anymore. Even though the Paleo diet says meat is very healthy (and I definitely agree), when you go vegetarian, your body stops making as much hydrochloric acid. Then when you add meat back into your diet, you feel sick. Does this mean meat is bad for you? Of course not. So, that’s why I detest programs like the Whole30 and others that have you elminate foods and then re-introduce them and say “see? those foods make you sick!”. That’s not science, that’s a trick.

    • Thank you for your comment and insight, Rachel. That is a really good point! So perhaps those wanting to try Paleo or Whole30 should pay more attention to how they feel while ON the diet, and less on when they come off it and introduce other food back in?

    • For sure, it’s more about how you feel overall when you make dietary changes. I have more energy, am less hungry, and am getting back to a healthy weight by eating this way. I do have to say that I don’t eat legumes or any grains (except rice) in my normal diet, and eating some polenta or falafel doesn’t affect me at all, it’s straight up just the wheat!

  3. Thanks for a great intro to Paleo!!

  4. You can;t go wrong in switching over to use bacon grease in your cooking! :)
    Kevin @ Closet Cooking’s last post: Roasted Cauliflower Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

  5. Lovely. Simple. stuff i already have nice! lmc
    La Mc Coy’s last post: Being a Doggie

  6. Jenny Flake says:

    Great tips and yummy pancakes!!

  7. Great tips and I am craving pancakes now!
    Maria’s last post: Coconut Lemon Macaroon Nests

  8. I find Paleo VERY intriguing! I like this brief rundown on tips towards getting there. I just don’t think I could give up that bread and cheese though!

    • I felt the same way! I was off wheat and dairy for my elimination diet, and I found bread to be not such a big deal I mean, I like bread, but I don’t crave it. Cheese, however, I missed like crazy. I feel that dairy is fine if you can handle it, it’s about paying attention to how your body runs on different foods. And everyone is different!

  9. Great grain free tips Aimee!

  10. Great intro to Paleo and how it works for your family. When we’ve cut wheat out and increased protein, I feel a lot better and have more energy.
    It is about knowing your own body and what works for you (and your family) at the time.
    Breanne’s last post: In which I write a Letter to You and Me

    • I agree, the biggest thing for me has been paying attention to how my body responds to foods and learning to pay close attention to my hunger cues.

  11. I love this summary
    “I don’t focus as much on the restrictions as I do on feeding my family the most nutritionally dense foods that I can.”
    We have taken a similar approach in our experiements with a plant based diet. Technically, we are trying to be “vegan during lent” – but my focus is on putting more veggies IN my diet, instead of on just cutting things out or (worse) relying on fake food subsitutes. Hooray for REAL FOOD!
    Ironically, I’ve been reading more about paelo, so after a meat/dairy free lent, we may experiment with a week (or month) of paleo eating later in the year. But man, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my grains at breakfast!
    Alissa’s last post: Where the time went

    • Alissa, another reason why people suggest things like the whole30 diet is that it generally takes people around three weeks to get used to a paleo diet. Completely eliminating all of the excess sugars and carbs is the fastest way to kick the infamous “carb cravings” and get your brain used to the sugar levels.
      Just thought you might want to keep that in mind when you begin experimenting with paleo. Some people start for a week or so, get irritated by how tired (and less mentally sharp) they get from lower levels of blood sugar, and decide to quit. If you can stick to it for a month or so, you really start to feel a positive difference in your clarity of mind and energy levels.
      Thanks for the post, Hanna! I can’t wait to try these pancakes!

    • It’s all about the real food! I’m sad when people eat vegan but only switch to processed fake versions of the foods they’re avoiding. It would be interesting for you to be able to compare how you feel eating vegan vs paleo.

  12. My philosophy has always been if you can hunt it, catch it, trap it, find it, or grow it, eat it. if its made in a manufacturing plant, stay far far away.. I dont always follow this 100% but thats my true hearts thought on food. God/Nature/The Universe gave us everything we need here to survive & survive well.
    I react to wheat badly.. (not celaic though, just sensitive) I have severe arthritis symptoms in my joints, spine, and muscles a few hours after eating it & its way worse the next day. Sometimes, staying away is easy.. other times not so much, but i try most of the time.
    As to the enzymes in your stomach not being there, many years ago I went from being a meat eater to a vegetarian.. and then back to a meat eater.. And I wound up with too many enzymes in my stomach that causes me to have too much acid. The body is an amazing thing.. our hunter gather ancestors went months & months between different foods.. God/Nature/The Universe created foods in their own seasons.. If this were a bad thing, God/Nature/The Universe wouldnt have created our food system that way.

    • I’m all for hunting, fishing, growing and foraging. In fact, that’s how we ate when I was younger. It makes a lot of sense. Thanks for your insightful comment!

  13. Paleo is really interesting to me and it’s something I’ve wanted to challenge myself with. I’m a carb-o-holic but I have always wondered what it’d be like to cut it out of my diet and sub with other things. Great knowledgeable post and I’m digging those pumpkin pancakes! sounds and looks delicious!
    Julie @ Table for Two’s last post: Eggplant Parmesan

    • That’s the big thing for me, it’s not that all grains and legumes are so terrible for me, it’s that I really should be filling up on things that give me more nutrition.

  14. Do you have any suggestions for an egg substitute? I’d love to try the recipe, but I’m allergic to eggs!

    • The Greek yogurt is in there in place of some of the eggs that were in the original recipe, so you could try another 1/4 cup of yogurt in place of each egg, but then I think you will need some rice flour for sure to hold them together.

  15. I’ve always toyed with the idea of going paleo! I think you’ve inspired me to finally give it a go!
    Gaby’s last post: Greek Chicken Stuffed Pitas

  16. I like your moderate approach. As long as I don’t eliminate rice, my family and I could do a semi-paleo diet.
    Julia’s last post: Custard-Style Coconut Rice Pudding: A Gluten Free, Dairy Free Recipe

  17. We sometimes eat paleo. I always feel amazing when I do it, but it is limiting.
    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective’s last post: Speedy Tex-Mex Breakfast Muffins

    • It’s limiting, but sometimes that helps me bd a more creative cook, I kind of like some limits. As long as I can cheat sometimes ;)

  18. Oh. my. goodness. You have NO IDEA how much I needed this post!! Ever since I read Tsh’s post on the Paleo diet, I’ve been dying to try it- but I’ve been overwhelmed at the prospect. Thanks for breaking it down into easy steps- I can handle that! :D
    Jennifer Campbell’s last post: Esme Women's Top by MadeleineAndCo

  19. Awesome post! Those pancakes looks so good!
    Tieghan’s last post: Non-Fried Springs Rolls with Vietnamese Chicken and Avocados

  20. Thanks for an interesting insight into paleo, and I’m enjoying these comments.

    I believe in eating everything in moderation, since our family currently has no food allergies, and the base of our food choices is our local CSA farm share. I guess I’m more into local, seasonal foods than any other particular eating plan, though I don’t live in Hawaii any more I choose to include bananas, avocados, and olives/olive oil in our meals.

    I’ve got 2 sugar pie pumpkins left in the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve, and these pancakes (with wheat flour–coconut flour would be traveling to me much farther than I’d prefer) look delicious. Thanks, Aimee and Hanna!
    Kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts’s last post: Slow Cooker Chicken (And Chick Pea) Tikka Masala (Food Bloggers Change My Life #2)

    • I’m so impressed you’ve saved your pie pumpkins! And your eating plan sounds a lot like ours. No allergies here either.

    • Even though paleo recipes often have coconut ingredients, I think that it’s completely possible to eat local and paleo. I grew up on a farm and local food is very important to me, I’m hoping to learn to make hazelnut flour (which is local here) once I get the hang of cooking with nut flours more.

  21. Jennifer L. says:

    Had all the ingredients, thought I’d give it a shot. I think the amount of salt in this recipe is way too much. I had to add a lot more than 1/4 cup coconut flour to hold these together, but I may have put too much pumpkin in. I found that they still fell apart fairly easily when serving. We ate them with ricotta and some maple syrup (to cut the saltiness). I would probably not make this recipe again. A plus is that they are pretty filling due to the amount of eggs and yogurt!

    • Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. Your feedback was helpful. I haven’t made the pancakes for myself (I’m all out of pumpkin!) but in re-reading the recipe, it does seem a tad heavy on the salt. I’ll ask the recipe author about it.
      Ricotta and maple syrup sounds really good. I hope you’ll keep cooking from SB despite your disappointment. =) ~ Aimee

      • Jennifer L. says:

        Aimee, Of course I’ll keep reading your site! I love most everything you post, just this one thing happened to not work out for me. :)

        • Sorry for the late reply! I like a bit of salt to offset the sweet maple syrup, but I’m a sweet and salty girl. Did you use normal yogurt or full fat greek? It does make a difference as normal yogurt is so runny. The ricotta on top sounds yumm!
          Hanna’s last post: Apple and Sage Sausages

  22. Thanks for nudging me towards trying a paleo diet. It’ll be a tough journey, but like you said, take a meal at time. I’d love to give it a try!
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com’s last post: Pineapple Jam Tarts

  23. These are great tips to leading a healthier lifestyle, the realistic way, one step at a time :) The pancakes look awesome!
    Nutmeg Nanny’s last post: Pistachio Pound Cake

  24. Oh! Looking forward to this. Thank you. I have been incorporating Paleo waffles, Paleo breakfast bread, and Paleo cereal in our meals lately, and my children and I have loved the food! I have a son who is lactose-intolerant, so we’ll use coconut yogurt as a replacement.

  25. We tried this recipe and we are very impressed indeed, will be eating these a whole lot more now that we have saved your recipe :) Oh and by the way, we have also mentioned this recipe in one of our blog posts, keep up the great work!
    Health Advocate’s last post: Paleo Treats – Guilt Free Snack Attacks

  26. So jealous you get to use bacon grease. The bacon in Australia seems to be completely different as it never leaves behind anywhere near enough grease to do anything useful with!
    Suz’s last post: The Paleo Snack Recipe Book

  27. This is a common misperception , but bacon is NOT paleo (nor a ‘whole food’). Even the healthiest, grass-fed, nitrite free bacon is still a processed food :-)

  28. These paleo diet recipes look absolutely amazing! Pumpkin is my favorite :). I’m definitely trying this recipe tomorrow!! By the way, your little one is absolutely adorable!
    Bryce’s Paleo Diet Recipes’s last post: Paleo Diet Basics

  29. Great blog post! I also went through the same hesitancy when I started a “paleo diet”. I had really bad problems with eczema so I cut the wheat (gluten) which helped a lot but I was still battling bouts of eczema. It’s only recently that I really cut the dairy from my diet that I’m noticing a lot of change. It’s a long (and painful) journey, but it’s good to know there’s others out there on the same road! :) Also, I love the idea of incorporating pumpkin into pancakes, I usually make coconut flour pancakes, so I’m gonna try and see if this can go with it. Thanks!
    Maria’s last post: Dairy Free, Paleo Breakfast Ideas

  30. Pumpkin pancake is a great dinner recipe. Pumpkin adds more nutritional value to the food. My special mention to your “7 simple Step towards a Paleo Diet”. Checking for paleo method of cooking for our favorite food is the best way to adapt to this diet. It would definitely help paleo beginners. Thanks for the share!

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