Baked, pasture-fed chicken, steamed organic broccoli and cold-pressed olive oil.
While these are very healthy food choices, they’re not exactly adventurous, regional or innovative.
One common misconception about following a healthy Paleo or keto diet is that it’s tricky to eat international cuisine. The truth is, eating healthy is possible in any culinary language.
Besides, if you become too meticulous about your food choices, you risk getting bored with what’s on your plate. Not to mention, you restrict yourself from discovering new corners of the world – whether that’s through actual travel or just venturing to your neighborhood Thai restaurant.
Paleo around the world
An authentic Paleo diet dates back millions of years. So it would only make sense that different populations in all parts of the world would each have their own version of a Paleo diet. The same is true in modern times.
To prove that you can achieve a healthy Paleo diet anywhere in the world, we’re kicking off a series of tips and recipe ideas to create your own global experience. First up: Middle Eastern cuisine.
No matter what type of food you’re preparing, stick to some basic guidelines: choose proteins, veggies and fats over grain- or bean-centric dishes. With this foundation in place, you’ll be ready to enjoy some incredible new foods and flavors!
7 Middle Eastern Paleo food ideas
Baba Ghanoush – This popular Middle Eastern dip is made with eggplant and tahini, giving it that smooth, creamy texture with a slightly smoky taste. Enjoy baba ghanoush with crudités, including heirloom carrots, cucumber, steamed broccoli and sliced red bell peppers.
Middle Eastern Tomato Salad – Made simply with chunks of cucumber, tomato, onion, mint and parsley, this is a light second-course dish for a dinner party. Plus, it leads perfectly into a lovely fish dish or lamb stew.
Stuffed Fish – Often served for the Persian New Year, stuffed fish is considered a luxurious meal. Try it yourself with trout and stuff it with a mixture of tangy tamarind paste, tarragon, parsley and cilantro to infuse that Middle Eastern flavor.
Middle Eastern Lamb Meatballs (Kofta) – These are a sweet-and-savory combination of ground lamb, fresh mint and spices. This mixture is perfect for making lamb meatballs, but you can also form larger patties to grill lamb burgers. Instead of a bun, sandwich your burgers on steamed collard greens and top with fresh dill.
Turmeric Cauliflower Rice – Use your food processor or blender to break down a head of raw cauliflower until it resembles rice. Then throw all of it into a pan with coconut oil, turmeric and Himalayan pink salt. Sauté until warm and well-seasoned.
Middle Eastern Fruit – Iran ranks number one in fruit production in the Middle East. Plus, North Africa and is home to Persian walnuts, melons, tangerines, citrus fruits, kiwifruits, dates, cherries, pomegranates, peaches, oranges and raisins. Any of these delicious fruits can be turned into a healthy dessert. Take a peach, for instance, cut it into slices, toss with a touch of rose water and serve with roasted pistachios. You’ll get all the sweet with none of the grains or dairy!
Turkish Coffee – Authentic Turkish coffee is prepared in an ibrik or cezve, a small, metal brewing cup with a wooden handle. Traditionally, no cream or milk is added, and sugar is optional. Essentially, it’s a strong, single-serving cup of Joe. Fun fact: just like with tea-leaf reading, your fortune can be told by the coffee grounds left in the cup!
Try any – or all – of these Paleo-friendly, Middle Eastern foods. You can even take it up a notch by creating a playlist with authentic music and setting the table with accessories that represent the region. Whatever you do, have fun with your food explorations!