If it's not a fruit, vegetable, protein, nut, or seed, don't go near it. (*Except for a few things like dark chocolate... not totally Paleo, but 80/20, right?)
If it has a label on it, don't go near it.
Of course, I knew that already-- that's the basis of the Paleo/Primal lifestyle! But this really hit me last night when I was shopping for coconut milk. I'd never bought coconut milk before, and I didn't really know where to look (especially since it was kind of a last-minute decision, so I didn't do my research), so I walked along the peripheries in hopes to stumble upon it. Sure enough, I saw Silk PureCoconut Milk and thought that I was really lucky to have found it so easily. Wrong. While it looked promising at first-glance ("pure" and "all natural" being on the carton, of course), the ingredient list horrified me. Xanthum gum? Evaporated cane juice? Dipotassium phosphate? What the heck is carrageenan? With more than five ingredients (most of which I didn't recognize, couldn't pronounce, or knew to be totally fake), I moved on. I should've known: "too good to be true" foods are never what they seem.
I still couldn't find real coconut milk, so I went through the rest of my list: chicken, shredded coconut, almonds, mint leaves, dark chocolate (I found the 87% cacao-content Dagoba Eclipse and 77% XOXOX Chocolove that Mark Sisson talked about! I preferred the richness of the Dagoba more.). As I was shopping, I couldn't believe that there were things like chocolate dip (whose first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup!) right next to fresh fruit, or that there were six shelves of peanut butter of probably twenty different brands, yet only one brand of almond butter (which had crap ingredients in it too) that took up maybe six inches of one of those shelves.
So by this point I'd spent an insanely long time in the supermarket, trying to hunt down coconut milk. I'd already been down the baking aisle for shredded coconut (which I actually couldn't find there-- the only unsweetened kind was in the kosher section), and I'd been around the edges multiple times. Because Fro Gro has the worst organization of any supermarket I've ever been to, I ended up walking down every single aisle... which led me to stop and read labels of things that looked possibly Paleo. (Is anyone else obsessed with label-reading, or is that just my former Atkins-mindset of reading [a.k.a. obsessing over] carb counts taking over?) Did I find anything? Of course not! As I mentioned earlier: if it has a label, it's probably not good, and the center aisles of supermarkets are filled with horribly unhealthy/fake/evil things.
Eventually I found the coconut milk, hiding in the international aisle between quinoa and teriyaki sauce, under beans, and above rice. It's about time! My what-should've-been short shopping trip turned into a full-on hunt... but it was totally worth it. Coconut is always worth it!
Quote of the Day:
"Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle." -Michael Pollan
What I made with ingredients from my supermarket adventure:
Coconut-almond-cinnamon chicken! (I dipped the chicken in the coconut milk instead of using egg, water, or regular milk.) For my first cooking experience not following a set recipe, not bad!