“Going Paleo” is at the top of many New Year’s resolutions lists, as testimonials about this way of eating have flooded social media over the past year. The basic premise of eating the Paleo way is to eat like a caveman. The caveman “diet” was how humans ate before the advent of agriculture, about 10,000 years ago, when grains became a large part of our diet. Foods to avoid include: all grains, legumes, soy, sugar, dairy, and anything artificial. So, what can you eat? Vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, nuts, fungi, seeds and … that’s about it. Getting rid of gluten and dairy provides positive results for scores of people, so it’s no wonder that many enjoy the results of eating the Paleo way. But, as with everything, advocates and proponents are sure to argue about ridding grain and dairy from your diet. So, be sure to talk to your doctor before making any drastic dietary changes.
The Paleo way really took off in America with the Cross-Fit craze. We started paying attention with a similar fitness program, Iron Tribe. Personally, my husband and several friends have become Iron Tribe converts and most of them are Paleo and acknowledge feeling much better when eating this way. We’ve compiled a list of specific menu items from around town that fit the Paleo profile. Keep this list handy as finding Paleo options can at times be difficult.
In the lists below, we offer some gluten-free options that are not exactly Paleo. Why? To give you a “cheat” option that won’t leave you feeling so badly when you are having a day where you really want some bread! Also, many Paleo peeps eat sweet potatoes, so that is in some menu items as well.
This first grouping of suggestions was put together for us by the owners of Iron Tribe.
Iron Tribe suggestions:
- Fido – Steak Scramble, no cheese or sour cream – sub fruit (+$3) for hash and toast
- Whole Foods – Health Starts Here Ice Cream – made with almond milk, cashews, dates
- Panera Bread – Mediterranean Salad (off menu)
- (Pub)Licity – grilled salad
- The Harding House Restaurant at the Belle Meade Plantation: ‘The Harding House’ 3 eggs, bacon, and a side of fruit for brunch.
- Newks – Cobb Salad, no cheese or croutons, dressing on the side
- Jim ‘N Nicks – pulled chicken with double turnip greens and sweet potato
- Frothy Monkey – 2 Farm eggs, Benton’s bacon or turkey sausage, (no toast)
- The Picnic Cafe – Spinach salad: baby spinach, boiled egg, bacon, scallions
- Jonathan’s Grille in Cool Springs/Green Hills: Teriyaki Salmon with grilled veggies and the Pacific White Fish which comes with sautéed veggies and side salad.
- 360 Bistro – Ceviche (a featured item, call to see if available. If so, it is delicious!)
At any Mexican restaurant, order the combo fajitas with chicken, steak, and shrimp, and tell them to hold the tortillas. All that protein mixed with onion, peppers, and sometimes mushrooms is a great balance. Cantina Laredo in the Gulch does a great job.
- Burger Up: Grilled Avocado Burger, hold the cheese and the bun. If someone can’t imagine eating a burger without a bun, Burger Up offers gluten-free buns! You can also add an egg or bacon to any burger.
I asked around to all my friends who have been Paleo to see what they have been eating when they go out. Here are their favorites and tips:
- Chago’s Mexican: Shrimp and Plantain Stew
- Pick a great burger place and go bunless with lots of toppings: Pharmacy, Paradise Park, Burger Up.
- Sloco: When needing a cheat day, this eatery offers gluten-free bread. Skip the cheese, too, so that the “cheat” is not so bad!
- Jamaica Way: Jerk Chicken with greens and sweet potatoes with pineapple
- Kalamatas: Greek Salad with your choice of protein. Leave off feta and (gasp) forgo the garlic knot.
- Porta Via: Mediterranean salad with grilled shrimp or chicken. Hold the feta cheese.
- ML Rose: Melrose Mess for brunch: bacon, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, grilled onions and a side of spicy ketchup (hold the cheese and remember no kiddos after 5 PM)
- Park Cafe: Bone-in Pork Chop with sweet potato Boulanger (check ingredients), apple cider-braised mustard greens, bruleed cippolini onions, trotter jus
- Calypso Cafe: Roasted Chicken with sweet potatoes sprinkled with coconut and the Lucayan Salad.
- Saint Anejo: Lettuce-wrapped Ahi Tuna Tacos. Also, you can order sliced veggies to dip in your guacamole.
- Tavern Midtown: Angry Chicken Lettuce Wraps is served with chicken, butter lettuce, cashew, jalapeños, cucumber and cilantro.
- Silo for Sunday brunch: Farm Egg Omelet without cheese. And, if you are crawling out of your skin for a muffin, they have yummy gluten-free ones on Sundays. And if you are going to cheat, doing it gluten-free is the best way.
- Pinewood Social: for breakfast order the Bacon & Avocado Omelet: 3 eggs, bacon, avocado and sprouts.
- Miel: the Bouillabaisse Stew. Also, the Painted Hills Striploin is perfect as-is, served with cauliflower puree, braised leeks and Tuscan kale.
- The Southern: Strip Steak (dry aged) with double veggies.
- Whiskey Kitchen: Gourmet Wings (while many flavors to choose from, the “Steel Drums” came up several times — Jamaican jerk, citrus, habanero and island spice flavoring)
- Rumours East: the menu changes daily, but they always seem to have Paleo-friendly options. A Paleo friend directed me to this menu item from the night of Jan 10th: seared scallops with cauliflower “risotto,” golden beet and pomegranate relish, dandelion greens.
- Husk: this menu also is always changing but I’ve always found Paleo items. Here is an example from Jan 11th: FL Swordfish, Heirloom Pumpkin, Tennessee Truffle, Kale, Smoked Chicken Foot Jus (yes, that does say ‘chicken foot jus’ … and, well, we bet it’s amazing–feet or no feet).
- Margot was mentioned by several people for their fresh fish and perfect vegetables as an easy way to stay Paleo. Their menu also changes daily.
For pre-made Paleo meal options at home, Iron Tribe also offers meals by Inner Fire. These meals, along with their crazy good Grainless Granola, are Paleo and you DO NOT need to be a member to buy these items. The granola is almost always on hand (just walk into any location), and you can order the meals by calling any location, as well. A Paleo meal delivery also exists in Nashville through Paleo Works which makes eating Paleo at home extra easy.
Fad diet or not, anything that encourages eating lots of veggies and staying away from processed foods is, in my mind, a good thing.