Day 3 and some handy paleo food swaps


I think most people who switch to a healing diet would be lying if they said there weren’t at least a few things they missed from their former way of eating. I also think for most people, sugar/carbs create one of the biggest holes – it’s classic comfort food, after all.

Today is day three of paleo for K, and I was super impressed to discover that she’s been drinking her coffee without sugar. Today’s email read:

You would actually be so proud of me and I have L [colleague] to corroborate the story. I was going to make coffee with sugar… I put the sugar in the mug (like half of half a spoon) and then sat down with L and R at the table. I decided against the sugar and surrendered my mug to L. SHE LAUGHED at how little sugar was in the mug. Then she went to add more.

I’m especially proud of K because tea and coffee, especially when sugary and milky, is ultimate comfort ‘food’ for me. Growing up, if I had a shock or a heart break, my mom would make me a cup of strong, sweet tea. For stomach bugs, the solution was the same, with Marmite toast added to soothe the belly. As an adult, five or six cups of sweet tea or coffee would get me through the work day, and would also assuage my sugar cravings.

When I started worrying about my weight, I switched from sugar to sweetener, which is super-duper sweet, and I could easily drink six cups of tea a day, each with three sachets of sweetener added. I also drank a ton of diet cooldrinks. At the back of my mind I suspected that the artificial sweeteners were wreaking havoc on my gut, and I was right! Cutting them out was the first, and one of the biggest, steps to healing.

But I’d be lying if I said it were easy. Now, I drink black coffee with no sugar (two cups a day max, and seldom on weekends), and I never drink regular tea because I can’t stand the taste of it without milk and sugar.

I deeply miss my comforting mugs of tea, and while there isn’t an ‘exact match’ replacement for them, there are ways to soften the blow. Here’s how I’ve replaced some of my best-loved, and most missed, foods and drinks.

  • Sweet/milky tea and coffee: organic flavoured teas with lemon, honey and ginger added.
  • Fizzy drinks: organic apple juice with no added sugar or preservatives (limited to a couple of glasses a week).
  • Alcohol: Should be avoided if you’re flaring and if you know you can’t tolerate it. Fill a glass with ice, lemon wedges, mint or frozen berries and top with sparking mineral water. It’s the easiest way to fool your brain (and everyone else), and you won’t feel like you’re missing out. If you can tolerate alcohol, stick to dry wines and grain-free spirits only, like tequila (if you can stomach it!).
  • Desserts/‘something sweet after supper’: Fruit with honey; banana ‘ice cream’ (frozen bananas blended up) with cinnamon; dairy-free yoghurt; nuts drizzled with honey (and a shake of salt! Try it; it’s delicious).
  • Rice/mash: cauliflower rice/mash.
  • Potato: sweet potato (paleo, not SCD). Season with rosemary, garlic and coarse salt.
  • Pasta/noodles: Sounds strange, but if I make a delicious pasta sauce or curry, I pour it over butternut or steamed cauliflower and it’s just as enjoyable.
  • Sugar: honey/maple syrup/leave it out (you become accustomed to eating less sweet-tasting food).
  • Cake: There is no replacement for cake. Nothing. Accept it, grieve, and move on. It’ll become like a phantom limb: the pain is always there, but you learn to live with it. Seriously though, you can find ‘legal’ replacements for most cake ingredients: almond flour or gluten-free flour instead of regular cake flour; baking soda instead of baking powder; honey/maple syrup instead of sugar; coconut butter/oil instead of butter; avo instead of butter; egg replacements/flax seed instead of egg, etc. The list goes on – you just have to be adventurous. But you also have to accept that cake, as you knew it, is off the table and a thing of the past (but also, remember how bloaty and ugh the past was!).

I also wrote this post about making your favourite foods paleo, which has got some useful food switches.

The benefit of these replacements, especially when it comes to the hot drinks, is that my teeth are probably in much better nick than they were! Tea and coffee can leave some really tenacious stains. Cutting out fizzy drinks has drastically reduced my bloating, and no chocolate/dairy means no more frequent trips to the loo, and much less gas/bloating.

It’s hard not to lament the losses, which is why it’s so important to make healthy, sustainable switches. And bear in mind that while drinking only water is depressing (I’ve tried it), it’s still important to get your 2-litre fix each day, in between the other drinks.

If you have any useful food switches, please do share!


Shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash – paleo, SCD & autoimmune paleo

It’s the middle of winter in South Africa and it’s c-c-c-c-cold! Yesterday a gorgeous pink and orange sunrise warned us that there was foul weather afoot, and indeed, tonight the skies opened up and it’s been bucketing down for hours here in Cape Town.

I wanted something hearty and filling for this chilly weather, and I also wanted to use what I had at home since pay day is only tomorrow 🙂

I combined various recipes that I found for paleo shepherd’s pie, tweaking them based on the ingredients I had, and the result was deeeelicious! K wasn’t crazy about the cauliflower topping but that just meant more for me!

Oh, and apologies for the photo. We were so eager to tuck in that I only remembered to photograph it later… when this was all that was left!


Shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash – paleo, SCD & AIP

Paleo/SCD/AIP shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash


  • Coconut oil
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 2 medium or 3 thin sticks of celery, chopped
  • 400g mince (I used ostrich but you could use beef or any other)
  • 2/3 cup red wine or beef stock/broth
  • 1 heaped tsp tamarind paste (or 50g tomato paste if you’re not AIP)
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped finely
  • 250g button mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Salt & black pepper


1. Place the cauliflower into a pot and boil until very soft, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, add onions, celery and carrots to a large pot with a knob of coconut oil. Fry on med-high heat, stirring often, until veg has softened – about 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Add mince and break up with a spoon. Add wine/stock and stir until evaporated/absorbed. Add tamarind paste/tomato paste and stir to incorporate.

3. Add rosemary, thyme, black pepper, salt and a good shake of cinnamon.

4. Add mushrooms and peas (from frozen is fine) and allow to simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Add a dash of water if the mixture becomes too dry or catches on the bottom of the pot.

5. While the meat simmers, add salt, pepper and a knob of coconut oil to the cauliflower, and mash until soft.

6.  Transfer the meat to an oven proof dish and top with the cauliflower mash. Bake at 180C for 10 minutes and then grill until the mash browns on top, about 5 minutes. Tuck in!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can tweak it based on what you have at home and it’s still bound to be delicious. You can also use sweet potatoes for the mash instead of cauliflower. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

Easy homemade coconut yoghurt – SCD/paleo


**Update: If you find that your yoghurt separates after refrigerating, give it another whizz with the stick blender to re-incorporate the coconut cream (which will have risen to the top in a thick, hard layer) with the gelatine. Return to the fridge for a few more hours to firm up.


I LOVE my SCD coconut and cashew yogurt (recipe here), which I eat most nights after dinner, drizzled with honey. However, when my nutritionalist instructed me to start following the autoimmune paleo protocol, she said that nuts were out (sob!).

I knew this was going to be a tough transition and I especially didn’t want to give up my yoghurt. However, she did recommend that I try to eat coconut milk every day. Very quickly I decided to try to make the yoghurt without the cashews, and after a failed attempt or two, I think I’ve finally perfected it.

It has the right yogurt consistency as well as the sour tang that indicates that the probiotics are active. For some this is an acquired taste, but for me, it is reminiscent of one of my long-lost loves, cheese cake 😉

Remember to factor in 24 hours for incubating and refrigerating.

Homemade SCD/paleo coconut yogurt


  • Blender
  • Nut milk bag, cheesecloth/muslin or a clean, unused stocking
  • Mesh sieve
  • Yoghurt maker


  • 2 cups of unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • Boiling water
  • 1 x 10g sachet of gelatine powder + 1/4 cup room temperature water
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 5 probiotic capsules/ 1/8tsp live yoghurt cultures (lactose free if need be)


Place the coconut into your blender and fill with boiling water (you should aim to use about 1 litre of water).

Blend for several minutes, pulsing at first to break up the mixture (it gets quite lumpy).

Place the sieve ‘into’ the nut milk bag (so that the sieve is covered), place over a large clean pot, and pour the blended mixture through. The aim is to capture all the milk and none of the pulp.

Allow to drip until cool enough to handle, and then with clean hands, squeeze the remainder of the milk from the pulp. It will look a little like you’re milking a cow.

Mix the gelatin with 1/4 cup of room-temperature water. Allow to sponge for five or ten minutes, until firm.

Add the vanilla extract, honey, probiotics (open the capsules and pour the powder out) and gelatine to the milk, and blend very well with a stick blender.

Pour into the sterilised bowl/container of your your yoghurt maker, place it into the yoghurt maker, and allow to incubate for 12 hours.

After 12 hours, give the yoghurt a good stir as the gelatin tends to clump up. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours to set.**

Serve with grain free cereal, add to curries, soups or smoothies, or simply enjoy on its own, drizzled with honey.

** If you find that your yoghurt separates after refrigerating, give it another whizz with the stick blender to re-incorporate the coconut cream (which will have risen to the top in a thick, hard layer) with the gelatine. Return to the fridge for a few more hours to firm up.

SCD coconut yogurt

SCD coconut yogurt


Sink your teeth into this, AIPs!


Rump steak, fresh avocado and stir-fried vegetables

There are few things I love more than a juicy rump. I’m also a big fan of a rare steak, so I was pretty thrilled that K chose to fry up this bad boy for us tonight.

For carnivores, it’s the ideal paleo, autoimmune paleo or SCD meal: rump steak seasoned with fresh garlic and black pepper, trimmed of fat and fried in a dab of olive oil, served with perfectly ripe, creamy avo and lightly stir-fried veg seasoned with salt, pepper, a touch of lemon juice and a sprinkling of apple cider vinegar.

Such a simple but delicious meal that really hits the spot, and provides a solid dose of healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Plus, it takes just a few minutes to whip up. Win!


The best paleo cauliflower soup – dairy/grain/refined sugar free and vegan

Paleo cauliflower soup

Paleo cauliflower soup – dairy, grain and refined sugar free

My sister made this amazing soup for me last week, and I instantly fell in love with it. Why is it so special? It’s filling, easy to make, and it doesn’t feel like it’s ‘missing’ anything despite having no dairy or gluten. It’s also a great way to get more broth into your diet (if you’re not vegan/vegetarian). Oh and it’s delicious!

I recreated it tonight with a couple of tweaks, though I still think hers was better – kind of like how coffee always tastes nicer when someone else makes it for you 🙂

Thanks C for this amazing recipe!

Easy cauliflower soup – dairy, gluten and refined sugar free; vegan

Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 – 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 large sweet potato (for SCD, omit or use butternut)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock*/chicken stock/bone broth
  • A handful of fresh coriander
  • Garlic salt (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper


“I let the ingredients fry while I chop the next thing. I think it makes a difference to the flavour to let it fry a while,” advises my sister.

– Chop the onion and add to a large pot with the coconut oil. Fry on medium-high heat.

– Chop the garlic and break the cauliflower into florets and add to the pot. If the pot becomes too dry, add more coconut oil or a splash of water.

– Add the cubed sweet potato and chopped coriander to the pot and season everything well with salt and black pepper, and garlic salt if desired.

– Pour in the stock/broth, then fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

– Remove from heat, blend with a stick blender and serve.

It’s that simple! I say it serves four to six, but if I’m eating it, it probably serves two to three 😛

*Most shop-bought stocks aren’t suitable for those of us following healing diets. Make your own vegetable stock by simply reserving the cooking water when you boil veggies on the stove.


How to make your favourite dishes SCD legal/paleo


When you tell people that you don’t eat dairy, grains or sugar, they often stare at you incredulously (and a little pityingly), before gasping, “What do you eat?”

The problem is that so many people have fallen into a groove of slapping together a toastie for lunch or a pot of macaroni cheese for dinner that thinking about creating a meal without bread or cheese or pasta or sugar (tomato sauce, I’m looking at you) seems virtually impossible. Pasta and puddings are easy, cheap, convenient and delicious to make, and without them… What will we EAT??

Here are some ideas: any kind of meat, basically any fruits and veg you can imagine (with the exception of one or two, like potatoes and bananas, if you’re doing paleo), nuts, nut milks, nut butters, seeds, honey (sparingly on SCD) and, once you start thinking a little more laterally, a ton of amazing desserts and treats made with these ingredients. If you’re doing SCD and you aren’t lactose-intolerant, you can add dairy products to this list too.

Of course, if you’ve become accustomed to eating pasta and bread-based meals, as well as the odd pizza cheat on weekends, it can be daunting to make the transition to ‘cleaner’ eating.  Yes, it’s a mindshift, but you’d be amazed at how quickly your thinking changes.

To help you along if you’re new to this, I’ve put together a list of some of the easier and more popular everyday meals that you can turn into SCD legal or paleo dishes.


Traditionally, these are made with milk, wheat flour and butter, so it seems almost inconceivable to make anything resembling a pancake without these ingredients.

Think again: For SCD pancakes, use eggs, almond flour and coconut oil – try this recipe or this one – or attempt an even easier 3-ingredient pancake that’s super light and quick to make.


Bought smoothies are often made with frozen yoghurt or ice cream and loaded with unhealthy sweeteners or sugar. Often they’re just as kilojoule-dense as milkshakes, and we’re tricked into believing that they’re healthy because they have a berry or two thrown in.

Make your own paleo or SCD smoothies at home by throwing your favourite fruit into a blender with a dash of pure fruit juice or a squeeze of lime, and instead of frozen yoghurt, use SCD yoghurt, coconut milk or coconut cream. Don’t forget to add a spoon of your favourite nut butter!

Get creative and come up with your own combinations – you really are limited only by your imagination (and taste buds).

Here’s a collection of great paleo smoothies and shakes to get your creative juices flowing.


This is an awesome hack for dairy, grain-free lasagna: Instead of pasta sheets, use slices of zucchini in between your layers of meat. You could also use butternut or even egg-white crepes that mimic the texture of pasta.

As for the sauce, use substitutes like cashew cream or cashew cheese. These ingredients may sound totally exotic to you now, but I promise that after making them once or twice, they’ll be old hat. If you told me three months ago that I’d be making my own yoghurt using nut milks and non-dairy cultures, I’d never have believed you. Now I do it once a week, and start to panic when my stock gets low!

Anyway, here and here are some fabulous collections of SCD/paleo lasagna recipes to try.

Spaghetti bolognaise

This one is super easy: The trick is not to be fooled by unhealthy packaged ingredients that you’re so used to adding to your bolognaise. It’s okay to use tomato paste, but make sure it has no added sugar. I’ve just about perfected my bolognaise recipe – it’s easy, affordable and totally more-ish. Here’s the recipe.

Instead of spaghetti, serve with cauliflower rice, roast butternut or – if you enjoy the ‘taste’ – shirataki noodles. This is actually a plant product that has a similar consistency to noodles, but zero calories and little-to-no taste (though I definitely detect a vague, odd flavour). It’s quite strange and expensive, but some people like it. Buy it here in South Africa.


The only real problem here is the bun, so omit it and, if you like, wrap your pattie in lettuce. Of course, if you’re not doing dairy, omit any cheesy toppings. Bacon is also ill-advised because unless you’re buying organic, it’s usually laden with sugar and unhealthy additives and preservatives.

I have an amazing burger recipe that I’m super proud of – try it here.


Curries are GREAT for paleo and SCD, because they’re easy to serve without grains, and the recipe doesn’t usually call for dairy. This means that it’s so simple to make SCD/paleo curries. Simply omit any yoghurt and replace with coconut milk or cream, and for sweetness, add a dash of honey instead of sugar.

Make sure that any spices you use are good quality and don’t have any anti-caking agents or other additives in them. The best idea is to buy yours from a spice market, if you have access to one, or simply make your own spice mixes from scratch. This is more labour intensive but definitely worth the effort.

I’ll post K’s Thai green recipe soon, which ticks all the right boxes. In the mean time, browse this selection of paleo curry recipes. I’m also dying to try this SCD roast cauliflower soup recipe – it’s on my list for this winter (by the way, The Tasty Alternative has the most amazing SCD recipes).


There are SOOO many healthy, clean SCD and paleo dessert recipes out there – do a quick Google search to see what I mean. Things you’d never even imagine existed. So you never need to feel like you’re missing out just because you can’t have caramel whip or cream cakes. In fact, because these desserts are so kind to your belly, you’ll finally get to enjoy a sweet treat without the awful after effects you’re so used to experiencing.

Here’s a baked apple crisp I made last weekend that was very easy to throw together, and enjoyed by everyone who tried it. My favourite review came from my mom, who said, “You can actually taste how healthy it is.” But yet, super delicious. Win!

Happy cooking, guys – and don’t be afraid to experiment!