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8 Paleo Pantry Staples that Take Your Cooking Beyond the Basics

You’ve thrown out the flour, sugar, and pasta. You’re all set with herbs, spices, oil, olive oil, and vinegar. And if the zombie apocalypse comes, you have enough cans of coconut milk to build a fortress with some left over to whip up a quick curry. But to make your Paleo meals as delicious as they can be, it really helps to stock up on a few more unusual items as well.

These aren’t things that you’ll see in most people’s kitchens, but they give you a much bigger freedom to experiment, and a wider range of flavors to try – and who doesn’t love that?

1. Gelatin

Why you want it: A little bit of gelatin will make a sauce velvety-smooth; a lot will give you homemade pudding or Jell-O in any flavor you like. Plus, it’s gut-healing and good for your joints.

Where to buy: look in your grocery store near the pie fillings, Jell-O, and other baking supplies.

Try it in… Everything! Here’s a massive roundup of 60 Paleo-friendly recipes with gelatin, from gummy snacks to smoothies to bread.

2. Almond Flour or Coconut Flour.

Why you want it: Even if you don’t go in for the Paleo baking, some kind of flour is very useful to have around for thickening sauces or breading crispy fried chicken.

Where to buy: Almost all grocery stores have some variety of nut flour at this point (typically shelved with the wheat flour), or you can get it online.

Try it in…Pumpkin banana bread – or check out this master list of almond-flour recipes from grain-free master baker Elana Amsterdam.

3. Nutritional Yeast

Why you want it: Do you ever miss cheese in your frittatas or quiches? Nutritional yeast to the rescue! It can’t replace a big block of cheddar, but it’s great for recipes.

Where to buy: health food stores (especially stores oriented towards vegans), or check online.

Try it in…Paleo cheese sauce – or just add a tablespoon or two to your omelet and enjoy!

4. Unsweetened Cocoa Powdercocoa powder

Why you want it: The delicious taste and all the health benefits of chocolate, but without the sugar that you’ll find in chocolate bars. Cocoa powder is great for making homemade treats, but it’s also surprisingly delicious in savory sauces.

Where to buy: In the baking aisle, by the baking chocolate. Make sure you don’t accidentally get hot cocoa; it’s not the same thing! Check the ingredients to make sure it’s just cocoa powder.

Try it in…Chocolate chili.

5. Fish Sauce

Why you want it: Fish sauce delivers that tangy, fermented taste that makes really good Asian food so delicious. Just a sprinkle can do wonders to perk up the flavors in your stir-fries, salad dressings, and soups.

Where to buy: Almost all grocery stores will carry it; check the ethnic foods aisle.

Try it in…Momofuku’s roasted Brussels sprouts.

6. Dried Seaweed

Why you want it: As well as providing a wealth of important minerals, seaweed is a quick and easy way to add flavor and body to any kind of broth, soup, or stew. And you can even use it to make your very own Paleo sushi!

Where to buy: Asian markets, health food stores, or online.

Try it in…Rice-free Paleo sushi rolls, if you’ve got dried nori (the thin sheets of sushi seaweed). If you have wakame, kombu, or something else that doesn’t look like sushi, just toss it in your bone broth.

7. Dried Mushrooms

Why you want them: Mushrooms are high in the amino acid glutamine, which gives them a hearty, meaty flavor. This just gets concentrated with the mushrooms are dried, creating little flavor bombs perfect for adding oomph to soups, stews, and stir-fries.

Where to buy: Grocery stores, usually with the Asian foods or sometimes in the spice aisle.

Try them in…Mushroom bisque or magic mushroom powder.

8. Coconut Aminos

Why you want them: Coconut aminos are a Paleo-friendly substitute for soy sauce. You’ll recognize the taste right away: it’s the same smoky, salty soy-sauce flavor, only hold the soy and the wheat!

Where to buy: Health food stores, Whole Foods, or online (available on Amazon). Or make your own.

Try them in… Asian cauliflower fried rice (or any other Asian-inspired recipe where the directions call for soy sauce).

Got another favorite pantry staple that you couldn’t live without? Let us know on Facebook or Google+!