Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
21 Aug

Primal Substitutes for Non-Primal Foods

It’s perhaps the most commonly asked question, both here in the forums and around the Primal/paleo blogosphere: what about bread/rice/grains/mashed potatoes/fish-and-chips/sweets? That is, what Primal foods can I eat that will satisfy my nascent urges for conventional “comfort foods”? In a perfect fat-adapted world, these urges would be non-existent. We would all be sated on nothing but meat, fat, vegetables, and a bit of fruit, and on a normal day I would stress the importance of desiring truly Primal foods rather than Primal approximations of high-carb, conventional fare.

Today isn’t a normal day, though. We’re in the middle of a particularly intensive Health Challenge, one that centers around making small (but doable) positive changes. For all our new members, finding alternate low-carb versions of the classic high-carb foods can be just the ticket to maintaining their personal health commitments under duress – and for that reason, I rounded up every low-carb food alternative source I could find. Strict PB pros and Primal stalwarts, forgive me, but I’m doing it for everyone’s collective good. Consider this my 80/20 moment. (wink)


Primal Spinach Bread

Carrot Walnut Bread

Coconut Flour Rolls (Thanks, Tim!)

Medicine Woman’s Roots: Golden Flax Bread

Gluten-Free Bread

Focaccia-Style Flax Bread

Oopsie Rolls (Gluten-Free Buns)

Low-Carb Meatloaf (Hey, it’s technically in loaf form. Thanks, Richard!)

Chips and Crackers

Primal Nut Crackers

Grain Free Almond Crackers

Primal Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips with Cinnamon


Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Son of Grok’s Famous Pizza Crust

Eggplant Pizza (scroll down a bit)

Paleo Pizza (Thanks, Scott!)

Sunflower Seed Pizza Crust

Zucchini Pizza Crust


Cauliflower Rice Pilaf (Thanks, maba!)

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower Pesto Rice (Thanks, Elizabeth!)


Summer Squash Noodles

Spaghetti Squash and Meat Sauce

Low-Carb “Lasagna”

Noodleless Lasagna

“Spaghetti” with Meat Sauce

Eggplant Lasagna

Mashed Potatoes

Broccoli-Carrot Mash

Mashed Cauliflower (Steam, then into the food processor with salt, butter, and pepper – super easy)

Mashed Butternut Squash


Coconut milk (Smoothie)

Almond milk


Almond Meal

Coconut Flour

Breaded Fried Stuff

Coconut Chicken Fingers with Spicy Fruit Chutney

Coconut Encrusted Chicken Salad

Almond and Parmesan Baked Tilapia


Low-Carb Thickener


Almond Pancakes

Coconut Pancakes

Rick’s Primal Pancakes

Paleo Pancakes

Low-Carb Almond Meal Pancakes

New Almond Meal Pancake Variant


Primal Alternatives to Non-Primal Snacks

Primal Energy Bar

Make Your Own Jerky

Make Your Own Dried Fruit

Spicy Almonds

SoG’s Primal Poppers

SoG’s Dinosaur Droppings


Low-Carb Dessert Recipes (Almond Macaroons, Fruit and Nut Crumble etc.)

Primal Pie Filling

Flourless Pie Crust

SoG’s Gorilla Cake

Raw Walnut Cupcakes

Dairy-Free Custard

Whew. That should about do it. Thanks to everyone who graciously made their recipes available online, and thanks to the entire Primal community. We’re well over half way through the challenge – no more faltering! If you need it, consider this low-carb roundup an instant support system for those times of weakness. Oh, and let me know if I missed anything.

Grok on!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. The Son of Grok’s pizza recipe sounds great!

    Here’s an interesting recipe for Grain Free Blueberry Muffins from Organic & Thrifty.

    Vin - NaturalBias wrote on August 21st, 2009
  2. Wow! This post is awesome!

    Thanks Mark!

    Rob wrote on August 21st, 2009
  3. What a nice collection! It’s great to have all these links on one page.

    Shelley wrote on August 21st, 2009
  4. I still think that raw, unpastuized goat milk is primal, and incredible good for you, being that it does not have much casein in it. It’s as close to human monthers milk as you can get. I love it!
    It’s great with flax muffins mixed with 100% cacao and sweetened with Stevia. Almost like a brownie!

    Dave, RN wrote on August 21st, 2009
    • Do you have a recipe for those flax muffins?

      fritchbeetle wrote on August 21st, 2009
  5. If I’m going to cheat I’m going to cheat, not half way cheat. Half ways always seem to promote more because “it isn’t that bad”, while the real thing doesn’t hide how bad it is.

    Now excuse me, I need a nap off all the carbs I had at lunch.

    Henry Miller wrote on August 21st, 2009
  6. I have a pizza version too but that zucchini version has my name all over it!

    Grok wrote on August 21st, 2009
  7. wow these are fantastic recipes!
    thank you so much! shows we can be Primal and not feel deprived!

    PrimalGoddess wrote on August 21st, 2009
  8. Some of the pancake recipes suggest adding some baking soda. Is that okay?

    James17 wrote on August 21st, 2009
  9. I love all these options. I keep looking hard at Primal/Paleo liftstyles and having more options makes it VERY tempting.

    Barbara(Blood, Sweat and Heels) wrote on August 21st, 2009
  10. “If I’m going to cheat I’m going to cheat, not half way cheat.”

    I have to clarify first that if I eat something off plan, whatever my current plan might be, I don’t call it a “cheat”. To me, that way lies bad mental mojo.

    But more importantly, I just know there are some things I’ll never eat again, because I no longer consider them food — Ho Ho’s are my favorite example, I used to scarf those by the case! Likewise anything grain-based — it’s just not on the menu ever again, period, and it’s not a question of willpower because I genuinely don’t want those things now. What I *do* occasionally want is something that’s still bad for me, but a lot less than the junk I used to eat. Something like the things on this list…and assuming I make my goal of seeing those last bottles in the six-pack, I may indulge in one of these desserty things once a year for my birthday, along with that one remaining grain I allow myself — single malt scotch!

    frogfarm wrote on August 21st, 2009
  11. Absolutely brilliant post, thanks a lot.

    SerialSinner wrote on August 21st, 2009
  12. Almond flour makes a good sub for many items baked with traditional flours. And I was just looking for a jerky recipe!

    lbd wrote on August 21st, 2009
  13. this site:

    is a beautiful dream…

    this woman has TALENT.

    Aimee wrote on August 21st, 2009
  14. This is a great resource Mark.

    I find that when I am really dailled into the Primal diet, I don’t even crave the things that would require substitutes. For me personally, having the substitutes actually weakens the purity of my Primal mindset. I often use the substitutes to transition from a period of ‘lapsing’ back into pure primal but after a month or so, I lose interest in the substitutes and just buzz off the basics.

    Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  15. Mar Mar Mark

    Shaun here!

    I am happy I’ve found your site and the first post is a great food post! Thank you. You see i am a food monster and know the basics of good foods to eat, which is good. But that gets boring, i need variations. My main focus has been on how to build a great body around common life styles and the hurdles we face.

    any how, great post!


    Shaun wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  16. Jocelyn R wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  17. Wow Mark. What a great resource.

    It’s tantamount to a cookbook and I’m happy to have contributed.

    Richard Nikoley wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  18. Perhaps someone could give Jamie Van Eaton, aka Cleochatra, some credit for using her Cauliflower Pizza Crust recipe, since everyone seems to be making their own variations on the theme she originated.

    I Can’t Believe It’s Cauliflower Pizza Crust!

    She’s got some really great recipes on her blog, so do check them out!

    Thank you, Cleo!

    WildAngel6 wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  19. I made all of these for dinner today. Just kidding, but one might be good.

    redforevergone wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  20. Wow. *__*

    There is a lot here I hadn’t even heard of. I’m definitely bookmarking this post. But especially for the coconut pancakes. Coconut is my favourite primal food.

    Piper wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  21. Nice.. so when’s the cookbook coming up ? 😛

    Bianca wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  22. I was wondering if natural honey is ok to eat if you are eating Primal?

    Lori Leduc wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  23. Beet chips are also really easy to make. Slice really thin, toss with salt and oil, bake in the oven until crisp.

    It is really that simple, but you can google for a recipe if you need one, for example:

    Laurel wrote on August 26th, 2009
  24. Mark,

    I saw that there were some substitutes for mashed potatoes… Why aren’t they primal?

    Seth wrote on February 10th, 2010
  25. This is a nice list, but there’s been more added since. I wish you would use tagging and make ‘primal substitutes’ at tag so such recipes could easily be found. I just spent nearly 20 minutes looking for the almond banana pancake recipe. Of course, that’s because I keep getting distracted by other recipes.

    Betterways wrote on February 28th, 2010
  26. Just curious as to whether anyone has come up with a way to make a primal tortilla? I imagine it shouldn’t be that hard for someone who understands how ingredients work together. I can follow a recipe but inventing on my own is still a work in progress. Thank you. :)

    Kimberley wrote on May 3rd, 2010
    • Fried cheese makes great tortilla shells. 😉

      Jody wrote on January 7th, 2016
  27. Hi Mark,
    I am presently moving through Phase 2 of whats called the “HCG Diet” In phase 3, I am to eat NO Starch and NO Sugar for 3 weeks and then slowly reintroduce them into my regular eating habits.
    I have been researching to find a healthy way of eating for a lifestyle after I have completed my last phase of this diet….this is how I came across your website! I googled ‘STARCH Free pizza crust’ and you were there in the mix. I

    Deborah wrote on September 8th, 2010
    • OPPS! I would like to know if you have any insight into how I might eat during this transitioning period between ending this diet and begining to eat a heathly lifestyle.
      Thank you,

      Deborah wrote on September 8th, 2010
    • Hi there, I was wondering how the HCG diet is working for you and how much weight you have lost, maybe you can shared your experience with me as I am very interested…thank you kindly


      cynthia wrote on September 29th, 2011
      • I lost 23 pounds in 19 days on the HCG diet. At 54 I am under 200 lbs for first time in 20 years and am following a primal diet (for most part and am keeping it off) I did HCG under a doctors care. I think the HCG diet is genius and works.

        Bob Deprez wrote on March 18th, 2012
  28. Thanks for this! I am excited to try out these recipes! Actually alternative to my low carb meals I got!


    low carb meals wrote on December 8th, 2010
  29. There are grain-free tortilla recipes out there if you look. This morning, I had a burr-omelet :)- a regular old burrito, but I replaced the tortilla with a thin omelet. I had to eat it with a fork, but it was still delicious!

    FarmerB wrote on January 21st, 2011

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