The New Place of Dairy on a Paleo Plate

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smoothie in glass with strawberry

Could you say goodbye to refined sugar, grains, legumes and dairy? A growing number of people today are going Paleo – following a lifestyle that’s based on the concept of eating like our Paleolithic ancestors. They believe if a caveman didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either.

While many nutritionists praise the idea of eating less sugar and processed foods, many are concerned the diet plan is too restrictive and lacks essential nutrients – especially calcium and vitamin D. That’s one reason why the Paleo diet didn’t rank as highly as other diets evaluated by U.S. News and World Report, which considered many factors such as easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease.

That’s why many are choosing to join the Lacto-Paleo movement, which incorporates dairy products. This variation of the original plan adds essential nutrients and increased flexibility for dieters who want dairy back in their diet.

“I’m happy to see this trend because the addition of dairy helps make the Paleo plan significantly more nutritious,” said registered dietitian and culinary nutrition expert Holley Grainger. “Milk is the primary source of calcium and vitamin D in the American diet, and when you completely eliminate milk it’s hard to make up for the nutrients you miss out on.”

If you’re considering a Paleo lifestyle, or are already following one and miss the milk, Grainger offers this advice:

5 Ways to Add Milk to Your Paleo Diet:

  • Find the milk that’s right for you. The dairy case offers a wide range of milk products, so check out the varieties that appeal to you – including organic or lactose-free.
  • Swap out your plant-based milk. Use real dairy milk in place of almond, coconut or rice milk. You’ll get 8 grams of protein compared to just 1 — along with calcium, vitamin D and other essential nutrients. Plus, almonds and other nuts may get the Paleo stamp of approval, but almond milk typically contains added sugar, salts and thickeners.
  • Try plain Greek yogurt. You may be skipping the flavored yogurts with added sugar, but it’s easy to add your own fruit or other ingredients to plain varieties, or try making your own yogurt with milk.
  • Make a Paleo pudding with milk. Create a Paleo-approved dessert, such as a chia pudding or other puddings made with real milk without added sugar.

Fortify your breakfast smoothie. If you’re making a fruit smoothie in the morning, add real dairy milk to add more protein. Try this protein-packed Berry Burst Smoothie recipe.

Protein-Packed Berry Burst Smoothie



  • 1 packet plain instant oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup fat free or lowfat milk
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts, chopped


  1. Combine first five ingredients in carafe of blender. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. In the morning, blend mixture until smooth. Top with chopped walnuts.

1 serving (4 ounces milk per serving)

Calories: 280g Total Fat: 7g
Cholesterol: 0mg Protein: 10g
Carbohydrates: 50g Sodium: 80mg


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