Thursday, July 25, 2013

Don't judge me until you've looked in my fridge, Sally.

Usually I just write posts about a recipe. This is not one of those posts. I wanted to add my two cents to a discussion about the recent Weston A. Price vs. Paleo debacle. The Weston A. Price Foundation is an organization that promotes a traditional diet, that focuses on nutrient dense foods, properly raised and cultivated, and also properly prepared. Their dietary guidelines can be found here. Quarterly, they put out a newsletter, and in the most recent issue, their President, Sally Fallon Morell, wrote an article entitled "MYTH: THE WAPF DIET IS LIKE THE PALEO DIET". (To see that article, just scroll down a bit on that page) It would be an understatement to say that I was offended.

My blog is not meant to be a rebuttle of that argument. It has already been done by many bloggers, inlcuding in  this post from The Paleo Mom. She sums it up quite well. I highly suggest you read it. She said everything that my brain was screaming after I read the offensive WAPF article.

So the first of my two cents is this:

1. I am used to my "Paleo Diet" being attacked by the general SAD (Standard American Diet) eating public. That I can deal with. Honestly, I know it's usually not their fault. They just don't have all the information I do, and they have been misinformed their whole lives, so when they tell me that my delicious lard will clog my arteries, I just smile and nod. It was a slap in the face, however to be disregarded and so poorly misrepresented by the leader of an organization that I respected, and that I thought was on "my team." The real food team, that is.

My second cent:

2. This debate reminds me a little of the Chick-fil-A scandal that was in the news recently. You remember, when everyone was up in arms because the founder, S. Truett Cathy, was giving money to anit-gay organizations? It was a big deal, wasn't it? Now, I gave up eating Chick-fil-A long ago, and it had nothing to do with the politics, and more about cutting out all fast food from my diet, but of course I followed the issue a little because I have a few close friends who are gay. At first, I understood why so many people were boycotting Chick-fil-A. They obviously didn't want their money going to fund an anti-gay cause. Makes sense. Then I read a note posted on facebook by one of their employees that I didn't necessarily know, but I knew of through friends. In the note, he wrote about how the scandal was affecting him and his family. He owns a Chick-fil-A and he was hurt. Because S. Truett Cathy was seemingly anti-gay, people assumed he and his family were too just because he worked for the company. People were boycotting his particular restaurant because of politics, but it felt to him more like they were boycotting his livelihood over a cause that he didn't agree with either, as he also has several close friends that are gay. He encouraged the readers to see Chick-fil-A as an organization made up of many different people, many who hold different opinions on the issue of sexuality from Cathy.

The WAPF organization is completely different from the fast food chain, obviously, but the sentiment is the same. There are many card carrying members of the organization that are probably just as angry about the article as I am. They are probably irritated that because Sally drew a line in the sand between WAPF and Paleo, that they are now viewed as having the same opinion as her, when that may not necessarily be true. Just as it was pretty stupid for Sally to make blanket assumptions about "us," the Paleo community, lets not make the same mistake and make assumptions about "them," the WAPF community. We really do agree with each other about 95% about what we should be eating to stay healthy.

Just as I visit many WAPF sites and blogs, I suspect that many WAPF dieters also enjoy Paleo sites and food blogs. I would wager a guess that many of "them" understand "us" a hell of a lot better than Sally seemingly does.

So basically what I am saying is this: Sally, you owe all of us an apology. You misrepresented us very poorly, but you also misrepresented your own just as poorly. 

Oh, and it just has to be said: Sally, I'd like you to know that I have five jars of pastured pork lard in my fridge, and a grassfed cow tongue in my freezer that happens to be sitting next to a bag of bones for my next batch of bone broth. Just sayin'. Don't judge me until you've looked in my fridge. Ok, vent off.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cardamom Spiced Sunbutter

One of the many great finds at Trader Joe's is their 16 oz. bag of raw sunflower seeds.... for $1.99. That's pretty cheap! As most Paleo Peeps know, nuts can be expensive. What's more expensive than nuts? Nut butters. Especially nut butters that don't contain white refined sugar and weird vegetable oils. I think you know by now how I feel about those two ingredients. Ick.

Like most people out there, I love peanut butter. Well, I used to love peanut butter. Peanuts aren't really a nut, they are a legume, and so they aren't paleo. Why are legumes harmful? Check out this article. Why are peanuts in particular pretty bad for you? Check out this article. Ok, now are we all on the same page? Good, back to the recipe at hand.

So when most people "go Paleo" they go through peanut butter withdrawal, but the good news is that you can find nut butters made of stuff other than peanuts, and it's actually pretty good. There's almond butter, roasted almond butter, cashew butter, coconut butter, pecan butter, hazelnut butter, the super luxurious macadamia nut butter (hello mouthgasm!)... yada yada yada. Now, don't go overboard with nuts and nut butter, because they are kinda high in calories, and it can be easy to overdo it. Though most Paleo Peeps don't necessarily count calories, it's still not a good idea to overindulge on any food, even if it is technically paleo. But a bit of nutbutter is ok for most people.

Another interesting substitute for peanut butter is Sunbutter. What the heck is that? It's a yummy nut butter made out of sunflower seeds, and it is very similar in taste to peanut butter, in my humble opinion. It is also a good choice for people who can't eat nuts at all, since it is a seed. Good quality sunbutter can be hard to find though. The most popular type found in regular grocery stores contains these ingredients:

Sunflower seed, sugar, mono-diglycerides to prevent separation, salt, natural mixed tocopherols to preserve freshness.

 No thanks. I'd prefer an ingredient list to read like a recipe rather than a science experiment. And I would also prefer it NOT to have that GMO, DEVIL WHITE SUGAR in it. I'll spare you the rant. There are other brands of sunbutter that you can find at health food stores that don't contain anything weird in them, but they can be as expensive as $10.00 or more a jar. Well, I'm on a ridiculously tight budget right now, so I am happy that I found a much cheaper alternative.

Enter the star ingredient:

Did I mention it is only $1.99? Yeah, I can afford that. So here we go. You can of course make this recipe plain, without the cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and you can also be a Paleo purist and leave out the honey if you wish. You can do those things, but you would be missing out on this incredibly interesting flavor profile that hints of lands far away in the spice belt. And since I don't yet have the bank account to be able to travel abroad to mysterious lands, I just take a trip with my spice cabinet instead. I suggest you do the same. 

Cardamom Spiced Sunbutter


1 16 oz bag of Trader Joe's Raw Sunflower Seeds (or other raw sunflower seeds, as long as there are no added oils or salt)
10 green cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
1-2 tablespoons of raw honey, to taste
pinch of sea salt


1. Toast the Sunflower Seeds in a dry pan over medium heat stirring often, until most of the seeds look darker, and they are starting to smell delicious and fragrant. This usually takes about 5 minutes. Remove to a shallow bowl or plate and allow to cool. 

2. Wipe out the pan with a towel, and toast the cardamom pods the same way for a few minutes until fragrant. Remove to a cutting board and smash the pods with the bottom of a glass to crack open the pods. Discard the green pods, and collect enough of the seeds to measure 1/4 of a teaspoon. 

3. Put the cooled sunflower seeds in a food processor and process with the cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom seeds, and salt until smooth. This can take up to 15 minutes, and you will need to scrape down the sides of the machine several times. 

4. When the mixture is almost smooth, add in the teaspoon of coconut oil, and process a minute longer. 

5. Scrape out all of the sunbutter to a bowl, and mix in the honey by hand. You don't even have to add the honey if you don't want to, but I find it complements the cardamom quite nicely. Store in a glass mason jar, and serve with fresh fruit, like apples or bananas. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Everyday Veggie Hash

So there is something about hash. The legal kind--just to clarify. But seriously, hash is just the best thing ever invented. It's a bunch of random ingredients cooked in ONE pan, served in a bowl, and gobbled up in a hurried fashion.In hard times, mom's across the world use hash to fill up their families and stretch small amounts of precious protein. Hash usually contains some sort of potatoes, or other starchy filler, along with onions, shredded or diced protein, and any number of veggies. You can literally put anything in hash, crisp it up in under 20 minutes, and enjoy a bowl full of simple, humble comfort food.

I make hash all the time. Sometimes I shred sweet potatoes, carrots, or plantains for the starch, or sometimes I take the time to dice them small into pretty little cubes. There are always onions involved, usually broccoli, and usually some sort of leftover protein, sausage, or bacon. Today I was feeling a little lonely because I have about 17 more days to go before Ian comes home. I know I'm being a baby, but I miss him. So I made myself some hash.

Everyday Veggie Hash
Serves 2-4


5 strips of good quality bacon
1 large sweet potato, small diced
1   red onion, small diced
2 cups of organic broccoli slaw (I used Trader Joe's)
2 cups of shredded Brussels sprouts (again, I used Trader Joe's)
1 tablespoon of coconut oil, or other healthy fat
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of organic granulated garlic*


1. In a large cast iron skillet, brown the bacon until cooked. Remove the bacon to a plate, and leave the grease in the pan.
2. Add the onions and diced sweet potatoes, season with a good large pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper, and cook over medium high heat until both are starting to brown, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the rest of the veggies and the coconut oil, season again with salt and pepper, and cook for another five minutes until all the hash is starting to brown.
4. Chop the bacon into small pieces and add it into the pan along with the granulated garlic. Stir to incorporate and cook for just a few minutes longer until everything starts to get crusty and yummy.
5. Serve in a bowl, and for bonus points, add a fried egg on top of each serving if you wish.

This is a version of hash I made before Ian left for his corporate training. Instead of bacon, I used sausage, and instead of broccoli slaw I used diced squash and small broccoli florets, and shredded sweet potatoes instead of diced. When the hash was done, I made a few wells in the pan and dropped an egg into them to fry. I broiled them for just a few minutes in the oven until the white was set, and I served this breakfast hash up with some diced avocado on top.

This is the basic method for hash, but feel free to improvise with whatever you want. That is the beauty of hash. It's not specific, it's ever changing, but it is always filling and comforting. Don't be afraid to try it, even if it isn't the exact same as this recipe, because my "everyday veggie hash" is never the same. Get yourself a great cast iron pan, learn how to take care of it, and start to love it for it's wonderful abilities, especially when it comes to hash.

*Yes, I use granulated garlic. I had a reader question me and ask why on earth I don't always use fresh garlic. Well, honestly, I like the dried, granulated version better in some instances. A lot of good cooks, especially southern cooks, appreciate granulated garlic. I don't view it as inferior to fresh garlic at all. It's milder, sweeter, and less harsh than fresh garlic, but also incredibly aromatic and pungent. I do use fresh garlic in some instances, but more often than not, I throw in granulated garlic to punch up the flavor of a dish quickly, and I don't feel that it is a cheat at all because I truly love the flavor it adds. It is important to note that I only use ORGANIC granulated garlic, because I strongly believe that it is a better product. I hate that regular spices are treated with weird chemicals and irradiated, but I do love that many organic grocers often sell bulk organic spices, particularly Frontier Organic spices, and it is a much more affordable way of keeping your spice cabinet stocked. I'm a mason jar junkie anyway, so I always have extra crowding my cabinets, and I might as well make good use of them. So I am coming out of the granulated garlic closet and I am proud to say I love this ingredient! Ok, vent off.

So hash it up guys, and get creative. What's the worse that could happen? You enjoy your veggies? That's what I thought.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cucumber and Avocado Salad with Purple Basil

A few months ago my mom helped me plant a little herb garden in a simple medium sized pot. She has quite the green thumb, and I have yet to inherit it, so I decided I wanted to learn. We went to Whole Foods and bought organic herbs and organic dirt, and a short while later I had my own little farm on my patio. I bought organic rosemary, lemon thyme, green basil, and purple basil. Thyme is probably my favorite to cook with flavor wise, but I LOVE the color of the purple basil. It tastes pretty much the same as green basil, but is is so much more visually pleasing. I know I mention a lot that we eat with our eyes first, and I think it is especially important to make vegetables look pretty and appealing so that we enjoy eating them more often.

As a side note, I have to admit that I don't have patience for people who claim,"I don't eat anything green. It's gross." Oh really? Green is gross? You mean, the color that symbolizes new life, calm, and peace? You don't want to eat that? Rolling my eyes at you. Be an adult and eat your vegetables. I promise they can be delicious. How can they be delicious? Add some fat! Add some healthy fat. Please don't tell me that you still think that fat makes you fat. It doesn't. In fact, you NEED healthy fats to help you absorb all the good stuff that you get from veggies. Ok, I'll stop ranting, and just give you a recipe that is the perfect example of vegetables that taste fresh and great, with some wonderful healthy sources of fat.

Cucumber and Avocado Salad with Organic Purple Basil
Serves 2-4


1 organic cucumber, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons of small diced red onions
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon of high quality, organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon of chopped organic purple basil (green will do fine if you can't find purple!)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
20 grinds of fresh pepper
1/2 a teaspoon of organic garlic granules


*Ok, it's this simple: mix everything together in a bowl. You can let all the flavors marry in the fridge for 30 minutes if you'd like, but honestly I usually just eat this right away.

I hope you guys enjoy this quick and easy side dish as much as I do, and I encourage you to grow some of your own herbs. You just need enough space for a medium sized pot, a decent amount of sunlight, and enough patience to try to remember to water it. If I can grow these on my tiny balcony, anybody can!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: Kombuchick Kombucha Bar + Microbrewing Co.

I haven't blogged in a couple of days because I've been in a mini funk. My caveman, Ian, had to leave on Sunday for three weeks of corporate training for his new job. I'm very proud of him and excited for him for this opportunity, but I miss him a bunch already.

Saturday before he left, we obviously spent the day together and we went on our favorite kind of date: Farmer's Market Date. We stopped first at the Virginia Beach Farmer's Market and went into the awesome Virginia Garden Organic Grocery and stocked up on some more Hot Italian Links and pastured eggs from Polyface Farms. Did I mention how lucky we feel that this place is 10 minutes from our new apartment and open six days a week? #blessed We then proceeded to go to a market we had never been to in Norfolk called the 5 Points Community Farm Market. What a hidden gem! This market is open from Thursdays through Sundays and is home to a cafe, a market for local, Virginia grown food and grassfed protein, eggs, cheese, and even grassfed raw dog food! It is also a pick-up for a CSA! If that wasn't exciting enough, tucked in one corner, we happened upon this:

Yes, you read that right. A KOMBUCHA BAR! Of course, Ian and I plopped right down on a couple of bar stools and met Leslie, owner and founder of Kombuchick Kombucha Bar + Microbrewery Co.  Not only is Leslie beautiful, she is a truly beautiful person who has a passion for real food. 

Upon her recommendation, we tried the Jawbreaker (on right, colored with real beets!) and the Jasmine Mojito(on left), and we thoroughly enjoyed every sip while getting to know Leslie and learning about her business.

Leslie told us that her passion for kombucha stemmed from her discovery of eating real foods as a way of healing. She told us that after a period of being vegan and vegetarian, she discovered that she had done damage to her body by denying it from essential nutrients, proteins and animal fats. Even though Ian and I have never been vegan or vegetarian, we come from broken, junk food diets, and so we shared so much in common with Leslie. We sat at her bar for a while discussing real foods, grassfed and pastured raised meat options, and the Weston A. Price Foundation. She told us that the local chapter is very active and encouraged us to join! She also gave me recommendations for restaurants and other farmers markets.

In addition to the Kombucha Bar, Kombuchick also bottles their product and sells it at different places around the Tidewater area. In particular, she recommended Cure Coffeehouse and Brasserie. She said that Cure features local and organic menu items, house cured meats in addition to locally roasted coffee, and of course her wonderful kombucha. I can't wait to go!

I encourage you to check out Kombuchick if you are in the Norfolk area, because this is truly a unique business. I know that Ian and I will become regulars at her 'Bucha Bar' and hopefully we will see her when we join the local WAPF Chapter. Have I mentioned that I love our new digs? Yeah, well, it's true. This place is such a paleo-paradise! Hurry back Ian so that I can enjoy it with you!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Sautéed Flounder over Quick Avocado Broccoli Slaw with Cinnamon Spiced Almonds

I love Trader Joe's. Who doesn't? Haters, that's who. I don't have time for haters. I also love Costco. They both help a Paleo Sista out, and I'll take it. Yes, I love to go to the farmer's market and buy locally sourced food, but I am still a young person on a budget, and so I balance out some of the more expensive things I buy with some smart, inexpensive Paleo choices. I fully believe that we vote with our dollars more than on any ballot, so when I find a good product, I buy it not only to eat, but also to send a message that THIS is the kind of food I'm interested in buying rather than cereal and franken-snack-food.

This meal takes advantage of a few good buys at Costco and Trader Joe's. The organic broccoli slaw and slivered almonds are from TJ's, and the flounder is from Costco. The flounder is wild caught, and frozen in individual filets, making it really easy to take a couple out of the freezer to thaw a few hours before you plan to cook them. They are small portions, so you can have one for a light lunch, or two for a nice size dinner. A 3 pound bag will only cost you about $11, and there are at least 20 filets in the bag. I love that TJ's has a large selection of ready-to-use veggies, many of which are organic.

Pan Fried Flounder
Serves 2 for lunch


2 defrosted flounder filets
Large pinch of sea salt
fresh ground pepper
large pinch of organic granulated garlic
large pinch of organic paparika
1 tablespoon of duck fat, or other healthy fat of choice (lard, coconut oil, or ghee would be fine)


1. In a small bowl, mix together the sea salt, pepper, garlic and paprika. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel, and season with the mix.
2. Heat the duck fat in a cast iron pan over medium high heat.
3. Pan fry the flounder for 2-3 minutes on each side, browning nicely on each side.
4. Remove from the pan and place on paper towels to drain off excess fat, then serve over broccoli slaw.

Broccoli Slaw
Serves 2


1/3 bag of Trader Joe's Organic Broccoli Slaw (about a large handful per person)
1/4 cup diced organic red bell pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/4 cup raw Trader Joe's slivered almonds
pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
large spoonful of my Avocado Vinaigrette


1. First toast the slivered almonds in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Once you see the almonds start to brown, add a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of cinnamon, and continue stirring while the almonds finish toasting. Set asside on a plate to cool while you assemble the rest of the slaw.
2. Mix together the vegetables and the large spoonful of Avocado Vinaigrette. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Add in most of the toasted almonds, reserving a few for garnish.

Plate the slaw on the bottom of a pretty plate, and top with the cooked flounder filet. Garnish with a few toasted almonds, and dig in!

This lunch should only take you about 15 minutes to throw together if you have the dressing already made. The avocado vinaigrette keeps for about a week in the fridge in a glass mason jar and is great as a dipping sauce or a dressing for salads. I know it will be a staple in my house for a while!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Eat the Rainbow Frittata

Eating Paleo isn't just about the things that you DON'T eat, but rather its about eating a variety of healthy foods in order to obtain a wide range of vitamins and nutrients. Common sicknesses and ailments are not only caused by eating foods that cause inflammation (like grains, legumes, and sugar), but also by NOT eating nutrient dense foods, which can lead to a deficiency in the body. A phrase that is often heard in the real food world is "Eat the Rainbow." Fruits and vegetables are different colors because of the different nutrients that they contain. To learn more, read this interesting post from Mark's Daily Apple entitled "Why you Should Eat Brightly Colored Fruits and Vegetables." As a chef, I also love to use many different colorful ingredients in a dish because I know that we eat with our eyes first.

If you notice, some of the vegetables I used are organic and some aren't. When I buy produce, I try to stick to the guidelines recommended by "The Dirty Dozen" and "The Clean Fifteen" lists. Do yourself a favor and read that article to familiarize yourself with the most pesticide ridden fruits and veggies, and also the fruits and veggies that you don't necessarily need to splurge on. For a while, I had these lists taped to my fridge while I was memorizing them. It can also be a conversation starter for guests in your house, kids, or even your spouse so that you can start spreading the word about the importance of pesticide free, healthy produce. (Note: you will see that corn is on the "Clean Fifteen" list -- corn is not paleo, and for the record, it is not a vegetable dummy, it's a grain, so don't eat it!)

Eat the Rainbow Frittata
Serves 4-6


1/2 pound of good quality sausage (I used Pastured Pork Hot Italian Links from Polyface Farms)
1 1/2 cups of diced red onion
1/2 cup diced organic red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced organic green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced yellow summer squash
1 cup of chopped organic broccoli florets
2 cups of peeled and shredded sweet potatoes
8 good quality eggs (I used pastured eggs from Polyface Farms)
1/2 teaspoon of Salt, plus more to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon of organic granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon of organic paparika
1-2 tablespoons of duck fat*, divided, or other desired healthy cooking fat (such as lard, coconut oil, or ghee)


1. Remove the sausage from the casings, and brown in a medium sized cast iron pan. Once cooked, remove the sausage from the pan and reserve to a large bowl, but leave the grease in the pan.
2. Next, sautee the onions and peppers in the same pan over medium high heat for about 5-10 minutes until they are softened and starting to caramelize. Season them with a pinch of salt and pepper to help flavor them, and also to allow them to release some of their water, so that they can start to brown. Remove them to the same bowl as your cooked sausage.
3. Next add the diced yellow squash and chopped broccoli to the pan and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes. You may need to add a few teaspoons of duck fat if the pan is too dry. Also season this batch of veggies with a pinch of sea salt and fresh pepper. Remove cooked squash and broccoli to the same bowl as the sausage, onions and peppers.
4. Add two more teaspoons of fat to the pan and add the sweet potatoes, again seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes to partially cook the sweet potatoes, and make sure to stir often so that the sweet potatoes don't stick. Remove the cooked sweet potatoes to that same bowl. (See a theme?)
5. In a seperate bowl, wisk together the eggs, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, another large pinch of fresh ground pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Fold in the cooked veggies and sausage and quickly pour back into the same cast iron pan.
6. Bake in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes until the eggs are cooked through. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

You can serve this for breakfast, of course, but to round out this dish for lunch or dinner, fix a small side salad with tomatoes, avocados, and organic lettuce, simply dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I swear, us Paleo Peeps eat #morevegetablesthanavegetarian :) 

*You can find duck fat in the poultry section at most Whole Foods Markets. You can also order good quality duck fat from a new company, Fatworks, however I have not personally tried it. I hear from other Paleo Peeps that it is the bomb, and I keep meaning to try it!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Paleo Cuban Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette

I love it when a Paleo plan comes together. Last week, before we moved to Virginia Beach, we took a day trip to Roanoke to wrap up some last minute errands, and we stopped to have lunch at a Cuban restaurant downtown. We've been there before, and we usually order the crispy pork with Mojo sauce, green and sweet plantains, and the house Cuban salad with avocado vinaigrette. Before the Paleo Police come arrest me, let me say that we know that this meal is not completely Paleo. There is probably sugar in the Mojo sauce, the pork is not pastured, and the plantains are probably fried in canola oil. When we are eating out, we make the best choices we can while still enjoying ourselves and living in the moment. So #saveithaters. We have never claimed, nor will we ever claim to be Paleo perfectionists. At least we didn't order the black beans and rice. I used to love those! Oh well...

One reason I think it is ok to eat out on occasion is because you can draw inspiration from the meals you experience, and take the ideas home and turn them into completely Paleo meals that can be enjoyed guilt-free on a regular basis. I knew that I could easily recreate the crispy pork using the Citrus Carnitas recipe from the Well Fed Paleo cookbook, and also that I could use the Cuban Spiced Plantain from Beyond Bacon (which, by the way, is available now on Amazon and in stores!!). I was so excited to be able to make the carnitas with Polyface Pastured Pork! I can't believe that I have access to a store that is the exclusive retail establishment that sells their meat 6 days a week, 10 minutes from my new home.#blessed So all I had left to do was assemble a salad similar to the one I had and create my own recipe for an Avocado Vinaigrette. The salad we were served was plated in a deconstructed style, like a Cuban version of a Cobb Salad, and I encourage you to serve it this way, so that your guests can enjoy the beautiful presentation and also choose what ingredients they would like to have on their plate. Although I don't get it, not everyone likes onions or avocados, and plating it this way allows them the flexibility to get what they like without seeming rude for picking things out of a mixed salad. I also highly suggest you prepare these three dishes together, because they make a fantastic Paleo Cuban Feast!

Citrus Carnitas from Well Fed Cookbook
Cuban Spiced Plantains from Beyond Bacon Cookbook

Avocado Vinaigrette


Flesh of 1 ripe hass avocado
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lime
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1/3 cup of purified water
1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Blend all ingredients in a mini-food processor or blender. If the dressing is too thick, you can add a bit more water. Make sure to taste to check for seasonings and adjust to your preference.

Deconstructed Cuban Salad


1/2 a bag of organic Arugula ( I bought mine at Trader Joe's)
1 small organic heirloom yellow tomato, sliced
1 small organic heirloom red tomato, sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup of sliced green olives
1/2 a sliced avocado
1/2 a diced mango

 1. Lay a bed of arugula on your serving platter.
2. Arrange your ingredients in sections, like you would a cobb salad. Make sure to fan the avocado, and also to layer the tomatoes alternating colors for the best visual effect. We eat with our eyes first, after all!
3. Season the salad with fresh ground pepper and sea salt.
4. Serve with Avocado Vinaigrette 
I loved the weird, but completely wonderful combination of the fatty avocado, sweet mango, briny green olives, sharp red onions and savory tomatoes with the creamy and tart vinaigrette. I probably wouldn't have come up with that combination on my own (mangoes and green olives - what?!?!) , but that doesn't mean I can't improve upon the idea with superior, high quality ingredients that I trust. I encourage you to not be so much of a Paleo perfectionist that you avoid restaurants completely. You might miss out on some great ideas that you can "paleo-ize" and incorporate into your regular routine. Date night out is also good for the soul on occasion -- just try to keep it to way less than the average, and you will enjoy it all the more. :)

Also, I highly suggest both books mentioned in this post, and they are recommended in my "What the heck is Paleo anyway?" post. Well Fed is from the talented Melissa Joulwan from the blog "The Clothes Make the Girl," and Beyond Bacon in from Matt and Stacy from the awesome site, Paleo Parents. Melissa has another cookbook coming out, Well Fed 2, and I can't wait! It's available for pre-order now on Amazon. These two bloggers have extensive, free recipe indexes on their websites, so go check them out!

I hope you guys enjoy your Paleo Cuban Feast!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Paleo Southern Summer Squash Casserole

In the south, women will put just about anything in a casserole. I guess the idea is that they can hide veggies and protein in a creamy, cheesy sauce and trick their families into eating something healthy. The only problem in that theory is that doesn't really make for a healthy dinner just because it contains some vegetables and some bland chicken breasts. But I get the idea of eating vegetables with a sauce to make it seem more friendly to someone who isn't used to eating fresh vegetables.

A popular southern casserole in the summer is a yellow squash casserole. The basic recipe calls for the cook to boil yellow onions and yellow squash until cooked, and then combine the mushy vegetables with sour cream, heavy cream, a couple of eggs, and about TWO cups of shredded cheddar cheese. The casserole is topped with crushed butter crackers, and baked for about 45 minutes. More filler than vegetables! I don't particularly care for this dish, but everybody and their mom knows how to make this dish in the south. I actually don't care for squash, more because of the texture than the taste. But in the summer it is so affordable, and I need to find a way to eat it.

So let's remix it this creamy mess, paleo style! Instead of boiling the poor vegetables to death, let's saute them in bacon grease, and combine them with a paleo friendly, dairy free sauce, and top them with a gluten and grain free substitute that is just as crunchy and satisfying as any cracker crumb! Are you ready for this? Because it is way better than the original!

Paleo Southern Summer Squash Casserole
Serves 4-6


5 strips of good quality bacon (I used a nice peppered bacon)
4 yellow summer squash, sliced into thin rounds
1 large Vidallia Onion*, juilienned
1/4 cup of small diced organic red bell pepper
1/4 cup of small diced organic green bell pepper
3 teaspoons of Sea Salt, divided
Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons of organic granulated garlic

For the sauce:
1 1/2 cups of raw cashews, soaked
1 1/2 cups of stock, either homemade (preferably) or a good quality, organic, MSG-free low sodium store bought version

For the topping:
1/2 a bag of plain pork rinds, pulsed into crumbs to measure 1/3 cup
1/3 a cup of raw slivered almonds, pulsed into crumbs as well
*I used a mini food processor for this, but I pulsed each separately. Alternately, you could crush the pork rinds in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, and then finely chop the almonds with a knife.

1. First start with the sauce. To soak the cashews, simply cover them with hot water in the morning and allow them to soak for at least four hours, but you may soak them overnight if you wish. By soaking the cashews, you are not only softening them, but also allowing some of the potentially gut-irritating proteins to partially break down, making them easier to digest. You can read more about this process here.
2. After the cashews have soaked, drain them in a collander and rinse them with cold water.
3. Place the cashews in a blender (a normal blender will do, I don't have a super fancy one) and add the stock. Blend for at least 5 minutes until completely smooth. Set the sauce aside. (If you wish, you can do this step the day before and store the plain sauce in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the casserole the next day.)

Next you need to cook the vegetables for the casserole.
1. Cut up the 5 strips of bacon using a pair of kitchen shears into bite size pieces. Brown the bacon in a large skillet. Once cooked, remove the pieces to a plate temporarily, but leave the grease in the sautee pan.
2. Add the squash and onions, season with 1 teaspoon of salt, and cook over medium high heat for about 15 minutes, until the squash and onions have softened and started to caramelize.
3. At this point, add the bacon back in as well as the red and green bell peppers, stir to combine, and turn off the heat.
4. Add in the sauce. You may not need all of the cashew gravy, so start with half, and add more if you need more sauce to coat all the vegetables. Once you have added all the sauce you need, add the rest of the salt, granulated garlic, and as much fresh pepper as you wish.
5. Pour into a small casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes at 350.
6. Combine the pulsed almonds and pork rinds, and sprinkle over the top of the casserole evenly. Increase the oven temperature to 400 and bake for another 20 minutes until the casserole is bubbling and the topping is browned.

Allow casserole to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

A few notes:
*A Vidallia onion is a sweet, white onion grown in a south Georgia town called Vidallia. This type of onion is usually in season in the summer in the South, but if you cannot find it, just use a large sweet yellow or white onion. A red onion would not lend the same flavor profile.
*When selecting pork rinds, make sure you read the label! Sometimes even plain or 'original' pork rinds can contain sugar, maltodextrin, or any number of chemical flavors. Look for a label that says only "pork skins and salt."

Even though this casserole serves 4-6, it did not last long in my house of 2! I don't usually like squash, like I said, but in this dish, it is so incredibly rich and savory that I literally licked my bowl clean with my finger! This dish was inspired by The Urban Poser's Green Bean Casserole, which I have made for holidays before to great reviews! Even non-paleo eaters ate her casserole without knowing any better. I suspect you could serve this squash to them as well and they would never suspect it is dairy and gluten free. I highly suggest you check out her recipe and add it to your holiday tradition.

I hope you all enjoy my rendition of this southern staple!

Site Design By Designer Blogs