Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wok Seared Green Beans with Sesame Garlic Cantonese Sauce

So... are green beans paleo? You might be thinking, "Katy! You said that legumes aren't paleo!" Well, that may be true, but the thing is, green beans don't really count. They are more pod than actual bean. Have you ever split one open to see the actual bean? Tiny. Not only that, but Mark Sisson says they are ok, because basically they contain a fairly minimal amount of gut irritants, and minimal starch. Most other legumes you think of, like black beans, soy beans, peanuts, etc. contain high amounts of starch (which can raise blood sugar), high amounts of lectins, and high amounts of phytates.

You may be like, "Ok Katy, you lost me at 'lectins' and 'phytates.'"

Ok, well....

"Lectins are bad. They bind to insulin receptors, attack the stomach lining of insects, bind to human intestinal lining, and they seemingly cause leptin resistance. And leptin resistance predicts a “worsening of the features of the metabolic syndrome independently of obesity”. Fun stuff, huh?"
Read more: Mark's Daily Apple

"Phytates are a problem, too, because they make minerals bio-unavailable (so much for all those healthy vitamins and minerals we need from whole grains!), thus rendering null and void the last, remaining argument for cereal grain consumption."
Read more: Mark's Daily Apple

Lectins and Phytates are in both grains and legumes, which contribute to the reasons why they are not included in a paleo diet.

But back to green beans. They have minimal amounts of both of phytates and lectins, so unless green beans give you tummy troubles, there's no reason to avoid them.

When I used to live in Atlanta, there was an awesome restaurant called Doc Chey's Noodle House around the corner from me in Druid Hills. On their appetizer menu they have these green beans and they were hard to resist! I wasn't paleo then, and I had no idea that I was gluten intolerant. I notice now that on their menu, it says, "Allergen Information:Our menu includes items that contain one of the eight major allergens: dairy, egg, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, & fish. While we do our best to inform guests of foods that contain a food allergen, we can’t guarantee that cross-contact with other allergens will not occur during preparation."

Hmm. Well that's good to know.

I was thinking about those green beans the other day, and I googled "recipe for Doc Chey's seared green beans with Cantonese sauce" and I found this recipe. It was a good start, and with a few tweaks and a few tests, I made a delicious version that is up to my own "real food" standards.

Wok Seared Green Beans

with Sesame Garlic Cantonese Sauce


3/4 cup homemade stock (I used pork stock, but beef or chicken stock would work fine too)
 2  teaspoons Red Boat Fish sauce
 2  teaspoons coconut aminos **
 2  teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch, dissolved in
2 tablespoons cold water
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 pound fresh French green beans (haricot verts), washed, trimmed, and patted dry
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink sea salt
pinch crushed red pepper
dry toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

**Coconut Aminos are a paleo substitute for Soy Sauce. If you aren't bothered by small amounts of soy sauce, you can use it here, but reduce it to only 1 teaspoon, and use organic tamari, which is soy sauce that is non-GMO and wheat/gluten free, and easily found at regular grocery stores.


1. Wisk together the stock, fish sauce, coconut aminos and honey in a small bowl. Make a slurry with the arrowroot starch and cold water in another small bowl, whisk thoroughly to combine, then whisk into the sauce.
2. In a wok, or a very large sauté pan, heat the sesame oil over medium high heat for two minutes, then add the green beans and stir fry until well seared, about 5-6 minutes. While stir-frying, resist the urge to turn constantly. When they first go into the wok, toss them around to coat them evenly with the sesame oil, then let them sit for 10 seconds at a time, then stir, then repeat until done. This helps them to get the wrinkled, seared black marks we are going for here.
3. After 5-6 minutes, add the garlic, salt, crushed red pepper and the sauce. Stir fry for another minute until the garlic is cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve immediately, garnished with toasted sesame seeds.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

BBQ Cottage Pie

So what's the difference between Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie? Well, traditionally Shepherd's pie is a savory pie made with ground lamb, peas, carrots, and onions and topped with mashed potatoes and baked. Basically, its like the original casserole. Cottage Pie is similar, but made with ground beef which is a little more common in the states. Both also usually have a little gravy that binds together the meat mixture, which usually contains a roux with flour and butter to help thicken it.

Mine isn't really like that at all. My Cottage Pie is on another level. I decided it needed to be more nutrient dense, so I added more vegetables, replaced the standard yucky grain fed beef with grass fed beef rich in CLA, and I made a sauce using homemade bone broth and a fruit sweetened BBQ sauce, with arrowroot starch as a thickener. I also got rid of the regular potatoes and the peas... there is nothing wrong with those per-se, but they are a little starchy, and to be honest I don't earn the starch every day since I don't train like my boss, Stacy. I'm not saying this is low-carb, or that I eat low-carb paleo -- I don't. I just don't eat dense carbs at every meal, or every day. Anyways....

Back to the recipe.... this makes enough for a large family to have for dinner served with a salad, OR for a couple like me and my husband, this makes enough for dinner tonight (with a few leftovers), and one to put in the freezer for another night.

BBQ Cottage Pie


For the meat mixture:

1 1/2 pounds of ground grass fed beef
2 cups of diced carrots
1 large red onion, diced
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
3 large handfuls of raw baby spinach
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
5 cloves of garlic, minced
up to 1/3 cup of lard, avocado oil, or coconut oil for sautéing
salt and fresh ground pepper

For the BBQ Gravy:

3/4 cup of homemade bone broth/stock (or the BEST quality store bought you can find, free of sugar and MSG)
1/2 cup of Tessemae's BBQ Sauce (or your favorite brand, or homemade)
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
2 tablespoons of arrowroot starch
2 tablespoons of cold water

For the mashed cauliflower:

2 heads of cauliflower
6 tablespoons of grassfed butter or ghee (or lard for dairy free)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
fresh ground pepper

To make the meat mixture:

1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Remove the cooked beef to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Leave the grease in the pan. (Don't be scared, that grease is full of CLA, an essential fatty acid that your body needs to stay slim! True story.)
2. Add the diced carrots to the grease and cook on medium heat until the carrots are starting to caramelize on the outside, seasoning with a pinch of salt as you go. This will take about ten minutes. You might need to add more fat to the pan if it gets too dry. This is what the lard is for.
3. Once the carrots have started to brown, remove them to that large bowl with the beef with your slotted spoon. Yep, you guessed it, leave any grease in the pan.
4. Next you are going to add the diced onions to the pan and let them soften for about 5 minutes, seasoning with a pinch of salt as you go. (add more lard if the pan is getting to dry, if not, keep going) After 5 minutes, add the sliced mushrooms, a pinch of salt, and cook for another 3-5 minutes (with the onions) until they are softened and cooked through and everything is starting to brown. At this point, add the smoked paprika and the minced garlic. Your kitchen will smell amazing in about 3 seconds. Cook for just a minute more, then add the three handfuls of baby spinach. Combine the onions, mushrooms, garlic and spinach just to combine and let the spinach just barely wilt - like 15 seconds. Add this to the big bowl with the ground beef and carrots.

To make the BBQ Gravy:

1. In the pan you just used, turn the heat to medium low and add the stock/broth. Bring it to a simmer and using a whisk, get up the brown bits of the bottom of the pan.
2. Add the barbeque sauce  and the smoked paprika and whisk to combine and bring up to a simmer.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the cold water and the arrowroot starch to make a slurry, then add that to the broth and barbeque sauce. Whisk quickly and the sauce with thicken within 5 seconds. Turn the heat off immediately.
4. Add the BBQ gravy to the meat mixture in the big bowl, and fold with a spatula to combine completely.

To make the Cauliflower Mash:

1. Cut the fluffy parts of the florets away from the hard stalks. For this recipe, you only need the fluffy parts. You can use the stalks for another recipe in salads or something if you want, or you can add it to your compost pale if you do that sort of thing. :)
2. In a medium pot, bring one inch of water to a boil.
3. Place the chopped, fluffy parts of the cauliflower in either a steamer or a mesh strainer, and place over the boiling water, then cover with a lid. Steam for 12 minutes exactly.
4. Place the steamed cauliflower fluffy parts in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and process until completely smooth, scraping the sides once.

**You may have to do this in two batches. I did. Depends on how big your steamer is.

To assemble the pie:

1. Spoon the meat and veggie mixture into EITHER two pie dishes, OR a large casserole dish, if you are making one large, family sized portion. I divided mine between a pie dish, and a freezer safe 6-cup glass dish.
2. Spread the cauli-mash over the meat mixture and smooth the top.
3. To freeze - let cool completely uncovered in the fridge, then seal and freeze. When ready to bake, let the pie thaw completely, then proceed with the next step.
4. Bake in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes, then broil on high for 3-5 minutes to brown the top. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

I like to garnish mine with fresh green onions. They give it a great fresh herby taste, plus they look pretty!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chorizo Chili, Plantain Chips and Garlic Lovers' Guacamole

Today's post is a triple threat! The weather can't really decide what it wants to do in Virginia Beach. Sunday before last it was sunny, 70 degrees, and we couldn't find a free parking space at our local park. Two days later, we had a snow day. What?!

When the weather is warm, it makes me crave avocados. When the weather is cold, I want a big bowl of chili. And let's face it - I always want something crunchy and salty. This post satisfies all of those cravings to a "T."

I make chili a lot, and it always follows this method, but the meat in the chili changes based on what I have thawed on hand. This week, it was pastured pork chorizo that I picked up at a farmers market in Greensboro, NC one weekend while traveling. The type of chorizo I used was uncooked, bulk chorizo, but you could use any kind of ground meat, like grassfed ground beef, ground pork, bulk sausage, or ground chicken or turkey for something a little leaner. I wish I knew someone who hunted because I would LOVE to try this with venison!

I know that most chili recipes have some beans, maybe some corn, and they are possibly thickened with cornmeal, or masa, but my version has tons of veggies instead of those other - non-paleo ingredients. Instead of being thickened with cornmeal, mine reduces for a long time on a slow simmer, accomplishing both a thick and hearty chili, and a deeply developed flavor. Chili is so flavorful, that you don't miss the beans or corn at all.

|Paleo Chorizo & Veggie Chili|


1 pound of ground chorizo (or ground meat of choice)
3 cups of diced carrots
1 gigantic red onion (or two small) diced
2 green peppers, diced
2 cups of mushrooms, diced
1 28 oz. can of Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes (I used THIS brand)
3 oz organic tomato paste
4 cups of homemade bone broth/stock (or use the best quality store bought you can find, with no added sugars or MSG)
1 1/2 Tbsp Ancho Chili Powder
1 1/2 Tbsp Mexican Hot Chili Powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground roasted cumin
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
dash of cinnamon
1 Tbsp dried oregano
Salt  to taste


1. In a large dutch oven or stock pot, brown the chorizo until cooked through.
2. Add in the vegetables and season with a big pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until the vegetables have softened a bit - about 15 minutes.
3. Add in the tomato products, stock and seasonings and stir to combine well.
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 3-4 hours, uncovered. Don't skip this step or you will regret it! A good chili needs a long time to simmer to let the spices truly develop and to let all the vegetables to cook to the right doneness (especially the carrots). This step is also crucial for the chili to thicken, since we aren't using any masa.
5. Serve with my guacamole and plantain chips (see below!)

I used to love chili loaded with sour cream and cheddar cheese, with some corn chips on the side for crunch. Now I fill my cravings for something creamy and crunchy with a BIG dollop of guacamole and either plantain chips or pork rinds. When me and my husband first "went paleo" and decided to give up dairy for a good long while, we put guacamole and avocados on everything to satisfy our "creamy" cravings. When people say that dairy is the one thing they are unsure if they can give up, I tell them about that tip.

I was going to run out to the store to get some of my favorite garlicky plantain chips from the Hispanic market near me, but my husband reminded me that they have vegetable oils in the ingredient list. They aren't a terrible choice, because the label says that it is non-GMO vegetable oil, which is better than some, but still not really paleo. Trader Joe's also has a version that is made with sunflower oil, which is less offensive, but I decided to try my hand at making my own. I first tried a version I found that tossed the thinly sliced green plantains in coconut oil, but I wasn't crazy about the results.

Today I tried my own version that uses a little more oil, but produces an AMAZING chip! When my husband tried them, he said, "Oh girl - you messed up..... you are going to HAVE to make these for me all the time!" (His funny way of saying I hit it out of the park.)

But I agree - I nailed it, if I do say so myself. They go great with this super garlicky version of guacamole. My husband seriously can't get enough garlic. Eat in self defense!

|Oven Fried Plantain Chips|


2 green plantains
5 Tbsp Avocado Oil
Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder to taste


1. Pre-heat the oven to 375.
2. Cut off the ends of the plantains, and score them lengthways through the thick skin.
3. Use your thumb to peel off the skin. If there are any parts that you can't get off completely, you can use a vegetable peeler to get those last bits off and make the outside smooth.
4. Slice the plantains as thin as possible into coins using either a sharp knife or a mandoline.
5. You will need two half-sheet pans (cookie sheets) for the whole batch. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil on each sheet tray and make sure the oil coats the pans evenly.
6. Lay out the plantain coins out in a single layer on the oiled pans, then using a silicone basing brush, brush the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil on the top of the coins. (There should now be a total of 2 1/2 tablespoons of avocado oil on each pan.)
7. Bake for 12 minutes, then flip all of the plantain coins. Some may be trying to stick to the pan, so I suggest using a metal spatula.
8. Bake another 12- 15 minutes until the plantain chips have started to brown, and look like the photograph above.
9. Drain the chips on paper towels after they are baked, and sprinkle immediately with a good pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Garlic Lovers' Guacamole


Flesh of 2 ripe avocados
5 cloves of garlic, grated (I use a microplane zester for this because it gets the garlic really fine)
juice of half a lime
salt and pepper to taste


1. Mash all ingredients together in a bowl with a fork to your desired consistency. Some like it chunky, some like it creamy - its up to you!

I hope you guys like these three recipes, and I think they go well together, but if you were to pick just one to try, I would suggest trying the Oven Fried Plantains! If you are missing something crunchy on your paleo diet, these are the perfect snack.
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