Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

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Sweet Potatoes with Dukkah

This is another side dish we had during our Easter feast over the weekend. It’s just potatoes sautéed in coconut oil (Tropical Traditions is the best!) and sprinkled with a nut and spice blend called dukkah.

If you missed the recipe before, allow me to introduce you to dukkah… the nut and spice blend that is to meat and vegetables as sprinkles are to ice cream. A magical little topping that makes everything taste irresistible. 🙂 Below is how to make enough for this recipe and also enough to store in your cabinet and use on other things like fish or sautéed vegetables.

Dukkah
You can modify/change-up these ingredients to your liking:

1/4 cup ground coriander
5 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons dried mint leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

Nuts:
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup raw pistachio nuts
1/2 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup cashews

It’s easiest ( I think) to roast all the nuts in the oven first, until they are golden brown. I do this on a sheet pan at 350° until they turn color. Be sure to watch closely, they will burn fast.
While the nuts are toasting in the oven, toast the herbs, spices, and seeds until they are brown/toasty/aromatic. Allow each of them to cool completely.

Place the nuts and seeds, along with the mint and salt, into a food processor and pulse into a coarse consistency.

This is the finished product…
Now that you have your spice blend, you will want to slice the potatoes into disc shapes… thin enough so that they will cook through without taking too long (see picture above). A good tip is to microwave them for a minute or so to get a jump-start on their cooking.
Next, heat up some coconut oil in a frying pan/skillet and put the potato slices in (don’t stack them up… just cook them one layer at a time). Pan fry them until tender and sprinkle them with the dukkah. Use as much or as little as you like. Cover the pan with a lid and cook until they are fork tender.
When you plate the potatoes, you can sprinkle them with a little more dukkah as a garnish if you desire.

Paleo Recipe: Gingersnap Crusted Ham

I’d like to start this post with a big thank you to Tropical Traditions. They sent me a huge jar of coconut oil to try out in my Paleo recipes. I ended up using it in the Paleo Gingersnaps that I used to crumble up and coat the ham below. Here’s a picture of their product. It’s not only good in cooking (use it in the place of –and in the same ratio as–any butter or oil), but excellent as a moisturizer!


So look at the crusty beast below! Can you believe it is gluten free? 🙂 This Gingersnap Crusted Ham was a “side” for our Paleo Easter Meal. I snagged the idea for it from the Alton Brown recipe I first made years ago.

What You Will Need:

One 2 pound”City” Ham (I used an Uncured, Nitrate Free, Hormone Free, Vegetarian Fed Ham)
You will find that 2 pounds of ham is actually only about 1/4 of a normal sized ham. 🙂

3/4 Cup Dijon Mustard

1/2 Cup Maker’s Mark Bourbon (in a spray bottle)

2 Cups Paleo Gingersnap Crumbs (To get the crumbs, you have to make the gingersnaps themselves.)

Paleo Gingersnaps
1.5 cups Blanched Almond Flour
1 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 Tbs fresh ginger or ginger paste

1 omega 3 Egg
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/8 cup molasses

1/4 cup Coconut Oil (Tropical Traditions for best results!!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (including lemon zest).
In a small mixing bowl beat eggs, honey, molasses, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer.
Pour wet ingredients into dry and beat with hand mixer until combined.
Add coconut oil into batter, and continue to blend until combined.
Press the dough out flat on a parchment lined baking sheet, about a tablespoon in size. Bake cookies for 15 minutes at 375.

Let cool completely then break the cookie into crumbs and set aside.

Procedure:

1. Place the ham in a glass baking dish and paint the dijon mustard on it with a pastry brush.

2. Then take the gingersnap crumbs and coat the ham until it is completely covered in crumbs.

3. Spray the ham with the bourbon to seal the crumb coating.

4. Bake the ham in the oven at 350° for about 10 mins, then take out the ham and lightly spritz the it with more bourbon. Return the ham to the oven and bake it until the crust is golden brown, or if you are like me, you can get the crust a little more brown than that. Let rest about 5-10 mins and then carve to serve.

Mmmm….HAMMALICIOUS!


Leftover Easter Eggs? Make Hard Boiled Eggs with Avocado, Cumin and Curry

Here’s a great recipe to use all those leftover Easter eggs!
It’s one of the many great dishes the BF and I enjoyed this weekend in Tahoe. We ate a completely Paleo Easter dinner on Saturday evening, and day by day I will be sharing everything we had and how to make it!

Hard Boiled Eggs with Avocado, Cumin and Curry

Ingredients:
6 organic cage free eggs
1 avocado
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry
1 tsp garlic pureé
pinch of salt to taste
optional: fresh black pepper on top
1-2 beets

To prepare the beets, cut them into cubes and boil them until they are tender. They will slip out of their outer skins much easier after they cook. Cut into little “diamond” shapes and set them aside.

Hard boil the eggs and peel them out of their shells. Cut them in half and scoop out the yolks into a small bowl. Cut half an avocado and mash it together with the yolks in the bowl. Add the spices and garlic puree and the salt to taste. Spoon the mixture back into the egg white halves. Top with cracked pepper.

Garnish the finished eggs with the beet diamonds.

Tomorrow I will show you how I made a Gingersnap crusted ham Paleo style!


Paleo Dining: Speak up! Ask questions! Take charge!

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Dining out can be a little tricky on the Paleo diet. Standard restaurant menus are a gauntlet of gluten, sugar, and dairy laden dishes, not to mention the cheap seed oils that are used to prepare them.

The above slide show is from a restaurant at which my Paleo partner and I dined called Coyote Bar & Grill.

In the title I say, “Speak up!” because in order to stick to the principles of a gluten-free, sugar-free diet, you are often times going to find yourself in need of certain menu substitutions to make restaurant meals work best for you. And THAT IS OK! You are the customer, and you are paying for your meal. You should enjoy it and not fret about what the server or the chef will think of you if you ask for something special.

Of course, substitutions and modifications might not work so much in a chain restaurant (especially fast food) because food is not made to order), but typically most restaurants are glad to accommodate a customer with special dietary needs. Especially if they ever want to see that customer ever again.

When we dined at Coyote, we were very hungry from running in the Carlsbad 5000 5K race. Directly after the race, my boyfriend had conquered a half chicken at Pollos Maria, but it was 4 hours later, and his appetite had come back with a vengeance. And I was ready to eat, too, after running harder than I ever have in my entire life.

For our appetizer, we ordered the “Guacamole Especial”, which on the menu is listed as “homemade guac, cheese, salsa fresca, tortilla chips”. All I had to do was ask if they could substitute some sort of raw vegetable for the tortilla chips, and please leave off the cheese. They were very agreeable and the BF and I were able to enjoy a perfectly Paleo prelude to our entrees. 🙂

For my main course, I ordered the Grilled Seafood Salad: Grilled scallops, prawns, fresh fish, mixed greens, Feta cheese, tomato, baby corn & Lemon-Cilantro Vinaigrette. To make it Paleo, all I had to do was ask the server to leave off the dressing, and I picked around the cheese and the baby corn. Everything else was perfect!

BF ordered the Grilled Salmon and asked for double grilled vegetables instead of the wild rice. The dinner also came with a mixed greens salad. We also ordered 4 shrimp skewers ala carte. After my salad, I could only eat one of them. I also wanted to note that instead of dressing, I often mix in guacamole into my greens. That way I avoid sugars and soy oil blends (often GMOs) that are notorious ingredients in salad dressings (even house made ones).

So, remember when you go out to eat, you’re in the driver’s seat. You can choose where to go and several details about your meal (in many cases down to how it is prepared). Don’t worry about being a pain if you ask for something that’s not exactly spelled out on the menu. Ask how things are prepared and stay away from adjectives like “breaded, fried”. Words such as “grilled, raw, steamed” are your new best friends!

Happy dining to all my Paleo friends out there!

PS: If you have any Paleo/Primal dining tips/tricks please feel free to share them below! 🙂


Make this Now, Thank Me Later! German “stir fry”

This one’s from the archives.
Thanks to all for supporting the new site!!

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Seriously, make this now. If you don’t like sauerkraut, you might like this dish. If you don’t eat bacon, all I can do is apologize.

German “stir fry”

What you need:
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Red or White Wine
Red Onion
Garlic
Acorn or Butternut Squash (cubed)
Eggplant, Zucchini Squash
Apple, Granny Smith, Fuji, or Gala… any non-mushy apple will do.
Bacon (as many slices as you like—you can also use pork sausage in place of or in addition.
Sauerkraut

It’s funny how our tastes change as adults. I used to HATE sauerkraut as a kid and refuse to eat it. I would go to the Waynesville Sauerkraut Festival with my mom every year, but refuse to sample any of the food there. Now I love sauerkraut, and it’s one of my favorite foods. It is fibrous, low calorie, and filling. I might be getting married to it soon.

I came up with this recipe to honor my new found love, and I have been eating it several times a week. I call it German stir fry because the recipe contains a few of German ingredients, and they are all cooked together basically like I do with a stir fry.

You can use eggplant or not, or squash or not, it all depends on what you like. I really prefer cooking to baking a lot of times, because most recipes are so flexible. This one is as well.

To prepare:
Slice the onion and sauté in oil. Salt the onions to help them caramelize. Cook the onions down and add a little wine or vegetable stock if the pan gets too dry. Add the squash and cook for 5-10 minutes. Add the sqaush, then add the apple next. Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a separate pan until fully browned and crisp.

When the squash and potato are nearly cooked, add the eggplant, and cook until eggplant is tender. Chop the bacon and the sauerkraut and toss in. Heat thoroughly and remove from heat.


Paleo Recipe: Hard Boiled Eggs with Avocado, Cumin, and Curry

Hey, I know these eggs don’t look all that exciting. I made them as a last minute surprise appetizer for the Wintun Ranch Grass Fed Steaks we had as our main course last night. According to the BF, “they almost upstaged the entire dinner!” I really loved them too, and am actually going to make some more tonight. As you can imagine, after dining with someone who has Adam Richman’s appetite (but far better metabolism), these eggs were “gone in 60 seconds”. 😉

So, wanna give them a try? Depending on how much you want to make, you can multiply the ingredients. I will give the ratio for the amount of eggs I made last night: 3, yielding the six portions you see in the picture. 🙂

Hard Boiled Eggs with Avocado, Cumin and Curry

Ingredients:

3 organic cage free eggs

1/2 of one avocado

1tsp cumin

1/2 tsp curry

1/2 tsp garlic pureé

pinch of salt to taste

optional: fresh black pepper on top

Hard boil the eggs and peel them out of their shells. Cut them in half and scoop out the yolks into a small bowl. Cut half an avocado and mash it together with the yolks in the bowl. Add the spices and garlic puree and the salt to taste. Spoon the mixture back into the egg white halves. Top with cracked pepper.

I am going to dice some beets to top the eggs with tonight when I make them again, as this will make them a little more visually appealing without affecting the taste very much. I will update with a new picture and instructions on the beets tomorrow.

Happy Sunday!

UPDATE! 

I added beets to garnish the eggs, and they look and taste great.

To prepare the beets, cut them into cubes and boil them until they are tender. They will slip out of their outer skins much easier after they cook. Cut into little “diamond” shapes and place on top of the avocado and egg filling. Here is what it looks like:


Chicken Larb in Cabbage Cups

Image

1 head of cabbage

2/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
1/3 cup fish sauce
2 teaspoons Thai roasted chili paste

1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass
1 tablespoon thinly sliced jalapeño pepper
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Separate the cabbage into individual leaves.

Mix the first 3 ingredients together with the garlic, set aside.

Melt some coconut oil in a skillet and sauté the green onions, pepper shallots, and the lemongrass until tender. Transfer to a different pan, then cook the ground chicken in the same skillet used for the shallots/onions. When chicken has cooked most of the way through (make sure you have broken it up with a spoon into small pieces while cooking). Pour in the sauce mixture and add the cooked vegetables. Add the cilantro and mint.

Spoon into cabbage pieces. This recipe feeds 4 as an appetizer and 2 as a main course.

Serve with a white wine such as Le Casque’s 2008 Roussanne. You can find it at their winery located in Loomis, CA. For more information, you can visit their website here.


Dukkah Spice Blend and Curried Cashews

During my journey with Paleo, nuts have been a staple in my diet. When eaten raw or dry roasted (dry-roasted at home, not purchased as roasted/salted), they are exceptionally nutritious. So, today I’d like to show you two recipes showcasing nuts as a sort of condiment, and nuts as a snack.
The first recipe is called dukkah. We use it to season our vegetable sautees. Cauliflower, kale, chard… it really takes the flavor of the vegetables to another level! 🙂
Dukkah
You can modify/change up these ingredients to your liking:

1/4 cup ground coriander

5 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 tablespoons cumin

2 tablespoon black peppercorns

2 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 teaspoon dried mint leaves

2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

Nuts:

1/2 cup raw hazelnuts

1/2 cup raw pistachio nuts

1/2 cup raw almonds

3/4 cup cashewsIt’s easiest I think to roast all the nuts in the oven first, until they are golden brown. I do this on a sheet pan at 350° until they turn color. Be sure to watch closely, they will burn fast.

While the nuts are toasting in the oven, toast the herbs, spices, and seeds until they are brown/toasty/aromatic. Allow each of them to cool completely.

Place the nuts and seeds, along with the mint and salt, into a food processor and pulse into a coarse consistency.

This is the finished product…
Snack Two!
Curried Cashews and Almonds

1 cup cashews

1 cup almonds

1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbs coconut oil (melted)

Toast the nuts in the oven or in a skillet until they are golden brown.
Place the spices in a mortar and pestle and grind to incorporate the curry and the red pepper flakes.

Drizzle 1 Tbs coconut oil over the toasted nuts and then sprinkle the curry powder mixture over it. Stir with a spoon to coat the nuts completely.

Bag them up and sneak them into any sort of function where the food options are limited/non-Paleo!!

This way, you won’t starve–you eat clean–no matter what, you win–you might be/or eventually be the sexiest person in the room. #truth!


Chocolate on the Paleo Diet

So, big disclaimer here… if you are trying to lose weight/lean out on the Paleo diet, you should probably obstain from eating chocolate altogether… but if you are at a healthy weight, or at a weight you are comfortable maintaining (maybe you get a lot of “dee-ammns” when you walk by the opposite sex?), then OK, you are allowed to have a little chocolate in moderation on the Paleo diet.I am really not that much of a dessert person anymore, unless it’s fresh or dried fruit and almonds. I even used to do a small cheese arrangement, but in the past few months I have been more strict than ever doing Paleo, so I rarely even have cheese anymore. Practice what you preach, you know? 🙂

But recently, my boyfriend and I went to the Winter Fancy Food Show, and one of the vendors present was TCHO Chocolates. I made a connection with the company because I think it’s important to buy products from companies who make it a point to sell organic and free trade items.
Organic and fair trade, and the highest concentration of cacao that you can find in this bar, the 99%… which, is spectacular with a port or a late harvest zinfandel.TCHO also sent me some other samples to try, such as these Dark Chocolate Organic (yes!!) Baking Drops. They clock in at 68% cacao.

I melted them down and used them to make a classic treat: Chocolate Covered Strawberries.
And if you are going to have chocolate on the Paleo diet, that’s just about the best way to do it. You can go with a chocolate that is not as sweet and it’s portion controlled because there is only so much chocolate that can fit on the berry. How many berries you eat, however, is up to you. The best thing about this dessert is that the chocolate is so intense, you wind up not eating that many.
To melt the discs, I heated some coconut milk in a bowl in the microwave (not boiling, but hot enough to melt the chocolate. Depending on how many strawberries you plan on making, place some of the chocolate discs in another bowl and add the heated milk (about 1/4 cup per 6-8ozs of chocolate). Stir the chocolate until it is smooth and add 1/2 to 1 tsp of your favorite liqueur.
Then dip the strawberries and set them on parchment or wax paper and allow the chocolate to solidify. To speed up the process, set them in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. Share with someone special. 😉

You can find TCHO on Facebook here and on twitter here.


Sacramento Food Film Festival is March 10th! Tickets going fast!!

Some of the best movies I have seen in the past few years have been all about food!!

More specifically, documentaries about our food and its production and distribution.

Needless to say, the inaugural Sacramento Food Film Festival is right up my alley! It will be held on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at Guild Theater from 10am to 10pm. So basically, come out like you are camping out for a deal on an HDTV at Best Buy on Black Friday, ok? 😉

I know a lot of you seem to be aware and conscious of the serious food issues/problems that this world faces, but these movies will educate you (as well as entertain and provoke thought) to what is really going on and really going wrong with our global food supply.

Here is the film lineup for the day:

10:15 Lunch Line 63 min.

Lunch Line follows six kids from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago as they set out to fix school lunch — and end up at the White House. Their unlikely journey parallels the dramatic transformation of school lunch from a patchwork of local anti-hunger efforts to a robust national feeding program. The film tracks the behind-the-scenes details of school lunch and childhood hunger from key moments in the 1940s, 1960s, and 1980s to the present, revealing political twists, surprising alliances, and more common ground than people might realize.
11:30 The Last Crop 50 min.

The Last Crop follows Jeff and Annie Main, and examines how one family’s mission to preserve their small working farm’s existence for future farmers is challenging the status quo of farmland conservation and farm succession policies within California’s 36 billion dollar agricultural industry. I saw this movie early this month and absolutely loved it. Since the filmmaker keeps adding on to the length of the film as the story progresses (as it is a work in progress), it will be a little longer than 50 minutes.


12:30 Dive 53 min.

Inspired by a curiosity about our country’s careless habit of sending food straight to landfills, the multi award-winning documentary DIVE! follows filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and friends as they dumpster dive in the back alleys and gated garbage receptacles of Los Angeles’ supermarkets. In the process, they salvage thousands of dollars worth of good, edible food – resulting in an inspiring documentary that is equal parts entertainment, guerilla journalism and call to action.
1:30 Future of Food 88 min.
The Future of Food has been a key tool in the American and international anti-GMO grassroots activist movements and played widely in the environmental and activist circuits since its release in 2004. The film is widely acknowledged for its role in educating voters and the subsequent success of passing Measure H in Mendocino County, California, one of the first local initiatives in the country to ban the planting of GMO crops. Indicative of its popularity, the Future of Food showed to a sold out audience of 1,500 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco in 2004, a benefit for Slow Food, where it was introduced by Alice Waters.  

3:00 Food Matters 80 min.

With nutritionally-depleted foods, chemical additives and our tendency to rely upon pharmaceutical drugs to treat what’s wrong with our malnourished bodies, it’s no wonder that modern society is getting sicker. Food Matters sets about uncovering the trillion dollar worldwide ‘sickness industry’ and gives people some scientifically verifiable solutions for overcoming illness naturally.


4:30 Ingredients 67 min.
Inspiring and rich, INGREDIENTS unearths the roots of the local food movement and digs into the stories of the chefs, farmers and activists transforming our broken food system. This upbeat, beautifully-photographed film introduces us to the verdant farms and pioneering restaurants where good food is produced and served. From innovative farm-to-table programs in Harlem to picturesque sheep farms in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, INGREDIENTS shows the heart of an alternative food system – healthy, sustainable and tasty.

Through interviews with world-class chefs such as Alice Waters and Greg Higgins and sustainability-minded farmers in Oregon, New York and Ohio, INGREDIENTS weaves an uplifting tale that is equal parts earthy rebellion and mouth-watering homage.
Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth, INGREDIENTS is a fun, open-minded film that will satiate both veteran slow-food fans and the uninitiated alike.

Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth? Guys, need I say more? 🙂

6:00 Farmaggedon 90 min.Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasona-bly burdensome regulations. The film serves to put policymakers and regulators on notice that there is a growing movement of people aware that their freedom to choose the foods they want is in danger, a movement that is taking action with its dollars and its voting power to protect and preserve the dwindling number of family farms that are struggling to survive.


7:45 Farmers Panel Discussion 60 min.
WHAT’S ORGANIC ABOUT “ORGANIC?” delves into the debates that arise when a grassroots agricultural movement evolves into a booming international market. As the film moves from farm fields to government meetings to industry trade shows, we see the hidden costs of conventional agriculture. We also see how our health, the health of our planet, and the agricultural needs of our society are all intimately connected. The film compels us to look forward, towards a new vision for our culture and encourages us to ask, “How can we eat with an ecological consciousness?”

For more information on the event go to: http://sacfoodfilmfest.com

Special thanks to sponsors Simply Recipes, Whole Foods, Slow Food Sacramento, Munchie Musings, Mikuni Sushi, Guild Theatre, and the Sacramento Co-op.

You can find the Sacramento Food Film Festival on Facebook here!!

PS: If you buy a ticket by March 1st, you will be automatically entered to win a restaurant gift card from deVere’s or Ella.

Buy tickets here now! Hurry because the Guild only holds 200 people and tickets are going fast!!