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! 🙂


Summer Sipping & Cinnamon Basil Pesto


Summer is here with a recipe from the patio and Yellowtail Reserve Pinot Grigio.

First, I’ll let you in on the wine. The kind people at Yellowtail sent me two bottles of their reserve to sample. I’ve been really into whites lately, so I opened the Pinot Grigio first (last Sunday) to drink with some grilled chicken and vegetables we made.

The Yellowtail Pinot Grigio is a 2008, 100% pinot grigio, 100% stainless steel. 11.5% alc. And the bottle is very attractive. I like the label with something I am going to call “wine cleavage” showing through. Look at the label in the picture above and you might see what I mean.

For more information on this wine, go to www.discoveryellowtail.com


Now, about the recipe! I made pesto with cinnamon basil instead of traditional basil. Cinnamon basil is wonderfully fragrant and a little more spicy on the nose.

It makes a really bright colored pesto, when the leaves are first crushed. In the pesto I made I used almonds instead of pine nuts. We have three basil plants and I have them on harvest rotation. Week one, I pull from one plant, week two from the second plant and so on, so each plant has three weeks to grow back so that I can have basil something every week. Here’s what became of the cinnamon basil:

2 1/2 cups cinnamon basil leaves
(you will want to pack them down in the measuring cup)
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup almonds
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (um, not the kind out of the green Kraft can, but just about any hard cheese will work…pecorino is commonly used as well.)

Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until well blended.
I ended up making a salad and using the pesto as a dressing ingredient.

Also, the pesto is great on vegetables. If you don’t have fresh basil available on your patio, I highly recommend buying a few plants (I found mine at Trader Joe’s in Roseville). It was a $10 investment that has been well worth it.