Tag Archives: whole30

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

Strawberry Cucumber Salad | Paleo + Life

As I write this, great sheets of rain are pouring down outside, our fireplace is going full blast, and I’m making an immense mug of tea. It seems an odd time to be thinking of light, fruit-based dishes like this one. Strawberries, in particular, seem to be the heart of summer.

However, it happened that when I went to the grocery store, I was thinking about salad. Well, about roast chicken and salad. Specifically, about how boring this salad would be, because I always do roast chicken with a big salad. I was also thinking how very, very tired I am of the same old tomato salad, and what on earth could I do instead?

While I was standing there in the produce department, I noticed a stack of strawberries. The combination of the crisp, meaty smell of roasted chicken in my basket and the sweet perfume from the berries reminded me of a lovely meal I’d had at a restaurant ages ago. The salad was fantastic, with strawberries, blackened chicken, corn, black beans — I don’t remember anything else about that evening, but that salad was perfection.

Thus inspired, I picked up the berries, some balsamic vinegar, and dashed home to try to make something like it. In the end, this salad was more like a cousin than a twin, but it added a twist to the routine, the kids happily gobbled it up, and it was lovely having a little bit of summer in the middle of my autumn.

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, cut in a chiffonade
  • 10-15 sorrel leaves, cut in a chiffonade
  • 2 tablespoons mild fresh herbs, such as salad burnet or parsley
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into half rounds
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine romaine, sorrel, herbs, berries and cucumber slices. Toss gently with salad tongs.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil and vinegar, stirring vigorously. Drizzle the mixture over the salad.
  3. Grind salt and black pepper over the salad to taste. Toss salad again; serve immediately.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/strawberry-cucumber-salad/

Food Lovers’ Fridays: Compound Butter

Food Lovers’ Fridays: I’m a big fan of bringing classical cooking methods and recipes into the home kitchen. Today’s post is part of a series meant to highlight those traditional techniques and recipes that can be used in or adapted to paleo cooking.

I have been dragging lately. These days I cannot seem to get motivated and I am cranky when I have to try. I guess the whole bar experience took more out of me than I realized. It doesn’t mean I am not thinking of food, or wanting lush, expansive doses of flavor — it just means I’m leaning more heavily on the culinary tricks that offer the most bang for the buck.
Thus, today’s FLF is one of the simplest, but most amazing things I know how to make: compound butter.

It really is as simple as it gets: warm some butter, dice some herbs, moosh together, and serve. If you are a more strict paleo eater, you’ll use ghee. If you aIre vegan, I would try a combination of equal parts red palm oil and coconut oil. The red palm has a rich, carroty flavor that is reminiscent of butter or ghee, and the coconut oil makes that flavor a little less intense, so that the flavor of the herbs can shine.

Because compound butters so simple, they allow for endless variations. My favorites, I think, are  fresh herbs from our garden with just a touch of salt. A single herb works just as well as a blend, so use whatever you’ve got. Compound butters don’t have to be savory, though — a vanilla and coconut sugar version, for example, would be great on a paleo muffin or bread.

I call the attached version Scarborough Fair Butter after the song; it’s my go-to for seasoning our Thanksgiving turkey. Because rosemary and sage are more dominant flavors, I’ve balanced them with a stronger dose of thyme and parsley. It is equally adept at livening up any number of vegetables (try roasted beets or sweet potatoes) or swirled atop a gorgeous grilled steak. That extra hit of flavor is divine.

Food Lovers’ Fridays: Compound Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage, and salt. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  2. Continuing to stir the mixture, add the softened butter. Mix thoroughly. Serve immediately.
  3. If preparing for later, roll the mixture into a cylindrical shape. Cover with plastic wrap, then wrap the bundle with aluminum foil. Place in freezer until ready to use.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/food-lovers-fridays-compound-butter/
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Sage & Pepper Pork Chops

 

Sage & Pepper Pork Chops | Paleo + LifeI am pleased to report that I am done with the bar exam, and my life has started to regain a bit of normalcy. As normal as it ever is, at any rate.

This means I get to focus a bit on fun things, like figuring out how to take pictures again. I am still very much a novice food photographer, and with the last two months being taken up with other things,  my beginning skills seem to have flown the coop. I really want to spend a lot more time playing around with my camera again.

These pictures were not taken when I had time to fiddle around with the camera, but just as we were sitting down to dinner. I served these with sides of butternut squash and sauteed peas, but really, they work with just about anything.
I love chops because they are so easy to customize to your own taste. Mild and meaty, pork chops take on flavors exceptionally well. I love to marinate them (or cook them in the sous vide), because they can be rather dry, but oiled chops, as they are here, stay pretty moist, too. This recipe is one of the simplest, but it works because the combination of earthy sage and sharp black pepper just sings on the palate.

Sage & Pepper Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 6 pork chops
  • 3 tablespoons oil of choice (leftover bacon drippings are especially excellent)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-8 whole sage leaves

Instructions

  1. Rinse the chops; pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Coat both sides of the chops with oil. Salt and pepper both sides, then place them on a baking sheet. Top each chop with one or two sage leaves.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, or until chops are lightly browned and tender. Serve immediately.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/sage-pepper-pork-chops/

 

 

Curried Oven-Fried Chicken

Curried Oven-Fried Chicken | Paleo + Life

When I was a kid, I loved having chicken for dinner, because the drumsticks were mine. There was something so perfect and satisfying about them. They were just the right serving size, and even had a convenient handle built in. Let other people have the thighs, wings or the often-dry and boring chicken breasts: I was all about the legs.

As an adult, I have reluctantly ceded the drumsticks to our children. I do find I appreciate the other parts more — a nicely roasted chicken thigh is a thing of culinary beauty, but sometimes, I find that I miss them. Fortunately, I can usually find packs of them on sale. When I do, I am happy to scoop them up.

This particular recipe is almost too simple (i.e., perfect for a weeknight). A hot oven and a dash of a few quick spices take hardly any time at all. Curries come in such variety that it’s impossible to say which is my favorite. This Madras-style spice blend is a good one that I’m enjoying of late. It is perfect with all kinds of meat, and if you are near a spice shop, it’s very easy to find a good one. (I like this one from  The cooking is pretty much hands off; the eating, happily, is the exact opposite.

Curried Oven-Fried Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds chicken (I used only drumsticks, but a cut-up chicken would also work)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon madras-style curry powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pour half of the olive oil onto a baking sheet, with a basting brush, coat the entire sheet.
  3. Wash and pat dry the chicken, placing it on the baking sheet. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and curry powder; drizzle the remaining olive oil over the meat.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, or until flesh is firm, skin is brown and the juices run clear. Remove from oven; serve promptly.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/curried-oven-fried-chicken/

Playing in the Kitchen

finished soup

Today, I thought I’d dive in to recipe development in a bit more depth.
Recipe development: that sounds so fancy, doesn’t it? It’s not fancy in my head. Really, it’s just playing in the kitchen — usually because we’re starting to get hungry and need something fast. So here’s how a typical dinner happens around here.

raw veg

This one started, as they often do, with the realization that dinner needed to hit the table pretty darned soon, and I had no plan. Sigh. I spy some veggies in a wooden bowl, and think I should use that squash. The weather’s been cold and damp today; soup sounds good. I chop up the squash, and peel some carrots. Roasting is usually quick, and gives really good flavor. Roasting brings out the sweetness, so I’m pretty sure even the littles will like it.

Thinking I’d like something warm and Mexican-inspired, I pull out salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon, and sprinkle those on the veggies. I quickly melt a bit of coconut oil, and pour that over them as well. Pop the trays in a 425 degree oven, and that’s underway.

I send a text to the husband, trying to convince him to pick up a rotisserie chicken on his way home. Husband says nope, can’t do it. Another dramatic sigh. I’ll pull something out of the freezer.

pork jowl

A quick dig around in our small freezer brings me to this chunk of smoked pork jowl. I figure hey, that’s basically bacon. I’m going to slice it up and fry it to go with the soup.

While the meat is cooking, I start thinking about the final dish. Since I’m going to puree the veggies in the Vitamix, I know the soup will be super smooth and silky. Crisp pork will make a nice contrast to that, but I want a bit of crunch (and color) as well. How can I do that? I pull out the hand grater and shred some red cabbage.

Onions in Pork Fat | Paleo + Life

I think about adding some of the garlic I roasted last week to the soup, but am torn. Like the roasted veg, the garlic is sweet, but the flavor’s a bit stronger than I want. Instead, when the pork is done cooking, I slice an onion really thin, and cook the slices in the rendered fat. The onion slices start to caramelize as they cook, starting to develop a deep, sweet flavor, but also picking up a bit of the smoky flavor from the cooking fat. As I taste them, I think: Yup, that was the right choice.

When the onions are done, I pull them out of the pan and set them aside. By this time, the carrots and squash are fork tender, so I pull them out of the oven. I let them cool for a few minutes, but since we need to dish dinner up PDQ I’m handling them while they’re still hot. The carrots are already peeled, and just need slicing, but the squash needs the peel taken off as well. I toss the chunks into the Vitamix, and blend away.  Because of the quantity of veggies, I do this in two batches.

Once the soup is blended, dinner’s basically done. I scoop a hefty portion into a bowl for each of us, topping it with the red cabbage, bacon and fried onions.  No time for fancy plating: we’re starving, and it smells fantastic. We dig in.

Potatoes and Pecans

Potatoes & Pecans | Paleo + Life

How goes your January clean eating challenge? So far, so good around these parts. As opposed to last year, when I did my first one, I am actually enjoying it. I feel far less stressed about the process –it’s more of a reminder to myself, since I’ve basically got the “rules” down from a year of being paleo. It also helps that it’s a less restrictive challenge this time around. While I appreciated jumping into the deep end as a paleo newbie, the 21-day primal feels more compatible with my day-to-day life.

Which brings me to sweet potatoes (bear with me, it will make sense in a moment).

Sweet Potatoes & Pecans | Paleo + Life

I have always loved sweets, even pre-paleo, though I tended to reserve them for holiday eating. But it turns out they are full of vitamins A and B-6, among other things. With those kind of benefits, I am happy to eat them year-round.

We steam, mash, bake turn them into fries, pie, breads, even muffins. But at the moment, I’m focusing on quicker dishes, so my daily diet has been more about “how fast can I get food into my face and get back to my work?” than the patient cooking sweet potatoes require.

In order to make that happen, I’ve turned to the microwave. Ours has a “potato” setting, though I usually find that I need to set the machine for two potatoes instead of one (or three instead of two, etc). Still, it helps me get this vitamin-filled deliciousness onto my plate in a hurry. Topping them with coconut oil, pecans and coconut flakes adds healthy fats and makes even a fast snack feel luxurious.

Potatoes and Pecans

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or ghee
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions

  1. Wash potatoes and dry them; poke them with a fork several times.
  2. Microwave potatoes on high for 12 minutes, or until tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.
  3. Remove from microwave; slice potatoes in half and place into serving bowls.
  4. Split potatoes vertically; slip a dollop of coconut oil or ghee into the potato and mix it into the flesh thoroughly.
  5. To serve, top each half of potato with apple sauce, cinnamon and coconut flakes, and chopped pecans.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/potatoes-and-pecans/

Food Lovers’ Fridays: Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic | Paleo + Life

Food Lovers’ Fridays: I’m a big fan of bringing classical cooking methods and recipes into the home kitchen. Today’s post is part of a series meant to highlight those traditional techniques and recipes that can be used in or adapted to paleo cooking.

I’m just gonna come out and say it: You need this.

That’s a bold pronouncement, I know. But I’m not backing down from it. Roasted garlic can change your culinary life.

When you switch from the standard American diet to a whole foods/ancestral eating template, one of the things you lose is hyperpalatable food. Processed foods have scientifically engineered ratios of sugar, salt and fat to get you hooked. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a smart business decision. Big flavor makes you come back for more (and more and more).

So when you make the change to a new way of eating, getting used to natural tastes can be a challenge. But don’t despair. Real, whole food can have big, intense flavors, too — you just have to figure out how to make them happen.

Enter roasted garlic.

Roasted Garlic | Paleo + Life

Creamy, carmelized, and meltingly tender, roasted garlic will become your new go-to flavor booster. Less than an hour in a hot oven makes the sharp tang of raw garlic mellow into something so different, so luscious, it’s hard to believe it’s the same food. Spread it on crackers, mash it into soups, rub it on steaks or baked potatoes, mix it into guacamole, make salad dressing with it — once you’ve made a batch, you’ll want to use it all the time.

Food Lovers’ Fridays: Roasted Garlic

Ingredients

  • 5 heads garlic
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon herbs (I like rosemary or marjoram)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the papery skin off of the garlic heads, but do not separate the cloves. Cut off the tips of each head of garlic (approximately 1/4").
  3. With aluminum foil, make a small packet to hold the garlic. Place a dollop of coconut oil on the cut side of each head. Sprinkle the herbs and salt over the garlic; close the foil packet tightly.
  4. Roast in the oven for 50 minutes, or until garlic cloves are softened and lightly colored.
  5. Remove from oven; set aside until ready to serve.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/roasted-garlic/

Beef Heart in Romesco Sauce

Beef Heart in Romesco Sauce | Paleo + Life

As I mentioned last time, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to more consistently eat paleo “superfoods.” I’m aiming for at least once a week. Organ meats are an easy place to start keeping that resolution. With all of the health benefits they offer (the B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin D, iodine, zinc, CoQ10, etc., etc. — check out this great post from The Paleo Mom for more details), these are truly the unsung heroes of the freezer case.

Heart, in particular, is a nice introduction to learning how to eat the odd bits. It’s muscle meat, just like steaks or ribs which are so familiar to us:  the flavor of heart is really just an especially ‘beefy’ roast beef.  The long, low and slow cooking that the sous vide provides makes the meat deliciously tender. (This dish can also be made in the slow cooker, but I find using the sous vide provides a very tender texture.)

Beef Heart in Romesco Sauce | Paleo + Life

My favorite way to serve beef heart is in romesco sauce. One of the loveliest, most versatile sauces I know, it comes from the Catalan region of Spain. Like any good traditional recipe, romesco has many variations. Some versions use tomatoes, some use bread, but just about all feature sweet peppers, garlic and almond flour.

Prepared in the sous vide, the flavors of the vegetables and meat infuse one another so that each bite holds the essence of all the ingredients. Here, I’ve blended the vegetables with the juices from the meat, which gives the sauce a deep velvety brown color. For a thicker, more colorful sauce, when you open the packet, pour off the meat juices and puree the veggies. Depending on which pepper you have used, the sauce will take on that color.
(Don’t discard the juices: pour them into a saucepan, and cook over medium high heat until the volume is reduced by half. Drizzle a bit of this over the beef. It is delicious.)

Beef Heart in Romesco Sauce

Ingredients

  • Beef heart, approximately 3 lbs
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 sweet bell peppers, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat sous vide to 185 degrees.
  2. Rinse the heart and pat dry. In a medium bowl, sprinkle the paprika, parsley, salt and pepper over the meat, making sure all sides of the heart are coated.
  3. In a sous vide pouch, combine the heart, onions, bell peppers, garlic and oil. With the vacuum sealer, seal the bag shut.
  4. Place pouch in the sous vide. Allow to cook for 24-36 hours. Remove pouch from sous vide and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  5. When cooled, open pouch and remove heart; set aside. Pour vegetables, cooking juices and almond flour into a high-speed blender and puree for 15-20 seconds, or until a smooth sauce has formed.
  6. Slice the heart into portions approximately 3/4" thick. When ready to serve, top slices of heart with a spoonful of sauce.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/beef-heart-in-romesco-sauce/

Delicata Squash Sous Vide

Delicata Squash Sous Vide | Paleo + Life

My friend C., one of my favorite people in the world, has something of a squash obsession.
I have known this woman to buy multiple pounds of winter squashes — even when she was only cooking for herself.
Because she loves food like I love food, I took her squash addiction seriously. However, I didn’t share it until two things happened:
One: I discovered that the skin on delicata squashes is edible. Blew. My. Mind. I have been cooking for far more years than I can recall, and yet this was news to me. Incredibly exciting news, too: anything that makes these vitamin-filled veggies even easier to cook and eat is brilliant in my book.

Two: I spent some time with my new favorite book,The Flavor Bible. Reading over the “Squash” entry, I noticed how close it was to the entry for “Turmeric”, and an idea was born…

Delicata Squash Sous Vide | Paleo + Life

This recipe was pretty much perfect right out of the gate. I attribute that to the generous use of fresh turmeric, which I had never tried before. The flavor is bright — a little peppery, a little earthy, with a menthol-like freshness that is nothing like the dried stuff. Inspired by 101 Cookbooks’ Turmeric Tea, I added a splash of lemon to really punch up that flavor, and a sprinkle of black pepper to enhance turmeric’s natural bite. With some onion, a dab of olive oil, and a little time in the sous vide, the squash becomes even creamier and more delicious.

Delicata Squash Sous Vide

Ingredients

  • 2 delicata squash, scooped out and sliced into rings
  • 1/4 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2" x 1" piece fresh turmeric, peeled

Instructions

  1. Preheat the sous vide to 185F.
  2. While the oven heats, combine squash and onions in a large pouch. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Grate turmeric over the mixture. Holding the pouch closed, swish the contents around so that the seasonings are spread equally over the squash. Seal the pouch.
  3. When the sous vide reaches the correct temperature, place the sealed pouch in the sous vide and cook for 1-1/2 - 2 hours. Remove the vegetables from oven; set aside until ready to serve.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/delicata-squash-sous-vide/

Paleo Sardine Salad

Sard Sal V Blog

*Note to my readers: I received kitchen tools from Crisp Cooking for review. As always, my opinions are absolutely my own.

Is it weird to be squeamish about a food you love?

For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of sardines. This seems a wee bit odd, knowing the sweet-toothed creature that I was (and am), but there’s something about that feisty, briny flavor that hits all the right notes for me. Maybe it just reminds me of my childhood, and spending time at my grandma’s. In my memory, my grandma always had sardines in her pantry, and we kids ate them all the time.

It was simultaneously awesome and terrifying to eat a (nearly) whole fish, bones and all. That seemed incredibly daring — perfect for a kid who wants to do something grown-up and brave, but that won’t get them in trouble. Munching on sardines was only for the big kids, which increased the cool factor by about a million. Sardines on saltines with a glop of yellow mustard was a perfect snack.
Now, of course, knowing that sardines are terribly good for you, being full of calcium and omega-3s, I think Grandma was pretty darned smart to keep them around. These days, I eat them with no hesitation.

Sard Sal Blog

I almost feel that I can’t call this a recipe — it’s one of those “I need lunch now – let’s raid the pantry” kind of dishes. I combined my beloved sardines with capers to punch up the saltiness, a a little lemon juice to tame this fishiness, some salt and pepper, and a bit of dill for that bright herbal taste all good salads need.

I also wanted to spiff up my plate: just because it was a quick lunch didn’t mean it had to look rough, right? Half the joy of a good meal is in the presentation. So I played around with some kitchen tools I received from Crisp Cooking, and did some quick fancy cuts. Taking an extra few seconds to do that was simple, but so satisfying to do. I felt like a guest at my own table.

Paleo Sardine Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 romaine lettuce heart, washed and cut in a chiffonade
  • 1 can sardines in olive oil
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced with a wavy knife
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut with a julienne peeler
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

Instructions

  1. Create a mound of lettuce on a medium plate.
  2. Arrange the sardines, pepper slices, and shredded cucumber atop the lettuce as shown in the photo (or whatever way appeals to you). Splash the entire salad with the remaining oil from the can of sardines.
  3. Sprinkle the scallions and capers over the assorted vegetables, then top with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  4. Finish with a grind of freshly ground black peppercorns, a pinch of salt and a sprinkling of dill. Serve immediately.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/paleo-sardine-salad/

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