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Archive for March, 2010

Pork and Apple Stew

We’ve all been there, we arrive home after a long day, starving and in search of something to eat.  For some reason, these days always seem to be the ones where we haven’t been to the grocery store to stock up on supplies.  However, even with only a few ingredients, you can still pull together a very quick and satisfying paleo friendly dish like this one. 

The inspiration for this meal came from some grass-fed pork that I had recently picked up at the market.  By paring this with the few lonely items that I had left in my refrigerator that included a bag of broccoli slaw, kale (I love kale!), and a few apples, I was able to create a very satisfying dish with a touch of sweetness in less time that it would have taken to order in takeout!   

Ingredients (4-6 servings):

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 lbs grass fed pork, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 bag broccoli slaw
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into 1 inch chunks.  I used gala apples because that is what I had, but granny smith would be nice too
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, stems removed and torn into pieces

Cook it up:

  1. In large saucepan or dutch oven, heat oil
  2. Season pork with salt and pepper, and meat to pan and brown, turning occasionally for about 6 minutes.  Remove and set aside.
  3. Add onion to pan, saute until softened, about 3 minutes
  4. Add chicken stock, water, rosemary, Dijon mustard and bring to a boil
  5. Add pork, broccoli slaw and apples to pan and simmer until apples are tender ~ 10 minutes
  6. Add kale and simmer until kale has wilted.  Enjoy!  

Not a fan of broccoli slaw, try adding shredded cabbage  or any other veggie instead.

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Primal Protein Bars

Looking to pack a protein filled snack for my longer day adventures, I decided to add a simple twist to my primal nut ball recipe through the addition protein powder.  Using your food processor, you’ll find that these bars come together very quickly and the paste like mixture will press easily into bars making these a perfect pack and go snack.  

Ingredients:

  • 3 dates, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 12 dried prunes, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup organic dried apple slices, soaked for about 30 seconds in hot water and drained well
  • 1 cup roasted mixed nuts
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 scoops “proteins+” brand vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon, or more to taste

Directions:

  1. In food processor, process nuts and coconut until roughly ground, remove and set aside
  2. Add dates, prunes and apples to food processor, and process until finely chopped
  3. Add nuts, cinnamon and protein powder and process until mixture comes together
  4. While processor is running, add maple syrup and continue processing until the mixture begins to ball
  5. Turn mixture out onto parchment paper and press into a block.   Wrap up in parchment paper and refrigerate until cold.  Cut into pieces and enjoy.

Note: If you still want nut chunks in your bars, reserve 1/2 of the ground nuts and coconut, and quickly pulse or knead it into the mix after all the other ingredients have come together.  Like in my primal nut ball recipe, flax seeds would also be a great addition to these.

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When we think of cinnamon, we always tend to associate it as an ingredient used primarily in sweet dishes and deserts, however many Middle Eastern main dishes use cinnamon as part of their spice blend.   When cooked with meats and vegetables, the  cinnamon takes on an unexpectantly different flavour that adds extreme warmth to this wonderfully fragrant dish.   As traditional Moroccan dishes often contain chickpeas and/or potatoes, I’ve paleoize this one by substituting these ingredients for various paleo and primal friendly root vegetables and served it with a side dish of steamed kale. 

Ingredients:

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast cut in 1 inch pieces and season with salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 turnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 parsnips, peeled, core removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes broken into bite size pieces 
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • chopped fresh cilantro

Cook it up:

  1. In large sauce pan or dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat
  2. Add chicken and saute until golden, but not cooked all the way through.  Remove and reserve in bowl
  3. Add onion and saute until golden
  4. Add garlic, cinnamon, curry and cumin, stir to combine
  5. Add  turnips, parsnip, rutabaga and chicken stock.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add butternut squash and continue simmering for a further 10 minutes or until the veggies are tender
  7. Add tomatoes and chicken.  Simmer until chicken is cooked through  5 minutes
  8. Serve with a sprinkling of cilantro on top

Note:  This can also be made in your slow cooker, but it does take about 2 steps.   To cook in slow cooker, add all ingredients with the exception of the tomatoes and butternut squash.  Set slow cooker on low for 8 hours.  When there is approximately 3 hours remaining in the cooking time add the tomatoes and butternut squash and continue cooking. 

I have cooked this stew both ways, the first using the slow cooker and the second on the stove.  The slow cooker method is equally as delicious, but you may find that your veggies and chicken get quite soft and may break apart a bit more than the stove top method where you can better control the desired tenderness of your veggies.

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Breakfast Egg Cups

Here’s another great quick and easy, yet very impressive, brunch idea.  By cooking these in muffin tins, you will create a little cup that holds everything together.  I’ve used a spinach and mushroom filling, but any cooked veggies will do so don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment a little.  Also, if you’re still including dairy in your diet, try adding a piece of goat cheese between the egg and veggies or even a sprinkle of grated cheese on top.  The opportunities are endless!!  

Ingredients for One Serving

  • 2 slices of black forest ham – I used gluten & soy free with low nitrates and low sodium
  • 2 eggs
  • handful of fresh spinach
  • 4 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 tsp of finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Line 2 muffin cups with a slice of ham each.  Bake in oven for ~ 5 minutes, until edges look like they are starting to brown and ham holds its cup like shape
  3. While ham is cooking, in small frying pan, heat coconut oil over medium heat
  4. Add mushrooms, garlic and onion and saute until cooked
  5. Add spinach and continue cooking until wilted.  Set mixture aside
  6. To assemble fill each ham cup (still in muffin tin) with about 1 tbsp of the mushroom spinach mixture.  Crack an egg over the top of each and season with salt and pepper.   
  7. Place back in oven.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until the egg is cooked to your liking. 

Serving suggestions:  To add a few extra carbs to the mix, try serving them with a few of my spaghetti squash fritters or some mixed berries on the side.

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  • I love Indian food especially curry as there is something so wonderful and fragrant about the spices in the dish that make it a great meal for a cold winter’s night.  Traditionally, most curries are served with either rice or naan bread  both of which are definitely not primal/paleo friendly so my goal was to find an equally delicious and satisfying primal/paleo substitute.  Enter cauliflower “rice”.  Cauliflower has a great mild flavour and by using your food processor, in about 3o seconds you can easily transform a head of cauliflower into rice-size grains that can be used as a substitute for rice or pasta in all your favourite dishes.   For my curry recipe, I opted to add the cauliflower to the curry while it was cooking to help it absorb the flavour and create a Biriyani style curry.  But, this dish would be equally as good if you served the curry over steamed cauliflower “rice”.    In addition, to speed up the prep of this dish, instead of opting to roast and grind my own spices (which I have done and let me tell you it was a bit ambitious!), you can find some great primal/paleo friendly curry pastes in your local grocery store which will make quick work for this fabulous dish. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs stewing beef or other game meat
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 6 tbsp curry paste – I used a Biriyani paste, but any kind will do
  • 1 can low sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 head cauliflower, stem and outer green leaves removed and broken into florets

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat, add onions and saute until glossy
  2. Add beef and turn heat up to medium-high.  Saute beef until brown on all sides
  3. Stir in curry paste and cook with beef and onion mixture for about 5 minutes
  4. Add canned tomatoes.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. While curry is cooking, place cauliflower in small batches in food processor and pulse until the cauliflower resembles a rice sized consistency.   Place in bowl and set aside.
  6. After curry has cooked for about 45 minutes, add cauliflower to curry mixture, stir to combine.
  7. Simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.   

Note:  This recipe yields about 8 servings, so it will give you lots of leftovers to pack in lunch size servings for a grab and go meal

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We all lead very busy lives which means on most days, we arrive home completely ravenous and look to grab the quickest thing to eat, or even worse you hit the drive-thru on the way home where you’re hard pressed to find anything primal or paleo.   But with only a little pre-planning you can have a delicious primal/paleo friendly hot meal waiting for you the minute you arrive home. 

This chicken stew recipe uses another one of my favourite kitchen appliances – the slow cooker a.k.a. the crock-pot.  It has to be one of the simplest ways to cook as you literally throw in a bunch of ingredients, plug the slow-cooker in and let it do all the work.  What you end up with is tender vegetables and fall off the bone meats.  This stew has become one of my favourite hearty winter meals and I usually make a big batch every few weeks.  Not only does it give me a wonderful fresh meal to arrive home to, it also leaves me with lots of leftovers that I freeze in individual lunch size servings to take to work keeping me primal happy all day long.

Ingredients – 4-6 servings

  • 9 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 4 celery spears, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 1/2 lb white mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup organic chicken stock
  • 1 28 oz can italian plum tomatoes – look for low sodium ones
  • 1 tsp each dried rosemary and parsley
  • 1/2 tsp each dried basil and sage
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • salt & pepper to taste

Let’s get cooking

  1. Place carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion, garlic and spices in slow cooker and toss to combine
  2. Dissolve tomato paste in chicken stock and add to slow cooker
  3. Add canned tomatoes to slow cooker and roughly break up tomatoes
  4. Stir everything to combine
  5. Add chicken thighs and stir to combine
  6. Cover with lid, plug-in the slow cooker and set it on low for 8 hours.
  7. Carefully remove chicken thighs, trying to keep them intact as the meat will want to fall off the bone.
  8. Stir sauce and veggies together. 
  9. To serve, place 2 chicken thighs on plate and cover with about a cup of the sauce and veggies. 

Quick Morning Time Saver – place all the ingredients in the cast iron slow-cooker pot the night before, cover with lid and place in the refrigerator.  In the morning, just drop the pot into the base, turn it on and let it cook away!!

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Walk through any supermarket today and the widest aisle always seems to be the one full of snack food – potato chips, popcorn, pretzels … you name it is all there.  Packaging is shiny and eye-catching words like “organic” and “all natural” seem to be popping up all over the place, but this still does not make the food any more non primal then before.  If you were asked to describe the taste of potato chips and why you like them so much, you would probably say it’s the salty flavour or crispness that you enjoy and not really the potato itself.  If you think about it, if you were to sit down with a bag of cooked unseasoned sliced potatoes would you eat the entire bag?  Probably not.  

For me, primal eating also means taking the foods we love and either modifying the ingredients to make it primal or finding another food that provides an excellent substitute.  Kale is the perfect example of this and has become one of my new favourite veggies.  Kale is an anti-inflammatory that is loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C, making it one of the most nutritious members of the Brassica (cabbage) family.  When it comes to cooking, Kale is extremely vestile and can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, added to soups, stews or stir-frys or my favourite, dried to create crispy little popcorn or chip like snacks that have impressed all my non-primal friends. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch of Green or Purple Kale, washed and dried
  • ~ 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper to taste
  • sprinkle of sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Remove tough stem section from kale leaves
  2. Tear leaves into larger sections – you’ll want these as big as possible as the kale shrinks considerably when dried
  3. Place torn kale in bowl, drizzle with olive oil, cayenne pepper and salt
  4. Toss well until combined
  5. Lay kale on mesh dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 135 degrees for 2-3 hours or until crispy

Oven Method:  Kale can also be dried in the oven by placing kale on a parchment lined baking sheet and baking at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Keep your eye on the kale to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Not a fan of spicy foods, try tossing the kale with olive oil, lemon juice and 2 freshly minced garlic cloves before dehydrating or just keep it simple with some olive oil, salt & pepper.

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