I picked up some pork tenderloin at the store the other day. Mostly, at my local market, when you buy pork, you have to buy a package that contains 2 tenderloins, usually weighing in at over a pound a piece. One is plenty for a meal for 2-3. I made a delicious stroganoff with 1 of the tenderloins and provided the recipe in my last post. But, I still had another whole tenderloin and wanted to use it instead of freezing it for later. I stood in front of the refrigerator hoping for inspiration. I had a fridge full of pork, including the tenderloin, some pasture raised ground pork from a local producer and some thick cut, nitrate free bacon from Trader Joes. It was like a pig exploded in my refrigerator, and so I give you Pork Explosion, a delicious rolled pork banquet. I was quite surprised at how well this turned out. The combination of the tender Pork Tenderloin, crispy bacon, and savory fatty ground pork stuffing was perfect. The fat from the ground pork made the interior of this rolled tenderloin moist and delicious. Served with brussel sprouts cooked in the left over bacon and pork fat made a delicious accompaniment. I think you will really like this too!
To prepare; you will need:
- 1 Pork tenderloin (about 1 – 1.25 lbs)
- 6-8 ounces ground pork
- 4-6 slices thick cut nitrate free bacon
- 1 tsp. ground sage
- 1 tbls. fennel seeds
- Sea Salt & Ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 400º. Take the pork tenderloin and make a slice about half way through down the center of the tenderloin and spread it out on a cutting board or work surface. I cut the whole tenderloin in half, but I think it will work better if you leave it whole. Cover the tenderloin in plastic wrap and pound out the tenderloin away from the center in both directions until its about 1/2″ thick and uniform. Salt and pepper to taste both sides of the flattened tenderloin. Spread the ground pork over the entire surface of the tenderloin. Season the ground pork with salt and pepper and sprinkle the sage and fennel seeds over the surface of the ground pork. Now roll the tenderloin all the way until it once again resembles its original shape.
Roll the tenderloin in bacon to cover the entire surface of the roast. Secure the rolled roast with skewers or tooth picks if necessary. Now, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil and butter. Saute the roast on all sides until the bacon is browned and crispy. remove from the skillet and place in a baking dish. Roast the stuffed tenderloin in the oven for another 15-25 minutes to the desired doneness, or when it reaches about 145-155º in the center. Take out of the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Saute brussel sprouts or any other vegetable you have laying around in the fat from the pan that you browned the roast in. After the roast has rested slice it in about 1″-1 1/2″ pieces and serve with the sauteed vegetables.
A cold snap has hit St. Louis and frankly I don’t like it. One way I like to warm up is with a rich, rib sticking, hot saucy dish. Lat night I through together a quick stroganoff. Traditionally, Beef Stroganoff is made with filet mignon, a pricey cut of meet that at my local market hovers around $22 a pound. I’ve found that you can create a beautiful stroganoff on a budget, using cheaper cuts of meat or poultry like the stroganoff I made last night with pork tenderloin instead of filet. In the past I’ve also made this with turkey brest tenderloins as well. The key is to cook the meat through or to your desired wellness and remove it from the pan immediately, only putting it back in the sauce at the end to warm it through before serving so as to not let the meat get overcooked and tough. I served this Pork Tenderloin Stroganoff with cauliflower mash, but it would be equally good with cauliflower rice or even zucchini noodles. Try it different ways and see which way you like it best. Whichever way, or with whatever cut of meat or poultry you use, this will easily become one of your favorite quick winter time meals.
PORK TENDERLOIN STROGANOFF
This recipe will serve 2-4 people depending on your appetite. With a salad, for lunch it will easily serve 4 people. To prepare this stroganoff you will need:
- 1 lb. Filet Mignon, Pork Tenderloin, or Turkey Tenderloin, cut int 3/4″ cubes.
- 4 tbls. butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced thickly
- 1/2 cup beef stock (I sometimes use beef consomme as it is richer and helps to thicken the sauce)
- 1 tbls. dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tbls. fresh minced dill (substitute 1/2 tbls. dry dill)
- 1 tbls. fresh minced tarragon (substitute 1/2 tbls dry tarragon)
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
To prepare the stroganoff:
Season the beef, pork or turkey with salt and pepper. Then saute the pork, beef or turkey cubes in 1 tbls. butter until well browned and cooked through to your desired wellness (for pork and beef I like it to be medium rare as it will continue to cook when you remove it from the pan and somewhat more when you return it to the sauce.) Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining butter to the hot pan along with the chopped onions and mushrooms. Brown the onions and mushrooms for about 15-20 minutes. In the meantime whisk together the cream, sour cream, Dijon mustard, beef stock or consomme, and Worcestershire sauce in a medium bowl. When the onions and mushrooms are caramelized, add the sour cream mixture to the pan, lower the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens. Be sure to not allow the sauce to boil. When the sauce is thickened add the beef, pork or turkey to the sauce along with the dill and tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste, stir to incorporate and allow the meat to warm through. Serve immediately with cauliflower mash, cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles and enjoy.
Well, the Holidays are officially upon us. You know what that means, food, food and more food. This can be a particularly challenging time for primal folk. At home, the office, parties, we are constantly encountering enticing holiday treats, most of which we shouldn’t or wouldn’t go any where near at any other time of the year. Even when we are entertaining others its especially hard during the holidays to force our eating choices on others. Lets face it, people just have certain expectations during the holidays. I think its okay to prepare traditional holiday foods for your guests. While the temptation to stray might be greater, preparing tasty primal options will make the task easier. One of the biggest temptations is the array of finger foods and hor’s d’oeuvres that we are confronted with. They are just so easy to pop in your mouth without thinking. so my strategy this season is to appease my guests and myself by preparing primal option when I entertain as well as when I am asked to bring something to a friends or families. I am going to share with you 2 of my favorite primal snacks that both look great and taste great: Primal Hummus and Salami Crisps. they are both easy to make and are perfectly primal and delicious. I typically serve the hummus with sliced cucumbers, but will also prepare carrot ships to go along with this hummus this season.
Primal Hummus with Kalamata Olvies and Chili Oil
To Prepare the Hummus you will need:
- 2 large zucchini
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbls. ground cumin
- juice of 4 large lemons, or about 1/2 cup
- 1 cup tahini
- 2 tbls. olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
- 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
- chili oil and toasted pine nuts for garnish
- 1 cucumber sliced in rounds
- carrot chips
To make the hummus simply place all ingredients, except the olives, pine nuts and chili oil in a food processor or blender (if you use a blender you may have to do this in batches). Process until very smooth, This is ready to serve, but I have found that if you refrigerate it for a few hours it will firm up a bit more. When you are ready to serve, placde the hummus in a serving bowl and drizzle with chili oil and top with olives and pine nuts. Surround the hummus with the sliced cucumber and carrot chips and serve.
I sometimes use raw carrot chips but will also bake them. This is very easy especially when I buy the already cut ripple carrot ships at my local market. I simple toss the carrot chips with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and cumin and bake in a 400º oven for about 20 minutes until they are browned and crispy.
This makes a good amount of hummus so you may have left over. I like to use the left over for salad dressing.
Salami Crisps with Basil Sour Cream
To prepare the Salami Crisps with Basil Sour Cream you will need:
- 24 Slices Italian Dry Hard Salami
- 1/3 cup Sour Cream
- 4 tbls. thinly sliced basil
To prepare the Salami Crisps preheat your oven to 400º. Place the salami on foil covered cookie sheets in a single layer. Place the salami in the oven and bake until brown, about 15-20 minutes. Watch them closely to ensure even browning, re-arange if necessary. Remove the salami crisps from the oven and place on paper towels to absorb extra oil and allow to cool. When they are cooled and you are ready to serve, place a small dollop of sour cream on each crisp and sprinkle with some sliced basil. Thats it!
I hope you try these delicious snacks for your next holiday party. Enjoy!
Living the primal lifestyle can be somewhat daunting at times. It can be difficult to prepare primally appropriate meals quickly and conveniently. I am always looking for quick, healthy and delicious dishes. While I would typically prefer to buy fresh spices and make my own spice mixtures, sometimes it just is faster and easier to buy and use commercially prepared spice mixtures that can cut your preparation time down significantly. One cuisine that can incorporate upwards of 20 spices to make a particular dish is Indian cuisine. I love Indian food but don’t always have the time it takes to make the spice mixtures. Indian food is rich, aromatic and just darn comforting. Curries, Tikkas, and Garams are some of the spice mixtures that can be time consuming to make, but are available commercially made and are also very good. I’m lucky to live very near several international food markets as well as a Penzy’s spice shop. If you don’t have an international market near you you can go online and buy many of these spice mixtures. Penzy’s is one of my favorites. There stores are amazing, but they also offer their products online and through catalogue. Anyway, I was craving the deep and intense flavors of Indian Food the other day and I created this delicious recipe for Garam Masala Shrimp and Zucchini. I served it with cauliflower rice that I cooked in olive oil infused with fennel seed, cinnamon, ginger, and coriander. It was fast, easy, delicious and comforting as well.
Garam Masala is one of those Indian spice mixtures that contains many different spices and may just be easier to buy already prepared rather than making it yourself. If you are courageous enough to make your own, here’s a link to a recipe for Garam Masala. Otherwise, go to your local international market and pick-up some that is already made. You will be amazed at how quick this dish is to make if the spices are already prepared and ready to go.
The composition of garam masala differs regionally, with wide variety across India. Some common ingredients are black & white peppercorns, cloves, malabar leaves (pippali), black cumin (shahi jeera), cumin seeds, cinnamon, black, brown and green cardamom, nutmeg, star anise and coriander seeds. Varying combinations of these and other spices are used in regional variants of garam masala, none of which is considered more authentic than another. The commerical mixtures can vary as well, but, all of them typically use similar ingredients and have incredible aromas and pungent flavors. In addition to the above mentioned components, the commercial versions may also contain garlic, chili peppers, fennel, ginger, mustard seeds and turmeric. No matter the spice mixture, they all contain some very healthy spices. I have previously praised ginger for its anti-inflammatory benefits, but many of the other spices in this traditional Indian mixture are equally notable for their health benefits. Turmeric, for example, has been used for centuries by the Chinese and Indians and is touted as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Recent studies have also shown promise in it preventing and blocking the growth of certain cancers. Cardamom has also been touted for its powerful detoxifying benefits, and as a powerful aphrodisiac (who can complain about that).
Try this deleicious, easy and quick dish. I’m sure you will love it.
Garam Masala Shrimp and Zucchini with Fragrant Indian Cauliflower Rice
This will make enough for 2-4 servings. To prepare the Garam Masala Shrimp and Zucchini you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 lb. uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 zucchini, sliced into rounds
- 1 tbls. Garam Masala Spice Mixture (or more if you like it really pungent). I used 2 because I really like these intense flavors.
- 2 tbls. chopped fresh cilantro
- Juice of 1 lemon or lime
- sea salt to taste
To prepare the aromatic Indian cauliflower rice, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 head cauliflower, grated or shredded in your food processor
- 2 tbls. Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp. coriander
- Several threads of saffron or 1 tsp. turmeric
- sea salt & pepper to taste
Begin by preparing the cauliflower rice. Grate the cauliflower using a hand grater or the grater attachment on your food processor. Heat the Olive Oil or Coconut oil over high heat in a non-stick skillet. Add the fennel, ginger, cinnamon, coriander and saffron or turmeric and cook for about a minute to release the flavors and oils of the spices. Add the grated cauliflower and salt to taste and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
Next prepare the Garam Masala Shrimp and Zucchini. Begin by placing the sliced zucchini rounds and shrimp in a large bowl and toss with the Garam Masala spice mixture. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove the zucchini from the bowl and add to the skillet with the melted butter, season with salt and saute until just cooked through. Remove the zucchini to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Add the shrimp and saute until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon or lime juice and fresh chopped cilantro to incorporate.
To serve, place a mound of the aromatic cauliflower rice in the middle of a large bowl or dish, surround it by the sauteed zucchini and then mound the shrimp on top. Serve with extra slice of lemon and chopped cilantro as a garnish. As a variation you could easily substitute chicken, turkey, pork or other firm white fish for the shrimp. Just make sure to cook the protein for the appropriate amount of time and to your liking.
I hope you enjoy this dish and let me know what you think!
Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken and Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon and Caramelized Red Onion Dressing
Once I find something I like I try different variations. This is a variation of my recent recipe, Prosciutto and Sage Wrapped Chicken Thighs. Instead of thighs, I used chicken breast, and then stuffed the breasts with herbed goat cheese and spinach. The next time I make this I will include roasted red peppers in the stuffing but did not have any when I originally made this. I love the idea of wrapping things in prosciutto, it provides a great salty addition to the meat and helps to keep the stuffing inside the meat, especially cheese that tends to melt and ooze out. This dish is somewhat labor intensive, but well worth it. I served it along with a Spinach Salad smothered in hot bacon and caramelized red onion dressing. These combined together terrifically and made for a great fall meal. These dishes, served perhaps with another side dish would make for a great dinner party meal. I hope you try this and enjoy it as much as we did.!
Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken
You will need:
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- 12 thin slices of Prosciutto
- 6 0z. herbed goat cheese
- a couple of handfuls of baby spinach
- olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400º. Pat dry the chicken breasts and butterfly them by inserting a sharp knife about halfway through the chicken breast and cutting though the center of the breast. I then used a meat tenderizer and lightly pounded the butterflied chicken breasts so that it was uniform in thickness. Salt and pepper both sides of the breast and then place 1/4 of the spinach leaves and 1/4 of the goat cheese on 1/2 of the breast. Now fold over the other half. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts. Next, take 3 thin slices of prosciutto and place them along side each other on your work surface, overlapping them slightly. Place one stuffed chicken breast at one end and carefully wrap the breast with the prosciutto slices. Brush the entire wrapped breast with olive oil and place seam side down in a baking dish. Repeat with remaining stuffed breasts and prosciutto. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts, and until just cooked through.
While the stuffed chicken is roasting, prepare the Spinach Salad.
Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon and Caramelized Red Onion Dressing
You will need:
- 10-12 oz. fresh spinach or baby spinach
- 1 red onion
- 8 slices of nitrate free thick cut bacon
- 4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
- 6-8 white mushrooms, sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbls. honey (optional)
- salt & pepper to taste
To Prepare the Spinach Salad:
Place the spinach in a large salad bowl along with the sliced hard boiled eggs and sliced mushrooms. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the bacon in a skillet and fry until done and the fat renders off. While the bacon is frying, slice the red onion thinly. Remove the cooked bacon and set aside. Add the thinly sliced onion to the hot bacon fat and cook the onions in the bacon fat until soft, about 5 minutes. When the onions have softened and caramelized, add the balsamic vinegar and honey and simmer for about 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Slice the cooked bacon and add to the spinach salad. Pour the hot balsamic and onion mixture over the salad and toss to coat. Divide the salad amongst 4 plates and serve with one Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast.
The Wisdom of Sage: Roasted Chicken Thighs with Prosciutto and Sage and Parmesan Smothered Green Beans
While available all year long, the herb Sage is one of those flavors that just reminds me of fall. Its great with roasted meats, vegetables, and of course is a necessity in the kitchen around thanksgiving. Of course, like most herbs, it also is said to have certain health benefits and healing properties. Modern research has shown that sage, while not a panacea, can help reduce excessive perspiration, digestive problems, sore throats, premenstrual cramps, and high blood sugar. Sage is also an active ingredient in some natural mouthwashes because its tannins are thought to help kill the bacteria that cause gingivitis. Sage has traditionally been used to treat canker sores, bleeding gums, sore throat, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. Recent laboratory studies support the use of sage to guard against infection-it has demonstrated an ability to fight against several infection-causing bacteria. Some herbalists and, in Germany physicians, recommend gargling hot sage to soothe pain from sore throat and tonsillitis. Sage has also been linked to improved brain function and has been found successful for treating patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease. I say it just tastes good and I’ve created 2 new recipes that I will share with you. I served them together, but this may be sage overload for you. You can serve them together or separately, any way you choose, if you like sage, you will like these recipes a lot.
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Prosciutto and Sage
For 2-3 servings of this Roasted Chicken Thighs with Prosciutto and Sage, you will need:
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 6 wide and thin slices of prosciutto (if the prosciutto is smaller you can overlay 2 pieces)
- Several Stems of fresh sage, leaves removed and stems discarded or saved for other use.
- Olive Oil for brushing
- Salt and pepper to taste
To prepare the chicken, first preheat your oven to 425º. Place one thin slice of prosciutto on a work surface. Scatter torn pieces of the sage on top of the prosciutto. Season one boneless skinless chicken thigh with salt and pepper and place on one end. Roll the chicken thigh in the prosciutto so that the prosciutto overlaps and completely surrounds the chicken thigh. Brush the entire prosciutto wrapped chicken thigh with olive oil and place in a roasting pan or dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken, prosciutto and sage. Bake the chicken in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the chicken thigh is cooked through. Remove from oven and serve immediately. You can spoon some of the pan juices over the chicken when serving if you desire.
I placed the chicken thighs on a bed of sliced mushrooms sauted in a little butter and olive oil. I also served this with a side of Smothered Parmesan Green Beans that also incorporates sage. Here’s that recipe.
Smothered Parmesan Green Beans
For 4-6 servings you will need:
- 2 12 oz. bags of frozen frenched green beans
- 2 tbls. butter
- 1 tbls. olive oil
- 4 shallots sliced thinly lengthwise (about 1 cup)
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teasp. finely chopped sage
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
To prepare the green beans, heat the butter and olive oil in a 12″ heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic to the hot oil and butter mixture, salt and pepper to taste, and saute for about 5 minutes until shallots are golden. Add wine and boil until reduced by half. Add cream, water, 1/4 teasp. of salt, 1/8 teasp. pepper, and sage and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and simmer, tightly covered until beans are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove liquid and continue to simmer until liquid is thickened, about 5-10 more minutes. Add Parmesan cheese, stir to completely incorporate and serve with the Roasted Chicken Thighs or your favorite roasted chicken or meat.
If you haven’t already figured it out, I love pizza (I considered it a major food group before going primal) and mexican food. I have tried many forms of pizza since going primal and liked them all, but this is one of my favorites. Part of the credit for the success of this recipe has to go to the Primal Matriarch who some time ago posted this recipe for primal cheez-its. I make this delicious crackers all the time. I do have to admit that when I make the crackers I have changed the cooking method a bit which I will explain later. I use a variation of the cheez-it recipe for this taco pizza. I like a thin crispy crust, and 90% of the time I am successful (sometimes the crust turns out a little softer than I like). Experiment yourself to see what works for you. I make the pizza and serve it with a garnish plate that includes fresh made pico de gallo, shredded lettuce and chopped olives and extra taco sauce that you can put on each piece as you eat it. YUMMY! I hope you enjoy it too.
PRIMAL TACO PIZZA
I first make the garnish plate. This can include just about anything you like on tacos. I make fresh pico de gallo, and include shredded lettuce and chopped black olives. Consider also serving fresh chopped onion, cabbage, sour cream and fresh diced jalapeno peppers for a little extra kick. My pico is really easy, I just finely dice a couple of fresh tomatoes (sometimes I use the already diced Rotel Tomatoes if the tomatoes in the market aren’t looking to good), 1/2 red onion, and a large, seeded, jalapeno pepper. I add salt & pepper, a healthy squeeze of fresh lime juice. I then add 2-3 tablespoons of cilantro. I like to make this first to allow the flavors to meld a bit before serving. I prepare the rest of my garnishes so that when the pizza is done, its all ready to go.
To make the pizza, you will need:
- 1/2 recipe of primal cheez-its
- 3/4 – 1 pound of fresh chorizo sausage or taco meat
- 1 cup taco sauce (not salsa)(I use Taco Bell brand because the ingredients are good from a primal standpoint)
- 2 tbls. tomato paste
- 1/2 thinly sliced white or yellow onion
- 1-2 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
To prepare the pizza you will first need to make the primal cheez-its. The best part of the recipe is that you will also be able to make a batch of the crackers for snacking on later. To make the cheez-its, you will need:
- 2 cups almond meal or blanched almond flour
- 1/2 cup ground flax seed meal
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 3 tbls. oil (I use almond oil but you cn use olive oil or any other of your favorite nut oils)
- 1 1/2 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- crushed red pepper flakes (optional if you like it with a bite)
To prepare the cheezit-its you will need a large cookie sheet, 2 pieces of parchment paper the same size as your large cookie sheet and a rolling pin. Preheat the oven to 375º. Now, combine almond meal/flour, flax meal, salt and baking soda. Stir to combine completely. Add cheese and stir to combine again. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and oil together. Add to the dry mixture and stir to combine well. I mostly after a quick stir, use my hands to kind of kneed it all together. Take half of the mixture and place in a zip lock bag and store in the refrigerator. It will last for several days. Take the remaining mixture and place between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Roll out the mixture until its about 1/8″ thick and about the size of your cookie sheet. I like to trim the edges with a pizza cutter as the edges tend to be thinner and will burn. Remove the top layer of parchment paper and trim edges if necessary then place the rolled out dough and bottom parchment paper onto the cookie sheet and bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. keep an eye on it so that it does not burn.
While the crust is baking, brown the chorizo in a skillet. Now combine taco sauce and tomato paste (I use the tomato paste to thicken the sauce so tht it is not to watery and thus won’t make the crust soggy while it bakes) and slice the yellow onion. When the crust is done, take it out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. It should crisp up a bit after it rests. When the crust is cooled I like to spray it with my olive oil sprayer to try and keep the sauce from soaking into the crust and making it soggy. I then spread the sauce over the crust, add the chorizo and onions and then spread the shredded cheddar cheeseon top. Place the pizza back in the oven and bake for about 10-15 miunutes until the cheeze is melted, bubbly and slightly browned. If you like it browner turn on the broiler for a few minutes – and Voila -Taco Pizza. slice and serve with garnish.
*Note: when you use the remaining dough to make crackers – roll it out in the same way but before you put it in the oven use a pizza cutter or knife to pre-cut the crackers. When you take them out of the oven they will break apart nicely. I like to take them out after about 15 minutes, break them apart and then put them back in the oven to crisp them up more. I will typically lower the heat to about 325º when I do this. keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn. The crackers around the edge may not need to be put back in the oven. Only put the center pieces back in that still seem to be on the softer side.
I feel really healthy so I don’t see any reason to change the way I eat. I hear that from a lot from people who are interested in the lifestyle and diet changes I have made in my life. While these days I don’t need a lot of convincing that the lifestyle and diet changes I have made over the last 6 months have been some of the most important steps I have ever taken in my life, I am constantly reading about the effects of sugar, gluten and grains on our physiology and health. I don’t do it because I need reassurance that my diet choices are correct ones, but because I just have a voracious appetite for information. As a lawyer I was taught to always question, question, question. This can be annoying to some, but its a process that I have to go through to understand issues. Look, as a lawyer, I could probably make a very convincing argument that this whole primal/paleo thing is just a crock. Lots of people would easily buy it. However, I have never had such a difficult time convincing others that the diet choices they are making are killing them. Why is that people can understand that jumping off a building can kill them, or not using a seat belt increases there risk of serious injury or death if they are in a car accident, but don’t understand why bread, pasta, and grains can cause cancer, heart issues, diabetes and a host of other serious ailments. This is a difficult question to answer but I can see why there is resistance to making a wholesale change in the way we eat.
Bread, cake, cookies, pasta – they all taste good and give a lot of us comfort. For most, they don’t cause intestinal discomfort or any tangible immediate signs that they are poisoning us. We also see people who eat bread, pasta, rice, and cake live relatively long healthy lives while still enjoying these foods. While I have seen changes in the way I feel after stopping eating these foods, the changes haven’t been what I would describe as remarkable. I felt pretty good and healthy before I started. I think what convinced me most was the research I did (I’m not much of a follower – I need to see concrete evidence before making a huge change in my life), but mostly what convinced me was the remarkable changes I saw in other people who have made the same changes. If my partner could, at a relatively young age go from having high blood pressure and bad cholesterol issues to completely turning this around, including completely stopping taking blood pressure medication and cholesterol lowering drugs, it wasn’t hard for me to see that while I didn’t have those problems, the way he ate had some serious connection to his health issues. While the same type of diet did not cause me to have similar tangible identifiable problems, I understood that to some degree it was probably problematic for me as well. just not as visible.
I recently came across an excellent blog post on the affects of grain and our health on The Blog of Tim Ferriss – Experiments in Lifestyle Design and author of the New York Times bestseller “The 4-Hour Workweek”. He explains the problems with most grains and gluten in particular as well as its effects on our physiology. He also identifies 3 individuals, a 61 year old women with a myriad of health issues, a middle aged man with unexplained horrible allergic reactions every time he eats, and a 5 year old with serious digestive problems. All of these people saw remarkable changes after simply changing there diet – something apparently none of their doctors saw fit to even address. I would really encourage you to read this post, if not for reassurance that your lifestyle choices are right, but for added encouragement to continue on this path of living a grain free life.
Maybe your like me and you don’t need additional reassurance, but reading this kind of stuff, at least for me, makes me feel good. It’s like getting a A on a test, you study hard and you see tangible evidence that the hard work you are doing pays off. Its just satisfying. Perhaps you need ammunition. I seem to be constantly talking about my diet changes and people are interested, but mostly resistant. It’s nice to have additional information and concrete real life examples to give to people who are open but, like me, may not have any tangible health issues or problems to convince them that eating grain free is better for them. The science is lost on many, so seeing real life change in others is much more convincing.
I learn something new everyday and its fun to pass the information on to others. For instance I’m not sure I realized how grains, high in lectins, damaged, I mean really damaged, our guts. I knew that they were anti-nutrients, but that during digestion they cause your gut lining to be permeable which can lead to a host of autoimmune diseases was news to me. In light of this revelation, I plan on doing some more research and reporting further, and in particular, will report on my findings regarding digestion, including something you might be surprised can aid in digestion and actually counter the effects of lectins you may consume.
Have a great day!
September 8th, 2010 marked the beginning of year 5771 of the Jewish calendar and for those who don’t know this, it is also the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays. These are the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar starting with Rosh Hashanah and culminating 10 days later with Yom Kippur. These 10 days are commonly referred to as the “Days of Awe”, a time to contemplate your conduct in the previous year as well asa time to set goals for the next year. These 10 days also focus on repentance for the past years indiscretions in an effort to not repeat those mistakes in the coming year. In reflecting on all the changes in my life this past year I’ve thought a lot about my decision to live the primal lifestyle. Its been almost 4 months now and I truly believe the changes in my life are remarkable. I feel fitter, stronger, healthier and happier. These were my original goals when I started on this journey and honestly I couldn’t be happier or prouder of this decision.
Of course, in the spirit of confession that is typical in the Jewish faith at this time of the year, I also had to reflect on how faithful I was to the “primal blueprint”. I believe that I’ve done really well. Of course, no one is perfect, but that’s what makes life so interesting. On a camping a trip over weekend, and after a few to many glasses of wine, I ate a Hostess Ding Dong and Oreo cookies. I’m not gonna lie. They were as good as I expected them to be. However, I really don’t feel that bad about eating these sugary, floury delights. I know I won’t be having another one for a long time. I’d like to say that I will never eat another one again. But, that is not realistic. Rather, I will simply reaffirm my commitment to not eat this type of food in the next year. I will strive for 100% commitment, and I will be fitter, stronger, healthier and happier as a result. I am sure that this next year will prove to be even more remarkable.
Of course, Jewish Holidays typically include some sort of festive meal. My Mom always made a Honey Cake on Rosh Hashanna. It is tradition to mark the new year with something sweet. As a kid this always meant dipping freshly sliced apples in sweet honey and Honey Cake after the traditional meal. Just because I have decided to live primally, however, does not mean that I have to give up this tradition, I simply have to reinvent it. So instead of making the typical Honey Cake made with tons of flour and sugar like my Mom’s, I made a primal version that is still sweetened with honey, but contains no refined flour or sugar. I was really pleased with the results. It was dense, delicately spicy, moist and, just like the original version, went really well with a good cup of coffee. Honey is supposed to encourage a sweet new year and while you might not be celebrating the new year you should try this delicious cake and have a sweet year as well!
Primal Honey Cake
You will need the following ingredients:
- ½ cup strong black coffee (I used Starbucks Instant Via but only used 1/2 a cup of water instead of a full cup as directed)
- 2 ½ cups blanched almond flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- ¼ teaspoon cloves, ground
- ¼ teaspoon allspice, ground
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup organic honey (if you like it sweeter you can add more)
- ¼ cup almond oil, grapeseed oil or olive oil
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup raisins
To prepare the honey cake:
Preheat oven to 350º. Generously oil a 9″ round or square cake pan. In a small bowl, pour some hot water over the raisins to soften and let cool. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. In a separate bowl, combine vanilla, honey, eggs and almond oil. Beat until smooth with a hand mixer. Add cooled coffee and beat to incorporate. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat with hand mixer until smooth. Drain the raisins and stir the raisins into the cake batter. Pour the batter into the well greased cake pan and bake in the 350º oven for 30-35 minutes. Check the cake after about 25 minutes. It will be done when a tooth pick placed in the center of the cake comes out clean. When the cake is done let cool and serve. Traditionally, this cake is not frosted, but you an top it with homemade whipped cream or cream cheese frosting. To make the frosting you can simply beat together softened cream cheese and honey until you get a smooth spreadable consistency.
Enjoy and I hope you have a healthy and sweet New Year.
So the other day I promised that I would post my recipe for the Chocolate Cheesecake I made the other day. I warned that this dessert was not perfectly primal and so some of you may pass on this one. To make it I used Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Chocolate Chips and some stevia (purevia). This is the highest cacao content chocolate chip I could find and you can substitute a higher cacao content chocolate if you like. Of course the chocolate chips contain sugar which many of you shy away from. Becasue I am pretty faithful to the primal eating plan, pretty much staying under 100 grams of carbs a day, I was not that worried about it. But, because I brought it up, I was interested to see what the actual total carb count for 1 serving of this cheese cake would be. Including all ingredients, I calculated that 1 serving (1/8 of the cheesecake) had an approximate total carb count of 17 grams. Wow, I was really surprised at how low this really was. This is not bad at all. If you made this cheesecake with the chocolate chips and 1 cup of sugar (instead of the stevia) it takes the carb count up to about 41 grams. That’s a savings of 24 grams of carbs which is pretty significant. So this is a perfect celebration splurge, maybe not something you would eat all the time, but something you might make for a special occasion. This cheese cake is smooth, creamy and chocolate delicious. If you decide to try it, I hope you like it.
You will need the following ingredients:
- 1 package knox gelateen
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 6 -8 packages of purevia (stevia)
- 2 8 0z. packages softened cream cheese
- 1 cup Ghiradelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup almond meal/flour
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 tbls. butter
- 1/2 – 1 tsp. ground cinammon
To prepare the cheesecake:
Preheat the oven to 350º. Prepare the crust. Melt 3 tbls. of butter in the microwave. In a bowl, combine the butter and almond meal/flour (I used meal because I think it looks more like a graham cracker crust) and cinammon. Stir to combine. If it seems to wet, add more almond meal until you get a crumbly moist texture. Press the almond meal mixture into the bottom of a 9″ galss pie plate and place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, bring 1 cup of water with the stevia added to a boil. At this point you can melt the cup of chocolate chips in a double boiler (or the microwave, but, be careful here because if you leave them in the microwave too long the chocolate will separate). When the water comes to a boil add the gelateen package and stir until the gelateen is completely dissolved (several minutes). Remove the pie shell from the oven. Now, with a hand mixer, beat the melted chocolate chips, vanilla and softened cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Add the gelateen mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the baked pie shell and refrigerate for several hours (2-3) to set. Serve the cheesecake on its own or with fresh fruit and whipped cream (I whip up some heavy whipping cream with cinammon).