PRIMALOCITY

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Mexican Conundrum! What’s a Primal Guy to Do?

There’s nothing like a vacation.  The excitement of deciding where to go, what to do, where to stay and then, when its all planned, the anticipation of the day of departure finally arriving.  My partner’s 40th birthday is coming up and rather than spending lots of money on a party that only lasts a few hours, I decided we would go to on vacation instead.  We decided on Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and I can’t tell you how excited we are about this trip.  We both love to travel and have both traveled extensively. Neither of us has been to Puerto Vallarta.  I’m the type that likes to keep going and typically am not that interested in just lounging around at the pool or beach for a week.  We always try to go somewhere where there’s lots to do and see.  I had a small change of heart last year after staying with a friend in his beautiful villa in Playa Langosta, just outside Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Playa Langosta, Costa Rica

It was uber relaxing hanging out at the beach, taking naps, watching the sun set and enjoying great company.  The day was usually capped of with a cocktail on the beach and then a nice dinner in town after the sun went down. I have come to realize that you can have a great vacation when you balance activity with rest.  So, this trip to Puerto Vallarta will include some activity and some relaxing.

My biggest conundrum, however, is how I will eat and remain faithfully primal in the land of beans, rice and tortillas.  This will be my first vacation since embracing the primal lifestyle.  During a walk in the park the other day I told my partner that I just didn’t know how I would handle the eating portion of this trip.  I love Mexican food.  Chips, salsa, tortillas, tacos, well the temptation may just be to much for me.  Don’t even get me started on the margarita and pina colada issue.  I suppose everyone will point out that there will be lots of choices: fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, etc.  But when you get to your hotel and they greet you with a couple of fresh margaritas, a bowl of hot tortilla chips and guacomole, well, I don’t think I can just ask for a spoon to eat the quacamole, and send back the chips and margaritas.

There’s something about being on vacation.  Would I go to Paris and not eat my favorite Schwarma Sandwich from the stand at the bottom of Sacre Coeur, or that delicious pistachio macaroon from the pastry shop in the Marais?  A vacation just wouldn’t be a vacation without experiencing the culture around you, and this always includes the food.  I spend every day planning my meals and workouts to remain happy, fit and healthy.  I don’t want to think so much on vacation.  Will one week of a “who cares attitude” really make a difference in the scheme of things? Or, will it throw me into a never ending abyss of carbo craziness.

What do you think?  Should I throw caution to the wind or is there a better way to attack this?  Please help!  Adios!

Friday, July 16th, 2010 Uncategorized 4 Comments

Did you say that isn’t Rice? Easy Cauliflower Rice and Primal “Cornbread”

Yesterday I posted a recipe for Home Style Primal Pepper Steak.  I recommended that it be served with Cauliflower Rice, but I didn’t give a recipe for the Cauliflower Rice.  I got a lot of requests, so here it is.  Also, My mom used to serve her Pepper Steak with biscuits from the tube.  It was great to have something to soak up the additional sauce with.  I served mine with Primal Cornbread.  Well, its not really corn bread.  There’s no corn meal in it at all.  While the texture is a little different, it is closer to cornbread than you might think.  I have a set of vintage cast iron cornbread pans which I use to make mine.  It looks just like cornbread and the cast iron pan makes the whole stick crunchy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside.  These will work just as well on a cookie sheet or in a muffin tin, but if you have a cast iron cornbread pan, use it.!

The Cauliflower Rice is so easy to make, especially if you have a food processor.  You can vary this recipe in any way you want.  You can make fried rice by adding garlic and green onion to the oil, seasoning the cauliflower while its cooking with soy sauce, and when its almost done, clearing a space in the middle of your pan and walk and scrambling an egg or two in it.  Drizzle it with some sesame oil at the end, and that’s it. Try Cauliflower rice Pilaf by adding green onion, garlic and diced mushrooms to the oil before adding the cauliflower.

Simple Cauliflower Rice

All you need is a non-stick skillet or a wok, a food processor with a grater attachment or box grater.  This will make 3-4 large servings/sides.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2-3 tbls. olive oil or coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Begin by cutting up the cauliflower so it will fit through the feeding tube of your processor with the grater blade attached.  Grate all of the cauliflower.  If you are not using a food processor it is just as easy although a little more time consuming to grate the cauliflower on a box grater by hand.  Use the largest grater section you have.  Heat your non-stick skillet or wok over medium high heat and add 2-3 tbls. olive oil or cocomut oil.  When the oil is hot, add the cauliflower and season with salt and pepper.  Stir fry the cauliflower for 5-8 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked and heated through.  Stir the the cauliflower ofter.  It will shrink significantly while cooking.  Be careful not to overcook as the cauliflower may get mushy,  Remove from the heat and serve immediately as a side to just about any dish.  It goes great with a simple stir-fry or even better with my Home Style Primal Pepper Steak.

Primal Cornbread

You will need a muffin tin, muffin top pan,  or cast iron cornbread pan.  This will make 6-8 biscuits or cornbread sticks.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cooled, melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt.
  • 1/3 cup coconut flower
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbls. honey (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400º.  Whisk together the eggs, cooled melted butter, salt, and honey (optional) and set a side.  Next combine sifted coconut flower with baking powder and mix together well.  Add the coconut flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir to combine well.  Fold in the cheddar cheese.  Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin, muffin top pan,  or cast iron cornbread pan.  Bake for about 15 minutes until well browned, but not burned.  Keep you eye on them!  Serve them hot alongside your favorite dish, soup or chili.  These heat up really well later in a toaster oven.  They will freeze well and crisp up nicely in a toaster oven straight from the freezer.

Enjoy and let me know what you think.

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Thursday, July 15th, 2010 Uncategorized 7 Comments

Food Dreams and Homestyle Primal Pepper Steak

Home Style Primal Pepper Steak and Cauliflower Rice

Has anyone ever dreamed about food.  Since going Primal, I seem to dream a lot more, perhaps because I am sleeping better as a result of a better balance of diet and exercise.  Many of my dreams seem to involve food.  I think this might be because I subconsciously miss some of the “forbidden foods” or because I am constantly trying to come up with new and inventive recipes to defray the cravings I have.  Lets face it, for many, food is comforting.  Just thinking about family dinners, celebrations, holidays, or just strolling down the street with an ice cream cone conjures up warm feelings.  Crazy as it may seem, I recently had a dream of sitting around my Mom’s kitchen while she prepared one of our family favorites. Pepper Steak.  I swear I could smell it simmering in her electric skillet while I was sleeping.  When I woke up the next morning and recalled the dream I was determined to make her Pepper Steak for dinner that day.  Of course my mom’s version wasn’t perfectly primal.  She used lots of margarine and it was always served over a bed of rice-a-roni.  My version is just as good, but is perfectly primal and delicious.

I substituted the margarine for butter and the rice-a-roni with cauliflower rice.  This is a simple recipe and utilizes ingredients that I know we almost always have in our house and you probably do to.  My Mom’s preferred cut of meat for this dish was skirt steak.  Growing up in Chicago, this cut was abundant.  I was surprised after moving away how difficult skirt steak was to find.  I typically had to go to the local Mexican market to find it.  I’m happy to say that this cut of meat has become increasingly more popular and easier to find.  Many of the grass fed beef stands at our local farmers’ markets carry this cut of meat now.  I have also substituted the bison fillet tips I have been buying lately at the butcher shop in the St. Louis’ Soulard Farmers’ Market. You can substitute just about any cut of grass fed beef for this recipe.  If its a tougher cut you have to be careful to not overcook it.

My Mom would let hers simmer for quite awhile until the peppers and onions were very soft.  I prefer to make this a quicker version, leaving some of the bite to the vegetables.  My Mom also used a beef bouillon cube in hers.  I do use beef bouillon granules in mine to impart a rich beefy  flavor.  While I try to stay away from this because of the salt content, I find that it makes it more like I remember it.  You can ommit this and use beef stock or broth instead.  Yours just may  be a little bit more soupy.  My Mom’s also did not have mushrooms in it, but, I sometimes add mushrooms to mine.

This recipe serves 2-4 people, depending on your appetite.  It reheats very well for lunch the next day.  You can also use the leftovers in an omelet the next day.  I hope you enjoy this dreamy family favorite of mine.

Home Style Primal Pepper Steak

All you need is a large non stick skillet.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. skirt steak, fillet, sirloin or your favorite cut of beef
  • 1 large yellow or white onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4-6 tbls. of butter
  • 1/’2 cup red wine
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. beef bouillon granules or 1/2 cup beef broth or stock
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste (omit the salt if you use bouillon)
  • cauliflower rice for serving

Preparation:

Slice the beef in to 2 x 1/2″ strips.  Slice the green and red pepper in to 2 x 1/2 inch strips. Cut the onion in half and slice (not too thinly).  Mince the clove of garlic.  Slice 1 cup of mushrooms (optional). Cut the tomato in medium to large cubes.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add 2-3 tbls. butter.  When the butter has melted and is frothy, add the sliced meat to the skillet, season with pepper and salt (optional) and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup red wine and beef granules and or beef stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer for another 2 minutes until the alcohol has boiled off.  Remove the skillet from the heat and place the cooked beef in a bowl and set aside.

Return the skillet to the heat and melt 2-3 more tbls. butter.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add the onions and peppers to the skillet and saute until tender but not mushy.  If you are using mushrooms, add them towards the end.  When the vegetables are cooked to your liking return the beef and all its juices to the pan with the vegetables, add the tomato and lower the heat to low and simmer 2-3 minutes so the flavors can blend.  If the sauce seems to soupy, you can add some additional butter to thicken and richen it.

Serve the Pepper Steak over cauliflower rice (or cauliflower mash) and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Primal Choco-Coco Truffles

Coconut Powder

On my first outing to find coconut flour I went to my favorite international food store.  I had never seen coconut flour before so I didn’t really know what I was looking for.  I searched and searched, and nothing.  I finally asked the helpful, but not very good English speaking, clerk for help and she pointed me to a bag of coconut powder.  It didn’t look much like flour to me, but, since I didn’t know any better, I bought it.  The ingredient list showed simply “coconut”.  It looked more like coconut granules, but not like shredded coconut. I got it home but still wasn’t sure I really got what I was looking for. I put it in the cupboard and scoured the internet for recipes using coconut flour.  A few days later, while at my local grocery store, I was looking at the Bob’s Red Mill display, and quickly determined that what I had just bought was clearly not coconut flour.  It was too granular and white.  Oh well, the deed was done.  Now I had to find something to do with this big bag of coconut powder I had just bought.  If you read my recent post, Cuckoo for Coconut, I made a delicious chicken dish coated in the coconut powder and topped with mango salsa.  The combination of coconut powder and almond meal made a coating for the chicken that was hardly discernible from the bread crumb version I’m sure most of you have had.  I think the coconut powder works better than shredded coconut as it coats the chicken better and more closely simulates the “bread” crumb look.

I’ve since come up with another perfect use for coconut powder. Primal Choco-Coco Truffles. Now before you run out to find coconut powder, be warned, there is another product out there called coconut cream powder.  This is more like coconut powdered milk.  Don’t use this for the truffles, it will not work. Also, this recipe does use stevia, not very much, but I’m sure some of you may not like this.  I have to tell you though this was such a treat.  I really felt like I was eating a gourmet truffle from the candy shoppe.  Here’s the recipe:

Choco-Coco Truffles

Choco-Coco Truffles

This recipe will yield 4-6 truffles, depending on how big you make them. You will need:

  • 2 tbls. Crunchy Almond Butter
  • 2-3 tbls. coconut powder
  • 1 scant tbls. cocoa powder
  • 2 packets of stevia
  • pinch of salt (if you are using salt free almond butter)
  • additional cocoa powder for dusting or finely chopped pecans for rolling

Combine the almond butter, cocoa, stevia and pinch of salt in a mixing bowl.  When all of these ingredients are well combined, add 2 tbls. coconut powder.  The consistency should allow you to roll the mixture in your hand into a ball.  If it is too runny, add more coconut powder until you can easily form the mixture into balls. Using a tablespoon size measuring spoon, scoop one tablespoon of the mixture into your hand and roll it into a ball.  Continue with this process until you have used all the mixture. Now you can roll the the balls in your favorite finely chopped nuts, or cocoa powder.  You can leave also leave them as is.  Place the truffles in the refrigerator for about 1/2 hour to allow them to set.  Remove them from the refrigerator (one at a time if you can) and enjoy!

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Thursday, July 1st, 2010 Uncategorized 10 Comments

Buy Locally, Eat primally!

I try to shop locally as best as I can.  Sometimes that can be challenging, especially during the winter months when the farmers’ markets aren’t in full swing.  Recently I discovered that I could buy locally produced bison meat at the Soulard Farmers Market.  The Soulard Farmers Market is a St. Louis gem.  It is the oldest farmers’ market west of the Mississippi.  You can get anything from rugs, to jewelry, to locally made goat cheese here.  While the market is chock full of vendors selling commercially grown produce, there are also plenty of  local vendors from whom  can buy organic locally grown produce.  The market is only open Wednesday through Saturday.

A couple of Saturdays ago we popped into Frandeka’s Meat & Fish.  I’d never been in this butcher shop but was pleasantly surprised.  It has apparently been in business for nearly 100 years.  The employees are super helpful and the lines move pretty quickly.   They sell everything from beef, to pork, goat and rabbit.  A sign advertising bison bratwurst immediately caught my eye and I inquired about it.  It turns out that their bison bratwurst come from Sayersbrook Bison Ranch which is located just about an hour from St. Louis.  I love sausage, and I loved even more that it was being produced in my back yard, so I decided to give it a try.  It was about $10 a pound, but, I felt it was worth it because it was locally produced.  When the employee handed me the package he also told me that he had 1 lb. packages of bison tenderloin tips on sale for $7.99. (Four 4 oz. bison fillets are selling for $55.95 on the Sayersbrook Ranch site). Sold! I got a package of that too.

When I got home I wanted to find out more about this local producer and how the bison are razed.  In addition to trying to buy from local producers, I also try to buy grass fed meat,  Its just healthier and better for you, is higher in protein, and contains the good omega 3 fatty acids we need in our diet.  According to the Sayersbrook Bison Ranch website, their bison are grazed on Missouri’s native grasses, but in their last three months, they are fed “a special blend of all natural grains that enhances the flavor and tenderness of these award winning meats”.  Bummer! While I like the fact that the bison are initially grass fed, I didn’t really like the idea that they were finished on grain.  However, I think that this is much better than the typical corn/grain fed meat you get at your local grocery.

The terms “grass fed” and “pastured” aren’t  really regulated, so I’ve heard that some producers are not completely honest about their methods.  I was glad to see that Sayersbrook was up front about their processes.  It’s important to get to know your producers, and that is a lot easier to do when you buy locally.  Unfortunately, even short term finishing on grains or corn can greatly diminish the good omega 3 content of meat.  While I’m not convinced that this is a good method, I have to think  that it is somewhat better than the alternative.  Of course, I would always recommend and prefer to buy purely grass fed beef.  The health benefits are clear.  For a lot of us, this is hard to do, so, if you try to do it is much as you can, you will surely be better off.

In any event, the deed was done.  Now I had to do something with the tenderloin tips.  Bison is typically lower in fat, and cooking it can be a challenge for some.  If you cook it too long, it will be tough and dry.  As I was trying to decide what to do with the tenderloin tips, I started thinking about my favorite dish in Vietnamese restaurants, Thit Bo Luc Lac or known to some as Shaken Beef.  It’s typically one of the more expensive dishes on many Vietnamese menus.  It usually features quick sauteed beef, fresh tomato, onion and some kind of green.  It is served with a salt and pepper dipping sauce that will knock your socks off.  So I went about creating this dish and it turned out fantastic.  It was really quick, healthy and perfectly primal.  Along with the sliced raw onion that is typically served with it, I made some pickled red onion as well.  You don”t need bison Tenderloin, but can substitute any grass fed beef or even pork.  I would recommend a tender cut like tenderloin or sirloin. With 1 pound of bison, this was enough for 2 hearty appetites, but could make a light meal for 4. Here it is:

Thit Bo Luc Lac

Thit Bo Luc Lac (Shaken Beef/Bison)

The Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp unrefined fine sea salt
  • juice of one medium lime

Marinade for the Meat:

  • Juice of 1 medium lime
  • 2 tbls. soy sauce
  • 1 tbls. sesame oil
  • 1 tbls. Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

For the Pickled Red Onion:

  • 1 large red onion
  • 3/4 cup seasoned Japanese rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbls. chopped fresh cilantro

For the Salad:

  • 1 lb. Bison Tenderloin, Beef Tenderloin or Pork Tenderloin cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 thinly sliced white onion
  • 6 Cups baby spinach or watercress
  • 1-2 tbls olive or coconut oil for cooking the meat.

Preparation:

First prepare the marinade by whisking together all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl.  Cut the bison, beef or pork tenderloin into one inch cubes and place in a zip lock bag.  Pour the marinade over the meat and seal the bag.  Shake the bag around to ensure that you have coated all the meat in the marinade.  Marinate the meat in the refrigerator of 1/2 hour to 1 hour. 

Meanwhile prepare the pickled red onions.  Bring 3/4 cups of japanese seasoned rice wine vinegar to a boil in a sauce pan.  While this is coming to a boil, finely slice the large red onion.  When the vinegar comes to a boil, place the onions in the boiling vinegar.  Press the onions down until they are submerged in the hot liquid.  The onions will begin to whlt and they will all fit in this amount fo liquid.  Remove the pot from the stove and pour the contents into a heat resistent bowl.  Add 2 tbls. of chopped cilantro and stir to combine.  Cover and refrigerate the pickled onions until you are ready to serve.

Next, prepare the dipping sauce.  Combine the juice of 1 medium lime with 1 tsp. pepper and 1/2 tsp. of fine unrefined sea salt and set aside.

After the meat has marinated long enough, remove it from the refrigerato and drain the marinade and discard.  Meanwhile prepare the salad.  Place 3 cups of baby spinach or watercress on 2 plates.  slice the tomatos and arrange around the plate.  Slice the 1/2 white or yellow onion and set aside.  Equally divide the pickled red onions among the 2 plates.  I like to do this with tongs or a slotted spoon so that you don’t end up with too much vinegar.  You can always spoon additional vinegar from the pickled onions over the salad if you like.

Meanwhile heat 1-2 tbls. of olvie oil or coconut oil over medium high heat in a skillet. When the oil is hot, place the meat in the hot oil, but don’t overcrowd it.  You can cook the meat in 2 batches if necessary.  Be sure to not disturb the beef in the pan so that you can brown the meat well.  After about 2 minutes, shake the pan to cook the other sides of the meat cubes.  The meat should be medium rare to medium in about 2 more minutes. If you like your meat cooked more well, leave it in the pan for a couple of more minutes, shaking the meat occasionally.

When the meat is done to your liking, mound the browned meat cubes in the center of the plate and garnish with the sliced raw white onion.  Serve with the dipping sauce on the side.  You can dip the meat cubes in the sauce as you are eating the salad, but beware, the sauce is peppery and tangy.

Enjoy.

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Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 Uncategorized 3 Comments

Cuckoo for Coconuts

Since going primal I’ve revisited my love for coconut.  It was something that I loved growing up.  Once in a while my Mom would pick one up at the store, crack it open, and we would grab chunks and snack on it for days.  I liked the texture and the fact that it seemed to take forever to eat.  Somewhere along the line I lost touch with the coconut, most likely due to a marketing smear campaign that was launched years ago.  I remembered reading somewhere that it was bad for you and you should avoid any product that had coconut oil in the ingredient list.  It was based on the mistaken belief that saturated fat was bad for you. This was a mistake on my part and I once again am using coconut in all of its forms almost on a daily basis.  I’ve become particularly fond of cooking with coconut oil.

Coconut oil is an edible oil that has been consumed in tropical places for thousands of years. Studies done on native diets high in coconut consumption show that these populations are generally in good health, and don’t suffer as much from many of the modern diseases of western nations.

Coconut oil was once prevalent in western countries like the United States as well. With a long shelf life and a melting point of 76 degrees, it was a favorite in the baking industry. But a negative campaign against saturated fats in general, and the tropical oils in particular, led to most food manufacturers abandoning coconut oil in recent years in favor of hydrogenated polyunsaturated oils that come from the main cash crops in the US, particularly soy, and contain trans fatty acids.
One thing I didn’t realize about unsaturated oils in cooked foods was that they become rancid in just a few hours, even in the refrigerator. This is one reason for the “stale” taste of leftovers. However, some posit that eating fresh unsaturated fats is even worse, because once inside the body, they will oxidize (turn rancid) very rapidly due to being heated and mixed with oxygen.
This does not appear to be the case with coconut oil. Even after one year at room temperature, coconut oil shows no evidence of rancidity even though it contains 9% linoleic (omega – 6) polyunsaturated acid. It is theorized that coconut oil may have antioxidant properties, since the oil doesn’t turn rancid and since it reduces our need for vitamin E, whereas unsaturated oils deplete vitamin E. Many researchers have reported that coconut oil lowers cholesterol (Blackburn et al 1988, Ahrens and colleagues, 1957). Studies in the early 80’s showed that islanders with a diet high in coconut oil showed no harmful health effects. When these groups migrated to New Zealand and lowered their daily coconut oil intake, their total cholesterol and especially their LDL cholesterol  increased. The cholesterol-lowering properties of coconut oil are a direct result of its ability to stimulate thyroid function. In the presence of adequate thyroid hormone, cholesterol (specifically LDL-cholesterol) is converted by enzymatic processes to the vitally necessary anti-aging steroids, pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA. These substances are required to help prevent heart disease, senility, obesity, cancer and other diseases associated with aging and chronic degenerative diseases, actually making coconut oil a healthier  alternative to the vegetable oils most of us are used to cooking with.
Similarly, newer findings about coconut oil demonstrated that it is a healthy fat. In 1988, N.W. Istfan of Harvard University Medical School’s Nutrition Coordinating Center , vindicated coconut oil. Dr. Istfan reported: “For the U.S. consumer, the use of coconut oil does not increase the role of heart disease.” Other researchers demonstrated that coconut oil reduces the risks of atherosclerosis, heart disease, cancer, and other degenerative conditions. It helps prevent bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, as a result of its antimicrobial component, lauric acid, which is found solely in coconut oil and in breast milk.

Coconut oil is one of the  richest sources of medium chain fatty acids.  They are easily digestible, and are sent directly to your liver where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat.  They have actually been shown to stimulate your metabolism and aid in weight loss.   Incorporating coconut in all its forms, and particularly using the oil can have dramatic effects in you body.  Try this delicious recipe which incorporates coconut flour, coconut powder and coconut oil for luch or dinner.  I’m sure you’ll love it.

Cuckoo for Coconut Chicken and and Mango Salsa

Cuckoo for Coconut Chicken with Mango Salsa

You will need a large non-stick skillet, and 4 mixing bowls.  this recipe will yield 4 servings.

Prepare the Mango Salsa. You will need:

  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen thawed mango, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 2-3 tbls; chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbls. red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Prepare the Coconut Chicken.  You will need:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs beaten well with a splash of milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut powder (available at your Asian market)*
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 3 tbls. coconut oil for frying
  • salt & pepper
  • romaine, green or red leaf lettuce for garnish

Place 1/2 cup of coconut flour on a plate.  In a separate pie pan or deep dish, beat the egss, milk, salt and pepper together.  In a separate pie pan or deep dish combine 1/2 cup coconut powder (coconut powder is a finely grated coconut.  If you can’t find coconut powder, you can substitute unsweetened coconut flakes but increase the amount to about 3/4 cup) and 1/2 cup almond flour and stir together well.  Season the coconut powder/almond flour mixture with salt and pepper.  Now, season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper.  Start by dredging the seasoned chicken breasts in the coconut flour, making sure to coat all surfaces.  Then, place the dredged chicken breasts in the egg mixture.  Now, place the chicken breasts in the coconut powder/almond flour mixture making sure to completely coat the schicken breasts.  set the coated chicken on a plate and heat the coconut oil in the non-stick skillet over medium heat.  When the coconut oil is hot, fry the chicken breasts for 7 to 10 minutes on each side, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, and until cooked through.  Check the chicken often to ensure that the coating is not burning and adjust the heat if necessary also being careful not to disturb the coating. Meanwhile, place 5 lettuce leafs on each of 4 plates.  When the chicken is browned and cooked through, place one breast on each plate, top each chicken breast with 1/2 cup of mango salsa and serve.

Enjoy!

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Monday, June 28th, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment

High Intensity Interval Training and Ginger Salmon Croquettes. What?

World's Fair Pavillion, Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri

As I’ve alluded to before, one of the crucial bases of Primal Blueprint fitness is low level aerobic activity.  This is moderate exercise, working at %55-%75 of your maximum heart rate. A simple often used way of figuring our your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.  For moderate exercise, strive to obtain a heart rate that is %55-75 of that number.  According to Mark Sisson who authored the Primal Blueprint, “Not only is low level aerobic activity the natural evolutionary expectation of the body, it’s flat out beneficial in its own right. It plays an integral role in maintaining weight and metabolic balance. It also builds your base and makes more strenuous workouts possible by toning all the muscles, joints and connective tissue needed for optimal strength training and high intensity aerobic activity. Low level aerobic exercise engages your energy systems and incrementally improves their functioning and efficiency. And while it does all that, it also physiologically and hormonally counters the effects of stress.

Its easy to achieve a good amount of low level aerobic activity but are you getting enough High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  Its a combination that will lead to a leaner, fitter and healthier body.  My partner and I try to do some type of high intensity interval training once a week.  It can supercharge your fitness, boost your metabolism, and help burn off that extra fat.  High intensity interval training  is about mixing high intensity bursts of exercise with moderate intensity recovery periods. It’s brutal but has incredible advantages.  It will boost your metabolism for the following 24 to 48 hours, meaning that you will burn more fat than if you simply went jogging.  One study  by Dr. Izumi Tabata concluded that  moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves the maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity and that adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems.  This is something you should add to your routine once a week.

The key to high intensity interval training is working to the max of your heat rate for short bursts followed by full recovery, and repeating the sequence several times.  My partner and I typically go to the park.  We warm up first with an easy paced walk.  We then will sprint for 30 to 60 seconds, followed by about two minutes of easy paced walking.  We typically repeat this pattern 8 to 10 times.  this workout takes between 30 and 40 minutes.  We usually end up tossing around the Frisbee afterwards just for some added fun.  You don’t have to run to do high intensity interval training.  You can do this by biking, swimming, at the gym even on a treadmill or stationary bike.  The key is the burst of all out effort.  Because of a knee problem, sometimes I cant do the sprints by running and I’ll do an alternate workout. Stairs don’t seem to bother my knee as much.  The other day, my partner and I went to Forest Park.  There are 2 sets of stairs flanking the World’s Fair Pavilion pictured at the beginning of this post.  Each set has about 50 steps.  We sprint up the set of stairs and go back down, repeating this 3-4 times.  We then walk over to the other set of stairs and repeat.   We usually do 6 to 8 reps, followed by a pleasant walk around the lake at the bottom of hill.  It’s an intense, but fun workout.

One other method that was spawned from the study referenced above is called Tabata sprints.  These are tough but the best thing about them is that they only take 4 minutes to complete.  In this method you sprint for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. You do this for a total of 4 minutes.  This is a great alternative on those days when you just don’t have time to get out or go to thy gym to do your regular HIIT training.  You’ll still get plenty of benefit from this work out.

When you switch things up, you add variety to your routine, and you are moire likely to do HIITs on a weekly basis.  Admittedly I sometimes get sore from these workouts.  I’m not a big fan of over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs, if you feel the same way, as an alternative, try some ginger, either in the form of a supplement or use it in one of your favorite recipes. 

Ginger has been used for a long time soothing nausea and easing stomach upset, but it’s also a natural immune system booster with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. One recent study showed a 24-25% decrease in exercise induced pain within 24 hours.

One of my new favorite dishes that gets its deliciousness from a good amount of ginger is my Ginger Salmon Croquettes (I love this word)  with Ginger Mayo.  Served in lettuce cups, it makes a great post work out meal. I served this with a spaghetti squash saute and plantain fried in coconut oil – yummy!

Ginger Salmon Croquettes with Ginger Mayo

Ginger Salmon Croquettes with Ginger Mayo

Ingredients:

Ginger Salmon Croquettes:

  • 1 lb. wild caught salmon fillets
  • 1 tbl. finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1 tbl. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbl. prepared horseradish
  • 1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbls. coconut oil

Ginger Mayo:

  • 2 tbls. mayonnaise (made with olive oil)
  • 1 tbls. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbls. finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. soy sauce (depending on your taste)

Garnish:

  • Lettuce leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/2 red onion sliced thinly and separated

Make the ginger mayo.  In a small bowl whisk  together the mayonnaise, mustard, ginger and soy sauce and set aside.

Make the salmon croquettes.  Finely chop the salmon by hand with a knife.  You want a very fine consistency (not chunky). In a bowl, stir together the finely chopped salmon together with the ginger, mustard, horseradish, and soy sauce.  Form into 4 – 6 croquettes and set on a plate.  I like to let the croquettes sit for about 10 or 15 minutes before cooking as some of the excess moisture will drain from the croquettes.  Heat 1 – 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a non stick skillet over medium heat.  Place the croquettes in the preheated skillet and cook on each side about 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness, and until cooked through.

Meanwhile, place 2 -3 lettuce leaves on 2 plates.  When the croquettes are cooked through, place 1 croquette on each lettuce leaf and smear each croquette with a good dollop of the ginger may.  Top with the slivered red onion and serve with your favorite side.

Try high intensity interval training.  In no time you will see a difference in your leanness as well as your aerobic capacity.  Follow your workout with this delicious recipe and you’ll feel like a million bucks.

 

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Thursday, June 24th, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Soothing Cool summer Salad

Asian Shrimp Pineapple Salad (photo courtesy of Framed)

Before I began following the Primal Blueprint I loved a refreshing cool salad during the summer months.  This Asian inspired shrimp salad fits that bill perfectly.  The spicy herby dressing, paired with the smooth avocado and refreshing pineapple will satiate your hunger for something healthy and filling without having to even turn on the oven during these hot summer months. The addition of slivered or chopped almonds gives it that extra crunch you might be looking for.  This dish is great for lunch, either on its own or wrapped in lettuce leaves.  It also makes a great party dish that your friends will love.  I sometimes use canned pineapple for this recipe along with a few tablespoons of the light syrup for the dressing.  I prefer fresh pineapple and you can squeeze some of the natural juices from the pineapple for the dressing as well. This recipe will yield 2-4 servings.

Asian Shrimp Salad
First make the dressing, You will need:
  • 2 tbls. Olive Oil
  • 2 tbls. Asian fish Sauce
  • Juice of 1 large lime or 2 small limes (about 2-3 tbls.)
  • 2-3 tbls. fresh pineapple juice (or reserved light syrup if you are using canned)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 small jalapeno or thai chili pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds if you like it less spicy)
  • 2 tbls. fresh chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tbls. chopped cilantro

Whisk together the oil, fish sauce, lime juice,  and pineapple juice until well combined.  Stir in garlic, red onion, chile peppers, mint and cilantro.   Set aside.

Assemble the salad.   You will need:

  • 20 peeled and deveined cooked large shrimp (tails removed)
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • I large avocado
  • 2 tbls. chopped or slivered almonds
  • 8 lettuce leaves (butter, romaine, red leaf: your choice)
  • 4 lime wedges for garnish

Assemble the salad. Leave the shrimp whole if you are serving the salad alone or cut the shrimp into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the size of the shrimp, and  about the same size as the pineapple chunks if you are going to serve this salad wrap style. Place the shrimp in a large bowl and salt and pepper the shrimp to to taste.  Halve, pit, peel and roughly chop the avocado.  Add the pineapple, avocado and dressing to the  shrimp and stir to combine. I like to place the salad in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to allow the falvors to meld and develop, but this is not necessary.    When you are ready to serve, divide the salad among 2-4 plates, sprinkle the salad with some of the chopped almonds, and place 2-4 lettuce leaves and lime wedges alongside the  salad and serve.

I hope you enjoy this salad.  Its packed with flavor and nutrition.  Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit. Pineapples are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. Pineapples are also  known for having the anti-inflammatory substance bromelain.  This salad will undoubtedly become a summer favorite.

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Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Hot Diggety Dog
With summer now in full swing I got to thinking about Hot dogs.  They are synonymous with summer, backyard barbecues and baseball.  Growing up in Chicago, I ate a lot of Vienna Beef Hot Dogs.  There’s nothing like biting into a good kosher dog, the skin pops and a burst of delicious juice pours into your mouth. Topped with mustard (never ketchup), pickle spear, tomato, onion, sport peppers, that famous bright green relish, and celery salt, well, you just can’t beat it. That’s why I was so surprised to find that my partner wouldn’t go near them. I didn’t understand, nor did I really want to know why. I wanted nothing standing in the way of my enjoyment of this delectable treat.
However, since I’ve gone primal and made an effort to be more conscious of what I eat and put in my body, I decided to look into the matter more closely.  I wasn’t happy with what I found out, but, wait, all is not lost, I’m here to tell you that you can still enjoy this American favorite without the guilt.
Whether you call it a wiener, a frankfurter or hot dog, I was surprised to find out that the USDA actually has standards that regulate this American favorite. Hot dogs can be made from beef, pork, turkey, chicken or any combination of the above.  The finished products may not contain more than 30% fat or no more than 10% water, or a combination of 40% fat and added water. Up to 3.5% non-meat binders and extenders (such as nonfat dry milk, cereal, or dried whole milk) or 2% isolated soy protein may be used, but must be shown in the ingredients statement on the product’s label by its common name.  Most hot dogs contain MSM (mechanically separated meat). Mechanically separated poultry is a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue.  In 1995, a final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it was safe and could be used without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as “mechanically separated chicken or turkey” in the product’s ingredients statement. The final rule became effective November 4, 1996. Hot dogs can contain any amount of mechanically separated chicken or turkey.If that’s not enough to get you thinking about the next hot dog you eat, read on. 
The quintessentialal American hot dog, the Oscar Mayer wiener has the following ingredients: mechanically separated turkey, pork, mechanically separated chicken, water, contains less than 2% of salt, flavor ,sodium lactate, corn syrup , dextrose ,sodium phosphates, sodium diacetate, sodium ascorbate, sodium nitrite. Surprised? I guess I wasn’t, I just didn’t want to know this. As a primal eater, this just doesn’t work. The addition of corn syrup is problematic enough from a primal standpoint, but I was equally concerned about the last ingredient, sodium nitrite.
I had little knowledge about this ingredient or its effects, but was curious as more often these days I see labels that tout the fact that they are nitrite free. So I did a little checking.
Nitrites are found in most cured meats like bacon, ham and hot dogs. But, according the Cancer Prevention Coalition, nitrites have long been linked to a variety of cancers. “Peters et al. studied the relationship between the intake of certain foods and the risk of leukemia in children from birth to age 10 in Los Angeles County between 1980 and 1987. The study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia. A strong risk for childhood leukemia also existed for those children whose fathers’ intake of hot dogs was 12 or more per month.  Researchers Sarusua and Savitz studied childhood cancer cases in Denver and found that children born to mothers who consumed hot dogs one or more times per week during pregnancy has approximately double the risk of developing brain tumors. Children who ate hot dogs one or more times per week were also at higher risk of brain cancer. Bunin et al, also found that maternal consumption of hot dogs during pregnancy was associated with an excess risk of childhood brain tumors.”
Can you still enjoy hot dogs. Of course you can. You just need to be conscious about what you are buying. Read the labels and try to avoid cured products that contain nitrites.
There are lots of alternatives. Applegate Farms makes a great hot dog that’s healthier for you and delicious  Compare their hot dog’s ingredients with the Oscar Mayer wiener. The Applegate Farms hot dog has the following ingredients: Organic Grass-Fed Beef, Water, Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Sea Salt, Organic Spices, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Paprika, Celery Powder, Organic Onion, Lactic Acid Starter Culture (Not From Milk). Not only are there no nitrites, its made with organic grass fed beef which will provide you with plenty of healthy omega 3 fatty acids. With that combination, you can’t go wrong. In addition, with summer farmers’ markets in full swing you can likely find a variety of locally made, nitrite free hot dogs, sausages and bratwurst from a local purveyor.

Applegate Farms' Sausages

So abandon the corn syrup, nitrite, mechanically separated meat versions of this American classic for the healthier versions and you’ll be amazed at how good a hot dog can really be, even without a bun!  Yes, I said without a bun.  Try it wrapped in a piece of lettuce with your favorite toppings, and you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Monday, June 21st, 2010 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Viva La Crepe

I used to live down the street from a little coffee house and creperie, The City Coffee House and Creperie .  Their crepes are simply to die for.  One of my favorites was the Shady Oak which was a buckwheat crepe filled with grilled chicken, spinach, tomato relish, havarti cheese and  drizzled with honey mustard dressing.  It was a favorite indulgence of mine.  I was craving one of these crepes theo other day so I decided to replicate it.  My version was just as delicious but still primal to the core.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! You can fill these delicious crepes with anything you like.  They are great for any meal and perfect filled with your favorite fruit for desert.

Crepes Stuffed with Chicken, Tomato Relish and Spinach

You will need a good non-stick skillet (8″) or a crepe pan. This recipe will yield 4 crepes.

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons of almond or coconut flour
  • 2 tbls.plus 1 tsp. honey
  • 3 tbls. dijon mustard
  • 4 grilled chicken breasts
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 ripe tomatos
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tbls Olive Oil
  • 2 tbls. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbls. chopped fresh basil
  • coconut oil

Method

Make the crepe batter.  Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl and add the almond or coconut flour and one teaspoon of honey. Stir to combine well and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Next, make the tomato relish.  Combine chopped tomato, sliced green onions, chopped basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Stir to combine and add salt and pepper to taste.  set aside so the flavors can combine.

Make the honey mustard drizzle by combining 3 tablespoons of dijon mustard with 2 table spoons of honey.

Dice up the grilled chicken breasts and coarsely chop or tear the spinach and set aside.

Now preheat your oven to 300º f. and heat the non-stick skillet or crepe pan over medium heat.  Add 1/2 tbls. of coconut oil to the pan.  Remove the crepe batter from the refrigerator and stir well. Pour 1/2 cup of the stirred crepe batter in the hot pan and swirl to evenly and thinly  the batte over the pan.  Watch the crepe closely as it will brown fairly quickly.  When the crepe is nicely browned flip it in the pan and brown the other side.  Remove the crepe from the pan and place it on a cookie sheet.  Continue making the crepes until you have used all the batter.

After the crepes are done fill 1/2 side of the crepe with 1 chopped chicken breast, 1/2 cup spinach and 2-3 tabls. of the tomato relish.  Fold the crepes over the stuffing and place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the crepes are evenly heated through.

Plate each crepe, drizzle with the honey mustard and serve.

These crepes are very versatile and can be stuffed with just about anything.  a delicious vegetarian version might include spinach, sauteed mushrooms and goat cheese.  Or try filling them with fresh sliced berries and drizzled with cream.  Bon appetit!

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Friday, June 18th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments