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Archive for August, 2010

Loving My New Dehydrator: Shrimp Scampi over Zucchini Noodles

We recently purchased a Nesco Snackmaster Food Dehydrator – what fun.  The very first use was for beef jerky.  It turned out pretty good, but with a little tweaking it will turn out better next time.  Commercial jerky is so salty and my partner, who loves to snack on it, really watches his sodium intake like a hawk.  Making our own jerky leaves us in control and is more economical.  The cost is about 1/3, so the dehydrator will pay for itself in no time.  Plus, we will get so many more uses out of it.  Yesterday for lunch we enjoyed Shrimp Scampi, one of those timeless dishes that I like to revisit every once in a while.  It seems decadently rich, and is both mildly spicy and mildly sweet (not from sugar but from good quality Kerrygold Butter and delicious pink Argentinian shrimp).  Instead of serving it on pasta as is typical, I made a batch of zucchini noodles.  This is where the dehydrator comes in.  Previously, when making zucchini pasta I found that when you saute the zucchini noodles, they release alot of water and this will dilute the sauce you use with it.  so I decided to put the zucchini in the dehydrator.   It would have been a shame to ruin the delicious scamp sauce with watery zucchini noodles.  It worked like a charm.  The only drawbacks of putting the zucchini noodles in the dehydrator I can think of is the additional time it takes and the volume of the noodles decreases quite a bit.  next time I’ll dehydrate more zucchini.

Here’s how I made it:

Shrimp Scampi over Zucchini Noodles

To Make the zucchini noodles, you will need:

  • 3-4 medium to large zucchini
  • 1 tbls. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the zucchini noodles:

Slice the zucchini, lengthwise in thin pieces, about 1/4″.  Stack the slices and then slice again into noodles, again aboout 1/4″.  If you have a dehydrator, place the zucchini noodles in the dehydrator at the highest temperature for about 1 hour.  If you don’t have a dehydrator, don’t worry, you can still saute them and then drain any excess liquid before serving.  Here’s how mine looked after coming out of the dehydrator.  If you use a dehydrator, check on the zucchini noodles periodically to ensure they don’t dry out too much.  This probably won’t be a problem if they are not in the dehydrator more than an hour.

To prepare the Shrimp Scampi, you will need:

  • 1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp with the tail off (I found cleaned, tail off Argentinian Pink Shrimp in the freezer case at Trader Joes – they are sweeter than typical shrimp and have a flavor close to lobster – I highly recommend them)
  • 1/4 C. Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 tbls. good quality butter
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine (or substitute with chicken broth)
  • 3-4 tbls. fresh or dried parsley

To prepare the Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles:

Heat I tbls. olive oil in a saute pan.  When the oil is hot, add the zucchini noodles and season with salt and pepper.  Saute the zucchini noodles until cooked through.  If you are using the dehydrated zucchini noodles, this will only take a minute or two.  If you are not using the dehydrated zucchini noodles, when they are cooked through and if there is excess moisture in the pan drain the zucchini noodles and set aside.

Now heat 1/4 cup olive oil in the saute pan over medium heat.  Pat dry the shrimp and season with salt and pepper.  Place the shrimp in the hot oil in one even layer being careful to not overcrowd the pan.  Saute the shrimp for about a minute or so, and then turn the shrimp and saute for another minute or so, depending on the shrimp size, until cooked through but not overdone.  With a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp from the pan and place in a bowl.  Add the garlic, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and white wine (or chicken broth) to the pan and saute for about 2 minutes, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the parsley and butter.  When the butter is melted and incorporated into the sauce add the shrimp back to the pan and toss to coat.  Turn off the heat.

Now, divide the zucchini noodles between two plates and then top each with half of the Shrimp Scampi mixture.  You can garnish with additional chopped parsley, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese if you like.  Serve immediately and enjoy!


Thursday, August 26th, 2010 Recipes No Comments

The Never-Ending Search for Primal Substitutes: The Rutabaga

In my never ending search for the perfect primal substitutes I recently came across the rutabaga, something to date I’ve seen in the grocery store but never used or eaten. It seems to be a perfect potato substitute. To date, I’ve only used the rutabaga in one preparation, as Potatoes O’Brien  this past Sunday for brunch.  Yummy!

Rutabagas are often thought of as yellow turnips and  belong to the highly prized family of cruciferous vegetables. The rutabaga, a relatively newcomer in the world of vegetables, is thought to have evolved from a cross between a wild cabbage and a turnip. The earliest records of rutabaga’s existence are from the seventeenth century in Southern Europe where they were first eaten as well as used for animal feed. It’s funny that throughout history animals were often fed the healthiest foods, foods thought to be inappropriate for human consumption.  They are relatively low in carbs and check out these nutritional specs.

Rutabaga Nutrition
100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces

Nutrient Cooked Raw
Calories 39 36
Protein 1.3 g 1.2 g
Total Fat .6 g .6 g
% Calories from fat 5.1% 5.0%
Carbohydrates 8.7 g 8.1 g
Fiber 1.8 g 2.5 g
Calcium 48.0 mg 47.0 mg
Copper .04 mg .04 mg
Iron 53 mg .52 mg
Magnesium 23.0 mg 23.0 mg
Manganese .17 mg .17 mg
Phosphorous .57 mg .58 mg
Potassium 326.0 mg 337.0 mg
Selenium .7 mg .7 mg
Sodium 20.0 mg 20.0 mg
Zinc .350 mg .340 mg
Vitamin A 561.0 IU 580.0 IU
Vitamin B1 ­ Thiamine .082 mg .090 mg
Vitamin B2 ­ Riboflavin .041 mg .040 mg
Vitamin B3 ­ Niacin .72 mg .7 mg
Vitamin B6 ­ Pyridoxine .102 mg .100 mg
Vitamin C 18.8 mg 25.0 mg
Vitamin E .15 mg .30 mg
Folate (folic acid) .15 mcg .21 mcg
Pantothenic Acid .155 mg .160 mg
Saturated Fat .03 g .03 g
Monounsaturated Fat .07 g .07 g
Polyunsaturated Fat .04 g .04 g

So despite never seeing anything or reading anything about the rutabaga (other than a preliminary check on carbs to see it it met primal muster – it did) I decided to try and make hash browns or what I grew up calling Potatoes O’Brien.   It was delicious.  I peeled the rutabaga (they are pretty big – a nice size one was enough to serve 2) and started to slice it.  It seemed to be some what hard and “woody” and therefore I figured I would probably have to boil it before frying it. I cut it into a relatively small dice 1/4 – 1/3 inch dice, and this worked out perfectly.

Primal Potatoes O’Brien

Here’s what I did.  You will need (for 2 servings):

  • 1 large rutabaga
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tbls. butter
  • 1 tbls. olive oil or coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the Potato’s O’Brien:

Place a medium pot filled with water on the stove and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, peel the Rutabaga with a vegetable peeler or knife and cut into 1/4″ – 1/3″ dice.  When the water comes to a boil place the diced Rutabaga in the water and boil for 10-15 minutes until the Rutabaga is softened.  Drain the Rutabaga well.   Now, place 2-3 tbls of butter and 1 tbls. olive oil in a good non- stick skillet over medium heat.  When the butter/oil mixture starts to bubble, add the diced onion, green pepper and garlic and saute for a few minutes until soft.  Now add the well drained rutabagas.

Saute the rutabaga mixture until well browned.  I found that it took a little longer to brown the rutabaga as compared to potatoes, so be patient (it might be because they have higher water content that needs to steam off).  Don’t disturb the mixture very much and it will brown very nicely.  Just check on it every few minutes.  When the rutabaga is browned to your liking, serve with breakfast or your favorite entree.

I will be trying other methods of preparation, including roasted and mashed.  I might even try grating it raw for a cole-slaw.  I’ll keep you posted and hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did.

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Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 Recipes 1 Comment

All is not Lost: Primal Lasagna.

There are certain things that I thought I would likely never eat again. One of those things was Lasagna.  This is something that I have always loved, but didn’t eat too much prior to going primal anyway, mostly due to the fact that my previous health conscience told me it was too decadent, too high in fat and simply not that healthy.  Well my thoughts in that regard have clearly changed, and sans the pasta, lasagna seems like a good primal fit.  I decided to revisit this lost favorite and ingenuity won out.  You may recall my previous post regarding making enchiladas where I sued an egg crepe as the substitute for the tortilla.  I figured I could use the same egg crepe as the lasagna noodle in this dish.  It worked very well and the lasagna turned out delicious and virtually undetectable from the high carb pasta version.  While somewhat labor intensive, it was well worth it.  It took about an hour to prepare and another45 minutes to bake and then 10-15 to rest. Give it a try when you have some time to devote to this delicious dish.

Primal Lasagna

First prepare your favorite meat sauce.  I start by simply sauteing a medium onion and about 3 cloves of garlic in olive oil.  I then add 1/2 lb. of bulk italian sausage and 1 lb. of hamburger to the same pan.  I add salt and pepper to taste along with a generous sprinkling of crushed red pepper (I like it spicy).  When the meat is browned I add a 24 oz. can of Trader Joe”s Marinara Sauce (perfectly primal with no sugar) or you can use your favorite homemade tomato sauce or jarred suace.  I then add about a tbls. of italian seasoning and more red pepper flakes.  I let this simmer while I prepare the remaining components. You want the sauce to be meaty and on the thick side so the lasagna doesn’t turn out runny.

Next make the egg crepes.  You will need:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2-3 tbls. water
  • 2-3 tbls. grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the egg crepes combine all ingredients and whisk together thoroughly.  You want to add the water to the eggs so that the egg batter is thinner and will result in a thinner crepe.  Heat a 12″ good non stick skillet over medium heat and spray with olive oil.  Add about 1/2 cup of the egg mixture to the pan and swirl to evenly coat the whole pan.  Cook the egg crepe until fully cooked through (you can flip it if you want when it is cooked through but this is not necessary). Set aside and continue making crepes until all of the egg mixture is gone.  You should end up with 5 crepes.

Next make the filling.  You will need:

  • 1 container of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbls. fresh parsely (or an equal amount of dried parsley)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbls. parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.

Now you can assemble the lasagna.  In addition to the ricotta filling, meat suace and egg crepes you will simply need 2 cups of finely shredded mozzarella cheese. As you can see from the picture above, I used a 12″ round stainless steel skillet because of the shape of the crepes. Spray the lasagna pan with olive oil. Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of the pan and then place one egg crepe on top.  Spread this layer with a layer of the ricotta filling and then top with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Place another egg crepe on top and spread with a generous amount of meat sauce.  Put on a layer of the shredded mozzarella cheese and then top with another egg crepe. Spread this layer with more ricotta filling, top with shredded mozzarella and then place another egg crepe over this.  Place a generous layer of meat sauce and cheese and top with the last egg crepe. Now spread the remaining ricotta filling and top with the remaining meat sauce.  Cover with the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese and a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan.  Place the lasagna in a preheated 350º oven for about 45 minutes.  It should be bubbling hot by this point.  If the cheese is not browned, turn on the broiler and broil for a few minutes until the cheese is browned to your liking.  Remove the lasagna from the oven and let rest for about 15 minutes so that it will set.  Serve with your favorite green salad and enjoy.  This should make4-6 good servings.


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Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 Recipes 2 Comments

Let Them Eat Cake

Okay, sometimes a guy just needs some cake, chocolaty rich cake!  As a big sweet fan I miss cakes and cookies almost as much as I miss bread, rice, pasta and potatoes.  The other day I was thinking about the “Oopsie Rolls” I have been making and wondered whether I could make a cake using the same method.  I think I was successful, but will be trying out some tweaks in the future.  However, this cake was pretty darn good and so I thought I would share the recipe with you right away (I don’t want to deprive my Primal buddies for a minute longer than necessary).  I also made a quick strawberry ice cream that I layered between two pieces of the cake.  Oh my! The ice cream only took about 5 minutes to make and was really good, especially paired with the rich dark chocolaty cake.  After baked, the cake turns out a little on the thin side, so layering it with ice cream was the perfect solution.  (The next time I make it I will add additional egg whites to see if I can increase the volume). A word of warning, however.  I used stevia (purevia) as the sweetener and therefore some of you may shy away from this recipe.  But I only used 6 packets for both the cake and ice cream and felt it was well worth the splurge. Give it a try and I hope you like it as much as we did.

Chocolate Cake and Strawberry Ice Cream

For the cake you will need:

  • 3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 4 packets of purevia (stevia) sweetener
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • water for thinning the batter
  • coconut oil to grease the cake pan
  • coconut powder as a garnish

For the strawberry ice cream you will need:

  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries diced
  • 2 packets of purevia

You will also need a hand mixer and a stand blender or food processor.

To prepare the Chocolate Cake:

Separate the egg yolks and whites in two metal mixing bowls.  Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and blend until you obtain stiff peaks.  Now, in the separate bowl, add the cocoa powder and vanilla to the egg yolks and beat until smooth.  If the mixture seems to thick, add water a tablespoon or two at a time until you get a thinner batter that will be easy to incorporate into the stiff egg whites. Now slowly fold the chocolate batter into the egg whites trying to not lose the volume of the egg whites.  Pour the batter into a 8 inch square greased cake tin and bake in the oven at 325º for 20 minutes.  You can check the cake after about 15 minutes to see if it is done by placing a tooth pick in the center.  If it comes out clean it will be done.  Be careful not to overcook the cake as it may dry out.  when done, remove the cake and let cool before serving.

To prepare the Strawberry Ice Cream filling:

Pour heavywhipping cream into blender and add purevia sweetener.  Blend for about a minute at high speed until it starts to turn into whip cream.  Add the frozen diced strawberries and blend until incorporated.  don’t over process as you want to maintain the cold ice cream consistency.

Slice the cake into 4 even size pieces.  Place 1/2 the strawberry ice cream on two pieces of the cake and top each with another piece of cake.  Sprinkle with  coconut powder and serve immediately.

Variations:  You could also fill the cake with any flavored whipped cream and/or your favorite fresh berries.  You could also top with whip cream and drizzle with melted dark chocolate.

I hope you like this and let me know what you think.

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Thursday, August 19th, 2010 Recipes No Comments

Fun, Sun, Vitamin D and a Bright Healthy Smile

Pool side in Puerto Vallarta

I love the sun.  While I am not typically affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder) I do crave being in the sun.  I do worry about getting too much sun, as I have a somewhat fair complexion (I do burn), but love having that healthy looking tan.  I have noticed this year since eating a primal diet and using coconut oil on my skin, I haven’t burned at all this summer.  Im not sure why.  I want to attribute it to my new way of eating, but I haven’t seen much out there on this topic.  I have seen numerous accounts by others claiming that they no longer burn after using coconut oil and eating a primal/paleo diet. Regardless, I am, on a daily basis, amazed at the benefits of living the primal lifestyle.  One of the things that I try to do daily is get some sun.  Its very interesting what this can do for you.  Recently I came across a number of blog posts regarding the benefits of adequate sun exposure and vitamin D.

Did you know that according to a June 2007 study, not getting enough direct sunlight increases our chances of cancer by at least 70%? Why? Because our bodies need natural sunlight to synthesize adequate amounts of vitamin D in order to keep our bones strong and healthy, as well as support the immune system.  As little as 10-15 minutes of sun exposure per day can give you all the vitamin D you need.  This varies geographically (do you live north or south) and your skin type (darker skin needs more sun exposure).  You can also get plenty of additional vitamin D in your diet. Foods that contain Vitamin D3 and the amount in International Units (IU):

* 1 Tablespoon Cod Liver Oil – 1,360 IU

* 100gr Salmon, cooked – 360 IU

* 100gr Mackerel, cooked – 345 IU

* 100gr Sardines, canned in oil, drained – 270 IU

* 250ml Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D fortified – 98 IU

* 1 whole Egg soft boiled, (vitamin D is present in the yolk) – 25 IU

Deficiency or insufficiency of natural sunlight and vitamin D has been associated with the following conditions:

* adrenal insufficiency

* Alzheimer’s

* allergies

* autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis

* cancers of the colon, breast, skin and prostate

* depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

* diabetes, Type 1 and 2

* gluten intolerance, lectin intolerance

* heart disease, hypertension, Syndrome X

* infertility, sexual dysfunction

* learning and behavior disorders

* misaligned teeth and cavities

* obesity

* osteopenia, osteoporosis, osteomalacia (adult rickets)

* Parkinson’s


* psoriasis

I encourage you do do some research yourself to determine if you are getting enough vitamin D.  There is plenty of information out there.

Did you also know that getting adequate amounts of vitamin D can help you heal your own teeth. Teeth are able to heal themselves. Apparently the Inuit can wear their teeth down to the pulp by chewing leather and sand-covered dried fish, and African Wakamba tribe can file their front teeth into sharp , yet still have an exceptionally low rate of tooth decay. apparently both cultures lost their resistance to tooth decay after adopting nutrient-poor Western foods such as white flour and sugar.  Numerous studies have shown that one can reverse tooth decay and fight cavities by eating a proper diet and getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D3.

So have some fun in the sun, consider a vitamin D supplement or have a big sardine omelet with a glass of milk and you will be on your way to a healthier body and brighter smile!

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Primal Chicken Enchiladas

Sadly all vacations must come to an end, and I am back at home and already ready for my next vacation.  This was my first real vacation to Mexico and it was no surprise to me that I would love it.  I used to live on the Mexican border in south Texas and have always loved the Latin culture.  Mexican food has always been a favorite of mine. While living in south Texas I learned to make some great authentic Mexican dishes.  However, I have cut back on eating at my favorite Mexican restaurants as many of my favorite dishes include things that don’t fit into the primal lifestyle. Additionally, many of these dishes are hard to adapt to the primal lifestyle.  I’m learning however that it is not not impossible.  I’ve got lots of new inspiration and ideas after this most recent trip so keep tuned in for more Mexican recipes to follow.  Many Mexican dishes use beans, corn, and tortillas, all things that are, of course, things that most of us Primal folks just don’t eat any more.   One of the biggest staples in Mexican cooking is the corn or flour tortilla.  They are perfect for wrapping up delicious spicy fillings.  I’ve come up with a substitute, that while not great for ripping apart and sopping up delicious sauces or salsas, is perfect for making many dishes, including enchiladas.  These “tortillas”  are simple to make. and make a great substitute from a taste and textural standpoint.  I hope you try this delicious recipe and enjoy it as much as I do.

Chicken Enchiladas

To make these Enchiladas you will need about 2-3 cups of Enchilada sauce, homemade or your favorite commercial variety.  In a pinch, I use a commercial enchilada sauce that I buy at the local Mexican grocery.  When I have time, I will make it myself.  Here’s how to make your own homemade sauce.  This makes about 4 cups, so you can save half of it for later use.

You will need:

  • 12 ancho chiles (dried)
  • 4 chiles de arbol (dried)
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1 small onion chopped into 4 chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of Mexican oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cumin
  • salt to taste

Prepare the red enchilada sauce:

1. Rinse the ancho chiles and the chiles de arbol under cold water and pat dry. Tear open the chiles and remove the seeds and veins. Toast the chiles, the onion, and garlic in a dry pan over medium low heat until fragrant. This should take about five minutes. Keep turning the chiles so that they do not burn.

2. Bring six cups of water to a boil and add all of the chiles, chopped tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Reduce the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes.

3. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and add the oregano and cumin. Blend for two minutes until the mixture is very smooth. Place a towel over the top of the blender while blending to protect from any splatters. Be careful because the mixture is very hot.

4. Return the contents of the blender back to the pan by forcing the mixture through a strainer with the back of a spoon to remove the tough bits of chile skin that remain. Don’t skip this step it greatly improves the texture of the finished sauce.

5. Simmer the strained enchilada sauce for 15 minutes to blend the flavors. Add salt to taste.

Now, to make the Enchiladas, you will need:

  • 1 whole roasted chicken (meat removed and roughly shredded)
  • 2-3 cups of red enchilada sauce
  • 6 eggs
  • 1-2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2-3 tbls. water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or more if you like it really cheesy)
  • 1/2 cup grated queso fresco or cotija cheese (optional)
  • prepared salsa (optional)

First, shred the chicken in a bowl and add about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce to the chicken.  Mix the chicken and sauce until the chicken is evenly coated.  You want this to be on the dry side, not soupy.  Now, make the “tortillas”.  Break 6 eggs into into a bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste and add 1-2 tsp. chili powder and 3 tbls. water.  Beat well.  You want this mixture to be on the thin side so the tortillas will be thin enough when you make them.  I prefer larger tortillas so I use a good non stick 12″ skillet.  You can make smaller tortillas by using a smaller skillet.  The key is having a good non stick skillet.  Heat the non stick skillet over medium heat until hot. I usually spray the pan with my olive oil sprayer prior to making each tortilla.  Add about 1/2 cup of the egg mixture to the hot pan and swirl the eggs around until you have a thin even coating over the entire pan.  Use a spatula and push down the sides a little if necessary.  Cook the egg mixture until it is well done and cooked through.  It is not necessary to flip the tortilla, but you can if you like.  remove the cooked egg tortilla from the pan and place on a plate and continue to make the tortillas until all the egg mixture is gone.  6 eggs will net 6 tortillas if you are using the larger skillet.

Now place 1/6 of the shredded chicken mixture in each tortilla, roll, and place them in a baking pan large enough to hold 6 enchiladas.  Cover the enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce and shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  Bake the enchiladas in a preheated 400º oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are heated through.  Place 1 or 2 enchiladas on a plate and garnish with grated queso fresco or cotija cheese and salsa and serve.

I hope you enjoy!

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Monday, August 16th, 2010 Uncategorized 4 Comments