Summer Stone Fruit

Arguably the best part of the hot Summer months is the weekly trip to our local Farmer’s Market. Seeing familiar faces, interacting with growers, and picking up produce that was picked that morning, makes 90 degree weather almost bearable.

With such high temps this year, I’ve noticed that we are seeing a lot of fruits reach the market earlier than expected and in fantastic form. Last weekend, I had my eye on a basket full of stone fruit that I didn’t expect to even be edible before August! Much to my surprise, these beauties were plump, juicy and ripe for the picking.

Farmer's Market Stone Fruit

There were peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and my personal favorite, pluots. If you’ve never had the opportunity to eat a ripe pluot, you are missing out on a delicious hybrid fruit. A cross between an apricot and a plum, a pluot carries the best traits of each fruit and presents itself with just the right amount of tart and tang, but irresistibly sweet flesh.

I find that when you stumble upon truly fresh fruit, it should be left unadulterated. So this recipe keeps the fruit at the forefront and keeps your prep time at a minimum. Feel free to omit the mint syrup, it just adds an extra dimension to the dish. If you have fragrant fruit, they can stand alone on your table!

Peach Salad

Summer Peach Salad

Yield: 6 servings

6-8 full size stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, pluots, etc.)
1/4 c. boiling water
1 T. honey
1 bunch fresh mint

1. Fire up your grill to high heat. Be sure to clean the grates from any leftover grilling and oil the grates. You can also use a stove top grill pan or a non-stick skillet (you just won’t get those beautiful grill lines!).
2. Prep your fruit by slicing into thick wedges and removing the pits.
3. Grill each side of the fruit just long enough for grill marks to form, then set aside in a large bowl.
4. Combine your boiling water and honey, then stir to dissolve the honey completely.
5. Add the bunch of mint to the hot water and allow to steep for 5 minutes, or just long enough to release it’s flavor.
6. Remove the mint from the syrup and allow it to cool slightly.
7. Drizzle the mint syrup over the fruit and toss to coat.
8. Serve in a large bowl and garnish with mint sprigs (if desired).

1. The fruit in this recipe doesn’t even have to be grilled – if you are short on time, make the syrup ahead and store in the refrigerator. When you have some ripe fruit on hand, just slice it, toss with the cold syrup, and serve.
2. I am not a fan of leftovers, but these make a great yogurt topping the next day. Store some in the refrigerator, combine with some Paleo granola, and top your favorite yogurt.

Paleo Pineapple Fried Rice

Pineapple Fried Rice
It wasn’t until we gave up rice through going Paleo that I realized how much I actually love it in so many ways. Indian Basmati tastes like toasted butter, Chinese brown has a subtle nuttiness, and Thai pineapple fried rice is a complex meal in itself. Initially, it was difficult for me to find acceptable substitutes and for the most part, I just stopped searching. It seemed easier to just have extra yellow curry instead of supplementing with rice – until I discovered the wonders of a cheese grater and a $1.99 head of cauliflower.

This recipe is super simple to make, can be done well in advance (and I mean days in advance – think week-long lunch prep), and is pretty much a global crowd-pleaser. It can be customized by changing the vegetables with the seasons and even using variations of cauliflower (did you know it comes in more than just white?). Serve it with your next batch of curry and your family will wonder why you didn’t think of it sooner.

Yield: 6 servings

2 large heads cauliflower, leaves removed
2 T. avocado oil
2 carrots, small diced
1 large onion, small diced
2 cups diced pineapple
4 ea. green onions, sliced thinly (I reserve some of the tops for garnish)
3 ea. eggs, whisked
1 T. coconut aminos
salt & pepper, to taste

1. Grate both heads of cauliflower on the large holes of a cheese grater. It might be a little messy, but that can be controlled by grating directly into a large bowl.
2. Heat up 1 T. of the avocado oil in the largest skillet you own on high heat, until it shimmers.
3. Add the carrots, onions and pineapple to the skillet. Sauté until the onions are translucent, the carrots have a bit of color, and the pineapple has started to caramelize. Remove from pan and reserve.
4. Add the remaining 1 T. of avocado oil into the same skillet and heat until it shimmers.
5. Add the cauliflower to the skillet and sauté until it is slightly brown, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the green onions and egg, cooking just until the egg is cooked through (about 30 seconds).
7. Add the carrot mix back to the skillet. Season liberally with the coconut aminos, salt and pepper.

Cauliflower Puree

Cauliflower Puree
One of the styles of food I most enjoy cooking (as well as eating), is Southern comfort food. I grew up in a house where I was blessed with a mother who had dinner on the table every night and it was always delicious (well, except for salisbury steak night – what was she thinking?). Most meals were dripping with butter, loaded with flavor, and always kept you wanting more. It was comfort food at its finest. After going Paleo, I thought I’d never be able to enjoy any of my mom’s wonderful dishes again. I’m happy to say that I was wrong. With a little creativity and often a lot of butter, you can give your family a delicious version of many comfort classics.

This recipe for cauliflower puree is an easy stand in for mashed potatoes, as a side, as a topping for shepherd’s pie, or as the base for a great croquette. They are creamy, full of flavor, and pair with and endless number of main dishes (thinking about serving them with my mom’s meatloaf has me salivating now!). Don’t be afraid of the butter or the cream. If you don’t eat dairy, you can easily substitute some avocado or olive oil. Just be ware, it won’t be nearly as dreamy.

Yield: 4 servings


1 head cauliflower, stems and leaves removed, cut into florets
3 oz. grass-fed butter (Kerrygold is delicious), room temperature
1 cup heavy cream, hot
salt & white pepper, to taste


1. Set a steamer basket in a pan shallowly-filled with water. Fill basked with cauliflower florets.
2. Turn on heat on high to bring water to a slow boil. Cover and reduce heat to a rapid simmer.
3. Steam cauliflower until cooked through, about 10 minutes (don’t worry, you can’t really over-cook it).
4. Once cooked, remove cauliflower and transfer to a food processor or blender.
5. Add butter and half the cream, blend until smooth.
6. Taste for consistency and add as much cream as you’d like, until the puree is silky smooth.
7. Season liberally with salt and white pepper.

Sausage Ratatouille

Sausage Ratatouille
Strapped for time and need to get dinner on the table before every member of your hangry family loses their minds? This quick and easy weeknight meal is loaded with seasonal veggies, delicious Italian sausage, and the best jar of tomato sauce I’ve ever bought. Try it and trust me, it will end up in your weekly rotation.

Yield: 4 servings


1 lb. Italian sausage
1 T. avocado oil
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
1 jar marinara sauce (I love Mezzetta!)
Salt & Pepper
Parmesan, shaved, for garnish


1. Brown the sausage in a large non-stick skillet, cooking all the way through. Reserve in a bowl to the side.
2. In the same skillet, add the avocado oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté until softened and starting to brown.
3. Add the marinara sauce and heat through. Add the sausage back to the pan. Adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper.
4. Garnish with shaved parmesan and serve.

Paleo Food List

My most recent post was a basic introduction to the Paleo lifestyle in general. In discussing the post, What is Paleo?, with a few of my readers, it was brought to my attention that what people really want to know is precisely what they can and can’t eat. That seems like a simple task, considering I live this lifestyle every day. The trouble with it is that the Paleo “diet” is interpreted differently by most everyone who attempts this way of life. Often the terms Paleo and Primal are used interchangeably (I do it all the time), however some argue that they aren’t technically the same thing. Recent leaders in the Paleo/Primal communities have asserted that the premises are the same and for the most part, should be considered as one approach to living.

Putting all of those issues aside, it is possible to come up with a pretty extensive list of foods that are good for your body, great for your mind, and will keep your tummy full until your next meal. Keep in mind, this list is by no means all-inclusive. It would be impossible to list every food that meets Paleo/Primal guidelines. Use it as a tool to help you when you are walking down the aisles at your local grocery store, or when a craving hits and you are about to make a bad choice, or even when you sit down to plan your meals for the week. The easiest way to stay on track is to ensure that you have the right foods at your fingertips.

Paleo Food List*Starchy fruits/vegetables are higher in calories and carbohydrates, so eat them in moderation. **Fruits are high in fructose, a type of sugar. While this is okay on the Paleo plan, they should be consumed in moderation to ensure proper insulin production.
***Check out Mark’s Daily Apple for a great post on the Great Dairy Debate in the Paleo/Primal community. Choose for yourself if you want to include it in your diet.
****Not actually dairy items, but people often like to know what they can use in place of actual dairy.


What is Paleo?

There is one question I am asked more often than any other: What can I eat? Living a Paleo lifestyle definitely gets easier as time moves on, but it can be incredibly difficult to get started. An internet search of “Paleo Foods” yields millions of results, creating a difficult-to-navigate journey into a dark hole.

I am by no means an expert. I don’t have a nutritional degree, I’m not a doctor, but I live the Paleo lifestyle every day (well, most days, sometimes you just need a piece of cake!). In this post, you’ll find the basic tenets of the Paleo lifestyle. There are a few main principles that will guide your food choices and make it easier to make decisions about what you should be ingesting. I’ve also included an “Eat This, Not That!” list that should help give you some substitutes for your favorite non-Paleo friendly foods. Keep in mind that this isn’t written in stone, it’s a guideline for helping you live a healthier life. You’ll find what works for you as you try new things. Keep in mind, we live what some would consider a “Primal” lifestyle – we eat hard cheeses, high-fat dairy products, butter, and Greek yogurt. You can adjust your diet based on your unique needs or sensitivities.

If after reading the post, you still have questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’d be happy to do my best to help. Don’t be discouraged if you fall off the wagon – get back on! One slice of cheesecake shouldn’t derail your progress. Mark Sisson, of Mark’s Daily Apple, and author of The Primal Blueprint, really hit home with me when he said that the idea is to reach for 100% compliance, knowing that you’ll probably be closer to 80%. If you go into this change with the understanding that you can never be perfect, those little missteps become a lot less devastating and more manageable. Living this lifestyle isn’t easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding.

5 Paleo Principles

Fat Isn’t Your Enemy | The Paleo lifestyle relies on in consumption of good fats for a balanced diet. People think you are crazy when you tell them you are on a high-fat diet (that’s what the Paleo lifestyle is!). My favorite Paleo blogger and writer, Mark Sisson, does a fantastic job of summarizing the explanation for a high-fat diet in his post on a healthy high-fat diet. A recent Time Magazine article was received with critical acclaim when it plowed through the “research” we’ve been fed since the 1980’s, claiming that we needed to be on a low-fat, whole-grain diet to be healthy. The article, Ending the War on Fat, asserts that we are more unhealthy than ever before, as we replaced fat in our diets with carbs and sugar, the incidence of obesity and Type II Diabetes skyrocketed. What are “good fats”? Those that are not oils derived from grains – stay away from canola, corn, and soy oil. Avocado oil is fantastic for high heat cooking, while olive and coconut do a great job for raw preparations or in baking. Don’t forget our delicious friend, butter.

Carbs = Sugar (Sugar Is Your Enemy) | This is the one that gets most people. It’s so incredibly difficult to give up sweets, but once you do it, I promise you that you’ll wonder how you ever ate a Krispy Kreme doughnut (or two). Things start to taste overwhelmingly sweet, nearly inedible. The first time I experienced this was while eating an apple sample given to me in a Whole Foods. The honeycrisp wedge tasted like someone had dipped it in corn syrup and then wrapped it in cotton candy. It was alarming. Imagine now, trying to eat a chocolate chip cookie, with nearly twice the amount of sugar in it than the apple? It’s sickening.

The takeaway from the carb story is to eliminate them right from the very beginning. Now keep in mind, some carbs are okay for you (sweet potatoes, cauliflower, squash, fresh fruit, etc.). Think of them as “safe starches”. They have a low-glycemic index and have a smaller impact on insulin production in your body. The jist of it: no refined sugars, no artificial sweeteners, no grains (including rice, quinoa, corn (it’s actually a grass) and everything else previously thought to be delicious), no beans/legumes (this includes peanuts!), and no white potatoes (a baked potato has a GI of 85 – glucose is 100!). Check out The University of Sydney’s website for more information on glycemic index, why it is important, and the rating of thousands of common foods. Of course, Mark Sisson has lots of great articles on why we shouldn’t eat grains, so be sure to check out Mark’s Daily Apple for a ton of relevant information.

If You Can’t Pronounce It, Don’t Eat It | Basically, if it is pre-packaged, contains preservatives, or Lucy the cave-lady wouldn’t have been able to eat it, then you shouldn’t eat it either. Keep your body free from chemicals, additives, and overall harmful substances. Stick to fresh, grass-fed meat (you are what you eat, so if your cow at corn, you may as well have), low-carb fruits and vegetables, nuts, and good fats.

Protein Is Your Friend | Along with a high amount of fat, your Paleo diet will also consist of a lot of protein. When you choose high-quality, lean proteins, you will stay fuller, longer. This doesn’t mean eat three pounds of 80/20 ground beef every day. Variety is the spice of life, and it keeps you healthy. Change things up often, eat beef, pork, chicken (and eggs), turkey, and a variety of fresh fish. A four ounce portion of most meat yields about 20 grams of protein – which is a fantastic way to fill you up without overloading your system. We like to shoot for at least 60 grams of protein every day, but again, that will vary depending on your specific caloric and dietary needs.

Bacon is often a topic of discussion among Paleo-enthusiasts. We love bacon – it’s delicious, it goes with everything, and it’s delicious (yes, I said it twice because it’s doubly-true). What is important to keep in mind when buying bacon? Two simple things: no sugar, no nitrates. We already know sugar is bad for us, so don’t go buying the brown sugar cured variety. Nitrates are also no good, so keep away from any brands that have it added. Hempler’s makes a great applewood smoked version that I love – check out their website to see if you can find it in your area. There are bound to be local producers of Paleo bacon in your area, just check the labels.

And the biggest one of all…

Eat Real Food. | This is the crux of the entire Paleo plan. If it can sit on a shelf for 3 years, don’t eat it. If it has an ingredient list a mile long with a bunch of preservatives, skip it. Stick to brightly colored fruits and veggies (the color means they have a lot of nutrients and a large variety of colors equals a large variety of nutrients), fresh proteins, and hearty nuts, seeds and fats. If you aren’t sure if you should eat it, Google it and see what everyone else has to say. After you follow the Paleo lifestyle for a couple of months it will become second-nature. You’ll know what is good for you, what you can have as a “treat”, and what you should stay away from completely.

As you navigate through this complex world we live in, living every day with a million things to do and not enough time to do them, you’ll have cravings. They will get less intense, but they will still be there. You’ve been eating a specific way your entire life, that isn’t just going to change overnight. Fight the urge and you’ll feel better for doing so. To help keep you on track, here’s a quick list of all the things you should be eating, instead of those evil, non-Paleo foods that we all dream about at night (or run to at 2 PM when the sugar demons hit).


Wild Salmon & Ratatouille


After embracing the Paleo lifestyle, one of the most difficult issues to tackle has been finding creative dinner dishes that are easy to prepare on a weeknight. One of my go-to creations has been a sausage ratatouille that is on the table in less than 20 minutes. It’s delicious, nutritious, and hearty (don’t fret – I’ll post that recipe, too). I also find myself struggling to get enough fish into our diet. As a chef, I know how delicious it can be, I’ve just never been a seafood fan. However, when you pair it with a delicious tomato-based sauce and fresh vegetables, it becomes a dish that pretty much anyone will enjoy.

For this recipe, you can use whatever fish you’d like. We happen to live in the Pacific Northwest, so when it’s salmon season, you can’t find a better filet. You can also leave the skin on, just be sure to get a hard sear on the fish to ensure it turns out crispy. There’s nothing worse than flabby fish skin! I like to use Mezzetta pasta sauces; they are a Californa-based company that makes a canned product that rivals even the homemade stuff. It’s completely Paleo and adds nearly all the flavor you’ll need in this quick and tasty dish.

Yield: 4 servings
2 T. avocado oil – divided
1 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 bunch kale, de-veined and chopped
1 – 25 oz. jar marinara sauce
4 – 4 oz. portions salmon, skin-off
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Shaved parmesan, for garnish

1. Add a tablespoon of avocado oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high until shimmering.
2. Add the onion, bell pepper, and zucchini. Sauté until softened and starting to brown.
3. Add the marinara sauce to the pan and cook until heated through.
4. Add the kale and sauté until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Hold warm.
5. Make sure your fish portions are dried on both sides and that all pin-bones have been picked. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
6. Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat with the second tablespoon of avocado oil until shimmering.
7. Add the fish to the pan, skin-side down (or where the skin would have been if you have removed it).
8. Cook until nicely browned and then flip with a fish spatula. Continue cooking until medium-rare, or about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
9. Place your ratatouille mixture in the center of your plate and garnish with a few halved tomatoes. Perch your fish on top of the ratatouille. Garnish with a sprinkling of shaved parmesan.