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

Ingredients:
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

Method:
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.

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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.

Wild Salmon & Ratatouille

Salmon

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
Ingredients: 
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

Method:
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.

Paleo Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup
This simple recipe for delicious Paleo Tomato Soup should be a staple in your collection. It utilizes canned tomatoes (which can really help stretch your budget) and a few other simple ingredients to produce a crowd-pleasing dish.

Feel free to adjust the seasonings to your personal preferences – including the varietals of olive oils, tomatoes and wine. I love San Marzano tomatoes, which can be found at most grocery stores. There may be some citric acid in the ingredient list (as a preservative), but that should be all you see. Be sure not to pick up a can that has sugar, herbs, or additional salt added. When you choose an olive oil, get a high quality brand that has a robust flavor – it will come through in the final product. Also, I like to use pinot noir for the wine in this recipe. It stands out against the acidity of the tomatoes and provides a great foundation.

Yield: about 7 cups
Ingredients: 
3 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 T. minced garlic
2 T. tomato paste
12 oz. red wine
2 – 28 oz. cans whole, peeled tomatoes
1 small bunch basil, chopped
1 t. paprika
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Method:
1. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion and sauté with a wooden spoon until softened, about 4 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Cook, stirring continuously, until you smell roasting garlic and the tomato paste has cooked down, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the red wine and reduce until it is a syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes.
5. Add both cans of tomatoes, the chopped basil, and paprika to the pot. Stir to combine.
6. At this point, you can use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes, or just use the end of your wooden spoon.
7. Continue cooking until the tomatoes are heated through, about 15 minutes.
8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
9. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth.
10. Check again for seasoning and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Tips:
1. You’ll probably need more salt than you think. It really brings out the nuances of the tomatoes, so don’t be afraid to keep adding it. For this recipe, I generally use at least 1 T, if not more, depending on the quality of the tomatoes.
2. If the soup is thicker than you’d like, thin it out with some chicken or vegetable stock. It will adjust the consistency without sacrificing flavor.
3. Always taste the dish before you store it. If you thin it out, it will need more seasoning.
4. This soup freezes really well. Portion it into FoodSaver bags, seal, and lay flat in your freezer. It will keep for up to 6 months.

Roasted Strawberry Paleo Pancakes

The weather here in the Pacific Northwest is finally starting to become bearable. After many months of rain and dreary days, we have had some pretty consistent sunshine and 70ºF temperatures. With that comes trips to the market and an abundance of gorgeous produce. When we lived in Southern California, we took readily available produce for granted. I can remember my parents’ friends giving us boxes full of avocados and citrus – we struggled to find a way to eat it all before it went bad. In Seattle, you walk into the grocery store and avocados are $2.50 each! Needless to say, we take advantage of the warmer months and indulge in as many fruits and vegetables as we can find.

Yesterday we scored a half flat of some of the most gorgeous strawberries I have ever seen. A photo doesn’t do them justice, but I tried:

When you see strawberries this red and juicy, buy as many as you can eat.
When you see strawberries this red and juicy, buy as many as you can eat.

Most people don’t know that the trick to finding the best berries is to look for the smallest of the bunch. The smaller the berry, the more intense the flavor (assuming it was picked ripe). Additionally, you can macerate or roast the fruit to bring out even more robust flavors. I couldn’t think of a better way to devour these gems than to toss them with a sprinkle of coconut palm sugar, roast them off, and use them as a topping for almond flour pancakes.

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Roasted Strawberry Compote
1 pound ripe strawberries
Sprinkle coconut palm sugar
Dash salt

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. You’ll need a silpat-lined sheet pan (or line it with parchment).
2. Trim the tops off the strawberries. You can slightly rinse them beforehand, but it’s best to gently wipe them with a damp paper towel to avoid excessive moisture.
3. Cut the berries in half, or quarters if they are larger than a single bite when cut in half.
4. Toss the strawberries with a bit of coconut palm sugar and a dash of salt. The amount of sugar you use will depend on the ripeness and sugar content of the berry. Don’t overdo it – you’ll regret it. Let the natural flavors of the fruit shine.
5. Spread the berries on the silpat and roast for 10 minutes, or until the juices start running and you can smell the berries.
6. Cool to room temperature.

My recipe for almond flour pancakes can be found here. The end result is especially delicious if you throw a few dark chocolate chunks into the batter after you scoop it into the pan. It’s the best way to get away with eating chocolate for breakfast.

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie

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My mother and sister make, quite possibly, the World’s best pot pie. The crust is tender and flaky, the gravy is thick and creamy, and the chicken is always juicy. It is packed full of flavor and you can never quite seem to get enough. This recipe is a derivation on their original and I dare say, comes pretty close in terms of flavor. Surprisingly, the almond flour crust is a fantastic substitute for the gluten version. It crisps up nicely, but definitely needs a quick egg wash to achieve a deep caramelized color.

The Crust

Ingredients

3 cups almond flour
2 large eggs
4 T. cold butter, cubed
1/2 t. salt
1 t. honey

Method

1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Pulse until the butter is distributed and the dough forms a ball, about 15 pulses.
3. Separate into 3 pieces, wrapping one tightly in plastic wrap. Combine the remaining two pieces and wrap in plastic wrap.
4. Refrigerate until firm.
5. Roll out the larger piece to fit your pie plate, making sure to leave a little extra overhang for combining with the top piece. Refrigerate until firm.
6. Reserve the smaller piece for the top of your pie.

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The Filling

Ingredients

2 large carrots, peeled & diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 T. butter
1 T. dried thyme
1 T. dried rosemary
2.5 T. tapioca flour
.25 cups almond milk
1.5 cups chicken broth
.5 cups heavy cream
12 oz. cooked, shredded chicken
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 egg, well-whisked (for egg wash)

Method

1. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Boil the carrots until al dente, 5 minutes.
2. In a large pot, sauté the onion, celery, butter, thyme and rosemary. Cook until the onions are translucent.
3. Create a slurry with the tapioca flour and almond milk, making sure to fully dissolve the flour.
4. Slowly add the broth and heavy cream to the pot.
5. Bring to a boil and stream in the tapioca slurry.
6. Once the gravy has reached the desired consistency, take off the heat. You can always add more tapioca slurry if you want the sauce thicker.
7. Fold the chicken and carrots into the gravy.
8. Pour the mixture into your prepared pie crust, making sure not to overfill.
9. Roll out your reserved dough to slightly larger than the diameter of your pie pan. Place on top and crimp together with the edges of the bottom crust.
10. Brush the top and edges with egg wash. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
11. Bake at 350°F for 45-60 minutes, or until brown on top. It will take longer if the pie is completely frozen.
12. Cool for 20 minutes, to set the crust.

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Almond Flour Pancakes

One dish that I miss more than any other since going paleo is a fluffy, warm stack of pancakes. We used to have a weekly tradition every Sunday morning of meeting our friend Bre for breakfast. More often than I’d care to admit, we’d end up at The Original Pancake House. They don’t have ordinary pancakes, they have the queen of gluten-filled pillows: sourdough pancakes. You can smell them outside the front door, their sweet and sharp aroma is irresistible.

Recently I’ve spent many Sunday mornings attempting to make a suitable paleo replacement for pancakes. The sweet potato version that I came up with are good, but not always what I’m looking for, especially on a warm weekend. I’ve scoured the web in search of the perfect recipe. Most of them are dry, dense, and taste like you took a bite out of a coconut – not at all what I was hoping to achieve. Finally, the culmination of many failed attempts has resulted in what I think is the best replacement I’ll ever get for those sourdough beauties, without devouring the real thing. Keep in mind, these pancakes don’t have the delicious pungent flavor as the original, but they do have the taste and texture of a standard breakfast pancake.

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Almond Flour Pancakes
3 ea. eggs, separated
.5 oz. high quality butter, melted, cooled to room temperature
2 oz. coconut milk
.5 oz. raw honey
1 t. vanilla extract
6 oz. blanched almond flour, sifted
.5 t. baking soda
.25 t. baking powder
.25 t. kosher salt
1 t. ground cinnamon

Method:
1. Separate the eggs, combining the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in a medium bowl. Set the whites aside.
2. Add the melted butter, milk, honey, and vanilla to the yolks, whisking thoroughly.
3. Combine the flour, soda, powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.
4. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients, whisking completely to combine.
5. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks (about 2 minutes on medium speed).
6. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter – this will help to soften it’s texture in preparation for folding in the rest of the whites.
7. Add another 1/3 of the whites into the batter, gently folding them in so as to retain their aeration.
8. Fold the remaining whites into the batter, ensuring that they are completely incorporated without over-mixing.
9. Preheat a non-stick skillet with coconut oil or pan spray over medium-low heat.
10. Scoop with a 2 oz. portion scoop for a 4″ pancake (you can prepare whatever size you prefer) onto the greased pan.
11. Cook over medium-low heat on the first side until the edges begin to set and you see bubbles forming in the middle, 2-3 minutes.
12. Gently flip the pancake and continue cooking on the second side until the pancake is set in the middle (you can check by gently pressing on the center of the pancake).
13. Hold warm until you’ve cooked all pancakes, serve with maple syrup, preserves, honey, or a dash of cinnamon.

Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes

Arguably, the best part of the weekend is brunch. Enjoying a cup of coffee, catching up with friends, and gobbling up tasty syrup-covered pancakes can’t really be beat. Unfortunately, those gluten-filled babies weren’t enjoyed by our caveman ancestors. That doesn’t mean that we can’t get creative and throw down some equally delicious pillows of goodness that actually pack a healthful punch. Enter, sweet potato pancakes…

A healthy dose of cinnamon awakens your taste buds and makes these pancakes even more delicious.
A healthy dose of cinnamon awakens your taste buds and makes these pancakes even more delicious.

These paleo pancakes are fantastic. I’m a true cinnamon connoisseur and these are the perfect vehicle to deliver a variety of spices to your palate. The spices themselves can definitely be adjusted to your taste-buds, but they do more than the job that refined sugars would do in your typical pancake recipe – add a ton of flavor. I also like to use freshly ground nutmeg for an extra punch. We do our best not to add salt to any dish unless it absolutely needs it. I use the spices to give these flavor, but feel free to add a pinch of salt. I’ve posted the recipe at SparkPeople.com, which includes the nutritional information for a single batch.

Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes

1.5 T. coconut flour
1 t. baking soda
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
.5 t. ground ginger
.5 t. ground nutmeg
.5 c. mashed sweet potatoes
3 ea. large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1 T. honey (for garnish)

Method

1. Combine coconut flour, soda, and all spices.
2. Combine sweet potatoes, eggs, and vanilla – whisk thoroughly.
3. Add coconut flour mixture to the sweet potatoes and stir to combine.
4. Spray a non-stick skillet with pan spray, and heat under medium-low heat.
5. Scoop batter with a #24 scoop (for 1.3 oz. scoop) into the heated skillet.
6. Allow to cook until you see bubbles in the center and the sides are set.
7. Flip and continue cooking on the second side.
8. Remove from pan and garnish with a drizzle of honey.