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

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

Method:
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).

Notes:
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.

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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.

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.

Paleo Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes
My husband recently met with a nutritionist to discuss a wide range of challenges he’s been having with regard to nutrition – everything from sleep issues, to acid levels, all the way to actual nutrient intake. When we started our Paleo journey, it was clear that we were severely nutrient deficient in a number of areas, but we’ve made a great deal of improvement in the last year. That improvement has given us the opportunity to look even closer at the way our bodies process the foods we eat and what we can do differently to lead happier, healthier lives.

Victoria Ritchie, NTP, had some great insights for him, including discussing his acidity level and need to increase potassium and salt in his diet. One of the best ways to do this was through avocados. He was stoked to hear that, considering it may be his all-time favorite food.

We are always trying to find ways to eat more avocados, or even better, guacamole. These little stuffed tomatoes can really be filled with anything – I just love a reason to eat more guac. It’s best to try these during tomato season (that would be in the summer for most people), but cherry tomatoes are available in supermarkets year-round. Just be aware that they’ve probably been in cold storage and won’t be as delicious as their sunshine-filled friends in July.

Cut Tomatoes
It’s pretty easy to core the tomatoes, just make sure you have a sharp paring knife. Also, to ensure they don’t roll around on your serving plate, slice a small flat spot on the bottom of each to give the tomato a solid foundation on which to sit.

Yield: about 30 half-tomatoes
Ingredients:
1 pint container cherry tomatoes, ripe
1/2 cup Paleo guacamole
1 slice cooked bacon, crispy

Method:
1. Slice each tomato in half around its equator (the fattest part). Slice off a small amount on what will be the bottom side of each half, allowing it to sit flatly on a plate without rolling around.
2. Remove the seeds and extra flesh from the middle of each tomato half, discarding what you remove.
3. Fill each tomato half with about a teaspoon of guacamole. Depending on the size of your tomatoes, the amount will vary.
4. Break up the crispy, cooked bacon into small pieces to use for garnish. Top each mound of guacamole with a piece of bacon.
5. Store under refrigeration and serve immediately. The guacamole will start to brown after a couple of hours of exposure to oxygen.

Paleo Cinnamon Apple Chips

Cinnamon Apple Crisps
Want a nearly hands-off, two ingredient, delicious snack? Cinnamon apple chips are the perfect answer to the need for easy to create, healthy snacks that require little effort. If you own a dehydrator, this will be even less time-consuming. Since most people only have an oven, this recipe is designed with that in mind. They do need to “dehydrate” for a few hours, so throw them in the oven on a day you know you’ll be home for a while, and let them do their thing.

Yield: about 50 chips
Ingredients
3 large, sweet apples (I like Pink Lady or Honeycrisp)
Cinnamon

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Line two sheet pans with parchment.
2. Wash your apples thoroughly. Slice them thinly on a mandolin or with a knife (I like around 1/16 of an inch).
3. Lay the apples on the prepared sheet pans in a single layer, being sure not to overlap.
4. Sprinkle them with as much cinnamon as you’d like. I’m a cinnaholic, so I go to town. You don’t have to be as generous.
5. Put them in the oven to dehydrate. Flip them half-way through.
6. When they are completely dry, allow to cool and store in a zip-top bag.

Primal Goat Cheese Wraps

Primal Goat Cheese Wraps
Zucchini is a versatile vegetable that is often used in a variety of Paleo dishes. It’s a great stand-in for pasta, adds bulk to ratatouille, and works well as a substitute for french fries with any burger. In this application, it’s a vehicle for a trio of deliciousness: bacon, sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese.

These wraps are a great hors d’oeuvre for any party, but the ingredients can also be re-purposed into an awesome salad. Just top a bowl of mixed greens with the wrap ingredients, toss with a balsamic vinaigrette, and you’ve got yourself a tasty lunch without a lot of hassle.

Yield: 25 mini wraps
Ingredients
3 strips of bacon
1 large zucchini
1 T. balsamic vinegar
6 oz. goat cheese
1 small jar sun-dried tomatoes
Small basil leaves, for garnish

Method
1. Cook the bacon just until done, don’t cook until it’s crispy. You want it to be malleable. Allow to cool and then cut into thin strips that are about an inch and a half long.
2. Thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise on a mandolin or with a sharp knife. Cut each strip in half lengthwise to make a shorter wrap.
3. Combine the zucchini and vinegar in a small bowl. Allow to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
4. Divide the goat cheese into small balls, about 1/4 ounce each. They don’t have to be perfect, just make them as big as you’d like!
5. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and cut into strips about the same size as your bacon pieces.
6. To assemble, lay out a piece of zucchini on a cutting board. Place a piece of bacon and sun-dried tomato at one end. Add a piece of goat cheese and roll up.
7. Stand the wrap up on it’s end and garnish with a piece of basil. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
8. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Chocolate Bacon

This post really needs no introduction. Chocolate is delicious and in the right composition, has some great health benefits (so says the Cleveland Clinic). Bacon is, well, yummy. I’ve tried my hand at curing my own bacon and it’s surprisingly easy – there will be a post about that at a later date. If you aren’t up to the task, that’s not a problem. There are quite a few great options out there and some are better than others. Mark Sisson has a great post about the Paleo bacon discussion, so check it out for a quick guide to making the best choice.

Now, on to the main attraction…

ChocolateBacon
Ingredients
1 lb. bacon
9 oz. dark chocolate (at least 70%)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a sheet pan with parchment or a metal rack.
2. Lay the bacon out in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan. Depending on the thickness of your bacon, you may need more than one pan.
3. Cook the bacon for about 20 minutes, or until it is cooked through and crispy. You don’t want floppy bacon here!
4. Remove from the oven and drain on paper towels (if you didn’t use a metal rack). Allow to cool completely.
5. Break up your chocolate (or chop it up) and put it in a tall, microwave-safe dish. The taller, the better, as you’ll get better coverage when you dip the bacon. I like to use a tall coffee mug.
6. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in between interval. Don’t let it heat for too long or the chocolate will burn.
7. Lay out some parchment or wax paper on a sheet pan for your final product.
8. Dip each piece of bacon in the chocolate – as far down the length of the bacon as you’d like. I usually go about halfway, so there’s a little bacon handle to hold on to!
9. Shake any excess chocolate off the bacon and back into your chocolate reservoir. Lay the bacon on the prepared sheet pan to dry. Complete all strips of bacon.
10. You should have some chocolate leftover. You can pour it out onto a sheet of parchment to cool and harden. Then break it up for some bacon-flavored chocolate for your Paleo Movie Mix!
11. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

 

Guacamole + Salsa

Guacamole + Salsa

To kick off the snack series, I thought I’d begin with quite possibly the best Paleo duo imaginable. There’s something about the creaminess of guacamole, spice of salsa, and satisfying crunch of fresh veggies that ties it all together.

Both recipes are fairly basic, but what is important to keep in mind that the final product is entirely in your hands. The salinity, heat level, and overall flavor can be altered to your unique preferences. Additionally, depending on the quality of your avocados and tomatoes, you may need more or less of each accompanying ingredient. Taste as you go, adjust your seasonings, and taste again. If you add too much salt, balance it out with another squeeze of citrus, and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to try adding additional ingredients – make it your own!

A few interesting facts:

1. If your avocados aren’t ripe enough, throw them in a brown paper bag with a banana. The banana will produce ethylene, which triggers ripening. Within about 24 hours, your avocados will be perfect!

2. Roma tomatoes are the best tomatoes to use for salsa because they have a lower concentration of seeds and liquid than most other tomato varietals. Of course, if it is the peak of summer and you have some gorgeous heirlooms, by all means, use them!

3. My mom grows a whole host of vegetables in her garden, including jalapeños. She rarely uses all of them during the season, so she throws them in a blender, purees them, and then freezes them in ice cube trays. When she needs some, she just cuts off what she needs and it is defrosted in no time. It provides all the great flavor of a fresh jalapeño without a lot of hassle. For this recipe, I would use about a tablespoon (or half of an ice cube-sized portion) for each batch of guacamole or salsa.

I pair these with Paleo crackers as well as fresh cut veggies – bell peppers, carrots, celery, and romaine spears. For the ultimate indulgence, cook some crispy bacon and use as a vehicle for the guacamole. I’m pretty sure I’ll include a post for that in this snack series!

Raw Guacamole

Guacamole
Yield: approximately 3 cups

Ingredients
4 large ripe avocados
2 small roma tomatoes, ripe, small diced
1 small onion, small diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeño, ribs & seeds removed, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt & Pepper

Method
1. Cut the avocados, remove the seed, and scrape the flesh into a large bowl. Discard the skin and keep two of the seeds.
2. Mash the avocado until it is creamy with a few chunks remaining.
3. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro. Stir to combine.
4. Taste at this stage and then add the jalapeño, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Continue adjusting the seasonings until you find the right balance of salt, citrus, and heat.
6. Store in an airtight container with the reserved avocado seeds (coupled with the lime juice, it will prevent browning).

Raw Salsa

Salsa
Yield: approximately 3 cups

Ingredients
8 small roma tomatoes, ripe, medium diced
1 small onion, small diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeño, ribs & seeds removed, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt & Pepper

Method
1. Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro. Stir to combine.
2. Taste at this stage and then add the jalapeño, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
3. Continue adjusting the seasonings until you find the right balance of salt, citrus, and heat.
4. Store in an airtight container.

Paleo Parmesan Herb Croutons

The last recipe for Paleo Almond Flour Bread has inspired a number of bread-based recipes. If you end up with a couple of left-over slices (I’m not sure why you would – but hey, it could happen), these croutons are a great way to use up the extras and they keep for quite a while.

Mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to create a unique flavor blend.
Mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to create a unique flavor blend.

The best part about these crunchy little nuggets is that they are easily customized to your own preferences. I use an array of herbs and spices, as well as a generous helping of parmesan. If you don’t like something, leave it out. It is best to use dried herbs, as fresh won’t hold up well in the heat of the oven. You’ll want to choose flavors that are bold and will stand up to the robust flavor of the parmesan.

The oil and cheese can also be customized to your preferences.
The oil and cheese can also be customized to your preferences.

We are lucky enough to have a friend who presses olives into olive oil every year in Italy. We get a single bottle from him and make it last as long as we can. This oil is fantastic unheated and simply drizzled over a salad. It’s also fantastic with these croutons. Because they aren’t in the oven for an exceptionally long amount of time (only about 20 minutes), the olive flavor still peeks through.

You’ll want to be sure to toast the croutons for enough time to get a nice crunchy exterior. Don’t be afraid of a little color – that’s where you get the deep flavor! If you end up with extra herb/spice mix, not to worry, just tuck it away in a zip-top bag and use it next time.

Ingredients:
1 t. salt
1 t. onion powder
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. mustard powder
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dired oregano
1 t. paprika
1 t. ground pepper
1 oz. parmesan, grated or shaved (depending on your preference)
2 T. oil (olive, avocado, etc.)
1 loaf Paleo Almond Flour Bread, cut into cubes

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Line a baking pan with a silpat mat or parchment.
2. Combine all the herbs and spices in a small bowl, stir to combine.
3. Toss the oil and bread cubes together in a large bowl, coating the bread completely.
4. Sprinkle the herb/spice mixture over the bread and toss to coat. Reserve any extra mixture for another use.
5. Spread cubes on prepared baking pan in an even, single layer.
6. Sprinkle parmesan to on top to lightly coat.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, tossing once half-way through, until toasted and crispy.
8. Allow to cool completely on the pan.
9. Store in an airtight container.

IMG_1239

Paleo Almond Flour Bread

IMG_1219

Bread is probably one of the most commonly attempted Paleo “cheat” foods. It’s completely eliminated in a strict Paleo lifestyle, but we just can’t seem to live without its chewy goodness. I’m a HUGE bread fan, especially artisan sourdough bread. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet figured out how to capture the crunchy exterior and tender crumb of a San Francisco sourdough. Don’t worry, I’m making it my life’s mission.

In the meantime, I’ve realized that making a standard almond flour bread that is Paleo-friendly isn’t difficult. With a few simple ingredients and a couple of bowls, you’ve got yourself a moist batter that can be baked off in a flash. The uses for this bread are endless, including pain perdu (French toast), grilled cheese, and your everyday sandwich. It even makes great croutons, covered in herbs and parmesan – they are mouth-watering.

Ingredients
8.5 oz. almond flour
3/4 oz. coconut flour
1.5 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 oz. coconut oil
2 oz. butter
1 T. honey
5 ea. eggs
2.5 oz. applesauce

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a loaf pan with the fat of your choice (butter, pan spray, coconut oil, etc.).
2. Combine the flours, soda and salt in a large bowl. Sift to combine.
3. Combine the coconut oil, butter and honey in a small dish. Heat until melted. Cool slightly.
4. Combine eggs and applesauce in another bowl. Whisk to combine.
5. Stream oil & honey mixture into eggs. Whisk to combine.
6. Mix wet ingredients into dry and stir until completely combined.
7. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
8. Allow the loaf to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

IMG_1220

Notes:
1. You can also use all coconut oil instead of using butter if you want a completely dairy-free version.
2. Fold in some dried herbs and minced garlic for a fantastic addition to any weeknight dinner.
3. The applesauce just adds moisture, you can also add creme fraiche.