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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

Paleo Chocolate Coconut Creme

Chocolate Coconut Creme

A piece of fruit is a great option for a sweet Paleo snack, but sometimes a cup of berries just isn’t going to cut it. Add a bowl of chocolate into the mix and we’re moving in the right direction. This Paleo take on classic chocolate fondue hits the spot and satisfies those annoying sweet cravings. It’s foundation is coconut milk, so it’s dairy-free and sweetened with honey. Kids love it and they can choose a variety of dippers – strawberries, bananas, or even Paleo chocolate chip cookies (a revelation stumbled upon by my husband).

If you want to make a batch for a party, you can reserve half of the cooked creme and omit the cocoa powder for a strictly vanilla coconut version. A duo of dips always seems more complicated, but it’s really just a matter of leaving out an ingredient!

Yield: 16 oz.
Ingredients
2 cans coconut milk (14 oz. each)
1/2 c. honey
1 oz. cocoa powder
2 T. vanilla

Method
1. Combine coconut milk and honey in a medium sized heavy-bottom saucepan.
2. Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat to low.
3. Stirring occasionally, cook 40-60 minutes, or until it has reduced by nearly half and is the consistency of thick cream.
4. Whisk in cocoa and vanilla, stirring to combine.
5. Taste and add honey if it isn’t to your desired sweetness.

Paleo Raspberry Lemonade Gummies

Paleo Gummies
The benefits of gelatin are preached throughout the Paleo community. It boasts some fantastic health properties and is a great source of protein. It’s also the ingredient responsible for setting Jell-O, giving marshmallows their iconic texture, and the ever-popular gummy bear. Of course, none of these are standard in the Paleo lifestyle. The good news is that you can make most of these treats Paleo-friendly.

Gelatin
A great way to get some extra protein in your diet and reap the benefits of the amino acids found in gelatin is with these delicious little gummies. They taste just like a pop of raspberry lemonade and are a handy treat to have around when the sugar-cravings start to hit. These aren’t overly sweet and rely heavily on the natural sugars found in the fruit you use. Honey is included in the list of ingredients, but it can be adjusted based on the sweetness of your berries.

Nearly any fruit can be substituted for the raspberries, just be sure to keep the liquid volume the same in order for the gelatin to properly set. Frozen berries are a good option as they are picked at the peak of ripeness, flash frozen, and are generally less expensive than fresh produce. Just be sure to choose the product that doesn’t have any added sugar.

To make fun shapes, you can use any silicone mold. I love these tiny little heart molds from Amazon. They are the unique ones pictured here and are the perfect size to showcase these gummies. Alternatively, you can pour the mixture into a sheet pan lined with plastic wrap and cut out squares or other shapes.

Yield: 60 gummies (1/2 ounce each)
Ingredients
10 oz. package frozen raspberries
15 oz. lemon juice
1/2 c. powdered gelatin
1/2 c. honey

Method
1. Line your silicone molds on a sheet pan that will fit in your refrigerator. Or, just make sure there is room in your fridge to place them individually.
2. Combine the raspberries and lemon juice in a blender. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth.
3. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid in a large bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the liquid in the bowl and allow it to bloom for 5 minutes.
4. While the gelatin is softening, pour the remaining liquid mixture into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the honey.
5. Heat on medium-high until the honey has dissolved and the liquid is simmering.
6. Remove from heat, add the gelatin liquid mixture and whisk thoroughly. Be sure to dissolve all of the gelatin.
7. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove all of the seeds and any gelatin that has clumped together.
8. Portion evenly into your desired molds.
9. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow to set completely.
10. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

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.