What Is Your Favorite Primal Meal?

Interesting question because so many people think “steak and broccoli” or “a burger patty with a side of salad”.
Yes, those are easy and tasty, for sure, but Primal doesn’t have to be boring.
Challenge yourself to try new vegetables and fruits.
Spaghetti squash with a home made marinara and a side of “muffin in a cup” garlic bread.
Stir fries, soups and stews, where you’re only limited by your imagination.
How about a tomato stuffed with shrimp salad?
Or cucumber slices topped with smoked salmon and brie cheese?
Summer certainly brings “meal sized salads” to mind, with the warm weather and lovely produce.
Sliced tomatoes or avocados topped simply with sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of olive oil make a nice, light side dish to any Summer meal.
A refreshing summer snack: Jicama! Peel and slice it into french fry size pieces, then put in a baggie with a little lime juice and stevia, toss often as you refrigerate it for 2 hours.

So challenge your imagination and taste buds 🙂

Zucchini, Yellow Crookneck Squash and Tomatoes, Springtime is good :)

I don’t garden.
I don’t have a “green thumb”.
Not even a brown one.
Whatever I plant is on death row from the start.
Luckily, lots of the guys hubbs works with do have bountiful gardens and they love to share.

Yesterday he brought home two huge bags of zucchini, yellow squash, green bell peppers and green tomatoes.
The tomatoes will sit on the back porch and do their own thing for a few days in the sun (assuming we have any sun this weekend!).
Now, what to do with the rest?
Some of the zucchini must have mingled with the watermelons – they’re huge!
Normally I’d toss those, but they make a really good “zoodle” as long as you use the julienne peeler to make the strands.
(I like this one: http://www.amazon.com/OXO-Good-Grips-Julienne-Peeler/dp/B0000CCY1S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401447582&sr=8-1&keywords=oxo+julienne easy to use and comfortable in the hands).
I picked up some nice organic chicken thighs (marked down to 1/2 price!)yesterday. I smell some chicken zoodle soup in the near future.
I will blanch and freeze some as well.

Garlic, Squash, Onion and Tomato Stovetop Casserole
2lbs zucchini squash, about 6 cups sliced
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes, or 1 can (17oz)drained(but reserve liquid)
1 large onion, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2T good cooking fat (bacon fat, rendered chicken fat, ghee, duck fat(works great), olive oil, coconut oil, etc)
1/2tsp dried basil
1/4tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste (I find it needs about 1/2tsp salt and a good amount of pepper)

If your squash are large, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and toss them.
Slice and pat dry the squash and set aside.
In a deep skillet, heat the cooking fat and saute the onions and garlic, stirring often, until the onion is soft and lightly colored.
Add everything except the parsley and bring to a simmer.
Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Remove lid and bring to a rolling boil and reduce the liquid until it’s almost gone, then add the parsley, stir and serve.
**If you like cheese, add some shredded mild cheddar, pepper jack, Parmesan is especially good in this, or even cream cheese at the very end, just to melt.

Quick Blanch and Freeze
You will need:
squash, sliced or cubed
1tsp vitamin C powder or ascorbic acid
2tsp sea salt
a deep pot with boiling water
a colander that fits in your sink
sink filled with cold water or ice

Bring the water to a boil with the salt and vitamin C powder.
Add the sliced or cubed squash and boil for 30 seconds, then remove it to the colander and quickly cool to stop the cooking.
Let it sit in the cold water or ice for 1-2 minutes, until it’s cold to the touch, then spread it out on a clean towel to air dry for 15 minutes.
Pat dry and (my way) lay the squash in a single layer on cookie sheets and freeze for 1 hour, then bag up and return to freezer for storage up to 6 months.

Hectic morning!

Finally, a couple of days of rain here on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Boy we needed it 🙂

Just a quick post to add a recipe I whipped up.
I made it for supper, topped with a sunny-side-up egg, but it’s a good breakfast option.
I’m not sure about a make-ahead though, I have not liked anything “the next day” that I make with coconut flour as a binder.

Zucchini Pancake with Egg

1 zucchini, grate and squeeze the water out really well (I use cheesecloth and wring it)
2 ex-large eggs
2tsp coconut flour or arrowroot starch/flour
2T shredded sharp Cheddar (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1T ghee or your favorite oil for cooking

Beat one egg with salt and pepper. and cheese if using. Toss the grated and squeezed zucchini with the coconut flour and then toss with the egg.
Preheat a skillet with 1tsp of the cooking fat (bacon fat would be great here)and pat the zucchini into 2 large rounds for ease of flipping. If you’re good at flipping, make 1 round.
Let it cook until it’s nicely browned, about 4 minutes over low-ish heat, then flip and let cook another 4 minutes. You want to cook the raw taste of the coconut flour out.
Keep warm while you cook your egg in the remaining fat.
I’m all about the yolk, so I like to put the egg on top so the yolk breaks over the zucchini Pancakes as I eat it.

I Could be a Vegetarian….

If I didn’t like meat so much 🙂
First off: no insult to vegetarians meant. I respect everyone’s dietary choices.

I love meat, but, like many, I wanted to “eat healthier” so I would make meatless dishes for the family a couple of times a week.
It was easy then (before Paleo/Primal/Low-carb/etc).
Rice, beans, potatoes, pasta and other starches and grains were “healthy”.
The lower the fat, the better!
And, let’s face it, they taste really good, too 🙂

But, as more recent studies show, those kinds of carbs really aren’t the most healthy.
Don’t get me wrong, anyone can abuse any type of eating plan.
It’s just as bad to eat 2 pounds of bacon a day as it is to eat 2 pounds of pasta.
I’m sure protagonists on both sides of that debate would argue lol.

I find, with summer quickly approaching, I am wanting more light meals.
I love a good salad, but the hubbs and son would prefer a pasta salad, something more substantial.

It can be tough going to mesh the dietary habits in the family dynamic, and I’m constantly on the prowl for recipes and meal plans that can keep us all happy AND healthy.

This is quickly becoming my favorite breakfast, or occasionally supper:
Primal Mug Muffin and Egg with Cheese
2 large eggs
2T water
1T butter, divided
1T almond meal
1T coconut flour
1T flax meal
Pinch of salt
2T shredded cheese of choice
Salt and pepper to taste for egg
Break 1 egg into a microwave safe glass mug.
Beat then add water, pinch of salt and 1tsp butter (melted). Mix well then add the almond meal, coconut flour and flax; beat with a fork and microwave for 2 to 2 ½ minutes until the center is cooked (the muffin will shrink away from the sides a little when it’s cooked).
Sprinkle cheese on top to melt and top with the other egg (that you cooked to your liking in the remaining 2tsp butter while the muffin was cooking).
I like mine over easy so that you get a spoon with egg, yolk, cheese and muffin every bite 🙂

Where Does our Organic Food Come From?

Back in 2007 when the dog food scare over food from China happened, I started making my dog food instead of taking the chance.
It didn’t really occur to me that we could be taking the same chance with our human food.
I thought that the regulations on human food were much more stringent.

A recent news development where PetCo is going to stop selling all China based dog treats because they are still making dogs sick, and no one knows why, and then a great little news story (http://www.click2houston.com/news/where-does-your-food-come-from-labels-dont-tell-entire-story/26065824)
About where our human food comes from, was a real eye opener.
You’d think anything labeled “organic” would be from the USA, where we regulate the standards for that labeling. Not so.

I’ve noticed for a long time that the fresh produce and fish I buy at local stores isn’t from “here”.
We get a lot from Mexico, Brazil and other countries, even though this area is a bountiful basket of the same stuff, very little produce in the major grocery stores are from the local area.
Beef? Most labels have at least 3 countries listed: Product of USA, Mexico and Canada.
Well, that cow was as well traveled as I am!

Do we know, really, how safe foods grown or processed in other countries are?
And just because a food label says it’s “processed in the USA” doesn’t mean it’s grown here as well.
The bottom line is: read everything on the label.
The American flag doesn’t mean it’s 100% American. You need to see where it’s grown and processed, not just one or the other.

Find a brand you trust and make your statement with your wallet by buying brands you trust.

(Bonus: the news story about chicken that was mentioned in the above link: http://www.click2houston.com/news/concerns-rising-over-china-processing-us-chicken/26071158)

Holiday Weekends and Burger Buns!

Whether you’re low-carb, primal, gluten-free or just looking for an alternative, this variation on the popular low-carb hamburger buns will fit the bill.
This is my own recipe, taken and tweaked from various ideas across the net, but mostly it goes way back to the 1960s and Dr Atkins Revolution Rolls, just updated and variationized (lol I know, that’s not a word) to include more fiber and a Primal twist.
Although these don’t rise a lot, the glucomannan makes them much more stable and hearty than the traditional revolution rolls.

I know the instructions look long and complicated, they’re not. I just wanted to completely explain my method. The entire preparation only takes about 5 minutes.

Revolutionized Gluco Buns
4 Large Egg
1 tbsp Macadamia Nut Oil (organic)
2 oz Water
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Baking Powder Aluminum Free
5 tsp Konjac Glucomannan Powder
1/2 cup Shredded Classic Extra Sharp Cheddar

Equipment needed:
Immersion blender with a whisk or beater attachment;
deep mixing vessel;
larger mixing bowl;
spatula;
silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.

Prepare all of your ingredients.
Mix the oil and water in one small container;
the salt and baking powder in another;
the glucomannan in something you can easily pour/shake it out of;
and the cheese in a larger bowl for later;
In a deep mixing vessel (this will make a mess if you don’t have a deep enough vessel), crack the eggs.

Directions:
Beat the eggs for about 30 seconds until they’re lighter yellow in color and well blended.
Continue mixing/whisking while you add the water and oil. Once that’s incorporated (10 seconds), add the salt and baking powder and mix for another 10-15 seconds.
While running, add the glocomannan slowly so it’s well mixed and not clumping.
Once that’s all in, continue whisking/beating for about 30 seconds just to make sure it’s all blended in.
Dump this in the larger bowl with the cheese and fold it together well.
It will thicken a lot while you’re folding.
Once it’s well folded, spoon it onto the prepared sheet in 4 large mounds. They will spread a little, so leave some space between them.
Bake in the pre-heated 350 oven for 22 minutes, or until they’re lightly browned on top and feel firm to the touch in the middle.
Let cool completely then slice in half and use as any hamburger/sandwich bun.

*Use the cheese of your choice, but since glucomannan tends to suck the flavor out of things, my best recommendation is a super sharp, blue, goat, or asiago.

**If you’re not looking for a cheesy flavor, just beat the ingredients longer with an additional 2tsp glucomannan

The overall flavor is very neutral, so you can certainly add more salt, a few drops of stevia, garlic or onion powders, use tomato sauce in place of the water, etc to make the flavor your own.

This same recipe (without the cheese and with a few little tweaks) makes excellent dumplings, as in chicken and dumplings.

Revolutionized Gluco-Dumplings

4 Large Egg
1 tbsp Macadamia Nut Oil (organic)
2 oz Water
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4tsp each garlic and onion powder
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp Baking Powder Aluminum Free
2 Tbs Konjac Glucomannan Powder

Beat the eggs and follow the instructions above, except omitting the cheese.
Drop by spoonfuls into simmering broth* and let simmer – do not stir the first 2 minutes, just gently push the dumplings under the broth and turn them until they look firm, then you cover and simmer on very low heat for 15 minutes until they’re cooked through.

Makes about 20- 25 “shooter marble” size dumplings.

*I suggest making your own chicken broth the day before, then add sliced carrots, celery and onion, a bay leaf, salt and pepper to the broth and simmer for 20 minutes, then remove the bay leaf, add the chopped chicken meat and proceed with the dumplings.

Pets and Memories

A non-dieting post about pets and how they bring so much to our lives 🙂

I blogged the other day that our beloved 4-legged family member had passed away on May 16th.
This started me thinking about the pets we’ve had since I was a child, and I wanted to share some of my memories.

The first one I remember was Tex, a chihuahua. That was the meanest dog on the planet.
I remember when anyone would sit or lay down, and Tex decided you were his seat, if you moved a muscle he would bite the crap out of you.
Mean dog.
He died of old age when I was 6 or 7 years old, and we buried him and planted a tree. The tree grew and was beautiful, no matter the weather.

We also had Bull. Bull was a gentle, loving dog. Mutt, I’m sure, but he looked like a smaller version of Lassie.
We lived out in the country and it was the time in the Rio Grande Valley that the “big bird” cattle mutilations were happening, late 70, early 80s.
Bull disappeared one day and never returned. I think I was around 12 years old. Of course someone may have picked him up, he was sweet and handsome.
I’d like to think someone took him and he lived a happy life.

My mom and step-dad had a dog named Sugar. She was part Cogri and all kinds of spoiled mischief lol.
They picked her up from a friend when they moved to the Houston area and she was their “baby” until she passed from cancer about 22 years ago.

Forwarding to my grown up years, hubbs and I bought a Basset Hound from a pet store (I know, but 26 years ago that’s where you got dogs).
Beau.
Beau.
Beau
was born on Pearl Harbor day in 1988. We should have taken that as a sign lol.
We adopted him in March 1989.
Lol he was a mess. Pure breed, tri-colored basket case of emotional issues.
Sweet boy. Smart. Had severe separation anxiety. I would go to the mailbox and back, 5 minutes tops, and he would have totally destroyed at least 1 room in the apartment. Going to the store for an hour meant 2 days of cleaning up.
We didn’t kennel or crate back then. I tried putting him in the bathroom and he ate the toilet paper, ripped the shower curtain to shreds, pulled down the rod and chewed the ends off of it.
Got a baby gate and decided to put him in the kitchen. Well, no. That didn’t work. He ate the gate. lol.
The vet put him on a dog version of xanax lol.

When hubbs and I decided to start a family, Beau was not happy with his changing role.
After much discussion, and with Beaus future in mind, we decided to give him to a friend of hubbs.
After 3 months, we drove by to check on him and see how he had adjusted and were sickened to find him on a run to a tree, chain tangled around the tree, no water and in 100+ heat.
Hubbs jumped the fence and we took him home. He forgave us, but he was looking at son in a way that made me very nervous. He was also snarling and growling now, something he’d never done.
We called the vet and asked what we could do. Putting him down was not an option. One of the vet techs said she would love to have him, and that she would take excellent care of him.
We agreed and she had us over a few times so we could see he was indeed being loved and cared for. She moved away about a year later and, as far as we know, Beau lived out his life in the way he deserved 🙂

It was 10 years before we would decide we wanted another dog and she picked us at the SPCA in 1990.
My Shasta. We always thought she was a German Short Haired Pointer mix, but now we think she was a Catahoula.
It doesn’t matter, she was one of a kind, sweet, loving, smart, loyal, playful, and very much a part of the family for almost 14 years.
Our hearts are sad at her passing, it truly is like losing a family member.
I know she’s in doggy heaven, “smelling the sunshine”. I love that phrase because she would stand out in the back yard, face turned to the sun, eyes closed just “smelling the sunshine” 🙂

So that’s my ramble today about pets and my own walk down memory lane.
All I can add is: love your pets. That means as much to them as it does to you 🙂

Sayur Bening Bayam (Indonesian Spinach, Carrot, and Tomato Soup)

I am at a loss of what to post about today, Monday blank stare on Tuesday lol.
Then I see this lovely recipe and it looks really delicious 🙂

The Domestic Man

Gluten-Free, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet

Over this past weekend, I was scheduled to appear at the latest Perfect Health Retreat in Wilmington, North Carolina as a guest chef. I had a whole day’s worth of recipes planned for the 20+ attendees and staff members, most of them based on traditional Indonesian or Malaysian dishes. I was very excited, and had even devoted the previous weekend to practicing and tweaking the recipes to get everything perfect. And then life struck. My son Oliver started feeling very sick last weekend, likely a gift from one of his pre-school classmates, and by Tuesday I was feeling the full brunt of some relentless flu symptoms.

So I spent last week and this past weekend drifting in and out of a feverish state, catching up on several seasons’ worth of Archer and Portlandia episodes, and trying to find new ways of incorporating bone broth into my diet (hint: developing recipes…

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Primal Potato Salad

Growing up in an Italian family, we used a lot more oil and vinegar than we did mayonnaise.
I like mayo, but the lighter, tangy flavor from oil and vinegar is a nice change of pace.

Spring and summer are potato salad and cole slaw seasons!
Potatoes are not off-the-table for primal diets. In fact cooking then chilling potatoes seems to develop the resistant starch in them which is actually good for you.

This article does a great job explaining why resistant starches should be a part of your diet:
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-definitive-guide-to-resistant-starch/

Oil and Vinegar Potato Salad

2 pounds red or russet potatoes
1 large onion, diced or sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin

Dressing:
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard (optional but I like it)
2 Tablespoons vinegar that you love (I prefer white wine vinegar for this)
¼ cup good extra virgin olive oil (or use what you like if you’re not fond of the flavor)
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

Mix the dressing and set aside.

Fill a pot with water, add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil while you prepare the potatoes.
Slice or dice the onion*
Scrub the potatoes clean, then cut into 1” cubes (approximately, don’t go all Sheldon on it).

Add the garlic and potatoes to the water, it doesn’t matter if it’s boiling or almost boiling.
Once the water is boiling, cook for 7 minutes then pierce a piece with a fork. If it goes in easily, they’re ready to drain. If not, cook another minute or two.
Drain and toss with the dressing and onion while hot, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight is better.

IF you don’t like raw onion, with about 2 minutes of cooking time left, add the onion to the boiling potatoes and just blanch them for the remaining time. It takes some of the raw bite out of them.

**Note: this is not a “wet” potato salad, so make a double batch of the dressing if you like it swimming.

First Sight: Our Loving Canine Family Member

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/first-sight/

Whether a person, a pet, an object, or a place, write about something or someone you connected with from the very first second.

My first sight would be our amazing SPCA friend who passed away yesterday.
We went to the SPCA in October 2000 looking for “a dog” and we came home with a wonderful family addition that would enrich our lives for nearly 14 years.
Shasta was a German Short Haired pointer/mix.
When I saw her, and she saw me, she nibbled on my fingers.
I turned to hubbs and said “she’s the one”.
Out of the dozen or more dogs in the yard that day, I knew it, from that first moment.
She was the most wonderful, smart and loving friend anyone could ask for.
She was my companion when hubbs was at work and son was at school.
She had a sense of humor and talked to us all the time.
She will be missed and, right now, my heart is breaking but full of the memories of love and laughter she gave us through the years.