One of my friends recently challenged me to create a Paleo meatball soup recipe that she can take with her to Packer football parties (as we are now in season). Not wanting her to be in suspense for too long and with a lazy Sunday afternoon ahead of me, I decided to oblige, and this is what I cooked up.
I made the meatballs pretty small so they would cook quickly and be more bit-sized (because who wants to use a knife to cut their soup?!) and simmered them in a beef broth enhanced with diced tomato and chunks of yam. The smoked paprika I added to the meatballs really worked well with the hearty broth.
Ingredients for Jaimie’s Meatball Soup
1 lb ground meat (I used 1/2 beef and 1/2 pork)
1/2 of a large red bell pepper
1/2 of a red onion
4 cloves garlic
6 olives, green or black
3 padron peppers (or 1 jalapeño), optional if you want some heat
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
32 oz. organic beef broth (low salt if you want)
1 can (15 oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Directions for Jaimie’s Meatball Soup
1. Prepare veggies: dice red bell pepper, onion, hot pepper(s)–seeds and white membrane removed, and olives finely. Mince the garlic. Put veggies in a large bowl.
2. Add ground meat, egg, coconut flour, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to the same bowl. Combine all ingredients by thoroughly mixing with your hands. Yup….get ‘em dirty!
3. Shape the meaty mixture into small balls, about 1 inch across (I got about 5 dozen).
4. Peel and dice yams into ~1/2″ cubes.
5. Combine yam chunks, beef broth, and diced tomato in a large stock pot over medium heat. Bring liquid to a simmer.
6. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the meatballs on all sides, working in batches. (Took me 2.5 batches to get them all browned). You want to develop a nice brown crust which is 1) super tasty and 2) will allow the meatballs to hold up once you simmer them. [Bonus points for deglazing the pan with a little stock or water and scraping all the yummy bits into the soup.]
7. Simmer meatballs, covered, for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.
8. Serve with fresh cilantro or parsley (avocado would be nice, too).
I love sauerkraut and its tangy, briny and savory flavor. I was pretty sold by this Balanced Bites article and knew that it was something I wanted to incorporate into my diet on a regular basis. However, I also decided that driving 60 minutes round trip to the nearest Whole Paycheck (the closest store that carries RAW sauerkraut) wasn’t worth it and that damn it, it looked simple enough to make after doing some research on-line. The only hitch is that fermenting your own sauerkraut takes something that money cannot buy…patience. It’s going to be approximately a 2 week process so if that’s too long to wait, store-bought will work but be sure that it’s raw/uncooked to preserve the “probiotics” (a lovely euphemism for bacteria). If you didn’t pay very good attention during biology class shame on you, do a quick search on fermentation. Essentially, you need an anaerobic environment for the bacteria to work their magic and transform your cabbage into yummy eats
I’m definitely going to invest in a crock especially for making sauerkraut…I used the crock from my slow cooker for my first batch, and it worked great but took my 3rd-most-favorite-piece-of-kitchen-equipment (Vitamix and espresso machine are #1 and #2 in case you are curious haha) out of commission for 2 weeks = no bueno! I think you’d be okay with using a large glass bowl or even something like a deep ceramic casserole dish as well. In other words, it’s okay to be frugal and not spend bucks on something you’re not sure you are going to use frequently.
I fermented my kraut for 14 days on the countertop here in balmy San Diego…if you live in a colder climate it may take longer for the cabbage to develop the flavor you are looking for. While mine came out pretty darn tasty, next time I’d slice the cabbage thinner by hand instead of running it through a food pro as the slices came out a bit on the thick side.
Ingredients for Homemade Red Cabbage Sauerkraut
Large head of cabbage (I chose red because frankly it looks cool, but green works just fine)
Equipment for Homemade Red Cabbage Sauerkraut
Large ceramic crock
Large measuring cup
Directions for Homemade Red Cabbage Sauerkraut
Slice cabbage thinly and add to crock in layers. With every couple inches of cabbage I added, I sprinkled in some sea salt (don’t go too crazy) and then tamped it down hard with a vegetable masher. Don’t be afraid to beat up on the cabbage a bit. You want to create a situation where the juices from the cabbage will be drawn out…anyone remember what hypertonic means?! Repeat until you’ve used up all the cabbage.
2. Weight the cabbage down with a plate and the measuring cup (full of water). You have options here (I even read about using a scrubbed and boiled rock as a weight…no thanks but it would work) so use what’s on hand. Cover with a kitchen towel.
3. Check cabbage a few times in the first day. It should be creating a little of its own juice, though this depends on how old your cabbage was. After the first day, fill the crock up with water until the level is above the cabbage. Check periodically and add extra water as it may evaporate a bit.
4. Taste test the kraut after about a week. Again, it will ferment faster in warmer climates. When done, pack the kraut into jars and refrigerate.
Sometimes I just want a snack.
snacky bites…yes, with a bacon garnish
Having a lack of chips and crackers (thankfully) in my diet tends to limit my options, though, which can make social gatherings, parties, etc a challenge. Enter the sweet potato! Okay…the drier, yellowish-white variety is a sweet potato and the more moist, bright orange type is a yam…but no matter what you call it, be sure to choose the non-orange variety for this recipe. It will hold up better and not soften as much when you bake it. The sweet potato forms a nice foundation on which to pile your favorite toppings or to dip in salsa, guacamole, or Paleo-ified hummus. I used this recipe (beware…makes a very large serving size) and found it to be a dead ringer in terms of flavor.
2 yellow sweet potatoes
Spices (use what you like…I used cinnamon, cumin and some ground red pepper)
Eating seasonal veggies is one of my favorite ways to keep my food intake varied and interesting. With fall officially in season, it’s time to start exploring some of the different varieties of winter squash that my local market has started to carry. Of course, there’s the favorite butternut (check out this super simple soup recipe) and spaghetti…but I spotted these awesome delicata squash and decided to stuff ‘em. I’d never eaten one before but have stuffed acorn squash before with various mixtures of veggies and meat so figured it was worth the chance. A quick web search turned up interesting info about this elongated variety: it’s also called the sweet potato squash because of its flavor similarities and is most closely related to summer squash such as zucchini.
These squash are awesome…the moisture of a butternut combined with the flavor of acorn squash made it a good purchase. Honestly though, this technique works with just about any variety.
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients for Stuffed Delicata Squash
2 delicata squash
1/3-1/2 lb ground turkey (pork would be a nice sub), cooked and crumbled
1 red onion
6 large button mushrooms
6-8 black mission figs
3 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp fresh minced herbs (I used sage, rosemary, thyme combo)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
EVOO or coconut oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Directions for Stuffed Delicata Squash
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Slice squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds (or save and toast at a later time). Place cut side down on a microwave-safe plate with a bit of water at the bottom. Microwave on high for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Let cool and scoop flesh out into a bowl.
3. While squash are cooking: brown meat (I used leftover turkey I had in the fridge) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove to the same bowl with the squash flesh.
4. Dice onion, mushrooms, and figs. Mince garlic and herbs.
5. In a skillet over medium-high heat, sautee onion, mushrooms, and garlic in coconut oil or EVOO for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, figs, and herbs. Cook another 3-4 minutes or until softened and the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Remove from heat.
6. Stir in pecans, ground turkey and squash flesh. Season with sea salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
7. Place squash shells on a foil-lined baking sheet. Fill each squash shell with the stuffing mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops start to brown.
Soup is one of my favorite meals for the cooler days of the fall season, and butternut is one of my favorites. As a kid, we’d eat butternut boiled and mashed (not my favorite preparation) with butter and maple syrup added. Roasting the squash in this preparation intensifies the flavors and natural sugars; the caramelized edges get so yummy and brown that I want to start eating it the minute it comes out of the oven! Honestly, this is so incredibly stupid-easy.
Makes: About 4 cups
Ingredients for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1 large butternut squash
2 to 2-1/2 cups stock (chicken, turkey or veggie…organic and low sodium if possible or make your own)
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk (can, not carton), optional
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground sage
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Directions for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1. Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Peel, seed and chop the butternut squash into approximately 1 inch cubes.
3. Cut carrot into 1 inch chunks.
3. Put squash and carrots onto baking sheet. Drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for ~30-45 minutes on until soft and caramelized (honestly this depends on your oven).
4. Remove and allow to cool. If you have a blender or Vitamix, you can probably do the next step in one batch. If using a food pro, you may have to do multiple smaller batches.
5. Place roasted veggies, stock, coconut milk (optional), cinnamon, sage, nutmeg and a little cracked pepper into the Vitamix/blender. Process for 3-4 minutes, adjusting the amount of stock if necessary to thin the soup out a bit. The result should be a smooth consistency.
My turkey stock was still a bit frozen.
*I love to serve this with roasted and shredded turkey breast and maybe some avocado. So tasty. I also sometimes freeze the extra and while the consistency changes a bit, it’s every bit as delicious.
Sometimes the CSA box is full of, well, random veggies in such quantities that it’s hard to know what to do with them. Last week, the box came with a half-pound of hot peppers. I remembered a few weeks ago that Suzie’s Farm had posted up a recipe for sriracha on their blog and decided to give it a try.
In essence, the sriracha (or rooster sauce if you prefer that more PG moniker) is nothing more than hot chilies cooked with a few spices and blended. Although Suzie’s recipe was pretty good, it wasn’t paleo. This version reflects a few changes I made. I halved the recipe based on the number of peppers I received, but I’ll give you the full-size version here.
Makes: About 1-1/2 cups
Ingredients for Homemade Sriracha
1 pound hot pepper mix (the box had mostly red, purple and green…as for specific varieties, I recognized some red jalapeños)
1. Cut the tops off the chilies and chop them coarsely. The more of the seeds and white membranes you remove, the less spicy it will be.
2. Combine chilies, garlic, salt, fish sauce, white vinegar and approx. 1/4 cup water in a saucepan.
3. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Add the mixture to the food pro or Vitamix, blending and adding water if necessary to thin the mixture a bit. Total processing time will be a couple minutes.
5. If a smooth consistency is desired, put puree through a sieve and discard seeds.
6. Store in the refrigerator.
Writing a food blog is a little intimidating…everyone has different taste buds, and it’s hard to be 100% confident that one’s recipes will be well received (especially once folks spend the time, effort, and money to try them out). I mean, I recently had two people tell me they thought Brazil nuts were horrible tasting…blasphemy! Just proves the point that we all have different food experiences and backgrounds and taste buds and tolerance levels for certain flavors, etc.
Back to the food…
Jen of Jen’s Gone Paleo/CF Oregon City fame posted up some awesome ideas this summer for using nori (the seaweed sheets that surrounds traditional sushi) as a wrap or tortilla substitute. Every once in a while, I pick up a package of nori sheets and throw in whatever leftover meat, veggies and toppings I have lying around in the fridge. Nori (aka “sea vegetables”…really, we need a euphemism for seaweed apparently) is also high in iodine which may be lacking in some paleo-eaters, especially if they have wisely thrown away their iodized table salt and switched to sea salt or something like Himalyan pink rock salt.
I usually eat a small dinner and threw this together in a flash…
1 grilled grass-fed burger (with minced garlic, onion and green pepper)
1 sheet of nori (found in the Asian foods section of the market)
1. Lay a sheet of nori on a plate or cutting board.
2. Chop burger in half and lay pieces end to end across the nori as shown.
3. Top with avocado and kimchi.
4. Roll and let sit for about 5 minutes for the nori to soften. Cut. Eat.
I served with a small side of homemade red cabbage sauerkraut (that’s another post coming soon). Honestly, you could do this with just about anything in your fridge. Part of me is imagining a turkey/paleo stuffing/cranberry version (crazy, I know), but maybe that’s just because I’ve got autumn on the brain. Experiment and have fun!
Brew your espresso. If you don't have any espresso machine, it's okay! Make some dark french roast coffee. I do this with a French press now since I gave my espresso machine away.
Froth the coconut milk using the steamer on your espresso machine. Again...no machine? Heat the milk on the stovetop. It just won't be foamy or give the same consistency but will still taste amazing. Heavy cream also works well here.
In a small container, combine the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Shake to combine. You will only be using about ⅛ tsp per cup, so save the rest.
Combine espresso, steamed coconut milk, 1-2 tablespoons of pumpkin, vanilla extract and ⅛ teaspoon of spice mix. Add splash of maple syrup or honey if you prefer. Stir to combine.
Recently I took a Saturday morning off (no training, slept in late) and met my friend Jaimie in downtown SD for the Little Itay Farmer’s Market (Mercato). It’s great to see so many farmer’s markets (FM) popping up around the county. We’ve had Hillcrest, OB, etc for what seems like a while, but now I’ve noticed them in some more out-of-the-way locations (okay, I will not rant about how unhealthy 95% of the offerings are at the closest FM to me).
There was lots to feast my eyes on–and some stuff I’d never buy–but I came away with some great finds anyway, knowing my Suzie’s Farm CSA box was on its way in a couple days. These are a few of my favorite things (a la Julie Andrews):
I seriously wanted to get a LIVE urchin but alas...next time
pickled offerings from Happy Pantry
Happy Pantry is a SD company specializing in pickled and fermented products. They had a huge selection on hand, and I was most excited about their sauerkraut and kimchi!
the fermented menu
so tasty and full of probiotics
I’d been super interested in fresh sauerkraut since reading the Balanced Bites article on the topic: sold! I picked up a jar of their juniper berry/caraway seed sauerkraut and the spicy Korean-style kimchi. Both were phenomenal! Bonus: Mark, the owner, will give you $1 off your next purchase if you return the canning jar
Next, I hit up the Salt Farm, drawn over to their booth by their spread of beautiful finishing salt blends. So many flavors caught my eye (natural, infused, blended or smoked). They offer containers of a couple different sizes and combinations. I opted for the 3-pack of small vials and chose Smoke Paprika, Chipotle and Bonfire-7 wood smoked. So far, they’ve been a delicious addition to meats, eggs and vegetables.
Salt Farm choices
Chipotle, Bonfire, Smoked Paprika
Fantastic organic brown eggs (and inexpensive) from San Pasqual
nuts, nuts everywhere
I splurged on these dates, fresh picked one week prior
Picked up a pound...more would have been too tempting!
Teas...dry and brewed
didn't catch the name of these squash but I'd like to try 'em next time
'tis the season for figs and fresh berries
Get out and hit up your local FM…go for in-season produce, fresh eggs, and quality sources of protein if you’re lucky enough to have any participating meat CSAs. Try something new. Explore. Life’s too short to only eat bananas and apples!
One of Coronado’s nicest restaurants with a view of the San Diego skyline is Candela’s, and now it’s gone next-level with the addition of a Paleo menu supplement with a Mexican flair like that of the restaurant’s original offerings. This is a huge step forward for the local Paleo scene (now we just need a Paleo coffeehouse in downtown…hmmm maybe a new business venture for me?!). To make the deal even sweeter, Candela’s is offering 20% off the Paleo menu bill until 9/18 if you mention you are from a local CrossFit affiliate so get on down there before the week is up!
the view from the Candela's patio
My goal isn’t to review the restaurant as a whole but rather to show some of the Paleo menu offerings and make a few comments. Will I go back? For a special occasion…sure! I rarely eat out anymore (cheaper and healthier to eat at home and frankly, I love to cook).
the Paleo menu
I ordered the Raspberry Salad, Duck Tacos and Coconut Creme Brûlée. The salad…decently tasty, but I was honestly salivating over my friends’ choice of the Avocado Soup (I snagged a spoonful to taste, and it was divine…rich, creamy and flavorful).
The main course of Duck Tacos was filling and tasty, the jicama slices substituting well as tortillas. The meat was nicely spiced (though maybe a tiny bit on the dry side), and the sweetness of the pineapple and flavor compliment provided by the onion rounded out the flavors. As for the nopales salad…first time I’ve ever had nopales (sliced cactus pads), and I wasn’t prepared for the texture (a little like cooked okra), but it was interesting to try something new.
Portion size was just right
Crab Ceviche looked divine
The Ensenada...Smoked Salmon and Scallops
I of course partook in the dessert offering of Coconut Creme Brûlée. It’s sweetened crust of honey and coconut (crispy and topped with fresh raspberries) was the crown over a the deliciously rich creme. I savored every single bite since dessert is a rarity these days for me.
Coconut Creme Brûlée
With the 20% discount, my bill (no alcoholic beverages…just sparkling water for me) totaled about $27 for the three courses, which I’d gladly pay again for a nice dinner out to celebrate something special. Not having to worry about the menu choices or how I would modify a dish to suit my Paleo way of eating was a welcomed change. Here’s hoping Candela’s continues to offer their Paleo menu and even expands upon it in the future. In the meantime, check them out on the lovely island of Coronado.
Credit for this recipe goes directly to my friend Anne. She recently posted it, and I made a couple quick modifications to make it Paleo. It’s incredibly fast to put together.
Makes: 2 small servings
Ingredients for Chocolate Mousse
1 ripe avocado
2–3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
~1/4 c. coconut milk
3–4 Medjool dates (Note: Dates are notoriously hard to process down. You may also add honey instead if your food pro is on the weak side.)
1 vanilla bean*
Directions for Chocolate Mousse
Scoop out avocado and combine it with the cocoa powder, coconut milk and dates in a food pro.
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and add to the food pro.
I recently struck up a conversation with @noisecolourlife regarding coconut oil of all things. Turns out, that dialogue morphed into an idea for a Paleo cooking challenge with national pride at stake. She lives in Melbourne, Australia (future travel destination?), and I’m here in Southern California. Iron Chef Transcontinental Paleo Smackdown, anyone?! (this really is a friendly collaboration)
After a bit of idea-swapping, we decided to each create a Paleo recipe (we both happen to also be doing a round of Whole30) using two common ingredients: lamb and cumin (insert mmmmm here). Other than that…free reign. I chose lamb because I’ve never bought/cooked it (say what?!), and let’s just say that being quite Type A, I tend to perform well under pressure. The other stipulations are tracking meal cost and making some other poor soul sample and give comments on our meal.
Enter my wild card…the CSA box. Each Tuesday, I pick up a box of farm fresh, organic, local veggies from Suzie’s Farm at CF Invictus so decided to also integrate something from the box into my meal. Not wanting to copy any recipes, I made something up off the top of my head but with a few considerations: it had to be easy to make with minimal ingredients (stupid-easy, as always).
Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Chop over Kale with Roasted Veggies
**Combination of smoked paprika flakes, garlic, basil, salt
1. Set the oven to 385 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil.
2. Prep the veggies (wash first, of course): halve the carrots and split lengthwise, cut tops off okra, cut cauliflower into florets, slice onions, halve cherry tomatoes, rough-chop the garlic, and slice handful of mint leaves into chiffonade (really thin slices).
3. Place carrots and okra on one baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss.
carrots and okra
4. Place cauliflower on the other sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 tbsp cumin and 2 tbsp cocoa powder. Toss.
cauliflower, cocoa power, cumin
5. Put veggies in the oven to roast while you prep the rest of the meal. Roast ~20 minutes or until caramelized and softened.
6. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Saute garlic for ~1 minute. Add kale, onion and tomatoes and 1/4 c. water. Place lid on and steam for 5-8 minutes or until fork tender.
kale = superfood
7. While kale is cooking…chop pistachios. I used a food pro (but be inventive…put them in a plastic baggie and pulverize with a rolling pin for example). You want a small enough texture that it will stick to the lamb chops but not too fine that it creates a paste. Mix in 2 tbsp South African Smoke seasoning and 1 tbsp garlic. Dump out onto a large plate. Dredge the lamb chops in the pistachio mixture, applying pressure so that it sticks to all sides of the chops.
pistachio / spice crust
8. Remove kale from heat and place in a serving bowl.
9. Using the same skillet, heat to high and add 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Sear lamb chops on both sides for approx. 3 minutes each. DO NOT OVERCOOK! You are searing the outside to make a crispy crust, not cooking all the way through. Tough lamb = no bueno. Remove to a glass baking dish.
sear but watch so the pistachios don’t burn
10. Remove roasted veggies from the oven. Set oven to broil (on high). Broil lamb for ~2-3 minutes per side to finish. Medium-rare is the farthest you want to cook this.
before the broiler…pistachios are browned
11. Assemble your delicious meal. Sprinkle chopped mint on the carrots and okra. Serve lamb over a bed of the kale.
I volun-told my husband into eating this (of course he would have had some anyway). His take: the cumin was present but not overpowering, and he really liked the roasted veggies. And oh…the tender lamb?? He wasn’t used to lamb being so “soft” but thought it tasted great [Note: Dan grew up on a farm. His family raised sheep. He has eaten tons of lamb…apparently all overcooked…] and was keen on the cripsy pistachio crust.
For being a lamb newbie, I was totally impressed by the quality of the Trader Joe’s grass-fed lamb…rich dark color and so incredibly tender (go Kiwis!). The chops were a little on the expensive side, so I’d likely save them for a special occasion meal. Most of the items were purchased at Trader Joe’s but almost everything could be found in a conventional market, save the South African Smoke blend (but easy to replicate using the aforementioned spices).
Here is the meal total (good for four adult dinner portions):
Lamb loin chops: $11.72
1 lb bag organic carrots: $0.79
4 oz pistachios: $2.49
1 head cauliflower: $0.79
1 package organic mint: $1.79 (used half in the meal s0 really $0.85)
10 oz kale $1.99
South African Smoke seasoning $2.29
(The other veg, spices and oil I had on hand)
Grand total: $21.01 / 4 = $5.25 per serving…pretty good bargain!
I absolutely cannot wait to see what @noisecolourlife is cooking up!!! Australia vs. US Paleo Challenge #1 is what I’m calling this because there will be more! And, this is the perfect way to kick off the new blog…happy cooking y’all!
Picture this: sitting on a balcony overlooking Dream Beach and the picturesque Pacific Ocean from the terrace of an amazing Balinese hotel. I can feel the breeze and see the waves crashing as we take a break from pedaling around the island of Nusa Lembongan on our bikes by sipping on delicious glasses of cold watermelon juice. Last summer I spent 2.5 weeks in Bali and the scene I just described really happen. Watermelon juice quickly became my drink of choice because it was so refreshing. When I got home, I knew I had to make it!
Makes: About 2 large servings
Ingredients for Watermelon Slush
1/2 small seedless watermelon (or use seeded if your blender/Vitamix can handle the seeds), approx. 2 cups
1 large lime
Directions for Watermelon Slush
1. Trim the rind off the watermelon. Rough chop. Put the watermelon in a blender or Vitamix
2. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the blender.
3. Add ~6 ice cubes*.
4. Whiz until it has the consistency of a frozen margarita (sans alcohol so Paleo-friendly).
5. Pour and garnish like a fancy chef or just put in a straw and enjoy.
*This is dependent on the strength of your blender.