Category Archives: Misc.

DIY Photography Background—No Tools Required!

DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com

DIY Photography Background—No Tools Required!

Steph’s note: This is another post in a series for fellow bloggers who are interested in improving their food photography and blog posts. You may also be interested in How to Take Better Food Pictures.

Creating a DIY photography background to make your pictures stand out is really simple, and this version requires no tools. I was inspired by this post and ended up with a lightweight, double-side, portable board that I can tote around the house, looking for the best light.

You could certainly scour your neighborhood yard sales for scrap wood with that authentically distressed, worn look. (That’d be a notch in your re-use belt.) But if you don’t have the time or access, this is a great alternative.

My local hardware store had these lightweight “hobby boards” in different types of wood. I chose poplar because it had the lightest color and was the least expensive. The sizes available to you may vary, so my quantities may not work for you, but do the best you can with the concept. I chose the 48″ long boards because I wanted a long enough platform. Somewhere between 36″–48″ should be long enough. Any shorter than 36″ and you may run into problems with portrait shots, especially when they’re straight on from the subject.

I was able to assemble mine, let it dry overnight for good measure and paint it the next day. It dried quickly because I watered down the paint. Choose a FLAT finish so the paint reflects very little light.

If you’re looking for more tips and tricks to improve your food photography, check out this awesome resource, Tasty Food Photography.

Supplies for this DIY Photography Background:

  • Four 48″ poplar hobby boards
  • Eight 24″ poplar hobby boards
  • Wood glue
  • Paint in your chosen color(s)—I got sample sizes in aqua and brown—with a FLAT finish
  • Paint brush
  • Disposable container to mix the paint and water

How to make the DIY Photography Background:

Find a clean, dry, flat surface to construct the background on. You may want to use a drop cloth or old sheet to protect the surface from paint and glue. Lay the 48″ boards flat and leave a small gap between each one, about 1/16″. I wanted the appearance of planks instead of one solid surface, but do what you like. Be aware that if you make the gaps larger than 1/16″, you’ll be able to see the boards underneath when you complete it.

DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com

Do a dry run and arrange the 24″ boards perpendicular to the longer boards. There will be some wood overhanging and if you have a saw, you can trim the excess. I didn’t because I had no access to tools. Once you’re happy with the arrangement, you’ll start gluing. DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com

Squeeze a moderate amount of wood glue across the long board, going section by section: Apply enough glue for one short board, then lay the short board down, pressing firmly. Be careful not to squeeze glue into the gaps or it’ll show when you take the photos. Continue this until you glue down all eight short boards.  DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com

Gently lay some heavy books on top of the boards and let them dry for at least 3 hours. Overnight is better. DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com

The next day, get ready to paint your boards. I created a wash by combining the paints with water in a 1:1 ratio. This allowed the paints to dry quickly and helped create a layered effect. DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com

For the blue side, apply a thin layer of brown paint. Allow it to dry completely. Then, apply layer of blue paint in an uneven fashion. Do this by dabbing the blue paint, then smoothing it out by brushing it in both directions. The idea is to allow some of the brown paint to show through to create a worn look. I applied two or three layers. DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com

For the brown side, use the same technique as above, but only use the brown color. That’s it! Once it was dry, I was able to start shooting on it right away.DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com

Click here to pin this!

Questions? Leave them in the comments below!

DIY Photography Background | stupideasypaleo.com

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas for the Foodie on Your List

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas | StupidEasyPaleo.com

Paleo holiday gift ideas for the foodie on your list may seem tricky, but rest assured: I’ve combined some of my favorites – both homemade (if you’re crafty like that) or store bought – to assist in your quest to spread holiday cheer!

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas #1: Homemade Extracts!

Extracts are great for flavoring all sorts of dishes, from coffee to baked goods, but they can be pricey in the store for what you get. Making them at home is so simple, but it takes a bit of time. If you’re thinking of making these for holiday gifts, start them now! Know what’d be nice? Making a trio of three flavors for the foodie on your list.

I make them in a plain mason jar, then transfer to a decorative bottle like this or this with a hand-written tag or label. These recipes all make one cup of extract.

Paleo Gift Ideas Homemade Vanilla Extract | StupidEasyPaleo.com

Homemade Vanilla Extract

  • Split the vanilla beans down the middle and put in a mason jar. Add 1 cup of vodka or brandy. Let the vanilla beans steep for at least 4 weeks. The alcohol will darken in color. You can leave the beans in.

Homemade Orange or Lemon Extract

  • Zest from two oranges or three lemons
  • 8 ounces (240 mL) vodka or brandy
  • Use a veggie peeler to remove as much of the zest as you can from the citrus. Add 1 cup of vodka. Let the zest steep for at least 4 weeks. Strain the zest out and bottle.

Homemade Mint Extract

  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, washed
  • 8 ounces (240 mL) vodka or brandy
  • Crush the mint leaves and put in a mason jar. Add 1 cup of vodka. Let the leaves steep for at least 4 weeks. Strain out the leaves and bottle.

Bottles like these are great for gifting extracts:

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas | StupidEasyPaleo.com
Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas | StupidEasyPaleo.com

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas #2: Homemade Spice Mixes!

These recipes make about 1/2 cup. Mix them up, put them in a decorative jar like these mason jars, attach a homemade label and you’re good to go! I could see making a gift set with a few spices mixes and extracts (or mix and match). I’d be super stoked to get that as a holiday treat!

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas Homemade Gingerbread Spice Mix | StupidEasyPaleo.com

Homemade Gingerbread Spice Mix (see the full post here)

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas #3: Cookbooks!

Long gone are the days when you couldn’t find Paleo cookbooks…now there are titles to fit every single niche. Here are a few of my favorites – tried and true from Paleo’s best food bloggers – that I highly recommend:

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas Well Fed | StupidEasyPaleo.com

  • Food For Humans by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong (aka Nom Nom Paleo). What can be said except that Nom Nom Paleo is a classic Paleo site loaded with flavor-making recipes and amazing photography! You can pre-order the book…it comes out on Dec. 21, 2013!

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas Food For Humans | StupidEasyPaleo.com

  • Gather from Bill and Hayley Staley (aka Food Lovers Primal Palate). Want a gorgeous book for someone who loves to entertain? Gather is the one!

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas Gather | StupidEasyPaleo.com

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas #4: For the Novice Cook!

If the Paleo foodie on your list is just starting out and needs to build up her / his kitchen arsenal, I highly recommend these staples:

  • Crock pot. Bar none, this is one of my favorite kitchen tools. If you’re trying to buy a useful gift for someone who’s really busy, I can’t think of something better. Want to make it extra special? Print out a copy of my (free) PDF Crock Pot Guide for some recipe ideas.Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas Crock Pot | StupidEasyPaleo.com
  • Cast iron cooking set (the one in this link is still on sale!). I love my cast iron pans…they go from stove top to oven really easily for dishes like stews and frittatas.Paleo Holiday Gift Idea Cast Iron Pots | StupidEasyPaleo.com
  • Spiralizer. This little device makes oodles of veggie noodles from everything from zucchini to butternut squash. Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas Spiralizer | StupidEasyPaleo.com

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas #5: For the Experienced Cook!

If the Paleo foodie on your list is more experienced and or for someone who has almost everything, check these out:

  • Vitamix. What can I say? This is the Cadillac of kitchen blenders. I have one. It’s worth the cost (IMO) for someone who loves to cook. Soups, homemade mayo, nut butters, nut milks…they’re all possible (and more) with the Vitamix, and they last forever!Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas Vitamix | StupidEasyPaleo.com
  • Le Creuset 3.5 Quart Dutch Oven. These Dutch ovens are enameled cast iron and stand up to stovetop and oven cooking…anything you need braised or cooked slowly does so beautifully in these pots.Paleo Holiday Gift Idea Le Creuset | StupidEasyPaleo.com

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas #6: For the Life Long Learner (aka Nerd)!

If the Paleo foodie on your list is into learning all (s)he can, check out these options for e-courses and books:

  • Real Food. Real Good. eCourse by yours truly. This is great for anyone who’s really a beginner and wants to learn more. Click the link for more info. Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas Real Food Real Good eCourse | StupidEasyPaleo.com
  • It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig of Whole9. This is *the book* for learning about how problematic foods affect us and why.Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas It Starts with Food | StupidEasyPaleo.com

Paleo Holiday Gift Ideas #7: Fun Gifts for Anyone!

Still searching for a gift that’d be just right for your Paleo foodie? Let me know below and I’ll see if I can give you some ideas!

Crock on the gas stove over black background

Why Peanuts Make People Go Crazy

Peanuts

Nuts. Crazy.

A few weeks ago, I posted an answer to a reader (hey Kyle H.!) question:  “Peanut butter. Yay or nay?” Poor Kyle. Little did he know he would spark a debate more heated than a Georgia peanut field on a hot July day, and I could feel the peanut frenzy building with comments like:

“So eating a peanut isn’t paleo, but using kitchen chemistry to concoct paleo cakes and cookies is ok?” 

“But are peanuts unhealthy???”

“Still eating it. I love peanut butter and really don’t think a few tablespoons on my apple is going to hurt me.”

“Native indians of south and central America have been eating peanuts for the last 7,500 years. I wonder if they’d consider them nutritious or not.”

Peanuts are tasty and apparently quite controversial.

(By the way, I am thankful for the dissenting opinions and questions and am in no way trying to single anyone out!) What became obvious to me is that certain Paleo guidelines aren’t well understood. You see, when I think of Dr. Loren Cordain – the first to write a book about this way of eating, cleverly titled The Paleo Diet - I picture his face superimposed on a painting of Moses with the Ten Commandments shouting things like:

“Thou shalt not eat peanuts or any legume!”

“Thou shalt not eat cheese! Haha, that one’ll really crush the dairy-loving spirit of the people!”

Paleo’s come a long way since the movement started and as such, has evolved over time. People figured out that damn it, trying to eat a diet with no salt or no vinegar or no butter just wasn’t as sustainable as a lifestyle because it was, well, boring. What started out as “rules” rationalized by scientific evidence have faded into conversations like, “Well, this Paleo thing sucks because we can’t eat bread or cheese or peanuts or anything fun…,” without understanding the why.

So here’s the downlow on peanuts. They’re NOT nuts. They are a bean – more technically called a legume. Legumes aren’t considered Paleo for a few reasons:

  • They contain a relatively large amount of a compound called phytate which binds to minerals in the food itself, limiting the availability to us when we eat it. (Interesting to note, so do nuts. Try not to crack out on them.)
  • Most legumes are very carb dense compared to the amount of nutrition they provide. If you’re saying you eat peanut butter for the protein, I’m calling you out ;)  You eat it because it’s delicious and fatty (and if those are your reasons, that’s fine). Peanuts are an exception to the high carb issue but fail the Paleo test for some of these other reasons.
  • Legumes contain lectins, specific proteins known to cause damage to the gut lining. The protein peanut agglutinin can do naughty things to your intestines.
  • Peanuts specifically are prone to contamination with aflatoxin.

Legumes DO have nutrition. There’s no debating that. It’s not like opening your mouth and shoveling in a spoonful of rocks. You’re going to get fiber and protein and minerals and vitamins from legumes. What you’re NOT going to get is as much nutrition compared to equal quantities of meat or produce. Usually, legumes require soaking or sprouting to reduce the phytate, and most folks just don’t want to go through that effort to make them more edible / less harmful.

It’s not always black and white, right?

Most Paleo people have decided not to eat them because Cordain said so the downsides outweigh the upsides and so avoid them. If you feel like someone can just pry the peanut butter spoon from your cold dead hand and you’re not willing to give it up, then the good news is that it’s your choice. Simple, right? You can choose to be Paleo + peanut butter or Paleo + lentils if you want. I promise no Paleo police will show up at your door. Just be honest about maybe not feeling as good or being as healthy if you make it a regular player in your diet. If you’re willing to make the trade, it’s up to you. This is where finding what’s best for your body but being honest about how good you feel is so important.

If you’re trying to get started with Paleo but you keep holding back because it’s hard to find a good source of reliable information, I’ve solved that problem for you in my new e-course.

You may want to take all legumes (and grains and dairy) out of your diet for at least 30 days – using a protocol like Whole30, then reintroduce systematically to be more aware of any sensitivities you may have. Folks with Celiac disease or other autoimmune issues are highly recommended to avoid these foods completely, but even if you’re not in that boat, you may be somewhat sensitive to them.

What to eat instead of peanut butter? Lots of other options exist, but remember that nuts also have phytate so overdoing it with those isn’t necessarily better. Virtually any nut or seed can be made into a butter. If it’s store bought, make sure it doesn’t have extra sugar and weird chemicals. Here are a few suggestions:

If you want to make your own, you’ll need a food processor or a powerful blender.

Do you still have questions about peanuts or legumes? Let me know in the comments below.

Whole and chopped peanut on old wooden table

Fall Seasonal Produce Guide

When I was a kid, I tried to emulate Bugs Bunny.

I remember pulling carrots out of dirt from my grandparents’ backyard garden. They’d barely get a wash under the outdoor spigot before I was crunching away on the subterranean gems, root hairs tickling my face, the frilly tops thrown into the compost heap. Reminiscing on that garden has inspired me to eat more seasonally in the last few years.

Eating with the seasons used to be a lot easier: produce wasn’t trucked in from thousands of miles away or floated on boats across oceans; folks tended to shop locally; and small farms or even backyard gardens yielded different produce depending on the time of year.

Now that fall is here, there’s a new bounty of tasty things to try: hard squashes galore, apples of every red hue, and cauliflower – perfect for ricing – are just a few of my favorites (scroll down for some autumn-inspired recipes).

Click for my free Fall Seasonal Produce Guide (PDF):

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 1.53.30 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Paleo / Primal / ancestral movement is definitely shedding more light on returning to this way of eating. If you can’t grow your own or there isn’t a farmer’s market near you, consider including some seasonal fruits and veggies into your weekly mix. Why? They’re likely to be fresher, and if you buy local, haven’t traveled very far. It’s also a great way to force variety into your diet so you’re not eating broccoli every night for the rest of your life and only snacking on sliced apples. This’ll help stave off boredom and get some diversity into the micronutrients you’re consuming.

I’m not saying you can only eat produce when it’s in season, but challenge yourself to try a new fall veggie or fruit. You may find something unexpectedly delicious! [Note: exact availability is often highly dependent on country and even region.]

Here are some of my fall-star recipes:

 

 

 

Sweet Plantain “Buns”

Trying to use up more of my pantry before I go on my big trip, and I was staring at the bottom of a bag of coconut flour and a ripe plantain so I decided to mix it together with an egg and a bit of leavening agent to see what I could make. The coconut flour gives it the density it needed to stand up to eating a grass-fed beef slider with my hands.

DSC_0725

It’d be easy to double or triple this recipe. It yielded about 4 small / medium “bun” halves, enough for two sliders. It’s really important to use a blender or food processor to break this down so you don’t end up with a chunky batter. No pastry bag? Me neither. I used a ziplock bag with the corner cut off to pipe the buns into perfect(ish) circles.

Yields: 4 bun halves, enough for two sliders or small burgers

Ingredients: 

Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients and process until it becomes a smooth batter.
  2. Load the batter into a ziplock bag. Cut off the corner. This is your pastry bag. DSC_0720 2 DSC_0721
  3. In an oiled skillet (I used coconut oil), over medium low heat, pipe a circle of dough about the same size as your sliders or burgers. Cook for a couple minutes on each side or until cooked through.  DSC_0722
  4. I served mine as a slider with avocado, tomato, jalapeño sauerkraut and spinach.  DSC_0725

The Stupid Easy Paleo Teach Me How To Virtual Lessons

TMHT classes v 3.0 It’s finally here! The Teach Me How To series of virtual lessons is open for registration!

For the past 2.5 years I’ve been working hard to bring you, my phenomenal reader, the absolute best in Paleo food and now, I’m combining my expert knowledge with it to help increase your confidence and skills in the kitchen.

TMHT make kombucha

If you want to learn time- and money-saving tips, become a Paleo master and still have the energy left to do the fun things in life, look no further. I’ll be rolling out different offerings in the next couple of months, starting with my Teach Me How To Make Kombucha lesson which is now open for registration.

What’s kombucha? It’s a fermented tea that’s got probiotics, B vitamins and beneficial acids / enzymes. The bummer is that store-bought is super pricey. I’ll let you in on the secrets to saving up to 96% off the cost of store-bought kombucha by making it in your own kitchen with some simple ingredients!!

TMHT athlete Coming soon: for anyone who’s an athlete, whether you’re a weekend warrior, have podium ambitions or just enjoy training with friends, I’m launching Teach Me How To Be a Paleo Athlete next. I’ll show you how to properly fuel before, during and after your training and competitions and how you can reap the benefits of clean eating. If you want to start smashing PRs, look no further. High-intensity/CrossFit, endurance and power sports will be covered.

If you do a search for certain content on the site, you may notice that certain pages are membership only for the premium content of the Teach Me How To series. All other pages, resources and recipes will remain free and available to everyone, no purchase necessary.

5 Questions with California Paleo Kitchens

mush-stache Nicole Hellendoorn from California Paleo Kitchens is a woman on a mission to bring clean Paleo eats into your household! She’s the founder of CPK, a California-based business specializing in helping people ease the transition into a Paleo way of eating. I recently had the distinct pleasure of getting to chat with her over lunch and learn more about her passion for all things real food related.

What first brought you to eating Paleo? How did you find out about it? What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed with yourself since you’ve adopted the Paleo lifestyle? 

My transition to Paleo was definitely gradual. My awareness of food allergies, and a Paleo way of eating came about in two ways. First, about three years ago my dear friend and HLP (Hetero Life Partner) Mary Shenouda (Yes, The Paleo Chef Mary) was diagnosed as a Celiac. At the time, we were roommates and we both started to team up to work on becoming healthier with all kinds of experimental foods and cleanses. Paleo made more and more sense, so we started developing CleanEats as a way for people to have access to allergen free, Paleo friendly meals and snacks. It was also around this same time that I began to learn about Crossfit from some of my guy friends. I began using Crossfit style interval training to lose about 10 of the 15 pounds I had packed on in my post college city living partying days.

Then, in March of 2012, I did my first “Whole 30” but took it further and did six full weeks in preparation for a girls’ trip to Las Vegas. My motivations were equal parts wanting to look smoking in a swimsuit, but I also felt it was important to “walk the walk” given the concept we were developing for CleanEats. I was also curious to see how far I could push myself and what magnitude of change I could manifest. I haven’t looked back since, and consider myself about 85% Paleo all the time. The physical changes I noticed were dramatic – no more puffiness in my face and stomach or discomfort after eating a big meal. My skin, eyes and hair all become more vibrant. People commented that I just looked “healthier” (geez, how gross was I before?!) I easily fit into clothes much smaller than my regular dress size fluctuations. Mentally, I felt like I had found the golden ticket – I didn’t have to worry as much about portion size, calories, or striving for “thinness” after years of being broader and at times a bit chubbier than a lot of other women. I further embraced my natural ability to put on muscle and worked out more, which obviously led to increased confidence. My energy levels stabilized and I didn’t experience crazy late afternoon crashes at work anymore. It was amazing to know what “great” felt like when before I thought that I felt pretty good most of the time.

Within a month or so, friends and family began to notice the changes I had made and began to ask me what I was doing, what CleanEats was up to, and what this Paleo business was all about. I started coaching just to help people I knew, and it’s turned into a full-fledged consulting business that I could not be more proud of.

You’re a Paleo coach…what’s the philosophy you use when guiding clients toward better health? What’s your favorite service that you offer?

avocado-stacked-horizontal My philosophy can be summed up by the late, great Roy Orbison: Anything you need, you got it. I will do practically anything to help a client be successful in their journey to better health – I’m constantly available to them for the most minor questions and any food related emergencies. If you got stuck at work and have nothing in the house for dinner, it’s not unheard of for me to drop off a bag of veggies or emergency protein on your doorstep to keep you on track. I take a lot of pride in getting to know my clients, and making personally tailored recommendations that I think will resonate with them. No two people are the same, and people face unique challenges in adopting healthy food habits. Paleo is not a one size fits all philosophy in my book.

As far as a favorite service, I think it has to be the Kitchen Clean Out and Pantry Raid. I love physically going into client’s homes and getting rid of anything with gluten, grains, dairy, soy, sugars and any other processed junk. It creates great rapport with the client and really helps you get to know them and what obstacles they personally face during their transition. Taking it a step further, it gives the client a clean slate, literally and figuratively. Plus, I love organized kitchens and it’s so fun to experiment with food when you’ve got brand spankin’ new ingredients and treasures to play with.

Project out 10-20 years from now. How do you think Paleo / the real food movement will have changed by then?

It’s certainly not going anywhere, that’s for sure. The dramatic improvements in health and body composition that people have and continue to experience are too big to ignore. The past two years have been huge in terms of mainstream media recognition and I see that trend continuing, albeit an uphill battle given the current state of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. I’m hopeful that in 10 to 20 years, we will have entirely new generations of doctors and healthcare practitioners that will be more attuned to preventing disease with lifestyle recommendations and food rather than treating it with pharmaceutical drugs.  Hey, a girl can dream). I see those of us in the community now looking exactly the same (we haven’t aged a day – thankyouvermuch), and continuing to help people that still haven’t gotten the message. I also think that grocery stores and markets will have produce sections that are 90% organic vs. the average 25% we see now, particularly in California where agriculture is king.

What’s your favorite recipe from your arsenal of yummy Paleo eats?

Ooooh, girl, now that’s an impossible question – I’m a former fat kid that loves to eat. I can’t pick just one, so here are a few:

  • Spaghetti Squash Florentine, especially leftover the next day once the tomatoes have time to really soak through everything.  Recipe by request – no tab on my site for recipes yet. Slow Cooker Kalua Pork
  • BLAT Salad – arugula, tomatoes, bacon, avocado and a medium boiled egg, seasoned with sea salt, cumin and hot sauce.
  • Eggs in any form.  Anyone who follows my stuff knows my favorite hashtag is #PutAnEggOnIt – makes anything better!
  • Half an avocado sprinkled with sea salt and hot sauce
  • Meat. All kinds particularly carne asada/flank steak and pulled pork. Slow cooker Kalua pork (pictured) is a staple in my kitchen.

If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why?

Definitely a French Bulldog.  I have one, and they are the most adorable, coveted, spoiled, fawned over and delightful creatures of leisure I’ve ever met.  They have a TON of personality and sleep all day.  My pup’s also a totally grain free Paleo machine so I guess not much would change for me.  Bunny, my dog, will also start popping up in some memes and posts soon.

Here’s how you can connect with Nicole and California Paleo Kitchens through social media:

‘Gram Us: Nicole on Instagram

5 Questions with Bob from Not So Fast Food

DSC_0596

Working on the truck

Bob Montgomery always has a smile a mile wide.

You’d never guess by looking at him today that just two years ago, he weighed 30 pounds more, has lost almost 100 pounds in 7 years, and had some serious health problems. That’s pretty inspirational on its own, but then it really sinks in when you realize what it motivated Bob to do with his life.

He co-owns California’s only Paleo/Primal food truck together with June Sinclair, and is one of the hardest-working dudes I know. Last year, he and June started Not So Fast Food and have been putting the rubber to the road, bringing delicious, healthy food to folks all over the state. Recently he told me he was about to finish a Whole30. How cool is that?! Doing a Whole30 while working full-time on a food truck isn’t the easiest thing I could imagine doing, and knowing how inspiring this would be to others, I caught up with him for a quick interview about his Paleo/Primal life. Check it out!

What first brought you to eating Paleo/Primal? How did you find out about it? What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed since you’ve adopted the Paleo/Primal lifestyle? IMG_7095

There are so many. Obviously, numero uno is I don’t need surgery anymore. No more issues internally that I know of. I believe gluten to be the main contributor to my initial issues. I am in better shape. My senses are much stronger. I still have the energy to do anything I want to do. When I’m hungry, I eat and when I’m not I don’t.  

 

You’re one of the owners of the Not So Fast Food Truck in San Diego. Tell me how that came about.

DSC_0600

A transformation

June and I were 6 months into being Paleo/Primal, and it was very motivating for us. The changes we noticed so quickly definitely made a big impact on what was to come. We loved cooking at home, but hell, every single person who loves to cook eventually wants a break. Therein lies the problem…Where do you go? What place can you trust? Is there any place where the server won’t hate you after all of your modifications? Haha, nope.June had been serving and bartending up and down the coast of California for years, and I had been a Restaurant & Bar Manager for House of Blues, Lucky Strike & Wavehouse. We knew a Paleo food truck was what we had to do. Startup capital wasn’t too steep. We could run it ourselves with minimal staff. We could make a menu that not only our customers loved, but we loved too. With the help of a lot of great people and a lot of blood, sweat and elbow grease from June and myself, it happened!

You recently did a Whole30. What motivated you to do that? What are the challenges you’ve had to overcome since you work on a food truck?

I think that when we first went Paleo, we probably followed a Whole30 for our first 3 months. We were very, very strict. Recently, I have had more sweets…chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! :) I just felt it was a good time to clean up and get back to the basics. I really wanted some motivation to get back into the kitchen and write some new recipes and try some new dishes (motivation is hard when you cook all day for work and want nothing but your face in a memory foam mattress topper as soon as you get through the door), I just finished yesterday [July 7] and I have to say…I feel great. It was actually much easier than I thought it would be. I guess I’m just a tad bit strict on myself as it is, so, it wasn’t too big of an adjustment.

Some of the challenges were definitely having to get everyone else to taste things that I made. It sucks not being able to stick a spoon in something for a taste to see if it needs salt. Haha.

If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why?

Good question. I think this answer has changed for me over the years. Now, I’d probably go with a Leopard. They’re insanely smart, quiet and excellent at climbing. They can fend off lion prides and packs of hyenas by themselves. They’re not the fastest, but 40mph is good enough for me!

If you’re local to San Diego, you can find the Not So Fast Food truck at different venues around the county by checking out the schedule here.

Paleo & Primal Happenings

1622Primal and Paleo are like cousins…related but a little different. In case you don’t know, the Primal way of eating is very similar to Paleo but usually includes dairy. Recently, I sat down with Gary Collins of New American Nutrition and author of “Primal Power Method” for an interview. Gary’s a wealth of information about eating clean and making healthy foods a way of life. We dished about all things Paleo and Primal, including how I got started, how eating this way has improved our health and what I find most rewarding about running Stupid Easy Paleo. To read Part 1 of the interview, click here and for Part 2, here.

And in other exciting news, this weekend is the 1st Annual Primal Symposium in San Diego! This elysiumgathering will feature movers and shakers in the Primal/Paleo/Natural Health field including keynote speaker Gary Collins, Cavegirl Confections, Pete’s Paleo, real., Civilized Caveman, Paleo Treats, Life in Focus, Healthy Happy Fit Life, yours truly and many others!

If you’re going to be in the San Diego area this Saturday July 13th, come on over to CrossFit Elysium for the Primal Symposium. Tickets are available for full or half day and can be purchased here.

Fermented Ginger Carrots

fermented ginger carrots Fermented ginger carrots will knock your socks off!

It’s no secret that I love fermented foods (sauerkraut and kombucha being my favorites) because of their probiotic content, and lately I’ve started to expand my horizons. I went to a farmer’s market recently and saw a jar of fermented ginger carrots selling for something like $8! Off I went to the store to get a pound of carrots and some ginger to make my own.

This fermented ginger carrots recipe uses lacto-fermentation, a different method than is used to make kombucha. Essentially, the brine (salt water solution) that forms around the veggies is enough to discourage the growth of harmful bacteria and fungus while at the same time providing just the right conditions for Lactobacillus—the bacteria that cause the tart flavor of lactic acid as a byproduct—to grow.

Lacto-fermentation of ginger carrots—and any veggie really—requires that the veggies be completely submerged under the salty brine to give just the right anaerobic conditions. It’s possible to go whole-hog and buy fancy fermentation jars or huge crocks. (Can you say $$$?) If you’re just getting started, you may want to KISS and stick to this method for fermented ginger carrot which uses mason jars. They’re cheap and relatively easy to find.

This recipe easily doubles, triples, etc. If you don’t like ginger, you can leave it out. You can always thinly slice the carrots, but I prefer to shred them. The generally accepted ratio for vegetables to salt is 5 pounds veggies : 3 Tablespoons sea salt. I’ve adjusted that ratio down for this recipe.

Prep time: 30 min     Ferment time:  7–14 days     Makes: ~2 pint jars

Ingredients for the fermented ginger carrots:

  • 1 pound carrots (450 g), shredded
  • 1–2″ piece of ginger, peeled and shredded or grated
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

Ingredients for extra brine (makes 1 cup):

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 rounded teaspoon sea salt

Equipment Needed to Make Fermented Ginger Carrots:

Directions  to Make Fermented Ginger Carrots (including video!):

  1. Shred the carrots and ginger in a food processor and dump into a large bowl. fermented ginger carrots
  2. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Mix thoroughly with your hands, squeezing the carrots as you go. You’re trying to extract a bit of the natural liquid by creating a concentrated salt solution around the carrots (it’s hypertonic…SCIENCE!). Let the carrots sit for 15 min before moving to the next step. fermented ginger carrots
  3. Divide the carrots evenly between two pint-sized (16 oz) mason jars. Press the carrots down firmly until you’ve removed as much empty space as possible. There may be some natural carrot liquid at this point but not enough to cover the veggies.  fermented ginger carrots
  4. Place the small 4 oz jar on top of the carrots. Fill the remainder of the space with a little bit of the brine solution. The carrots should be completely submerged. Repeat with the other jar. Save extra brine in the fridge because you might need it during the fermentation process…you can always make more but this saves a step later. fermented ginger carrots fermented ginger carrots
  5. Cover the jars with cheesecloth, a piece of old t-shirt or a kitchen towel and place them in a bowl (I use paper bowl) or on a rimmed plate to catch any bubbling over. fermented ginger carrots
  6. Place in a dark spot (like a pantry or cupboard) and check daily to make sure the water level has not dropped down to the carrots. If it has, pour a bit more brine on top.
  7. My carrots were to my sour liking after about a week, but I live in sunny Southern California. Check yours by removing a small sample after 5 days or so and eating it up! If it tastes tangy enough for you, it’s ready. It generally takes 7-14 days but varies with temperature.
  8. Store tightly covered in the fridge…it will last for a few months!

Troubleshooting

  • My carrots have run out of liquid. If this was recent, within a day or two, top off with more brine solution. If it’s been several days, you may want to throw it out and start again.
  • Help! My carrots are foaming! This is normal especially after the first couple days of fermentation because gases are being released by the bacteria and can cause bubbles or foam. You can skim the foam and keep on rockin’.
  • I see white stuff at the bottom of the jar. Is this okay? Yes. These are the bacteria. It’s totally normal.
  • Um, my carrots have greenish black mold on top. If you’re adventurous, you can skim it and keep going. This is how moldy ferment has been dealt with for ages (and I can tell you lots of stories about what they do with moldy cheese in the grocery store…haha). If you’re totally grossed out, just start over.
  • It’s been a couple weeks and the carrots still aren’t sour or tangy. You may have them in too cold of a spot. Try putting them in a warmer location to speed up the process a bit.

6 Healthy Paleo Drinks

Recently, the incomparable Dawn Fletcher of Fletcher Fitness/Mentality WOD and I collaborated on our first video: a quick look at some of our favorite Paleo- and Whole30-friendly drinks.

Information about Elete Electrolyte drops (sugar free and Whole30 approved) can be found here.

Leave a comment below and tell us YOUR favorite Paleo-friendly beverages!

 

3 Reasons to Get “Beyond Bacon”

Southwestern Chorizo Burger with Fried Eggs (p. 108)

Southwestern Chorizo Burger with Fried Eggs (p. 108)

Paleo has almost become synonymous with a group of crazy bacon-lovers who shout their affinity of crispy pork goodness from every rooftop [and would you blame us?].

It seems that the rest of the swine has almost become an after-thought though, but thanks to the Paleo Parents – Matthew McCarry and Stacy Toth – there is so much porcine potential left to discover.

I was lucky enough to get a preview of their drool-worthy new book “Beyond Bacon” which will be released on July 2, 2013.Without further adieu, here are three reasons to get yourself a copy:

#1 It’s part reference book, part cookbook (two for the price of one).

Nestled inside the covers are dozens and dozens of tantalizing recipes which cover everything from the basics – like rendering your own lard – to the sophisticated foodie-esque desserts such as Prosciutto and Roasted Peach Ice Cream. But beyond that, the front part of the book is jammed with all sorts of useful information and [much to my ultimate delight] SCIENCE. Questions like, “Will pink pork kill me?” are answered with straight-to-the-point information. You’ll also find helpful advice on standard pork cooking techniques like making your own sausage and smoking, among others.

Cracklin' Pork Belly (p. 136)

Cracklin’ Pork Belly (p. 136)

#2 It’s definitely more than just a book to cram on your bookshelf and forget about.

The feel and design of the book reminds me of so many of the cool, farm-to-table restaurants that are becoming more popular these days. It’s like you’ve stepped inside the hand-drawn chalk board menu into a complete world of hog heaven. The photos leave you wanting more and honestly, I had a hard time deciding which recipes to make first! Displaying this book on your coffee table for guests to thumb through is an absolute must.

#3 The food is damn tasty.

Of the recipes I’ve made so far, the Mexican Chorizo (which I then turned into Southwestern Chorizo Burgers with Fried Egg) and the Cracklin’ Pork Belly were standouts. The book takes you through sweet, savory, smoked, grilled, and every other porky preparation you can think of. Stews, carnitas, a whole section on fried goodies, desserts…you name it, “Beyond Bacon” definitely lives up to its name.

Convinced yet? To preorder “Beyond Bacon” on Amazon, click here. You won’t be disappointed!

 

EPIC Bars Giveaway

DSC_0241 I’m so stoked for Stupid Easy Paleo’s first-ever giveaway! I’ve recently hit a couple sweet milestones – 10,000 fans on FaceBook, launching the new website and web app to name a couple – and it’s time to reward you for your loyalty.

A few months back, Taylor from EPIC Bar sent me some samples of their turkey, beef and bison meaty bars to try, and I was instantly hooked. You can read my review here. The short version: they are awesome. We decided to team up for a giveaway, and here are the details:

The Prizes:

  • 1st Prize = 3 cases of EPIC Bars (12 bars per case, $102 retail value)
  • 2nd Prize = 2 cases of EPIC Bars (12 bars per case, $68 retail value)
  • 3rd Prize = 1 case of EPIC Bars (12 bars per case, $34 retail value)
  • We’ll also include some fun swag from EPIC for each winner.

The Dates:

  • The contest will be open from Sunday June 16, 2013 (12 pm PT) through Sunday June 23, 2013 (12 pm PT). Winners will be notified within 24 hours of the contest closing.

Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Fine Print:

  • Open to residents of the USA only. 
  • Prizes will be shipped by EPIC Bars.

Homemade Kombucha

Homemade Kombucha Recipe | stupideasypaleo.com Making your own homemade kombucha is stupid-easy. Yusss! All you need is tea, sugar, a SCOBY and patience. Okay, so there are a few more details than that but overall, it’s pretty simple. I started buying kombucha before the great freak-out of 2010 – thanks a lot, Lindsay Lohan - during which the unquantified alcohol that could be in the drink caused it to be suddenly yanked off store shelves. Meanwhile, brewers of homemade kombucha were laughing.

[Want me to show you how to do it all from start to finish? Click here.]

All About Homemade Kombucha

I love fermented foods – I make my own sauerkraut and plan to start making kimchi – and it makes me feel kind of off the grid. Recently, I decided that I’d had enough of spending $4 for a bottle of GT’s. It was high time to get a SCOBY and start fermenting my own homemade kombucha. For those new to kombucha brewing, a SCOBY is a magical symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast which gobble up (ferment) the sugar, metabolizing it into the slightly carbonated, tangy drink that’s rich with probiotics and beneficial acids. In reality, it looks like a pale, weird, flat pancake and sort of like a science experiment. Click here to read more about kombucha health benefits.Homemade Kombucha Recipe | stupideasypaleo.com

I used a recipe for plain kombucha to start, then created my own flavor combinations for the second fermentation (to make more carbonation). I came up with ginger-mango and blueberry-raspberry…ummm, both came out freaking delicious! Since I’m all about stupid-easy stuff, I made a fruit puree (directions below) and froze it in ice cube trays so that I could add it exactly when my homemade kombucha was ready – which happened to be during the week when I was uber-busy. I ended up with *almost* four full 32 oz jars of homemade kombucha (one ginger-mango, two blueberry-raspberry and half a jar of plain). Why not four? You have to reserve at least a cup of homemade kombucha out of each batch to get the next started.

Overall, I was psyched at how easy this was to do at home, and I’m already planning to expand my little operation so I can double or triple my homemade kombucha production. Bottom line: you’ll have to experiment to see how long each step of process will take based on the conditions in your home and your own tastebuds. If the homemade kombucha is too sour, you can add more sugar and keep the fermentation going, but that just delays the process. For troubleshooting the process or to find a SCOBY, a quick search of The Google will give you a bevy of info. Watch here for my awesome tutorial on growing you own SCOBY.

Basic Ingredients for Unflavored Homemade Kombucha Tea (KT):

Directions for Unflavored Homemade Kombucha Tea (KT):

  1. Boil 64 oz of water (8 cups) in a large pot.
  2. Add 8 green tea bags and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags.
  3. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir well.
  4. Allow the tea to come to room temperature and pour into a clean one-gallon mason jar or crock.
  5. Add 64 oz more water to the jar and place the SCOBY (along with any KT it came with) into the jar.
  6. Cover with a piece of old t-shirt, and secure with a rubber band.
  7. Allow the homemade kombucha to ferment in a dark place (mine was in the pantry) for 7-14 days. Mine was ready after 8, but I live in Southern California, and it’s been warm lately. The fermentation time will vary depending on your location, your SCOBY and how sweet or sour you want the homemade kombucha. Sample by moving the SCOBY aside and taking a little out with a clean spoon. After this time, your tea may be slightly carbonated and will be unflavored (only tea-flavored). You may drink the homemade kombucha tea then or to do a second fermentation with different fruits for flavor and more carbonation.

For Ginger-Mango Homemade Kombucha Tea:

  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen mango
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • Optional: For chia kombucha, add 2 Tablespoons chia seeds per 1 cup of kombucha.
  1. Puree the defrosted mango and ginger in a blender, Vitamix or food processor. Or, you can grate the ginger with a microplane grater if your blender isn’t very strong.
  2. Spoon the mixture into an ice cube tray. Freeze until solid.
  3. Two cubes will be ~1/4 cup of fruit puree.
  4. After your unflavored homemade kombucha is done fermenting, transfer it to a 32 oz mason jar. Add two cubes or 1/4 cup of ginger-mango puree. Close the lid and allow to ferment again from 1-3 days – again, it depends on your taste. You may want more or less ginger-mango puree or more or less carbonation. Mine took 2 days until I thought it was perfect. When it’s done, add your chia seeds and stir well so they don’t clump together.
  5. Keep the extra cubes frozen for your next batch.

Ingredients for Blueberry-Raspberry Homemade Kombucha Tea:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • Optional: For chia kombucha, add 2 Tablespoons chia seeds per 1 cup of kombucha.
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the berries over medium heat until they have released their juices.
  2. Lightly pureed them in the Vitamix or blender.
  3. Spoon the mixture into an ice cube tray. Freeze until solid.
  4. Two cubes will be ~1/4 cup of fruit puree.
  5. After your unflavored homemade kombucha tea is done fermenting, transfer it to a 32 oz mason jar. Add two cubes or 1/4 cup of blueberry-raspberry puree. Close the lid and allow to ferment again from 1-3 days – again, it depends on your taste. You may want more or less blueberry-raspberry puree or more or less carbonation. Mine took 2 days until I thought it was perfect. You may want to strain the flavored kombucha to remove any seed reside. When it’s done, add your chia seeds and stir well so they don’t clump together.
  6. Keep the extra cubes frozen for your next batch.

You can also order pre-made kits for making homemade kombucha, like these.

Have you ever made homemade kombucha before? If not, what questions do you have?

Pete’s Paleo Review

Imagine a Paleo chef cooking you plates of amazing food each week – a variety of high-quality, sustainably-raised meats, locally-sourced vegetables, scrumptious snacks, and the most amazing bacon you’ve ever tasted -  and all you’d have to do is place your order online.

IMG_4088

Open Spaces braised brisket with roasted butternut and greens

Go ahead. I’ll wait as you wipe the drool off your keyboard.

If you’re in California, this daydream can actually be a reality, and Pete’s Paleo – owned by Pete and Sarah Servold – is the company making it happen. They ship all over the state or deliver to different local businesses here in the San Diego area. For those of you outside California, don’t despair! Pete’s is planning to expand into a national program soon. Score! Watch their website for more details, and get on their mailing list.

Back to the food…and let me tell you, it’s delicious. Ever since Pete’s started offering delivery to Invictus Fitness, the CrossFit gym I train at, I’d been curious about ordering. I love to cook and create recipes of my own, but sometimes even I need a break! Having someone cook for me – especially awesome Paleo food – is rare, so I decided to treat myself with an order from Pete’s. That’s right…some girls pamper themselves with new clothes or a mani-pedi, but I do it with food! It couldn’t be easier to order: after a few clicks on their site, my order was placed and all I had to do was wait. Pete’s lets you customize your order by selecting the number of meals (5 or 10 plus snacks), or adding extra veggies or protein for an additional charge.

IMG_4117

Roasted abodabo chicken with asparagus and country yams

I excitedly opened my order on Thursday to find the drool-worthy menu and neatly labeled individual bags with tasty bites tucked  inside. Each component – meat, veggies and snacks – is separately packed in vacuum-sealed pouches to keep it fresh and can be frozen as well…ultra-convenient if you are going out of town or want to stock up.

IMG_4082

Pete’s weekly menu complete with inspirational quote

IMG_4084

All neatly packed and labeled

IMG_4085

Individually sealed components

Even though I love to cook, I often find myself rotating through the same meats and veggies. Hello, food rut! One of the things I appreciated the most about Pete’s was the variety: grass-fed beef; chicken, duck and turkey; pork and lamb; game meat like elk and bison; and seafood all make their way onto the menu. Produce is no different with a wide array that is mindful of seasonality and freshness.

IMG_4115

Persian spiced pork cheeks with spinach and Susie’s Farms spring mix

IMG_4102

Jidori chicken breast stir fry with carrots, snap peas and roasted squash

Not only that, but Pete’s culinary training clearly shines through in the masterful combination of flavors, perfectly adjusted seasonings and well-executed cooking techniques – all the meats were fork tender and succulent, for example. Perhaps the crown jewel in Pete’s menu is his sugar and nitrate/nitrite-free bacon. I know, I know…many of you will claim allegiance to other brands or suppliers but I must say, I’ve never had any quite like this. It was perfectly seasoned and subtly smoky and rendered so the fat layers were light and crispy. Heaven.

IMG_4113

Pete’s bacon on top of my slow-cooked scrambled eggs

Mmmmm. Now I’m hungry again.

Definitely go check out Pete’s Paleo’s site. I dare your mouth not to water!

Grass-Fed Tallow Balm

IMG_3991Here at Stupid Easy Paleo, it’s very rare that I do non-food posts, but I think this one fits in well with my audience and my philosophy so I’m sharing it with you all.

Trying to live a more simple life in terms what I put in my body is nothing new to me, but recently I’ve been thinking more and more about what I put ON my body. Between hair care, dental hygiene, all sorts of lotions and potions and the few make-up products I use, I realized I’ve been slathering my skin with all sorts of chemicals. Cave Girl Eats creator Liz Wolfe came out with a comprehensive Skintervention Guide – a how-to for all things Paleo and skin care – not too long ago, so I decided to get a copy for myself.

While I’m no stranger to trying a few of the methods in the guide, there was a metric ton of information that was new to me. Liz does a great job of communicating that most of what we put on our skin ends up getting absorbed into the body and the myriad chemicals in our cosmetics are chock full of nasties (endocrine disruptors are just one that comes to mind). Being a bio major in college and a self-professed science geek, this wasn’t a huge surprise, but what to do about it is where I gained the most value. I clicked through the guide fervently and focused in on a couple of changes I knew I wanted to make right away – using the oil cleansing method to wash my face, switching to a coconut oil / baking soda deodorant, making another attempt at baking soda / apple cider vinegar for hair washing and using a nourishing balm nightly on my face.

Then it hit me.

Almost a year ago, I’d purchased a pound of grass-fed beef tallow from US Wellness Meats, thrown it in the freezer and forgotten about it. Okay, that’s a lie. I hand’t forgotten about it. In fact, every time I’d open the freezer, I would see it sitting there, mocking me for not having found a use for it yet. A quick Google search landed me a simple formula for making tallow balm, and I was off to the kitchen to make it.

Luck has it that the recipe to make the balm also called for olive oil to help with a smoother texture. I just so happen to have a huge jug of high-quality Kasandrinos Extra Virgin Olive Oil in my pantry, the perfect addition to the balm. Kasandrinos uses no chemical methods to press their oil and does not use any other oils as fillers, a common and shady practice that goes on in the olive oil business these days.

The tallow balm makes my skin super soft, and keeps it well-hydrated throughout the day without feeling greasy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup* grass-fed tallow (beef lard)
  • 2.5 tsp olive oil (I used Kasandrinos)
  • 2-3 drops of essential oil (I used lavender)

 

Directions:

  1. Melt the tallow in the microwave in a glass container. I used a small mason jar.
  2. Stir in the olive oil and essential oil.
  3. Refrigerate, uncovered, until the balm hardens.
  4. Remove from the refrigerator and store tightly. After I clean my face at night, I apply a thin layer as a moisturizer.

*The approximate ratio of tallow to olive oil I used was 8:1.