Category Archives: The Paleo Athlete

Beet Ginger Sauerkraut

Beet Ginger Sauerkraut | stupideasypaleo.com

Beet Ginger Sauerkraut has long been on my agenda to make, especially after I picked up a bag from Farmhouse Cultures. It was so delicious, and while buying it pre-made is convenient, it’s far more affordable to make it myself. The beets add a bit of sweetness—plus, the color is fantastic—and the ginger is so flavorful and provides a little bite.

I have a few sauerkraut / fermentation posts on this site already, and this isn’t really any different from those. If you’re a newbie to making sauerkraut, take a deep breath (it’s going to be okay!), and read through the whole post before you start the process. It’s actually very, very simple but there are a couple key points to remember:

  • This method uses lacto-fermentation with only salt and whatever Lactobacillus bacteria are kickin’ around your kitchen environment. There is no whey in this method.
  • The veggies must stay submerged under the brine (in an anaerobic environment) the *whole* time you’re fermenting them…and even after they’re done. If not, they’ll mold quickly.
  • Clean all your glassware, utensils and hands well before you start. For extra insurance against contamination, rinse everything with white vinegar.
  • You don’t have to use a fancy fermentation cap like this, but they make the process a bit easier, and there’s less chance of contamination. I used the Kraut Source prototype for this batch, and I’m super impressed at how simple it was. It was especially good at keeping the veggies submerged. They are about to finish their Kickstarter, so get in on it while you can!
  • I’ve included a troubleshooting section at the end of this post, so if you’re seeing odd things during fermentation, check there to see if it’s normal or you should toss your ferment.

Prep time: 30 min     Ferment time:  7–14 days     Makes: 1-quart (946 mL) jar

Ingredients for Beet Ginger Sauerkraut

  • 2 lb (907 g) green cabbage (you’ll use half unless making a double batch)
  • 8 oz (227 g) red beets
  • 2–3 oz (57–85 g) fresh ginger
  • 1-1/2 tbsp (22 g) coarse sea salt (I like this one)
  • If you need extra brine, use 1 tsp (5 g) salt in 1 cup (237 mL) water

Directions for Beet Ginger Sauerkraut

The basic method for making sauerkraut goes like this:

Thinly slice the vegetables, then salt them. Pulverize the veggies by crushing them with your hands to release the juices. Pack them tightly into a jar, submerging the veggies underneath the brine. Cover with something—like fabric—so dust and bugs stay out, but air can still escape. (Gas is generated as part of the fermentation process, so don’t cover it with an airtight lid unless it’s one specifically made for fermenting or you run the risk of the jar exploding due to pressure.) Let it sit in a dark cabinet for at least a week—or longer, depending on how sour you like it—then refrigerate.

For this batch:

  1. Cut the cabbage in half. You’ll only be using half for this recipe, unless you decide to double it. (In that case, you’ll need to double the amount of beets, ginger, and sea salt, and you’ll need another jar set-up.) Very thinly slice the cabbage. I used a mandolin, but I’ve done it plenty of times with a sharp knife. Toss the cabbage into a very large bowl. Beet Ginger Sauerkraut | stupideasypaleo.com
  2. To prepare the beets, I scrubbed but didn’t peel them. If you’d like, you can peel them, but it’s just an extra step. I thinly sliced the beets into rounds using a mandolin, then stacked them up, and sliced them into matchsticks. Alternatively, you could shred them in a food processor or with a box grater (but that is SUPER messy because beet juice stains). Place the beets into the bowl with the cabbage.
  3. For the ginger, I grated it down finely using a microplane grater. You could also mince it by hand, just be sure the pieces are very small since biting into chunks of ginger is very spicy. Place the grated ginger in the bowl with the beets and cabbage. Beet Ginger Sauerkraut | stupideasypaleo.com
  4. Now, add the salt. With clean hands, start to scrunch the veggies as you mix everything together. You have to get aggressive here because you’re trying to break down the cells in the veggies and (with the help of the salt) draw out the moisture. This takes at least 5 minutes of scrunching and squeezing. (Yay for kitchen fitness!) If there’s not a lot of moisture after that time, add more by making some brine (salt water) with 1 teaspoon salt in 1 cup of water. Some cabbages are just drier than others. C’est la vie! Beet Ginger Sauerkraut | stupideasypaleo.com
  5. Pack the veggies into a wide-mouth quart-sized Mason jar. Really push them down. (I use my fist or a spoon.) The veggies should come up to about the shoulder of the jar. If there is not at least an inch of liquid covering the veggies, add some brine to cover. Beet Ginger Sauerkraut | stupideasypaleo.com Now, you have a couple options: use a special lid for fermenting to cap it all off or use a simple DIY cover. For this batch, I used a new prototype lid from Kraut Source. It uses a spring mechanism to hold the veggies down under the brine. However, if you don’t have that, the other method I’ve used successfully is to place a 4-ounce jelly jar INTO the wide-mouth jar to keep the veggies submerged. It works really, really well. Click here to see pictures and video. Beet Ginger Sauerkraut | stupideasypaleo.com Beet Ginger Sauerkraut | stupideasypaleo.com
  6. Place the jar into a bowl or on a plate in case any liquid bubbles out. If you’re using the jar in jar method, cover with a kitchen towel and place in a cupboard or pantry for at least a week. Check the level of the liquid every couple days. If the level has dropped, add more brine. After a week, remove a bit of kraut with a fork and test the flavor. If it’s not sour enough for your liking, keep fermenting. (I find that it’s good for me around 10-14 days, but everyone is different. Some like to keep it going for weeks!) When it’s done, cover with a metal Mason jar lid and refrigerate. Keeps for a few months. Remember to keep the kraut submerged in brine the whole time, even in the fridge or it’ll mold.

 Troubleshooting your Beet Ginger Sauerkraut

  • My veggies are slimy. Bad bacteria have probably started to grow in your jar. Best to toss it out to be safe.
  • My veggies have run out of liquid. If this was recent, within a day or so, top off with more brine. If it’s been several days, you may want to throw it out and start again.
  • Help! My veggies 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 veggies 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). If you’re totally grossed out, just start over.
  • It’s been a couple weeks and the veggies 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.

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Beet Ginger Sauerkraut | stupideasypaleo.com

Have a question about making sauerkraut? Leave it in the comments below!

Muscle Mavens: AHS 2014 Wrap-Up

 

Muscle Mavens: AHS14 Wrap-Up | stupideasypaleo.com

If the theme at PaleoFX earlier this year was “stress,” it’s safe to say that “muscle” was a popular word at the Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS), held just a couple weeks ago. This year’s conference was held at UC Berkeley, and was attended by scientists and researchers, medical practitioners, bloggers and writers, and folks curious to know more about what’s new in the field of ancestral health.

I heard some pretty amazing talks, and while the variety of topics was as diverse as gut health to sustainable coffee (and everything in between), I was pretty taken with how many folks at AHS were talking about muscle.

First worth mentioning was “Specific Requirements & Health Benefits of Strength Training for Women,” the talk I gave with Stacy from Paleo Parents. She is an avid strongwoman competitor, and I’m an Olympic weightlifter, so it was a natural fit to talk about something we are both so passionate about.

Muscle Mavens: AHS14 Wrap-Up | stupideasypaleo.com

photo courtesy Sarah Ballantyne, The Paleo Mom

Here’s our presentation on the AHS14 YouTube channel (I encourage you to check out the other talks…the one on bone broth is excellent!), and here’s a summary:

  • A vast majority of women lack the genetic capability to build very large muscle mass (due to a gene for the protein myostatin and the very small amount of testosterone we produce).
  • To be most effective and positively influence metabolism and body composition, lifting should be 1) heavy (relative to the person’s current capacity); 2) low rep (in the realm of 1-5 reps); 3) involve compound movements such as squats, deadlifts and presses; and 4) involve type II (fast twitch) fibers that are most active under heavy load and “fast” speeds.
  • The 1600+ women who took our survey most often cited improvements in body composition, confidence and a sense of community amongst the reasons they like lifting.

Another excellent talk was Jamie Scott’s lecture on “The Underappreciated Role of Muscle in Health and Disease” (which you can watch for free by clicking here). In it, Jamie elucidated muscle’s grossly underestimated role as an endocrine organ, involved intimately in our body’s metabolism. I highly, HIGHLY recommend you watch his talk.

Muscle Mavens: AHS14 Wrap-Up | stupideasypaleo.com

He also brought home a critical point: In the world of ancestral health and in conventional medicine, we (as a collective) are often focused so much on fat gain or loss that we overlook how important muscle is. This has incredible implications, not just in terms of moving our bodies for sport, but for the regulation of metabolism, and as an incredible protective mechanism as we age.

A couple other great presentations on muscle were by Skyler Tanner and Keith Norris.

I also got to work at my publisher’s booth, and finally got to meet some of the folks involved in making our books reality.  It was pretty surreal to see my cover up there with some other sweet Paleo titles such as The Frugal Paleo Cookbook, The Paleo Foodie, and Paleo Takes 5. My book is being copyedited right now, and then it’s on to the final design phase. You can pre-order through Amazon or Barnes & Noble and save 25%!

Muscle Mavens: AHS14 Wrap-Up | stupideasypaleo.com Muscle Mavens: AHS14 Wrap-Up | stupideasypaleo.com Muscle Mavens: AHS14 Wrap-Up | stupideasypaleo.com

I’m already looking forward to attending the New Zealand AHS next year (with these guys above), and I’m already plotting my presentation.

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Muscle Mavens: AHS14 Wrap-Up | stupideasypaleo.com

Have a question? Leave it in the comments section below!

Healing Chicken Soup—Paleo & Whole30

Healing Chicken Soup—Paleo & Whole30 |stupideasypaleo.com

It’s hardly a secret that chicken soup is “good for what ails you”—as my grandmother used to say. If you’re a science nerd like me and want to know the how and why, click here and here. If you’re just here for the yummy recipe, you can skip all that. Suffice to say, maybe this soup isn’t a panacea, but it is definitely delicious.

I kicked up the healing properties of bone broth with the trio of ginger, turmeric, and garlic. Besides tasting aromatic and well, decidedly victorious, ginger and turmeric bring their anti-inflammatory compounds to this dish, and garlic, its antiviral properties. Infusing the broth is well worth the extra twenty minutes!

You can really dress this up anyway you’d like. I added some shredded chicken, green onion, carrot and shiitake mushrooms (gotta love that umami!) along with some gluten-free noodles made from mountain yam. Consider the broth a blank palette upon which to draw with your favorite flavors.

Healing Chicken Soup—Paleo & Whole30

Rating: 51

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (946 mL) chicken broth
  • 2 inch (5.1 cm) piece fresh ginger, sliced into thin coins
  • 1 inch piece (2.5 cm) fresh turmeric*, sliced into thin coins
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 mL) fish sauce
  • 2 cups (280 g) cooked shredded chicken
  • 4 ounces (113 g) shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 green onions (48 g), white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot (40 g), julienned or shredded
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Optional: 1 cup (227 g) zucchini noodles, kelp noodles, or mountain yam shiritaki noodles
  • Optional: Paleo Sriracha for drizzling

Directions

  1. Pour the chicken broth into a medium pot, and add the ginger, turmeric, garlic and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes to really infuse the broth with flavor. Note: If using turmeric powder (ground turmeric), start with 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 gram), and increase to 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram), depending on your preference. I find turmeric powder to be insanely potent, much more so than the fresh root, so always add less and bump it up if you'd like. While the broth is simmering, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the ginger, turmeric and garlic. Discard. Or, if you like to live dangerously, leave it all in the soup and pick around it while you're eating (like I did in the photo). Just be aware: Biting into a large chunk of ginger, turmeric or garlic is usually not pleasant.
  3. Add the chicken, mushrooms, green onions, carrot and if desired, your noodles. Heat about 5 minutes on medium-low or until everything is warmed through. Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt.
  4. Serve with a drizzle of sriracha for some extra heat.

Notes

*If you can't find fresh turmeric root, sub in 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) turmeric powder. When working with any form of turmeric, take care because it stains hands, clothing and porous surfaces.

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Change It Up!

  • Use beef or fish broth instead of chicken.
  • Use any protein you prefer or have on hand.
  • Add in your favorite thinly cut veggies.
  • Instead of fish sauce, substitute 1 teaspoon coconut aminos.

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Healing Chicken Soup—Paleo & Whole30 |stupideasypaleo.com

Have a question? Leave it in the comments below!

Slow Cooker Thai Beef Stew—Plus a Chance to Win Meals Made Simple

Paleo Slow Cooker Thai Beef Stew | stupideasypaleo.com

Steph’s note: Today’s recipe is a sneak peek from Danielle Walker’s new book, “Meals Made Simple” which releases on September 2, 2014. I’ve been lucky to preview the cookbook, and it’s amazing…great for newbie cooks or anyone who just enjoys simple, delicious food. Danielle notes: “Jicama may seem like a strange ingredient to add to this dish, but it provides a slight crunch similar to that of water chestnuts or bamboo shoots and adds a mildly sweet flavor.” Serve with cauliflower rice (pictured).

Slow Cooker Thai Beef Stew

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 hours

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 3 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed of fat
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 (13½-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup Thai red curry paste
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups julienned carrots
  • 1 cup peeled and julienned jicama*
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to transfer each batch of browned meat directly to the slow cooker, then continue browning. Wipe out the skillet between batches if a lot of liquid has accumulated at the bottom to ensure even browning.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the coconut milk and stir continuously to release the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the tomato paste, curry paste, fish sauce, lime juice, and salt, then pour the mixture over the beef in the slow cooker.
  6. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours. Add the broccoli, carrots, and jicama during the last 30 minutes if cooking on high, or the last hour if cooking on low. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Notes

*Omit for SCD

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Stretch It

The leftover meat tastes fabulous in scrambled eggs!

Make-Ahead Tip

Prepare Steps 1 through 5, then place the contents in an airtight container or bag. Freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator

The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner, Julia B. at a*****9@gmail.com!

To enter for a chance to win a free copy of “Meals Made Simple!

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to finalize your entry and unlock other bonus entries! (This is how the winner will be drawn, so don’t skip this step!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest ends August 10, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. PT, and the winner will be announced here on the blog by August 12, 2014. Be sure to check back to see if you won!

The winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to confirm back with his or her full name, address, and phone number to claim the prize. Open to US residents only.

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Paleo Slow Cooker Thai Beef Stew | stupideasypaleo.com

Chicken Wings Scarpariello

Chicken Wings Scarpariello—Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

Steph’s note: Today’s recipe is brought to you by my guest blogger Bob from Not So Fast Food. Bob runs San Diego’s first Paleo food truck and is mega-creative in the kitchen. You may remember him from this interview I posted last year. Enjoy this flavor-packed wing recipe!

Ingredients for Chicken Wings Scarpariello

Serves: 1 or 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

For the Wings

  • 12 chicken wings
  • 2 Tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/2 bunch fresh rosemary (about 3 sprigs)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh sage (about 3 large leaves)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh oregano (about 3 sprigs)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Sauce

*use 2 extra tablespoons chicken stock if you’re avoiding wine or for Whole30

Directions for Chicken Wings Scarpariello

Equipment: cast iron skillet, cutting board, chef’s knife, tongs, baking sheet

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the avocado oil, lemon juice, garlic, and the leaves of rosemary, sage, and oregano. Taste and adjust the seasoning with the salt and pepper before adding the wings. Mix thoroughly and add the chicken wings. Cover and refrigerate the wings 24 hours to marinate them.
  2. Preheat oven to 425ºF (218ºC), and line a baking sheet with foil.
  3. Remove the wings from the marinade and discard it. Roast the wings in the oven for 15 minutes. Use tongs to turn over the wings and bake for another 15-20 minutes depending on level of crispiness you want.
  4. Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, sauté the shallots in ghee until soft.
  5. Add  the white wine, chicken stock, and lemon juice and bring it to a boil, stirring the sauce as it reduces. Add the wings to the skillet and toss for 1-2 minutes until they’re well coated.
  6. Serve immediately!

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Chicken Wings Scarpariello—Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

Have a question? Leave it in the comments below!

Bone Broth 101: How to Make the Best Broth

Bone Broth 101 | stupideasypaleo.com

Bone Broth 101: How to Make the Best Broth

Steph’s note: Today’s awesome tutorial is brought to you by Ryan Harvey, founder of Bare Bones Broth Co. Bare Bones offers hand-crafted broth shipped right to you, but if you’re more of a DIY type of person, Ryan shares some of the secrets for making the best bone broth right here for you.

All About Bone Broth

So what’s the big deal with bone broth these days? It has less to do with bone broth and more to do with the rising awareness of the role our gut health plays in the overall health of our mind, body and soul.

We’re finally starting to acknowledge that what we use to fuel our bodies directly affects the way we think, the things we do and how well we do them. Often referred to as our “second brain,” the human gut is home to over 10 trillion bacteria, a number no human can fully comprehend, yet we’re always looking for and believing in that one all-inclusive lab-manufactured antidote promised to make us feel better.

News flash: There isn’t just one food, one medicine or one supplement. There is, however, bone broth, which can be added to any diet as any or all three of these things. What other real food source contains as many bio-available vitamins and easily assimilated nutrients and extracts of pure collagen (A.K.A gelatin), skin, bone and fat ⎼ you know, the stuff that pretty much makes us human, gives us our silky smooth skin and allows us to grunt beautifully while hitting our max power snatch with ease.

Funny thing about bone broth: It’s nothing new. In fact, broths and stocks have been used for centuries by cultures around the world as a remedy to anything and everything. It also happens to be the base for all cooking, as it’s the first thing you would learn how to make in kitchens around the world as a chef’s apprentice or culinary student.

It’s what stops a stomachache dead in its tracks by soothing and healing the gut, and it quickly returns our joints to normal after an intense workout or rigorous hike. We have the natural occurring gelatin and glucosamine to thank for this; something all commercially available broths lack.

With that said, I want to share a handful of factors that will influence the outcome of your homemade bone broth. Got gelatin?

Factor #1 That Makes Great Bone Broth: Animal’s Upbringing

When deciding how to fuel my body, I always ask where my fuel came from and how it came to be.

Chances are, if you are here reading this then you and I have something in common. It’s no secret that what the animal eats, we eat. This doesn’t just apply to meat. Bones contain marrow, and marrow in turn pretty much contains the essence of our being.

If we’re healthy, that’s great but if we’re sick, our marrow is sick. The same goes for animals. The whole idea is that we’re extracting all this healthy good stuff from the animal and using it as both a food and a medicine for our bodies.

Believe it or not, this all matters on a molecular level, where everything that makes you you is working hard to maintain your optimal health as efficiently as possible. If the animal was factory farmed, ate garbage and didn’t see a pasture a day in its life, you won’t be doing your body any favors in the long run by using its bones.

Pardon my soapbox, but supporting the ranchers and farmers that raise pastured animals and grow organic produce is the only way we’ll ever see a change in our current food system. You want better access to healthy and sustainably raised meats and fresh produce? Then find and support a farm. I’ve seen numerous farms and ranches here in Southern California grow rapidly under the support of enthusiastic communities looking towards a better future in food.

Factor #2 That Makes Great Bone Broth: Animal’s Age 

That’s right. Animals are no different from us in that their bones and joints wear down and degrade over time, reducing the amount of connective tissue and consequently reducing the amount of gelatin that will end up in your broth.

The younger the animal, the more gelatinous your broth will be. Veal bones, joints, feet and necks would yield the most gelatin, as these animals are butchered very young.

You can usually find veal bones at a local butcher for a decent price. Stocks made from veal are a chef’s secret weapon in the kitchen, taking everything from soups and sauces to risottos and braised meats to the next level.

Factor #3 That Makes Great Bone Broth: Bone Type

This is where most people run into trouble.

In my experience the most commercially available bones are usually beef or veal femurs. Femurs are great as they contain a ton of marrow but very little collagen. You want a good mix of bones, joints and feet. I suggest using a 1:1:1 ratio of bones, joints and feet. This will almost guarantee you achieve that victorious gel.

Just remember to always use joints and feet, this is where you will find the most collagen. If you can’t find all of these, go ahead and make your broth with whatever you can get your hands on, you’ll still benefit greatly from the added vitamins and nutrients.

Factor #4 That Makes Great Bone Broth: Bone to Water Ratio 

Whether it’s in a crockpot or on your stove, add water just to cover the bones, and no more.

This is where a lot of folks think they’ve messed up. You’ve spent all those hours simmering away, finally cooling and refrigerating your liquid gold only to wake up in the morning to find no jiggle. You haven’t been defeated! Simply bring your broth back up to a gentle simmer and let evaporation take over. Reduce your broth by an inch or so, cool and refrigerate. If it’s still not jiggling, repeat the process.

A combination of things could have happened here – too much water, bones from sick animals, or you simply didn’t let it simmer long enough. In most cases, the gelatin simply isn’t concentrated enough to give your broth a Jello-like consistency. This is OKAY. Your broth is still loaded with plenty of good stuff.

Try not to get so caught up on the aesthetics. I see people everyday crying out for help because their broth didn’t gel, as if the broth gods are smiting their attempt at glory.

Factor #5 That Makes Great Bone Broth: Time

The beautiful thing about making broth is that once started, it requires very little attention.

The biggest issue here is not letting your broth simmer long enough. We simmer our beef broth for 48 hours and 24 hours for our chicken. Simmering for multiple days is a great way to really get everything out of the bones.

Something we do, and that I highly suggest, is to wait until you have 6-8 hours left to add your vegetables or leafy greens, such as parsley or leaves on your celery. This will prevent any bitter or burnt tastes from being imparted into your broth. The vegetables can only be cooked for so long before they begin to break down, giving your broth and undesirable and often burnt flavor.

It only takes 8 or so hours at a simmer to extract the nutrients and flavor from them, anyway. Anything much longer than this and the vegetables become sponges, soaking up all your hard-earned nutrients.

In my opinion, those are the most important things to keep in mind when making bone broth. As with most things, the more you make it the better you will get. And the better you will get at noticing all these little idiosyncrasies during the process, like waiting to add your veggies until later in the process. It took me several burnt, bitter and off-flavored batches before I finally started figuring out at what times to add what ingredients.

A Simple Bone Broth Recipe

Run through this simple checklist when making any bone broth your gut desires:

  • Roast any bones beforehand for added depth and flavor, except fish.
  • Put bones in pot and add water just to cover bones.
  • Add your acid to help draw out the good stuff. We use apple cider vinegar.
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  • Skim, skim and skim some more. Scum and impurities rise to the top during the initial simmer phase. Simply skim, discard and keep simmering.
  • Once there is no longer any scum rising to the surface, keep simmering, adding water only to cover the bones as necessary.
  • Prep your veggies. Peel onions, as the peel can impart a burnt or bitter flavor.
  • After about 15-18 hours for chicken and 35-40 hours for beef, add your veggies, herbs and spices. Wait until the final hour to add parsley or celery leaves.
  • Return to a simmer for the final leg, and this time don’t worry about adding more water. You want the nutrients and gelatin to concentrate as we bring in the flavors from the veggies and herbs.
  • Add your parsley and / or celery greens if desired. Let simmer for another hour or two.
  • That’s it. You’ve done it! Strain your broth and cool it down or use immediately for making your favorite soup, stew, sauce or meat dish!

If you’re ever short on time or can’t seem to procure bones from healthy animals come check us out at Bare Bones Broth Co.! We’ll ship our broths directly to your door, nationwide!

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Bone Broth 101 | stupideasypaleo.com

Questions about making bone broth? Leave them in the comments below!

The Performance Paleo Cookbook Update!

Time for an update on The Performance Paleo Cookbook!

The Performance Paleo Cookbook Update | stupideasypaleo.com

It’s been a crazy past few months working on the cookbook, but we’re at an exciting stage. I’ve turned in the manuscript and completed the photographs (still need to finish editing those) which means the lion’s share of the creative content is done. I’m still catching my breath a bit!

Originally, I wasn’t planning to take the photographs myself, but the opportunity arose and I knew we’d get the best possible outcome if I stepped up to the plate (no pun intended). What followed was a hectic month.

We—the hubs and I—built wood backdrops and shopped for props. (I definitely have too many bowls now.) I cooked every recipe again from scratch and according to spec to check the flavors one more time. I styled and photographed 90 of the 100 recipes in the cookbook here in the dining room of our tiny, 100-year-old cottage. I made a literal mountain of dishes and went through a figurative ton of food.

It was all worth it because I know the cookbook is going to be on point for y’all! So, what happens next?

Now, the book will be formatted, arranged and edited over the next few months, then it will go off to the printer so it’s ready for its debut on January 6th. (Remember, this is an actual print book!) I know it seems like a long time to wait, but the time will fly by, I’m convinced. The good news is that you can pre-order now and lock in the early bird price of 25% off! Click here for Amazon or here for Barnes and Noble. It’ll also be formatted into a digital version if e-readers are your cup of tea.

What’s going to be in The Performance Paleo Cookbook?

  • 100 recipes with 90 full-color photographs,
  • 50 recipe combo ideas to make full meals,
  • 7 different fueling protocols to help plan for whatever time of the day you train,
  • Pre- and post-workout snack ideas,
  • Tons of protein-rich and carb-dense recipes,
  • …and more!

Awesome, right?

So for now, I’ll be turning a lot more attention back to the site (we have a site refresh coming up to make it more user-friendly) and working on some awesome new resources. Thanks for all your continued support!

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The Performance Paleo Cookbook Update | stupideasypaleo.com

Have a question about The Performance Paleo Cookbook? Leave it in the comments below!

July Giveaway: PurePharma Prize Pack

July Giveaway: PurePharma Prize Pack | stupideasypaleo.com

July’s giveaway is a prize pack of fish oil, magnesium and vitamin D from my friends at PurePharma!

When it comes to supplements, I’m a minimalist and a skeptic by nature. I don’t rely on pills, powders and potions because when it comes down to it, good nutrition must have its roots in good nutrition. Put another way, trying to supplement your way out of a consistently poor diet is missing the point.

That being said, there are definitely exceptions I make when it comes to supplements, and this trio of products from PurePharma has been a consistent part of my regimen for the last three years and counting. I don’t take them all every single day; rather, it depends on what my diet might be lacking (because not even Paleo nutritionists are perfect) or I happen to be getting more of. For example, when I eat a gorgeous piece of wild salmon for dinner, I generally skip out on supplementing with fish oil. When I haven’t been training as hard, I’ll usually pass on the magnesium.

PurePharma is growing in popularity especially amongst the CrossFit community, but make no mistake: the core trio of fish oil, magnesium and vitamin D can be used by anyone, athlete or not. When I train hard, I feel confident taking PurePharma to supplement my diet because I know their products are backed by science and verified by stringent quality measures.

A little bit about the products:

PurePharma O3 is the ultra-pure fish oil with a 5:2 EPA/DHA ratio. I take it in small doses particularly because it calms the inflammation I tend to get from training. The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are known to support heart, brain and eye health, too. Read more here.

PurePharma M3 is probably my favorite of the three. It’s two forms of magnesium (they’re way easier on the colon than Natural Calm), plus zinc. Mag and zinc assist in muscle recovery and help maintain electrolyte balance. Plus, when taken at night, many folks (including me) enjoy a calming effect. Read more here.

PurePharma D3 is vitamin D combined with coconut oil for better absorption. Vitamin D is implicated in many aspects of health including bone integrity and immunity. It might come as a surprise that most people are deficient in vitamin D, even those of us living in sunny locales. Read more here.

Here’s what’s up for grabs!

One PurePharma prize pack containing:

The giveaway is now closed, and the randomly chosen winner is Missy C. Thank you to all who entered!

To enter for a chance to win a PurePharma prize pack!

#1 Use the Rafflecopter widget below to finalize your entry and unlock other bonus entries! (This is how the winner will be drawn, so don’t skip this step!)

#2 In the comments below, tell me which of the three (fish oil, magnesium or vitamin D) you’re most interested in trying!

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest ends July 31, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. PST, and the winner will be announced here on the blog by August 2, 2014. Be sure to check back to see if you won!

The winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to confirm back with his or her full name, address, and phone number to claim the prize. Open to readers worldwide.

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July Giveaway: PurePharma Prize Pack | stupideasypaleo.com

Comment below with which product you’d be most psyched to try out!

Paleo Baked Avocado Fries

Paleo Baked Avocado Fries | stupideasypaleo.com

Paleo Baked Avocado Fries are a deliciously different way to enjoy this healthy fat source in your diet.

This appetizer was inspired by a dish the hubs and I enjoyed at a local cafe. While their version was gluten-free, I’m pretty certain they used rice flour and deep fried them. Convinced I could do better, I took some time off from shooting pics for The Performance Paleo Cookbook and developed these delectable little snacks. My first experiment worked! (These are also reminiscent of Fed and Fit’s brilliant guest post for Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers.)

Basically, you’ll coat the avocado “fries” with crushed pork rinds. They bake up brown and crisp! I like this brand the best because it’s just pork, olive oil and salt already crushed up and ready to use. You’ll coat the avocado in arrowroot (tapioca) flour, egg wash, and finally seasoned pork rinds, then bake and eat. If you have Flavor God seasonings, just sub the spices in this recipe for 2 Tablespoons of any variety.

If you can’t eat eggs, I made a version without. Though I don’t have exact quantities, all I did was replace the egg with stone-ground mustard that I thinned with a little water. The result was just as tasty.

Ingredients for Paleo Baked Avocado Fries

Serves 2 to 4.

Directions for Paleo Baked Avocado Fries

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C), and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Slice the avocados in half, and carefully remove the pit. (To do that, place the avocado on a cutting board, and gently but firmly thwack the pit with a knife, then twist.) Cut each half into three or four slices, and set them aside.
  3. You’ll need three small bowls for the dipping stations. In the first, combine the arrowroot and half the seasonings. In the second, combine the beaten egg, water and mustard. In the third, combine the pork rinds and the other half of the seasonings.
  4. Dip the avocado slices into the arrowroot, then the eggs, then the pork rinds. Lay them on the baking sheet. When they’re all dipped, bake the avocado fries for 10 to 12 minutes, then flip and bake another 2 to 4 minutes. They’re best enjoyed while they’re fresh!

*Tip: To select avocados that aren’t overripe, flick off the stem. If it’s white / green underneath, you still have time before it’s mushy and brown. If it’s brown, avoid.

Paleo Baked Avocado Fries | stupideasypaleo.com

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Paleo Baked Avocado Fries | stupideasypaleo.com

Questions? Leave a comment below, and I’ll get back to you!

Paleo Portion Sizes: How Much Is Just Right?

Paleo Portion Sizes—How Much is Just Right? | stupideasypaleo.com Paleo portion sizes—how much is just right?

It’s a very common question I hear all the time, and rightly so. When you’re just starting out with Paleo, especially if you’re coming from a past of calorie-counting (and generally restriction) or other portion control tactics, it can be intimidating to think you’re just going to wing what goes on your plate.

The simple—and perhaps frustrating—thing is that there is no one correct Paleo portion size. If there was a magic calculator where I could plug in your age, sex, current weight and activity level and pop out a perfect number of calories, I’d be rich! Oh wait, there are already dozens, if not hundreds of websites (and books) that claim to do this. They all fail in my eyes and here’s why.

The Trouble with Calories

Let’s say you use AmazingCalorieCalculator.com (not a real site) to figure out your perfect caloric intake. It says 1400. So, you go about your time reading food labels and quantifying everything that passes your lips. Whether you’re paying attention to food quality or not at all—1400 calories could be meat, veggies and sweet potatoes or a mega-giant pile of M&Ms—even if you meet 1400 calories, you might still be underfed.

See the problem? If you’re trying to hit a caloric maximum for the day and end up still feeling hungry, low on energy, body composition not improving, moody and irritable and sleeping poorly, that’s a huge sign that something is amiss. (Into macros? Read more about The Problem with Macros).

One other thing: Paleo is not about severe restriction of calories or macronutrients. You’ll be nourishing your body, and while you may lose weight (fat) there are myriad other ways your health can improve. Here’s a list to read.

It’s Not a Caloric Free-For-All Either

While the “calories in-calories out” idea is basically debunked, it’s pretty fallacious to think one can binge on sticks of grass-fed butter, eat pounds of nuts and a side of beef daily and find optimum health. All food has calories, and how those foods affect our bodies biochemically is not the same. (For more on calories, I highly recommend this book.)

Where folks often find trouble with Paleo portion sizes is thinking everything is unrestricted. Eating a little too much one day and a little less the next isn’t a huge problem. Chronic overconsumption of calories, even from “good” foods like those that fit a Paleo template, can also lead to issues.

So, how much is just right?

Paleo Portion Sizes: Some Simple Rules

Following these simple rules when you’re starting Paleo will give you a framework around how to build a meal. It’s by no means an exact science. Remember, you’ll have to pay attention to the outcomes of what you eat. To borrow a Robb Wolf-ism, “How do you look, feel and perform?” It may take a while (read: a few weeks to months to even a year) to be able to eat intuitively without thinking about every morsel you put on your plate.

Paleo Portion Sizes Rule #1: Eat three meals a day.

Breakfast is not an option. Coffee is not breakfast. Three times a day, fill a plate with protein, veggies and some fruit, and healthy fat. If you’re training hard for a sport, eating a bit of protein and carb after your training session is a small fourth meal. (Learn more about that here.)

I get questions all the time about intermittent fasting, and it’s my belief that 1) it’s not for everyone and 2) you don’t earn the right to fast until you’ve been eating Paleo for at least six months. Feel free to disagree, but if you’re still a newb, eating full meals and getting accustomed to what that’s like and how it makes you feel is critical. Trying to food hack your way into Paleo when you’re starting doesn’t actually teach you how to eat properly.

For a visual on what a balanced plate looks like, see this guide by my friends at Whole30.

Paleo Portion Sizes Rule #2: Eat a balanced plate.

Protein, carbohydrate (in the form of veggies, fruit and starchy veggies…a mixture throughout the day, not necessarily all three on one plate) and fat need to feature at every meal. Remember, don’t start food-hacking your diet if you’ve just started Paleo. Give it time for your hormones to normalize and for real change to happen before you go for the trendy stuff.

Recognize that if you have more body mass, you need to eat proportionally more food compared to someone who has a smaller body mass. Example: If your friend weighs 60kg and eats 3 eggs at breakfast but you weight 100kg, that doesn’t mean 3 eggs is an appropriate amount of protein for you. It’s probably not enough.

Paleo Portion Sizes Rule #3: Reduce your dependence on snacks.

Snacks happen. That’s life. But, if you’re packing two or more sets of snacks daily to eat between meals, you need to eat more at meal time. Period.

Going 4 to 6 hours comfortably between meals is NORMAL. It gives our bodies time to digest what we’ve eaten and then lets our guts rest for a while. You’re not a cow, and you don’t need to graze all day. It doesn’t “rev your metabolism” or any of the other sexy claims you hear. What it does do is put constant demand on your digestive system to deal with a perpetual influx of food.

If you’re hungry after 2 to 3 hours, eat a bit more at meal time: a couple extra ounces of meat, another handful of veggies, another spoonful of fat, etc.

Paleo Portion Sizes: How to tell if they’re working.

Eating appropriate amounts of nourishing foods should support:

  • normalized body composition (reduced fat and increased muscle) OVER TIME.
  • stable energy throughout the day.
  • clear-headedness and mental acuity.
  • restorative and restful sleep.
  • a feeling of satiety after meals.
  • good mood.
  • a healthy sex drive.

These are just a few ways to tell if what you’re eating is really helping you thrive!

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Paleo Portion Sizes—How Much is Just Right? | stupideasypaleo.com

Questions? Put them in the comments below.

3 Muscle Myths That Won’t Die

3 Muscle Myths That Won't Die | stupideasypaleo.com
It seems like every time I’m in the gym training or I read an article in an online fitness magazine, I run across at least one of these three big muscle myths that just will. not. die.

Science may not be perfect, but these three gym fears no longer need to prevent you from getting stronger:

Muscle Myth #1 That Won’t Die: Spot training removes fat in specific areas.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that isolating and exercising certain fat areas of their body will help to burn calories in that area more; the most common example are crunches around the stomach. Dr. Carly Stewart says “Fat is burned or lost throughout the body on a more even basis.” In reality, aerobic and anaerobic exercises are the best ways to burn fat, not isolating specific body parts.

Muscle Myth #2 That Won’t Die: The more you work out, the stronger you become.

If you’re not feeling psyched to get in the gym, you’re irritable and not sleeping well and you’re feeling like every workout is a total drain, these are signs you may be overreaching or over-training.

Muscle Myth #3 That Won’t Die: Carbs are bad and will make you fat.

Eating real Paleo food has been equated with a low-carb craze, and it’s made people severely restrict their dietary carbohydrates. In reality, high-intensity training of any kind requires adequate carbohydrates for glycogen replenishment. Eating healthful starches, like starchy veggies, rice* and potatoes is an important part of nutrition people doing high-intensity training.

If you consider any of the above three to be true, you’re not alone. However, these myths may be detrimental to your goals and working against you.

Tuesday was the launch of the Muscle Collective bundle, a collection of 36 ebooks and resources with much more myth-busting goodness about training and nutrition. It’s available for 97% off the total price.

*Note: White rice, a safe starch, is a possible glycogen refuel for athletes with good body composition and good metabolic function. As always, please test new foods for potential sensitivities. I do not recommend starch-dense, relatively nutrient-poor sources like white potatoes, white rice, tapioca, etc. to folks dealing with weight management or metabolic issues.

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3 Muscle Myths That Won't Die | stupideasypaleo.com

Click here to Get the Muscle Collective!

3 Muscle Myths That Won't Die | stupideasypaleo.com

Kohlrabi Salad with Apple Ginger Vinaigrette

Kohlrabi Salad with Apple Ginger Vinaigrette | stupideasypaleo.com

Kohlrabi is definitely not a vegetable I’d ever had gumption to try. Its funky, globular shape and oddly placed leaves always looked so strange to me. Let’s just say, kohlrabi was never on the menu…until now. I picked up a bunch at the store a few days ago and decided it was high time I give kohlrabi a try.

Interestingly, the word kohlrabi is a mashup of German phraseology that translates roughly into “cabbage turnip.” The flavor tastes of mild cabbage or something like broccoli stem but without the sulfurous undertones. In terms of nutrition, it’s rich in Vitamin C and the healthy phytochemicals that other members of the Brassica family are renowned for.

Photo Jun 14, 11 29 23 AM

I prepared this kohlrabi like a salad, but if you’ve got more time, you could certainly slice it thinner / smaller like a slaw. The simple apple ginger vinaigrette is a great complement to the kohlrabi’s crunch.

Ingredients for the Kohlrabi Salad with Apple Ginger Vinaigrette

For the Salad

  • 1 lb (454 g) kohlrabi, tops removed, halved and sliced
  • 1/4 lb (113 g) carrots, halved and sliced
  • 1/4 lb (113 g) red apple (I like Pink Lady, about half an apple), sliced
  • 1/4 cup packed (3 oz / 85 g) fresh parsley
  • 2 large (1 oz / 28 g) green onions, white and light green parts, sliced
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Dressing

  • 1/4 lb (113 g) red apple (I like Pink Lady, about half an apple), chopped
  • 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons (45 mL) apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp (2 g) sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 g) black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 mL) light-tasting olive oil or avocado oil

Directions for the Kohlrabi Salad with Apple Ginger Vinaigrette

  1. Prepare the salad by mixing the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Make the dressing by combining the apple, ginger, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper in a high-powered blender or food processor. Run the blender until the mixture is broken down and starts to liquify, then with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix thoroughly to combine.

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kohlrabi2

When Cheap is Actually Good

The Paleo Athlete Kindle Buck Sale | stupideasypaleo.com When I was about 21, I bought a car for $500. It was a beat up, white Plymouth Acclaim with maroon interior, and it sounded like a two-pack-a-day smoker when it ran. Sure, it got me back and forth the few miles between my college dorm and my job as a cake decorator at a local supermarket—how’s *that* for someone who was totally sugar addicted?!—but I knew its low sticker price was too good to be true.

As is with most things that are cheap, it was only a few months until the transmission seized, and I was sans ride.

From that point on, I’ve been a firm believer in the mantra, “Nothing cheap is worth buying.” Whether it’s food or books or even cars, I’ve held fast to the idea that you get what you pay for. When I see a deal that’s too good to pass up, it means I usually walk on by. That’s why I hemmed and hawed for quite a while about what’s going on today until midnight.

Yep, here’s something that’s cheap AND good.

Today, June 18, 2014 and today only, you can get the Kindle version of “The Paleo Athlete” for a buck. One smackaroo. Practically pennies. So cheap you’ll think you stole it. And once the clock strikes midnight tonight, just like a proper Cinderella, it goes back to its regular Kindle price of $9.99.

It’s never been on sale before, not in the 6 months since it was published, and it’ll never be on sale again. So, if you’ve been eyeing it or going to Amazon and hovering over the “Buy it now” button, today—no, right now—is the time to get it. If you don’t have a Kindle reader (I know I don’t), the folks at Amazon have made it really easy to read ebooks by making free reader apps for virtually any device—except flip phones. Time to enter the future, my friend!

Why does “The Paleo Athlete” rule? It teaches you how to eat Paleo for performance. If you care about getting stronger and faster, having better endurance and being able to not just make it to the end of your training session but smashing it, this book is what you’ve been waiting for. Or, if you care about being Happy, Healthy and Harder To Kill™—someone who’s ready for the zombie apocalypse or the White Walkers beyond The Wall—this book is for you.

You won’t have to walk around with a calculator attached to your hip, logging in points or calories or macros or blocks. Blah. You don’t have time to do that. Instead, I teach you the what and why so you can adjust your nutrition to virtually any performance goal or training scenario. Learn how to prep for competition day, too, and get 30 recipes to get you started and on your way.

Sound good? Good. Cheap but definitely one of those rare moments where it’s worth every penny. All 99 of them.

Get “The Paleo Athlete” Kindle version right now for a buck!

Offer expires June 18, 2014 at 11:59 pm PT, Cinderella-like.

June Giveaway: Elete Electrolyte Prize Packs

June Giveaway: Elete Electrolyte Prize Packs | stupideasypaleo.com

With summer about to officially start on June 21, I’m super excited to share this month’s giveaway with you!

Maintaining a proper electrolyte level when you’re exerting yourself through training or even strenuous work is really important. They help keep your muscles and nervous system functioning properly and guard against dehydration. Unfortunately, many electrolyte replacements available on the market are rammed with sugar and artificial ingredients. And that’s where Elete comes in! It’s a tasteless, colorless, sugarless liquid that contains vital electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, potassium and chloride.

Elete is something I’ve personally used since 2009 when I was racing mountain bikes, and I’ve definitely felt the effects of not using it—especially when I suffered severe double quad cramps during a 6 hour endurance mountain bike race in 2011. Coconut water has become a popular option for naturally occurring electrolytes, but know that it’s very low in sodium so isn’t actually a complete replacement. Bonus: Elete products are Whole30-approved.

Here’s what’s up for grabs!

THREE winners will each receive a prize pack worth over $40 with:

To enter for a chance to win an Elete prize pack!

The giveaway is now closed and winners are displayed on the widget below.

#1 Use the Rafflecopter widget below to finalize your entry and unlock other bonus entries! (This is how the winner will be drawn, so don’t skip this step!)

#2 In the comments below, tell me what sport or training you do and / or when you’d use Elete!

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest ends June 30, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. PST, and the winner will be announced here on the blog by July 2, 2014. Be sure to check back to see if you won!

The winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to confirm back with his or her full name, address, and phone number to claim the prize. Open to readers worldwide. If a non-US resident wins, an Amazon gift card for $40 will be provided.

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June Giveaway: Elete Electrolyte Prize Packs | stupideasypaleo.com

Comment below with the sport / training you do or when you’d use Elete!

Easy Paleo Chicken Curry

Easy Paleo Chicken Curry—The Merrymaker Sisters | stupideasypaleo.com

Steph’s note: I’m really chuffed to introduce you to my guest bloggers Emma and Carla, the dynamic sister duo behind The Merrymaker Sisters! These two creative minds come up with all sorts of amazing Paleo food, both savory and sweet. Emma and Carla are well-known in the Australian Paleo world, and I know you’ll love what they’re doing down under. Definitely check out their site and social media for lots of great inspiration. Take it away, ladies!

Serves: 4  Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients for Easy Paleo Chicken Curry

  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup (237 mL) canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup (118 mL) water
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 g) ghee or coconut oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon (3 g) turmeric
  • 1/2 Tablespoon (3 g) paprika
  • 1 teaspoon (0.6 g) red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) cumin

Easy Paleo Chicken Curry—The Merrymaker Sisters | stupideasypaleo.com

Directions for Easy Paleo Chicken Curry

  1. In a large saucepan over high heat, melt the ghee. Add the onion and spices and sauté.
  2. Add the chicken and cook until the sides have just turned white.
  3. Turn down the heat to low and add the pureed pumpkin and water. Stir until combined and then cover and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. At the 10 minute mark, add the zucchini and mushrooms.
  5. Serve with a dollop of coconut cream, fresh cilantro / coriander and a side of cauli rice! Make sure you make enough for leftovers! Curries are always better the next day right?!

Stay in touch with The Merrymaker Sisters on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Easy Paleo Chicken Curry—The Merrymaker Sisters | stupideasypaleo.com

Questions for The Merrymaker Sisters? Leave them in the comments below!

6 Common Slow Cooker Problems—And How To Fix Them

6 Common Slow Cooker Problems—And How To Fix Them | stupideasypaleo.com

Slow cooker problems can turn one of Paleo’s most useful kitchen tools into a headache. These appliances are utterly indispensable for busy people who want to cook healthy food, so dialing it in can really help your time in the kitchen. From stews to bone broth to roasts and even veggies, with a little know-how, you’ll be well on your way to making satisfying meals.

Here are 6 common slow cookers problems and what to do if and when you encounter them!

Slow Cooker Problems #1: Meat comes out dry / tough.

When you’re cooking meat in the slow cooker, the leaner the cut, the drier it tends to get. That means fattier cuts of meat—think pork shoulder roasts and beef pot roasts—do better than leaner ones, like pork sirloin or chops. If the meat comes with skin or a fat cap, leave that intact to keep the meat from drying out.

It’s also possible that the meat simply cooked too long. Generally, start out with about 1 to 1.25 hours per pound for cooking on high and 1.25 to 1.5 hours per pound for cooking on low.

Slow Cooker Problems #2: The food’s too liquidy.

For slow cookers, you need about half the amount of liquid that a traditional recipe (for the oven or stovetop) calls for. If the recipe isn’t optimized for a slow cooker, cut the amount of liquid by about 50%. In fact, when I cook a whole chicken or pork roast in the slow cooker, I put the meat in without any liquid at all.

If your final dish comes out too watery, remove the lid and turn the slow cooker to high for about an hour. This will allow some of the moisture to evaporate, thickening the sauce / broth.

Slow Cooker Problems #3: There’s no automatic shut off / timer.

This one’s a valid concern with a simple solution. If you can’t be around to switch off the slow cooker and yours has no automatic shut off, purchase a lamp timer! Then, plug your machine into that, set it, and it’ll turn off even if you aren’t home.

Slow Cooker Problems #4: It makes too much food.

Many slow cooker recipes make large portions, especially for small households. Luckily, many meats / roasts, soups and stews freeze well so you can store them for days you’re too busy to cook.

Slow Cooker Problems #5: The food isn’t cooking evenly.

This is a common problem with slow cookers. If you’re making a beef stew with carrots, for example, some carrots may be mushy while some are too hard. Food that’s cut into pieces that are the same size will cook more evenly than food that’s chopped haphazardly. Very soft / fast cooking vegetables can usually be added toward the end of the total cooking time so they don’t break down into mush.

Slow Cooker Problems #6: You aren’t sure whether to use the low or high setting.

Believe it or not, the low versus high settings aren’t different final temperatures. Rather, the high setting gets the slow cooker to boiling point faster than the low setting. Then, the contents will remain at a simmer for the rest of the cooking process. I personally prefer the low setting because I think meat comes out a bit more tender with the longer cooking time.

Want my free Quick Slow Cooker Recipe Guide? Click here! Also, check out my favorite slow cooker cookbook, The Paleo Slow Cooker. Happy eating!

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6 Common Slow Cooker Problems—And How To Fix Them | stupideasypaleo.com

Questions? Leave them in the comments below.