Tag Archives: paleo

Best Paleo Recipes of 2014: Are You Hungry?

Best Paleo Recipes of 2014 | stupideasypaleo.com

When I think back to early 2010, when I started eating Paleo, I remember how incredibly different things were. There were a handful of blogs—and it seemed even fewer books—available for inspiration. Fast forward five years and my, how it’s changed.

Now there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of blogs aligned to Paleo or real food eating. Dozens of cookbooks offer up incredibly creative recipes. It’s totally great, but probably a bit overwhelming. How do you find the very best recipes amongst all the choice out there?

Best Paleo Recipes of 2014 | stupideasypaleo.com

My friends at Primal Palate have gathered together the Best Paleo Recipes of 2014 into one convenient resource just for you. Now you won’t have to comb through hundreds of sites to find the top, mount-watering Paleo recipes out there on the web. (To let you in on a little secret, the Best Paleo Recipes of 2014 ebook is on sale for 20% off until tomorrow—Monday, November 17 at noon! After that, the price goes up.)

Twenty-five top Paleo bloggers and authors (including me!) each contributed 6 recipes to this collaborative ebook for a total of 150 scrumptious dishes! What’s even better: Each contributor added one exclusive, never-before-seen recipe to the mix.

Best Paleo Recipes of 2014 | stupideasypaleo.com

You’ll find 150 recipes for every meal of the day that follow a Paleo template in this ebook. The photos are gorgeous and sure to inspire you to try new recipes.

Click here to see more of the great recipes in the Best Paleo Recipes of 2014 ebook!

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Best Paleo Recipes of 2014 | stupideasypaleo.com

Tuesday Night Chicken

Tuesday Night Chicken—The Frugal Paleo Cookbook | stupideasypaleo.com

Steph’s note: This recipe comes to you courtesy of my personal friend and fellow Paleo blogger / author, Ciarra Hannah of Popular Paleo. Her new cookbook, The Frugal Paleo Cookbook—all about eating delicious, flavorful Paleo food without breaking the bank—comes out on December 2, 2014!

She’s giving you a sneak peek with this tasty recipe for Tuesday Night Chicken. If you’re down for saving money while eating Paleo, you need this book. Plus, if you pre-order before December 2, you’ll get a free bonus package chock full of awesome info and coupons. Take it away Ciarra!

Truthfully this could be named after any day of the week. It’s so approachable and affordable that you won’t hesitate to make it after a long day at work or just before payday hits. This recipe highlights my favorite way to cook a rich tomato sauce quickly: red chili flakes and cinnamon. It’s how my Italian grandmother fed our family, so naturally I consider it the right way, as any true Italian would. Enjoy using these straightforward ingredients to create a bold and flavorful classic Italian dinner…any night of the week.

Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients for Tuesday Night Chicken

  • 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound [454 g])
  • 1 tsp (5 g) House Seasoning Blend (see below)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (150 g) diced white or yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 batch Italian Seasoning Blend (see below)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 (14.5 oz [411 g]) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • Fresh basil and/or flat-leaf parsley for garnish

For the House Seasoning Blend

For the Italian Seasoning Blend

Directions for Tuesday Night Chicken

Prepare the chicken breasts first by filleting lengthwise to make 2 thick breasts into 4 thinner ones. Dust both sides with the House Seasoning Blend.

Heat a high-sided skillet over medium-high heat and add a little bit of olive oil to the pan—enough to just coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, lay the seasoned chicken breasts in to sear. Work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan as overcrowding leads to steaming, not browning. When the chicken has been seared (note, not fully cooked) on both sides, transfer it to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the temperature to medium and replenish the pan with a little more olive oil if it looks dry. Add the onion, garlic, Italian Seasoning Blend, kosher salt and cinnamon and cook, stirring often. If you are not accustomed to building sauces this way, I know it may appear a bit strange, but trust me on this. Applying heat and oil to the dried herbs prior to immersing in liquid revives the oils and creates a deeper flavor. It’s the trick to crafting a rich tomato sauce in such a short amount of time.

Cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic and herbs fragrant. Pour in the fire-roasted tomatoes and mix together. When the sauce bubbles, add the par-cooked chicken back to the pan, nestle it into the spiced-tomato-goodness, cover and reduce the temperature to a simmer.

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes while chopping the fresh garnishes—use either or both basil or flat-leaf parsley. This final simmer also allows plenty of time to whip up a quick vegetable side like an easy salad, sautéed dark leafy greens or Pan-Roasted Cauliflower & Zucchini, which is available on page 157 of the book or here on www.PopularPaleo.com.

I like to serve this directly from the pan after scattering with the vibrant green fresh herbs.

Love this recipe? Pre-order The Frugal Paleo Cookbook here!

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Tuesday Night Chicken—The Frugal Paleo Cookbook | stupideasypaleo.com

Have a question about this recipe? Leave it in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you!

Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok

Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok

A couple months ago, Nick Massie (better known as Paleo Nick) asked me if I wanted to go to Thailand on a culinary adventure. It didn’t take me long to jump at the chance to check another country off my travel bucket list. As type this, I’m lying on my fold out bed on the overnight train to Chiang Mai…my first chance to be horizontal in about 48 hours. It feels fantastic except my body’s trying to decipher which day it really is, but the jet lag sort of fades to the background as the food and sights and sounds of this trip fill my senses.

If you’ve ever seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, you’re quite aware—and probably fond—of the scene where the troop of twelve Dwarves tumble through the door at Bag End in pairs and trios. The early part of our journey has been quite the same. My trip started on Sunday night when I left San Diego along with two others from our group. After a quick flight to San Francisco, we were joined by four others, expanding our merry tribe to seven.

Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok

We tucked in for a very long flight (all told, 13-1/2 hours I think) to Taiwan, accompanied by some epic turbulence and binge-watching every tv show on the in-flight entertainment. Many hours later, we touched down in Taipei, picked up another member and boarded another flight to Bangkok. That’s a total of twelve, if you’ve been counting!

Once there, we greeted another three folks flying in from all over. Upon exiting customs, my hunger got the best of me so I pulled up to a little booth and snagged some fresh spring rolls and a box of pork sautéed with rice noodles and veggies for about 130 baht (roughly $4).

Now, I’m sure you’re probably wondering what / if / how I’m going to “keep it Paleo” when I’m in a country renowned the world over for it’s culinary delights. How will I know what they put in the sauce? What kind of oil do they cook with? Don’t I know that rice isn’t Paleo?!

My simple answer to this is that on a vacation that will come once in a lifetime—unless the universe has other plans—I’m going to enjoy the noms. Food is such a strong part of any culture, and to deny myself the chance to experience this beautiful country, I’m not staying strict Paleo when I’m here. I know there’s sugar in the sauces, it would be absurd for me to ask a street vendor about cooking oil, and that my body reacts fine to white rice because I’ve tested it. For more on my take on eating Paleo while traveling, click here.

Once we gathered everyone up, we stuffed ourselves into the train from the airport right into the heart of Bangkok and made a quick transfer until we were right out front of CrossFit BKK. Henrik and Nick arranged for us to do a Paleo seminar, so we tumbled in the door, set down our bags and started talking. There were some really great questions posed by the audience, and I really loved how we talked about adapting Paleo based on Thai culture and food availability.

Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok

Our answer: Just eat as much whole, unprocessed, nourishing food as possible. This isn’t a quick-fix diet. Instead, it’s a framework for choosing the best food you can a majority of the time for the rest of your life. After the seminar, CrossFit BKK was kind enough to offer our tribe the option to do a workout or to just shower for the first time in about 36 hours which I quickly took advantage of. Their facility is pretty rad with both an indoor and a much larger outdoor rooftop training area. If you’re ever in Bangkok, hit them up!

From there, the afternoon was wearing on so our now-expanded group of fourteen traipsed to the train station via another metro…

Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok   Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok   Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok

…and we happened to have enough time to snag some really tasty food from a couple street vendors…

Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok   Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok

…like skewered meat…

Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok

…and Pad Thai.

Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok   Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok   Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok

With our bellies full, it was finally time to board the overnight train to Chiang Mai. It looks circa 1960s but it’s clean and functional despite it’s age. It wasn’t long after we pulled away from the station that it was impossible to keep my eyes open…for about 6 hours.

Thai Culinary Adventure—Bangkok

True to form when I travel, I’m struggling to adapt to the time change. Appearances tell me everyone else is asleep right now as the shiny striped blue curtains are pulled across virtually every sleeping berth. It’s about 2 am, and we’re not quite halfway there.

As I gaze out the window, I can make out bits and pieces of what’s out there in the darkness: the moonlight glinting off the train tracks and silhouettes of palm trees going for what seems like eternity between towns. Kids sitting three to a motor scooter as they laugh and speed down a side street and people eating at a roadside cafe in the middle of the night. Gorgeous temples with intricate adornments. Roads that look like American freeways complete with green road signs with white lettering. If the writing wasn’t in Thai, I’d think it could be in Miami.

Every station we roll through has its own unique character. Phitsanulok was quite expansive with folks sleeping on hard wooden benches women setting up food stalls in the middle of this ebony dark night. Sila-At was deserted except for one man standing in the middle of the platform with his arms folded across his chest.

The train whistles sounds and fades into the black as we approach yet another town. It lumbers and lurches in what seems like a rhythm and lulls me back to sleep.

Stay tuned for more dispatches as we reach our final destination: Chiang Mai.

Paleo Pulled Pork Stuffed Squash

Paleo Pulled Pork Stuffed Squash | stupideasypaleo.com

Paleo Pulled Pork Stuffed Squash doubles as a hearty fall dinner or a great game day appetizer. It takes a little advance planning because the pork gets the low and slow treatment in the slow cooker, but the meat can be made a day ahead of time and reheated after the squash is roasted. Or, just make the meat itself! There are tons of options here. If you omit the honey, this recipe is Whole30-friendly and just as tasty.

Paleo Pulled Pork Stuffed Squash | stupideasypaleo.com Paleo Pulled Pork Stuffed Squash | stupideasypaleo.com Paleo Pulled Pork Stuffed Squash | stupideasypaleo.com

Delicata squash are cylindrical and generally smaller than a butternut. You’ll recognize them by their yellow skin with long green stripes. The skin is thin and edible, the flesh creamy and a bit sweet. You can even experiment with different types of squash if you can’t find delicata—acorn would work well—but instead of four, you’ll probably only need two. I slice the squash boats in halves or thirds for appetizer portions or keep them whole for dinner. Serve with a side salad or some roasted veggies for a complete meal.

Paleo Pulled Pork Stuffed Squash | stupideasypaleo.com

If you’re ever interested in checking out the pastured pork from 5280 Meat in Colorado, my readers get 10% off any order with the code SEPaleo.

Paleo Pulled Pork Stuffed Squash

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 3 lb (1361 g) pork shoulder or pork butt
  • 2 tsp (10 g) fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) stone ground mustard, divided in half
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) raw honey (omit for Whole30)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 small delicata squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 tbsp (15 mL) melted fat or oil of choice
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions

  1. You'll make this recipe in two parts. First, make the pulled pork because it needs 8 hours in the slow cooker. Overnight works really well.
  2. Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker, then rub all over with the salt and half the mustard (about 2 tablespoons / 30 mL). Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the meat, place in a bowl and shred with two forks. (The cooking liquid can get quite salty which is why I don't shred it in the slow cooker itself.) Mix in the other half of the mustard, the honey and the cayenne pepper.
  3. About 45 minutes before you want to serve the food, get the squash roasting in the oven. This can be done ahead of time, too, and then everything can be reheated.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400F (204C). Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. Arrange the squash halves on the sheet with the empty boat side facing up, and drizzle with the melted fat or oil. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, then roast for about 30-40 minutes or until the squash is tender and starting to lightly brown.

Notes

If you're doing Whole30, check labels on the mustard and omit the honey.

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Paleo Pulled Pork Stuffed Squash | stupideasypaleo.com

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Pomegranate Habanero Shredded Beef—Paleo & Whole30

Pomegranate Habanero Shredded Beef | stupideasypaleo.com

The flavors of fall always inspire me. Roasted root vegetables, soups and stews, and slow-cooked roasts are highlights, meant to warm you up on a cold day. Pomegranates are coming into season now, so I decided to make a beef roast with the juice—for a bit of sweetness—and balanced it out with some heat from the habanero pepper. (I get the juice with no added sugar.) Customize to how spicy you like it. If you want it hotter, leave in the seeds or use jalapeño pepper instead.

Pomegranate Habanero Shredded Beef | stupideasypaleo.com

I used my Dutch oven, but I’m sure you could make it in the slow cooker…I just haven’t tested it yet! Be sure to use a cut of beef roast with enough fat so it turns out tender and not dry. If you’re ever interested in checking out the grass-fed beef from 5280 Meat in Colorado, my readers get 10% off any order with the code SEPaleo.

Pomegranate Habanero Shredded Beef | stupideasypaleo.com

Pomegranate Jalapeño Shredded Beef—Paleo & Whole30

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F (163C). Pat the roast VERY dry with paper towels and season with the salt. You want the meat to be very dry so that a nice crust will form when you sear it. Otherwise the surface will steam instead of brown.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, then add the ghee. (Ghee is great for searing meat because it has such a high smoke point.) Sear all sides for about 4 to 6 minutes each or until a golden brown crust forms.
  3. Turn off the heat, and add the habanero (or jalapeño), beef broth, and pomegranate juice. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and put the pot into the oven.
  4. Bake for about 3 hrs or until the meat is very tender. Shred with two forks. It's great served over roasted sweet potatoes. Bonus points for serving with a drizzle of pomegranate reduction. To make that, pour 1/2 cup pomegranate juice into a small pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until the juice has reduced by about half and coats the back of a spoon. Just keep an eye on it because it can burn quite easily. If you're on Whole30 I would avoid the reduction because of sugar content.
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Bonus Fitness & Nutrition Guide

Bonus Fitness & Nutrition Guide | stupideasypaleo.com

“Am I doing this right?” It’s a common question I hear from Paleo people all the time!

To go along with my upcoming cookbook—the one that comes out in just a bit over 8 weeks!—I created a companion bonus ebook called The Performance Paleo Cookbook Fitness & Nutrition Guide to help you figure out if you’re doing Paleo right!

The best part? If you pre-order the cookbook before November 31, 2014 on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, I’ll send you the Fitness & Nutrition Guide as way of saying thank you. I’m so incredibly grateful for all your support, and pre-ordering helps us know how many books to make. (Plus, you also save 25% off the regular price which is pretty sweet.)

Bonus Fitness & Nutrition Guide | stupideasypaleo.com

What’s in the Fitness & Nutrition Guide? It’s over 30 pages of great information about how to use the recipes in the book, plus a whole ton of other killer stuff like:

  • understanding how to eat Paleo for performance
  • what to eat and how to build a plate
  • how to approach pre- and post workout
  • sound training advice
  • how to get amazing sleep and reduce stress
  • practical tips for cooking
  • common Paleo pitfalls to avoid and
  • tons of awesome resources including my favorite products & discounts!

It’s like a mashup between my nutrition seminars and a miniature version of The Paleo Athlete all rolled into one, and it’s the perfect companion to the cookbook.

To get your bonus Fitness & Nutrition Guide, save your Amazon or Barnes & Noble order number, then fill out the simple form here. You’ll get access to the guide right away, and you can save the PDF ebook to your computer for later.

I’m so excited for you to get your bonus guide. I hope it gives you the tools and confidence to know that indeed, you are doing it right!

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Bonus Fitness & Nutrition Guide | stupideasypaleo.com

Remember to pre-order then get your guide here!

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my series on Food Photography Tips! (Click here to read Part 1.) I’m on a mission to help beginners make their food photos look better, so we’re going to jump right in with some basics on styling. Plus, keep reading down for a killer giveaway from my friends at Erickson Wood Works…wink wink.

Here’s the thing with food photography: It’s an art. Sure there are technical things to master like using your camera settings correctly, but SO much of it is what you create from your own ideas and from your heart. There isn’t any one style that’s right, and you’ll find over time you may develop your own signature look.

I’ve seemed to gravitate toward simpler styling, some shadowing and highlighting bold colors in the food itself. Other folks are known for their dramatic shadows and moody shots, others for their chic and polished look, and still others for their “smashed” food shots.

My best advice is to experiment and see what you come up with. Don’t feel like you have to copy a certain style to have it be “right.”

Once you’ve set the stage by optimizing the right location and light, it’s time to turn your attention to the aesthetic quality of your photos.

Food Photography Tips: Styling

The only limit to styling is your imagination, as cheesy and cliche as that sounds. There are some basic pointers that can help you get started, however. I learned a TON from the online course Story on a Plate and Tasty Food Photography, and they were highly influential in my work on the cookbook. Their lessons were indispensable then and now as I continue photographing for myself and others.  First, I’ll discuss some of the elements of a good photo, and then how to stage it.

Element 1: Props

You needn’t go crazy with props, but as you become more comfortable with your food photography you may want different props to shoot with. Props can be anything from the components of a table setting (plates, bowls, glasses, flatware, etc.) to interesting serving wear to linens to kitchen gadgets and of course, the food itself.

A look inside my prop cabinet…

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

My rule of thumb is that whenever I’m shopping, I keep an eye out for interesting props. Sometimes I walk out with nothing, sometimes a few things. If I see something I like, I always get it then and there. I’ve gone back to get an item a few days later only to find it was gone. Huge bummer. I also usually only buy one of something. It forces me to mix and match and cuts down on the amount of storage space I need.

Where to find awesome props? The possibilities are pretty much endless, but here are some of my favorites:

Some of these stores are pricey, so I always comb their sales rack or sales page looking for good deals.

There are no rules about which colors or patterns to use or avoid. I try to find props with interesting shapes or textures that lend visual interest to the photograph without upstaging the food. If you’re just starting out, you may want to invest in some basic / classic pieces, especially white / basic designs and avoid the really flashy pieces. It’s hard to go wrong with simpler props, and you’ll get more mileage out of them versus a really unique piece that will be really obvious the 6th time you’ve used it.

For linens, again, use your imagination. I have a mixture of colored and white linens, mostly dish towels but some napkins, too. Believe it or not, my favorite linen is a 99 cent Ikea dish towel with a simple red stripe. I really love soft, thin fabrics instead of actual linen or terry cloth because they aren’t as bulky and have a nice drape to them. I store my linens crumpled up in my prop cabinet because I love the visual interest that wrinkles bring. Burlap is also a cool fabric, and you can usually find it at craft stores.

Element 2: Backdrops

The surface you shoot on can really make a difference to the mood of your photo, and there are so many different options out there. If you have a nice table, there’s nothing wrong with starting with that and branching out over time. Countertops, floors, and chairs make good surfaces too, depending on the material. I’ve shot on top of old, beat up sheet pans, oversized metal trays, marble pastry slabs, pieces of slate, fabric covering a table, and even my wood floor.

By far my favorite option though are wooden backgrounds designed for photography.

I’ve made my own from salvaged wood (this one is my favorite)…

Paleo Vanilla Hazelnut Creamer with Homemade Cold-Brew Coffee | stupideasypaleo.com

…and from wood I purchased from the hardware store. (Click that link for the full tutorial.)

Vanilla Berry Chia Pudding | stupideasypaleo.com

The other option is to buy a pre-fab background from an online crafter. They range from vinyl printed to made like wood (which, when the shot is close, sometimes betrays itself as not wood) to reclaimed pieces or those made to look aged  / distressed.

Generally, I like boards that are 2 to 2.5 feet x 2.5 to 3 feet in dimension. This leaves enough space for pull-back / wide shots.

Recently, I found Erickson Wood Works on Etsy that makes double-sided, lightweight boards in a variety of finishes. When it comes down to the cost of making your own (especially if you’re not very crafty or lack the basic tools), these are VERY cost effective. EWW is a small, family-owned California company, and their quality and service is fantastic.

Here’s an example of their boards:

Butternut Squash "Pasta" Sauce—Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

Moules et Frites—Mussels & Fries | stupideasypaleo.com

I’m SO pumped to offer my fellow food bloggers and photographers the chance to win one of THREE double-sided backgrounds from Erickson Wood Works! The winners will each choose from two of Erickson’s signature finishes. Cool, right? That’s $100+ value for each winner. To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below.*

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Element 3: Planning the Shot

Again, there’s no real right or wrong answer with how to style a shot, but there are some basics that can help you construct a great looking picture.

Probably the most basic way to arrange a shot is called the Rule of Thirds. When you look through your camera’s viewfinder, imagine the field of view divided into 9 small boxes, Brady-bunch style. Placing the focal object of the shot at the corners of these boxes can really help make a photo look more interesting. Put in other terms, centering your focal object can kind of look boring.

That’s not to say that a gorgeous plate of food centered can’t look dramatic and striking! It certainly can…

The Performance Paleo Cookbook | stupideasypaleo.com

But setting your subject off to the side, even with some parts of the props out of the frame can really look awesome.

The Performance Paleo Cookbook | stupideasypaleo.com

I usually start the process of shooting a recipe by choosing my location, then selecting my props. I think about things like the color of the food and the feeling I’m trying to convey. Is it rustic? Casual? Refined? Playful? I tend to choose my props based on the mood I’ve selected.

For example, when I shot this soup, I wanted to create a feeling of fall so I picked a copper tray and a small bowl made of horn because they were both warm / darker colors. The soup really popped!

Curried Kabocha Squash Soup—Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

For this picture (from my upcoming cookbook), I wanted to create more of a process shot. This is great for recipes where you end up with multiples of things, like these little jars or other individual servings. I set up the photo as I was really topping each jar with blueberries, and I chose simple props that were silvery / had interesting shapes to play off the round jars. (The background? An old beat up baking tray.)

Lemon Vanilla Custard with Blueberry Sauce

As much as I can, I try to visualize what I want the shot to look like before I set it up. I don’t always end up with that I envisioned, but usually it’s pretty close. And sometimes, to be honest, I just wing it and see where inspiration takes me.

I try to think about what, if any, food I’m going to include in the shot and save some while I’m prepping the recipe. For example, in the squash soup recipe, I saved the seeds and toasted those in the oven, then used them as a garnish and a prop element in the photo. When possible, save the BEST-looking food for the shot. Generally, you can get away with more when food is cooked than when it’s raw. For example, in the blueberry sauce above, it didn’t matter at all what the berries looked like. In the shot of the Blueberry Pork Patties though, I saved the best berries for the garnish.

Now I’ll walk you through how I set up this photo of a Blackberry Thyme Kombucha Slushy…

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

Once I select my location, props and background, I begin by setting up a skeleton of a shot without the food. I’ll take several photos with a “stand in” such as an onion (or in this case just the empty mug),  adjusting my camera settings as I go. I added some frozen berries (which I wanted to start thawing) and some thyme leaves.

Generally, I shoot on ISO 500 to 1000, f / 2.5 to 3.5, though that varies depending on the subject and the lighting. This shoot presented a challenge because the berries are very dark and the background, very light. Since I wanted mostly overhead shots, I set my aperture to 7.1 which results in less bokeh since a larger depth of field can be tricky from above. Since that means the lens opening is smaller, my shutter speed was slower to let in more light. (Note: The following photos are unretouched.)

(Settings: ISO 1000  f / 7.1  1/320)

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

I knew this felt too dark, so I added a piece of white foam board (helllllo, cheap reflector) on one side.

(Settings: ISO 1000  f / 3.2  1/1600)

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

I try to start with fewer props than I think I need, then add as I go to comfortably fill the frame. I think there’s a tendency with newbies to overdo it with props and crumbs and sprinkles of this and drips of that. Less is generally more. Here, I decided I wanted more berries and few more sprigs of thyme. Notice I still haven’t poured the frozen drink!

(Settings: ISO 1000  f / 7.1  1/320)

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

I felt sufficiently happy with my styling, so I went and made the frozen drink, then poured it. I knew over time it would start to settle, so I wanted to do the next shots pretty fast. Having this set up ahead of time made that possible.

(Settings: ISO 1000  f / 7.1  1/320) Notice this still feels really dark. To compensate without changing aperture, I changed the shutter speed to make it slower which allows more light into the camera.

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

The result…It’s a bit overexposed, but that can be fixed in editing.

(Settings: ISO 1000  f / 7.1  1/60)

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

Here I changed the composition and angle of the shot a bit. I ended up not liking this as much as the overhead shot, but I encourage you to change things up and see what you get. You never know! Note: I changed the aperture to f / 4.5 since I moved away from an overhead shot. Notice how the shutter speed changed from 1/60 or 1/80 to 1/200…much faster since the aperture was more wide open (lower number) which allows more light into the camera.

(Settings: ISO 1000  f / 4.5  1/200)

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

I also shot this recipe in both orientations: portrait and landscape. Having both orientation options is really key because you never know when you may want to use photo for a future project that requires one or the other. Keep your options open.

(Settings: ISO 1000  f / 7.1  1/80)

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

Probably the best advice I can give is to keep things looking as natural as possible! Stay tuned for Part 3 of my Food Photography Tips series for how to handle editing and some frequently asked questions!

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Food Photography Tips—Part 2

Food Photography Tips—Part 2

Have a question? Leave it in the comments below, and I’ll get back to you!

*Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 11:59 PM PST. Winners will be notified by October 21, 2014. The winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to confirm back with his or her full name, address, and phone number (for shipping purposes) to claim the prize.

Moules et Frites—Mussels & Fries

Moules et Frites—Mussels & Fries | stupideasypaleo.com

Moules et Frites (or Mussels & Fries) is one of my favorite appetizer-style dishes that seems so fancy, but is quite simple to make. Sometimes when I can get local mussels for a good deal, I’ll make a big batch and eat the whole thing, but this can easily be split among two people as an appetizer or with a big salad for a light dinner.

I make my version of Moules et Frites with a little bit of hard apple cider because it compliments the sweetness of the mussels, but you could just as easily use a splash of white wine or chicken broth. The secret to sweet potato fries that aren’t soggy is to cut them very thin like I did below. Give them some breathing room and spread them in a single layer on the baking sheet so they roast instead of steam.

Moules et Frites—Mussels & Fries | stupideasypaleo.com

Moules et Frites—Mussels & Fries

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (454 g) sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) ghee or coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1-1/2 lb (680 g) mussels
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) ghee
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup (59 mL) hard cider*
  • 2 strips crispy bacon, chopped or 2 tbsp chopped salami**, for garnish
  • Handful chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions

  1. First, get the sweet potato fries going. You can also omit these and just make the mussels which will cut the cooking time down by a lot. Preheat the oven to 400F (204C), and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into thin sticks (about the size of regular French fries), then put them on the sheet and toss with the ghee, salt and pepper. Spread them into a single layer and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir at least once during baking so they brown evenly.
  3. While the sweet potato fries are baking, prep the mussels. Wash the mussels with fresh water and discard any that are open or cracked. You might need to remove the beard: It's that scraggly looking bit of stuff that's hanging outside the shell. To do that, gently pull toward the wider end of the shell. Set the mussels aside.
  4. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the ghee. Then, add the shallot and garlic and cook it for about a minute, until it starts to smell amazing. Toss in the mussels and the hard cider, then increase the heat to medium-high and cover. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mussels open and release their liquid.
  5. Serve the mussels in a big bowl with the broth, and garnish with crispy bacon / salami and parsley. Serve the fries on the side. I like to dip mine in the broth along the way.

Notes

*or use chicken broth or white wine **I like Creminelli Fine Meats, found at Whole Foods

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Moules et Frites—Mussels & Fries | stupideasypaleo.com

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5 Questions With My Paleo Shero—Mel Joulwan

5 Questions with Mel Joulwan | stupideasypaleo.com

Steph’s note: Every once in a while, I share interviews with some of the amazing people I’ve been lucky enough to get to know in this community. I am beyond excited to interview my friend Mel Joulwan, totally badass creator of the blog The Clothes Make the Girl and author of two amazing cookbooks: Well Fed and Well Fed 2. She’s cooked up some of the most well-loved Paleo / Whole30 recipes EVER (um, hello Chocolate Chili and Homemade Paleo Mayo) and completely lives the lifestyle. I’m a die-hard fan, and still hoping that one day, her, Nom Nom Paleo and I will dress up as Charlie’s Angels for Halloween. Please enjoy!

I know a lot about you Mel, but can you tell newbies about who you are and what you do?

I’m a book nerd who plays classical piano. Along the way to being a grown up,  I fell in love with punk rock music, leopard print, and cooking. I also played flat track roller derby. If you look me up on Amazon, you’ll find Rollergirl: Totally True Tales From The Track (my book about my Derby days), Living Paleo For Dummies, and my cookbooks Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat and Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat. (You’re welcome to download free samples of our books: Well Fed and Well Fed 2.)

5 Questions with Mel Joulwan | stupideasypaleo.com

I have a blog called The Clothes Make The Girl where I write about my triumphs and failures in the gym, in the kitchen, and in life. I like to pretend I’m a badass so I workout at KDR Fitness  (where they have me lift heavy things over and over and over, sometimes quickly.) I also enjoy frequent soaks in epsom salts, walk 10,000 steps almost every day, and meditate. I’ve seen every episode of the original Law & Order at least three times (not an exaggeration), and my favorite book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (not to be confused with books by Jane Austen.)

5 Questions with Mel Joulwan | stupideasypaleo.com

If you were stuck on a desert island (with a fridge), what 3 foods would you choose to have around?

A jar of Sunbutter, so I’d always have a sweet treat. (Plus, it would taste great on the bananas I’m going to assume are growing on the beach of my island.)

A jar of Thai red curry paste so I could turn the fish I’d catch and the coconuts I’d find into a luscious curry.

A bottle of champagne because…screw it! I’m stuck on a desert island! I’m having a little bubbly once in a while.

(This is all a lie. If I was on a desert island, I would wish I had Doritos, Fritos, and Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips.)

What’s your best time saving tip for making cooking at home less painful?

I have two tricks, and they’re both based on the helpful fact that I actually really love leftovers. Honestly, I think I enjoy leftover food more than the original meal. I know that makes me a weirdo.

1. I always cook a bunch of protein and veggies in advance. I grill chicken and brown ground beef. I partially steam broccoli, cabbage, green beans, Brussels sprouts…and I put everything in BPA-free containers in the fridge. When it’s time to eat, I heat some ghee or duck fat (OMG! Duck fat!) in a skillet, then add garlic and onion. When it’s soft, I plunk in protein and veggies, add some spices, and sauté everything until it’s caramelized. If I’ve done the prep of the protein and veggies in advance, the “make dinner” part takes only about 15 minutes.

2. My best secret weapon is homemade mayo. It takes about 3 minutes to make, and it makes everything you blop it on taste better. Grilled meat. Canned tuna. Raw veggies. Just add some spices and acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to the mayo and you instantly have a creamy dipping sauce.

What’s new on the horizon for The Clothes Make the Girl?

You heard it here first: We’re working on a site redesign that will be more visual to better highlight my recipes and a new structure that should make it easier to find recipes in the archive. We’re super excited to see how it all comes together. It should be launched in early 2015. Whew!

And…I’m working on recipes for our next cookbook. The theme is still a secret, but I can tell everyone this: The recipes will be internationally-inspired favorites with lots of spices — I could never give up my spice drawer! — but there’s also a new twist that I think people will really like. That’s all I can say about it for now. It should be out in early 2016.

I hear you’ve got these cool curated boxes of your favorite Mel things happening now…what’s that all about?

Quarterly is a really fun company that recruits people — like Pharrell Williams, Andrew Zimmern, Nina Garcia, Timothy Ferriss… and me (!) — to curate boxes of goodies that are sent to subscribers a few times a year. The first box I put together was a Paleo starter kit. It went out to 650 subscribers in September, and it was really fun to see the reactions online as people unboxed their care packages. (You can see what was in box EAT01 right here.)

For EAT02, the theme is “Good Morning,” and I’m really excited about the cool stuff that’s going to be in the box. Morning can be a stressful time for people, so EAT02 will be filled with hand-picked items to make mornings a little sweeter. My husband Dave and I collaborate on a hand-drawn letter and recipe for each box. In EAT01, we included an illustrated letter — my handwriting, Dave’s drawings — and a recipe for Snuggle Soup that I developed exclusively for the Quarterly box. We have some really fun ideas for the letter we’ll include in EAT02.

My goal with my Quarterly box is to always give my subscribers delicious things to eat and useful things that are delightful in some way. It’s a care package from me to them. To subscribe, head right on over here: http://on.qrtr.ly/paleobox.

5 Questions with Mel Joulwan | stupideasypaleo.com

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Have a question for Mel? Leave it in the comments below!

Totally Pinchworthy


You know that thing of where you get recognized for something really awesome by your peers? Well, that just happened.

Paleo Magazine Best of 2014 | stupideasypaleo.com

I was nominated three Paleo Magazine Best of 2014 awards along with some M E G A talented folks like Nom Nom Paleo and Mel Joulwan. To say that I’m humbled is an understatement, and it makes me remember how very grateful I am for you. You show your support every single day by coming here to get new recipes and to learn how to be healthier. You read my books and join the community on social media. Thank you truly.

Paleo Magazine Best of 2014 | stupideasypaleo.com

If you have a moment, please head over and vote for your favorites. I’m nominated in:

  • Most Anticipated New Cookbook (for The Performance Paleo Cookbook)
  • Best Blog–Food Centered
  • Best Blog Recipe–Treat (for Cinnamon French Toast Panna Cotta)

Click here to vote!

Show some love for your favorite blogs, authors, and Paleo / Primal brands. It’s amazing how this community has grown. Thank you again for all your support…I couldn’t do it without you!

~Steph

Food Photography Tips—Part 1

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

Some simple food photography tips can take your pictures from boring to beautiful, and today I’m sharing Part 1 of a three-part series.

It wasn’t too long ago that I was taking pictures with my iPhone in poor lighting (or even worse—with the bright glare of a flash), but through trial and error, some education, and lots of practice, I improved enough to confidently shoot all the photos for my upcoming cookbook.

From this…

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

To this…  Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

A Few Thoughts on Cameras

Shooting photos with your phone isn’t the worst thing you can do. Many of them now have great-quality cameras built in that work really well under bright light situations, but there are definite drawbacks. Let’s say you’ve been dutifully snapping pics with your camera phone and blogging them for a while, and then you decide to compile your recipes into a book (electronic or print). The resolution is likely to be too low to create a quality product, and you’ll be stuck shooting them again.

If you’re serious enough about blogging that you devote several hours a week to it, my advice is to get an entry-level DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera. I started with a Nikon D3200 which came with a 18-55mm zoom lens, and it was perfect for learning with. If you’re a Canon fan, a comparable camera would be something like a Rebel T5.

I shot these photos with my Nikon D3200 and the stock zoom 18-55 mm lens that came with it.

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com
Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re brand new to DSLR cameras, I don’t think it’s wise to run out and spend $3-10k on a high-end full-frame deal. You may decide you really want to switch to another manufacturer (remember, lenses aren’t universally compatible), and you may even decide to stop blogging in a few months. It’s easy to upgrade in the future. For my cookbook, I upgraded to a Nikon D610 after about a year practicing with my entry-level D3200.

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

Top: Nikon D3200 with zoom lens, Bottom: Nikon D610 with 50 mm f / 1.8 lens. (Note the slimmer body of the D3200 because it’s got a smaller internal sensor and results in a cropped frame.)

Why get a DSLR? You can customize settings like shutter speed, aperture and ISO to really control and work with light—because after all, it’s your camera’s ability to capture light that really makes or breaks the shot. And, as a food blogger, how you portray your recipes through images is what gets people’s mouths watering! If you’re a newbie, these are cameras you can really grow into. Point and shoots and camera phones are less expensive, but their capabilities are limited.

Food Photography Tips: Crop-Frame vs. Full-Frame Cameras

The advantage of the D610 (or other full-frame cameras) is not only a larger sensor but lenses that shoot true. With a 50mm lens on the D3200 (crop-frame) the width of the field of view is cut down. With the same lens on the D610 (full-frame) you get a wider field of view.

Compare the following three photos taken while I was standing in the same spot with different camera / lens combos.

This was taken with the D3200, entry-level camera with the stock zoom 18-55mm f / 3.5-5.6 lens. (Setting: ISO 500 f / 4.5.) While the field of view is quite wide, it’s also quite dark. An aperture of 4.5, while somewhat open, is still pretty closed for lower light situations. The widest aperture this lens has is 3.5. I prefer something with a lower option.

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

This was taken with the D3200, entry-level camera with the Nifty Fifty 50mm f / 1.8 lens. (Setting: ISO 500 f / 2.) Notice how it’s a lot brighter (due to the wider aperture / lower f-stop number) but the field of view is a LOT narrower. The 50mm, when used on this camera, is not a true 50mm lens. It’s cropped. It makes shooting things like food somewhat tricky because you can only be a certain distance away before things get blurry. Notice how the background is far less in focus than the photo above because the aperture is lower.

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

This was taken with the D610, full-frame camera with the Nifty Fifty 50mm f / 1.8 lens. (Setting: ISO 1000 f / 3.5.) It’s still bright but the field of view is a LOT wider than the photo above. Remember, I’m standing in the exact same spot. The 50mm, when used on this camera, IS a true 50mm lens. It makes shooting larger table settings easier because you can capture more of the scene.

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

Here’s a side-by-side comparison…

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

A: Crop-frame camera with zoom lens

B: Crop-frame camera with fixed 50mm lens

C: Full-frame camera with fixed 50mm lens

Conclusion: Crop-frame cameras are great entry-level DSLRs, but to make use of lower light situations you may want to pick up an inexpensive 50mm lens with a low aperture number like f / 1.8. If you’re shooting a book or other extensive project, a full-frame camera will shoot a wider field of view.

What about lenses?

The lens I use the most is a 50 mm f / 1.8D, what’s often called a “Nifty Fifty.” (50mm is the focal length and 1.8 is the “lowest” aperture setting possible with this lens.) It’s incredibly versatile and really great for shooting subjects that are relatively close, as is usually the case with food. An aperture of 1.8 (which means the lens’s diaphragm is at its maximum width or “wide open”) translates to getting that desired depth of field feeling you get from an item being in focus while the background is a bit blurred. Another word for that is “bokeh.”

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

The dark chocolate coconut peppermint cup and my hand are in focus while the background items are blurred. This is called bokeh. (This photo was actually shot with my zoom lens so I was able to get really close while hand-holding the camera.)

Be aware that the Nifty Fifty is a fixed lens, meaning there is it doesn’t zoom in and out like the lenses that come stock on most entry-level DSLRs. That means you have to move closer or farther away; the camera will not do it for you.

Many food photographers work with macro lenses which are wonderful for capturing tiny details. Macro lenses are usually quite expensive compared to Nifty Fifty lenses. If you’re an experienced photographer looking to add to your quiver, it might be a great purchase, but I don’t recommend it for newbies.

Note that some entry-level cameras lack the ability to auto-focus using some lenses, including the Nifty Fifty. There is no internal motor to drive it. When I was using my D3200 with the Nifty Fifty, I had to manually focus everything.

Before you go out and purchase a new lens, I recommend getting out to a local camera store if possible to check things out and get a feel for it. Remember that lenses are specific to your camera manufacturer. A Nikkor lens for Nikon will not work with a Canon, etc.

I learned how to really use my camera’s settings by taking an online course through Creative Live called The Photography Starter Kit. (There’s no incentive for me to recommend this course. I just happened to really love it and found it incredibly useful.) Other really helpful resources: Tasty Food Photography and Plate to Pixel.

So, How Do You Stage a Basic Shot?

Taking a great photo is all about how you manage and manipulate light, and since I only shoot with natural (sun)light, that’s what I’m going to present here.

Food Photography Tips: Location

Check out the windows and doorways in your house that provide good light. It won’t always be the kitchen or dining room! For example, my kitchen windows are tiny and the only surface nearby is a cramped countertop.
Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

I do most of my shooting in the dining area (morning hours)…
Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

or next to my couch (afternoon hours).

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

In this photo, since it was 3 pm and the sun was on the west side of my house, I shot with my surface right on the couch.

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

As a general rule, I avoid shooting mid-day because the sun is overhead and the light just seems flat to me. My favorite times to shoot are 9-11 am and 3-5 pm, depending on the season.

If you don’t have a tripod for overhead shots, consider moving your photos to the floor so you can stand above the subject or even stand on a small step stool.

Food Photography Tips: Light

I try to have light coming from only one direction to simplify things and make it easier to manipulate. For this shot, I closed all the other blinds in my living room / dining room and shut the front door. That gave me light coming in through this west-facing window only.

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

Try to avoid actual patches of sunlight hitting somewhere in the frame. You want to light up the food, but if there are patches of sunlight in the shot, your camera’s light meter has a hard time figuring it all out. Put another way, you’re likely to get a photograph with some very dark and some very light areas. While purposeful shadowing is a great technique to create a mood, severely over- or underexposed food photos are virtually useless.

To soften the light coming through a window, consider hanging a white curtain or a piece of transluscent plastic over it. Works wonders!

I’m a huge fan of side light because I really like the subtle shadows and highlights it creates, but light hitting the food from the front and the back can also look great. You can experiment by moving around the food so the light hits different places.

Here are some more behind-the-scenes photos where I shot with side lighting (the process shots were done with my iPhone and the final photos with the D610 with 50mm lens)…

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com
Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com
Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com
Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

Here’s an example of backlight…

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

I had been just playing around with settings here. In retrospect, if this were an actual shoot, I’d probably have stuck a reflector in there to throw a bit more light onto those sprouts.

Here’s a different example of a shot I did on my dining room table. This was taken in the morning at about 9 am with translucent plastic over the window to cut the harsh rays coming in. The light was coming in from the left, and I wanted to take advantage of the shadowing in the bowls to create some drama.

Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

Okay, that’s all for Part 1! I hope these food photography tips have given you a jumping off point for understanding things a bit better. In Part 2, I’ll be covering details like props, backgrounds, and styling so stay tuned!

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Food Photography Tips—Part 1 | stupideasypaleo.com

Have a question? Leave it in the comments below.

Curried Kabocha Squash Soup—Paleo & Whole30

Curried Kabocha Squash Soup—Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

Curried Kabocha Squash Soup is so stupid-easy to make with only five ingredients, and it’s the perfect way to celebrate my favorite fall squash. Kabocha—also called “buttercup” in other regions of the United States and simply “pumpkin” in other parts of the world—tastes like a mash up between butternut squash and sweet potato. It’s wonderfully tasty with a thin, edible skin, and it really shines when roasted. It’s recognizable by it’s mottled dark green skin and round shape.

Usually, I just slice it into semicircles and roast it in the oven. (The seeds are delicious roasted, too.) This time, though, I made a simple soup that’s the perfect accompaniment to any fall dinner. I think it’d pair really well with a basic roast chicken and a green salad. If you can’t find kabocha squash in your market, butternut makes a very good substitute.

Curried Kabocha Squash Soup—Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

Curried Kabocha Squash Soup—Paleo & Whole30

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (204C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Cut the bottom and top off the squash, then carefully cut it in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds (you can save them and roast them separately). Cut the squash into a few large chunks. Drizzle with the coconut oil and season with the salt and pepper. Roast the squash for 45-55 minutes or until it's tender and browned. You may want to flip the pieces halfway through cooking.
  3. Let the squash cool, and scoop the flesh away from the skin.
  4. Put the squash flesh into a high-powered blender along with the chicken broth, coconut milk, and curry powder. Blend for at least 15 seconds or until completely smooth.
  5. Pour into a medium pot to reheat, and adjust the seasoning with salt.

Notes

*If you have mild curry powder, it you may need 2 teaspoons or so. When in doubt, add 1 teaspoon, taste, then go from there. Substitute butternut squash instead of kabocha. This soup freezes well.

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What’s your favorite fall soup? Let us know in the comments below!

4 Paleo Swaps for Pasta & Rice

4 Paleo Swaps for Pasta & Rice | stupideasypaleo.com Paleo swaps for pasta and rice can really help ease your transition into this way of eating. When you first go Paleo, it can be challenging to construct grain-free meals particularly when pasta or rice were staples of your diet.

Luckily, there are some easy Paleo swaps you can use to replicate the “feel” of these foods. While they won’t always be the same flavor or texture, once your taste buds adjust, you’ll probably find you end up enjoying these swaps just as much. Bonus: Using veggies to sub for grains and other starches significantly bumps up the nutrient content of your meals.

Paleo Swap for Pasta: Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini noodles or “zoodles” are probably my favorite pasta substitute because they’re mild in flavor and really simple to make. Probably the biggest complaint, though, is that they can get watery when cooked, but there’s a simple solution.

To prevent water-logged zucchini noodles, salt the zoodles after you make them but before cooking. Here’s how to do it:

  • Place the zoodles in a colander. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt.
  • Place the colander in the sink or over a large bowl because liquid will be pulled from the zoodles.
  • After 15 to 20 minutes, rinse very well with fresh water. Then, gently squeeze any excess moisture from the noodles. Use raw or cooked.

How do you make zoodles? There are two basic methods: using a julienne peeler or a spiralizer. I prefer the julienne peeler for a few reasons: the noodles are “finer,” and the peeler is inexpensive and small. Lots of folks love the spiralizer because it’s faster. Either way, both will work. You can also make noodles from several other veggies such as sweet potatoes or beets.

Here’s a video of how Mel from The Clothes Make the Girl makes her zucchini noodles.

Suggested recipes: Cold Zucchini Noodle Salad with Tomatoes and Olives, Paleo Noodle Bowl

Paleo Swap for Pasta: Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash also has a fantastic noodly texture and while it doesn’t taste like a plain noodle made from flour, it’s a very common swap in Paleo cooking. Once you bake the squash, you use a fork to loosen the innards into long strings, a texture unlike any other squash you’ve probably ever had. There are a few ways to prepare spaghetti squash, but my favorite is to roast it.

To do that, preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C), and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. With a sharp knife, slice a small section off the squash so it won’t roll around the cutting board. Then, slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. (They’re actually dynamite when roasted separately with some salt and pepper.) Lay the halves cut side up, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 45 minutes, then let cool. Scrape up the “noodles” with a fork.

You can also microwave it, cut side down on a plate with a little bit of water until tender, 10+ minutes. Or, if you’re brave, you can poke a LOT of holes in it and microwave it whole. I can’t really recommend that method though, because I had a spaghetti squash burst that way once. The clean up is not fun.

Suggested recipe: Paleo Chicken Florentine Spaghetti Squash

Paleo Swap for Rice: Cauliflower “Rice”

Okay, so this usually still tastes a bit like cauliflower, but the texture is very similar to rice provided it’s not overcooked or raw. Once I even fooled people at a party: My Paleo friend avoided trying my dish because she thought it was actual rice. The great part is that it’s a really blank canvas that you can add so many flavors to: Asian, Indian and Mexican are my favorites.

Cauli “rice” is relatively easy to prepare if you have a food processor. First, core it, and cut into large florets. Then, you can use a shredding blade (easiest) or use a regular blade and pulse it in small batches until it’s roughly the size of rice grains. If you don’t have a food processor, you can fill a blender pitcher with water, add chunks of cauliflower and whir it for several seconds until the pieces are small, then drain in a fine mesh strainer. I’ve never personally tried that method, but many people use it and say it works well.

I found the key to making great cauli “rice” is to cook it over high temperature and relatively fast. (Think of stir frying.) That way, the cauliflower doesn’t have a chance to get soggy. If chopped slightly smaller than rice grains, cauliflower can act as a replacement for cous cous.

Suggested recipes: Indian Pineapple Cauliflower Rice, Paleo Caramelized Onion Cauliflower “Cous Cous”

Paleo Swap for Pasta: Kelp or Mountain Yam Noodles

While not my top choice for a gluten-free noodle, kelp or mountain yam noodles are pretty neutral in flavor and even closer to the texture of actual noodles. Generally, they’re not super nutrient dense (certainly not as much as veggies), but they are pretty low in carbohydrate. For an every-once-in-a-while addition to soup, they’re probably fine, but I wouldn’t make them a daily indulgence because, well, there’s not much redeeming to them.

Where to find kelp noodles or mountain yam noodles? The refrigerated section of natural grocers (such as Whole Foods or Sprouts) near the tofu. Remember to rinse them before use.

Suggested recipes: Healing Chicken Soup, Paleo Fresh Spring Rolls

What About Other Gluten-Free Noodles?

Nowadays, the gluten-free foods section of your market is bound to contain noodles made of various gluten-free starches such as rice, tapioca, potato, quinoa, corn, etc. Some things to consider: Some of these foods are generally avoided in Paleo, and when compared to vegetables (like making zoodles), these noodles are far less nutrient dense. Also, some may contain proteins that are still problematic for folks with gluten sensitivity.

Optimizing nutrient intake and consuming enough vegetable matter is a hallmark of Paleo eating, so choosing veggie noodles or cauli “rice” is my best recommendation.

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4 Paleo Swaps for Pasta & Rice | stupideasypaleo.com

Have a question or comment? Leave it in the comments below!

Beet and Brussels Sprout Salad

Beet and Brussels Sprout Salad | stupideasypaleo.com

Steph’s note: This recipe is a sneak preview of Cindy Sexton’s upcoming book “Paleo Takes 5 – Or Fewer: Healthy Eating was Never Easier with These Delicious 3, 4 and 5 Ingredient Recipes.” Cindy’s come up with a cookbook full of stupid-easy recipes with 3, 4 or 5 ingredients perfect for beginning chefs or those who like to KISS (Keep It Super Simple). Note: spices, vinegars and salts are not included in the recipe ingredient total. Paleo Takes 5 – Or Fewer releases on October 21, 2014 but you can still pre-order and snag the early bird price that saves you 24%!

I need to preface by saying that this is one spectacular little number. It could easily pose as a main for lunch or act as a superior side dish for a larger spread. The birth of this recipe began one day while strolling the farmers market. After spotting a bushel of Brussels sprouts at a vendor’s booth, and some beautiful heirloom beets at another, I decided to come up with a dish that would combine the two. Ironically, I thought of uniting one of my all-time faves, beets, with something I had (at that point) never EVER tried before, Brussels sprouts.

To put this dish over the edge, I knew it would be ideal to cook up some bacon in the oven first and then roast the beets, garlic and Brussels sprouts in the fat afterward. Two words: dynamite decision. After slow roasting, everything caramelizes together to make one huge mound of goodness. It creates an earthy and nutty sauce within itself. Every bite gives you a savory crunch that will appeal to your taste buds and leave you wanting more.

Beet and Brussels Sprout Salad

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (454 g) bacon
  • 6 beets, cubed into small pieces
  • About 24 (individual) Brussels sprouts, cleaned thoroughly (these guys can be dirty!)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, quartered
  • 1 tbsp (4 g) dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (62 g) pistachios, once cooked, and toasted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
  2. Arrange slices of bacon on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes in the oven until crispy. When done, remove with tongs and set aside on a plate to cool. Reserve the bacon fat for cooking the vegetables.
  3. In a large roasting pan, add in the beets, Brussels sprouts and garlic. Drizzle with leftover bacon fat. Sprinkle with dried thyme, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly using the tongs. Roast in the oven on the middle rack for about 45 minutes until everything has caramelized slightly.
  4. In the meantime, toast pistachios in a small pan over medium heat on the stovetop. Transfer contents of the roasting pan to a large bowl and top with pistachios. Crumble the cooled bacon and add it to the veggies. Use tongs to toss it all together.

Notes

Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin K and C.

Pistachios are an excellent source of copper and vitamin B6. They are also a very good source of iron, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and B5 as well as a good source of magnesium.

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Want to check out more of Paleo Takes 5 – Or Fewer? Go here and click on Look Inside.

Photo courtesy: Page Street Publishing

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Beet and Brussels Sprout Salad | stupideasypaleo.com

Have a recipe question for Cindy? Leave it in the comments below!

Join Us On a Thai Culinary Adventure!

Culinary Adventure in Thailand | stupideasypaleo.com

Nick Massie of Paleo Nick and I are teaming up for a one-week cultural and culinary adventure in Chiang Mai, Thailand…and we want YOU there!

Spend 7 days / 6 nights in gorgeous Chiang Mai, experiencing the culture and cuisine that makes this area of the world famous. You’ll participate in two cooking classes, tour local open-air markets, and soak up all the Thai culture you can possibly handle.

Here are the details…

Where?

Chiang Mai, Thailand and surrounding area.

***There is an option to fly into Bangkok a day early and take the train to Chiang Mai. You will also return to Bangkok via train at the end of the trip. This option adds two days to your trip and $200, but saves up to $500 on air travel.

When?

November 5-11th, 2014 (or November 4th – 12th if you choose the Bangkok add-on)

How much?

$1,249.00 all-inclusive

$1,449.00 all-inclusive with Bangkok add-on

When do I need to pay?

To book your spot, you must submit a deposit of $500.00. The balance will be due on or before October 15th.

Click here to pay your deposit and reserve your spot ($500.00):

Thailand Pay Now

Click here to pay in full for the Chiang Mai option ($1,249.00):

Thailand Pay Now

Click here to pay in full for the Bangkok option ($1,449.00):

Thailand Pay Now

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

What is included?

– All transportation once on the ground in Thailand.

– Breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few exceptions. Breakfast is provided at the hotel each morning. However,while traveling on the train, at markets in the evening and on free day, you will be responsible for your own meals. Food is very inexpensive in Thailand. You can get an amazing meal for $5.00.

– Two days of Thai cooking school. These will take place on the 6th and 9th from 10:00 to 16:00. We will visit the market and learn to prepare six Thai dishes each day.

– Day Trip to Patara Elephant Farm. Click here for this day’s itinerary. Click here for tons of pics of Nom Nom Paleo’s experience there last fall.

– Day Trip to Flight of the Gibbon Rainforest Adventure where we’ll soar on a zipline through lush, ancient rainforest that is recognized as the most beautiful in all of Thailand.

– One ninety-minute Thai Massage.

– Two CrossFit sessions at CrossFit Chiang Mai. (totally optional, but included)

– The time of your life! (not optional)

What is not included?

– Airfare to and from Thailand

– A handful of meals that are outlined in the itinerary below and shouldn’t cost you more than $50 in total.

– Gratuity for hotel staff, transportation, massage therapists, etc… This is all totally up to you and while not required, is always appreciated. Be generous!

Patara Elephant Farm

When should I arrive?

If you are doing the Bangkok add-on, aim to arrive between 09:00 and 15:00 on November 4th.

If you are flying into Chiang Mai, aim to arrive between 09:00 and 15:00 on November 5th.

When should I depart?

– If you are doing the Bangkok add-on, aim to depart any time after 10:00 on November 12th. We will arrive by train into Bangkok that morning at 06:30.

– If you are flying out of Chiang Mai, aim to depart any time after noon on November 11th.

What can I expect from the Bangkok add-on?

You can expect an opportunity for a deeper cultural experience of Thailand. We will board the train in the evening and travel overnight to Chiang Mai. You will share a first class accommodation with someone else in our group. There is an upper and lower berth, which is essentially a bed for sleeping.  You could fly in early in the day on the 4th and have a handful of hours to explore Bangkok. Nick and Steph will both be on this leg of the trip.

Cooking School

Itinerary

November 4th (Bangkok Add-On ONLY)

Arrive Bangkok

18:15 Board Train to Chiang Mai

November 5th

*** Lunch and dinner are on your own this day as people will be arriving at different times and we’ll be at the Bazaar at night.

08:15 Arrive to Chiang Mai by Train (Bangkok Add-On Only)

- Arrive and check into hotel

- Dinner at Night Bazaar (North end of Chang Klan Rd.)

November 6th

*** Breakfast, lunch and early dinner will be provided on this day. They say we’ll be stuffed when we leave class, but if you want to eat later in the evening, that will be on you.

- Casual morning with breakfast at the hotel.

– 10:00 – 16:00 Cooking School

– Free evening with opportunity for CrossFit, exploring Chiang Mai and visiting local markets.

November 7th

*** Breakfast and lunch will be provided on this day. Dinner will be on your own.

- Patara Elephant Farm (Click here for this day’s itinerary including a mountainside lunch at a waterfall accessed on elephant back.)

November 8th

*** Breakfast and dinner will be provided on this day. Lunch will be on your own.

- Free Day

– Dinner at Gain Yang Cherng Doi (Nom Nom Paleo’s favorite Chiang Mai restaurant).

November 9th

*** Breakfast, lunch and early dinner will be provided on this day. They say we’ll be stuffed when we leave class, but if you want to eat later in the evening, that will be on you.

- Casual morning with breakfast at the hotel

– 10:00 – 16:00 Cooking School

- Tha Pae Gate – Sunday Night Market / Walking Street

November 10th

*** Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided on this day.

– 08:00 – 14:45 Flight of The Gibbon Rainforest Adventure

– 19:00 Group dinner

November 11th

*** Breakfast will be provided on this day. Lunch and dinner will be on our own.

12:00 Check out of hotel.

16:00 Depart Train Station for Bangkok (Bangkok Add-On Only)

November 12th

06:30 Arrive to Bangkok

??:00 Catch your return flight home.

 

Floating Market Paleo Thailand 

While we’ve attempted to answer any questions you might have, I’m sure that we’ve missed something. Please feel free to leave questions in the comments below or email Nick (nick@paleonick.com). 

It has been Nick’s experience with these Culinary Adventures (he’s lead them to Alaska and Nicaragua) that people “go hard in the paint.” For this reason, we’ve have left mornings and evenings pretty open and even included a free day in the middle. Part of the balance of life is rest and, while we often want to see and do everything, it is important to withdraw and actually relax. After all, that is what vacations are for, no? If you want to participate in less than what we’ve planned, you have that option too.

Thank you for checking out the details of this Culinary Adventure. We truly hope that you can join us, and we look forward to meeting all of you!

Steph & Nick

IMG_2588   Nick Massie of Paleo Nick | stupideasypaleo.com

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | stupideasypaleo.com

Making your own Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice means you’ll never run out again. I love shaking some into a homemade pumpkin spice latte…perfect way to celebrate fall!

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1/4 cup (22 g)

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine the ingredients in a small container (I like jelly jars like these) and cover.
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Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | stupideasypaleo.com

What’s your favorite way to use pumpkin pie spice?