(f)riday food find

25 01 2013

One down side to eating primal is that it’s challenging to find portable snacks/meals that don’t require refrigeration, so I’m always on the lookout for something I can stash in my desk, car, or backpack for those times that I’m famished with nothing primal in sight.

I spied this bag at Earth Fare last week.  The logo for this “trail pack” caught my eye first – The New Primal – and then I saw the subtitle: For the Modern Hunter Gatherer and knew this was something I would likely want.


A quick perusal of the front and back and I was sold.  The cost for this package was $5.99


This concoction is handcrafted in Charleston, a mere 90 minutes from home, where both my daughters live and one of my favorite cities!

I came home and read their story before I ripped open the bag and chowed down on the most delicious jerky I’ve ever eaten!  The tender, moist, perfectly spiced jerky was paired with succulent cranberries and a few almonds and cashews.  If you expect/want the stuff that bites like rawhide with cranberries that are dried and shriveled, you won’t like this at all! They have several jerky/fruit combos as well as just jerky.

It seems that they are adding retail outlets daily.  Check out their facebook page and twitter to keep up with new retail outlets as well as tastings going on.  If you can’t find them near you, order online here.  You won’t be sorry!

*Tamari sauce is soy-based, but the one used in this jerky is gluten-free and the fermentation process removes most of the anti-nutrients found in soy.


(f)ood – Paleo Pen Pal part IV

22 01 2013

This first month of Paleo Pen Pals has been so much fun!  I think next month I’ll stick to doing one recipe, but with an ingredient as great as Benton’s Country Smoked Bacon, I just couldn’t resist.

My last recipe for the month is indulgent and not a treat you’d have every day.  But it sure is good!

I don’t have a name for this, so we’ll go with


Chocolate Bacon Bliss Bites

3 slices country smoked bacon cut into small pieces

1 bar Theo 85% dark chocolate (I particularly like Theo because their products are organic, fair trade, and soy free)

1 T fennel seed

1/8 cup goji berries

1/4 cup pecans

sea salt


This recipe is EXTREMELY flexible as long as you include the chocolate and bacon, you can add in goodies of your choosing.  I particularly like the combination of chocolate and fennel and thought the bacon would play well off those two.  The pecans and goji berries were an afterthought, but a good one!

Toast the fennel seed in one pan while toasting the pecans in another.


While both cool, cook the bacon until just crispy.  Remove from the pan and drain.


Put a small amount of bacon, pecans, goji berries, and fennel seed in  small chocolate molds.  (If I didn’t have a mold, I’d just make little mounds on parchment paper.)


Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.  Pour a small amount in each mold or over each mound.  Let cool just a bit and sprinkle with a touch of sea salt.


You can put these in the fridge to set, but they will also set just fine with time on the counter.


Try to eat just one!

Now for the saddest part of this post…


Yes, that is an empty Benton’s Country Smoked Bacon package.  What a wonderfully versatile ingredient.  Thanks again Liz – it was a blast!

(f)ood – Paleo Pen Pal part III

21 01 2013

Want to know about Paleo Pen Pals?  Check out my posts here and here.  For this third recipe, I wanted to try to recreate a wonderful recipe from a tiny little Italian restaurant in Clermont-Ferrand, France.  When we lived in France, we loved the Pasta Carbonara there.  It took forever to get to the table, but was always worth the wait.

Pasta Carbonara Primal Style

4 thick slices country smoked bacon

2 large zucchini

1 small onion finely diced

2 cloves garlic minced

2 pastured egg yolks beaten

1/4 cup pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste


Cut bacon strips into matchstick sized lardons.  Saute in skillet until crispy.  Toast the pine nuts in another skillet.  Watch them carefully as they go from brown to black very quickly!  Remove the pine nuts from the pan and allow to cool.  Give them a quick whir in the food processor.  Not too long or you will end up with pine nut meal.


While the bacon is cooking, use a julienne peeler to make “noodles” from the zucchini.  If you do not have a julienne peeler, use a regular peeler.  You will get slightly wider ribbons which will still work great!  Lightly salt the zucchini to draw out the moisture.


After removing the bacon to drain, add the onion and garlic to the same pan.  If there is a lot of fat, remove a bit until there is about 2 T left in the skillet.  Saute the onion and garlic until it begins to brown.  Remove from the pan.

Squeeze the residual moisture from the zucchini and add to skillet.  Turn the heat up to high to flash saute the zucchini.  You do not want to cook until mushy, just get it hot and maybe a little crispy quickly.


Remove the zucchini from the pan and immediately into a larger bowl.  Quickly drizzle the egg yolks over the zucchini while stirring the zucchini in the bowl.  Tricky process, I learned, to do this well!  The purpose is to allow the egg yolks to coat the strands of zucchini with their creamy goodness without becoming scrambled eggs.  I’d give myself a 5 out of 10 on this step!

Once the egg yolks have been incorporated, top with bacon, onions and garlic, and then the pine nuts.


It sure wasn’t pretty, but the taste was really, really good.

If you eat/tolerate cheese, by all means use a good quality parmesan or pecorino romano.  I wanted to keep this strictly paleo, so I used pine nuts to try to replicate the deep, nutty taste of the cheese.  It was a great substitute, but the cheese would definitely add to this dish.

I also think I’d try the separated strands of spaghetti squash next time.  They don’t seem to have as much moisture as “zoodles” do.  Maybe I’d have better luck with that egg step!  If you do use zucchini, add at least one more.  Squeezing out the moisture in the zucchini and sauteing it significantly reduced the volume of zoodles.

Overall, I’d say this is a keeper recipe that I will continue to tweak each time I give it a go.  Thanks again Liz, for the bacon.  I will be sad to see it go!

(f)ood – Paleo Pen Pal part II

21 01 2013

You remember the wonderful mystery ingredient from my paleo pen pal, Liz.  If not you can read about it here.  Hoping to make this ingredient stretch as far as possible, I’m using some of it in 4 different recipes.  I found this recipe on the epicurious site and have adapted it.  Here is my version:

Eggs with Cream, Chard, and Country Bacon

4 thick slices country smoked bacon cut into lardons

3/4 cup coconut milk – just the thick milk that rises to the top (reserve 4 T for final assembly) (try to get a tetra pak or BPA free can though that can be difficult to find!)

1/2 small onion finely diced

1 clove garlic minced

1 bunch Swiss chard washed and cut into ribbons (or use your green of choice)

4 large pastured eggs

1 T pastured, organic ghee (I use this brand)

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350°F

Cook bacon until crispy and remove from pan.  Combine the bacon and coconut milk in another pan and simmer over medium-low heat.  Add onions to the bacon fat and saute until soft. Add garlic and chard along with a pinch of salt (more or less depending on the saltiness of the bacon) and pepper and cook until chard is wilted and somewhat dry.


Divide chard, then bacon and cream, among 4 ramekins. Crack eggs into ramekins and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon 1 tablespoon cream over each egg. Dot each egg with the divided ghee.


Put ramekins on a baking pan and bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 15 to 20 minutes, removing from oven as cooked.


I am so pleased with the result.  The smokiness of the bacon permeates, but does not overpower the other ingredients.   A perfect portion of deliciousness!  *You will not taste coconut from the coconut milk.  Simmering the bacon in the coconut milk made sure that the milk could offer its creamy goodness without imparting a coconut flavor.


I chose to use 1 cup glass Pyrex ramekins for my baking vessels because I have lids for them and it made storage in the fridge so easy!


Perfectly portioned and easy to grab for a quick breakfast, brunch or lunch!  I warmed mine in the microwave (I know…gasp!) for 1 minute on 50% power because I did not want the yolk to continue to cook, and it was perfect.

I can see putting this recipe in my Saturday cooking for the week rotation!  Thanks again to Liz for the yummy inspiration!

Side note – yes that is my empty cast iron skillet you see in the oven. What you may not have seen were my other two skillets on the bottom rack.  A quick clean and swipe with coconut oil and my skillets go in the oven often when I’m baking other things to keep them perfectly seasoned and non-stick!


12 01 2013

74374_10151164748326160_1713085649_nMost of you who know me well are quite aware that I eat differently than most people – by choice.  In early 2011, I began following a primal/paleo way of eating which has truly evolved into a way of life for me.  My brother first introduced me to this “radical” way of eating several years ago after he had lost weight and seen his cholesterol and blood pressure drop significantly.  It is radical because it eliminates ALL grains, all processed foods, sugar, beans and legumes, most dairy, and limits fruit.  I can hear  you thinking – “It’s just another one of those low carb diets that includes lots of meat and nothing else”.  Well,  no.  I do strive to stay around 50-60 carbs per day, but I eat more vegetables than I ever have including mainly local organic greens of every kind, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, tomatoes, eggplant, many kinds of squash, sweet potatoes, and more!  I enjoy grass fed organic beef, pastured chicken and pork, eggs from local, pastured chickens that have these incredible orange yolks, healthy fats from coconuts, avocados, and olives, and homemade bone broths that are rich in minerals and all the good things that make our tummies happy.  I also enjoy my home-crafted fermented creations of kefir (from whole, raw milk), kombucha, salsa, and sauerkraut.

The result – I feel great, save for that nagging achilles tendonitis-my cholesterol is wonderful, my blood pressure is low, my weight has stabilized (though I sure would like to still drop 20 pounds!) and my gastric reflux that had been treated with a prescription purple pill for 15 years is …GONE!

I rarely get into any science or argue with naysayers.  I’m not out to evangalize anyone into eating this way.  I know it works for me, my body is very happy, and there is a plethora of research to support it.  I eat a wonderful variety of real food and have truly never craved bread, pasta, cake, etc.  Two years in and I believe I will eat this way for the rest of my life.

IF you’re interested in reading more, I’ll point you to where I started.  Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint.  He has a book, but you can learn most everything you need to know from his website www.marksdailyapple.com.

Also, living in Columbia, we are fortunate to have great sources for very clean food.  Most of these are available at the Saturday all local market on Main Street.  14 Carrot in Lexington is awesome and I love supporting a local small business (bonus: on Thursdays and Sundays from 1-5, all their produce is 30% off). Rosewood Market is also locally owned.  We now have Whole Foods in addition to Earth Fare and we’ll soon have Trader Joe’s!  There are quite a few CSA farms where you can pay for a weekly share.

I recently joined a Paleo Pen Pal group.  Every month the members are paired with other members for a primal/paleo ingredient swap by mail.  A recipe is to be created and prepared with the mystery ingredient and then shared.  I’ve just received my first ingredient and I sent my ingredients to my Pen Pal last week.  Be watching for our posts : )

I will share more about Mark Sisson’s blueprint for primal living, but for now, I’ll leave you with his 10 Primal Laws:

Primal Blueprint Law #1: Eat Lots of Plants and Animals

Primal Blueprint Law #2: Avoid Poisonous Things (what would be considered poisonous may surprise you!)

Primal Blueprint Law #3: Move Frequently at a Slow Pace

Primal Blueprint Law #4: Lift Heavy Things

Primal Blueprint Law #5: Sprint Once in a While

Primal Blueprint Law #6: Get Adequate Sleep

Primal Blueprint Law #7: Play

Primal Blueprint Law #8: Get Adequate Sunlight

Primal Blueprint Law #9: Avoid Stupid Mistakes

Primal Blueprint Law #10: Use Your Brain