Jackfruit Pulled “Pork”

Here’s another way to lie to yourself that you’re eating meat, hehe… Although to be honest, it’s a recipe that holds on is own. Some people have reported that it tastes like chicken, but I think that it tastes more like artichoke, rather than meat.

jackfruit

Ingredients (for 2)
* 1 can of jackfruit in water (not brine or syrup)
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
* 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
* 1 teaspoon of onion powder
* other spices of your choice
* 1 Tbspoon avocado or olive oil
* 1 cup of vegetable broth
* 1/2 cup of gluten-free, low sugar, bbq sauce (or make your own)

Directions
1. Drain the jackfruit can and rinse in a colander. Cut out and discard the woody triangle end of each piece.

2. Using your fingers, or two forks, “pull” the “pork” apart. Add the spices, and coat well using your hands.

3. Place in a frying pan, with a little of oil, and cook until all juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the vegetable broth and the bbq sauce, cover the pan, and cook until all juices have evaporated and the mixture resembles that of a pulled pork, about 30 minutes.

5. Serve hot, in romaine lettuce leaves, or in oopsie buns, along a coleslaw.

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Raw Lemon Cheesecake

I’m not big on desserts, but I bit the bullet this weekend and I made one. My JBQ, who dislikes cheesecake ferociously, surprisingly liked this raw, nut-based version! Be aware, it’s extremely filling. I personally kept out 2 pieces, and froze the rest.

vegan-cheesecake

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
Filling:
2 cups cashews
1 cup macadamia nuts
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup of coconut oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

Base:
1 1/4 cup pecans or walnuts
6 large medjool dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
pinch of sea salt
a little bit of vodka or other liquor (optional)

Some lemon zest

Method
1. Soak the cashews and macadamias for 4 hours, and then rinse well.

2. Add all the “base” ingredients in the food processor, and process until they all look like small crumbs.

3. Using your hands, press the mixture into an 8″ springform tin, and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

4. Melt coconut oil, and add it to a blender along all other “filling” ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy.

5. Pour the filling into the tin evenly, sprinkle the lemon zest on top, and place in the freezer for an hour or more.

6. Cut into pieces, and store in fridge or freezer and use as-needed.

Bean Burgers

I’ve been salivating over the idea of bean burgers for a few months now. Finally, tonight I bit the bullet and I made some. And they were amazing. Even my French husband, who is a (gluten-free otherwise) meat eater, loved them.

beans

Ingredients (makes 7-8 burgers)
* 1 can of black beans
* 1 can of garbanzo beans
* 1/3 cup of almond meal
* 1/2 of a large onion, chopped
* 3 tbspoons of avjar pepper spread (get it at Trader Joe’s or Amazon)
* 1 tbspoon of garlic powder
* 1/2 tbspoon of Sriracha or other hot sauce (to taste)
* 1 tspoon of ginger
* a handful of cilantro, chopped
* avocado or olive oil for frying

Method
1. Drain the beans, run under cold water, and drain again.

2. In a large frying pan, add some oil, and fry the onion until almost transparent, about 4 minutes.

3. Add the cilantro, and avjar spread and continue stir-frying for another minute or so.

4. Add the beans, and stir-fry until most of the liquid has gone, about 3-4 minutes.

5. Place all fried ingredients in a large bowl, and let cool for a few minutes.

6. Add the ginger, hot sauce, garlic powder, and almond meal, and using a potato masher, start mashing the mixture.

7. Using a measuring cup, measure about 1/2 cup of the mixture, and then form burgers using your hands.

8. Add some more oil in the frying pan. Fry under medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown underneath, and then carefully turn the burgers and fry some more.

9. Remove from fire, and place on a kitchen towel. You can choose to freeze some of the burgers after they got a bit cold.

10. Assemble your burgers: lettuce wrappers or oopsie buns, cheese, mustard, ketchup and your hot bean burger. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Update: The also ketogenic almond-mozzarella version is superior to texture and taste to the following cauliflower pizza crust.

This is the best version of the well-known in the low-carb circles, cauliflower pizza. The original versions were using cauliflower as-is, and mozzarella cheese, which resulted in an extremely “mushy” pizza. This version retains much less water by cooking the water out of the cauliflower first, and using a hard cheese type.

This version also holds together better than the mozzarella version, so that the crust is freezable for future usage. This is why the recipe below is for 4 crusts, and not 1. You prepare these once, maybe a weekend afternoon, and then you can have pizza available almost immediately in the future! I could even argue that if it’s just you in your household, you can cut the baked crust in two, and freeze it / re-bake it as halves, because this pizza is super-filling (due to being high-fat)! My husband barely managed to go through half of the pizza, and I managed only 2/3s of the other half.

pizza2

Ingredients (makes four 10″ pizza crusts)
* A large cauliflower head (largest you can find)
* 445 gr (1 lb) of thinly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
* 4 large pastured eggs
* 3 tbspoons almond meal or 2 tbspoons of psyllium husk (optional)
* toppings of your choice (e.g. pizza sauce, then pizza cheese like mozzarella/provolone, then mushrooms, anchovies, bell peppers, onions, olives, squeezed pineapple, artichokes, greens etc)

Method
1. Cut the cauliflower into 4. Put 1/4 of it in the food processor and run it using the S blade. Run it until the cauliflower resembles small grains (smaller than you would cut it for cauliflower rice).

2. Place the cauliflower into a large pan, without any oil, and under medium heat, cook out the water. It can take 10-15 minutes to do so, stir often.

3. Transfer to a big bowl, and let cool.

4. Continue steps 1-3 with the rest of the cauliflower parts.

pizza1

5. Add 1/4th (about 110 gr) of the cheese in one of the bowls, 1 egg, and the optional 1 tbspoon of almond meal. Mix well together using your hands, and you will see now that the mixture holds together.

6. Put some parchment paper on to a pizza baking pan (I bought two of them), transfer the dough on it, and shape it using your hands. Make sure the edges are not too thin, or they will burn out too fast.

7. In a preheated 400 F (205 C) oven, place the pizza crust, and let it bake for at least 15 minutes. Using a spoon, lift it slightly, to see if it has baked underneath or not.

8. When it has baked well underneath, remove from the oven, turn upside down, throw away the parchment paper, and here is where you make a choice:
– A. You add the toppings (sauce, cheese, veggies) and bake again for another 8-10 minutes. Eat hot!
– B. Put back as-is in the oven (without toppings), and bake until the bottom is golden brown too. Remove from the oven, let cool well, and then freeze it in a large plastic bag in the freezer (make sure it’s placed completely flat). When you want to bake them in the future, preheat oven to 425 F, let the dough to slightly unfreeze, place your toppings, and bake for at least 10 minutes.

9. Do steps 5-8 with the rest of the cauliflower. Enjoy your future pizzas!

pizza3

Note: While this is a healthier pizza overall, it still contains obscene amounts of cheese. Especially Parmesan, with its high natural MSG, could create problems to some people.

Crabcakes

One of my favorite foods, are crabcakes. Here’s the version I use. Fat-free and vegan versions are included below.

crabcake-2

Ingredients (makes 4-5 large crabcakes)
* 1 egg (optional)
* 1-2 small cans of real crab meat (or a can of jackfruit for vegan)
* 1 tpoons of home-made mayonaise
* 1 tspoon mustard
* paprica or chili powder to taste
* salt & pepper to taste
* 2 Tbspoons of olive or avocado oil (omit for fat-free)
* 1 medium potato
* 1.5 cups of chopped vegetables that consists with any of:
– onion
– carrot
– celery
– green pepper
– red pepper
– peas
– 1 clove of garlic
– parsley or cilantro

Method
1. Peel and cut the potato into small cubes. Start frying them in medium heat, until 75% done. Stir often. For a fat-free version, just add a bit of water instead of oil.

2. Add the chopped veggies and cook everything until about 80% done. Main objective here is to remove their water than completely cook them.

3. Remove from pan, set aside, let cool. Add the crab meat in the pan, until most liquid has evaporated from it too. Set aside too, separately from the veggies.

4. Add the veggies into the food processor, and process them lightly until in “rice” consistency.

5. Add everything in a large bowl (crab, veggies, spices, mayo, mustard). Here, you can optionally add an egg too.

6. Work the mixture with your hands for 20 seconds, and then shape it like small burgers.

crabcake-1

8. In a large frying pan pour a tbspoon of olive or avocado oil and heat it up in a medium heat. Using a spatula transfer your cakes to the pan to fry. For the fat-free version, simply transfer them in your oven on 350 F, for 15 minutes or so, turning once (use a baking sheet and parchment paper).

9. In the frying version, after about 3-4 minutes or after it’s gotten golden brown, turn the cakes around carefully, and cook for another 3-4 minutes — or until golden brown.

10. Serve hot, with tartar sauce or mayo, and with vegetables of your choice.

Note: For a vegan version, use half a can of jackfruit instead of crab: rinse and drain the jackfruit, remove and discard the triangle stem, and on step 3, cook with some water for 10 minutes on the pan until that has completely evaporated. Add it in the food processor along the veggies in step 4. The rest is the same.

Colcannon

One of my favorite Irish recipes.

cauliflower-colcannon1
Image courtesy of OurLifeInFood

Ingredients
* 1 head cauliflower (or 2 yellow yams, or 2 rutabagas, or 3 parsnips)
* Splash milk or kefir
* 1 leek, chopped
* 1 cup of thinly sliced cabbage
* Chives
* 1/4th stick butter or ghee
* salt & pepper

Method
1. Cut the cauliflower in florets. Boil it for 10-15 minutes until soft. Strain it, place in a large bowl, add the splash of milk/kefir, and use an immersion mixer to puree until smooth. Season with salt & pepper.

2. Add the leek and cabbage to the pan with butter. Cook for a few minutes until all of the vegetables are softened.

3. Mix in the pan the puree with the veggies. Cook enough to heat through, sprinkle with chives, and serve.

Variation: Make it even more interesting by also frying some thinly sliced mushrooms in step 2, and adding a bit of lemon at step 3.

Spanakorizo

Here’s a quick meal that it’s really easy and fast to cook, it has enough quantity to stop your hunger cold. From the original Spanakoryzo (spinach and rice) Greek recipe.

If you’re in the phase of the diet that you can’t have rice yet, or if you just don’t do rice at all, substitute it with cauliflower rice.

spanakorizo

Ingredients (for 1)
* 100 gr cauliflower rice (or rice if not dieting)
* 80 gr spinach
* lemon juice
* salt to taste
* 1 tbspoon olive oil (omit if dieting)

Method
1. Medium-heat 1 cup of water in a pan and add the rice in it.

2. Wash the spinach and add it in the pan too.

3. Cook until most of the juice has evaporated and the rice has cooked through.

4. Remove from the heat, and squeeze the lemon on top. Serve hot or cold with some olive oil as a salad.

Broiled feta cheese

One of the best side-dishes you can ever hope to taste in your life, guaranteed. Often served in Greek restaurants. Picture below is from my pre-Paleo days (hence the bread).

feta

Ingredients (for 2)
* Authentic feta cheese (not crumbled)
* 1 tbspoon of olive oil
* oregano

Method
1. Preheat the broiler to become very hot (500F). Place the rack close to the broiler’s heat.

2. Cut the feta cheese into a 1 inch thick, long rectangle (if not already cut as such).

3. Cut a square piece of aluminum foil, fold it in two, and then shape the edges vertically with your hands (in essence, shape it a small oven dish out of the foil).

4. Place the cheese on the foil. Pour the olive oil on top of the cheese and then use your finger to spread it evenly. Pour a generous amount of oregano on top of that too.

5. Place in the oven and broil for a few minutes, until golden brown. Serve hot with crackers. No need to remove the aluminum foil.

Ratatouille

This is a traditional southern France vegetarian dish that I first had at JBQ’s grandmother place. Awesome veggie power!

ratatouille

Ingredients (for 1)
* 1/3 of an eggplant
* 1/2 of a small zucchini
* 1/4 of a green bell pepper
* 1/4 of a yellow bell pepper
* 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
* herbes de Provence
* 1 big tomato
* 2 shallots, chopped
* 1 garlic clove, chopped
* black pepper & salt to taste
* 1 Tbspoon olive oil (omit if dieting)

Method
1. Cut in small cubes the eggplant, zucchini, ball peppers and tomato and set aside.

2. Under medium heat add the oil, and saute the onions and garlic. Preheat oven at 350 F (180 C).

3. Add the cube’d vegetables in the pan and stir. Sprinkle a bit of black pepper, salt and herbes de Provence.

4. Continue stir-frying in the pan for 3 more minutes and then add the vegetable broth juice.

5. Take a small, shallow baking dish and pour the ingredients into it. Bake for 30 minutes until most broth has evaporated. Serve hot or cold.

Greek Salad

I’m Greek, so it’s time to share my ultimate Greek salad recipe (aka “horiatiki”).

greek_salad

Ingredients (for 2)
* 1 beef tomato
* 1/3 of a small cucumber, peeled
* 1/6 of a green bell pepper
* 1/6 of a large onion
* 1/4 feta cheese (~50 grams)
* 6 olives
* oregano, some lemon juice, a bit of salt
* 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil

Method
1. Cut the tomato in 6 vertical slices. Cut the cucumber in round, thin-ish slices. Cut the green pepper in thin vertical slices. Cut the red onion in vertical slices (not too thin). Cut the cheese in cubes. Place all above ingredients and the 6 olives into a big salad bowl.

2. Sprinkle with the oregano, lemon juice and salt. Add the olive oil. Mix well.

Tip: If you don’t have the time to prepare the salad when also preparing lunch/dinner, after step 1 you can secure the bowl with a transparent wrap paper and place it in your fridge. As long as the step 2 ingredients have not being mixed into the bowl, the salad’s ingredients can keep fresh for up to 5 hours!

Superfoods of the Pegan Diet

It’s one thing to remove allergens from our diet, and it’s another to learn to eat something new. A truly healthy diet requires that we do so. Here is a list of some of the amazing superfoods that most people don’t eat in the Western world.

1. Bone Marrow, Fish Bone, or Salmon Head Broth
In the healing phase of the Pegan diet, bone broth from pastured animals is a must. It will heal your gut, which will allow you to add back foods that the normal Paleo doctrine doesn’t allow (e.g. soaked legumes). I used to make bone marrow broth from pastured buffalo, but now I’ve moved on to use salmon heads instead, and I use the resulted fish broth for my soups. It’s difficult to find wild salmon heads though, so in that case, opt for wild fish bones found in most Asian markets (if you ask the butchers there).

bone-broth2

2. Milk & Water Kefir
Kefir is a superfood with great nutrition and probiotic abilities, coming to you from Caucasus. The big difference with yogurt is that its “grain” bacteria actually colonize the human gut, while the yogurt ones (extracted from the gut of cows which is not fully compatible with the human gut) tend to shed away after a few hours/days. It also contains over 40+ bacteria/yeasts, while yogurt contains 4-6. Please note that for kefir to be potent, it MUST be home-made (commercial kefir only has up to 10-12 strains). In other words, kefir is more potent than yogurt, and it can fight even super-bad strains, like C-Diff. This doesn’t mean that we don’t need full fat yogurt though. Dairy, when it’s made with casein A2 (goats/sheep/buffalo), and when it’s properly fermented for 24 hours to remove most lactose, is an acceptable food for most. And kefir tops it all off. If you can’t do dairy, go for water kefir (using real, brown sugar, not honey).

kefir

3. Fermentation: Sauerkraut, Miso, Natto, kimchi etc.
Fermented foods is another important missing piece in the modern diet, but thankfully, unpasteurised sauerkraut & kimchi are still easy to find in health stores or on Farmer’s Markets. They go great with sashimi too! *Unpasteurized* non-barley miso is also great in miso soups (make sure your soup is not too hot when you’re adding the miso, or you will kill the beneficial bacteria in it). Natto is fermented soy beans with a lot of PQQ and K2 vitamins in it, but it requires a lot of getting-used to as its taste is very particular (fermented wheat-free tamari, unpasteurized soy-based miso & traditionally-prepared natto are the only soy-based byproducts that are considered healthy and acceptable on Paleo and Pegan). Other fermentated options are lacto-fermented vegetables, whey-fermented home-made mayonaise, and pickles.

4. Coconut Oil
Cold-pressed, virgin, unrefined coconut oil is a magical oil for cooking, and even for topical application (e.g. skin problems, fungus). It has anti-bacterial properties, but the biggest one for me is that it can bring amazing mental clarity. Cook with coconut oil for a month, and you will realize that you had brain fog for most of your life without knowing about it. Use extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil for salads and raw foods only, and avocado oil in high-heat frying.

5. Sea Veggies & Kelp Noodles
Ah, sea veggies. When I told my mom in Greece what these are (“φύκια”), she nearly gagged. But these sea veggies are delicious when prepared properly (as a salad or in miso soups), and they have a different kind of nutrition than most land-based foods. Not to mention that they have high doses of iodine, which is important for proper thyroid function. Go for a variety of these, not just nori. Then there are also these kelp “noodles”, which are great in seafood stir-fries!

kelp-noodles

6. Shellfish
Most people who can tolerate shellfish eat shrimp. But there’s a whole world of shellfish to explore, from urchins to clams and saint-Jacques to name just a few. The most nutrient-rich ones though you should be going after are oysters, don’t skimp on them and their super-high content of Zinc! Oysters is the second most nutritious food in the world after liver. When it comes to fish, stay with wild fish only, and particularly wild Alaskan salmon (the only truly wild salmon), and wild whole sardines.

7. Sideritis Syriaca
A herbal tea that unfortunately isn’t currently under the Paleo radar, but it’s possibly more potent than kombucha in many different health areas, is sideritis, or “Greek Mountain Tea“. Don’t take my word for it, just read Pubmed’s research results! The thing obviously works, while Kombucha hasn’t shown good results on research! Here’s how to prepare it. Other very healthy herbal teas are the Cretan “Dictamnus” (even more difficult to find than Greek Mountain Tea though), and good, old plain chamomile. Just don’t root for coffee or highly caffeinated teas. Caffeinated teas also contain high amounts of fluoride, while herbal teas don’t.

tea1

8. Raw & Unfiltered local honey
Honey gets the bad wrap in the Paleo community mainly because most Paleo dieters are in it for the weight loss, and not as much for the additional health benefits. Unless you’re following a Paleo-ketogenic diet, then honey is one of these superfoods that you should not be avoiding. Yes, it’s got its share of glucose and fructose, but then again, so do most fruits. In order for its anti-microbial and anti-allergenic properties to be potent, it must be raw, unfiltered, AND local. Don’t look at buying big brands, look at your local farmer’s market instead. Don’t use it with kefir (since its anti-microbial properties kill the good kefir bacteria), and don’t heat it up.

9. Cod Liver
Cod liver from Norway (unfortunately, canned) is a great substitute for offal for those who don’t eat land meat. Its taste is very mild, it in fact, resembles duck foie gras! I eat it as-is, but I watched a recipe about it over at Martha Stewart’s website (by an Icelandic chef), and the consensus is that it tastes like “lite” foie gras. A lot of D3 and vitamin A in it too, one of these superfoods that people never eat. Even better when fermented. Considering that this is much healthier than non-wild, forced-fed ducks and that it costs about 30x cheaper than true foie gras, I think it’s a great choice.

cod-liver

10. Baobab dry powder
A staple among the Hanza tribal people (that are often a reference among Paleo dieters), baobab is a fruit similar to coconut. It has blood glucose stabilizing effects among other benefits. Additionally, you can try some other dried powders, like goji berries and other exotic fruits.

powders

11. Garlic, Ginger and Turmeric
These are the most potent “herbs” you can use in your cooking. Plenty of health benefits and anti-oxidant value. Prefer your garlic as young and as raw as possible btw. Cook with these very frequently!

12. Offal
While I personally don’t eat much land meat anymore, the official Pegan diet as described by Dr Hyman includes small amounts of meat. The most nutritious part of any meat is liver. Heart, spleen, brains and bone marrow are equally important. Spleen is my favorite, with a traditional intestine soup called Patsas being second. In my native Greece, we also have a recipe called Kokoretsi, which includes all offal of the animal except brains, held together with intestines, and then grilled as rotisserie. Yum!

kohlrabi-1
Kolhrabi and duck gizzards.

13. Non-fluoridated water
This might come as a surprise to you, but on Paleo and especially on Paleo-ketogenic you must drink a lot of water. More than usual. But for water to work its magic, it must be spring water — not tap water. It must have minerals in it, no chlorine, but most importantly, it should not have fluoride (apart from a small amount that occurs naturally, rather than being added). Fluoride can’t be removed with normal water filters. It prohibits healing and must be avoided at all costs. Switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste too. It’s indeed not very nice that you would have to buy plastic water bottles for your drinking/cooking water, since they contribute to pollution, but the alternative is as grim too. Check on your county’s website to see if your water supply has added fluoride in it. In California, they all do, for example.

Kale Chips

The healthiest way to get your chips addiction checked.

kale-chips

Ingredients
* 1 bunch of kale
* 2 tbspoons of olive oil
* Salt
* Paprika + nutritional yeast (optional)

Method
1. Preheat an oven to 350 F (175 C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. With a knife separate the leaves from the thick stems, and tear the leaves into bite size pieces. Wash, and dry using a salad spinner or kitchen towels

3. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt. On this step, you can choose to also add a mixture of paprika + some nutritional yeast, to get a more cheesy flavor.

4. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, about 10 minutes.