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.

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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)
* 25 gr rice
* 80 gr spinach
* 1/4 of a lemon
* salt to taste
* 1 tbspoon olive oil

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

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 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. Back in the days I’d eat land meat, spleen was 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.

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.

Shrimp & Citrus salad

A traditional French salad for the new age.

shrimp

Ingredients (for 2, 10gr of carbs per person)
* 10-12 large shrimp
* 1/2 of a cucumber
* 1/2 of a pomelo or a whole grapefruit
* 2-3 TBspoons of fresh chopped basil
* 2 heaping TBspoons of Pegan mayonnaise
* 1-2 TBspoons of lime or lemon juice (optional)
* Freshly cracked black pepper
* Salt to taste

Method
1. Boil your shrimp in some boiling water for a few minutes. When done, put them in a colander and let lots of cold water run through them. Remove their shell and their vein on the back of their body. If you are using fresh, de-shelled and already-cooked shrimp, omit this step.

2. Place the citrus on a steady surface and hold it from the top. Using a big knife cut the outer part of your citrus fruit from top to bottom, all around it (it’s ok if a bit of the fruit goes to waste using this method). Then cut it in the middle (height-wise), and remove the skin from each segment. Place the main fruit (without any skin) on a big salad bowl, in chunks.

3. Peel the cucumber, cut it in two length-wise, and then two more times (so you get 4 long segments). Run the knife through each of these segments to remove some of the seeds (you can eat these while you’re preparing the salad…). Slice the cucumber segments in 1/3″ slices.

4. Add the cooled shrimp in the salad bowl, the cucumber, and the chopped basil. Crack some black pepper, and add some salt. Taste a small bit of the citrus fruit. If the fruit is bitter, then you don’t need to add the lime juice. But if your fruit is rather sweet, then squeeze some lime or lemon juice (1 or 2 TBspoons depending on the sweetness of the main citrus).

5. Add the mayo, and carefully mix everything well using a spoon. Add more mayo if required. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Miso Soup

While soy is to be avoided on this diet, when it’s fermented and its protein/lectins are broken down by the beneficial bacteria doing the fermentation, it becomes an acceptable ingredient. Tamari (wheat-free) soy sauce for example is used by many Paleo dieters, while natto (fermented soy beans), and soy-based gluten-free unpasteurized miso paste are all considered very good for our health. Tofu on the other hand is very processed, and it still carries loads of agglutinin (SBA), so it’s not an acceptable food in the Paleo-sphere.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find these ingredients in all countries, especially the unpasteurized miso paste. Most miso pastes are pasteurized, so their cultures are dead, making miso itself useless. In my local Japanese food store I only found one product that was unpasteurized, and many more than weren’t. Also, make sure that your miso does not contain grains/barley.

This miso soup is very easy to make, and very healthy because it includes various bone minerals, the miso live culture, and iodine & other rare minerals found only on sea-vegetables. My husband usually dislikes miso soup in sushi restaurants, but he loved this one (he asked for a refill, rare for him).

miso

Ingredients (for 2, 5 gr of carbs each)
* 2 heaping tspoons of unpasteurized barley-free & gluten-free miso paste
* 2.5 cups of water
* 2 tbspoons of dried sea vegetables (I used this 6-variety pack)
* 4-6 oyster or wood-ear mushrooms
* Green part of 1 green onion, chopped

Method
1. Place the dried sea vegetables in warm water, and let them stand for 10 minutes. Then rinse them well.

2. In a saucepan add the water, under medium heat. Using a tea cup, submerge it to the warm liquid and remove about 1/3 cup of it. Set aside the cup.

3. Add the sea vegetables and mushrooms in the saucepan and bring into a boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from fire.

4. Add the miso paste into the warm-ish water in the tea cup and try to liquify the paste using a teaspoon. It’s important for the water in the cup to not be very hot, or the active culture will die.

5. When the soup in the saucepan has cooled down a bit (warm, not hot), add the chopped green onion, and the now-liquid miso paste. Mix well, serve immediately, possibly with some sashimi!

Cheese Crackers

We generally don’t use much flour in our home (Paleo-approved flours or not). Except for crackers that is, to keep happy my French, cheese-loving husband. The recipe below makes for some amazing gluten-free cheese crackers, and he says that they’re the best cheese crackers he had in his life. And he has tried quite a few so far.

Ingredients (makes 45-50 pieces, 1 gr of net carbs each)
* 1 cup of blanched, fine almond flour
* 3/4 cup of coarse almond meal (I get mine at Trader Joe’s)
* 1/2 cup of flaxseed whole ground meal
* 1 egg
* 1-2 TBspoons of finely minced, fresh herbs you have around: rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, lavender, mint, basil etc.
* 2 TBspoons of fine Parmesan cheese (optional)
* 2 TBspoons of raw sesame seeds (and/or poppy seeds)
* 1.5 TBspoons of olive oil
* 1/4 tspoon sea salt
* Some freshly grounded black pepper to taste

Method
1. In a big bowl put all the ingredients together and start working the mixture with your hands. Soon it will become a well-rounded ball.

2. Cut out two pieces of parchment paper, as long as your cookie sheet is. Preheat the oven at 350 F (175 C).

3. Lay down your ball mixture in the middle of one parchment paper, and try to spread it a bit with your fingers (just enough so it’s not a ball anymore).

4. Place the other parchment paper on top, and using a rolling pin, spread the mixture across the parchment, as equally as possible. Aim for a thickness that you desire (I go for a pretty thin texture). If you spread it too much on some side, you can always remove that part, and re-spread it.

5. Remove the top parchment paper and throw it away. Using a pointy knife, cut out a grind in the spread, creating rectangles of about 2.5″ diagonally (be careful to not cut the parchment paper).

6. Place the parchment paper with the mixture on the cookie sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes. Then check it out to see if the edges are starting to brown. If that’s the case, remove the cookie sheet from the oven, and using oven gloves, cut out the rectangles that are already done and let them cool on a cooling rack (they will be soft at that point, but they will harden as they cool). Put the rest of the undone crackers back to the oven for another 2-4 minutes (monitor them).

7. When done, remove them from the cookie sheet and place them in the cooling rack too. Half an hour later, break-out the crackers in their predefined grind shape. They now are harden and ready to eat. Keep in an air-tighten bag for up to 1.5 weeks.

Oopsie buns

Oopsies are the Americanized version of the French souffle. My French husband loved them. They can be baked in ramekins for a more authentic souffle taste (in this case omit the almond flour), or as bread buns. They’re extremely low carb, and Paleo/Primal.

Ingredients (makes 6 buns)
* 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated in two bowls
* 3/4 cup of creamy goat cheese, or shaved emmental cheese
* 2 tablespoons of almond or coconut flour
* 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar (or baking soda)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). On the bowl with the whites, add the cream of tartar.

2. Beat the whites in high speed until very-very stiff, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the cheese and flour to the yolk bowl, and beat until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

4. Fold the yolk mixture slowly into the whites, and mix carefully with a spatula for a few seconds.

5. Spoon the mixture in 6 pieces, on a baking sheet with a parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Per Serving (3 buns): 430 calories, 3 gr of net carbs, 36 gr of fat, 25% protein, 83% Lysine. 45% B12, 72% Riboflavin, 63% choline, 55% A, 23% calcium, 59% phosphorus, 31% selenium, 33% copper.

Mashed Roots

One of my favorite foods, is mash. Super-easy to make! I made a batch tonight, using 2 turnips, 1 rutabaga, and just half of a purple yam. It turned everything a beautiful purple color. I kept some for tomorrow, and I froze the rest.

mash

Ingredients
* Any roots or bulbs you have around: white potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabaga, carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi
* 1/4th stick of butter
* 1/4th cup of kefir or coconut milk
* Salt & pepper

Method
1. Peel, wash, and cut the roots in cubes.

2. Boil in water for about 20 minutes under medium to high heat.

3. Drain, and place in a large bowl. Add the butter, kefir, salt & pepper.

4. Using an immersion mixer, mix everything well.

5. Serve immediately, refrigerate up to 2 days, or freeze in plastic boxes.