Paleo Caesar Salad (with an AIP variation)

This is a paleo version (With AIP modifications of the classic Ceasar salad).

If you cannot  eat eggs or egg-yolks, use a mashed avocado to substitute for most of the mayo ingredients

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  • ½ cup paleo mayonnaise (or a mashed avocado)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 romaine hearts – torn
  • 6 slices bacon (preferably from pastured pigs with no questionable ingredients)Thi

This was the salad that I made to serve with Hubby’s Birthday dinner..  a paleo, AIP (as long as you can tolerate eggs) Caesar salad.

If you cannot eat eggs, you could substitute avocado for the mayo although it might change the flavour.  It should still give you the same mouth-feel however.

To make the Caesar salad you first need to make your mayo unless you have some in the fridge.  If you are AIP, consider substituting some mashed/pureed avocado or guacamole.  It won’t look the same but will give you the same kind of mouth-feel.

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Mix the mayo (or avocado) with all the other Casear dressing ingredients (everything except the lettuce and bacon) and stir until well mixed.  Set this aside in the fridge while you cook your bacon.  You want it as crispy as you can get it  without burning it as it is replacing the crunch of the croutons that are traditional in a Caesar salad.  I like to cook mine in the oven on a wire cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.  Cool the bacon and crumble/chop it into small pieces.

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Tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add the dressing and toss well.  Plate the salad and scatter with the bacon pieces

Packed Lunch (10/15/13)

This is what I packed for Hubby and the 4 girls for lunch today:

lunch10-15-13

Clockwise from the top left-hand corner we have:

They all took a clementine (packed separately) and a bottle of water to drink.

Lunch – 09/20/13

This post should really have been posted yesterday, but for one reason and another it just didn’t happen (OK, I will admit it,  I was too lazy to take the photograph off the camera!)

Lunches on Fridays tend to be a little different to the rest of the week…  for starters, normally the kids don’t need to take a packed lunch into school as they all have a half-day on Fridays.  So normally I am just making a lunch for Hubby and me, plus something for the kids to snack on once they get home.

Today was different in that I was only doing one hour of massage at work (10am – 11am), so I was home by mid-day…  this was because I cut my wrist really badly on a broken glass in the dishwasher, had stitches and was unable to work because of that (did I mention that ? I forget!)…  today was my first day back at work.

So really I was only doing a packed lunch for Hubby.

Anyhow, this is what I came up with for him…

lunch09-20-13

Clockwise from the top left, he has:

  • trail-mix made from home-dried fruits and some nuts (dried apple, pear, peaches, blueberries and kiwi with some pecans)
  • a baby cuke cut lengthwise into 4
  • salad (red-leaf lettuce, radish, celery and baby toms) with 2 jalapeno frittattas on top (recipe to come later!)
  • 2 energy balls plus some black olives in a silicone muffin cup

He also took a 1/4 cup of walnuts separately for snacking and a bottle of water.

Local Food

Eating local food is all the rage these days…  farmers markets are popping up everywhere, people are interested in where their food came from.  And it is championed by big names – authors such as Michael Pollan, farmers such as Joel Salatin and chef’s such as Alice Waters.

The trouble is that buying local may not be as cheap as buying conventional grocery store items despite the high millage costs that the grocery store produce has incurred.  Lettuce and tomatoes at the grocery store may be on sale at half the cost of the locally grown lettuce and tomatoes at the farmers market.  A can of tomatoes costs less than a pound of fresh tomatoes.  And why should we pay $6-$7 a dozen for locally farmed, free-range or pastured eggs when we can buy them at Costco for half the price?

Visiting the farmers markets, buying local is more time consuming…  it is easier to go to the grocery store and throw stuff in your shopping-cart.  So why should we bother?

The thing is, by buying locally, you are not only getting a superior, more nutritionally sound and  fresher product, you are supporting local farmers and businesses.  You are providing employment for local people.  And you can ask questions – how is this grown?  What fertilizers and pesticides did you use?  Is it organic?  How were the pigs raised?  What supplemental feeds were they given?  Is the beef grass-fed AND grass-finished?  Is any grain given to the beef-cows as additional food?  you can’t do that in a big grocery store because the staff don’t know the answers to these questions.

By voting with your money, by buying local, you are ensuring that local products will be available in future.  That the small farms won’t get swamped and bought out by big agri-business farms.  That huge conglomerates like Monsanto won’t dominate the market and flood it with their GMO Round-up Ready crops.  That heritage varieties, those tomatoes that taste like a tomato is supposed to, will still be available.

That real food, food as it is meant to be, will always be available.

Yes local, real, organic food is more expensive.  And some of us are on tight budgets (believe me, I know about this all too well!), but buy wisely.  When you have to compromise, do the best you can.  If you cannot afford to buy everything organic, at least buy the Dirty Dozen as organic, and compromise on the Clean Fifteen from the grocery store.  Shop wisely, shop seasonally.  Don’t buy fresh strawberries and asparagus in December…  Seasonal produce is always cheaper.

Don’t be a defeatist and let the fact that you cannot afford to buy grass-fed beef for every meal mean that you never buy grass-fed beef – buy it for a special occasion.  Or negotiate a deal and buy a large quantity at a discount (maybe split half a cow with a couple of like-minded other families and stash your share in the freezer).

If you can only afford 1 dozen pastured eggs occasionally, make them count…  don’t use them in recipes where you will never taste them, and don’t use them to make “fake-paleo” cookies, muffins and breads.  Use them as eggs, where you will benefit from all the nutrition they contain., and can appreciate their superior flavour.

Consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to get the best deals on local, fresh, seasonal veggies and fruits.  Or plant a veggie garden and grow your own…  lacking in space?  you can grow herbs and some veggies in window boxes, tubs and planters.  Use hanging baskets for tumbler-style tomatoes.  Consider vertical gardening on your deck, balcony or front porch.  join a community garden.

You can’t get something more local that produce that you can pick from your own garden!

So Mad! Vegan does not = gluten free!

Hubby flew to Lima, Peru yesterday for work.  He flew with United Airlines and requested an gluten free meal stupidly imagining that he would be served something he could eat….  do you know what makes me mad?  What he was given was a vegan chickpea curry with a bread roll – alternative diet yes, gluten free NO!  Bread contains gluten, a curry thickened with wheat almost certainly contains gluten!

Hubby had a choice – he could eat his chickpea curry and bread roll and suffer from some serious gastric distress for the next few hours (read explosive diarrhea), – unpleasant for him, even more unpleasant for those who need the toilet after him! (plus what damage has it done to his gut!).  or he could go hungry for the 20 odd hours of his flight….  They said nothing else was available…

Not a pleasant choice…  and the whole thing could probably have been avoided if the travel agent who booked it was educated about alternative diets.

Vegan is not the same as gluten free!

For me well I know I would have reacted to the gluten in the meal.  I would have reacted to the chickpeas.  and if there was any dairy I would have reacted to that as well (and giving that United Airlines don’t understand that a gluten-free meal does not equal an  vegan meal, I am not placing any bets on anything I order being gluten or dairy free!, I am betting that the entire “gluten-free, dairy-free” meal would have been laced with gluten and dairy.

And what would that have meant for me? Well far more than the explosive diarrhea that Hubby is currently suffering from…  I would end up unable to breath..  in need of a nebulizer or possibly an epipen -and most probably a time-costly (and medically expensive) stop-over at a major city so that I could be transferred to a hospital to manage my symptoms….. Costly medical treatment!  and all because someone thinks “vegan= gluten and dairy free”….  I would also be covered with unbearably itchy hives (I have been known to scratch in my sleep), covered in scratches and unable to work for a couple of weeks (you cannot work as a massage therapist with open sores on your arms)…

All in all, it would be very expensive!  And you bet your ass  I would be suing the airline if that was the case!..  hubby doesn’t care to – a case of the squits and stinking out an airline toilet does not bother him.  But if I was loosing 2-3 weeks employment as a result…..

And for some people it CAN be a case of life or death!

Just imagine the case of someone who has ordered a special diet, is diabetic, has to eat in order to avoid going into  a diabetic coma but they fuck up the food and include stuff the person is allergic too..   They have to eat it to avoid being sick…. but the food makes them sick too…  what to do?  and that is not an improbably thought – there are plenty of gluten intolerant diabetics and lots of lactose intolerant diabetics….  and some people have far more severe reactions than a case of needing to run to the toilet……  for some it IS life-threatening.

Train your staff better…  not all special diets are the same..  some people want vegan, some want vegetarian.  When someone says they need a diet free of a particular item you can not just select vegan and hope for the best.. vegan food contains major allergens – gluten for example, so when, like hubby, someone requests a gluten free diet, selecting a vegan diet does not work…  you NEED to select a gluten free or grain-free diet instead.  Educate yourself!

Thinking outside of the box

One of the hardest things I found when I first tried to eat Paleo (about 2 years ago) was how to plan meals like breakfast and lunch.  And how to substitute for the non-paleo staples that are commonly eaten in those meals.

What do you serve instead of breakfast cereal or toast.  What about bread for the sandwiches in the packed lunches?  What about the crackers, the cereal bars, the treats?

I think this was primarily the reason I failed at that point and went back to eating the way I had been before (a clean-eating version of the SAD).

But this time, when I started eating Paleo, back in January 2013, I decided that I was not going to bother with trying to replace those foods.

I just ate meat, eggs, fish, lots and lots of veggies and I avoided the grains and starchy components that I was cooking for the family at the time.

For the most part, I eat eggs for breakfast, or leftovers  (today’s breakfast was some of the delicious cauliflower and spinach soup that I made for lunch yesterday).  For lunch I mostly have soup or a salad with fish canned in either water or olive oil  But sometimes I will have leftovers instead.  And dinner…  well that is the easy part.

I found that you really have to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to food – if you try to substitute paleo versions of all the pancakes, muffins, cakes, cookies, even bread you are pretty much doomed to fail.

Sure eat those things once in a while as a treat.  That is what they are supposed to be – a treat.  They are not supposed to be everyday fare.

You have to come up with other ideas as to what will make a good meal.  Go on – unhinge your mind a little.  Who says you can’t have a piece of wild-caught salmon on a bed of sauteed kale for breakfast?

More Research

A quick post about some recent nutritional research that I have found recently…

First up, seafood is still considered a good source of nutrients although consumers are confused about it’s safety.  The current recommendations are to eat two 3-5oz servings a week of seafoods such as salmon, oysters and rainbow trout but to limit consumption of the large predatory fish such as shark, swordfish and king mackerel.  They don’t mention it, but I would also say to limit  consumption of farmed fish and stick to wild caught varieties as they will have a better omega-3/omega-6 ratio.

The omega-3/omega-6 issue in farmed fish is mentioned in another study.  Despite the health benefits, most children and adults have a “nutrition gap” in omega-3 fatty acids.  In part, the authors attribute this to under consumption of fish and other omega-3 containing foods.  But they also do attribute it in part to 50% or more of seafood consumed being raised in farms on diets that don’t foster a healthy omega-3/omega-6 ratio.  In other words eat more wild caught seafood.

Eating eggs is not linked to high cholesterol in adolescents.  They have found that it is not unsafe to eat more than 2 eggs a week and it does not increase the risk of heart disease….  something that us Paleo folks have been saying for ages.  They also suggest that blood cholesterol levels are more affected by saturated fat and trans fat levels.  So avoid those over processed industrially prepared foods…

High intakes of milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter were not associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality compared with low intakes.  They do say in this one that high intakes of meat, especially processed meat was associated with increased mortality – I suspect that this is due to the processed meats affecting the results.

And finally habits, not cravings, drive food choices during times of stress.  In other words, when you are stressed and reach for that chocolate bar or the carb laden comfort foods, it is not because of cravings.  It is caused by habits.  And habits CAN be broken.  It usually takes around 21 days to break a habit, the same as it does to create one.

Paleo Meatballs – My Way

I still can’t get the pictures I took to work, so I am going to just go ahead and post this without any pics.  It won’t look quite as pretty, and I apologize for that, but at least I have it out there.

A few days ago I was looking for paleo pasta substitutes and I came across someone saying to try finely shredded white cabbage that has been sauteed.  That sounded good, especially as I had half a white cabbage that badly needed using up.  And what goes well with cabbage?  Bacon…  lets face it, bacon goes well with EVERYTHING!

So now I had a pasta substitute but I needed to work out what would go well with the bacony cabbage.  I had a pot of leftover tomato sauce, some ground bison and some pastured pork sausage.

So for dinner tonight, I decided we were having meatballs.

And this is my version.

Paleo Meatballs – my way

500g ground bison

500g bulk pastured pork sausage

1 onion

1 tsp ground garlic

1 tsp paprika

1 handful chopped fresh parsley

1 egg

salt and pepper to taste.

Pulse the onion in the food processor until it is finely chopped, but don’t let it get too liquidy or the meatballs will not hold together.  you want small pieces and no liquid.  Mix all the ingredients together until it is all well blended.  Don’t try this in the food processor – it goes to a nasty uniform mush that makes tough dry meatballs (trust me, I know, I did it once!).  Meatballs should have just a little texture they should not be tough uniform cannonballs (That is what Ikea sell, and we don’t want Ikea meatballs do we?).

Next step is making these babies…  Wet your hands because it stops the mixture sticking and roll them out into itty-bitty little balls no bigger than a walnut.  Arrange these on a rimmed baking sheet that you have lined to make cleanup easier (Actually I don’t care if you don’t line it – it is no biggie to me if you have to scrub the baking sheet!  But I lined mine because I am lazy).  I found that this mix made 54 of the little darlings…  what a pity I couldn’t squeeze one more out to take up that last space on the baking sheet!

(There should have been a picture of the tray of meatballs with one space empty in the top left hand corner inserted here)

Bake in a 190C/375F oven until cooked.  I found that about 25-30 minutes was about right.

While they are baking prepare what is to go with them.

(I had 3 pictures of the cooked meatballs to insert here – one as soon as I took them out of the oven, one after I had nommed one of them and one after A had nommed one).

Tomato Sauce

You need 2-3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce.  You could make your own but I was lazy and used one out of the freezer so I can’t tell you what is in it.   Use a store bought one if you like, I won’t mind.

Cabbage Noodles with Bacon

6 slices of amazing pastured bacon – thinly sliced

1/2 head of white cabbage – sliced thinly

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

(I had a picture of my amazing pastured bacon to insert here)

Put the bacon in a skillet over a medium heat to allow it to crisp up and the fat to render out.  The idea here is to produce as much bacony goodness (AKA bacon fat) as possible, so don’t have that heat too high – keep is low enough that you can render out most of the fat before it starts to burn.  Scoop the bacon out of the fat before it burns and toss in the garlic.  Allow to sizzle for a minute or two but don’t let it burn (burned garlic tastes horrid!) and then dump in the cabbage noodles.   Toss well and add the bacon back in.  Keep tossing until the cabbage is slightly tender but still has some bite.

Serve a big pile of cabbage noodles with the meatballs on top and then  top with the tomato sauce.

(The final picture was a plated version – the cabbage noodles with all their bacony goodness.  A pile of beautiful baby meat balls and all topped with tomato sauce)

And finally call the ravening hoards (AKA the kids) to the table.  OMMM NOMMMM NOMMMM

Big step!

I took a huge step today…  I called Hubby’s employment assistance program to ask about counseling for my PTSD.  1st step on the road to healing.

The PTSD is the result of a brutal car accident 7 years ago when I fractured 2 vertebrae and my sternum.  And it has left me totally terrified to drive.  For the most part I even have some difficulty as a passenger, but I am totally unsafe as a driver as I have a tendency to use avoidance techniques.  I look down when I see something scarey on the roads.  if I see a car coming towards me I will try to get out of the way, things like that.  And I have also been known to have panic attacks in the car too.

Apparently I get 3 free sessions – I doubt that 3 is enough, but it is a start…