Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen 2015

The EWG has just published it’s list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen fruits and veggies for 2015…

When you are trying to do AIP on a budget as I am, you cannot always afford to buy every single item of produce as organic, so knowing which ones “MUST” be organic (the dirty dozen) and which ones you can get away with being non-organic (the clean fifteen) is important.

Despite this, I would recommend that you still buy as much as you can as local and seasonal produce as it will be fresher and far more nutritious.  And lets face it, when we are eating an AIP diet to heal our bodies, nutrient density is very important.  And not only that, local, seasonal produce does tend to be cheaper as well.

Not everything on these lists is AIP-compliant however.  Those that are not 100% AIP are marked with an asterisk (*)

The Dirty Dozen (these should always be purchased as organic)

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes*
  • Cucumber
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes*
  • Snap-Peas*
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers*
  • Hot Peppers*
  • Kale/Collard Greens

The Clean Fifteen (you can get away with purchasing non-organic versions of these)

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloup
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant*
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet Corn*
  • Sweet Peas (frozen)*
  • Sweet Potatoes

Hopefully this list may help keep your grocery budget under control…

Goat Meat Curry

I love goat meat – part of it I think stems from when I used to keep goats…

My parents had a sheep farm, and growing up around animals meant that I wanted some of my own…  When I was about 15 years old I plucked up the courage to bid on a couple of female goat kids at the Hawes Farmers Auction Mart, and I won!  I paid for those 2 tiny goat kids with my allowance (we called it pocket money back then in the UK) and I raised them up to full grown nanny goats.

Then I found someone with a billy goat and got them pregnant….   My original 2 nannies gave birth to a couple of kids each – all nannies, and I started milking the mama goats – not too much, I didn’t want to deprive the kids – but just enough to provide some milk for us to use.

And from that point my goat obsession took over…

I realized that I needed a billy goat of my own if I was to be serious about breeding and keeping goats…

Enter Gruff – my pedigree Angora Billygoat… (yes it is sad…  I owned a billy-goat called Gruff!)  he was gorgeous and expensive,  but stank to high heaven.  But his offspring more than paid for the expense of purchasing him!

By the time I was in my last year of secondary school (ie high school for the US readers), at 18 years of age, I had 15 nanny goats, one billy goat (Gruff) and I was hand-milking 8-9 goats twice a day – once before school, once after (each milking session took around 2-3 hours in total).  I was supplying several local businesses (including my parents bed and breakfast guesthouse) with fresh goats milk.  I also sold the female offspring for premium prices as they were half-breed angoras, great for milking and for producing angora wool (mohair)….  and of course I sold some of Gruff’s mohair…  Some I also used myself.  I still have a Gruff-scarf that I made – mohair that I harvested from my own goat, spun by myself on my spinning wheel, dyed by myself (in shades of blue and pink) and then I knitted it into a very long scarf….  I even showed him at various agricultural shows….  never won anything, but it was an experience!  I was also charging stud fees for Gruff to mate other peoples female goats.

Of course keeping goats and breeding them means that you have to deal with the tricky issue of what to do with the unwanted male offspring…  there is a ready market for female kids – you can sell them at the auction mart, much like I bought my originals…  but male kids?  they are not wanted to the same degree…  yes Gruff’s offspring were valuable – they were half-breed angora…  but the males were not really worth the money of raising them and selling them was hit or miss.  Unwanted female kids could be sold easily however.  Normally, goat breeders kill the unwanted males at birth…  I didn’t want to do that.

What we used to do with the males was raise them up to adulthood (I used to foster them on to another goat who was also raising another male kid – a female goat can easily raise 2), slaughter them and put the meat in the freezer…  originally, the idea was that it would provide food for the stock dogs (being sheep farmers, my parents always had 3-4 well-trained border collie sheep-dogs).  But then we discovered that goat meat was pretty darn tasty if a little tough…  and from that point the dogs did not get a look in!

My one regret is that I have virtually no photographs from that period – it was before the days of digital cameras and cell-phones….

Anyhow, the aim of that long, long story is to explain my love of eating goat meat…

And the nice thing about goat meat is that it is almost always grass-fed.  Sure it may have a little grain finishing at the end, but goats don’t do well in CAFO type situations.  And the meat is very nutritious.

While it is very high in cholesterol, we know that dietary cholesterol is not implicated in raising blood cholesterol and it has been shown to not be linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease.  (1, 2, 3).  And in fact we actually need some cholesterol as it is used to make steroid hormones including testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.  And if we don’t eat enough in our diet, our livers will simply make more.

It is rich in protein, and relatively lean.  And is an excellent source of iron, B vitamins (mostly Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Niacin (Vitamin B3),  and Vitamin B12), and is also a good source of phosphorus, copper, selenium and zinc.

So you can imagine why I was thrilled to find goat for sale at Basha foods at a really good price!

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That price was for 3lb of goat meat…. the big question was, what was I going to do with it?

Goat Curry!  Going to university in Leeds led me to a love of curry, goat in particular (goat meat is cheap – and goat curry from a curry house was well within a students budget!)..

It was the obvious thing to make with my find from Basha Foods…

This recipe is an AIP stage 4 reintroduction because it contains chilli which is a nightshade.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Goat Curry 

serves 6

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3lb goat meat – cut into 1-2″ cubes (some of my goat was on the bone, some was just the meat)

2 tsp ground turmeric

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion – peeled and chopped

1 bulb of garlic, divided into cloves (roughly 10 cloves), peeled and chopped

a 1″ cube of fresh ginger root – peeled and chopped

2 tbsp fennel seed

1 tbsp cumin seed

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp hot chilli powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 red chilli – chopped (I used a fiery hot habanero chilli for this!  Use a milder one if you don’t like the heat)

1 pint (2 cups) water

170g block of creamed coconut

1 lemon – juiced

Place the goat meat in a bowl and add turmeric, salt and pepper.

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Mix well so that all the pieces of meat are coated in the spices and then sit it in the fridge for an hour or two to allow the meat to marinate.

Place the fennel and cumin seeds in a dry skillet and toast – they will smell much more aromatic once this is done. Do not allow them to burn.

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Grind the toasted seeds to a coarse powder in a pestle and mortar

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Place the onion, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and blend to a coarse puree.

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Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan, and when hot add the onion/garlic/ginger paste.  Cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the toasted ground seeds, chilli powder and cinnamon.  Toss around and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.  Then add the goat meat.

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Toss that in the spice mixture, allowing it to cook slowly for 5-10 minutes.

Now you add the water.

Grate the creamed coconut and add that too.

This is the brand of creamed coconut I use:

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It is just pure coconut with no additives at all.  What it looks like when you open it is a large white block:

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But by grating it, you can help it disolve in the liquid faster.

So grate that coconut and add it to your curry.

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Next you need to deseed and chop your chilli.

I mentioned earlier that I used a really fiery hot habanero chilli for this curry because I was so disappointed with the heat of my last curry, the Pork Vindaloo.

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Seeing that this was such a hot chilli, I made sure I wore a pair of vinyl gloves while chopping it.  Even then, some of the heat seemed to seep through the gloves because my fingers were still hot and spicy when I licked them!  I did wash them well afterwards, honest!

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Toss that spicy baby into the curry and give it all a good stir.

Now you are going to let it simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking on the bottom of the pan.  By the time it is done, the goat meat should be tender.

Add the lemon juice, stir well and serve with cauliflower “rice”

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I used a cauliflower rice that I tossed with some spinach for this meal…

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It was spicy, but not overly so…  just enough heat to give a pleasant tingle in your mouth.  And the flavour of fennel, cumin and cinnamon worked really well with it.

This is very definitely one I will be making again!

Paleo on a Budget?

So… you have gone Paleo, and all that grass-fed beef, pastured pork and free range chicken is adding up.  The organic fruit and veg is costing more and your spouse is bugging you about the increase in grocery costs.  Maybe he/she is telling you that you cannot afford to eat this way and that you have to go back to your old (SAD – Standard American Diet) way of eating.

Did you know that there are ways to reduce your food costs dramatically while not compromising on food quality?

These are my top tips for doing Paleo/Primal on a budget.

  • Buy in bulk – we buy half a pig for $250 from the farmers market. We can buy half a grassfed cow for just over $1000 (sounds a lot, but do you know how much meat you get from half a pig or half a cow?). it costs way less that way!  We get it conveniently packaged in meal-sized portions, already frozen and ready to pop in the freezer.  We buy one half pig every 3-4 months and half a cow about once a year.  Yes you do need to invest in a chest freezer and it costs a lot at the time, but the savings are worth it.  From our last half pig ($250 worth, we got 3 hams worth over $150 at their full retail price!  and this was premium pasture-raised pork cured in a sugar-free cure!)  We also got half a dozen packs of bacon (same sugar free cure), several roasting joints, lots and lots of packs of pork chops, and a whole bunch of sausage.  The previous time we didn’t get the hams and went with pork cutlets instead….
  • Keep an eye out for Groupon or Living Social deals for real meat from quality butchers and use them. They can significantly reduce your meat costs.
  • Buy wild salmon during the salmon run and fillet it yourself.  Divide into portions and freeze for later in the year.  There are tutorials on you-tube that will teach you how to fillet salmon.  In fact, consider learning how to fish and catch that damn salmon yourself you get it for little more than any licencing fees and the cost of the equipment that way!  Buy other fish and seafood when on speciall offer and stash it in the freezer.
  • Consider learning how to hunt and score your own wild meats that you can freeze for later use….  licensing requirements vary depending on where you live.  Check it out online via Google.
  • If you live near the coast, buy fresh fish and seafoods direct from the boat – or ask about going on fishing trips where you can catch it yourself.  If you live inland, consider a vacation to the coast and go on the same trips… freeze the catch and transport it home in a cooler….  This does assume you have access to a freezer in whatever rental/holiday home you are staying in and that the trip home won’t be so long that your fish/seafood will thaw before you get home.  Don’t risk food poisoning please!
  • Make friends with the vendors at your local farmers market.  Talk to them, ask about their day and how their sales are going.  And talk to people who are wondering whether to buy the product.  Extol it’s virtues and when the vendor makes a sale you are likely to get a discount…  We regularly score discounts for Wapiti Ways Elk and Buzz Honey by this means.
  • Save all the bones, chicken carcasses. fish bones and shrimp heads and shells and make your own bone broth (I have been known to buy frozen “dog bones” from a grass-fed beef butcher and turn them into broth! there is no difference between a dog-bone and a stock/broth bone apart from the price!).  Add your vegetable trimmings to the broth as well.  There is no need to waste onion tops, broccoli stalks and the tops you trim carrots or any other vegetable trimmings.  Add herbs and other veg from your garden too.  They will all provide nutrition.
  • Waste nothing – if you can turn it into a soup or broth do so….  soups are very frugal lunches (one of my daughters likes soup for breakfast!)  I regularly make “clean out the fridge soup” for lunch – that means I take all the veg that needs using up and dump it into a pot with some bone broth and cook till tender.  Season add herbs and often a can of coconut milk and blend till smooth… no matter what goes into it, it always tastes delicious. You can use broccoli stalks, kale stalks, carrot tops and the trimmings from celery, onions and most other veg this way.
  • Eat the best quality veg you can – join a CSA if it is available in your area. and eat local and seasonal veg. That way you are not paying a premium.  Seasonal veg is always cheaper and by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) you are supporting the farmers who are growing your food.  Don’t forget to visit their farm if they have a Customer Appreciation day and meet them in person… get to know them, they are your friends!
  • Shop on the outer edges of the store – the stuff in the middle (the mass=produced conveninece foods) is more expensive nutrient for nutrient.
  • Plant a garden and grow your own – even if you live in an apartment you can grow herbs in a window box or in plant-pots in a sunny window.
  • Monitor freecycle for fruit and veg give-aways. Every spring I see people offering rhubarb. every summer it is zucchini, evey autumn people are begging you to pick the excess apples off their trees. Those can all be canned or frozen to eat later in the year.
  • Visit U-pick farms and pick your own fruit and veggies. it is a fun day out that gets the kids and hubby involved and you get it cheaper because you are providing part of the labour…
  • Try ethnic grocery stores – we buy really good, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil for a fraction of the price in the grocery store (and much better quality!) at a middle-eastern grocery store. They also are the only place I have found in Calgary that i can get Dandelion greens at a good price and escarole for less than a dollar a head….  I also buy quality feta cheese for my feta monster (A) from this store and the most fantastic kalamata olives.
  • Don’t be afraid to shop at several stores – we monitor the flyers and websites of our favourites – we currently shop at 2 different farmers markets, the middle Eastern grocery store, and Asian grocery store, Costco and a standard grocery store to get the best deals…. all in the same day! It takes a bit more time but the savings are worth it.  Take a cooler to keep temperature sensitive stuff cool, lots of bags, relax and enjoy the process…  Consider it a day out!
  • Costco can be a real source of bargains for the discerning shopper.  Avoid the ready produced stuff that is full of additives and the bakery section.  Head for the produce, and fish..  And then consider some of these gems I have bought from Costco:  Balsamic vinegar, sundried tomatoes, crab meat, hemp hearts, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, dried figs (and fresh fings, plus goat cheese to stuff in them!),  prunes, dried apricots, almond butter, parmesan cheese and much more.  Read the labels and remember that any meats are likely to be raised in a CAFO, so they are not as good as the pasture raised or grass-fed…. plus in the US they are going to be full of antibiotics and growth hormones…    But you can get some really good stuff at Costco if you are careful – we scored some Heritage beef Albertan grass-fed burgers the other week!  Also any veg you buy is not local bear that in mind.
  • And my biggest tip for saving money while eating Paleo is to cook everything for yourself…..  the more mass produced the product, the bigger the expense.  If you cook for yourself you make savings!

See eating Paleo doesn’t have to be expensive afterall!