Creamy Paleo/Primal Chicken-Vegetable Casserole

This is my new favorite one-dish meal. It is loaded with vegetables, low in carbs, grain-free, and so tasty even the kids love it. And, if your family doesn’t eat the whole thing in one sitting, it is still delicious when reheated for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (13 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 2 cups riced cauliflower
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into one-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large, covered, microwave safe bowl, microwave the cauliflower and broccoli on high for 4 minutes.

In an extra-large skillet cook and stir mushrooms, red pepper, onion, and garlic in hot butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in potato flour, salt, thyme, and black pepper. Slowly stir in coconut milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in spinach, cauliflower and broccoli, chicken, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese.

Spoon mixture into a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, 20 minutes. Uncover and bake about 10 minutes more or until heated through. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Data for Entire Recipe

Ingredient Calories Carbs Fiber Net Carbs Fat Protein
Mushrooms 30.0 4.6 1.4 3.2 0.4 4.4
Onions 32.0 7.5 1.4 6.1 0.1 0.9
Peppers 36.9 7.5 2.5 5.0 0.0 1.2
Garlic 9.0 2.0 0.2 1.8 0.0 0.4
Butter 200.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 22.8 0.2
Potato Flour 71.0 17.0 1.2 15.8 0.5 1.4
Coconut Milk 700.0 10.0 0.0 10.0 75.0 5.0
Spinach 82.4 12.0 8.2 3.8 1.6 10.3
Cauliflower 50.0 10.6 5.0 5.6 0.2 4.0
Broccoli 81.2 15.0 9.4 5.6 1.0 8.8
Chicken 540.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 17.7 89.5
Parmesan 215.5 2.0 0.0 2.0 14.3 19.3
Totals 2048.0 88.2 29.3 58.9 133.6 145.4
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Easy Paleo/Primal Antipasto

Easy Paleo Antipasto

For most of my life, the only antipasto I’d ever had in a restaurant came atop a big bed of iceberg lettuce. Then one day my wife and I ordered the antipasto at a gourmet pizza restaurant and received a delicious, satisfying dish with not a lettuce leaf in sight. What a revelation!

An even bigger revelation came when we took most of it home in a to-go container and put it in the refrigerator. I snacked on it every day until it was gone, about a week later. And I was surprised at how it tasted every bit as good after seven days in the fridge as it had that first day.

It appeared so simple to prepare that I decided to try making it myself. The resulting dish was just as good as what they served in the restaurant. Try it yourself and see what you think.

Ingredients

12 oz. jar of quartered, marinated artichoke hearts
12-16 oz. assorted pitted green and black olives
3.5 oz jar garlic cloves
2 oz sliced salami (I recommend Applegate Farms Natural Genoa Salami)
4 oz feta, cubed (optional)

Drain the artichoke hearts and chop each quartered heart into bite-sized pieces. Drain the olives and slice. Drain the garlic cloves. You can include them whole or cut them in half if you prefer. (Yes, garlic cloves can be eaten whole, straight out of the jar. They are mild and yummy!) Cut the salami slices into quarters. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and serve.

The menu in the restaurant stated that their dish included a “vinegar basil dressing” but I found that by using marinated artichoke hearts and olives packed in olive oil and herbs, no additional dressing was necessary.

I recommend this as an excellent dish to bring to a party or pot-luck — especially one where you may not be able to eat the food the other guests bring — because everyone will love it and because you can make a meal out of it if necessary.

Some paleo folks might wonder about the inclusion of salami, a processed meat, in this recipe. Personally, I think salami is just as paleo as bacon, but I do recommend getting the best quality salami you can find; one without added sugars and chemicals.

If you eat dairy, try adding a cheese such as sheep’s milk feta. If want something a little less salty (this is a pretty salty dish with all those olives and the salami), try a mild cheese such as fontina or non-smoked gouda. The restaurant’s recipe included fontina, not feta.

Other things I’m considering adding to the recipe include roasted red bell peppers and chopped fresh basil. After I try those out, I’ll add a note to this recipe and let you know how it went.

Hungarian Lecso

Hungarian Lecso

I am not Hungarian, so this recipe may not be entirely authentic, but I have experimented with lecso (pronounced “LECH-oh”) enough to know what works well and what doesn’t. This is a favorite dinner recipe at our house, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Ingredients

1 Sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 Red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, sliced
2 Tbsp bacon fat or fat of choice
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb kielbasa or smoked sausage

A couple of notes before beginning. First, don’t use green bell peppers, despite what more traditional recipes might say. Red bell peppers are delicious in this recipe, while green bell peppers ruin it.

Second, I prefer sweet Hungarian paprika over smoked paprika. If smoked paprika is all you can get, it will do, but sweet Hungarian paprika is better for this recipe.

Begin by slicing the peppers and onions.

Sliced onions and peppers

Next, cook the onions and peppers over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot with the bacon fat, beef tallow, or your fat of choice. Olive oil or coconut oil also work nicely. I recommend cooking the  onions and peppers until the onions begin to caramelize. This can take 20-30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Sauteed peppers and onions

Once the onions have begun to caramelize and the peppers are nice and soft, add the canned, diced tomatoes, juice and all, along with the paprika and salt. Stir everything together and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Before serving, add the sliced sausage to the pot and let it simmer for another 10 minutes or so until the meat is thoroughly heated. It may not look like much in this picture, but it is absolutely delicious.

Hungarian Lecso

I recommend serving it over riced cauliflower. I served this last night to guests with riced cauliflower and a side of Brussels sprouts slaw from the Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook, and it was an enormous hit.

Saving your grass-fed beef fat

In my kitchen, we cook a lot of grass-fed ground beef. We use it for paleo tacos, chili, bunless hamburgers, meatballs, and lots more. The beef we buy from our local farmers market is pretty lean, so there’s never much fat left in the pan after cooking. But we also buy the 75% lean ground beef from US Wellness Meats, which leaves plenty of fat. Rather than throw this delicious, healthy fat away, as you might do with commercial ground beef, you can save it for later and use it in other dishes.

Here are a few reasons you might want to do this:

  1. Grass fed beef tallow is one of the healthiest fats you can eat. It’s lower in polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) than nearly any other oil, and higher in vitamin K2, CLA, vitamin A, and other nutrients than other fats.
  2. It’s savory, beefy taste makes it an excellent choice for certain types of cooking. (I use it for sautéing vegetables when making chili, veggie egg scrambles, and many other dishes).
  3. It’s a free source of healthy calories. Hey, you already paid for it! Why not use it?

To store the fat for later use, you need to separate the oil from the water and other beefy bits that are all mixed together when you drain the meat. If you simply put it in a bowl and stick it in the fridge, the watery parts will start growing mold in a week or so. By separating the fat, you can store it for much longer.

To get the best results, here’s what I do:

  1. Drain the meat and pour all drippings into a bowl.
  2. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours. The oil will float to the top and solidify, while the water will sink to the bottom
  3. Once the fat is solid, take the solid fat off and place it in a clean bowl, and discard the water.
  4. Lastly, melt the oil by heating it for a few seconds in the microwave oven, and then strain it through cheesecloth into another clean dish. This will remove any impurities and leave you with a fairly clear oil that can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks and used as need.

What do you use your grass-fed beef fat for? Leave a comment and let me know.

Primal Cream of Asparagus-Spinach Soup

Ingredients

1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 tbsp coconut oil or grass-fed butter
1 quart chicken stock
1 bag frozen cut asparagus spears
1 bag frozen chopped spinach
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
Salt to taste

In a large pot, sauté onion and celery in coconut oil for 5 minutes until translucent and tender. Add chicken stock and asparagus, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add spinach and turn heat up to return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat and allow mixture to cool for 10 minutes.

Working in batches if necessary, add cooled mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour back into soup pot, mix in cream, heat, add salt to taste, and serve.

Note: I recommend letting the soup cool before blending, as blending hot soup can be dangerous.

Grain-Free Paleo Trail Mix

Here’s a gluten-free, whole-food snack we like to have on hand for when the munchies strike. While it’s not something you want to eat every day, it comes in handy in a pinch. It’s a good travel snack for long flights or car trips, and I have been known to sneak it into the movie theater as a substitute for popcorn.

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Ingredients

2 cups coconut flakes
2 cups sliced raw almonds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin kernels
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apple slices, chopped

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and store in an airtight container. Consume joyously.

Low-Carb, High-Fat Tuna Salad

Tired of cooking? Want something that’s incredibly quick and easy to make, full of nutrition, and damned tasty to boot? Try this super simple tuna salad.

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Ingredients

2 6 oz. cans wild-caught tuna
2 tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
4-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Drain the tuna and place in a bowl. Using a fork, shred the tuna as finely as you can. Next, add the olive oil, tomato, avocado, and salt and pepper, and mix everything together. Use as much or as little olive oil as you like. Divide the mixture onto two plates and squeeze the juice of half a lime over each salad.

For a little variety, try the same recipe, substituting wild caught canned salmon for the tuna.

Serves 2.