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Paleo Fish & Chips

When I was living in the UK, more than 12 years ago, fish & chips, and bangers & mash were my regular pub food. So, here is part I, the Paleo version of fish & chips.

Ingredients (for 2)
* 2 wild cod fillets (about 200 gr each)
* 1/3 cup of tapioca starch
* 1/3 cup of ground flax seeds
* 1 egg
* 3 tablespoons of coconut (or avocado or olive) oil
* Salt, pepper, paprika and any other spice you like

1. Wash the cod fillets and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Set aside.
2. On a large semi-deep dish add the tapioca, flax and spices. Using your hands, mix well. Take the fillets one by one and coat them with the dry mix on both sides. Set fillets aside again.
3. Add the egg to the mix, and whisk it well. The resulted paste must be thick, but not dry. It should have the consistency of oatmeal. It might require to add a bit of water if it’s too dry.
4. Add the fillets again, and coat them well. Set the frying pan on medium heat, with the oil. When the oil is a bit hot, add the fillets in. If your frying pan has a cover, all the better. Turn the fish only once, after it has become golden brown on one side. Overall, it takes about 6-8 minutes of frying.
5. Serve with lemon, a two parts mayo + one part ketchup sauce, and fried sweet potatoes (or other root vegetable, like parsnips, turnips, rutabaga for lower carb).

Per Serving: (fish part only) 550 calories, 11 gr of net carbs, 28 gr of fat, 55 gr of protein, 6 gr of omega-3 (cod has only 0.3 gr of O-3, the rest comes from flax, so it’s ALA). RDA: 95% B12, 38% B3/Niacin, 48% B6, 55% choline, 46% phosphorus, 29% magnesium, 86% selenium.

Zughetti Carbonara

I’ve tried this classic carbonara recipe using spaghetti squash in the past, and it came out all wrong. But it was a slam dunk using spiralized zucchini tonight. My husband loved it, and that surprised both him and myself. This is a recipe to definitely try if you’re on Paleo.

Zughetti Carbonara
Click for a larger view

Ingredients (for 2)
* 3 medium zucchinis
* 6 slices of smoked bacon (6 button mushrooms for vegetarian)
* 1 tablespoon of creme fraiche or sour cream
* 1 egg
* Black pepper
- A spiralizer device

1. Wash the zucchini. Cut the top and bottom of each zucchini and then cut it in two pieces. Spiralize each piece using the device, using the blade with the smaller triangles. Cut the resulted zoodles with a knife or kitchen scissors at about 8″ length. Set aside.
2. Cut the bacon in small pieces and add on a cooking pan under medium heat.
3. In a bowl, whisk together well the sour cream and the egg. Add black pepper.
4. When the bacon becomes crispy to your liking, remove from heat, and drain away the rendered bacon fat. Return bacon to medium heat, and add the zucchini.
5. Keep stirring for 1-2 minutes and add the egg-cream mix. Turn off the heat, stir well a few more times, remove from the stove, and immediately serve. The zucchini must not be fully cooked, or it will become soggy. The less you cook the egg-cream too, the more creamy it’ll be. Enjoy!

Per Serving: 320 calories, 4.5 gr of net carbs, 23 gr of fat. About 30%-35% of the RDA for each of the B vitamins, 12% folate, 36% vitamin C, 45% phosphorus, 35% selenium, 30% zinc.

Greek Lentils with Ham

I don’t subscribe to dogmas, so the Paleo belief that all legumes are bad for you, doesn’t sit with me anymore. It’s true that legumes are high in lectins, but it’s also true that are very high in nutrients, and also, when soaked for 24 hours and cooked well, they become benign. Certainly more benign than nuts. Just do your own research for the truth of this statement.

Personally, I started eating legumes here and there almost 2 years after I went Paleo (by that time, my gut was mostly healed). I haven’t had a single issue associated with them (i.e. indigestion, gas etc).

The following recipe is the way my mom prepared lentils as a kid, plus 2 additional ingredients that I found that they bring more to the dish. My husband loved it tonight.

Greek Lentils with Ham

Ingredients (for 2)
* 1 cup of lentils (preferably sprouted)
* Half of a fennel bulb (optional)
* 250 gr (0.5 lbs) of ham (optional)
* 1/4 of a big onion
* 3 garlic cloves
* 2 bay leaves
* 1.5 tablespoons of tomato puree
* juice of half a lemon
* extra virgin olive oil
* Olives
* Salt & Pepper to taste

1. If your lentils weren’t bought sprouted (Whole Foods sells some), you must soak them in water for 24 hours. Also, go through them carefully, sometimes there are small stones or barley hiding among the lentils!
2. Bring 4-5 cups of filtered water into boil, in medium heat. Add the lentils in it.
3. Roughly chop the garlic, fennel, and onion, and add them to the boil, along the 2 bay leaves. Cover, and cook until the lentils are done and some of the water has evaporated — about 30-40 minutes (depends how much soup-y you’d like your lentils or not).
4. Chop the ham into half inch cubes (1 cm). Add them to the boil, cook for 3 minutes.
5. Add the tomato puree, and the lemon. Add salt and pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes.
6. Remove from the fire, and serve hot. On each plate, add 2-4 olives, and pour olive oil on top (about a tablespoon for each person). Enjoy!

Paleo Pakoras

A Paleo/Primal version of the popular Indian vegetable fritters. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now!

Paleo Pakoras

Ingredients (for 4)

- Batter
* 1/2 cup of tapioca flour
* 1/2 cup of almond flour (use more as needed)
* 2/3 cup of full fat yogurt

- Veggies #1
* 1 small sweet potato
* 1/3 of zucchini
* 1/3 of red pepper
* 1 carrot
* 1 onion
* 1/3 cup of broccoli florets
* 1/4 cup of eggplant (optional)
* 1/4 cup of peas (optional)

- Veggies #2
* 1/2 cup of spinach, chopped
* 1/4 cup cilantro or Italian parsley, chopped

- Spices
* 1 tspoon (each) of chili powder, paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground ginger
* 1 TBspoon (each) of garam masala, curry powder, turmeric, ground fenugreek, garlic powder
* Sea salt

- Oil
* 2 tbspoons of coconut oil
* 1/2 cup of olive oil

1. Peel the sweet potato, wash it, and cut it in 1/3 inch sizes. Wash and cut the rest of the “Veggies #1″ similarly.
2. Add the coconut oil on a frying pan under medium heat. Add the “Veggies #1″ along 1/3 cup of water. Cover, but stir often.
3. When the water has evaporated and the veggies are almost soft, remove them from the fire and set aside to cool a bit.
4. In a big bowl, add the spices, and the batter ingredients. Mix well with a big spoon. Then, add Veggies #1 and #2. Mix well again. The batter should not be too liquid, but not to rigid either. Adjust as required.

Paleo Pakoras Batter

5. Add the olive oil in the frying pan under medium heat. Spoon over 4-5 heaping batter spoonfuls. Cook about 4 minutes per side, or until very well golden brown. Do the same for the rest of the batter. Expect this pakora version to be somewhat moist inside while hot.

Tsigaridia (Greek pork belly)

This is the Greek version of pork belly, as we prepare it in the Epirus department of Greece. I consider it a more Paleo and healthier alternative to bacon (which is actually processed). My French husband loves it too!

Tsigaridia, Greek pork belly

Ingredients (for 2)
* 1 lb (~0.5 kg) of pork belly
* 2 tbspoons of olive oil for frying
* Juice of a large lemon
* 1 tbspoon oregano
* Sea salt & black pepper to taste

1. Wash the pork belly. Using a sharp knife, remove the thick pork skin on the one side (if it was sold as such).
2. Cut the pork belly into 1 inch cubes.
3. Heat the olive oil under medium heat, and add the pork cubes. Fry until cooked-through and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir a few times.
4. One minute before they’re ready, add the salt & pepper, oregano, and lemon juice. Stir.
5. Turn off the heat, remove the cubes to a plate (without taking much of the oil with you). Serve hot with fries (and tzatziki, if you do dairy).

Fried Razor Clams

Here’s the Paleo recipe for fried Razor Clams. They’re extremely high in B12 (1400% RDA) and iron (132% RDA). I found them at my local Asian supermarket, in their frozen shellfish aisle (wild-caught). I really liked their taste!

Fried Razor Clams

Ingredients for the main recipe (for 2)
* A packet of frozen razor clams (usually 370 gr)
* 1 cup of fine almond flour
* 1/2 cup of tapioca flour (or more almond flour)
* 1 large egg
* Coconut or olive oil for frying
* 1/2 teaspoon of good, mineral salt
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon of Hungarian or other paprika
* 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

1. In a bowl, beat the egg slightly. Add half of the spices. Beat the egg a bit more.
2. In a separate bowl, add the rest of the spices. Add the almond flour and tapioca flour. Mix well.
3. Remove the clams from their packet, and run clean, cold water through them in a colander. Strain them softly.
4. Put the clams in the bowl with the egg and mix well.
5. Add a generous amount of oil on a somewhat deep frying pan, under medium heat.
6. Take a big handful of the clams from the egg bowl, and make sure you strain excess egg liquid. Add them to the flour bowl, and mix well until they’re well-coated.
7. Fry for ~3 minutes, turning them 2-3 times. Don’t overcook them, and make sure they don’t turn very brown. Nut flour oxidizes very easily and becomes toxic when browns too much.
8. Remove the clams when done on a clean plate. Add more oil to replace the one that the clams absorbed. Follow step #6 until all the batches are done. You might need to add more flour if you have lots of clams.
9. Serve hot. Use Sriracha hot sauce, or lemon, to add additional flavor. Goes great with a raw green salad.

How to Cook Hearts, Liver, and Gizzards

This guide shows how to cook animal and poultry hearts, liver, and gizzards in 4-5 different ways. It’s very easy, and the variation between all the different ways is small.

Pork heart with king trumpet mushrooms a’la creme

Ingredients for the main recipe (for 2)
* 400 gr of hearts or liver (from either lamb, goat, beef, pork)
* 100 gr of Eryngii (king trumpet/oyster) mushrooms OR 1 large onion OR 1 bell pepper
* A handful of fresh spinach [optional]
* 2 tbspoons crème fraîche or European style sour cream (probiotic)
* 1 tbspoon coconut oil
* Salt & black pepper (or Hungarian paprika)

1. Cut the hearts or liver in thin 0.5″ vertical slices. Wash them.
2. Wash and cut the mushrooms in vertical stripes. If you’re using the onion or peppers instead, cut them as you would onion rings, horizontally.
3. If your heart or liver is from beef or pork, consider boiling it for 30 minutes first, and then discard that water. This will make them less smelly. Young goat/sheep offal doesn’t smell bad, so that step is not required.
4. Heat the coconut oil in medium heat, and stir-fry the heart until it’s golden brown and almost cooked through.
5. Add the mushrooms (or onions, or bell peppers), and stir-fry them until they get golden brown too.
6. Add the spinach, and stir for 5-10 seconds.
7. Turn off the heat, remove from hot stove. Add salt and pepper. Add the crème fraîche, stir well. Serve hot!

Alternative way after step #4 above (Greek style):
5. Add the juice of a lemon, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of oregano.
6. Stir well. Serve with potato, sweet potato, or vegetable fries.

Note: The Greek style version of the recipe is also applicable to pork belly! That’s how we eat it in Greece!

Alternative way after step #4, for poultry hearts/liver/gizzards:

5. Pour everything into a cooking pan.
6. Chop down a small onion. Stir-fry it for 1 minute.
7. Add 1 cup of tomato sauce (or chopped, fresh tomatoes), and 1 cup of water.
8. Add some chopped parsley, salt, and pepper.
9. Cover, and cook until most liquid has vaporized.
10. Serve with baked spaghetti squash. The picture below shows it with rice, but that’s an old picture of mine, before I stopped eating grains. The rest of the recipe is as described though.

Finally, an alternative way to do gizzards, as a stew, can be found here.

Cod Liver, a forgotten superfood

This was my snack today at tea time: cod liver from Norway (unfortunately, canned). This was the very first time I had this, so I expected a very fishy taste. But thankfully, its taste is very mild, it resembles duck foie gras! I ate 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.

I love omelets!

With that new non-stick frying pan I can make some killer omelets. I usually use oyster mushrooms, but for my brunch today I used chopped sausage in it, and chopped green onions. I fried these in coconut oil. A few minutes later I added a small handful of spinach, a minute later I added two eggs with a a splash of milk (beaten together), and salt & pepper. Then I lifted the edges of the omelet a few times so most liquid gets cooked, while moving the pan in circular motion. Finally, I added blue cheese (soft goat cheese log is also great) on top. As long as the omelet is then left to cook enough underneath (another minute or so), in medium heat, it comes out easily from the pan in one piece (shake the pan forwards and backwards a few times to get the omelet to unstick). Yum!

A little secret about bone broths

One of the superfoods of the Paleo/Primal diets is the bone broth. Drinking it as-is, or cooking stews with it will provide the individual with a lot of minerals and other nutritional advantages: from calcium, to phosphorus, and collagen and Magnesium. Mark Sisson has a great article about the how and whys of bone marrow broths.

However, I have a little known secret about how to get a good bone broth, at a fraction of the price of grass-fed beef bones. See, the few times I bought grass-fed beef bones (and they were not even marrow bones), cost me $22 here in the Bay Area. I’m sorry, but that’s an excessive price for a bunch of bones. Unfortunately, since bones (and liver) are the mirror of how the animal lived its life, I’m not willing to buy non-grass-fed beef bones, and I’m definitely not going to use chicken bones. The quality of the animal must be top-notch to make a bone broth (or eat its offal).

Speaking of chickens, it defeats the whole purpose of the bone broth if it is made from chickens that are younger than 2 years old. We have a saying in Greece: “it’s the older hen that has the extra juice”. Young chickens, especially those that have never walked in their lives, are near-useless when it comes to extracting nutrients out of them. They are sick, and undeveloped. Free-range, older chickens, ducks and turkeys are the better choice.

So if most chickens are unsuitable, and good beef bones are too expensive, what to do? My suggestion is that you go for lamb and goat bones! They are just as nutritious as beef (if not more, especially goats), and the great thing about them is that 90% of them in the US are pastured-raised! Exactly because most Americans don’t eat much sheep/goat, the meat industry hasn’t put its claws around these animals yet to industrialize them. So when you buy meat from these animals, you have a huge chance of actually buying healthy meat!

The best place to buy such meats (including their equally nutritious offal) is Mediterranean shops, but some Mexican markets also carry them. Avoid Chinese markets, unfortunately they carry the cheapest, dead-looking meat I have ever seen (in my big, local Asian market, the only good quality meat I found was duck gizzards and fresh fish).

From lamb, go for lamb shanks ($3.99/lb in my local shop, dirt cheap). From goat, go for a whole leg (not boneless, includes cartilage for extra collagen/gelatin, $6.99/lb). You can also get lamb/goat stew meat if their bones are intact ($6.99/lb). The cheapest deal is of course the lamb shanks. Just make sure you ask the butcher to cut the shanks in two (on the short side), so the marrow is exposed (otherwise, use a sledgehammer at home just before preparing for the bone broth). Basically, you get the bones for cheap, and essentially you get the meat that comes with them “for free” (since a bone broth is the main purpose of the purchase). Financially and nutritionally, they’re the best deal overall!

After you cook and eat the meat, or you remove the bones before cooking, you can freeze the remaining bones, until you have enough to make a bone broth.

* 1 to 1.5 lbs (450-700 gr) of lamb/goat bones
* The juice of a small lemon OR a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
* 1/2 of a large onion, wedged
* 1/2 cups of celery
* 1-2 chopped carrots

1. Fill your slow cooker with water. Put the bones in. Juice the lemon (helps with extraction of the nutrients). Cover and let simmer for at least 12 hours.

2. 3-5 hours before turning off the heat, add the onion, celery, carrots.

3. If your bones had been cooked before (e.g. in a stew, or roasted), let the bone broth simmer for 20-24 hours, otherwise, 15-16 hours is enough.

4. When done, turn off the heat, uncover, and let cool. When cool, pass the broth through a strainer and discard the bones/veggies. Do not discard the fat. If you have been cooking marrow bones, eat the marrow!

5. Fill up 1-2 big glass jars with the clear broth and store it in your refrigerator for up to 1 week. From that glass jar, you can either cook with (e.g. in stews), or you can pour a cup, add a bit of lemon, microwave it, and drink it as-is.

6. For the rest of the bone broth, using a large ladle, pour 1-1.5 cups of the broth into plastic bags. Seal them well, and place them carefully in your freezer, for up to 3 months. When you want to use some for cooking, you can easily remove the plastic bag by tearing it, while the broth is still frozen.