Latest Guest Post Here! And It’s About BACON!!


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Hey all – This will just be a quick little note to you to let you know that my latest guest post has been submitted, and it’s work I am really proud of! I was asked to write an article on how to find, evaluate, and eat bacon in a healthy way. So I took it as a chance to expound on the 4 rules I have on my Bacon Project page, about why they’re so important (the short version), and I stuck a new rule in at the number one spot! If you’d like to know what the new rule is, hop on over and take a peak!

And you know the drill: when you’re there, behave like proper guests. You know, leave graffiti, bounce around like hooligans to the other blog posts and let your presence be known, and generally have a great time!!!

Here it is:

Bacon! I Smell Bacon! But Is Bacon Good For Me?

UPC’s Paella Mofongo!


SeafoodMofongo

This weekend, my wife and I are headed back to Washington DC to catch the Magnolias, Cherry Blossoms, and some more of the sight seeing. We were so impressed with our trip last weekend (it was our first time together) that we just couldn’t pass up an airline deal taking us there this weekend again. We’re going to be a little more careful about our sleep, and bring our cameras everyone with us. And hopefully next week you’ll get to see a couple of posts on Washington DC food! If things go really well, perhaps the Urban Paleo Chick will put together a post on running tours of the Capitol, and some of the other sites we’ll see.

UPC’s Paella Mofongo

I’ve been messing around in my mind with the Traditional Puerto Rican Mofongo recipe for some time now. This is part of my “process” – I think about things for a long time before taking action on them. And some of the time it ends up looking like I’m really impulsive, which is amusing, because often the seemingly impulsive action or meal is something I’ve been actively mulling over for weeks, months, or sometimes longer. This Mofongo post was started, and has been in various stages of draft form, for more than 3 months now. So it’s exciting for me that I’ve finally settled on a recipe that I wanted to cook, and share!

This is a rough combination of two traditional meals, both of which I like very much! This turned out to be a decent approximation of both dishes, but is certainly not precisely either of them… Paella is a rice dish, and until cooking it as a Mofongo, I didn’t have a good way to replicate the dish without using grains. Mofongo, unlike Paella, is actually a Paleo recipe in it’s traditional form, and it’s great! But as I mentioned, I’ve been working on a Paella idea for a while, and cooking it as a Mofongo turns out to be really quite effective! This recipe has really given me ideas, so you’ll likely be seeing more versions of Paella and Mofongo in the future!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb mixed wild-caught Seafood (mine is mostly shrimp and octopus)
  • 4 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 large Carrots, chopped
  • 1 large Zucchini, chopped
  • 4 Plantains, 1-inch slices, browned then mashed
  • 2 Plantains, chopped
  • 1 heel Garlic, diced
  • 3 tablespoons Italian Seasoning (or fresh herbs, if you have them)

Serves: about 4; Cook and Prep Time: about 35 minutes

First slice the 4 Plantains, put them in a large soup-pot with 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, and fry them on low heat. If you have a cover for the put, you can use it – we want these to cook through, not just brown. I cooked these with the heat on about 3 out of 10, so that the cooking process was more thorough, without too much chance of burning. This also allowed me to focus on the other pieces of the meal while I was letting this cook, with the occasional stirring.

In a pan, put the seafood mix, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and cook on high. Like the Plantains, I would cover this too, if you have a cover for this pan. If you’re using a frozen mixed-seafood bag like I do (wild caught, of course!) then there should be plenty of water in the seafood to cook down as the seafood is cooking. By the time we get to the next step, the seafood should be fully cooked, and there should still be just a big of the seafood water left in the pan.

While the two pans are cooking, take the chance to prepare the remainder of the meal. Slice up the carrots, chop the zucchini, and most importantly, dice the garlic. All of these will be used, almost simultaneously, during the final few minutes of cooking, so it’s good to get the prep work out of the way as soon as you can – there won’t be time to be chopping these when you need them. Don’t forget to keep stirring the plantains in the pot. Finally, chop up the last two plantains.

After about 20 minutes of cook time, put the carrots in another pan, and cook on medium heat, covered. This dish is much better with the carrots softened by cooking them a bit. You can add a bit of coconut oil to the pan to reduce the chances of burning. You can also add just a little bit of water, which can speed up the process. And you can add both… The flavor of the coconut oil is great on cooked carrots, and of course, it won’t stick out in this meal!

At the same time, add the zucchini, garlic, and remaining plantains to the seafood pan, keeping the heat on high, and stir it in. The Plantains should suck up the remaining water pretty quickly, so you can only ignore this pan for another 30-60 seconds once you add them in. Turn the heat off for the plantains in the cook pot. Again, you only have 30 seconds, so don’t turn your mind to a new task – stir some things, especially the carrots, to spend that time. Once you hear the sizzling that indicates the water is all absorbed, turn off the heat immediately. As the pan cools, start stirring it vigorously, until the pan is cool enough that nothing in the pan will burn.

Now add the olive oil and spices to the pan, cover, and let the olive oil warm up. This will be added to the Plantains and carrots in a few minutes. You can now mash the plantains. I used a potato masher, since I didn’t have a proper Puerto Rican wooden mortar and pestle, but this dish came out amazing! I think a potato masher is fine, if you don’t have the mortar and pestle to do it “properly”.

Once the Plantains are mashed, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.

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Serving:

This is a stand-alone dish. Since I’ve added the zucchini and carrots, I don’t really expect this to be served with a salad or some sort of green vegetable on the side. Be careful about which vegetables you decide to switch the zucchini for; flavor and texture are very important for this dish, and if they don’t mix quite right, it may offset the delicious flavors of the rest of the meal! My wife and I have had the beautiful wooden dishes that you see in the picture sitting around waiting for the right chance to use them. If you have something like this, it will compliment the presentation of the meal tremendously! If not – eat the meal from a bowl – it will still be delicious!

For more “What’s For Dinner” and “What’s For Breakfast” posts, check back daily! If you have anything to ask, request, or comment on, please post it in the comments – I love to hear from you!

What’s For Breakfast? – Breakfast Basil Salad


BreakfastSalad2I love my Hot & Cold Salads. I’m bordering on being obsessed with them. Fortunately for me, it’s mostly socially acceptable to obsess over salads. While that may be a bit weird for a breakfast food (trust me, no one calls me “normal”), I won’t be reported to a psychologist for “questionable behavior” just because I really really like my Hot & Cold Salads. Although, that would be quite amusing!

But not every breakfast salad I make is a Hot & Cold Salad. Sometimes I am in the mood for my carrots to be crispy. Sometimes I want my green onions to have a sharp flavor. And let’s be honest, sometimes I just don’t feel like eating hot food! Like when I put in an 8-mile run for my morning run (as I did this morning), maybe I don’t want any portion of my food to be hot. When I’m in the mood for a good old-fashioned cold salad, I’ve got plenty of resources to turn to! As I did this morning.

What I did, and what you’ll need:

  • 4 bunches fresh Basil, chopped
  • Arugula (or fresh salad greens)
  • Green Onions, about 2 cups, chopped (4 handfuls)
  • 1 large ripe Avocado, chopped
  • 1 medium Cucumber, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 12 oz smoked turkey, chopped (or some other mild flavored cold-cut)
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Serves 2; Prep time: 15 minutes

This is a very simple recipe, and the flavors of the individual parts come out very nicely! In your mixing bowl, put the arugula or salad greens that you’re going to use. I like the arugula that I get because it’s one of the few salad greens that I can find which come as a “wild” green, commercially bought. I prefer things that are as close to natural as I can get them, and “wild” seems closer to natural than “organic” – where “organic” is closer than conventionally grown.

In the mixing bowl, add the cucumber, avocado, and green onions, and give a quick mix. Next add the turkey, and last add the basil. Now drizzle the olive oil over the top, hitting the basil first and seeping down in to the turkey and then the rest of the salad mix. Finally add the carrots on top of that, and mix thoroughly.

Now serve in two individual bowls. Take your time eating this – the mixed flavors of the fresh basil and the olive oil should really take over and give a smooth, but strong basil taste to everything in the dish. The turkey will pick the flavor up beautifully, while the avocado will carry it’s own flavor, subtly improving the satisfaction of each bite!

For more “What’s For Dinner?” and “What’s For Breakfast?” posts, keep tuned to urbanpaleochef.com daily! If you have questions, comments, or any requests, please post in on the comments board!

What’s for… Breakfast? Apple Sausage and Zucchini Scrambled Eggs with Avocado


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The meal-time dance that my wife and I go through, every meal-time, is of an endless amount of amusement to me. “What do you want for breakfast?” I asked, bringing coffee to my wife in bed this morning. Yes, I bring her coffee in bed, I cook, and I do the dishes. What can I say? I am particular about how my kitchen is kept – I like everything just so. I think the whole perfectionist attitude, which does not extend far beyond the kitchen for me, is a chef thing. Most people I know who are passionate about their food are equally passionate about their cooking tools. They have a very particular way they like to clean and maintain their pots, pans, crock-pot, knives, cutting boards. It’s not always the same as the way I like my things maintained, but I can appreciate, and learn from their process.

“I don’t know. What do we have?” She always responds. And when I say always, I mean always. It would confuse me if I got a different answer, honestly! So I’ll go through the various choices, usually involving either a cold salad, a Hot & Cold Salad, or some ingredients with eggs. Occasionally we will have some left-over beef or stewed meat from the night before – which I can either serve on it’s own with a side of chopped greens, or chop it up and add to eggs. This morning, she opted for some Apple Sausage. My favorite way to prepare those for a breakfast meal is to chop them up, cook them on high with zucchini or some other green vegetable (celery, onions, etc.), and mix in some eggs with them.

What you’ll need:

  • Chicken Apple Sausage (2 or 3 links)
  • 1 medium Zucchini, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 medium ripe Avocado

First chop up the Sausage, put it in a pan, and turn the heat on high. I usually buy these and put them directly in the freezer, so chopping it is quite easy. I don’t eat sausages very often, because I can’t control their ingredients. And more importantly, I can’t control the macro-nutrient components – otherwise stated, I don’t have direct control over the fat to meat contents of the sausage, so I generally prefer unprocessed meats. But when I am going to eat a sausage, I have had good results with the Trader Joe’s Chicken Apple Sausage, as well as their Smoked Apple Chardonnay Sausage.

As soon as the sausage is in the pan, chop and add the Zucchini. As I have mentioned many times before, I prefer to prepare as I go. In this case, the sausage shouldn’t really have had a chance to start cooking, since chopping the zucchini shouldn’t take too long. At most, the pan is hot, and the sausage is starting to thaw. Once you’ve added the zucchini, add the coconut oil. These should cook quickly, but to get the process started, go ahead and cover the pan for a few minutes while the sausage thaws, the coconut oil liquifies, and the water vapor can start the cooking process for even the parts that are not directly on the heat.

In no more than 5 minutes of cook time, start stirring vigorously. I like the sausage and zucchini to be lightly browned before I add the eggs. But to make sure that they have an even cook, I keep the heat on high, and stir constantly until there is a relatively uniform browning.

As soon as the zucchini and sausage are browning, add the eggs. I know that some of you like your eggs to be pre-mixed, but I like to crack the eggs right in to the pan. The disadvantage of that is that it’s a bit messy, and it’s quite time sensitive. If I take too long, the sausage and zucchini on the bottom of the pan will burn! But I don’t mind a bit of pressure. Stir the eggs constantly until they’re near cooked, then turn the heat off. I like to leave the pan on the heat, letting the residual heat finish the cooking process. To help, I cover the pan. While the heat is dissipating, and the last little bit of cooking is done, you can slice up the avocado for serving.

AppleSausageEggs

For more “What’s For Dinner?” posts, and like today, “What’s For Breakfast?” keep tuned in to urbanpaleochef.com! If you have comments, requests, or suggestions, please jump in on the comments board!

Lessons On Road Food: READ THE INGREDIENTS!!!


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So on a recent trip to DC, I stopped on the way down for some road food. See, I had carefully packed a couple of great meals to bring with me, knowing that I would get hungry. Being a bit out of the habit of the road-trip, however, I had completely forgotten that, as the driver, I would need my meals to be easy to eat! The delightful roast turkey, arugula, toasted carrots, raw leeks, and hazelnut oil salad that I had prepared was going to have to wait until I completely my driving.

So I pulled in to a rest area, carefully evaluating my options. I didn’t go for the¬†McDonald’s,¬†which is really not a hard one to ignore for me… I skipped the Starbucks. Something about having to pay 1.09 for the banana irks me to the point of never walking in their stores. Not to mention that Starbucks coffee is all burnt to the point of almost being caramelized, but not quite (and no, Dunkin’ Doughnuts is no better!). Fortunately, most rest areas these days have some sort of convenience store, or what they’re calling a “Market”. I went straight to the “Healthy Snacks” rack, thinking I would find something there to keep me happy. But no. That one has grains. And that one. And that one. Does that one have… Yup. That one too. A ha! I found one!

HidingSomething

Read The Ingredients

Well, following my absolute rule of food, I flipped the package over to take a quick peak at the ingredients label. “See ingredients under flap” Really…? That’s a little suspicious. I mean, it’s almonds, honey, sea salt, and cranberries… What could you possibly be hiding in there? I really don’t mind if I find out that there’s a lot of carbs – I mean, glazing the almonds is a calorie intensive process. I’ve already picked you up… Ok, let’s take a look.

8TypesOfSugar

Ok, that seems like a lot of ingredients for what appeared to be a health snack. Let’s take a closer look. It’s got sugar, organic evaporated cane juice, honey powder, rice starch, organic tapioca syrup, brown sugar, orange blossom honey, and natural honey flavor. Is that… 8 different sweeteners? I would have been fine with sugar and honey… But 8 sweeteners? For this otherwise simple package of what appeared to be healthy food? What is going on here?!?

Well, I don’t really have an answer for you. But I do have a solution. Do what I did: buy the banana. Keep your food choices simple. If you look at a package and see things that you didn’t expect in the ingredients list, put it down. There’s no compromise with your health. Don’t compromise with your food.

And next time: bring your own bananas…

What’s For Dinner? – Coconut Calamari & Shrimp with Mashed Rutabaga and Butternut Squash over Arugula


PaleoCalamari

My wife and I took a trip over to Washington DC this past weekend, hoping to catch the first couple of Cherry Blossoms peaking out of their buds for some spring sunshine. We were in luck, because that is exactly what we got! We saw about 2 trees which were fully in bloom. They probably had the perfect amount of sun exposure, through the tall buildings, and just the right amount of root-warming from the sidewalks in front of them. They were gorgeous! I love cherry-blossom festivals, and the other spring flower festivals that happen all over the country!

It’s a long drive home from DC. With traffic, it took us about 5 and a half hours, and the driving was not fun. Half the time we were cruising along, light traffic, good speed. The other half the time we were caught up in bumper-to-bumper, 25mph creeping traffic, on a 4-lane highway. And there is nothing I want more when I get home from something like that than some quality comfort food! I was seriously craving my White Wine Coconut Shrimp – but it was not to be… I was out of shrimp. Fortunately, I had a mixed bag of frozen wild-caught calamari and shrimp which I had been saving for just this sort of occasion!

What you’ll need:

  • Shrimp and Calamari
  • 1 pound wild uncooked calamari (or the calamari and shrimp mix which I used)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (or the constituent ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Mashed Rutabaga and Butternut Squash
  • 1 rutabaga, chopped
  • 1/2 butternut squash, cubed (1/2 inch cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 2 tablespoons crushed walnuts (pecans work too)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Start the Butternut Squash first. The whole meal takes a bit of preparation, but it’s worth every minute of it! First cube the Butternut Squash, put them on an oiled baking sheet (this is where you use the coconut oil) and lightly season them with the Italian seasoning. You may like to add salt and pepper to this as well, but do it for flavoring purposes, and keep it light and even. Put these in the oven on 250 for 60 minutes.

After 35 minutes of bake time, start the Mashed Rutabaga. Chop this up as finely as you can stand and put it in a pot. With the rutabaga in the pot, fill with water up to the top of the rutabaga, add the coconut butter, and turn it on high. If the rutabaga is pre-chopped, start this process about 20 minutes before the butternut squash is finished, or after 40 minutes of bake time.

Once the Rutabaga is cooking, start the Shrimp & Calamari. I used a 1 pound bag, and this was good for about 2 servings. Empty the bag in to a large sauce pan, add the seasoning and coconut butter, turn the heat on high and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the Butternut Squash is finished, stir both the Shrimp & Calamari and the Rutabaga. Things are going to happen fast now, so keep on your game! Leave the Shrimp and Calamari uncovered. Now is the time when we want the liquid in the pot to boil off, leaving the coconut butter and the spices behind to stick to the shrimp and calamari. The flavor you will get from the coconut butter, the spices, and the wild-caught seafood is a great combination of the fresh, crisp seafood flavor with the thick rich flavor of the coconut butter and Italian seasoning. Mash the rutabaga at about 2-3 minutes remaining on the bake clock. You’ll want this to be pretty well mashed, so take your time.

As soon as the Butternut Squash is finished, add it to the mashed Rutabaga, as well as the crushed walnuts, and stir thoroughly. Give this another 2-3 minutes of cook time before serving. While it’s in the final phase of cooking, make sure that the Shrimp and Calamari are being stirred regularly, and don’t get stuck to the pan. You can turn the heat down at this point, if it helps. And this is the time to get the plates ready, and put down the bed of Arugula.

Serving:

I know this is takes a bit of prep time, and it’s an involved meal to make, but trust me when I tell you: It’s worth it! As I said above: put the arugula down first. I didn’t put any dressing on the arugula. Now serve the rutabaga and butternut squash over the arugula, and the shrimp and calamari along side.

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And enjoy! For other “What’s For Dinner?” Meals, check back daily to Urban Paleo Chef!

Trying New Things


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Once you find a place that you trust, a place with excellent quality food, and the highest quality standards for their meals, it’s great to step outside of your comfort zone! Common “stretch” meals among people I know could include Beef Tartar, Beef Carpaccio, Tuna Tartar, etc. Where the “stretch” is to eat something prepared in an entirely unfamiliar way for your palate. You could also experiment with spices, heat, cold (gazpacho anyone?), or even preparation styles like the Molecular Gastronomy which is becoming quite popular here in the NYC area. I love to “stretch” my palate, but being a Paleo eater, I also recognize the importance of taking extreme care with your stretch choices, and just as importantly: the preparing chef.

Being perfectly honest, I’ve been preparing and sharing some of my best and most delightful meals here on urbanpaleochef.com, but none of them have been “stretch” meals for my palate. That is, until recently, when I made the Quick Chicken Tagine which I shared this week. I loved stretching my palate with the powerful lime flavoring, and the spice of the extra ginger in the dish. It was a delight for me! So last night my wife and I headed to Hu Kitchen expressly to stretch our palates! We were headed there to try out the Antellope Burgers that they’ve been featuring on their Thursday Night Happy-Hour menu. Unfortunately, they were out by the time we arrived, but we were there to “stretch” – and “stretch” we did!

Cervena Venison, Roasted Butternut Squash, Coconut Button Mushrooms

I am no stranger to Venison, having grown up in northern Vermont. It’s certainly not as common as beef, but Venison is reasonably available, and anyone with a mind to try it will always be able to find a way. A neighbor, family friend, or even a local store will have some available during Venison season. I’ve had Venison burgers, Venison steaks, Venison sausages… I’ve tried most of the major ways to serve meat with Venison as the “meat” of the meal. And I really enjoy Venison! Unlike with beef, however, I have never tried Venison with a carpaccio style meal: cold, mostly raw. That was a “stretch” for us – and it was totally worth it!

So get out there, go to your “safe” restaurant, where you know they make great food, and try a “stretch” meal! You may not end up liking the food, and that’s ok! But you’ll enjoy the experience for sure! And if you’re in the NYC area – Hu Kitchen is about as good a “stretch” restaurant as I could ask for!

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