What’s For Lunch? Peppered Shrimp Bento Box


ShrimpBentoBox

UPC’s Peppered Shrimp Bento Box

It’s cool and rainy outside. There isn’t a lot of rain, but the rain drops that are coming down are generally bigger ones. I love weather like this for running; there’s really nothing quite as refreshing as the brisk feel of a light wind and some fat cool raindrops falling on my face, head, and shoulders while I pump out a speed workout on the track! Unfortunately, that’s not what I’m doing right now, and may not be something I get a chance to do anytime soon. I say “unfortunately” because I really enjoy speed workouts, and even more when I get to enjoy weather like this!

On the more fortunate side, I have a delicious lunch to look forward to! My morning conversation with my wife, as with most mornings, went about like this:

Me: What do you want for lunch?

Wife: I dunno, whaddya got?

Me: Mmmm…

I peered about in the fridge, knowing that the soup I made last night was unsuitable for lunch today. There wasn’t a convenient Rack of Ribs sitting around for us to eat, like we did on Monday. So I pulled out one of my old-standby meals: Peppered Shrimp. It went over the first time I made it for lunch, shrimp travels well, and it still tastes good after being reheated (at least, the first day). It was just right!

UPC’s Peppered Shrimp Bento Box; What you’ll need:

  • Peppered Shrimp:
  • 1 lb Wild-Caught Shrimp (mine is frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Ground Black Pepper (more or less)
  • Salad:
  • Mixed Greens (your favorite mix; this is a “Power Greens” mix)
  • 1 medium Cucumber, chopped
  • 1 medium Carrot, chipped
  • 4 White Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Celery, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Avocados:
  • 1 Avocado, chopped
  • 3 sprigs Basil, chopped

Serves: 2
Prep time: 25 minutes

1. Put the shrimp in a pan with the coconut oil and cook it on high heat.

2. Cook this for about 5-7 minutes, letting it thaw and cooking off the water from the thawing. Stir regularly while cooking.

3. While the shrimp is cooking, begin preparing your salad.

4. After 5-7 minutes of cook time, when the shrimp is mostly thawed, sprinkle the pepper across the shrimp liberally.

5. Continue preparation of the salad and avocados.

6. Continue to cook and stir the shrimp until the water has all boiled off and the shrimp is sizzling like bacon in the pan.

7. Let the shrimp cool in the pan, stirring occasionally.

8. While the shrimp cools, complete preparation of the salad, pack it in your bento box, and enjoy!

Questions:

  • Do you ever have trouble figuring out what to eat for lunch?
  • What do you pull out of the fridge, freezer, or cupboard as a stand-by meal?
  • Do you ever take a shrimp meal to work as your lunch?
  • Do you like running in the rain?
  • If you do workout in the rain, do you prefer running, or another workout?

Restaurant Review: Saigon Cafe, Jersey City, NJ


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http://www.saigoncafejc.com/

Eating out is always an interesting scenario. I know, intellectually, that I can eat a salad almost anywhere. Obviously, there are places that I choose to shy away from intentionally… But for the most part, finding a decent place to eat out, at this point in my diet, is more about whether or not the restaurant is going to serve me anything other than a salad that I’ll want. That’s the big question. There are some issues, that I’ve discussed in previous posts, that need to be carefully considered before eating out. Just keep these in mind when you’re eating out:

  1. All cooking surfaces are almost certainly greased with a soy oil or soy derivative oil.
  2. All dressings, sauces, and other flavorings (except spices, so far) almost certainly have soy and wheat in them.
  3. The meat is almost certainly CAFO meat-factory meat.

So, keeping in mind that I really enjoy cooking, and the fruits of those labors, it turns out to be fairly irregular that I eat out. Mostly, I make all of my own food, and I eat only things that came out of my kitchen. It’s the simple and delicious solution. And when I do go out, I keep notes.

Saigon Cafe, Grove Street, Jersey City, NJ

My first impression of the Saigon Cafe restaurant was a pleasant surprise. This looked like it would count as one of those “Local Hole-In-The-Wall” places, where you encounter some really top quality food. I was hoping that their menu would be packed to the brim with seriously traditional Vietnamese food. We were seated in a small dining area, with about 10 tables. The waiter was ancient, and my guess is that he was the proprietor of the place. I like that about a place. I usually assume that the food is more likely to be lovingly crafted when the proprietor is the person seating me at the tables. It’s a pride thing for them, not just a paycheck.

The menu was a little challenging for me, but that was not surprising. Keeping in mind that soy and rice are deeply ingrained in the various Asian cultures, I didn’t expect the menu to be teeming with meals that were soy free. But I did expect that I would be able to mix-n-match my way to a well conceived soy-free meal.

The waiter came over to take our order. He spoke passably good English, and had no trouble guiding my through my options as soon as I told him that I’m allergic to soy. He stood over my shoulder, pointing at menu items as I flipped the page. “You can eat that one, or that one.” He would say. And “No, no, not that one.” When I tried to order the slow-cooked beef short ribs. Short ribs are very Vietnamese, and I really enjoy the way they cook them. Except for the soy sauce part.

With the proprietor’s help, I settled on a meal in no time. I love seafood, and they were serving something they called Claypot Seafood Curry. I like curry, seafood, and the “Claypot” meals were supposedly slow-cooked stews – and I love things that are slow-cooked!

Claypot Seafood Curry

It was full of flavor! There was clearly some sweetener in the dish, as well as some coconut milk or cream. But the over-all flavor was strong, yet well balanced. The curry was a yellow-curry, as you can see in the picture, and was delightful. The seafood all seemed quite fresh, and was slow-cooked to perfection.

All told, my experience in Saigon Cafe was quite satisfactory! I definitely recommend it for anyone in the Grove Street area of Jersey City, NJ.

What’s For Dinner? Bacon Seared Shrimp


BaconShrimp1

UPC’s Bacon Seared Shrimp

There are some really interesting things happening these days in the world of “Dietary Media”. I’ve had some close friends and family nervously sending me some major media outlet news stories which would suggest that I’m going to die tomorrow. Or maybe yesterday. I have to admit that I’m constantly amused by the overwhelming attempt by the media to “discredit” the Paleo (and other Ancestral) Diet. There’s been a few new reviews of old data, and papers written about them, some so-called experts have come out and renewed the perspective that eschewing grains “may be” dangerous, and is as yet untested. And every single time a paper is written or an expert makes a statement, the media gets a new opportunity to renew their fervent attempt at derailing my healthy journey through grass-fed pastured beef, pastured pork, and soy-free pastured chickens.

This is, of course, a no-win proposition for me. I can’t respond back to my friends and family who are sending me these unscientific media articles with honest concern in any way other than “Thank you for your concern” or some similar statement. I can’t say “I’ve read the underlying studies, analyzed their assumptions and results, and have come to the conclusion that their conclusions are unfounded based on the science, and must be considered in light of their assumptions.” Well, of course, I could say that, but my family and friends who are sending me these articles are doing so because they wouldn’t understand that statement anyway; even though it’s true. Instead, as I mentioned above, I say “Thank you for your concern.” and often leave it at that. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. And while my concerned friends and family are busy attempting to figure out how to make their yellow-brown grain-mash in to something tasty, I am enjoying simple, delicious foods which feed my mind, body, and soul to the fullest extent!

If you’re having trouble sticking to your guns on your dietary program, regardless of what it is, because there are too many nay-sayers who are making it difficult for you to stay the course, take heart. You’re not alone! And now, on to something cooked in bacon grease; a “Diet Sin” that I wouldn’t have dreamed of when I was a perfect practitioner of the SAD diet…

UPC’s Bacon Seared Shrimp; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Shrimp (I used Wild-Caught Frozen Argentinian shrimp from Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 tablespoons Bacon Grease (preferably in the pan from your bacon that morning; with the leftover bits still in it!)
  • Fresh Rosemary, diced
  • Fresh ground Black Pepper (about 1 tablespoon)
  • A pinch of Sea Salt (really, just a pinch; not even a teaspoon)

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook time: 15 minutes

1. Put the shrimp in the pan with the bacon oil and turn the pan on high heat.
Note: Be sure to start/prepare your side dish with enough time to complete that before serving your meal.

2. Cook the shrimp in the pan on high until the water starts to sizzle, then add the spices so that they are well distributed by the boiling water.

3. Stirring regularly, continue to cook on high until the water has mostly boiled off.

4. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook the shrimp, covered, for 2 minutes.

5. Stir again, and cook covered for another 2 minutes.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Note: If you’re going to serve this with the Sweet Potato “Fries” that I have in the picture; they’re GREAT if you cook them in a similar amount of bacon grease, following a similar recipe to this one with two exceptions: use “Medium” heat rather than high, and cook them covered the entire time.

Questions:

  • Do you have friends, family, co-workers, or even your trainer trying to tell you that not eating grains or beans is somehow unhealthy?
  • How do you handle your nay-sayers?
  • Do you have a different approach for co-workers versus friends, and another different approach for family?

What’s For Dinner? Lemongrass Shrimp


LemongrassShrimp

UPC’s Lemongrass Shrimp

This morning was about as close to the idyllic summer morning as I can imagine. The sun was shining, the birds were out and singing. There were popcorn clouds in the otherwise bright blue sky. The water, and NYC beyond were glittering in the bright morning sun. And I missed my ferry by about 30 seconds. It was just too beautiful to pick up my pace, and I ended up missing my ferry as a result. And it was OK with me. Days like today are my reward for always choosing to be happy.

Lemongrass Shrimp; What you’ll need:

  • 1lb Frozen Wild-Caught Shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Lemongrass stalk, finely sliced
  • Avocado and Cherry Tomatoes on the side

LemongrassShrimpCookingServes: 2
Prep and Cook Time: 25 minutes

1. Put the shrimp in a pan on high, with the coconut oil and coconut butter. Cover and cook.

2. While the shrimp is cooking, slice the lemongrass stalk and add to the pan when ready.

3. After about 3 minutes of cooking, uncover the shrimp and let the liquid boil off completely, stirring regularly.

4. As the shrimp in the pan starts to sizzle, stir constantly until the shrimp starts to brown lightly. Serve immediately.

New Recipe Format:

So, as you may have noticed, I changed the way I am writing my recipes. I will probably continue to mess around a bit with the overall formatting, but I needed to fit my recipe format more to what people traditionally think of when they think of a recipe. Or maybe I don’t. Maybe what you all want to read is the “extra writing” that I normally add in each step of my recipe? Maybe that’s what makes me special? If you have an opinion, let me know! I’ve been blogging for a bit over 6 months now, so it’s a good time for me to take a look at what I am doing, and how I’m doing it to maximize my benefit, and yours.
Don’t get me wrong, I like my rambling! A 750-1000 word blog post is just right for me! What I really need to know is whether or not it’s also just right for you readers. Which leads me to my next topic:

New Format:

Ok, no “Questions” for today. At least, no formally formatted questions. I’m trying to decide if I’ll keep that section, or if I’ll let that go by the wayside as an interesting experiment. I’ve got some great contributors, and some really great comments, and I really want to keep the commentary alive between me and you readers. So I am trying to decide if you readers are just interested in me producing great content, or if part of that great content is a call-to-action in my post, which gives you something to respond to. In that way, I am reconsidering the “Questions” at the end of my post, looking around at what other successful bloggers are doing, and in general reconsidering the format of my posts. I suppose this is a good growth opportunity for me, right? Well, if any of you have any comments on how my posts should be organized, feel free to pipe in! I welcome any and all suggestions!

What’s For Dinner? – Blackened Shrimp, Avocado, And Mango


BlackenedShrimp

I’ve really been enjoying the “Blackened” flavor of the past few days. The accidentally smoked beef post yesterday had my mouth watering all day – and I could not wait to give it a try with a different kind of meat! This time, however, it was entirely intentional!

How I Did It, and What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb frozen Wild-Caught Shrimp (I used a seafood mix with shrimp, calamari, and scallops)
  • 2 medium sweet/yellow Onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut oil
  • Fresh Black Pepper (at least 1 tablespoon, but apply generously)
  • Italian Seasoning
  • 1 large Avocado
  • 1 large Mango

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: About 35 minutes

Slice up the onions and caramelize them in the pan with the coconut oil. This is an important first step, and cannot be combined with cooking the shrimp. Also, these are not going to be used, so have a container handy to take most of them out afterward. Because of how you’ll cook these, I suggest having some tasty vinegar and some quality olive oil to store them with for your next use.

Overcook the caramelized onions significantly. These should be crispy, and should be leaving that “burnt” residue behind on the pan. We’re using onions for this job for a couple of reasons: first, they have quite a satisfactory “burnt” flavor. Second, they do this job very well – perhaps the best of any food I’ve used. So if you’re looking to produce a “burnt” flavor and coloring, onions are just the tool for the job! Be careful, though. You want these to be significantly overcooked, and to leave a residue behind. But you do not want to completely ruin them and have to throw them away – we don’t like wasting food, after all!

Once the onions are well overdone and removed from the pan, add the shrimp and cook on high. I like to start these out covered, because it makes it easiest in the long run to heat them up and thaw them all out. But as soon as they’re at a rolling boil, I take the cover off to let the liquid boil off, leaving just the shrimp and flavor behind! Be sure to stir regularly and thoroughly as the liquid is boiled off, to ensure that the flavor has even distribution on the shrimp.

While the shrimp is cooking, slice up the mango and avocado. Mango and avocado are the perfect accompaniment for this meal! The shrimp have a very rich, heavy flavor. So accompanying them with just the right sides is important – if you use something too rich, it could make the dish overpowering. But if you use a salad, it may not support the “blackened” flavor enough.

Serving:

As soon as the shrimp is done, serve the dish. These are great piping hot! Like most seafood dishes, they’re not that good if you let them cool too much, so the sooner you get to eating, the better they’ll taste!

If you’ve got questions, suggestions, or any other reason to write in, please post in the comments!

Also: I posed some questions in my post yesterday, and didn’t get a lot of responses. Please take a quick read through and help me out! The link can be found here:

http://urbanpaleochef.com/2013/04/16/unintentionally-smoked-beef-i-did-it-again/

What’s For Dinner? – Quick Shrimp Stir Fry


CoconutShrimpAndStirFry2

I like it when I can combine high-quality with quick and easy. It’s certainly not always possible, but when you live your life “on the go” as so many people do these days, it’s great to have a few “quick and easy” recipes up your sleeve. It can really make the difference between keeping to your diet, and falling off the wagon. And perhaps bouncing once or twice as you hit the ground! Today’s meal is just exactly that kind of combination, the quick and easy mixed up nicely with high quality!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Shrimp (wild caught, frozen)
  • 1 large Carrot, sliced
  • 1 Parsnip, sliced
  • 1 medium Sweet Potato, sliced
  • 1 large Yellow Onion, sliced (or any variety of onion, especially red!)
  • 4 tablespoons Coconut oil
  • 1 inch Ginger, fresh, diced
  • Spices: Italian Seasoning, Cumin

Cook and Prep time: About 30 minutes
Serves: 2

Put the shrimp in one pan, with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and turn the heat to high. These can cook at the same time, but I’ll discuss the shrimp first. Cooking the shrimp could not be easier! Leave it cooking on high for about 10 minutes, then stir it thoroughly, then leave it cooking until all the water has boiled off. As soon as all the water boils off, the shrimp is done. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes, and more likely will be complete at around 20 minutes.

While the shrimp is cooking, put the sliced stir-fry veggies in a pan with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and turn the heat to high. I really like the “Home Fry” shape of veggies, so I try to make my slices pretty long, somewhere around 2.5-3 inches in length, about 1 inch wide, and about 1/2 inch thick. The shape will contribute to the presentation of the dish, as you can see in the picture above – and more importantly longer slices saves on prep time! Faster, easier, and looks better? Sounds great!

As soon as the stir-fry pan starts to sizzle, cover it and turn down the heat to about medium, or 5 out of 10. You want it covered because the liquid in the vegetables will start to steam the veggies, speeding up the cooking process, and helping to soften them. While the stir fry is cooking, dice the ginger, and get ready to add it, with the spices, to the stir fry. It’s the perfect time to prepare the ginger. If you like, you can add all these same spices to the shrimp as well – they’ll taste great!

After about 5 minutes of cooking covered, stir the stir-fry, then add the ginger and spices on top. Continue to cook this covered, stirring every 1-2 minutes. The ginger and spices will really seep in to the stir fry as long as there’s still some water in the pan from the veggies – it’s a delicious effect!

Serving:

As soon as the shrimp is done, the stir-fry will be done too. These should be served together on a dish. You can toss them together in the same pan first, or serve them separately – either way is delicious! And enjoy!

For more “What’s For Breakfast?” and “What’s For Dinner?” posts, check back daily! If you have any requests, comments, suggestions, questions or complaints, please jump in on the comments board!

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.

SeafoodMofongo1

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!