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Paleo Comfort Foods

 

This book is absolutely amazing.  It is 323 pages full of valuable information, creative recipes, and stunning pictures.  I pre-ordered the book when I heard NomNomPaleo talking about it, and I am so glad I did!

The book is bigger than I expected… and packed full of recipes.  They also give you a great run-down of necessary kitchen items, which is a great addition.

The recipe categories are: starters & snacks, sauces & staples, soups & salad, on the side, main dishes, and desserts.

I am especially excited about trying the following: morning glory muffins, cave ketchup, coconut flour tortillas, chicken and grape salad, chili, chicken soup, beef stew, sauteed apples, sweet potato casserole, breakfast egg muffins, chicken breasts with mushroom sauce, decadent chocolate cake, and lemon squares.

Oh my!  Maybe I should take the week off just for cooking!

Click here to order.  You will not be disappointed.  Promise.

Cookbook Review: Paleo Slow Cooking

I have been looking forward to this cookbook since I originally heard Chrissy Gower announce that she was writing it.  Slow cooking is so easy and rewarding!  What’s easier than tossing a bunch of whole food ingredients into a pot, turning it on, and coming home to a house that smells great, and a ready dinner.

Since I started eating Paleo-style (over a year ago), I’ve found a few slow cooker recipes here and there, but having a whole cookbook full of them is wonderful!  I will definitely be using my slow cooker more than ever now!

I’m really impressed with this book.  Chrissy begins by telling her story, and she talks alot about her family, and why slow cooking works so well for them.  Robb Wolf also wrote a section entitled “Why Cook At All?” in which the health benefits of cooking versus eating all raw foods are explained.

There is a section on cooking tactics, and a section on the best options for slow cooker ingredients.

And then there are the recipes!!  I had no idea that one could make so many things in a slow cooker!  Chrissy provides breakfast ideas, soups and stews, main dishes, side dishes, and desserts.  Woah.

Last night I made Pesto Chicken.  It was SO easy, and I was thrilled to finish off my basil plant for some delicious pesto.  This dish only needed to cook for four hours, and it smelled amazing!  At dinner time, I sauteed some kale in onions, coconut oil, and garlic, and served the Pesto Chicken on top.  It was so yummy, and we had plenty of leftovers.

What I love about slow cooking is the comforting, easy texture of the food.  Everything is soft, warm, and falling apart.

Here are a few of the recipes I’m most eager to try:

Breakfast:  Slow Cooked Almond Apple Cereal

Soups and Stews:  Classic Chicken Soup

Main Dishes:  Grandpa’s BBQ Beef and NorCal Margarita Chicken

Side Dishes:  Sweet Potato Chips

Dessert:  Chocolate Almond Butter Swirl Brownies

 

This book is available on Amazon for only $16!  Click Here.

(I make no commissions from this recommendation)

Paleo Ketchup + a tip!

I haven’t really had ketchup since July of last year (when I started eating Paleo-style).  I have been pretty appalled by the ridiculous list of ingredients (not to mention sugar content!) of the brands I used to consume, so I dumped the container(s) that were in my fridge, and never bought more.

But I have definitely missed ketchup!  I love to slather it on a big, grass-fed beef burger… there is nothing quite like it!

I was pretty thrilled to see that Paleo Comfort Foods, my all-time favorite Paleo cookbook, has a fantastic recipe for homemade ketchup.  It is easy to make, and it has a deliciously sweet after-taste, with no hint of chemicals (as you will probably find in typical store-bought ketchups).

The only problem?  We consumed most of the batch right after making it. 

A Ketchup Tip

Next time I make ketchup, I’ll be doubling (or tripling!) the recipe.

Then I’ll portion the batches into ice cube trays and freeze for later use.  These sizes will be perfect to defrost and slather all over something delicious.

Love it!

Is Paleo Expensive? [my thoughts + money-saving ti...

Lately, I have heard alot of comments about how Paleo is “SOOOOOOOOOOO expensive!!!!!!”  I have to admit, I always get a little frustrated when I hear this.

Let me begin by telling you a little about my own budget.  My husband and I love Dave Ramsey, and we’re on the “get outta debt FAST” plan.  We live in a tiny 1 bedroom / 1 bathroom apartment that has a VERY TINY kitchen with no dishwasher.  We do not pay for cable.  We have super-cheap cell phones (they are not “smart”) and a minimal cell plan that doesn’t even include texting (GASP!).  We drive older cars so we won’t have to make car payments.  We are able to toss alot of money toward paying off our debt because we live very modestly and frugally.  And we are HAPPY this way!  Our time together, our memory-making, and our health is more important to us than “stuff.”  For more of my thoughts on this topic, click here.

(Update: We are now debt-free! And we have added texting to our cell phones… fun!)

That being said, I am no stranger to a tight budget.  I know what it’s like to stretch the items in the back of the refrigerator into an actual meal.  Trust me, I do not want to spend more than I have to spend on anything!

However, a major part of every human being’s budget (written or not) is “food.”  Unless you live on a self-sustaining farm, stocked with plants AND animals, you probably make several trips to the local grocery store or Farmer’s Market each month.

How much will you spend?  Well, you have a couple of options…  You can get a whole week of groceries for $50 (or less) if you stock up on rice, beans, boxed pastas, cans, processed foods, and other fake foods.  This may be a great solution for your wallet, but it will wreck your body (both now and in the future).

The other option is to BUY REAL FOOD.  You know… meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Paleo foods!  Is it more expensive?  Yes, real foods will cost you more than fake foods (very similar to the way a REAL Coach bag will cost you more than a knock-off… just not quite to that extreme).

 

What you have to do is answer this question: Is it worth it?

 

Let me make a few points here to help you decide…

1. In today’s culture, the expectation of how much we should spend on groceries is SERIOUSLY skewed.  Sure, grocery prices have gone up in the last few years, but if you are expecting to feed a family of four on $75/week, you must be filling your cart with cheap crap.  The folks on television give you ideas about how much you should be spending on groceries, but what are they suggesting you purchase?  From what I’ve seen, their suggestions are often based on the USDA food pyramid (which has GRAINS for its foundation!).  Think a little harder about how you came up with the amount you allow yourself to spend on groceries.

If you spend more on your cable or cell phone bill than you spend on food (the sustenance that nourishes and sustains your body), there is a problem.

2. When you make wise choices for your body, you protect your health.  So while it may be a little more expensive to buy REAL FOOD, you are almost certainly saving yourself from the inevitable medications, supplements, and even hospital bills that are looming in your future.  I’d say that’s worth the investment.  One of my Facebook fans also made the point that a Paleo diet may also prevent missed time at work due to digestion issues, migraines, joint pain, sickness, etc… not to mention the money that you would have spent on medication to treat these issues!  My husband and I have definitely found this to be true.

3. If you are eating REAL FOOD, you do not have to purchase supplements!  Grass-fed meat and healthy produce will provide almost all the vitamins and minerals you need.  Eat clean, and trust that you don’t need to make so many stops at GNC.

4. REAL FOOD makes you feel better!  Do you know how much people spend on feel-good items like alcohol, nicotine, coffee, etc.?  I have found that the increased energy and more steady moods I experience when I’m eating clean really helps minimize my stress-level.  So say “goodbye” to that outrageous Starbucks bill!

5. Eating REAL FOOD allows you to seriously chop the “eating out” allowance.  Now that we make real, delicious foods at home, we don’t have much of a desire to go out to eat.  We will occasionally go out on a date, but most of the time we would rather KNOW exactly what we’re eating, and enjoy the comforts of home!  We always make enough food to have leftovers for lunch the following day, so no need to go spend way too much money on crap food then either!

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So yes… eating REAL FOOD may be more expensive than eating processed, knock-off foods.  

Is it worth it?  My answer is ABSOLUTELY!

As a matter of fact, when people ask me if Paleo is “expensive,” my immediate answer is NO!  I believe that a Paleo diet is one of the most important ways I can take care of myself and my husband, so I would find a way to make it happen no matter what!

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In my opinion, you can either pay for real food with your wallet, OR you can pay for crap food with your health.

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You may think you’re winning with that cheapo grocery budget right now, but you’re going to regret it later… maybe even tomorrow morning.

Now that we’ve established that Paleo-eating is worth the money, let me give you some good news!

IT’S NOT THAT EXPENSIVE!

Unless you are buying everything organic and only shopping at health food stores, a weekly grocery-shop shouldn’t break the bank!  I spend about $150 each week on groceries, and that covers real foods, grass-fed meats, any other grocery items, PLUS all our toiletries and paper products.  This amount also covers all breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners (including a few dinners that we share with friends).

While there are not usually a multitude of coupons for Paleo foods (usually they are for boxes and cans!), there are several ways to save money while you eat well.

*Don’t go all out on pre-packages snacks.  If you want to save money, you have to be willing to put in a little effort.  When we first started eating Paleo, we bought alot of Larabars, jerky, individually-packaged nuts, etc.  These items are pretty pricey!  I like to keep a Larabar or a PaleoKit/PrimalPac in my purse “for emergencies,” but it is far cheaper to make your own jerky, pack your own nuts from bulk bags, and generally just snack on vegetables!  The majority of our snacks are vegetables and fruits.

*Shop the Farmer’s Market!  You will be amazed at how much you can save by skipping the middle-man!  Support your local economy, and go directly to the farmer!  PLUS you get the added benefits of eating seasonally!

*Not EVERYTHING has to be organic.  Check out this chart for guidance.

*Buy in bulk.  Reserve a portion of your grocery budget to save for a big grass-fed beef order, or for a big tub of coconut oil.  You will get out cheaper this way.

*Take a few weeks to shop around, and compile a list of the best deals.  For example, I have learned to only buy almond meal at Trader Joe’s.  It is $3.99/lb. there, while almond flour costs $10.99/lb. at a regular grocery/health food store.

*Check out Paleo on a Budget.  She does a great shopping list and coupon match-up every week!

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For more information on the “expense” of Paleo-eating, check out these fantastic articles:

“Paleo is EXPENSIVE!” (Robb Wolf)

Priorities for Eating Paleo on a Budget (Diane Sanfilippo, Balanced Bites)

In the meantime, don’t come to me

(smartphone in hand, highlights in hair, car payment on mind)

and complain about how “expensive” it is to eat REAL FOOD.  

You just might hit a nerve.

My Favorite Paleo Snacks

I have recently started moving away from pre-packaged snacks (like Larabars, beef jerky, trail mix, etc.). After taking a close look at several recent grocery store receipts, I discovered that the most expensive category was that of snack food items.  These items are definitely not “necessities” in my diet, so I have decided to really cut down on them.  I still keep a Larabar in my purse for “hunger emergencies,” but I am not consuming one each day like I was before.
Since Dustin and I are “snackers,” I had to find some replacements for the convenient pre-packaged items I used to pack in our lunch bags.  Here are a few of my favorites…

Garden Fresh Meatballs - I love this recipe from Sarah Fragoso.  She has taken lots of excellent meat and vegetables, and combined them in a bite-sized little package.  I make a double recipe of these, and keep a bag in my freezer.  They are delicious, and very filling!  They are great re-heated, but I enjoy them lukewarm too.

Egg Cupcakes - These are another protein-packed treat.  Egg Cupcakes have some of the same ingredients as the meatballs, but you can switch it up based on your favorite vegetables  (for example, try adding shredded carrots or chopped green peppers instead of spinach, etc.).  My Mom made these for our breakfast when we visited my parents over the weekend, and she used sausage instead of bacon.  They were delicious!

This recipe also came from Sarah Fragoso.

Paleo Comfort Foods also has an excellent version.

These are not as delicious from the freezer as they are fresh, but they are definitely good cold or lukewarm!

Sweet Potato Wedges - These have become one of my favorite on-the-go snacks for busy days.  When I am using tons of energy, the carbs help me re-fuel and keep going!  Aside from that, they are absolutely delicious.  Just peel your sweet potatoes, slice them into wedges, and toss in coconut oil (about 1 TBS per potato), cinnamon, sea salt, and a dash of chili powder.  Bake on a foil-lined pan, in a 375-degree oven, for appx. 30 minutes.  I like mine crispy around the edges, so sometimes I will give them a few more minutes.

I keep these in a plastic container when I’m on-the-go  so I can eat them in the car without taking my hand in and out of a plastic bag.

 

A few other non-packages snack items for us have been baby carrots, almonds, apples, bananas with almond butter, coconut flakes, etc.

Happy Snacking!

Food Diary: Fajitas ARE Paleo-Possible!

I had basically given up on the possibility of ever having REAL fajitas again.  Dustin and I love Mexican food, especially fajitas.  We have definitely made tortilla-less Mexican food MANY times since starting Paleo, and it is always delicious.  But I have to be honest:  I have missed wrapping all that goodness up in a delicious, flour-y package.

The first time I looked through my favorite cookbook, Paleo Comfort Foods, I literally shrieked at the sight of this recipe:  Coconut Flour Tortillas.  “What?!  No way!”

Tonight was the night.  And wow- what a treat!

You start by spooning a very small amount of batter into a skillet.  It spreads really well!

When the first side is golden, you flip it to cook the other side.  My tortillas did not turn out as pretty as the picture in the cookbook, but that’s okay… they were for eating, not for framing.

In the meantime, I cooked up some onions, peppers, and chicken, seasoned with my NEW Mexican spices from Penzey’s.

We piled it all on a plate with some spinach, salsa, guacamole.

Wouldn’t you love to sink your teeth into this?

Sorry… it’s gone.

Food Diary: Paleo Chocolate Cake? Yes.

 

I have been making alot of Paleo desserts lately… probably too many! Maybe it’s because I’m so eager to try every single recipe from my new cookbook, Paleo Comfort Foods.  So far they have all been delicious, and this one definitely goes in the “AMAZING!” category, though I would also categorize it as a “cheat dessert,” because it does contain butter and dark chocolate chips (and I could not find any that did not contain some added sugar).

Decadent Chocolate Cake with a Kick is rich and moist.  It is made mostly of eggs, butter, and dark chocolate chips, but it also contains coconut flour, a little vanilla, and a few other ingredients.  The “kick” in the recipe comes from a little cayenne pepper and chipotle powder.  I did not have chipotle powder, but I was brave and tried the cayenne pepper.  I have to admit, I wish I had left that part out.  It was a little too much of a “kick” for me!  When you take a bite, you’re amazed at the truly decadent richness of the chocolate, but then when you reach the after-taste, you think “wow- that is spicy!”  In my opinion, chocolate cake and spices do not mix well, but that’s just me.  This recipe will definitely be made again… without the “kick.”

 

Food Diary: a WOW! paleo dessert

On Thursday evening, Dustin and I had dinner with our good friends, Jon and Ashleigh.  They grilled chicken, and it was delicious!

I decided to bring a dessert, and of course, it had to be Paleo-friendly!

I looked in my new cookbook, Paleo Comfort Foods, and found a recipe for Cool Berry Tart.  It was easy to make, and SO delicious!  I topped it with a little homemade whipped cream.  We were all very impressed.  It was actually what we would consider “restaurant-worthy.”  Here’s the recipe… you should totally give this a try!  For other dessert ideas, check out this post.

Cool Berry Tart

For the Filling:

1 cup water

1 tbs honey

2 cups strawberries

2 cups blackberries

(note: I did not have fresh fruit, so I used 2 cups of frozen blackberry/raspberry/blueberry mixture, thawed)

For the Crust

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup macadamia nut or other neutral-tasting oil (note: I used melted coconut oil)

1 tbs honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Heat water, honey, and berries in a medium sauce pan.  Crush berries with potato masher, and simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The fruit filling should reduce by a fourth.

2. While fruit is simmering, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.

4. Mix honey, oil, and vanilla in a separate bowl, and pour the wet ingredients into the dry.  Mix until throughly combined.

5. Press the dough into a pie pan, and bake for 10 minutes, or until light brown.

6. Remove crust from oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  If you time it right, your fruit filling should be done now, and cooling.

7. After fruit mixture has cooled a bit, pour into crust, and place in refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

Whipped Cream

I poured 2 cups of organic heavy whipping cream into a mixing bowl with 1 tbs honey. Use an electric mixer to whip the cream until it reaches desired  consistency.  The cream will actually double in size.  Start slow, and gradually increase the speed of the mixer.  Be careful not to over-whip, and the cream will start to separate, and will not be as smooth.

(Note: this photo was taken the day after I made the whipped cream… as it sits, it begins to collapse, which is why my whipped cream doesn’t look as “fluffy” as it was the night before.)

A Paleo Dessert

“Dessert” is a broad term at our house.  It is usually just a word to describe the snack we eat after dinner, or before going to bed.  What we used to consider desserts (cakes, pies, ice cream, cookies, etc.), are not really part of our diet anymore.  Sure, there are some delicious Paleo cake and cookie recipes, but even those are special treats.  Our goal is to eat as little sugar (even natural sugars) and carbs as we can, yet still enjoy life to the fullest!  Our Whole30 challenged us to break several bad eating habits, and we are really thrilled with the results!

One of the things I love about Paleo desserts is that they do not make you feel disgusting after you’ve eaten them.  For example, tonight we had a special “treat dessert.”  It was “Feelin’ Peachy,” from Sarah Fragoso’s amazing cookbook Everyday Paleo.  The idea is to slice peaches in half, spoon a delicious filling (almonds, raisins, apricots, cinnamon, etc. from the food processor) on top, and then bake in the oven.  It was absolutely amazing- almost decadent, yet I do not feel as though I’ve just voided all the healthy eating I’ve done all week. Score!

Here are a few of our favorite Paleo “desserts:”

1. Dark Chocolate.  Not a whole bar of dark chocolate… just a few squares.   Enjoy with a cup of steaming coffee (with full-fat coconut milk for cream, and a sprinkle of cinnamon, of course!).

2. Smoothies.  We have smoothies several days of the week.  Our smoothies usually consist of different combinations of the same ingredients. In breakfast smoothies, we may combine berries, coconut milk, spinach (you can’t taste it!), almond butter, and cinnamon.  For a dessert smoothie, we may combine peaches, coconut milk, cinnamon, and ice.  We have found a ton of delicious smoothie combinations that I will share in a later post.

3. “Peaches and Cream.”  You can do this with almost any fresh fruit, but peaches are our go-to fruit right now, since they are in season.  Cut a peach into bite-size chunks and place in a shallow bowl.  Pour 1/3 can of full-fat coconut milk on top.  Sprinkle some cinnamon, and stir to combine.  It is even more delicious than it sounds.

4. Frappes.  Combine one cup of chilled, strong coffee with one frozen banana, 1 tsp. of cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of full-fat coconut milk.  This makes a delicious, frosty, coffee-flavored treat.

5. Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Tea.  Have you tried it?  If not, you are totally missing out!  Add a drizzle of honey if you need a little more satisfaction for your sweet tooth.

6. Cool Berry Tart.  This recipe is the closest thing I’ve had to the old-fashioned berry cobbler.  It is amazing.

7. Chocolate Cake!!!  This is a very special treat…

We also love to try random recipes from amazing Paleo cookbooks.  I have already mentioned Sarah Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo.  Today I also received my pre-ordered copy of the BRAND NEW Paleo Comfort Foods.  It is a beautiful, very thorough cookbook with all Paleo-approved ingredients.  I am in love.  Some of the dessert recipes include banana nut bread (yes, you did read that correctly!), poached pears, tarts, cobblers, crisps, puddings, lemon squares, and more!  I cannot wait to give some of these a try!

On the Menu {week of Apr. 30}

When I first started eating Paleo-Style, I really benefitted from seeing a few weekly meal plans.  I knew that I could make “meat and vegetables,” but I needed some examples of how to make those things take shape on our plates.

Every weekend I sit down and plan my meals for the week.  I usually go to the Farmer’s Market first, and then make a plan based on what is in season. 

This is mainly just a dinner menu.  We usually have eggs, frittatassmoothiesPrimal Oatmealdiced chicken, etc., for breakfast.  

We always have leftovers from dinner for lunch the following day.

I hope this helps you as much as it helped me!

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I am using my cookbooks this week!  I don’t always use this many recipes, but I’ll have a little extra time this week, so I’m looking forward to trying a few new things!

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Monday

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Tonight we had some pork tenderloin (seasoned with rosemary, turmeric, and pumpkin pie spice), roasted broccoli, and mashed sweet potatoes.  SO good!

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Tuesday

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Tomorrow night we’re having Secret Liver Burgers topped with homemade ketchup (from Paleo Comfort Foods), avocado, cucumbers, lettuce, and Balsamic Onions (from Make it Paleo).

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Wednesday

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On Wednesday night we’re having Spice Rubbed RoastRoasted Turnips, and Swiss Chard.

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Thursday

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On Thursday, we’re having Puerto Rican Beef.  Yum!

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Friday

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On Friday, we’re having dinner with some friends, and I’m making Smoky Brisket, mashed cauliflower, roasted carrots, and Warm Arugula Salad.  For dessert, I’m making Banana Pudding from (Paleo Comfort Foods).

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Saturday

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On Saturday, we’re having steak, radishes, Kale Salad (Paleo Comfort Foods), and “Beets, Greens, ‘n’ Bacon” (from Everyday Paleo).

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Sunday

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 On Sunday, we’re having Karina’s Sausage Hash (from Everyday Paleo) and a big salad topped with goat cheese.

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What’s on your menu this week?

 

Interview Series: THE CIVILIZED CAVEMAN!

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There are so many bloggers, writers, and smart “paleo-people” out there!  

I thought it might be fun to ask some of them a few questions to see what is going on in their “neck of the woods.”  

For a look at some previous Paleo interviews, click here.

If you are a blogger, and would like to be featured on EasyPaleo.com, be sure to comment on this post so I can contact you.

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This week we’re talking with

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George Bryant

 

The Civilized Caveman

George has, by far, one of the largest Facebook followings of any Paleo Powerhouse out there.  His Facebook page is a fantastic community of people trying to do this Paleo thing!  And if you think that’s cool, his website is even better.  The recipes are FANTASTIC.

One of my favorites is Cannibal Pasilla Peppers.  Delicious!

George was kind enough to agree to an interview, and I have been SO looking forward to sharing it with you!  So who is the caveman behind the site?

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EasyPaleo (EP):  If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?


Civilized Caveman (CC): I try to be the most driven, dedicated, loyal, caring, unselfish person I can be to anyone I come in contact with in my life.

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EP:  Tell us about you… anything you want to say!


CC: Wow this is a tough question… I mean honestly, who likes talking about themselves?  It’s like listening to yourself on voicemail; you never want to hear your voice, or I don’t at least.  I’ll give it a shot and tackle something I don’t think a lot of my readership knows about me: my profession.  So for the past 11 years I have been an active duty United States Marine.  I have been on multiple deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and many other countries that I can’t remember to list.  I work LONG, LONG, LONG days everyday, and then I dedicate whatever free moments I have to training, cooking, photographing, and website work.  I am a one-man show with my website and Facebook page, and I still manage to respond to every single comment and email I can.  I think it is important for people to know this for two reasons:  One reason is that I know I am far from perfect, and I make mistakes on my site, but I ask that everyone bear with me as I don’t always get the opportunity to make it look like I need, or type the words out like they should be typed, but I try my hardest.  The second reason is that I am living proof that, given the toughest of situations in your life, you can still incorporate a healthy Paleo lifestyle and be 100% successful at it.

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EP: How did you discover Paleo, and what is the BIGGEST difference it has made in your life?


CC:
I actually stumbled upon Paleo while I was deployed to Afghanistan in January of 2011.  In my infinite state of insomnia, I was very bored at 2am and was looking around for something to keep me awake.  I found  “The Paleo Solution” (Robb Wolf’s book) on someone’s desk, and decided to pick it up.  Now mind you, I have never read a book without pictures in my life… they just don’t interest me… so this shows the level of delirium I was experiencing from sleep deprivation.  Well, I can honestly say that was the best sleep-deprived decision that I have ever made.  I read that book from cover to cover in a day, and tried my hardest to implement it in Afghanistan, even with my limited food choices.  Once I came home, I was able to dial it in and start reaping the full benefits of the Paleo lifestyle.

As far as the biggest difference, there isn’t just one, but I can narrow it down to the top two.  First: all my allergies (that I had been popping pills for going on 13 years) disappeared.  I was allergic to dogs, cats, dust, dirt, pollen, mold, seafood, etc., and as soon as I did my first “30-Day Transformation Challenge,” they all disappeared.  Second: my body image.  I don’t care what anyone says, men have some serious self-image issues even if they hide it.  Overall, my body composition drastically changed with Paleo, but that’s not what made the difference.  Just knowing I didn’t have to count this, weigh that, portion this, eat at this hour, etc., liberated me to just enjoy food and its place in my life.  If you follow a simple Paleo lifestyle and break all the traditional bull crap molds you are taught throughout life, you will really start to enjoy what life has to offer.


EP: Do you have an all-time favorite recipe?

CC: Ok, so I am really bad at answering questions, apparently, because every time you ask for one answer I want to give two or ten.  But I will keep this simple and just give two.  The first one would have to be the first Paleo recipe I ever made when I got home from Afghanistan.  It was the Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies from my amazing and loving friends (family), Hayley and Bill from the Food Lover’s Primal-Palate.  They have two websites you can find HERE and  HERE. 

My all-time favorite recipe of my own would have to be my Blueberry Espresso Brownies.  These things were just thrown together in my kitchen using whatever I had around, and they turned out amazing.  This is the most-requested recipe for me to make for friends and family, and that is awesome because it stops me from eating them all myself.


EP: What has been your biggest Paleo challenge, and how did you overcome it?

CC: I am sure that after reading the previous question you are assuming this answer would be my sweet cravings, but you are wrong.  But for real, if you do have sugar cravings you need to run your butt over to see Diane from Balanced Bites and do her 21-Day Sugar Detox.  Oh yeah… told you I was bad at interviews since I can’t even answer this question without tangents – haha.  My biggest Paleo challenge, hands down, is my profession.  Having to deal with extended operations in the field, deployments, and long nights away from home has proven to be difficult, but doable.  My best advice for everyone is to just plan ahead.  I always have at least ten packages of assorted stuff from my awesome buddy Steve at Steve’s Original to hold me over if I have failed to plan, or if work gets a little crazy and keeps me.  Just ensure that you are always setting yourself up for success.  Not planning to bring meals, and limiting yourself to whatever options you have around are a sure-fire way to fail, and I won’t allow myself to do it.

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EP: What do you wish EVERYONE knew about Paleo?

CC: Everyone needs to know that this isn’t a diet.  It is not about losing weight quick, looking good for a wedding, fitting into a pair of pants, looking your best for your high school reunion, etc.  It is ALL about taking control of your health and making the decisions that are going to benefit you in the long-run.  Yes, one of the benefits of living a Paleo Lifestyle may be some weight loss or inches lost, but what is happening on your insides is way more important to ensuring the longevity of your life.

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EP: Paleo-eating does not have to be difficult… how do you make this lifestyle an easy element of your life?

CC: This is always my favorite question to answer, and the first part of it never changes.   BUY A CROCKPOT.  I can honestly tell you that I have 7 of them, but the possibilities are limitless.  Stressed about recipes? Stressed about food for the week? Stressed about time to cook? Not anymore.  Pretty much all of my crockpot recipes start the same way: a mirepoix (onions, celery, carrots), a hunk of meat, some salt and pepper, and then, depending on the cut, sometimes a liquid.  I prep it the night before and put the whole crockpot in the refrigerator.  At 4am when I am leaving for work, I pull it out, put it in the crockpot, and never worry about dinner.  I come home to an amazing meal.  If you are curious I have an entire section on my website dedicated to crockpot recipes… find it here.

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EP: If you could go back to eating a particular food that you choose not to eat now, what would it be?

CC: I love that you asked me this question, because there isn’t anything.  I do not miss anything that I cut out, and I feel amazing.  It’s very empowering to know that food doesn’t control your life, but you control what nutrients you are giving your body.  All those SAD foods people say they miss, I definitely don’t.  I don’t miss the hazy feelings, the stomach pains, the sugar cravings, the irregular sleep patterns, the lack of energy, etc.

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EP: If you could drop everything right now and take a month-long vacation, where would you go, and which recipes would you want to be sure and make while there? 

CC:  I want to go anywhere with enough room to house myself and the following people (and a GIBOSTIC kitchen)…  In no particular order, I would like the following people there with me: Bill and Hayley from Primal Palate, Diane from Balanced Bites, Michelle and Henry from Nom Nom Paleo and Fitbomb, Bobby Gil from Ultragrassfed, Liz Wolfe from Cave Girl Eats, Stacy and Matt from Paleo Parents, Laura from Ancestralize Me, Diana from Radiance Nutrition, Anthony from Kasandrinos, and Julie and Charles from Paleo Comfort Foods.

Before we get to the recipes, I have to tell you what the staples in the house would be.  We would have to have Fermented Cod liver oil to keep a few people happy.  On top of that, I think all of us would need some grass-fed butter for our bulletproof coffee, and dark chocolate. Those would be all of our basic sustenance necessities… and now for recipes.  Haha – honestly a lot of people think us bloggers eat all fancy-schmancy, but truth is: we keep it simple.  As long as we have bacon, it pretty much doesn’t matter what else we eat.  So yeah, that’s my final answer… BACON.


EP:  Is there a food item (Paleo or not) that you absolutely can’t stand, or are you pretty “equal-opportunity” when it comes to grub?

CC:  So this is a loaded question, but I will stay as politically correct as possible – haha.  There are lots of non-Paleo items that I cannot stand now, just because I simply understand how horrible they are for you.  I am personally not a parent, but to be blunt, the options that the children in this country are provided at schools is $#(!($)%*$(@*#$&(^($*#&#$… and that is the nice version.  As far as Paleo foods, I am pretty equal-opportunity.  During Paleo Fx in Austin this year, I happened to hit my 1-year Paleo anniversary, and went to dinner with all those awesome people listed in the previous question.  Well, that was the first time I ever ate raw beef in the form of a delicious tartar, and I also had duck breast for the first time.  You can see the pictures, as well as all of Austin here.

 

EP: Tell us what you thought of Paleo f(x).  What was the best part?

A.  This has to be the easiest question for me, and I already answered it above.  I pretty much lived with all those people for a week, and it was amazing.  It was the total Paleo real world, and the conversations that took place with the great company into the wee hours of the morning made the whole trip worth it.

 

EP: Tell how you started Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations.

CC:  So my website and page actually kind of all started as a way to deal with an inconvenience.  When I returned from Afghanistan in March of 2011, I started eating Paleo and decided that it was time to teach myself how to cook.  I started making all this food, and never had anyone to share it with.  Solution: I would bring it to the gym with me.  Everyone would ask for the recipes, and I didn’t feel like constantly sending emails, so I made a Facebook page.  The name was just a quick-witted idea that popped into my head, and I ran with it.  Well, I posted strictly on facebook for about a month until I started have complaints about reading the recipes in the notes, and that is when I decided to start a blog.  That was April 1st, 2011, and here we are today.

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EP: What is your FAVORITE kitchen tool or appliance, and why?

CC:  I feel like I have an arsenal of favorites, but as I mentioned above, I think the best “all around bang for your buck” tool is a Crockpot.  I personally have 7 of them, and they get used religiously due to my hectic work schedule.  For anyone who tells me that they never have time to eat this way or cook, my first question is always “do you have a crock pot?”


EP:  Tell us about your current giveaway.

CC:  Ahhh, the giveaways.  First off, I think everyone should know that you can ask any Paleo blogger (or blogger, period), and they will all tell you the same thing: these things are a pain in the butt to put together.  The logistics on the back end are a nightmare, as well as dealing with all state and federal laws and regulations governing giveaways, as well as all the policies and procedures that social media outlets have.  But, there really is no hurdle that would stop me from doing them.  I love them because it gives people the opportunity to get excited about their health, and in some cases, it affords people the opportunity to win something they might not be able to afford.  It is the most rewarding feeling knowing that you touched someone’s life for the better, and makes all the hard work worth it.  No one knows about this yet, but keep your eyes peeled for May 1st… I guarantee you that EVERYONE will be excited about the giveaway I have coming up.

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EP: Anything else you’d like to add?

CC:  Just a final issue I see throughout this community that needs to stop.  All too often I see people trying to make the Paleo/Primal movement into a dogmatic society.  It drives me nuts.  Take a step back and lead by example, don’t try to force feed your beliefs on anyone because you became addicted to the Paleo Kool-Aid.  I am a firm believer that actions speak way louder than words, and a slice of humble pie never hurt anyone.  You know this lifestyle works for you.  You look, feel, perform and just glow excellence… just let those be the words you use to explain the benefits.  People will come flocking once their interest is peaked.  All you need to do is be supportive.

 

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Thank you SO much, George!  You are definitely leading by example.  We appreciate all the time and effort you contribute to the Paleo world!

Food Diary: “See what you can do with BRISKE...

Last time I placed an order for grass-fed beef (for the BEST grass-fed beef you’ve ever tasted, order from Little Creek Ranch!), I found a brisket in my box!  I had not ordered brisket, so I took a look at the invoice.  I saw a note from Ronnie (he owns Little Creek, and I think he’s fantastic!)… it said “See what you can do with brisket!”

I really appreciated the free hunk of meat AND the challenge… Thanks Ronnie!

After looking through some cookbooks, and hunting through some online recipes, I decided to try Smoky Brisket Without The Smoker from Paleo Comfort Foods.  The picture looked tender and amazing, and the instructions were pretty simple.

Without giving away the entire recipe (you should buy the cookbook – it’s worth $1,000, if not more!), it involves lots of garlic, cayenne, coconut aminos, liquid smoke, brewed coffee, beef stock, and MORE!  You cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and bake for over 4 hours at 250 degrees.

When we removed it from the oven, our house was smelling AMAZING, and the meat was so tender that it fell apart when we stabbed it with a fork.  We did not have the jalepenos for which the recipe called, but we didn’t need them!  In fact, I might use 1/2 the cayenne next time… it was spicy and smokey and juicy!  We ate over half of the hunk for dinner, and my husband devoured the rest of it for lunch the following day.  He absolutely loved it.

I served the sliced brisket with the onions from the baking dish, and sautéed some rainbow chard and mushrooms as a side dish.

We loved our dinner, and I will TOTALLY be ordering more brisket when we place our next beef order from Little Creek!