Sunday, November 1, 2009

Another source for "primal"recipes

I've mentioned Mark's Daily Apple before - on his site, Mark espouses what he calls the "Primal" philosophy, which is not quite the same thing as paleo. For one thing, he allows things like soy sauce and sweet potatoes in his recipes. However, he also says quite a bit about working out and exercise (which the paleo diet doesn't directly address), as well as about nutritional supplements, and his site is well worth a look.

Recently, a link appeared on his site to a Google Docs recipe book, and while I haven't had the chance to go through it in detail yet, there are certainly some interesting-looking recipes there. Of course, being primal instead of paleo, some of the recipes are not quite "kosher", but many of them still are.

Friday, October 30, 2009

You can't beat beets!

Beets are a great root vegetable - they are high in folic acid, potassium, calcium, and antioxidants, low in calories, and high in fibre. They are also very cheap to buy fresh - we recently bought a ten-pound (4.5 kg) bag in our local super-mega-mart for $2.99, which is a lot of beets. We're keeping the excess in a paper bag in a cool place (the cave's basement).

I think fresh beets scare people though - how the heck are you supposed to cook them? Short answer - roast them. Here's what we do:

  1. Rinse 1-2 pounds of beets under cool water to knock the excess dirt off, if necessary. If they are fresh beets, trim off the stems/leaves (use in a salad, they're even healthier!) and the "tail" at the bottom.
  2. Place them in a roasting pan.
  3. Roast at 350 F for 1 to 2 hours depending on the size of the beets - when a fork goes in fairly easily, they're done.
  4. Let them cool.
  5. Peel them (this is the messy part).
  6. Slice them, and re-warm them in the microwave.
  7. Delicious with salt, pepper, and butter.
Just keep in mind, beets are very rich in a plant-based dye. Not only will your kitchen look like a murder scene after you're finished peeling them, but you may notice a biological effect over the next 24 hours. As in, certain bodily functions may be somewhat (or more than somewhat), shall we say, tinted.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A new recipe to try?

I'm breaking my rules here a bit, in that I haven't actually tried this recipe yet, but I plan to, very soon. It's based on a medieval recipe, from the book "To The King's Taste", subtitled "Richard II's book of feasts and recipes adapted for modern cooking by Lorna J. Sass" and published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art back in 1975. At first glance, it seems like a lot of garlic, but remember that cooked garlic is much more subtle than raw. Garlic has many benefits to the body, including being an immune booster and reportedly lowering blood pressure.

  • 1 c water
  • 6 bulbs/heads of garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/8 tsp saffron (this could get expensive!)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of mace
  • 1 Tbsp fresh-minced parsley to garnish
  1. Bring the water to a boil, and add everything else except the parsley.
  2. Cover and cook over medium heat about 7 minutes, until the garlic is easily pierced with a fork.
  3. Drain, garnish, and serve.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A little late for Canadian Thanksgiving

But I present here the sausage-and-apple dressing I made for the family this year. I like it - it's savoury and hearty, and ideal for this time of year.

  • 10 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 pounds pork sausage meat, crumbled (no sausage skins)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 medium ribs/stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried sage leaves, crumbled (or 1 tsp powdered sage)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 pound tart apples (such as granny smith), peeld, cored and cut into 1/2" pieces (3 cups or so)
  1. Cook bacon over medium heat until it just begins to brown.
  2. Add crumbled sausage meat to the pan and cook until done.
  3. Add onions and celery and cook until the onions are soft.
  4. Stir in sage, thyme, salt and pepper, then the apples.
  5. Cook until the apples are just soft.
I don't call this "stuffing" because I don't cram it into the bird - too much chance for food poisoning, what with raw turkey "juices" dripping onto it while it's in the oven. If you really must pull something out of the bird at the table, I suggest stuffing it with this after the bird is cooked.

The best laid plans of mice and men are rougly equal...

No sooner do I declare "I'm back", than my lungs revolt, catch a hideous case of bronchitis, and render me largely ineffective for the last several weeks. Fun.

Okay, enough self-pity. Moving ahead, I'm going to aim for a recipe a week. Can't keep the prodigious pace of the past indefinitely, can I?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Okay, it's been a while

But I'm back! No recipe for this post, but I did want to point you to this article, by a nutritionist, answering the same question that paleo adherents get asked A LOT - "How can you give up GRAINS? They're necessary!!!"

No, they're not, but thanks for playing. :-)

Recipe up later today, thanks for sticking with me through this silence.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Not dead, just busy

Hi folks -

This blog isn't dead, I'm just really busy right now, between a high-pressure work project and some personal stuff I need to deal with. We'll be back with new recipes in September, see you all then!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mainly for the meat

Not much of a post today, but I did want to pass this link along for anyone who reads this and happens to live in South-Western Ontario (Toronto or points west). The Black Angus Butcher Shop is where we go about once a month to load up on game meats (which tend to be both leaner and richer in Omega-3 fatty acids than regular beef), including such things as venison, ostrich, wild boar, kangaroo, camel, and even python. Highly recommended if you're in the area, they have two shops, in Mississauga and Thornbury.

And I don't even get a kickback!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fajita bowl

Fajitas aren't quite caveman. Something about a tortilla, even if it's "whole wheat", just isn't properly caveman-esque. However, if you throw out the tortilla, and put everything else in a big bowl, you get a yummy, messy meal that's ready pretty quickly.

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or other oil suitable for frying)
  • 1 onion, chopped into strips or slivers
  • 2 chicken breasts, chopped
  • 2 sweet peppers (green, yellow, orange, red, whatever colour you like), chopped into strips
  • 1 cup tomato-based salsa (yes, you can use store-bought, just check for added "stuff" like sugar)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese, some pickled jalapenos, or whatever you like on your fajitas


  1. Fry the onions in oil until they're translucent.
  2. Add the chicken, and fry until it's no longer an invitation to food poisoning.
  3. Add the peppers, and fry until they're nicely softening.
  4. Add the salsa, stir well, and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  5. Dish up, top with whatever you like (I like cheese and jalapenos), and dig in!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cow farts cause global warming!!!

An oft-repeated statement in the last few years has been that cows (or more accurately, their methane, um, "excretions") contribute some ludicrous amount of carbon to what is typically now referred to as climate change. This is typically done, it seems, to shame us meat-eaters into changing our carnivorous ways and joining the soy-munching brigade at a vegetarian love-fest.

Except, as this article points out, that is a load of, well, cow crap. A typical grass-fed cow is not in any way pulling carbon out of the deep earth - it's performing what is typically called the short-term carbon cycle. Basically, plants take in CO2 and store it as sugars and starches, cows eat the plants, break down the sugars and starches, and release some (but not all) of the same CO2 back into the atmosphere. Livestock can't create new carbon atoms at will - that requires fusion, something that only occurs in that giant blazing ball of fire we call the "sun". Our meat-on-the-hoof is only re-releasing carbon that has already been in the atmosphere quite recently.

The article also points out something that the anti-meat brigade often omits when talking about how much land is required for farming plants versus animals - there's an awful lot of land out there that is useless for growing industrial crops, but is just perfect for our four-legged friends to roam and eat and grow big and fat and succulent. Sorry, I was drooling for a second there.

Anyway, my point (and I do have one, honestly) is that if you're eating locally-sourced, grass-fed, free-range beef (or other such animals), and somebody tries to tell you that you're contributing to the death of the planet, just try to refrain from whacking them with a club, no matter how much it might seem like the "caveman thing to do".

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Where do your veggies come from?

Recently, you may have seen an article similar to this one, talking about a recent study which found that organic fruit and vegetables were not really more nutritious than standard industrial-farming-techniques crops. The organic crowd are attacking this study on several fronts, and they do have some points, but there are also some counter-points to consider.

First up, for some nutrients (such as beta carotene), it did appear that organic food might have somewhat more than the standard crops. However, it should be pointed out that in most nutrient categories, both kinds of crops were roughly the same. Given that, on the paleo diet, I'm typically eating 20 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, the small percentage difference isn't going to make much difference to me - I'm still getting more than 100% of the RDA of most minerals and vitamins. Further, the study does invalidate an oft-repeated claim that organic versions of produce contain "way more vitamins and minerals" (as I've heard claimed).

Second, the study did not consider the pesticide residues and their potential effects on human health. This is a valid criticism, but the study explicitly wasn't looking at that. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that organic produce is not pesticide-free - they simply use pesticides that someone, somewhere, has declared are "organic". You know what? Mother nature has made some pretty vicious poisons that I wouldn't want to be eating. Poison is poison, whether it comes from a lab or it's extracted from some beetle's venom. There are also standards for how much pesticide residue can be left on a piece of produce by the time it gets to market - I'm not sure that the same is true of aflatoxins.

The thing that the organic crowd never mentions is that organic crops, by their nature, generally have significantly lower yield per acre. If everyone on the planet switched to organic produce, we'd need to commit a whole lot more land to farming, which means a lot less land for parks, forests, and so on. Further, even organic crops generally use seeds which have been "tweaked" genetically, even if it is through years of selective breeding instead of a snip of some DNA in a lab. (For example, carrots shouldn't have nearly as much sugar in them as they do.)

While I'm on the topic of produce, someone was recently talking to me about irradiation of food. The way they were talking, it sounded like the entire produce section should glow in the dark! The truth, at least in Canada, is somewhat simpler. The only things that can be irradiated, according to government regulations, are certain spices, onions, and potatoes, and they must all be clearly labelled as such. (The fact is that there is no residual radiation in the foodstuffs so treated, but some people wonder how the treatment affects the nutritional content of the food, and I'm not 100% convinced this question has been answered to date.)

Ultimately, if you want to be sure of your own food supply, you need to grow it yourself, ideally using "heirloom" seeds (which allows you to use a few seeds from each year's crop to sow the following year's bounty). Next best would be your local vegetable stand (ideally where you can see the field your veggies just came from!), and your super-mega-food-mart is a distant third, whether you're buying organic or whatever's on sale. Being a locavore (eating food from within 100km of home) is the ideal, but I live in Canada - six months of the year all I'd get to eat would be snow! Well, not really, but you get the idea.

Update - this article raises a curious question - if pesticides are so bad for us, then why do farmers (who work with the stuff in much higher concentrations than most of us ever run into) have a cancer rate substantially lower than the rest of the population?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chocolate freaking pudding!

Chocolate isn't exactly paleo. But, on the other hand, it's rich in antioxidants and a source of dietary fibre, and there's an awful lot of literature out there suggesting that good, dark chocolate has a place in our "preventative medicine cabinet". Now, when I say dark, I mean dark - minimum 60% cocoa, preferably at least 70%. We often seek out 85% to 90% cocoa mass chocolate - milk chocolate just tastes too sweet now.

Ever since I was a young lad, my favourite dessert has always been chocolate pudding. I wanted to create or find a recipe that would be not-too-objectionable to the paleo diet, yet still give me my chocolate pudding fix. My first experiment, with a chocolate custard recipe, wasn't completely inedible, but it wasn't what I was hoping for. Fortunately, I don't give up easily. This recipe is based on one over at Elana's Pantry, but substitutes stevia for the agave syrup she uses.

  • 1 can coconut milk (14 oz size)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 to 1 Tbsp stevia, depending how sweet you like it (use chocolate or other flavoured stevia for extra flavour)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 200g dark chocolate (70% is sweeter, 90% is richer), broken up.
  1. Heat the coconut milk and salt in a saucepan until it's hot, but not boiling.
  2. Sift in the arrowroot, stirring all the while, and then whisk for 2 minutes non-stop. At the end of it, the mixture should be thickened slightly and should coat the back of a spoon dipped in it nicely.
  3. Whisk in the stevia and vanilla, turn the burner off, and allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Stir in the chocolate until melted.
  5. Spoon into 4 dishes and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Hint - to keep a "skin" from forming on the surface, place some plastic wrap on each bowl so it's covering the surface of the pudding.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Make your own chicken stock! Save money! Get rich! Retire early!

The other day, in the soup posting, I said I should post a chicken stock recipe. Well, I could do that, or I could just link to one that someone else has put up. The latter is simpler for me, and I'm not sure there's much I could do to improve on the recipe there. Just keep in mind that when he's talking about "chicken carcasses" he means what's left over after you've taken away what most people consider to be the edible bits. You can sometimes get raw carcass pieces from your butcher, if they sell individual chicken breasts to the general public (and if you have a butcher - they seem to be a dying breed, anymore).

Another tip (no pun intended) is to freeze the tips from the wings when you make chicken wings, for later use in a batch of stock.

And, of course, pretty much the same technique should work with a turkey carcass, should you ever run across such a beast...

Win valuable prizes!

No, not from me. Over at Mark's Daily Apple, Mark has just kicked off his "30 Day Primal Challenge", with the possibility of winning over $6000 in prizes. I've linked to his website before, and it's still worth a look, with fitness and food tips and thought-provoking discussions of various aspects of what Mark calls the "primal" lifestyle. And, while I may not always agree with everything he writes (he's a big fan of soy sauce, but I don't believe soy is fit for man or beast), I generally find something there to amuse me. So, go and take a look, and if you win anything, share it with me, okay?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cocktail Sauce

I know we're a long way off from the "holiday season", which (at least in my circle of friends) is the traditional time to be thinking about shrimp rings and such, but this cocktail sauce also goes great with the scallops we made the other week.

  • 1/3 to 1/2 of a small can of tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp horseradish (read the label, make sure it's only horseradish, vinegar, and maybe salt)
  • 8 drops stevia liquid (or equivalent to 1 Tbsp other sweetener such as honey - maple syrup not really recommended)
  • 1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice (remove the pits)
  1. Combine it all in a bowl, stirring well. For best results, let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the flavours to "mingle".

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Well, I was fooled...

Since the paleo diet discourages the use of sugar and artificial sweeteners, adherents are generally looking for other ways to satisfy the "sweet tooth". I've already talked about stevia in a previous posting, but we had lately been using agave syrup as well.

As it turns out, this is a mistake on my part, and I'm just glad I never got around to encouraging its use here in this blog. Agave syrup is not "natural" or "organic", no matter what the label may say. To make it, they take the root bulbs of the agave plant, which are starchy tubers comprising 50% inulin fibre (a non-digestible long-chain saccharide with a slight sweet taste, often used to "cut" stevia to make it spoonable), and they "chop up" the inulin with enzymes to release the sugar molecules within, then run it through various not-particularly-natural processes to "purify" it. Unfortunately, these sugar molecules are all fructose, and our bodies just aren't meant to handle quantities of fructose - it has to be digested by the liver, and damages the liver in the process.

There are other potential problems with it as well, and I suggest if you're interested in reading why both agave syrup and high-fructose corn sweeteners (HFCS, or "glucose-fructose" as it's called on labels in Canada) have no place in our food then you might want to go read this report from the Weston A. Price foundation.

So what sweeteners can we use? Well, honey is about as raw as you're going to get, and maple syrup is also good (both in moderation, of course). Sometimes things are sweetened with concentrated juices (apple and/or grape are popular, but you can use concentrated orange juice in some cooking to good effect as well). I'm also looking into something called "yacon syrup", but I don't know enough about that one yet to form an opinion. Ultimately, though, all sweeteners should be used in moderation - they would not be common-place in the diet of early man, so they should not be a frequent guest at our table either.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Not-so-quick but very easy soup

I first discovered/invented this recipe some years ago, visiting some friends who declared there was "nothing to eat" in their house. I didn't intend to prove them wrong, but I was able to whip up a delicious chunky vegetable soup (the friends are vegetarian) using what they had on hand. (I was probably fortunate that their fridge was reasonably well-stocked with vegetables.) Since then I've tweaked it and made it a bit more omnivorous, but it's really more of a guideline than a recipe.

  • 1 large can tomato juice (what they call a number 10 can) - use low-sodium and add your own salt
  • chicken stock (volume to 1/2 of the tomato juice can)
  • 3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
  • diced vegetables - onion, garlic, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, parsnip, celery, whatever you've got, just add lots of it!
  • seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, etc.)
  • hot sauce
  1. Basically, put everything into a big pot, bring it to a boil, and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly by water boiling off.
  2. Add just a dash or two of a Louisiana-style cayenne hot sauce toward the end. It won't be enough to add much heat, but it will really bring the flavours out. (Of course, you can add more if you want to bring the heat - it's your soup!)
You can also omit the chicken and exchange the stock for water or vegetable stock if you really want to be vegetarian about it. This also reminds me, I really should post a recipe or link for making chicken stock one of these days...

Yeah, it's a simple recipe. Sometimes those are the best.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

FAT isn't a four-letter word!

One of the "criticisms" of the paleo diet is that you're eating a lot of meat, and thus a lot of fat, and "all that artery-clogging saturated fat is bad for you". Except it's not. It's actually one of the better forms of fat for you, and it's a heck of a lot better than vegetable oils, which tend to go rancid at the drop of a hat (and rancid oils are BAD oils). Further, the conventional wisdom that "fat makes you fat" is completely wrong - fat is, in fact, the only one of the three macro-nutrients that can't be converted to sugar and crammed into your fat cells by insulin (which is how you get fat). And yes, consumption of animal fat increases your LDL ("bad cholesterol"), but increases your HDL ("good cholesterol") right alongside it.

I could rant about this for a couple of hours, but instead I'm going to give you two links. The first is a recent article from Mark's Daily Apple, and the second is the website for the guy who made the movie Fathead. I haven't seen Fathead yet, but it would be in my Netflix queue, if I used Netflix.

Go. Read. Learn why fat is good, and animal fat is very good. And tasty. And then go make some bacon. :-) Personally, I'm saving my pennies up to buy this cookbook.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Makin' mayo

Most commercially-available mayonnaise contains sugar, and as such is not really acceptable on the paleo diet. If you decide that you really want "mayo", you have three choices:
  1. Accept that you're going to have to eat a bit of refined sugar with your tuna salad,
  2. Hunt all over for a commercially-prepared brand that doesn't contain any (it exists, it's just very hard to find in some places), or
  3. Make your own.

If you decide to go the third route, every cookbook you read will tell you the same thing - the oil has to be added to the emulsion very slowly. Here's a tip I picked up a while back, which has enabled me to make perfect mayonnaise every time: find a "squeeze bottle" (like you'd have ketchup and mustard in at a picnic - check the local "dollar store"), and place the oil in that, and use that to pour the oil in a small, steady stream into the blender (assuming you're using a blender rather than whisking by hand).

Recipes for mayonnaise are literally a dime a dozen, and they all contain pretty much the same basic ingredients - oil (olive oil is suitably primal, but unfortunately this is one place we can't use coconut oil), mustard (which helps the emulsion hold together so your mayonnaise doesn't separate), and raw egg, along with some salt and pepper and maybe lemon. The raw egg can be problematic for some - only use fresh eggs from a reliable source, refrigerate anything you don't use promptly, and use it all up within a few days. Here is one possible recipe, which also suggests using almond oil or walnut oil in place of the olive oil.

That link also notes that homemade mayonnaise has a much lighter taste than the commercial stuff. Don't be afraid to "zip it up" - add a dash of cayenne pepper to the mix, or maybe a couple of roasted cloves of garlic.

One of my favourite things to make that requires mayonnaise is "tuna wraps", using lettuce as a method of conveying the tuna. These would also be good with crab, chicken, or other such meat, and you could add chopped onions or peppers to the mix to spice it up a bit.


  • 1 can tuna in water, drained (or use other similar meat, such as chicken, turkey, crab)
  • mayonnaise to taste
  • leaves of butter lettuce or similar


  1. Mix the tuna or other meat with the mayonnaise (and any other ingredients you'd care to add).
  2. Place a dollop (1-2 Tbsp) of the tuna mixture in the middle of a lettuce leaf, roll it up, and tuck the ends in.
  3. Repeat as necessary.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Book Review: The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet, written by Loren Cordain, Ph. D., is one of the few books out there specifically devoted to the paleo way of eating. It's divided into three main sections, "Understanding the Paleo Diet", "Losing Weight and Preventing and Healing Disease", and "The Paleo Diet Program".

The first section covers the basics of the diet - the "rules", as it were. And, unfortunately, this is where it starts to go wrong. While Dr. Cordain makes a strong case for the fact that we're not that different from our ancestors going back a thousand generations, and thus grain and starch and refined sugars are not things that should be in our diet, he still is unwilling or unable to make the final leap - fat. He claims that the meat eaten by our ancestors would have been the leanest muscle meat, whereas it is well documented in modern-primitive cultures that the fattiest portions (such as brain tissue) are highly coveted delicacies. Later in the book, he also makes a strong case for Omega-3 fatty acid consumption, but then advocates using flax seed oil. It is well established that the kind of O3 fatty acid in flax seed oil, ALA, is not the kind our body needs, and is only weakly converted to DHA and EPA within the body.

The second section of the book discusses the health aspects of the diet. Not too much to argue with here, except he continues his apparent hatred of animal fats, stressing the leanness of proteins to be consumed. He also relies on BMI tables, whereas modern medical thinking is moving away from using the BMI as an indicator of health (given that it was never intended for that in the first place). Curiously, he does discuss in this section how grains raise the "small, dense" (AKA dangerous) LDL cholesterol, but doesn't seem to discuss much about how the fats from meat raise the HDL (good) cholesterol and thus improve the overall HDL/LDL ratio in the body. If he did this, he might have to stop stressing "lean" protein so much, though.

More than half the book is taken up by the third part, "The Paleo Diet Program", because it contains six weeks' worth of recipes and food plans, as well as a discussion of what is and is not allowed under his version of the diet. He also advocates a three-stage introduction to the diet, where in the first stage you can "cheat" three times a week at "open meals", in the second stage twice a week, and in the third stage once a week. Oddly, he allows diet sodas "in moderation" in his version of the diet, as well as low-fat salad dressings (which tend to contain a lot of sugar).

In summary, while much of the background information Dr. Cordain gives in this book is quite useful, his conclusions are at best coloured by "conventional wisdom". Unless you truly believe that our neolithic ancestors dined on the breast meat of wild chickens, with a side of lettuce smothered in low-fat thousand island dressing, and washing it down with a diet cola, you might be better served looking elsewhere for solid day-to-day advice.

It probably seems like I'm being unduly hard on this book. Maybe I am. But it just seems to "go halfway", and misses the endgame, in my opinion. But what do I know? I'm just a caveman.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bet you never had broccoli-slaw like this!

You'll often see "convenience packs" in the grocery store, even in the produce section. Cauliflower and/or broccoli pre-cut, pre-washed, and ready to steam or boil, for example. While it is more expensive because you're paying for the additional processing, the vegetables themselves are just as healthy as the rest of the produce section.

One of the things we do buy in the pre-packaged bags of vegetables is "broccoli-slaw". Basically, it's shredded "hearts" (AKA stems) of broccoli, carrot, and red cabbage. If you added some mayonnaise it probably wouldn't be bad, but if you saute it up, it's pretty darn good, in my opinion.

  • 3 Tbsp oil (coconut, olive, or similar - you can also try a "chili oil" for a spicier dish)
  • 1 medium onion, skinned and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 x 340g (12oz) bag of "broccoli slaw"
  • juice of one lemon or lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Slice the onion in half, remove the peel, and then slice into thin "half-rings".
  2. Heat the oil in a saute pan or wok.
  3. Saute the onion in the oil. Add the garlic after a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the bag of broccoli slaw and saute.
  5. When it's just about done, pour the citrus juice in and mix well.
  6. Season to taste.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Consider the cabbage

Ambrose Bierce, in his Devil's Dictionary, defined a cabbage as "a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head." It's actually a bit smarter than that.

When I was growing up (and this isn't the first time I've stated that in a post like this, I must be getting old), cabbage was used for two things in our household: coleslaw, and cabbage rolls. I wasn't actually fond of the latter at the time, and now I can't eat them anyway, as my mother's secret recipe has rice in it. So for years my primary source of cabbage-y goodness was coleslaw.

But I'm older now, and I've discovered other uses for this green globe. Furthermore, it turns out it's good for me, too. Dietarily, it's high in vitamin C, glutamine, riboflavin, and fibre, and low in simple carbohydrates. Raw, it has a somewhat pungent taste, but cooking tends to soften that. Here's a couple of different ways to prepare cabbage:

1. Saute it. Just slice it into thin sections (1/4 to 1/2 inch) vertically (discarding the stem), break the sections into strands, and saute in oil (coconut, palm, or similar - maybe even try bacon fat?) until softened and "translucent" all over, and browned in spots.

2. Boil-and-bake it. Quarter the cabbage, leaving the stem on, toss it into a pot of boiling water with a whole star anise pod, and boil for 8 minutes. Once it's looking a bit soggy, brush some melted butter onto it, place it into a buttered baking dish, and bake at high heat (450 or so) until it's starting to brown and crisp. (You'll want to keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cheesy Frittata

Personally, I'm not a fan of eggs. Mrs. Caveman insists that this frittata is so full of cheese and other stuff that you barely taste the egg, but I'm not convinced. Regardless, it's one of her favourites, so I'm posting it here. It comes from the cookbook "Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet" by Jodi Bager and Jenny Lass, available through Whitecap Books.

  • 1/2 pound grated cheddar cheese (or a blend, like a tex-mex blend)
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup cilantro or Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 5 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Combine the cheese, almond flour, and parsley in a bowl.
  3. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat until the onion is starting to turn translucent. Do not let the garlic burn. (I usually add the garlic after the onions have been in the pan for a couple of minutes, myself.)
  4. Add the green and red peppers and the mushrooms, and saute until the water that comes out of the vegetables evaporates.
  5. Combine the eggs, yogurt, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  6. Combine everything with the cheese, almond flour and parsley mixture.
  7. Dump into an 8-inch square casserole dish and back for 40-50 minutes, until nicely browned and set.
  8. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Makes lots, so leftovers can be reheated the following day. Personally, I'll have a nice chupaqueso.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Proper nutrition - not just for humans!

If you read this blog regularly, you hopefully have at least some idea of the concept behind the paleo diet - eat the diet that we evolved eating over the last several million years, which didn't include rice, beans, grains, or starches (not until the last 10,000 years or so, a blink in evolutionary terms).

If you have a "furry friend" (cat or dog), take a good look at them. Note the fangs, and the claws, and the forward-facing eyes and (in most cases) ears? That is a predator species.

Now, take a look at the ingredients list on the food you provide for them. How many kinds of grain and starch are on the label? Do you think that they enjoy eating that, or do they just eat it because they're hungry and that's what's there?

All I'm trying to say is, if the paleo diet is good for us, then it's got to be good for our friends, too. So, when you're out picking up their food, show the same sort of care for the ingredients that you show when picking your own food out. It can be difficult, but it's not impossible to find grain-free pet foods. In my area, there are two different major labels that are sold as grain-free. One is called "B.G." (Before Grains), and the other is Wellness brand. We have a new kitten in our cave (part of the reason posting has been a bit sparser of late), and he's on a mix of the Wellness canned and dry foods for kittens, and thriving. And it makes me happy to know that he's eating what he evolved to eat - a high-protein meat-based diet. With any luck, he'll be around for a long time to come, amusing us with his antics.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Modern stone-age knives

Two posts today, because these knives designed by Matthias Kaeding are so cool and so caveman kitchen I needed to post them. No word if or when they'll actually be available, but you know that as soon as they are I'll be pestering Mrs. Caveman to allow me to order a set!

Orange-dill scallops

We just finished supper, and it was delicious! We wanted to try something a little bit different this week, so we had bought some frozen wild scallops at our local super-mega-mart grocery store a while back. Tonight, I decided to make them. Here's what I did:

  • One package frozen wild scallops, thawed
  • 3 sliced of bacon, chopped into smaller pieces
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 2 tsp dill
  • fresh-ground black pepper and salt
  1. Fry up the bacon pieces in the pan, and remove to a paper towel, leaving the grease in the pan.
  2. Meanwhile, drain the scallops, and place them in a bowl with the other ingredients. Mix well.
  3. In the same pan, fry the scallops over medium-high heat until done (opaque, firm, and some browning), about 3-5 minutes. Add the bacon back in when the scallops are almost done.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Chupaquesos (the word comes from the Spanish words "chupa" (suck) and "queso" (cheese)). It's based on something I discovered for myself a long time ago (fried cheese), but Howard Tayler took it a step further. Originally a throw-away line in his online comic strip Schlock Mercenary, Howard eventually released the recipe, and followed that up with a website devoted to the cheesy treat.

What is it? Basically, it's a low-carb "tortilla", made by melting shredded cheese in a non-stick frying pan (the non-stick-ability of the pan is very important!) until the underside browns and holds together, then tossing in fillings. On the website above, Howard recommends using more cheese, and possibly bacon, inside. While this has potential, I like to throw a tablespoon or so of salsa and a couple of diced jalapeno slices in mine.

  • 1 cup (or so) cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, or the like), shredded - you can buy it yourself or use pre-shredded cheese, but the pre-shredded stuff sometimes contains starch to prevent clumping, so read the label!
  • filling - more cheese, cooked bacon, sliced jalapenos, salsa, or whatever tickles your fancy


  1. Preheat your non-stick frying pan over high heat.
  2. Toss in the shredded cheese and let it melt and spread out
  3. Use an "egg flipper" to test the edges, and once the cheese has started to congeal into a mass, quickly flip it over for a few seconds, then flip it back over.
  4. Lay the filling down the centre of the mass of melted cheese, and fold like a tortilla (one end, then one side, then the other side).
  5. Eat!

I'll often have one of these as a "heavy snack" - it's not quite a meal, but the protein and fat will fill you up more than an apple will, and for longer. Good if you know supper is going to be delayed by a couple of hours.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Arrowroot - the paleo-friendly starch

There's one problem with not allowing flour or cornstarch in the paleo diet - you can't thicken sauces. Actually, you can - if you use arrowroot. At one time, in fact, the preferred starch for sauce-making in fancier kitchens was arrowroot, because the sauces end up clearer and glossier. However, because it was expensive, it fell out of favour. These days, you can pick up a decent-sized bag of arrowroot for around $10, at least in my neck of the woods, and it will last for a long time if you only use it for making sauces.

Quick Cheese Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot (approximate)
  • 1 cup milk, preferably 2% or 3.5% milk fat
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese such as cheddar or parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste (use white pepper so your sauce isn't full of black specks)
  1. Melt the butter over medium-high heat, and allow it to just start to brown.
  2. Whisk the arrowroot in - it should form a thick paste, which then thins up again quickly.
  3. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring the mix to a simmer or low boil, stirring continuously with the whisk. As the sauce nears the simmering point, it should thicken up and the lumps of arrowroot should disappear.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in the grated cheese until it melts.
ALTERNATE method - mix the arrowroow with a bit of the milk before adding it to the melted butter. It will look funny at first because the butter won't mix in with the milk (it will just float on top), but when it thickens up it will be fine. I don't think you'll get lumps if you do it this way.

Use this to top steamed vegetables for a cheesy break from the ordinary. If it doesn't thicken, add a bit more arrowroot. If there are lumps (it happens sometimes), put the sauce through a strainer.

No Caveman Kitchen is complete without one!

Over on they are now featuring a Caveman Kitchen Tool, useful for grinding herbs, grating ginger and garlic, and even helping sharpen your knives. It even has a handy leather strap attached for hanging from the wall!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


A lot of classic condiments and toppings, such as ketchup and chutney, are not allowed under the paleo diet, because they contain added sugar and/or starches as thickeners. However, a good salsa is nothing but fruit and vegetables, and since we're just about at the height of summer here in Cave City, we have both of those in good supply. Here are a couple of classic salsa recipes, tomato- and mango-based. The latter is delicious on fresh-grilled tuna, and both benefit from several hours in the fridge to allow the flavours to develop.

Tomato Salsa
  • 3 large tomatoes, cored, halved, and grilled/charred, skins removed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet or red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded, deveined, and minced fine
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • salt
  1. To prepare the tomatoes, chop them in half, core them, place them cut side down on a baking sheet, and broil until the skins are slightly blackened and slip off easily (careful, hot!). Let the excess juice drain a bit in a colander (while they cool) before you chop them.
  2. Combine the first six ingredients. Juice the lime and add the juice. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavours merge.
Mango Salsa

  • one medium mango
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup sweet or red onion
  • 2 tsp diced jalapeno (seeds removed)
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro
  • 1 lime
  1. Chop the first five ingredients into small pieces (1/4 to 1/2 inch, smaller for the jalapeno), and combine in a bowl, stirring well. Juice the lime and add the juice to the mix.
  2. Best if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavours mix.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The salad days, not just for summer

During the week, I have to work "in the city", and for simplicity and cost reasons I usually take my lunch. Now, one of the things about the paleo diet (versus standard "low-carb" diets like Atkins) is that I'm not quite as worried about carbs, as long as they're the right sort of carbs. Most vegetables, for example, are quite all right. As such, I often take a rather large salad. I used to take a leafy green mix, but these days I've been taking something somewhat chunkier. Salad doesn't have to mean iceberg lettuce smothered in some creamy dressing - take it to the next level!

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1/2 cup mini tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup broccoli and/or cauliflower pieces
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  1. Chop all the vegetables up into "bite-sized" pieces (half inch or so, depending on the size of your bite) and toss them together in a container.
  2. Combine the oil and vinegar and shake well, then pour it over the salad when you're ready to eat.
  3. Eat.
Of course, this salad doesn't have much (if anything) in the way of protein. You can toss some tuna or sliced chicken breast on top, add sunflower seeds or chopped nuts, or find other ways to add protein. You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sites for sore eyes

This blog is devoted to recipes suitable for those following the paleo diet. If you want information about other aspects, there are lots of places on the web you can check. Here are a few that I go to on a regular basis:

1. Mark's Daily Apple - as the title says, Mark Sisson manages to post something here pretty much every day, be it a discussion of the merits of Omega-3 supplements, a recipe for broccoli rabe pesto, or some information about suitable workouts. Mark calls his approach "primal living", and it does vary from the paleo diet in a few respects, but there's more agreement than disagreement.

2. Son of Grok - also known as SoG, he's the personified descendant of "Grok", the caveman who's often used as an example in Mark's blog above. SoG (to clarify, he's a different person than Mark, he just uses Mark's Grok as inspiration) hasn't been posting as much lately due to a new job, but his older posts are worth a review. There are some good recipes and some good workout information there.

3. Paleo Diet - is a massive collection of links to various articles, recipes, etc. I believe it has its origins in an old Usenet newsgroup.

4. PaNu - short for Paleolithic Nutrition, this is the blog of Doctor Kurt Harris (yes, an MD-type doctor) who strongly believes in the paleo diet. Some useful information there for people who might be wavering on the fence about the paleo diet.

5. Protein Power is the blog of Doctor Michael Eades, who wrote a book of the same name. While his viewpoint is more about protein versus carbs, the fact remains that many of the same dietary principles he espouses are also valid in a paleo diet connotation.

There are tons of other links out there - if you have any you think are especially good, post them as a comment to this posting!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Crazy for coconut oil

You may have noticed that in a lot of recipes I tend to call for coconut oil. There is a lot of information out there suggesting that this is a relatively good fat for human health. Add to that its relatively high smoke point (the point at which oil used for cooking starts to break down), and coconut oil makes a pretty good choice for cooking.

What is coconut oil? Well, it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like - although if you had visions of tiny oil derricks drilling into coconuts, you'll be disappointed. In practice, the oil is usually extracted from coconuts by drying and then pressing the "meat" (the same stuff you buy as shredded coconut in the store).

Does coconut oil add a coconut flavour to everything you cook? Well, some oils have more flavour than others, but the flavour is usually so subtle that you won't notice it unless you're taking a spoonful of the oil directly (and some people do this as a daily supplement).

Coconut oil is a saturated fat, so it's relatively stable (but it's one of the good kinds of saturated fats - it appears to raise the "good" cholesterol in your blood). It lasts for up to two years without going rancid, but it lasts somewhat longer when it's in the solid form. The melting point of coconut oil is around 25 degrees Celsius, so depending on how warm your kitchen is, you may want to store it in the fridge if you're not going to use it all up right away. (I find a standard jar of coconut oil only lasts me a couple of months anyway, so I keep it out on the counter.)

If possible, buy your coconut oil as "virgin" oil - while there is no standard for what constitutes "virgin" oil, this generally means that the oil has been only minimally processed. Watch out for hydrogenated coconut oil - this is sometimes done to increase the melting point, but it's just as questionable in coconut oil as it is in vegetable oils, nutritionally speaking.

There are a lot of health claims associated with coconut oil, including (as noted above) that it raises your HDL (or "good") cholesterol, thus improving your overall cholesterol ratio. It is also reported to raise your metabolism, and may have antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Additionally, the main fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid, which may strengthen the body's immune system. Oh, one other thing - you can also use it on the outside of your body, it's supposed to make a wonderful moisturizer.

Whether you down a spoonful a day as a nutritional supplement, or you just use it for frying foods, coconut oil deserves a chance to be in your kitchen, in my opinion. Of course, I'm not a doctor, I'm just a caveman.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Paleo Peach Patties

Based on a recipe found over at Son Of Grok, these peach patties are easy to make and very bread-like if you're new to paleo and still jonesing for the the old "stabilized hydrofoam of wheat endosperm" (aka bread). I particularly like them with all-fruit peach preserves or almond butter on them! And this should make up for that nasty cauliflower rice I posted yesterday...

  • 1 cup dried peaches (the chewy kind, not the crunchy freeze-dried kind!) - works out to about 8 halves, diced up a bit
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the peaches, almond flour, and coconut in a blender and process until well broken down and "mealy".
  3. Drizzle in the coconut oil while pulsing.
  4. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the egg.
  5. Form into 10 to 12 patties and separate on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake approximately 18 to 20 minutes, until browned slightly.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cretaceous Cauliflower Rice

We've had a couple of different dishes (goulash and butter chicken) that would go good over rice, if only we could eat rice. Alas, the poor caveman lived a few thousand years before the discovery of rice (which means it would be a long time to wait for Chinese food to be delivered!). If you're really jonesing for something rice-like to put under a sauce-based dish, you can always use cauliflower.

  • 1 cauliflower
  • butter and salt to taste
  1. Use a grater or food processor to finely grate the cauliflower.
  2. Put it in a microwave rice steamer (or microwave-safe bowl with a loose-fitting or vented cover).
  3. Cook in the microwave on "high" for four minutes.
  4. Season to taste with salt and butter.
Personally, I don't like this recipe much, to be honest. But sometimes you just gotta have something to soak up the sauce!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Why not roast those vegetables?

When I was growing up, having a side of vegetables at supper meant something boiled - carrots, peas, beans, corn, whatever. It was boiled. Eventually we got a steamer basket, and then it was boiled or steamed. Still not impressive.

These days, I often roast vegetables such as brussel sprouts (see the recipe a few days ago), cauliflower, broccoli, or even carrots.

The basic process is:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 or so.
  2. Toss the vegetables with olive oil and seasoning (salt, pepper, maybe some garlic).
  3. Roast until soft. (Depends on the vegetable, usually 20-30 minutes)
Because you're not boiling the veggies, you're not washing away the vitamins, and you get some tasty charring and caramelization that you don't get in a wet cooking method. So if you've got some vegetables and you're tired of soggy sides, fire up the oven and roast 'em!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Basically Barbecue Sauce

Grilled meat is very caveman. However, most commercial barbecue sauces contain sugar. This is actually a good thing, because the sugar caramelizes during the cooking and produces wonderful flavours on the meat. However, since cavemen didn't have access to sugar, and stevia won't caramelize, we have to turn to another sweetener in the caveman's pantry - agave syrup. Yep, agave, the same plant from which we get tequila, is also the source of a sweet syrup which has a much lower glycemic index than sugar (for those of you who are worried about such things). honey. Disregard mention of agave - it's almost pure fructose! Brush this sauce on when your meat is almost done - don't make the rookie mistake of putting the sauce on at the beginning, or you'll end up with burnt offerings.

  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove minced garlic, if you don't mind chunky sauce)
  • 1 tsp onion powder (or 1 small minced onion, as above)
  • 1/8 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/8 cup agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
  • a couple of drops of liquid smoke (optional, for smoky flavour)
  • a couple of drops of hot sauce (optional, for zip)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer over medium heat for at least 30 minutes.
This is a pretty basic sauce framework - you have sweet and sour tastes. I haven't added salt, but you could certainly do so if you wanted to. I think you can probably customize this sauce about a million ways - try adding some lemon juice, for example. Or use honey in place of the agave syrup. Maybe some red wine?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Holocene-era Hungarian Goulash

Okay, the title was a reach. But this goulash is quite tasty - at first glance there's a lot of onion in the recipe, but the majority of the onion breaks down completely (due to the long cooking time) and helps to thicken it. It would be good over rice, if I ate rice, but I don't. Sometimes we'll have it over "riced cauliflower", but more often than not I'll just have a big bowl of this as-is.

  • 1/3 cup oil (olive oil, coconut oil, or similar)
  • 3 onions, peeled, chopped in half, and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt + 1 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds (1.2kg) cubed stewing beef or other suitable meat (kangaroo works well)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the onions until soft. Remove the onions and set aside.
  2. While the onions are cooking, combine in a bowl the paprika, pepper, and 2 tsp of the salt, then toss the meat in this mixture.
  3. After the onions are removed from the oil, brown the meat in the same pot.
  4. After the meat is browned on all sides, add the onions back to the pot, along with the tomato paste, water, garlic, and the remainder of the salt.
  5. Bring to a low boil, reduce to low heat, and simmer for at least 2 hours, until the meat is tender and the onions are mostly gone.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Best-ever Brussel Sprouts

When I was younger, brussel sprouts meant soggy greenish things that had been boiled to within an inch of their lives. No more! We have them this way a couple of times a month - the sprouts are a great source of vitamins and minerals, and the bacon grease makes them delicious.

  • One pound (500 g) brussel sprouts
  • 3 Tbsp bacon grease (reserved from when you last made bacon, or substitute olive oil), melted
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh-ground pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut off the stem-ends from the brussel sprouts, remove any yellow leaves or insect-eaten bits, and cut into halves.
  3. Toss with the grease, salt, and pepper, and spread onto a cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, tossing occasionally. There should be blackened bits in places when they're done, and the sprouts themselves will be soft.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pterodactyl wings

If you can't find pterodactyl, you can still use chicken wings for this recipe. The method for cooking the wings is courtesy Alton Brown, and the sauce recipe is a traditional Buffalo style.

  • 1 pound (or more) chicken wings, split, with tips removed
  • 1/4 cup "hot sauce" (such as Durkee's or Frank's - check the ingredients to make sure there's no added sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  1. Steam the wings for 10 minutes in a steamer basket over a pot of water.
  2. Place the wings on a cooling rack over paper towel in the fridge, and cool for one hour.
  3. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes (on a rack on a cookie sheet), flipping halfway through.
  4. While the wings are baking, combine the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  5. Put the wings into a bowl, cover with the sauce, and toss well.
Serve with plenty of napkins - these things get messy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Butter Chicken

As promised, a bit of a treat to celebrate Canada Day. Okay, butter chicken isn't exactly a traditional Canadian dish, but this is (in my opinion) a pretty yummy dish anyway. If you so desire, you can serve it over rice, or riced cauliflower, but I just like a big bowl of this as-is.

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1" piece of ginger root (2.5 cm), peeled and grated
  • 1-1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 4 chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 can tomato sauce (or 1 can of tomatoes and 1 can tomato paste)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup 10% cream
  1. Melt butter in a large pot, then add the onion and cinnamon.
  2. When the onion is cooked (translucent/waxy), add the remaining spices, garlic, and ginger root.
  3. After about 2 minutes, add the chicken breast pieces and the almond butter.
  4. Once the chicken is no longer pink, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer until thickened, approximately 20-30 minutes.

Because I'm not busy enough

(Other blog deleted - I don't have time for this blog, much less two of them!)

There'll be a recipe up here later today or tonight - my very own recipe for Butter Chicken. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Silurian Smoothies

Okay, cavemen didn't exactly live in the Silurian, and they didn't have frozen food much either (the last ice age notwithstanding). Still, these smoothies provide a nice pick-me-up or a delicious post-work-out refreshment, and they're ready in no time.

  • 1/2 cup frozen berries, mango, or other fruit
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 dropper-full of liquid stevia (or equivalent sweetener) (optional)
  • 1 dash vanilla extract (optional)
  1. Combine in a blender until smooth.
  2. Enjoy.
Speaking of which, I think I will...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Book Review: Good Calories, Bad Calories

There are a number of books out there devoted to various versions of the "paleo lifestyle", each with their own vision of the best way to live "the way things were". However, today I want to bring to your attention a book that doesn't even try to tell you how to eat - at least, not directly. "Good Calories, Bad Calories" was written by Gary Taubes, and published by Anchor Books, initially in 2007 (and softcover in 2008).

Gary Taubes is not a doctor, a nutritionist, a paleo-anthropologist, or anything like that. He's a science journalist. He makes a living writing about the research that other people do, and his articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, among other publications. In fact, that's where the inspiration for this book came from - through an article he wrote for the NYTM called "What If It's All Been A Big Fat Lie?", which questioned the value of low-fat diets for weight loss.

Following on from the research for that article, Gary interviewed hundreds of people and read hundreds of scientific papers. The bibliography of my (softcover) edition of the book is 66 pages in length. In other words, this book draws on an awful lot of material, and he tells you where to check if you don't believe him.

There isn't nearly enough room in this blog to tell everything he covers in the book (and that would be plagiarism besides), but the evidence he lays out is pretty damning of the state of "nutritional guidelines" today, and a solid foundation for the paleo lifestyle. Chiefly, there is a lot of evidence he covers that strongly indicates that dietary fats (as long as they're the right kind of fats - as a hint, vegetable oils are not your friends) are not all that bad for us, and refined carbohydrates are, in fact, public enemy number one (dietarily speaking, anyway).

Curiously, (and this is my chief complaint about the book) Gary never actually goes "the last mile" and draws any hard conclusions - he's obviously leaving that up to the reader. However, if you read this book (and everybody should), you will come away with a feeling that the Western diet is "doing it wrong".

This book will tell you what's wrong with diets today. If you want to understand a lot of the science behind the paleo diet, this would be a very good first step.

As a bonus, here is a link to a copy of the Letter On Corpulence, written by William Banting in 1863 - a hundred years before Doctor Atkins and his "New Diet Revolution" (hosted on the Atkins website, no less).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Greek salad for a summer's day

We just got back from a picnic/bbq - it's an annual thing we do with another family, we were counting back and we think this was the ninth time we've done it, making next year the ten-year mark. We'll have to do something special - maybe a barbecue? Anyway, there were several kinds of meat in the offering, including boar, camel, and bison, burgers, beef steak, chicken breasts, and lamb and pork sausages. Definitely a caveman feast, made even more so by the presence of this salad, based on a traditional Greek recipe:

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 sweet onion (Vidalia or similar)
  • 1 cup (or more) baby tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 200g (approx half a pound) Feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 3 Tbsp (or more) olive oil
  1. Coarsely chop all the vegetables ("bite-sized" pieces) and the cheese.
  2. Combine everything in a bowl, and stir well.
This salad is even better if you give it a few hours (or overnight) in the fridge!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Food for thought about food for food

The next time you're in a super-mega-food-mart, try an experiment. Go over to the frozen fish section, and find some salmon fillets. If you have any luck at all, you should be able to find some that are marked "wild" and some that aren't - which generally means they've been farmed.

If you flip both over, and look at the nutritional information, you will hopefully see the amount of calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates (probably not much of the latter, unless you've accidentally picked up a box of fish sticks, in which case put that down right now).

Usually, these days, the fat section of the nutritional information will include a breakdown of the Omega-3 and Omega-6 (O3 and O6) fatty acid content. Now, I'm going to really simplify this explanation, but basically, both kinds of fatty acid are used by your body. The problem is that our diets currently contain way too much O6 fatty acids (which can cause inflammation of tissue, among other things), and not nearly enough O3 fatty acids. The ideal ratio is at least 1-to-1, but most people get something like 1-to-40 (in favour of O6 fatty acids).

Okay, back to the fish at hand - not too cold, I hope? Anyway, look at the O3 and O6 fatty acid content of both the wild and farmed salmon. The wild salmon may have an O3-to-O6 ratio of 3.5 to 0.5, or 7-to-1 (this is an example, but pretty typical). The farmed salmon, on the other hand, may have an O3 to 06 ratio of something like 2 to 5, which (at 0.4-to-1) is much worse than the wild salmon.

Why is this? Well, to be blunt, it's what they feed the farmed salmon - grains. Wild salmon doesn't run into a whole lot of grain while it's swimming the ocean deep - it chows down on krill and such, and gets a healthy O3-O6 ratio naturally. Farmed salmon, on the other hand, hangs around the pen all day, eating "food pellets" which contain, among other things, grains.

The same is true of beef, to an extent. If you can find grass-fed, grass-finished (i.e. fed on grasses instead of grains right up until its last trip to the slaughterhouse), its O3 content is much better than typical grain-fed beef. Personally, I also find that the meat tastes better - almost sweet.

So, what I'm trying to say to you is don't just be concerned with what you eat - be concerned with what it ate!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pat's Christmas Cake Muffins

This recipe is from Lucy's Specific Carbohydrate Cookbook, written by Lucy Rosset, and available through Lucy's Kitchen Shop. Because the SC diet relies on being free from grains and refined sugars, there's a lot of possibilities for co-opting recipes for the more primal lifestyle, and that's what I've done here. These muffins are very reminiscent of the much-maligned Christmas fruitcakes. Fortunately, I like fruitcake, and also these muffins.

  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened crushed pineapple
  • 1-1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (NOT baking powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 3/4 cup dates or pitted prunes, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups sliced blanched almonds
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Line muffin pans with paper cupcake liners.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well.
  4. Fill each cupcake liner almost full with batter.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool before removing the paper liners.
Now if only I could figure out a caveman equivalent to marzipan icing...

Perfectly Paleo Pizza

Today's recipe is a pretty good pizza substitute, if I say so myself. It's based on a recipe in the book Grain-Free Gourment by Jodi Bager and Jenny Lass (the book's website is here).

Ingredients (for one pizza "crust")
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp olive oil or other oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • large pinch salt
  • (optional) 1/4 tsp garlic powder, if you like that sort of thing (I do)

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until it forms a thick, sticky batter.

  3. Spoon the dough onto a piece of parchment paper that's been lightly oiled (this will prevent it from sticking to the paper) on a cookie sheet.

  4. Pat the dough into a thin circle, about 20cm/8in in diameter (I use a piece of plastic wrap so my hand doesn't get sticky).

  5. Spoon some tomato paste on top and spread it out to use as the "sauce".

  6. Put whatever you want on your pizza (I like sliced tomatoes and sliced grilled chicken), and cover with grated cheese.

  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, turning the oven up to "broil" for the last couple of minutes to brown the cheese slightly.

You won't really be able to pick it up and eat it with your hands like traditional pizza, but it's good nonetheless!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Simple Ratatouille

Ratatouille is pretty much caveman food anyway, but I happen to not be a fan of eggplant. As such, I was delighted to find this recipe for a ratatouille that doesn't include aubergine in any way, shape, or form. We often serve it (the ratatouille, not the purple stuff) as a side dish with sausage. This recipe can be found in video format over on - that's where I found it, so they get the credit.

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 cups cored and chopped tomatoes with seeds (or use a can of chopped tomatoes)
  • 3 or 4 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, cored and diced
  • 2-3 bunches of rosemary - pull the leaves from the woody stems and finely mince said leaves


  1. In a deep pan (dutch oven or large saucepan, for example), sweat the onion in oil over medium-high heat until it's waxy. Add the garlic, and continue cooking for a minute or so. Be careful not to let the garlic burn!
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, and turn down to medium-low heat.
  3. Simmer for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally. We'll often simmer it for an hour or more.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

As good as this is fresh, it's even better re-warmed the next day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cretaceous Chocolate Cake

Okay, this isn't really from the Cretaceous - they didn't have microwaves back then, and that's what will enable you to prepare this cake, from a rumble in your tummy and a wink in your eye to a finished product, in about five minutes. It's another almond flour "baked" good, so expect it to be moist and dense. It's based on recipes you can find all over the net, but our cave-chefs have tweaked and optimized it for the caveman lifestyle.

  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa (or, if you have to, use carob)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • sweetener equivalent to 3 Tbsp sugar (3 droppers full of liquid stevia)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, just melted
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 egg
  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Add the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and cut a slit in the top to let steam escape.
  4. Microwave on full power for one minute.
Sadly, I'm still working on a passable icing for this cake. However, if you want to serve it with strawberries (sliced and dusted with a stevia powder) and freshly-whipped cream, well, I'm not going to stop you.

Sweet Sweet Stevia Rebaudina

I want to talk briefly about stevia, aka stevia rebaudina to the biologists. You may already have heard of it, and if you haven't, you probably will soon.

Stevia is actually one of about 240 plants of the genus stevia, all related to the sunflower. It's a plant of South American ancestry, and it has been used for more than a century for one very important thing. It naturally contains compounds called stevioside and rebaudioside that are many times sweeter than sugar, with pretty much no calories. Yes, you read that correctly - it's an all-natural, low calorie sweetener.

So why isn't this thing all over the place? That's a very good question. There was one study done, back in 1985, which suggested that stevia compounds could be mutagenic (i.e. cancer-causing). However, and I want to emphasize this, no other studies have found such a link. In fact, in 2006, the World Health Organization not only cleared stevia of this sort of thing, but strongly hinted that it could have benefits for hypertension and/or type-2 diabetes. (If you have either of these conditions, check with your doctor before using stevia, please!)

Currently, its status in the USA is a bit odd - despite the fact that it should have "Generally Recognized As Safe" status (because it was in use before 1958), it can't actually be marketed as a sweetener in that country, only as a "dietary supplement". (There are conspiracy theories about why this is, but I won't get into them here.) However, new products are coming out in the near future from various manufacturers which incorporate stevia or stevia-derived compounds, including diet sodas and a "half-the-calories" orange juice. Its status varies in other countries. It's banned as a food additive in some countries, including Europe and Singapore, but used widely in others such as Japan and parts of South America. Here in Canada, we appear to be mimicking the US approach in calling it a "dietary supplement" - even when it's sold in the same stores as artificial sweeteners, it's usually not located anywhere near them, but over with the health supplements and protein powders.

You can buy stevia in two main forms - liquid extract (in a suspension of glycerin or alcohol) or powder. If you buy a stevia powder, read the contents carefully to see what it's "cut" with - if your stevia powder is pure then you only need a teensy bit for your morning coffee, so it's often cut with something like inulin fibre, maltodextrin, or rice starch to make it "spoonable" (one spoonful of stevia mixture is equivalent in sweetness to one spoonful of sugar).

If you decide to use stevia in any form other than the spoonable one, you'll need to know the equivalent sugar sweetness for baking and such. For example, many of the liquid extracts are so sweet that one tablespoon of the liquid is equivalent in sweetness to a cup of sugar. This is good if you're sweetening iced tea (for example), but can cause problems if you're using it for baking, as you may need to add something else to make up for the missing "bulk" of that cup of sugar. And, of course, stevia won't caramelize or "brown" in cooking or baking.

But, if you're looking for a sweetener that wasn't made in a laboratory and won't spike your blood sugar, you could do worse than taking a close look at stevia.

Coco-nutty Paleo Pancakes

Since we just mentioned almond flour, let's start cooking caveman-style(*) with a couple of almond flour recipes. Although these pancakes contain both coconut flour and coconut oil, the coconut taste is very subtle. They are a common weekend treat around my cave, served with either all-fruit jam or agave syrup and a side of bacon (cured without sugar). It's based on a recipe found here.

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water (use "fizzy" or soda water for slightly fluffier pancakes)
  • 2 Tbsp oil (we use coconut oil)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar-equivalent of sweetener of your choice (or 1 dropper-full of liquid stevia)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. The batter will be very thick and somewhat sticky.
  2. Drop by 1/4 cup onto a lightly-oiled, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. You will likely have to "pat down" the batter into a proper pancake due to its thickness.
  3. Flip when just browned, and brown the other side.
This recipe should make around six pancakes. Since they are protein-based they are pretty filling, so even though they're small they'll serve two people.

(*) Yes, I know cavemen didn't have non-stick frying pans, or fizzy water for that matter. Their loss, really.

All About Almond Flour

The first ingredient I want to discuss is almond flour, sometimes also called almond meal. It's exactly what it sounds like - blanched almonds (i.e. with the outer skins removed) are ground into a fine meal.

Why the heck would we want to do that?

Well, the first rule of paleo ( that you don't talk about paleo! Oops, sorry, wrong movie!) is that you can't have any grains. This includes wheat. This means that starch is, as they say, "right out". But, having grown up on a steady diet of baked goods, I'm not ready or willing to give up muffins, cakes, pies, or pancakes just yet. And this is where almond flour comes in - with it, you can make incredibly dense, sweet, moist baked goods - and I promise you'll see recipes featuring this ingredient in the near future.

The only problem with almond flour is that it can be quite expensive. The ideal (from a price perspective anyway) would be to have your own almond tree, so you could harvest, shell, blanch, peel, and grind your own almonds. (If you can go this route, just be careful not to grind the almonds too much, or you'll end up with almond butter, which is delicious, but doesn't make good muffins in itself.) That's also a lot of work. Fortunately, many "bulk" stores (or the bulk sections of many grocery stores) do typically carry almond flour, but you should understand and expect a bit of "sticker shock". Here in Toronto, Canada, where my kitchen-cave is located, we typically pay $20 (Canadian dollars) for a bag containing around 4 or 5 cups of almond flour - and we go through almost that much a week.

One more thing about almond flour - it's not "real" flour, and because of this it doesn't form rigid structures when heat is applied. You're not going to get a crusty French bread using it. It also can't be used to thicken soups or sauces. On the other hand, it doesn't contain gluten (which causes a lot of problems for some people), and it's high in protein (thus filling you up more quickly) and low in simple starches (which can play havoc with blood sugar, among other things).

First post! Now, what is this place?

Welcome to Caveman Cuisine, the home of caveman-friendly recipes.

What do I mean by that?

Imagine, for a minute, that you are a "pre-civilization" human, living somewhere between 2,000,000 and 10,000 years ago. What's for breakfast? Odds are that it's not a bagel, and it's not a "breakfast sandwich" mass-produced in the back kitchen of a plastic-fronted family dining establishment.

In point of fact, for most of the time humans have been on this planet, our diets have been dramatically different from what we eat today. Some people theorize that we still shouldn't be eating this way - that the refined flours and sugars that comprise so much of our diets are not doing us any favours in the health department, and we should return to a pre-agricultural-revolution way of eating. This idea is called many things by many people, but a lot of people refer to it as the "paleo diet" or the "caveman diet". There are a lot of books available on the subject, and a lot of resources available on the web, if you are interested in the theory and its implications.

What this blog is about is the food. Specifically, I'll be highlighting recipes and ingredients that are, for the most part, "paleo-friendly". Now, I'll be up-front about one thing right now - even among followers of the paleo diet, there are differences of opinion about what the diet should and should not allow. For example, some people say dairy products should be disallowed. Personally, I'm a big fan of cheese, so that's not going to happen. On the other hand, some adherents to the diet say that artifical sweeteners are fine, whereas I prefer to strictly limit the amount of sweeteners that I consume. Similarly, I avoid bananas (they are very starchy), but some people think they have a place in the paleo diet.

I guess that what I'm saying is that, if you're searching for a definitive answer to the question "What is the paleo diet?", I can't help you. But I can give you some delicious recipes to try, and isn't that worth it?