Paleo Soups & Stews

a review

OK, my new favorite paleo cookbook arrived in the mail today: Paleo Soups & Stews, the newest offering by Simone Miller of Zenbelly fame, who began her culinary career as a ‘soup line cook’.


I’m a huge fan of soup and have quite a collection of low-carb and paleo soups and stews in my own recipe files. This book, however, isn’t just another 100+ paleo recipes, many of which are also low-carb, it is a veritable gold mine of ideas and tips and important info for serious soup-a-holics, like me.

And I love the way it is organized.

It begins with a short treatise good explanation of the basics, the various techniques you’ll use, how best to season, what tools you’ll use. (Now here, I might quibble just a tad with her omission of a sous vide water oven, but on that point I’ll admit to a soupçon of bias.) Then soups by type, beginning with great recipes for every sort of broth — roasted vegetable, beef, pork, dashi, fish, mushroom, shrimp, pho and a whole lot more.  There are even recipes for dairy-free, cream-like agents, such as cashew cream, flax milk, and yogurt for those paleo devotees who eliminate dairy. And things to put ‘in the soup’ such as noodles, ‘on the soup’ garnishes and textural additions, and ‘on the side’ go-withs, such as grain-free and relatively lower carb versions of baguettes, croutons, rolls, drop biscuits, breadsticks, and crackers These rely chiefly on almond flour and cassava flour, the latter of which while not particularly low carb, at about 75 grams to the cup, is at least somewhat lower than the 93 grams for wheat flour and without the gluten. These I’d view as treats, not staples, but it’s always nice to have a treat now and again to look forward to.

If you are a soup lover, like me, you’ll want to make room for this must-have addition to your cookbook shelf!

Best way to say Be Mine, Valentine to a Low Carb Love

Traditionally, of course, it’s ‘sweets for your sweetie’ on Valentine’s Day, but what if your sweetie eschews sugar and carbs?  Then sweets are the last thing he or she might appreciate.  So what to do?  There’s always champagne or flowers or a nice dinner out, but why not think about giving something your beloved will actually relish — a savory gift that keeps on giving?

Bacon and Eggs Heart

Why not treat your sweet to a Bacon of the Month club.  Here’s one from Zingerman’s.  Another from Bacon Be Mine. And another from Bacon Today.

There’s sure to be a flavor that suits in a gift that’s always the right size, right color!


10 Simple Tips to Handle Holiday Feasts

A Low Carber's Guide to Navigating the Holidays

The weeks leading up to the annual autumn/winter seasonal food fest—which for most of us Americans, at least, begins with Thanksgiving and ends after New Year’s Day—is a mine field of potential dietary disaster. Or it can be without some strategic planning. So make a plan!

  1. In the week or two running up to Thanksgiving, commit yourself with an added measure of focus to following your nutritional regimen. You may even want to pare you carb intake back to a transitional level of 15 effective grams a meal or down to a corrective level of 5 to 7 effective grams or even go Zero Carb for a bit in preparation for the added food that’s sure to come.
  2. Plan, now, to limit your indulgence to the actual day of the feast; try not to let the holiday eating pattern extend from several days before to a week afterward. It’s very easy to get into the mind set of ‘oh well I already blew it’ at lunch, or today, or this week, so I might as well have (fill in the carb-rich blank).
  3. Thanksgiving feastIf you plan to undertake a lot of holiday baking, wait as long as you reasonably can to do it. Goodies that sit around are an open invitation to start the celebration early. Immediately freeze anything that can be frozen, and if possible, save the preparation of foods that can’t be frozen or sealed away out of sight to the last few days, thereby limiting your easy access to them. Try new lower-carb [and paleo] recipes for holiday goodies. You’ll find dozens of recipes for pies, cakes, cookies, and candies in the host of wonderful paleo cookbooks, such as Gather, that have flooded the shelves, . You’ll be able to enjoy them with less risk to your maintenance commitment.
  4. Consider modifying your traditional holiday meals. The meat, fish, or poultry portion of most holiday meals—the turkey at Thanksgiving, the Christmas goose or ham—doesn’t pose a problem. It’s the side dishes and the desserts that can undo you. Many carb-rich dishes can be deliciously replaced by lower-carb options. For instance, substitute butternut squash for yams, cauliflower or celery root puree for mashed potatoes, and fresh cranberry relish sweetened with a bit of stevia or xylitol for cranberry jellies and sugar-based sauces. Shaving a few (or more) carbs off every item in your holiday cornucopia can make the feast much easier on your waistline. Here are some options I pulled from the archives:  Yellow Pepper Consomme, Cauli-Cauli, Mincemeat Pie, Simple Nut Crust, Mulled Wine.
  5. bacon and eggsStart your holiday morning with a high-protein, carb-controlled breakfast—bacon and eggs, cottage cheese with a few berries, some cream cheese, a protein shake with plenty of good fat, or even a cup or two of ‘Bulletproof Coffee’—to keep your blood sugar stable and your hunger at bay. You’ll be less likely to nibble at higher-carb feast foods before dinner is served.
  6. Begin your holiday feast with a clear soup course. Filling your stomach with a cup or two of clear broth soup and waiting a few minutes before digging into the main feast will take the edge off your ravenous holiday hunger. You’ll find that you’ll be satisfied with smaller portions on your plate.
  7. fresh veggieServe plenty of fresh, raw veggies—broccoli, cauliflower, celery and carrot sticks, and green onions—to add color, fiber, variety, and crunch.
  8. Try to match the amount of food you prepare to the number of people you’re feeding, so that you will have few, if any, leftovers, particularly of foods in the higher-carb category. We know that leftovers are a part of the enjoyment of a holiday feast—who doesn’t like a turkey, dressing, and cranberry relish sandwich the next day? Try having one with Cauliflower Bread or on a low-carb tortilla. If you love to enjoy leftovers for a day or two, then make enough for that, but don’t go overboard.
  9. If you choose to keep your traditional menu and recipes, try cutting your normal portions of the dressing, potatoes, yams, rolls, and desserts in half. Enjoy the food and then wait for a full fifteen minutes after finishing these smaller portions before you consider going for seconds. You may be surprised to find that your satiety center has kicked in and you really don’t feel hungry.
  10. early morning runnersParticipate in something fun and physical; many communities have holiday fun walk/runs. Or you could just enjoy a good long walk with the whole family before (or after) dinner. You may find that a good workout before the feast makes you feel less like gorging and more conscious of healthful eating.

BONUS TIP: Consider starting new traditions. Volunteer to serve meals at a community kitchen on Thanksgiving Day and then regularly thereafter. Your heart will be nourished and your sense of the real meaning of thanksgiving and community will deepen your own celebration.

Paleo Pastries and Desserts? The Perfect Holiday Gift

A Review of My Paleo Patisserie

Here come the holidays! And with them the mine field that is traditional baked goods. Right now it is the Thanksgiving/Christmas/ Channukah spate of annual feasts of fall and winter, but it could mean ANY feast from Easter to the Fourth of July! For those of us who subscribe to the low-carb or paleo way, baked goods have become a dim and distant, if pleasant, memory. Until now.

My Paleo Patisserie coverPastry maker and blogger Jenni Hulet’s book My Paleo Patisserie: An Artisan Approach to Grain Free Baking changes all that. And just in time for the holidays!

A lifelong love of feeding those you love delicious food, a couple of decades of pastry experience, and a serious acute autoimmune attack that resulted in major dietary changes inspired a cookbook that offers comfort and joy to the paleo devotee and, in the main, to the low carb faithful as well. In it you’ll find…

Eclairs and cream puffs.

Ganache and glazes.

Cakes and cookies.

Tarlets and tortes.

Linzer cookies and ladyfingers! … and more!

Oh my!

There are even a few savory pastries to round things out!

Filled with helpful baking tips on what to use and how to use it, gorgeous photos of the finished masterpieces, and well-organized content, it’s a delight to pore through.

The recipes, themselves, are founded mainly on almond flour, hazelnut flour, coconut flour, and arrowroot flour with sweetening power primarily coming from honey and maple sugar. While they aren’t strictly low carb, they’re almost all certainly much lower carb than their traditional counterparts. And certainly made of better, more nourishing ingredients.  Perfect for a bit of holiday indulgence without a boatload of post-holiday remorse!

If holiday baking is on your To Do list in coming weeks, pick up a copy and go Paleo for dessert!

And lest the meat lovers on your shopping list feel slighted, here is a list of books they’ll enjoy!

Craving Chinese? Try Paleo Take Out


Paleo Take Out coverRecently, I received a review copy of Russ Crandall’s newest paleo offering, called Paleo Take Out: Restaurant Favorites Without the Junk. It was charmingly packaged with a couple of pairs of branded chop sticks and a marketing piece designed to look like a Chinese take-out menu. If you’re a lover of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Indian foods, but have eschewed them, since adopting a paleo lifestyle, here’s your chance to indulge in a pretty guilt free fashion.
The recipes in Paleo Take Out sometimes use a bit of honey (which, though the author would disagree, could in theory be replaced by more stringent low-carbers in most instances with a bit of xylitol or stevia or eliminated altogether if added sweetness wasn’t key to the dish) and some thickening starches, potatoes, yams, and rice, but in most instances, the author gives some great substitutions for those.

All your take-out favorites are here: Moo Goo Gai Pan, Mongolian Beef, Kung Pao Pork, Pepper Steak, Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, Dashi, Kibchi, Kalbi, Tom Kha Gai, Lamb Vindaloo, more. And, for me, the piece de resistance… a good recipe for Hot and Sour Soup, which all by itself is worth the price of admission!

In short, this one is a keeper!

Mr. Crandall is also the author of another one of my paleo favorite cookbooks, The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle, that I confess I have long meant to review and somehow hadn’t gotten around to. I intend to do that soon.

BLT Salad

One of the things I’ve missed most in giving up gluten and keeping low carbs is the joy of a good BLT in the summer when the Vidalia onions come on and the tomatoes are at their peak. But I can have all the tastes of those, well at least almost all of them, with this:

BLT SaladBLT Salad
Serves 2

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise (or your preferred mayo)

For the salad assembly

  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce, washed, torn, and dried well
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium ripe tomato, seeded and diced
  • 6 strips thick bacon, cooked crisp and chopped


  1. Whisk together all dressing ingredients, except the mayo, in a salad bowl and let stand a few minutes. Whisk in the mayo.
  2. Add the lettuce and onions and toss to coat evenly.
  3. Finally, add the tomatoes and bacon and toss gently to mix.
  4. Divide between two serving bowls and enjoy!

Homegrown Paleo

In Disney’s movie Frozen, Elsa famously asked Anna, ‘Do you wanna build a snowman?’ For me, better lyrics would be ‘Do you wanna build a farm?’ and my answer would be a resounding ‘YES!’ Ever since I read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, I’ve longed to build my own ‘Polyface’ farm. I dream of happy chickens laying eggs and pecking about their mobile pens, fat pigs (Mangalitsas, of course) foraging for acorns in the oak woods, sleek cows grazing in lush pastures, orchards and vines hanging with fruit, and colorful veggies and herbs in neat, tended rows in the garden. To me, it would be Eden itself, but it isn’t where my life is right now or may ever be.

Homegrown Paleo coverThat dream was rekindled with the arrival the other day of a review copy of The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Growing Your Own Healthy Food by Diana Rodgers with Andrew Rodgers. This beautiful book is misnamed as a cookbook, although it is certainly that, with over 100 delicious gluten-free, farm-to-table recipes, arranged seasonally as the crops come in. The second title tells the bigger story — it is a complete guide to how to care for and manage livestock, keep bees, build coops and hutches, and grow your own paleo foods, whether you have a patio container garden or some land. She gives sustainable farm layouts suitable for as little as 1/8 acre or 1/4 acre, or 1/2 acre or a full acre. I have a full acre, actually a bit more, and don’t think it hasn’t got me to thinking about what I could do in my backyard!

The paleo recipes, alone, are worth the price of the book even if you have no ‘Green-Acres-is-the-place-to-be; farm-livin’-is-the-life-for-me!’ aspirations. But if, like me, you do have a just a touch of a ‘keep-Manhattan-just-give-me-that-countryside’ streak in you, you must get this book!

6 Books for the Low Carb Meat Lover

If you’re looking for that last minute, but perfect gift for the carnivore in your life, here are some of my favorites:

Meat: Everything You Need to Know by Pat LaFrieda and Carolyn Carreno

Meat Pat LaFrieda Cookbook image
Mike just got me this one for my birthday and it’s fabulous! From America’s most celebrated butcher, Pat LaFrieda, it contains everything you ever wanted to know about where various cuts come from and guidance in selecting the best cuts for what you want to cook. There are step-by-step photographic instructions on butchering and breaking down–even how to French a rib rack. Delicious recipes illustrate how to cook and serve every sort of meat, including veal, lamb, poultry, pork, and beef, and even offal and odd bits. Don’t expect to find any veggies or sides here; this is a book dedicated to meat!

The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat by Joshua and Jessica Applestone and Alexandra Zissu


Butcher's Guide to Well Raised Meat book image
The subtitle tells it all: How to Buy, Cut, and Cook Great Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry and More. From the tools you need to do it to (including even how to make your own tools if you’ve a mind) the book gives clear instructions on the art of butchery, beginning with ‘how to hold a knife’ and moving on to tackle topics as diverse as how to do that clever butcher’s wrap to how to do a pig roast in a pit. The writing is entertaining and often humorous.


Odd Bits by Jennifer McLagan

Odd Bits book image

In a world of prime cuts, we too often overlook the more economical and perhaps less photogenic parts of the beast. This book will introduce you to them all — the bellies, brains, cheeks, combs, ears, gizzards, hearts, hocks, kidneys, lungs, marrow, necks, shanks, spleens, tongues, trotters, and even testicles! Back before offal became awful, these odd bits had a regular place on our plates and in our culinary repertoires. Ms. McLagan, chef and author, has made it her mission to restore respect to the lesser known and her recipes will make you confident handling them in your kitchen.


Beyond Bacon by Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry

Beyond Bacon book image

Just from the tag line that reads ‘Paleo recipes that respect the whole hog’ you get the gist of this book, which its authors proclaim as ‘a love letter to pork’. In it, you’ll find information on how to source pastured pigs and techniques for rendering your own lard, making headcheese, and, of course, making bacon. And it’s filled with recipes aplenty for every conceivable sort of pork, as well as paleo offerings for the rest of the plate, including dessert!

Carnivore by Michael Symon

Carnivore book image

From the noted chef, restauranteur, and regular competitor on tv’s Iron Chef, who describes himself as a meat lover and his cuisine as ‘meat-centric,’ this book is a treatise on the various cuts of beef, pork, lamb, goat, poultry, game and game birds, including dozens of mouthwatering recipes for cooking each of them and sides to go with. Everything I’ve made from this book is flavorful and delicious!

Salumi by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

Salumi by Ruhlman book image

Like their previous book Charcuterie, which is also wonderful, this book offers a complete education on how to make (and best of all serve) each of Italy’s ‘big eight’ porky delights: guanciale, coppa, spalla, lardo, lonza, pancetta, proscuitto, and salami.  They even offer step by step instructions in how to butcher a hog American style or Italian style, if you want to take it a step further.  It’s a fascinating education, even if you don’t want to actually get into the salumi biz yourself!
Whatever your pleasure, or that of someone you love, these books will make a welcome addition to the library of any devoted meat lover!

Homemade Mayonnaise

Ever look at the ingredients in store-bought mayo? Almost all of them are some version of this ingredient list, taken from a major brand:

water, soybean (and/or cottonseed or canola) oil, modified food starch (corn, potato), eggs, sugar, vinegar, salt, lemon juice, sorbic acid, and calcium disodium EDTA (used to protect quality), natural flavor, vitamin E, beta carotene (for color)

Even if you go high-end ‘organic’, it doesn’t look a whole lot different on the whole. Take this ingredient list from a national organic brand:

organic expeller pressed soy and/or canola oil, organic cage free eggs, organic cage free egg yolks, organic extra virgin olive oil, filtered water, organic honey
organic distilled vinegar, sea salt, organic mustard
organic lemon juice

Granted, this product uses all organic ingredients — hey, that’s better, right? — and cage free eggs, which to me are an important point, but the major oil–the main ingredient–is still one of poor quality for human consumption.

And that’s what’s most important, really, the healthful or harmful quality of the oil it’s made from, a point on which neither the standard brands nor the organic alternative makes the grade.

Honestly it takes but a few minutes to make your own mayonnaise, without the additives, without the bad oils, without the sugar or honey. You can choose the quality of the ingredients, whether the eggs are cage free and humanely raised (and pasteurized if you’re concerned about bacterial contamination), whether the lemon is organic (or in my case off the tree in my backyard), the type of vinegar you use for flavor and acidity, and what kind of decent oil you want to use. I’ve used good olive oil, avocado oil, and macadamia nut oil. It’s up to you what floats your boat. Here’s how easy it is:

Homemade MayoHomemade Mayo
Makes about 1 cup


  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 lemon, for juice* 
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2.5 ml) sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2.5 ml) dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vinegar of choice
  • 3/4 to 1 cup (180 to 240 ml) oil of choice


  1.  Put the egg yolk, lemon juice, salt and vinegar into a blender and blend on medium speed. (Alternatively you can mix it in a bowl with a whisk manually).
  2. In a slow, steady stream add the oil with the motor running (or while whisking like a demon) until the emulsification comes nicely together and makes what looks for all the world like mayonnaise!
  3. Store in a very clean, dry, air-tight jar and use up within a week.

*(Harvest the zest, too, and stir in at the end if you want a lemon aioli, which is yummy on fish or vegetables.)

21 Day Sugar Detox

In our many years (decades, in fact) of working with patients in the clinic, using nutritional changes as the chief means of helping them to lose weight and solve their weight related/metabolic health issues, we generally recommended people go cold turkey off sugar and starch, which is quite effective. It’s the method we felt worked the best and was the quickest and in many ways easiest way to shift to the new eating regimen for the most people and it’s what we recommended in both Protein Power and Protein Power LifePlan.

In our experience, most people suffer little from making the switch, though it does mean a few days to maybe a week of some degree of withdrawal. It’s sort of analogous to pulling the bandaid off a wound — it’s more painful to make many tiny pulls that each hurt than one purposeful pull that hurts once and gets the job done fast. For other people, however, letting go of sugar is tough and becomes a stumbling block to successful transition to this new way of eating.

21 Day Sugar DetoxSo for that group who needs a day by day plan to get off the sweet stuff in a more gentle fashion, let me recommend Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox.

The book is sufficiently informative, but not weighty, in the initial sections describing the whys of getting off sugar and full of helpful charts and meal plans and all the what and how-to information, including lots of delicious recipes, such as a gorgeous Shrimp Pad Thai that use zucchini noodles instead of grain-based pasta and a number of slightly sweet treats that don’t pretend that maple syrup or coconut sugar are something other than what they are – sugars – but make sparing use instead of fruits, such as apples and green tipped (under ripe) bananas for such things as Granny Smith Apple Crumble and Grain-Free Banola.

If you’ve been wanted to go low-carb or paleo, but were unsure if you could finally give up the sugar, this book may be the interim step and the help you’ve been waiting for.