Antipasto Platter – Beat the Heat

When it is just plain too hot to cook, go cold! What could be nicer than a beautiful plate of dried Italian meats, luscious cheeses, pickled veggies, olives, some dressed fresh greens, and a bunch of grapes washed down with a refreshing glass of chilled pinot grigio or Prosecco? Perfection on a plate! The perfect way to keep your cool.

Here’s an easy and quick recipe:

Antipasti Roll Ups
Makes about 12


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 30 slices dry Italian salami (or enough to cover)
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, sliced, drained
  • 1 can sliced green olives, drained
  • 1 jar pepperoncini rings, mild or hot, drained


  1. Put the cream cheese between two pieces of plastic wrap (about 1 foot by 1 foot) and roll it into a large square/rectangle leaving a rim of plastic wrap all around.
  2. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap and lay the salami slices on the cheese, overlapping to cover completely.
  3. Replace the plastic wrap, pressing down all over, and turn the whole assembly over, cheese side up.
  4. Remove the plastic wrap from the cream cheese side.
  5. Scatter the red peppers, olives, and pepperoncini over the cheese.
  6. Starting from the long edge closest to you, begin to roll, jellyroll style, pulling away the plastic as you go, until the whole assembly is rolled up with the salami on the outside.
  7.  Slice into rounds and serve.

The world’s best guacamole

What better way to enjoy a summer barbecue than with some really good fat?? Maybe some baby back ribs or brisket or pork belly sliders? And some slaw? But whatever your pleasure, there’s always room for the piquant fave — guacamole! Here’s our long-time family recipe.

Holy Guacamole!
Serves 4


  • ½ red onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 limes, for juice
  • 4 ripe medium avocados
  • 1 Serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1 handful cilantro, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Put the onion into a bowl with water and the juice of one of the limes. Set aside for 10 or 15 minutes to take any bite out of the onions.
2. Halve the avocados, seed, and dice the flesh. Put the avocado into a large bowl and squeeze the juice of the remaining lime over it to prevent browning.
3. Mash the avocado with the pepper and the garlic.
4. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, turning over to combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Serve with slices of jicama or pork skins.

Avo Mayo

Have your mayo and eat it, too!

I love mayonnaise. Always have. But, as I’ve written before, I find most of what populates store shelves unacceptable — filled with partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil or soybean or some other equally wretched seed or vegetable oils. And so I have tended to make my own for the last many years, using EVOO, avocado oil, or macadamia nut oil. And though it’s yummy, for sure, and is pretty easy to make, it’s not something that you can just decide on an instant to eat and homemade versions won’t keep too long in the fridge.

So how delighted was I when our good buddy, Mark Sisson, decided to solve the problem for us all by creating his Primal Kitchen avocado oil Mayo? Exceptionally so! Made with cage free eggs and organic avocado oil, it’s nothing but good.

It’s so delicious and such a convenience to be able to just grab it from the fridge and whip up Caesar dressing or slaw dressing (as I did last night) or slather it on a bison burger or make tuna, avocado, and egg salad. We use so much of it, we should probably buy it by the 55-gallon drum!

OK. I exaggerate, but not by much.

If you haven’t tried it yet, you are in for such a treat. It’s creamy and has just enough piquancy to be imminently satisfying.
There’s even a new Chipotle Lime version that is just as delightful and a whole line of avo oil salad dressings.

You can find it here on Amazon, but it might also be available at your local Whole Foods or other gourmet foods market. It’s even available at my local Raley’s market in our tiny berg up on Lake Tahoe.

So, thanks, Mark! You’ve made my life much simpler!



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!