It seems really dumb to tell you how I do what I do, like I’m giving away the secret, but it also has an aspect of preferences and creativity and a collection of knowledge. If we were both stuck in a kitchen with a bunch of ingredients, we wouldn’t make the same thing. Plus, what kind of person would I be to pretend I’m here to help and not give you the tools to succeed? An important part of creating recipes is to actually have a wide variety of ingredients, herbs and spices on hand.
28 paleo items to have kicking around in the pantry:
- Sea salt
- Black peppercorns
- Bay leaves
- Curry Paste
- Chilli Flakes
- Cayenne pepper
- Pure (Light tasting) Olive Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Unrefined coconut oil
- Organic coconut palm sugar
- Arrowroot Flour
- Almond Flour
- Cassava Flour
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Apple cider Vinegar
- Canned coconut milk
- Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts, Pine Nuts, etc.
- Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, Chia seeds, etc.
Understanding VS. Memorizing
I’ve eaten a lot of different kinds of food my whole life, I’m not very picky at all. In fact, some of my favourite foods are probably classified as “weird” – ie: my hankering for bone marrow. You can memorize a list of ingredients but if you understand the very essence of the dish, it is easier to recreate that flavour.
I want to make lasagna paleo. I know there’s a million and a half paleo lasagna recipes in the world but I want it to be my way, so let’s look at the first lasagna that comes up on Google.
- Alright so I’m seeing a mixture of pork and lean ground beef, right off the bat. I don’t eat pork but I know that a lot of flavour and fat is going to come from that so I may want to have a mixture of lean and full fat ground beef. The sausage is still an option for you but be very careful, there’s almost always added sugar in the list of ingredients.
- I see sugar in there which is useful for removing the tartness of tomatoes (especially canned) but that can be replaced with coconut palm sugar or not used at all.
- Italian seasoning is a pretty generic term for a premixed dry seasoning so this recipe is an probably an “easy” version of traditional lasagna so I may want to get some fresh spices and bruise them a bit instead.
- Obviously the main substitution is going to be the noodles. I’ve tried it before with zucchini slices but they do get pretty watery so I may do it with sweet potato slices this time instead.
- We’re gonna not put cheese in there, but there’s a huge opportunity for fermented cashews to take their place, as it has a cheesy flavour.
Another useful tip is to always read the comments. Maybe there’s something really vital the writer forgot to include. People who try the recipe will often comment how they improved it.
Next I wanna cross reference with another recipe, see if there’s some differences. I’m a huge fan of Gordon Ramsay in all of his douchey glory, so let’s look at his recipe.
- Olive oil! Duh! The first recipe was definitely missing that.
- Worcestershire is not paleo but can be made at home or maybe replaced with balsamic vinegar.
- Dry red wine. Yes. Not on Whole30 though so maybe not.
- I see the fatty dairy-like deliciousness he’s going for in the sauce but we’re gonna skip that completely.
- Shredded carrots sound fantastic and totally out of my lasagna comfort zone.
Now to my drawing board. I’m going to make a paleo lasagna using:
1lb lean ground beef
1lb regular ground beef
1 sweet potato, sliced about 1/4″ thick and boiled
1 can tomato paste
1 can crushed tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 fresh oregano
1/2 cup spinach
1 cup fermented cashews
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2tbsp sea salt
1/2 onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1tsp unrefined coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350F. Using tsp of coconut oil, grease a 9″x 13″ lasagna pan. Place slices of boiled sweet potato on bottom layer until pan is concealed. Spread a thin layer of cashew cheese over the sweet potato.
In a large brazier (rondeau), sauté your onions, garlic, olive oil, oregano, basil, sea salt and spinach until onions are soft. Now add tomato paste and drained crushed tomatoes.
In another large frying pan, fry ground beef until browned. Combine beef with tomato mixture. Pour meat sauce over the layer of cashew cheese until completely covered. Place another layer of sweet potato slices over meat. Cashew cheese. Meat sauce. Sweet potato. Do this until you run out of stuff. Bake for 30 minutes. Season with fresh oregano.
I haven’t even made this yet, it may change a little as I get inspiration from random vegetables found in the refrigerator that are going bad soon, but I know this is the taste that I want.
Another great example is Bowls.
You probably remember seeing my Southwest Burger Bowl. This was made from my understanding of eating a real southwest burger. I remember I always ate southwest mayo when I worked at Subway as a teenager so I made my own mayo and added roasted red peppers and chipotle chilli powder. The avocado was inspired by it clearly being half rotten. I made a regular burger patty as I would any other day except added some jalapeños.
Never feel restricted because you want to eat healthy. Whatever you’re craving, you can make in your very own way. It’s not always gonna taste good but if you’re like me, you’re gonna eat it anyway and never tell anybody what happened. May 2017 be a new beginning for the way you treat your body.
You can always shoot me an e-mail if you want some ideas.