Snack time!

Sometimes only something crunchy, with dip, will do and it is something that’s missing when you drop the crisps and crackers on a Paleo diet. These oven baked, spicy plantain definitely hit the spot with a few beers and a marathon Breaking Bad session (cleared most of Season 3 already!).

No deep frying or mess, just a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and 20-25 mins of your oven’s time. Sprinkle with spices of your choice – I like a mix with cumin and chilli:


For those interested in such things, plantain are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Like bananas, they are a good source of potassium, and vitamins A & C. I did use a tablespoon of melted coconut oil, so that needs to be taken into account too, but we’re still way off the supermarket version’s salt and calorie count. Plus, this bowl full came from just one plantain @ about 90p – you do the math 🙂


Yesterday was shopping day, but I still had quite a lot of leftovers in the fridge so dinner was a bit of a pot luck. Or should I say, a pot of gold 🙂


  • Pork sausages, browned.
  • An onion, carrot and celery mirepoix perked up with a handful of smoked pancetta lardons, 2 cloves of sliced garlic and some shredded fresh sage leaves.
  • A mug of fresh chicken stock with a tablespoon of tomato paste (for colour and to thicken the finished stew).
  • The end of a bag of frozen cauliflower and broccoli florets.
  • Half a mug of coconut milk, smidge of Dijon mustard and a nugget of mature cheddar, grated.
  • A drizzle of EVO (I need the extra fat)

Drumroll please…………….


[the wine was also leftover, so had to use that up too 🙂 ]


Taco omelette

90% of my breakfasts are now eggs in omelette-format, so I try to keep things interesting by varying my repertoire. Now this may sound a bit repetitive, but is this really any different to the cereal/ stuff on toast rotation most people have in the mornings?

Having raided my fridge scraps I found an orange and a green pepper, some fresh cherry toms, grated cheddar and half a pot of guacamole. Added a handful of shredded, crunchy lettuce and ta daa!  Fresh, tasty, filling – what more could a girl want?

Bank holiday weekend

It’s a 4-day weekend for Easter so that means lots of extra special food.  Can’t have Easter without lamb and chocolate treats but that can get a bit expensive, so good to make the most of the time, effort and money. Looks like we timed the braai just right as today it’s rainy, thunder and lightening. The works. 

True to form, at the point you’ve finish cooking the meal the charcoal is just hot enough to cook a small pig. So when the boerwors, pork belly strips and lamb were cooked to perfection we bunged on chicken drums and thighs on the bone to chargrill and get some lovely smoke on. Used a lot of willpower and didn’t eat them yesterday. Got them wrapped and in the fridge ready for lunches (drums) and to be shredded into curry (thighs) so we have low effort meals sorted.  

At this time of year I tend to make big batches of dressed salads; coleslaw, sweet potato salads and roast veg, so we have those ready to pick at for a few days. Bit of extra effort up front, but turns the fridge into a deli-counter which is handy when we don’t know what the weather will be doing.

Also managed to bag a free dessert from leftovers in the fridge! Had a half mango (from making salsa last week), some sliced pineapple (left over from Piña colada chicken recipe), bananas and some fresh coconut chunks. Double-wrapped in foil with a few knobs of unsalted butter and splash of Calvados, and left on the braai while we ate dinner. Would have been good with a dollop of vanilla ice cream but Yummmmmm 🙂

Looking forward to a few days of braai leftovers while pretending it’s still Summer!


Americana night

Having shirked the BBQ and beer event at a nearby pub (even though it would have been amazing and their beer is good, it’s expensive and it’s waaaay too easy to spend a long time there) I made it up to my long suffering Hubby by recreating the evening at home. I stuck with the meat and salad, with matching beers, but omitted the Boston beans (legumes) and corn on the cob (corn, nuff said).


  • BBQ Pork ribs
  • Spicy Chicken wings
  • Sweet potato salad
  • Coleslaw (well, celeriac and carrot remoulade but still….)
  • Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn Lager
  • Sierra Nevada – Pale Ale
  • Goose Island – India Pale Ale

I normally pressure cook pork as spare ribs but they always seem to taste a bit Chinese-takeaway, so this time I used a spicy chipotle dry rub (Williams-Sonoma) and baked a whole rack in the oven, wrapped in foil. 1½hrs @ 160°c did the trick, followed by baking unwrapped for 25 mins, oven turned up to 180°c, with a glaze made of:

  • 2 tblsp fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tblsp ketchup
  • 1 tblsp Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Ribs got basted again at half-time. The wings got a chilli-lime sea salt rub (also c/o Williams-Sonoma). 180°c as the oven was already on, and I only have one oven … oh, the hardship…. and 25 mins later – taa daa!


  • Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
  • American Girl – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
  • Little Green Bag – The George Baker Selection 

Jerk chicken, plantains and mango salsa

Jerk chicken, plantain and salsa_1

Updated 27/04/2014 just spotted that I uploaded the pics here but didn’t get round to adding the text. Oops.

So, what we have here is a tasty little number made of chicken thighs dusted with homemade jerk seasoning, char-grilled until nicely blackened. The plantains were sliced about half-inch thick before being fried in a little coconut oil. The salsa was a mixture of fresh mango, orange pepper, spring onions and green chillies.Jerk chicken, plantain and mango salsa

A spritz of fresh lime juice on the chicken just before serving – deeelish 🙂

Carnitas! (gluten-free)

I love carnitas. Nothing better than tacos or quesadillas with braised, shredded luscious pork…. drool.

As tacos are off my menu I prefer to take my carnitas on salad (á la Chipotle) or wrapped in gem lettuce leaves, topped with all the usual fajita trimmings. I also have a bit of a weakness for transforming gnarley looking, tough cuts of meat into to something delicious – as with my lamb curry. Enter – Pig Cheeks.

Like many offal cuts it benefits from slow cooking as the collagen breaks down to leave über-tender meat, but there’s no gaminess, weird texture or smell, and no “acquired taste” required.  The finished texture after braising is similar to stewed shin of beef, and the flavour more rich than with pork shoulder cuts. Are you sold yet? If not, the final gem is that it only costs about £7/ kg (from Waitrose, all trimmed, zero extra effort required) and a half dozen cheeks (about 500g) will easily produce enough for 4 people so no need to spend all day cooking a cook a whole pig. DISCLAIMER: unless of course, you want to. In which case please invite me over 🙂

Back to the carnitas. This recipe doesn’t come out very spicy but it can easily be garnished with chillies or hot salsa if it takes your fancy. Always easier to add than to remove…..

Take a large, cast-iron pot and heat a couple of tablespoons of fat. Lard is traditional. Olive oil works fine. Season your 6 pigs cheeks with S+P and brown them in batches over a medium heat, setting aside to catch any resting juices. When the cheeks have all been browned (ooer… ) throw 100g cooking chorizo, chopped, into the pot and allow it to render its spicy paprika oil. When nicely browned, remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside with the cheeks. Now, sauté 1 onion and 1 fennel bulb (both finely sliced) in the paprika infused oil until softened and translucent before adding 2 cloves garlic (minced). Take care not to burn the garlic at this stage. When the raw garlic smell has gone, pour in 200ml cold water to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Then stir in 1 tsp hot, smoked paprika, 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or ½ tsp dried thyme) 1 tsp ground cumin and half a cinnamon stick. Return the pigs cheek and chorizo to the pot, along with any resting juices, and combine well. Add enough cold water to cover the meat (approx. 400ml but will depend on size of pot) and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.

When the time is up, turn off the heat. I like to take this opportunity to pop to the pub for a bit, but you could just crack on with dinner. Your choice. Remove the lid. It may look like meat stew with too much liquid. Be brave. Now stir enthusiastically for a few minutes until the pork breaks down, and you’ll see it soon transforms. If the finished mix is still too wet, just simmer with the lid off for a few minutes. I normally freeze half to two-thirds of the batch and prefer it to have a little extra liquid so when it’s been thawed and reheated I can let it simmer down without drying out.

Serve on lettuce cups with an assortment of guacamole, salsa, soured cream and grated cheese to garnish.

A very inauthentic Gumbo

So, it looked like Spring had come last week. Nice and sunny, warm enough for flip-flops. You know the routine. This week – WTF? what happened. Down to nearly zero at night and the wind is so beyond ‘nippy’ it’s not funny. I’d planned to start a regime of getting out in to nature and enjoying the fresh air – sod that.

Feeling cold makes me what to eat stodge (preferably of the pizza variety, failing that something with custard) so I adapted my stir-fry dinner plans to make a huge pot of steaming gumbo. Hot, garlicky, spicy, soupy – what more could you want?

I had to make a few adjustments to the authentic recipe, as the base requires a roux. This not only thickens the finished stew, but gives it a rich flavour. There are Paleo variations for the flour but instead I omitted the roux altogether and relied on okra to thicken the soup. I’m sure I’d be shot by anyone from Louisiana for even entitling this ‘Gumbo’ but you gotta call it something!

  • 100g Smoked garlic sausage [like andouille, but French 😉 ] sliced into thick rings then halved.
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp Paprika, ½ tsp each Oregano and Thyme, ¼ tsp each Cayenne pepper, Garlic powder and Onion powder
  • 1 tblsp tomato paste
  • Tin chopped toms
  • 3 cups Chicken stock
  • 100g Okra, trimmed and sliced
  • 3 x skinless, boneless chicken thigh, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 100g cooked prawns

Fry the sausage in a smidge of oil until golden. Remove from pan, but keep the garlicky oil in there. Sauté the onion, pepper and celery until just translucent then add the garlic. Stir until the raw garlic smell is gone. Now add the seasonings and tomato paste, stir for 30secs before adding chopped toms and chicken stock. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer. I let this simmer and reduce for about 15mins before adding the okra and sliced chicken, then simmer until chicken is cooked. Add the prawns and the reserved sausage and heat thru. The okra should have thickened the soup nicely. Serve in a bowl with a spoon and expect seconds 🙂

Homemade Nakd bars

Though I much prefer the flavour of Lära bars, Nakd bars are more easily available in the UK. Like Lära bars they have a low number of ingredients, but they’re still pretty pricey for what they are. I’ve checked a few different recipes online and this seems to work for me, and produces a batch of 12 for less than 50p per bar – based on buying small quantities of ingredient from Waitrose.

Fruity Bars:

  • 150g whole, un-blanched almonds
  • 50g pecan halves
  • 12 large, pitted dates (approx. 220g)
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • 1 tblsp melted coconut oil

Chocolate Orange Bars:

  • 150g whole, un-blanched almonds
  • 50g macadamia nuts
  • 20 large, pitted dates (approx.360g)
  • 40g good quality cocoa powder (Green & Black)
  • Zest or 1 orange, plus 1 tblsp juice

For either variation, pulse the nuts until broken down. You don’t want dust, just make it nice small crumbly bits. Chuck into a large bowl. Pulse the dates a few times before adding the remaining ingredients. You’ll now have a datey dough ball.

Knead together the nuts and fruit until it looks evenly combined. Press into a lined 8″ square tin and bung in the freezer for half an hour to firm up. Turn out onto a board and cut into 12 bars. Ta daa!

If you wrap carefully in greaseproof paper and foil, they can keep in the freezer for a few months so you always have a sweet treat to hand. Otherwise they’ll be ok in the fridge if you intend to eat them quickly but don’t forget, these are still a high sugar snack, even though that sugar is fructose. These should only be consumed in moderation.