Babys First Sous Vide

As with any of life’s beautiful milestones, it’s important to document and share with friends and strangers through the art of blog. Today’s chapter is devoted to sous vide. About five years ago, I had a client asking me if I ever tried to sous vide anything. After saying, “what??” three or four times, he finally spelled it for me. The spelling was less helpful than I imagined, but at least I had something to Google later. Back when my client was starting to sous vide, the circulators were big, taking up a lot of counter space, and were expensive. This type of novelty cooking was totally out of my budget, so I decided to just stick with the Weber grill and my trusty ol crockpot. But, times have changed, my friends. Thanks to Kickstarter funding, genius engineers, savvy app developers as well as inexpensive overseas manufacturing, we have sous vide for the masses. The new style sous vide immersion circulators are much smaller, use a separate water container (like a stock pot) and are full of cool tech. So, I’ve said sous vide 6 times now and haven’t explained what it is. I’ll be brief. Basically, sous vide is a cooking method where food is vacuum sealed and submerged in a temperature controlled water bath. Sounds relaxing! I spent a few weeks researching reviews of immersion circulators before I made a purchase decision. You can get a simple, low tech version with 800 watts of heating power and a digital readout for around 80 bucks. The next step up has a bluetooth connection with 900 watts of heating power and is Alexa enabled for around $125. The prices on these change all the time, so pop one in your Amazon cart and keep an eye it. I’m sure there will be crazy Black Friday deals if you give one as a gift (to yourself). Which one did I choose? Well, the Apple/ Telsa styled, techy cool version that kept catching my eye was the Chefsteps Joule. I liked it for the low profile design, 1100 watts of power, the user friendly app that communicates through bluetooth and wifi to your smartphone or even Alexa, it also sports magnet base as well as a clip to use with a variety of containers. Decision made and ordered!

Update… The Joule just arrived today. We were planning a Kitchfix dinner tonight, but I had some organic asparagus in the fridge. Rather than suffer an epic sous vide fail with an expensive cut of steak, I decided to give it a try with the asparagus. I bought some of the BPA-free sous vide vacuum bags on Amazon. It was a kit with 20 reusable bags and a hand pump for less than $20. Decent price and worked great. I added some salt, pepper, fresh garlic and a drizzle of olive oil to the trimmed asparagus before sealing up the bag. I gave Alexa the command for the Joule to cook asparagus and it started humming. Once the Joule was all warmed up as noted by an alert on my phone, I added the bag to the water 180 degree and watched it cook. After 10 min, we had perfectly snappy asparagus. Really, really delicious. This week, will will try out some chicken and maybe a steak. I’m excited!

Update 2… we did organic chicken breasts from Whole Foods. Simply seasoned with lemon pepper and salt. It was some of the most tender, juicy and delicious chicken I’ve ever had. Sous vide success story!

Update 3… we tried a Pre Beef grass-fed filet and a grass-fed top sirloin. I just seasoned with salt and pepper, then did a reverse sear in a cast iron pan. Just like the chicken, the steak was perfectly cooked and so delicious. I’m impressed how well sous vide cooking does. So good, it’s in my regular rotation!!   In the future, I may add a second circulator so I can do meat and veg at the same time. Let me know if you have any sous vide dishes I should try or if you have any questions.

 

Joule Sous Vide
Chefsteps Joule Sous Vide

Sous Vide Asparagus

 

Charcoal is the New Black

I recently noticed the array of charcoal based and charcoal infused products on the market. When I saw a Proactiv commercial with a charcoal bristle cleansing brush over the weekend, I realized that charcoal has finally jumped the shark. Charcoal is gaining popularity lately for its deep cleaning and detoxification properties. In my own medicine cabinet, I have charcoal capsules, charcoal tooth powder, charcoal face mask goop, and even charcoal deodorant. Intrigued by the concept, I even tried a charcoal based kombucha. That particular yeasty, vinegar tinged, grayish elixir should only be consumed on a dare. Blah! Our water pitcher has a charcoal based filter and our air purifier has a charcoal pre-filter designed to remove odors from the air. The burning question (pun intended)… Does charcoal actually work? Well, aside from the charcoal kombucha, I’m definitely a fan.

I take the charcoal capsules on a regular basis for the mild detox effects. The charcoal traps toxins in your system and helps you get rid of them rather than absorb them into your body. Charcoal capsules are not a new concept. I was taking them 20 years ago to mitigate hangover effects from a long nights out coupled with cheap booze. It definitely works! The impurities in the alcohol bind to the charcoal bits and don’t have a chance to wreck your precious weekend with a brutal hangover. These days, I take charcoal capsules to detox all the big city car exhaust, brake dust and other crap in the air I’m breathing. I buy the Bulletproof brand capsules, which are made from coconut shells, but there are a lot of good ones out there. Just be sure to check that they are all natural without any other ingredients and not made by Kingsford for your Weber grill. Also, you want charcoal that is “activated”. By activated, it means that the charcoal has been processed at high heat, which makes it more porous and effective at trapping the nasties. You can actually break open the capsules to DIY a facial cleansing mask, add to your toothpaste, etc. I did that for awhile and then decided to just buy the dedicated products.

The Dental Duty charcoal tooth powder is a fun one. Yeah, I have “off-white” teeth, maybe a tinge yellow. I definitely don’t have the sparkling pearly whites that you see on tv. Rather than using toxic tooth whitening products, the charcoal tooth powder is a natural alternative. While brushing with the charcoal tooth power, your teeth look like they time warped from 17th century Great Britain. After you rinse out the dark gray slurry, your teeth are smooth, shiny and a tad more white. They continue to get brighter after several uses. I use the tooth powder a couple times a week after brushing with my regular toothpaste.

The Fine Vine charcoal face mask that I use is clay based, so it is more like a mud mask then the fancy clay masks you see people peeling off on commercials. The mask also works great. I use it about once a week. You put it on thick and wait 30 min for it to dry. It dries to a nice dark gray and tingles slightly. Warning: the face recognition on your phone will not work when you have the mask on. When you wash it off, your complexion will be noticeably brighter and will feel deep down clean. Smart phone facial recognition will also return to normal. I tend toward oily skin and this stuff works great to even me out and keep that complexion clear.

The last product for today is the Primally Pure charcoal deodorant. This stuff is amazing. I’ve been using Primally Pure deodorants for 2 years and they have always exceeded my expectations. The charcoal deodorant is new to their line up and is my new fave. Obviously, this is a daily use product, but I don’t have to worry about any errant pit odor with their products. Not even after a hot yoga class. All good!
Any interesting charcoal products you have used or would recommend trying? I’m game!

Fun fact: Old St Nick gives out coal to the bad kids and charcoal to the good kids 🙂

Charcoals
Charcoals

Surprise! Chef Josh “Live” – Kitchfix in our Kitch

Before we were Paleo, we’d eat out or order food at least 5 nights of the week. These days it is a big deal if we go out once or twice a month. There is so much involved in going out now like researching menus ahead of time, worrying about cross contamination and hoping the wait staff truly knows what dietary restrictions mean. Now that we cook so often, we’ve really honed our skills. Because we use high quality ingredients, we often find that we prefer our own food to a restaurant. In spite of all of this, Chuck said we were going out to dinner on my birthday last month. He wouldn’t give me any details, but assured me it was completely Paleo compliant. We are very strict with diet so I was really curious and excited.

I came home after work and patiently waited for him to finish a real estate showing in our building so we could head out. I was sitting at our kitchen island drinking a cup of bone broth when he got back. Then, I noticed that Chef Josh Katt was walking in behind him. I recognized him as the chef behind Kitchfix, a service that delivers pre-made food including Paleo friendly options. We order from them every single week and had met Josh before. “Weird” I thought, “was his showing with Josh Katt?!” That’s when Josh said “Hey! I’m going to be cooking for you tonight!” Shut the front door! This was totally a dream come true. You cavemen and women know that preparing Paleo meals day after day can get tedious and laborious. I’ve always wanted someone to just come over and cook me dinner without having to worry about any part of it. Chuck hit this one out of the park! After freaking out, I swapped my dress for comfy clothes and my bone broth for red wine. Although Josh said we could sit at the table and he’d serve us, we opted to remain at the island. That way we could all talk together and watch him create a 3 course masterpiece. He pulled out tons of ingredients that he brought and started cooking. It was amazing. Our menu consisted of:

First Course – Seared scallops with chorizo and bacon crumbles

CJK First Course

Second Course – Lamb chops, brussel sprouts, micro-greens and a perfectly spicy sauce

CJK Main Course

Third Course – Pumpkin crème brulee in a pumpkin garnished with strawberries, pomegranate, diced apple and bacon.

CJK Pumpkin Creme Brulee_

Chef Josh also left us with a box of their Kitchfix cookies (delicious!) and gave us some of their Kitchfix Paleo granola (which you can find at many Mariano’s grocery stores around the city!) Thank you, Chuck, for making my birthday so special and for always knowing just what I want (or need). Thank you, Chef Josh, for taking the time to cook for us. Your food is amazing and we had the best night!

For those of you who live in the Chicago area and want to try Kitchfix yourself, here is our referral link.

We’d love to know what you think!

Chorizo Super Hash

Door to Door Organics Chicago challenged MePaleo to come up with a new recipe using the delicious ingredients from Door to Door’s online store. With such a great selection of organic food, it is a paleo wonderland and you want to cook with everything! It’s so tough to narrow down the options, hence the challenge. After a great deal of deliberation, we thought comfort food would hit the spot. With Winter just around the corner and brunch at the end of every weekend, a paleo hash recipe sounded perfect. We came up with a spicy little number that is packed with nutrients and full of flavor. Let us know what you think!

PS – get $10 off of your next order at Door to Door Organics Chicago with this exclusive MePaleo coupon code!

Chorizo Super Hash

Chorizo Super Hash

Serves 2-4   Prep 15 min   Cook 60 min

Ingredients
1 lb Chorizo
2 large Sweet Potatoes diced into 1/2″ cubes
1 1/2 cups Red Onion diced
1 1/2 cups chopped Kale
2 tbsp Cholula Hot Sauce
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Black Pepper
2-4 Eggs
Fresh chopped Cilantro for garnish (optional)

-Preheat Oven to 400
-Lightly brown the chorizo in a pan until crumbly and add to large mixing bowl (grease and all)
-Toss chorizo with potatoes, onions, kale and spices, throughly mixing ingredients together. Pour mixture into casserole dish
-Bake uncovered in oven for 45-50 min
-During the last 5 minutes of baking, pan fry eggs to your liking
-Spoon hash onto plate or bowl, top with fried egg, season with black pepper and cilantro

Enjoy!

Door to Door Organics Logo 1

Veggie Selfie Contest for $50 Door to Door Organics Gift Card

Super cool giveaway!  The prize? An awesome $50 gift card to Door To Door Organics Chicago.  To enter, Just snap a pic of yourself with your favorite vegetable.  Post your Veggie Selfie on Instagram with the following hashtags #veggieselfie #doortodoororganics #mepaleo.  Or post your Veggie Selfie to Facebook and Like MePaleo and Like DoorToDoorOrganics Chicago.  Easy peasy!

Check out Rene and her greens…

Rene's Veggie Selfie
Rene’s Veggie Selfie

Do Celebrities Eat Gluten?

Those of you that know me know I’m a sucker for celebrity gossip.  To Chuck’s dismay, I love shows like The Real Housewives and The Bachelor. I like to catch up on my Hollywood friends by perusing entertainment sites online during my daily train commutes.  Today, I came across an article from Harley Pasternak: Is It Good to Go Gluten Free?  http://greatideas.people.com/2014/05/28/gluten-free-diet-harley-pasternak/

I’ve got to say that this article totally pissed me off.  Now, I get it…it’s a short blurb of an article and it’s probably not meant to elicit thought-provoking, intellectual scientific discussion.  I’m sure they’ve got to keep things fairly superficial for our small, entertainment focused minds.  There’s my problem.  You don’t introduce a topic that is both controversial and important like this one, fill it with mis-information and then end it with a flimsy sentence saying:  “But before we throw money after potentially unnecessary gluten-free alternatives, let’s let the scientific community investigate further!”

I want my fellow celebrity stalkers to know this is not good advice!! Don’t wait for that – there is a ton of information out there already.  There are so many things I disagree with in this short, shallow article.  But, I’ll just cut to the chase.  One sentence in the article said: “Researchers found that the subjects reported worsening of their symptoms with all of the diets, including the gluten-free diets.”  You can’t eat gluten one day and then not eat it the next day expecting symptoms to go away.  You also have to address other items that can be working against you (toxins, sleep patterns and a host of others that are topics for another blog). The best way to test for gluten (or any other food sensitivity) is through an elimination diet.  You have to eliminate the food from your diet COMPLETELY for at least 30 days (many people do longer) and then re-introduce it again to see if it causes any symptoms.   I would highly recommend cutting out gluten and never re-introducing it, though, as I believe it is the worst.  Why?  Keep reading for my references…..I just have a few more quick thoughts to get off my chest first!

I’m not a doctor or the world’s most prominent gluten expert, but Harley isn’t either.  I don’t have a famous television show to carry my message, but I do have this blog and I do have first-hand experience. I think it would be awesome if everyone gave up gluten (and a host of other terrible foods) and went Paleo.  The results for me have been nothing short of exceptional.  Yes, I had a compelling reason to try it out.  But, many others (some of whom we’ve featured on this blog) have done it and haven’t looked back because the change in the way you feel is so great!  Do I expect that everyone will live this way – no.  Do I hate my friends that eat gluten – of course not.  Do I want you to stop reading People magazine?  Don’t be silly.  Do I hope you try it out and get educated on the topic from some place other than entertainment mags?  Totes Magotes!! 

Here are some of my celebrities that I follow specifically addressing the topic of Gluten:
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2011/11/why-grains-are-bad.html  (by the way, she IS a scientist!)
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-grains-are-unhealthy/#axzz33VFwT2Ak
http://robbwolf.com/2014/05/16/gluten-intolerance-exist/

Of course, check out anything having to do with my personal hero, Dr. Terry Wahls:
http://terrywahls.com/

No Mo GMO – Corporate Buzz Kill

This past weekend, we got our protest on and joined the March Against Monsanto rally in downtown Chicago.  The group of a few hundred people gathered at Federal Plaza included families, hippies and a lot of regular folk.  I learned a lot from just being there, listening to speakers and reading flyers.  It was eye opening and impassioned.

Luckily, most major GMO (genetically modified organism) crops aren’t part of the Paleo lifestyle… soy, corn, wheat, alfalfa. But, there is an indirect effect on those of the Paleo persuasion and long reaching affects for our non-Paleo friends.  The modified crops have genes which allow them to stand up to high doses of weedkiller and pesticides.  These extra strength genes increase the yield of crops, but have unknown long-term effects in humans.  Bees that pollinate all fruits and vegetables are being damaged and killed by the increased use of pesticides.  These are the same bees that pollinate fruit and vegetable crops that we all consume.

Some legislators are recognizing the problem. In 2013, U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced the “Saving America’s Pollinators Act,” which seeks to suspend the use of neonicotinoids on bee-attractive plants until EPA reviews all of the available data, including field studies. Interestingly, the European Union has already banned some of these pesticides and has very strict GMO regulations in place.  The EU is always so fashionable and green.

What are 3 things we can we do today?

1) Know your food/ farmer and buy certified organic whenever possible

2) Spread the word to friends and family (good info here)

3) Insist on proper labeling of GMOs and vote for candidates that support GMO labeling

Angry Townspeople
Angry Townspeople

 

PFX14 – The Expo

Expo areas at conferences are the best way to accumulate a ton of useless swag that ends up in a landfill shortly after you get home.  The expo at Paleo f(x) actually exceeded my expectations.  The vendor area was full of mom & pop type vendors with some great Paleo friendly products.  Paleo is still on the fringe, so it is still untainted by large corporations.  Vendors were generous with their samples and it was all useable stuff.  The vendor area was flanked by a cooking demo stage and two open stages for sessions.  The middle of the room was the action area where you could learn to dead lift properly or even flip a tractor tire end over end. Our very favorite vendor was Kosmic Kombucha.  These guys are awesome!  I’ve tried to home brew my own booch quite unsuccessfully over the past few months.  Kosmic definitely has the process down.  Their kombucha has nice effervescence, organic ingredients and tasty flavor combos.  I found myself buying a bottle every time we were out and about in Austin.  Mint Julep, with organic white grape juice, fresh squeezed orange and lemon juices and fresh mint, is the stuff!  What’s not to love?  Well, the fact that I can’t buy it in Chicago.  They are local to Austin, but maybe we can work on a distribution partnership in the future??  Seriously great booch with passionate owners that love what they do.  It’s just another reason to visit Austin again.  Ok, I’m done gushing.

Booch Master Omar and Me
Booch Master Omar and Me

Our next favorite, because it’s such an innovative product, was the Exo cricket flour booth.  There are a whopping 40 nutrient dense crickets per bar. It’s only gross if you think about it.  When I was a kid, we always had crickets in the basement and they freaked me out.  I had no idea that they were snacks!  Anyway, the bar we tried had  a nice deep chocolate flavor but nary a crunch or a creak. The gross out factor is actually pretty fun.  I’d be interested in buying some of the raw flour to cook with, but they aren’t selling it separately… yet.

Crikey!
Crikey!

Ever hear of pili nuts?  Me either.  So, Pili’s are grown in the Philipines.  They are nutrient rich from the volcanic soil and super delicious.  It’s kind of a mix between a macadamia and a cashew with buttery smoothness. The Amazon of Paleo goods and Pili nuts is Barefoot Provisions.  They literally had half a ton of great food samples to try, but the Pili nuts were the standout.  They are an exclusive distributor for many of their products and focus on Paleo foods.  I’m going to order a few bags of Pilis as soon as I wrap up this blog.

Pili Nuts
Pili Nuts

Epic Bar has been one of my favorites since they came out last year.  I actually rode my bike 40 miles just to stock up on Epics. They had a great booth and there was always a crowd gathered to check out their innovative meat bars.  It’s kind of like jerky, but much easier on the jaw.  They have bison, beef, turkey and lamb bars.  I had an issue with a bar a couple months ago and spoke with Sarah about it.  She promptly replaced the bar and told me how they had remedied some quality control issues.  I’m a happy camper.  They stand behind their bars and are passionate about it… very respectable.

Epic Deliciousness
Epic Deliciousness

This vendor just puts a smile on my face… Primal Pit Paste.  They included a sample in our registration packs, but I went to the booth and bought some.  I eliminated the typical antiperspirant with aluminum last year, but had yet to find a good replacement.  Well, the triple P is it.  Organic ingredients and no aluminum.  I got the kind that you scoop out and rub in your pits all monkey like.  Rene got the more civilized stick applicator.  They use arrowroot powder and baking soda as drying agents, which my shirts appreciate.  So far, so good!

Primal Pit Paste
Primal Pit Paste

Where would we be without The Dirt?  More Paleo personal care products for us to enjoy.  They say “100% Natural and 200% Kick Ass”. We got a couple samples of the tooth powder in our registration pack and tried the samples right away.  It’s a very different brushing experience compared to your regular toothpaste.  You run your toothbrush head through the water and then dip the tip into the powder.  It leaves a clean taste in your mouth and smooth teeth, but looks like dirty water when you spit it into the sink.  I guess that’s the point.  Chemical free and gluten free.

Nick was generous with his sticks.  Nick is a salt of the earth cattle farmer from Iowa. Take as many as you want, he said.  And I did.  Nick’s Sticks are delicious.  Good job, Nick.  I think The spicy versions of the free range turkey and grass fed beef were my favorite.  I took a pack for the road and it got me through an afternoon hunger attack.  I’ll buy these when I see em!

The Granilla Bar was another fave.  The guy, Kevin, was asked to fill a booth space just a few weeks before the conference.  They had to borrow a kitchen and were able to crank out enough bars to satisfy the crowds.  The story is good.  His wife, Denise, developed the Paleo granola snack recipe as a healthy snack for the kids.  The bars are even better than the story. The Maple Fruit Bar was my favorite… moist, crunchy and mapley.  One of the buyers for Whole Foods stopped by the Granilla booth and was interested, so they may really have to step up that production!

The Granilla Bar Photo Bomb
The Granilla Bar Photo Bomb

We had to wash all the great food samples down with something.  I almost walked by this booth, but who can say no to free beer?? Gluten free beer hasn’t ever been my beverage of choice. I used to be a huge beer fan with a very discerning taste for microbrews.  The GF beers just have a funk that I don’t care for, so I’ve been opting for hard ciders or red wine instead. Omission Beer has really changed my mind and pleased my taste buds.  They have a legit IPA and a really good pale ale. Cheers guys!!

Omission Beer Cheers!
Omission Beer Cheers!

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