Pulled Pork with Carrot Fennel Slaw

Photo of Pulled PorkNow, I have to tell you: I ate strictly paleo for a few years. I loved it, and felt great while eating lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and properly raised animal protein. I’ve added some select grains back into my diet. I know. WHY?  HOW?  It all started when I got pregnant. I was fairly sick for the first two trimesters, and very particular about what I ate for the third.  I had a hard time digesting veggies unless they were cooked to mush, and couldn’t tolerate many animal proteins.  As much as I wanted to eat mostly paleo, even tried to force myself to, my body and my baby did not agree. And since I believe it is super important to listen to my body, I complied.  I tried cutting out grains again after Echo was born and it had a negative impact on my milk supply.  So, as long as I’m the head milk-maker, I will continue with a small serving of sprouted grains or brown rice a day.

Now, I have to tell you something else: I am committed to eating properly-raised protein. Because of Echo’s food allergies, the typical diet of conventionally raised animals is problematic because it is full of grains. So, the animals eat the grains, I eat the animals, Echo drinks my milk, and then he has a reaction to the grains the animal ate. Crazy, right? This means I scour the weekly grocery ads for deals, and buy in bulk when I find a good price on meat at our local co-op or Whole Foods. I make deals with friends who raise their own chickens, and sometimes go a week or two without eating animal protein at all if it is too cost prohibitive. Because BUDGET.

During the days following my son’s birth, many people gifted us with food.  One of our favorites was pulled pork made by our friend, Gwyn.  She inspired me to make this simple crockpot-style meal. I lucked out and found pork shoulder for $2.49 a pound and made a huge batch. This meal is especially nice if it’s too hot to cook and you don’t have time to anyway because you’re too busy cuddling your new baby. It’s also wonderful on a cold day, or to share with friends over dinner and wine.

Ingredients for Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder:

  • 
3-5 lbs Pork Shoulder, trimmed of some fat
  • 1/4 cup of a dry spice rub (I made my own with whatever I had in my pantry: S&P, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, celery salt, cinnamon, parsley, tumeric, onion powder.)
  • 2 Tbsp Braggs Amino Acids (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Organic Black Strap Molasses or raw honey (optional)
  • 1 onion, sliced
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Method for Pork Shoulder:

  1. Rub pork shoulder with amino acids, black strap molasses, and then spice mixture.
  2. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Wake up early and put the pork shoulder in the crockpot with apple cider vinegar and onion.
  4. Cook covered on low setting for 8 hours-10 hours.  Or longer.  This is really hard to mess up.
  5. Serve with slaw and impress everyone with your cooking skills.

Ingredients for Fennel Carrot Slaw:

  • 2 bulbs of fennel, thinly sliced (I recommend using a mandolin.)
  • 
2-3 carrots, shaved (I use a veggie peeler.)
  • chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
  • 
1 tsp raw honey
  • Sea Salt and Pepper

Method for Slaw:

  1. Combine fennel, carrots and as much cilantro as you’d like in a bowl. I like LOTS of cilantro.
  2. Add vinegar, honey, S&P and mix thoroughly.
  3. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving to set.

My husband used Ezekiel tortillas as a conduit, but you can use lettuce or a sweet potato instead.  The sweet potato is especially delicious, and that’s what I used.  I also topped it with some goat cheese crumbles and it was heavenly.  You could use queso fresco or feta if you don’t like goat cheese, or avocado if you’re trying to avoid dairy altogether. This heats up great in a frying pan for leftovers, and a great filling for a quesadilla.

Crab and Asparagus Bisque

Photo of Crab Asparagus BisqueI grew up on a lot of canned vegetables.  My family often struggled to make ends meet and eat a veggie-heavy diet living on an island in southeastern Alaska, and canned vegetables were a way to bridge both of those gaps. My mom always did her very best to feed us well, even when we were short on funds. (She also chopped firewood, which we used exclusively to keep us warm 9 months out of the year. She’s a remarkable and resourceful lady.)

As a special treat when I was young, my mom bought canned asparagus for me.  I loved it so much.  I would walk wistfully down the canned veggie aisle, gazing longingly at the Jolly Green Giant lording over those delicious green spears.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that asparagus wasn’t grown in a can, and could be prepared fresh.  I almost went broke buying it.  Anytime I went out to eat, I ordered the asparagus.  If a dish had asparagus listed as an ingredient, I was sold.  On a shoestring budget during most of my 20’s, I would still manage to find money for a bunch.

What I didn’t know then is how great asparagus is for health. It’s full of Vitamins A, B12, C, D, K and loaded with inulin, which is important for folks who suffer from diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions. It is also a natural diuretic and helps prevent kidney stones. The benefits go on and on, but needless to say, this is a really tasty vegetable that packs a powerful nutrient punch. And yes, it makes your pee smell but that’s okay. Not every vegetable can be smart, sexy, nice, funny AND smell good.

A few weeks ago, I found asparagus on sale for less than $1 a pound.  Of course I bought way too much.  I bought enough to eat it twice a day for a week, which I’m pretty certain is the definition of “way too much”.  So, I got a little creative.  I oven-roasted it, pan-seared it, steamed it, added it to a salad.  And then I souped it.  Yep, “souped” is a word.  And I did it.  And it changed my life.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of fresh asparagus, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces (be sure to snap off the tough, woody ends first)
  • 1/2 small sweet onion, chopped finely
  • 1 small clove minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth
  • 
1-2 tsp ground coriander
  • 
1/2 tsp cumin
  • 
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1 Tbsp Bragg’s Amino Acids
  • 4 oz of cream cheese (or roasted cauliflower puree for a creamy paleo-friendly base)
  • 4 oz lump crabmeat
  • (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan or small stockpot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft
  2. Add asparagus and chicken stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Add cumin, red pepper flakes, Braggs, coriander, and celery salt
  4. Once asparagus is tender (but still bright green), transfer mixture to a blender, one cup at a time
  5. Blend each batch with 1-2 ounces of cream cheese (or the roasted cauliflower).
  6. Once blended, return to pot and heat over medium-low and add lump crabmeat. Continue to heat until warm enough to serve.  Be sure to taste it and add salt and pepper and any additional seasoning you might like at this time.
  7. Garnish with asparagus, lump crab meat, or Parmesan cheese.

Bieler’s Broth (Stable Table Style)

Photo of Beiler's BrothOne of my very first questions for new clients is “What do you eat for breakfast?”. They will often tell me they eat a green smoothie made from frozen berries, leafy greens, almond milk, etc. This is SUPER HEALTHY, right?

Eh. Kind of.

In theory, yes, green smoothies are full of fresh, healthy foods. However, smoothies are typically higher in sugar and are very cold. Yes, COLD. And do you know what our bodies hate? Cold breakfasts. In fact, this is the first piece of advice I give my clients: EAT A HOT BREAKFAST. Or at the very least, make it warm.

Why is a hot breakfast so important?

Imagine a campfire. You wake up, you build a fire to get warm, make your food, etc. You don’t typically need much heat during the middle of the day, unless it is very cold outside. You eat simple foods that probably don’t require cooking. In the evening, you build the fire back up again, making it roaring hot and make your dinner using the flames. The flames slowly wane and die out and as you get sleepy and go to bed. You wake up in the morning to ashes and maybe some smoldering embers. You then rebuild the fire and the cycle starts all over again.

Your digestive system is like that campfire. It needs warmth in the beginning of the day, for the flames to be built up deliberately so it can do the important job of digesting your food and converting it into the vital nutritional building blocks your body needs to function well. Pouring a cold smoothie on that fire would not only extinguish whatever smoldering embers remained from the night before, but would also make it nearly impossible to get a new, roaring fire going for the day. It would take a lot of heat, extra wood, and very careful, intensive tending. So, using this idea, a cold smoothie, (or even cold water or juice), first thing in the morning doesn’t make for a happy digestive system. In fact, it puts the fire out.

One of my favorite breakfasts, (besides cookies), is this green soup. Before I got pregnant and became a milk machine, I ate green soup every day for several months in the morning. Full of green veggies and fortifying chicken broth, it provides the perfect start to my day. Easy on the digestive system, it is incredibly warming. It’s also wonderful as a snack, or add a scoop of cooked quinoa or some shredded chicken for a heartier meal. If you want to boost your greens, add a handful of spinach, swiss chard or chopped kale. If you’re breastfeeding, be careful with this, though. Because of the cilantro and parsley, it can lower milk production. You can make it without the herbs and use greens instead. It isn’t quite as tasty, but it’s still satisfying.

To be clear, this recipe is not the traditional preparation of the soup. Bieler’s broth was meant to be cleansing, so the original recipe uses water instead of broth, and definitely doesn’t add the healthy fat of pastured butter or ghee. With this preparation, you still get all the cleansing benefits, but you also receive some vital nutrients that are easy to skip during the day. Like BUTTER.

Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchinis (about 1.5 lbs), sliced
  • 
5-7 stalks of celery, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 
1 lb string beans with ends snapped off
  • 2 small carrots, chopped (optional)
  • 
1 small bunch cilantro
  • 
1 small bunch parsley
  • 2 quarts of chicken broth (also, it’s easy to make your own broth)
  • 
2 Tbsp ghee or pastured butter (optional)
  • 
1 tsp cumin (optional)
  • 
Pink Himalayan Rock Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Put zucchini, celery, string beans and carrot into pot with chicken broth.  Cook until bright green, then remove from heat.
  2. Ladle cooked veggies and broth with parsley leaves into blender in small batches, and blend until smooth, or use an immersion blender and blend in the pot.
  3. Heat blended soup on medium low and add ghee, cumin, coriander.
  4. Salt to taste.  Eat immediately and refrigerate leftover soup for up to 5 days in tightly sealed jar.