Paleo-fied Dips and Dressings

Here are a few links and recipes I promised to post.

A few good links

Guacamole was born paleo. A recipe I like is here: Food 52

Ranch Dressing: I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard good things about this recipe: Girl Makes Food

DIY Salad Dressing tutorial from my blog

New Sauces

from last night’s class

Sweet Thai “Peanut” sauce

actually almond, coconut and lime sauce.

  • 1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 medium apple, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (full fat in the can)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • pinch salt
  • squirt Sriracha, or to taste.

In food processor or Magic Bullet, process almonds until they are powdery. Add remaining ingredients and blend well.

Tzatziki Sauce

This one without yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves or dill, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small cucumber peeled, seeds removed

Pulse all ingredients together in food processor or Magic Bullet.

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Get Some: PEPITAS

Living in the south, I tend to get my nuts & seeds fix from pecans.  This is perfect when you’re eating sweet potatoes under a magnolia tree.  In season – from the farmers’ market – pecans are to die for, but my pallet and my wallet have grown tired of them as summer approaches.  This week, I’ve re-discovered pepitas (pumpkin seeds popular in mexican cooking). They run about $6/lb at our higher-end super market and come raw or roasted & salted. They’re pretty, greenish and a little bigger than sunflower seeds.  They’re versatile and tasty too.

Before (bottom) & After Toasting

Toast them:

  • Spread a thick layer on a baking sheet, spray lightly with coconut oil cooking spray and toss.
  • Toast in the oven at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until golden.

Use them for:

  • Salads
  • Curry*(along with chopped pineapple and toasted coconut)
  • Chicken or turkey mole
  • Trail mix
  • Paleo Oatmeal*
  • Granol-ish:  Sprinkle toasted pepitas and coconut over blueberries and drizzle with coconut milk
* Modified versions of these recipes are in the works. They need some substitutions to be solidly paleo.

Try this toasty sprinkle:

Mix toasted pepitas, sunflower seeds, and unsweetened coconut with a little cinnamon and ground clove. Add a little cayanne pepper for a sweet & spicy kick if it suits you.

How I make lunch

This is not really a recipe, but I find myself telling a lot of folks about my lunch-building process lately, so I thought it might be useful.  This is how I make my work lunches. They’re no masterpiece, and I know some people are not entirely cool with eating 5-day-old chicken, but it works for me.

Every Sunday I get home from grocery shopping, and prepare…


(1) Enough chicken breast of a week of lunch, seasoned with whatever I’m in the mood for. (Italian, greek, tex-mex…)

(2) Week’s worth of salad.  I avoid delicate greens and veggies that get mushy, so usually use: parsley, napa cabbage, spinach, parsley, watercress, bell peppers, carrots, celery, seedless cucumber and avoid: tomatoes, regular cukes, run-of the mill lettuce, baby spinach.

(3) A bottle of home made salad dressing, again, the recipe varies at whim.

Then, in 5 1-gallon zip-lock bags, I layer up…

(1) The chicken, cooled and chopped up.  This goes at the bottom so it doesn’t mess up your veggies.

(2) The salad stuff.

(3) A handful of nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, whatever.  Sure, these are a *little* soggy by friday, but I’m lazy enough not to care.  Sometimes I’ll do half an avocado sliced in Monday and Tuesday’s lunch instead of nuts, but they won’t make it till Friday.

I leave my salad dressing and a big bowl at work, and grab a bag every morning on the way out the door.  At lunch time, I dress my salad in the bag, shake it up, dump it in my bowl, and make my co-workers jealous.

Coconut Lime Chipotle Sauce

I made this to go over salmon, but I think it would work for shrimp or cold chicken salad as well:

Soak in hot water for 5 minutes:
3 dried ancho chiles

Remove chile stems and cores, and toss in food processor or blender with:
juice of 1 lime
1 can of coconut milk
5 cloves of garlic (unless its date night)
Chipotle powder to taste (its spicy!)
A little salt if you’re so inclined

Blend smooth, enjoy!

Knowledge is Power

Fats & Acids Edition


I’ve been lucky enough to participate in the Crossfit South Bend community in the last few months.  And I’m really impressed by how thoughtful many people are about food.  In honor of the diversity of food values I’ve come across, I thought I’d share my approach to salad dressing. I think that some fundamental principles might help you cater your dressing to your own ethical, nutritional, and epicurean values.  While people who cook a lot already know this concept well, I’ve realized that it is not so obvious to everyone.  This is based on how my mother taught me to make salad dressing, and what I passed on to my roommate who is not a cook by any stretch of the imagination.

In general: fat + emulsifier + acid = salad dressing.  Most of the diversity you see has to do with the types of fats & acids used, and the ratio of fat to acid, along with additional herbs, seasoning or sugar.  Even mayonnaise operates on a similar principle.

Fats are things like oil, avocado, or even bacon grease.  Acids are things like citrus juice & vinegar.  Emulsifiers are things that help the fat and acid blend together well and keep them from separating, mustard and creme fraiche, honey, and tahini are examples.

Traditionally, dressing is about one part acid to three parts fat with a small amount of emulsifier.  My 1975 copy of the Joy of Cooking offers a basic recipe of:

1/2 teaspoon salt,
1/8 teaspoon pepper,
1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice,
1/4 teaspoon mustard
3/4 cup walnut or olive oil.

About the time fat became diet enemy #1 people started making dressing with more acid and less oil.  Problem is, they  also started adding more sugar or weird fillers to counter the acid. Like a lot of folks now, I see good quality fats as a beneficial part of my diet, and prefer dressing that looks a little more like my grandmom’s than something off of a weight-watcher’s menu.  Of course, its easy to tweak recipes back and forth to your liking.

The last thing you need to know is good blending procedure.  I either do this with a whisk in the bottom of my salad bowl before adding greens or shaken in a bottle with a good lid to use throughout the week.  Simply put, combine your acid, emulsifier, and and any herbs well, then add your fat slowly, fully incorporating a little bit at a time.  This video from the Food Network does a better job explaining than I ever could.  Also check out this Food Network article for more good combos.

Here are some combinations I like (in Fat + Acid + Emulsifier + Seasoning order):

Avocado + Lime Juice + (no emulsifier needed) + garlic and cumin (in the food processor) on top of spicy south of the border style chicken or beef.

Walnut oil + Lemon Juice + Mustard + pepper & poppy seeds on spinach or peppery greens like arugula.

Olive oil + Balsamic Vinegar + Mustard + basil & rosemary on mescaline mix and tomatoes.

Olive oil with a splash of Sesame oil + Rice Vinegar + Tahini + ginger & garlic as marinade for chicken breast or as dressing for cabbage slaw.