Beyond Bacon Review

There’s a hot new cookbook out on the shelves that I just had to mention: Beyond Bacon  from the folks at PaleoParents.com. I highly recommend this gorgeous, drool-worthy cookbook, especially for Paleo and/or Pork lovers. By showing us how pork SHOULD be eaten and how amazingly versatile it can be, the authors delve deeply into pork done the right way: sustainable, organic and all the rest. They are situated in Virginia where eating and food takes on a more evolved form (in my opinion, even more so than my stomping grounds in the Northern California wine country). We can all gain from this insight.

Beyond Bacon is truly a beautiful work of art, from the passionate content and creative recipes, to the stunning photography and artistic book design. This cookbook has it all. I can’t wait to try the “meat candy.”  And, as they say “Praise the Lard!”

Pink Pearls

Lately, as I search for recipe inspiration, I have been reflecting upon why it is that we are so drawn to the food-porn-type, double-decker imagery of decadence that vies for our attention everywhere. Is it because perhaps we crave that over-the-top experience to wake us up and make us feel more alive?

I know that I go on and on about the Farmer’s Market. I almost feel that I would shrivel up and wither away if I didn’t have access to one nearby. For me, the attention-grabbing imagery found on the web and Pinterest can never duplicate the multi-sensory experience of shopping in my open-air, local market. It connects me to my food – connects me to nature – makes me feel alive.

Sometimes a mindful bite of reality, plain and simple, can be “sweeter” than a sugar-coated, Disneyland-for-the-taste-buds experience. The quietly seductive Pink Pearl, with its understated beauty, is a reserved apple on the outside, but vivaciously pink and zestfully sweet-tart on the inside, providing the perfect opportunity to enjoy mindful eating.

Just as my husband finds it difficult to consider using his best wines for cooking, in the same vein, I sometimes find it difficult to sacrifice the last bounty of summer to a recipe and the oven. The Pink Pearl reminds me that it can be incredibly satisfying to simply relish the experience of real food that is in a state unaltered by human ingenuity. Think I’ll chew on this a while.

San Francisco Inspiration

I recently contributed some photos to Sourced Cities for a blog post on San Francisco (my near-by, big city). Photographer Chantelle Grady is the author of Sourced Cities, a guide for travelers, residents wanting to rediscover their city, or those who just want a vicarious experience thru beautiful travel imagery. For a quick and unique little journey through San Francisco, you can visit the post here. You’ll see some fun images from several sources, including some familiar ones from Four Fresh Peas.

Happy Friday!

Mr. Phil’s Chicken

Who is Mr. Phil? Why, my husband of course. This family favorite came about through his desire to experiment with spices, Indian spices specifically. He has several versions, however, this one was custom made for me. I love Indian flavors. The spices are full of healing properties that are soothing in either hot or cold weather: Indian-style comfort food.

Plus, for the Paleo and low-carb enthusiasts, I served it over cauliflower rice (you can find the recipe here: Paleo-Inspired Spicy Salmon Roll). Add some mango lassis and a fresh farmer’s market salad for a perfect weekend meal. Happy Friday!!

 

Chard Chips

 

This post had been sitting idle, in my queue awaiting the perfect time to publish. The kale chip discussion led by Kathleen, the sugar-free cheerleader over at Sugar Free Me, gave me the nudge to send it out. Kale chips have been the rage recently, and rightly so. I developed something bordering on addiction after trying them for the first time: a crispy, savory and satisfying snack. I was forced to substitute chard when I found myself in the unfortunate position of having no kale in the house and craving something green and crunch. Happy to report that the same technique used for making kale chips works on chard as well. Here’s how I did it:

HAPPY MUNCHING!

 

Fig Love and Quantum Physics

I love, adore, can’t say enough about figs. I accept them for who they are, plain and simple, without feeling the need to change them, sugar coat them or alter them in any fashion. So, it was one eureka moment when I recently found the ultimate fig supplier at my little ole farmer’s market; he’s got 15 different varieties! I snapped up some pretty ones as I visualized an assorted tasting platter.

Back home, to my amazement, I sliced into a perfectly plump, dark-skinned Mission, and there appeared the shape of a heart! Do you see it? It was quantum physics at its finest.

My collection was looking very much like a plate of enticing, after-dinner candies.

So, what’s my favorite?

The princess of them all the Panache, with its yellow and green stripes …

and a succulent, deep-colored, jam-like center – DIVINE!

Helpful Farmer’s Market Hint: I have been advised by the wise and can confirm from experience that “serious shoppers go early.” If you want the good stuff, especially when it comes to figs, the early bird gets the worm.

Lunch: On the Bright Side

Last weekend, I was on a mission to construct a much craved, gluten-free crab roll. After securing a sorghum flour bagel from my favorite gluten-free bakery The Cosmic Cookie Jar, I set out for some fresh crab salad from a humble but reputable crab shack located in Bodega Bay on the Sonoma coast. I envisioned myself piling the crab salad on my bagel and scarfing down while watching the seals frolic in the bay. However, my plan fell flat upon arrival, as the entire town had suffered a power outage. Consequently, there was no crab salad. H-m-m-m-m … not much going on in Bodega with no power, so I headed home and was forced to improvise.

On the bright side, I had a beautiful bunch of farmer’s market basil on my counter arranged in a jar of water like a beautiful fragrant bouquet.  The sight inspired a dairy-free pesto, which I made from my pantry-staple nut collection: cashews (my favorite), walnuts, brazil nuts and almonds. Pesto is one of those things that I just adore – it makes everything it touches taste better. I mixed the pesto with leftover roasted chicken pieces, and spooned the mixture over my toasted bagel.

Although the gluten-free crab roll returned to the queue for another day, on the bright side, I enjoyed a lovely impromptu lunch.

 

 

 

Dining Out: Peak-Performance Style

You can’t go wrong with fresh wild salmon, packed with omega-3′s, grilled to perfection over a generous plate of corn, cherry tomatoes and arugula. Some serious goodness!

Dining out can be challenging for those of us wanting to be “good.” One recent and most satisfying adventure of mine proved that it can be done. It starts with the choice of restaurant: Greek food in this case. I knew that Mediterranean fare would offer lots of veggies, fiber-rich legumes (think hummus) and healthy fats. Kokkari, in San Francisco, was the place.

My peak-performance meal also included:

creamy, caper-topped hummus – spread on cucumber instead of fresh pita and…

grilled octopus drenched in high-quality, greek olive oil and oregano.

A shared bite or two of herbed lamb chops with roasted potato wedges – delectable! The Greeks know how to do lamb!

Although I am not normally a coffee drinker, to finish this peak-performance meal, I sampled the Greek Coffee heated over hot sand – thick, rich and something that could easily make a convert out of me.

For those wanting to splurge, the baklava with praline ice cream looked really tasty,

but not for me – at least this time around.

 

The 90/10 Rule and Gluten-Free Treats

I revisited that little gem in my neck of the woods, The Cosmic Cookie Jar, run by the ultra-talented bakers, a husband and wife team, Craig and Olga, who bake up the most delectable and health-supporting baked goods I have ever come across. Through their craft, I am exploring the world of gluten-free baking, testing my taste buds and discovering which alternative flours are most appealing. R & D you might say, before I try my hand at some baking myself. A place to spend ten percent of my time; let me explain …

As I reflected on this post, I was reminded of an article that I recently read by Dr. Mark Hyman (Why falling Off the Wagon Can Benefit You). He discusses the benefits of letting go of perfectionism as he articulates his motto: “Ninety percent of the time I eat an anti-inflammatory, real, whole foods diet and ten percent of the time I leave room for the unexpected.” At times we need to be more strict with ourselves in order to obtain certain goals, but as an overall, guiding principle, the 90/10 rule seems to be a reasonable and sustainable approach. So now with my disclaimer out of the way, let me dive right in!

I came home with a humble brown box containing … one soft and delicate, petite “baby cake” made with coconut flour, no dairy and weighing in at about two bites.

Da-dom-da-dom … drop the paper off the shoulder and reveal peak-a-boo raspberries inside.

Next, there was the chocolate-covered, coconut donut. This cake-style donut was baked, not fried, and almond flour gave it a rich nutty flavor. These bakers were successful in pushing the limits on how little sweetener you can get away with and still have something spectacular – just a touch of honey was added.

Last, but not least, there was the family favorite, a cinnamon roll made with millet and rice flour. I don’t know how they did it, but this was one high-caliber cinnamon roll!

Shared between my family of three – we sure did enjoy our ten percent!

 

 

 

 

Paleo-Inspired Spicy Salmon Roll

 

Many ideas from many sources, all revolving around the enjoyment of healthy, real food: that’s my intent for this blog. With this in mind, I am happy to present my first Reader Recipe: Cauliflower Sushi, shared by Ashley Wilkinson, a Paleo enthusiast from Boston.

I r-e-a-l-l-y love sushi, and am a bit of a snob about it. Admittedly, when Ashley ran the idea past me, I had concerns about cauliflower. None-the-less, I am game for trying just about anything “healthy.” My conclusion, after all was said and done, “BRILLIANT!”  Didn’t miss the rice one iota. In fact, the steamed cauliflower, lightly pulsed in the food processor, resembles rice in appearance and is so much easier than the messy traditional sushi rice. Frankly, rice isn’t all that flavorful anyway, and neither is cauliflower. So the cauliflower became the neutral ingredient, overshadowed by all of the other wonderful flavors.

I used “hot smoked salmon” from Whole Foods.

This smoked paprika is a must have for my pantry. It brings paprika to a new level and adds a beautiful smoky flavor.

Can’t get enough of this spicy mayo!!!

Delightfully delicious, completely satisfying and easy, I’m sold! Converted! Although you’ll still find me at the sushi bar any chance I can get, I now feel empowered to satisfy my sushi cravings in my very own kitchen. Thanks for sharing Ashley!

Reader Recipes: If you are interested in sharing one of your own (original) Peak-Performance plates, please contact me. If it fits Four Fresh Peas, I’ll create it in my own kitchen, shoot it “pretty-plate” fashion, share it, and of course, credit the source.