Top ten list of 2012: My favorite paleo essentials

Posted on January 2, 2013

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So 2012 is over, and the world didn’t end, which is great because that means I get to eat more!  I started this blog because, as a foodie, I had a very hard time with the lack of variety in other paleo cookbooks and websites.  Even though I try to change things up as often as possible to keep my palate from becoming bored, there are a few items I always try to keep in my kitchen.  These are the top 10 of my favorite paleo friendly foodie items.

10: Sea salt.  It sounds so simple (though try saying that three times fast).  One of the basics of cooking in any genre, be it paleo, Italian or classical French, is salt.  It not only seasons food, but it helps preserve, and brings out flavors already present.  There really isn’t much I don’t put salt on or in, including desserts.  You can get it in an array of colors and flavors from Himalayan pink, to Hawaiian black, grey and even red.

9: Farm fresh eggs: Boiled, poached, fried, scrambled or made into mayo, eggs really are incredible and edible.  The mass produced varieties at the grocery store just don’t do them justice.  The terms “cage free” and “organic” while better, still aren’t anywhere near as flavorful or nutritious as the real farm fresh variety.  They have darker, thicker yolks, and a rich flavor unparalleled by conventionally raised eggs.  You can find them in some supermarkets, though be prepared to pay a premium.  Vital farms brand is available at Whole Foods.  Your best bet is to find an actual farmer.  In the Chicago area, I get mine from Nature’s Choice Farms.  They are cheaper than those at the grocery, come straight from the farmer, and have several delivery locations in the area.

8: Wiwinene.  Whatever your favorite variety.  Its great for adding flavor when cooking, or just drinking with a great meal, or after a long day.  There is some debate as to whether it is 100% paleo, but in moderation, I say go for it.  Two of my favorites are Black Star Farms Cherry Wine, and Goosecross Cellars Chenin Blanc.  I have had other cherry wines and they have always tasted either too syrupy sweet, or like cough medicine.  This one is pleasantly tart, and goes great with dessert.  Goosecross also has an amazing Vognier and Syrah. Both can be ordered online directly from the wineries.

7:  Cold pressed olive oil.  I used a lot of this even before we went paleo.  It is easy to find (every grocery store carries it) is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, and can be used in almost any meal.  Saute with it, create a variety of salad dressings, or drizzle it over meat or fish as an accent flavor.  You can get any brand or type you like, i.e. Greek, Spanish or Italian, but aim for organic first cold pressed.  These have the best flavor and most health benefits.  You can also warm it up and use it on your hair or skin like a hot oil treatment.butter

6: Kerrygold pure Irish butter.  I realize dairy isn’t supposed to be paleo, but like the wine, if used in moderation it is just fine.  Kerrygold is from grass fed cows (the only type of meat or dairy you should ever use) and has an amazingly rich creamy flavor that surpasses any other butter I’ve tried.  It is more expensive than regular unsalted butter, but I think it’s worth it.  Fry eggs with it, put it on roasted sweet potatoes, or paleo pancakes.  You can find it at most supermarkets.

5: Organic Raw Honey.  The paleo diet tends to poo poo on any sweeteners, but I have to have sweetness every now and again.  Honey isn’t a refined sugar, which is what makes it pretty much the only sweetener that is paleo.  Add it to coffee or tea, use it to sweeten paleo baked goods, or drizzle it over grilled fruit for a delicious dessert.   You can find raw honey in natural food stores and in many supermarkets.  Honey labeled “raw” is usually thick and opaque, because it is just the honey blended with the comb.  Regular organic pure honey is just as raw, and doesn’t have to be heated to be liquid.  I get mine from a local “bee guy” that raises his own.

4: Duck fat.  This stuff is amazing, and surprisingly trendy right now.  I’ve started seeing it on restaurant menus all over Chicago.  A popular hot dog joint called Hot Doug’s has “Duck fat ffatrydays” where they make duck fat french fries every Friday.  I love it because it qualifies as a healthy fat, unlike vegetable or canola oil, which are hydrogenated, and has a higher smoke point than olive or coconut oils.  I generally use it to fry with.  I’ve used it to make veggie chips, fried chicken, and even in place of shortening in baked goods.  It actually doesn’t add much flavor to your food, but it does make your kitchen smell like fried chicken as soon as you heat it up.  You can get it online at Maple Leaf farms, or D’Artagnan.com.

 

3: Fresh citrus.  I always have citrus in the house.  I use it pretty much every day in everything from salad dressings, to guacamole, fresh squeezed o.j. or just lemon water.  We all know oranges and other citrus have a lot of vitamin C, which is great for the immune system, and incredibly convenient considering they are in season during the winter.  Lemons and limes also have an alkalinizing effect on the body, helping recalibrate your system after a not so healthy meal.  They also help freshen breath.  Squeeze citrus over meat or fish, or just in tea or water for extra flavor or to calteam an upset stomach.

2. Honest Tea.  Going paleo pretty much means you have to give up any beverage but water.  A few exceptions are black coffee, unsweetened tea and fresh squeezed juice.  Since coffee and juice aren’t practical for every meal, I have started drinking a lot of iced tea.  My favorite brand is Honest Tea.  Its organic, fair trade, and comes in a variety of flavors.  Unlike other iced teas it actually tastes like tea, and has no extra ingredients.  You can find it at most grocery stores, but I recommend getting the glass bottles rather than the plastic.

1. Duck bacon.  I absolutely love this stuff!  Bacon in general is pretty awesome, but this is my favorite.  I have only seen it at D’Artagnan.com, and order it whenever I have a little extra cash.  It is extremely expensive, but well worth it for a special treat.  It is uncured, as proper paleo friendly bacon should be, and, to use a favorite phrase of “Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern, is “salty meaty goodness.  Use it in place of regular bacon in any recipe, or with some farm fresh eggs as an amazingly flavorful breakfast.

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