Essential Pantry List for the Primal Kitchen

You will need a good supply of healthy fats and oils.  All the crap you’ve been taught your whole life about unsaturated and saturated fats, well throw it out the door.  Also throw out that stupid carbs above all food pyramid the FDA has been brainwashing you with.  Animal fat (saturated) was a staple in our ancestors diet. There is a great section in the book I mentioned in my last post, Eat Naked, about fats.  Hydrogenated oil is horrible. Basically they took an oil which is very unstable from a creepy over modified plant, soy, and changed it on a molecular level so it can withstand high heat, making something completely foreign to our bodies.  Read labels. Anything with hydrogenated anything, throw it out.  Here’s a list of healthy fats and oils to replace your “vegetable” oil and margarine with.  Take the time to learn what each is for and which ones can withstand higher heat, as well as which ones are meant to stay room temperature such as on salads.

*Olive oil

*Coconut oil (A saturated fat from a natural source that is a great way to cook things in medium-high heat)

*Butter from grass-fed cows (grass-fed is best for many reasons which we will get into later)

*Lard. Yes, lard. Your grandmother used it and so should you.

*Other oils for dressing salads such as grapeseed, avocado, and safflower

Baking essentials:

*Coconut flour (expensive but only used in small amounts so it should last quite a long time)

*Almond meal or flour (I make my own with a food processor, MUCH cheaper than buying it premade)

These two flours are used in most paleo baked goods since they are grain-free.

Herbs and Spices:

I keep a large amount of dried spices in my cabinet that create wonderful flavor combinations once you learn what goes with what.  Here are a few that I always have handy.

*Cumin, coriander, cinnamon, smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder (all-time favorite), fennel, nutmeg, ground cloves.

Herbs can be kept dried or fresh, fresh being best for optimum flavor.

*Basil, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, sage (only fresh because I grow it and then dry it in the fall), cilantro, thyme (dried), oregano (dried).

Sweeteners:

*Raw honey

*Pure maple syrup

 

Other essentials:

Canned coconut milk (I have so many great uses for this)

Vinegars (apple cider being my favorite)

Organic stone ground mustard for quick lunches like salmon salad or with no preservative added deli turkey

Dried fruits such as apricots and cranberries

A variety of nuts and seeds.  Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.

Nut butters such as almond or sunflower seed (peanuts are against the primal thing since they are a legume. Anything not edible pre-cooking our paleolithic ancestors wouldn’t have consumed, so legumes are out. This is something I have a hard time with. I love peanut butter and haven’t found any other butters that can compete.  But aflatoxin is pretty creepy if you want to look that one up).

Eggs.  I know they aren’t considered a pantry item, but I am sure to always have them handy.

And for those of us with chocolate addictions, a bar of dark chocolate, preferably one without soy lecithin or other additives, and a bag of cacao nibs (unprocessed cacao) The best I’ve found is a brand called Fearless which I found at Earth Fare. Chocolate has healthy properties when it’s in its unprocessed state so a little dark uncrapped-up cacao is beneficial for both body and mind.

Pig & Figs and Sweet Morning Hash & Eggs

Once or twice a week, usually on my days off, I make a nice fancy dinner.  I had a container of figs I picked up last week at the market that needed to be used up so my brain automatically went to balsamic vinegar and pork.  The end result was a roasted pork tenderloin with balsamic fig reduction drizzled overtop.  This sounds super fancy, right? We have our ways of doing those things. But to be honest, it took about 10 minutes prep time and about 25 minutes in the oven.  One of the things I preach about it how quick and cheap eating healthy can be.  People are so quick to assume they have no time to prepare meals and that fresh produce costs too much money.  The average time it takes me to make a meal is 15 minutes. 15 MINUTES.  The estimated cost of this dinner in particular was about $11 for two of us, this being on the higher end of what I usually make.  Once you have a stocked pantry of the essentials, make one or two trips a week to preferably a local market for fresh produce and meat.  I will be making a list of pantry essentials that you can use to get started in your “nature diet”.  Herbs and spices can take a vegetable from boring to delicious if you have a little knowledge of flavor combinations.  Back to my “pig and figs”.  This one’s perfect for a dinner party as a pork tenderloin is a great way to serve a large amount of people and looks lovely and sophisticated on the plate.

Pig and Figs

Recipe: (2 servings)

One pork tenderloin (the package I purchased had two. I used one which was enough for 2 people)

Chopped fresh rosemary

Olive Oil

1 clove fresh garlic chopped into medium pieces

Salt & Pepper

About 1 1/2 cups fresh figs, quartered

1 small cooking onion or shallot, chopped

4 Tbl balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup stock, beef or chicken

Heat oven to 400.  Rub pork with olive oil.  Make small slits in top and shove the garlic in them.  Rub rosemary, salt and pepper over the meat. Brown in a hot skillet for about 5-7 minutes on each side. Transfer pork to roasting pan and bake uncovered for 25 min or until a thermometer reads 160 in the center of the loin.  Meanwhile, saute onion in olive oil until tender.  Add 3 Tbl vinegar and stock.  Simmer until reduced by half and add figs and last Tbl of vinegar. Reduce to half again.  When the pork is done, let sit for 10 minutes before carving. Slice into preferred width and spoon fig reduction overtop.  Serve with a fresh greens salad.

This morning I made something new and amazing and cannot for the life of me realize why I never thought of it before. Sweet potato hash and eggs.  So simple and delicious.

Sweet potato hash and eggs

Recipe:

1 medium sweet potato

coconut oil

cumin

smoked paprika

salt and pepper

Chopped a sweet potato into thin small strips or use a grater if you prefer.  Heat coconut oil in skillet and add the potato.  Saute over medium-high heat until potato is tender and starts to brown.  Season with spices (use your own preference as to how much). Serve with eggs cooked your way!

Sweet potatoes are an awesome source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as being low on the glycemic index.  I usually substitute them for anything involving boring, high starch, white potatoes. Sweet potatoes have been shown to be a much healthier dietary staple than grains, white potatoes, beans, or rice. White potatoes (along with peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant) are in the nightshade family which very strict paleos completely avoid altogether.  Those suffering from autoimmune disorders of the skin showed great improvement after cutting out white potatoes. The best advice to give if you are suffering from a health problem is to see which foods cause an increase or decrease in symptoms as they differ from individual to individual.

There is MUCH to learn about the primal diet and everyone’s opinions of what it means varies.  Here are some great references to check out to lead you in the right direction.

Eat Clean by Margaret Floyd (not so much “paleo” but about clean eating in general. For example, if you’re going to eat dairy or grains, she shows the best and healthiest options for doing so)

Mark’s Daily Apple-the blog by the writer of The Primal Blueprint

The New Evolution Diet written by Arthur De Vany

Clothes Make the Girl- a great blog for recipes!

An Introduction…

Welcome to my new blog, The Huntress and the Harvest, where I will be sharing my many adventures in what I refer to as “housewifery” (although I’m not a wife and I have a real job) . This will include my trials and tribulations in what is known as the “primal” lifestyle (we will get to what that means in a few) and also the random other things that I come across in my attempt to make my home more sustainable, eco-friendly, and healthier for my family.

I guess I should share a little about myself in case you don’t already know me or if you do, maybe you’ll find out something new. I’m 26 years old.  I live in a small town in northeast Ohio called New Franklin.  I am a mother to an amazing little boy named Evan who turns 3 on October 30th.  I live in the house I grew up in, moving back home once my parents moved out and I was sick of the city lifestyle. The house itself is one of the oldest in the town with the original part built in the 1800s.  It has a relatively good size back yard where my 2 dogs, Samurai and Maggie, have freedom to roam.  I live here with my son and my wonderful other half, Matthew.  We are both learning about sustainable living and slowly working our way up the ladder.  One project we will be starting soon is making my small storage barn into a chicken coop and in the spring getting some chicks for eggs.  I’m sure that mission will be a few entries itself.  Outside of the home, I am a kitchen manager for a locally owned bar and grill where I have worked seven and a half years.  It isn’t the best job around, and sometimes it bums me out that I can’t use more of my knowledge and skill as far as health food goes, but it’s a job and it pays the bills.  My love is at home with my family and in the kitchen where I probably spend at least half my waking hours in.

A quick introduction to what is known as the primal lifestyle,  Some call it paleo or ancestral, some say live like a caveman.  Everyone has their own opinions on what foods are ok and which are not, but most everyone follows the same basic rules.  Some people are super strict and asshole-ish about the whole thing. I, on the other hand, use it as a general basis to follow, not something to kill yourself over.  Basic principles are as follows:

*A hunter-gatherer based diet.  Anything you couldn’t hunt, kill, or pick, don’t eat.  Of course most of us will be hunting and gathering at the grocery stores or markets, it is an overall general rule to think of before you put it in your mouth.

*Processed foods are OUT. Any weird preservatives or hydrogenated crap is out.

*Grains are a no-no (a caveman wouldn’t have been eating pasta or bread and we will go into why we should limit our intake in another blog)

*Vegetables and healthy meats should be the main staples in your diet.

*Shop local, organic, grass-fed, and pasture raised.

*Exercise.  By this I mean don’t sit around on your ass all day at work to come home and sit on your ass some more.  Go to the woods and climb a tree. Do yardwork.  Carry some heavy stuff.  Move. PLAY.

*Stay connected to nature.  Take weekly trips to the woods, go swim in a lake, go play in the snow.  Take a moment to realize how beautiful the outside world is and remember that  we are a part of it and it shouldn’t be foreign to us.  In the midst of our lives and the sheltered buildings we live in, we often forget to pay attention to the wonderful world that is all around us.  (Trust me, it doesn’t just exist in your tv, which in my opinion if you have a television obsession that you cannot control, break it. Break it now and never look back.)

One more thing about myself.  I am sarcastic.  Sometimes I swear like a sailor.  If you’re looking for a blog that uses class and lady like manners, then do not follow me.  If you can handle it, you’re about to be immersed in my thoughts, photos, experiments gone good or bad, and any references I find helpful to share with you.  Thanks for reading and hopefully I can inspire you to find your inner primal being wherever you may live.