man teaching kids cooking skillsIt’s easy to ignore your lack of rudimentary cooking skills when you order pizza or get takeout every night. When people switch to Primal or keto diets, they usually find themselves spending considerably more time in the kitchen. On the plus side, they’re better able to control ingredient quality and the macronutrient breakdown of their meals. For better or worse, this also forces them to confront their lack of culinary prowess.

Preparing two or three homemade meals per day can be daunting if you’re accustomed to mostly grabbing prepackaged or restaurant fare. As with any other skill, though, you learn by starting with the basics, practicing often, and building proficiency as you go. Your meals don’t have to be elaborate, your technique perfect, or your dishes artistic. They just have to taste good.

Today I’m going to nominate some skills and dishes that I think every beginner should learn. Chime in in the comments and let me know what else you would put on the list.

Where to Start

First, some basics:

Start by following other people’s recipes. Don’t try to wing it if you don’t know what you’re doing. Find one or two cookbooks or blogs you like, and work your way through them. To learn your way around a kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen books are tried and true. My favorite book for artful yet practical kitchen inspo is Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.

Get good knives and keep them sharp. Watch some YouTube videos to learn basic knife skills. Everyone should know how to chop an onion. Start there.

Season your food, for goodness sake. I have a theory that most people who think they are bad cooks are mostly just boring cooks. (That, and they overcook their meat, but we’ll get to that.) Salt is your friend. You should have a decently stocked spice rack. Tell me in the comments what spices you use most. Mine are cumin and turmeric.

Just go for it! As with anything else, you get better by doing it. Stick to simple recipes at first, then get more adventurous as you become more confident.

Chicken

I firmly believe that everyone should know how to roast a whole chicken. A fragrant, golden chicken feels like true kitchen mastery, yet it’s so simple. Ina Garten taught me (not personally, but you get it), or start with this Perfect Roasted Chicken recipe.

When you roast a whole chicken, you end up with a carcass. This is great news because you should also know how to make your own bone broth. It doesn’t matter whether you use the stovetop, slow cooker, or pressure cooker method. Either way, it couldn’t be easier to stock your freezer (no pun intended) with jars of homemade bone broth. Then you always have some on hand to make soups, stew, chili, or just to drink.

When it comes to making chicken breasts or thighs, I usually opt for thighs because they are more forgiving. Breasts have a tendency to become dry and disappointing. The secret is to brine your chicken breasts, especially if you’re baking them or throwing them on the grill. (You can also brine thighs or whole chickens, or indeed any poultry or lean meat, but it’s particularly life-changing with chicken breasts, in my opinion.) Here’s how I do it:

Step-by-step brining

  • Boil two cups of water.
  • Remove it from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of sea salt until dissolved.
  • Transfer the salty water to a large glass bowl. Top it off with ice water to cool the solution so you don’t poach the chicken. Give it a stir. If you have any fresh herbs and garlic cloves on hand, you can throw them in now, but it’s not required.
  • Add the chicken, making sure it’s covered by water. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes on the counter (yes, it’s fine), or stick it in the fridge for up to an hour.
  • Remove the chicken and cook according to your recipe, but don’t add more salt!

Chicken recipes to try:

Devyn’s Grilled Marinated Chicken (MDA)

Cracklin’ Chicken (Nom Nom Paleo)

Mayo Roasted Chicken (Primal Kitchen)

Vegetables

Please, I’m begging you: unless you are making soup, don’t boil your vegetables. Steaming is acceptable, but for truly delicious cooked vegetables, sauté or roast them.

With both sautéing and roasting, avoid these three rookie mistakes:

  1. Not using enough fat or oil. Vegetables need lubrication to avoid sticking to the pan, and oil allows your roasted vegetables to develop those scrumptious crunchy bits. When sautéing, add enough oil/fat to just cover the bottom of the pan. For roasting, use enough to coat the vegetables when you toss them, but not so much that they end up floating in a pool of oil.
  2. Overcrowding the pan. Give the veggies room to breathe. Use multiple roasting pans or sauté in batches rather than allowing them to overlap, unless you’re stir-frying.
  3. Playing it too cool. Hot = browning, browning = flavor. When it comes to roasting, 375°F (190°C) is as low as I’ll go, but really, I rarely roast below 425°F (220°). If you’re roasting multiple types of vegetables at one time, it’s best to keep them separated in case they get done at different rates.

For masterful sautéing, preheat your pan over medium-high heat without any fat or oil. When it’s nice and evenly hot, add the fat, then add the vegetables. Sauté over medium to medium-high heat.

In general, I favor sautéing for softer vegetables and that cook more quickly—think mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, fresh green beans, bell peppers—and roasting for harder vegetables like winter squash and the cruciferous Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, or romanesco. These aren’t hard-and-fast rules. You can certainly roast zucchini or peppers and onions, for example.

Two more tips:

  • Take the time to cut your vegetables into approximately uniform pieces so they cook at the same rate.
  • Don’t be too stir-happy when sautéing. If you want your vegetables to brown nicely, let them sit undisturbed for a few minutes before stirring and repeating.

Vegetable recipes to try:

Easy Roasted Winter Vegetables Recipe (MDA)

Grilled Greek Summer Veggies Recipe (MDA)

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts (MDA)

Also check out Mark’s 8 Tips for Cooking Vegetables

Steak

Steak lovers have strong feelings about how to cook the perfect steak. You’ll have to experiment with different methods and cuts to find what you prefer. I personally like to cook NY Strips on very hot cast iron, season my steak before cooking with only coarse salt, and flip it frequently. Other people swear by reverse searing, which is also fantastic. Still others will only cook steak on a grill, as in Mark’s Grilled Steak.

I’m not going to tell you how to cook your steak, but I will suggest that if you prefer your steak well done, you shouldn’t admit that aloud unless you want some serious ribbing. Just saying. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the steaks and take them off the heat when they are 5 to 10 degrees below your target temp:

Rare: 120-125°F (45-50°C)
Medium-rare: 130-135°F (55-60°C)
Medium: 140-145°F (60-65°C)
Medium-well: 150-155°F (65-70°C)
Well: >160°F (>70°C)

Keep in mind, no matter what cut and method you use, you should let your steaks rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into them. During that time, the internal temperature of the steak will rise 5°F or so.

Eggs

Omelets are always on lists of kitchen skills everyone should have, but I disagree. Omelets are fussy. Scrambles are much easier and just as delicious. In any case, though, I do think that Primal + keto eaters should have some egg skills in their repertoires. I’d start with the following:

Scrambled eggs. Here’s how to make the most amazing scrambled eggs:

  • Heat a skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Melt some butter in the skillet and crack the eggs into the skillet without stirring. (You can also separate the whites and yolks here, but it’s a more advanced maneuver.)
  • When the whites are about halfway cooked, start pushing them around with a spatula, avoiding the yolks.
  • When the whites are nearly done, take the pan off the heat, break the yolks, and fold the yolks and whites together. Keep stirring gently until the eggs are cooked to your liking. They should be creamy, but if you just can’t handle soft eggs, put the pan back on low heat and finish to your liking.

Hard-boiled eggs. The truth is, I never boil eggs anymore. For hard-cooked eggs, I either use the Instant Pot (easiest!) or steam them. You won’t lose eggs to cracking this way.

The Instant Pot 5-5-5 method is foolproof: Cook eggs for 5 minutes using the Egg or Manual function, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then release the remaining pressure and move the eggs to an ice bath for 5 minutes. Voila.

Or, boil a couple of inches of water in a pan and place a steamer basket inside. Steam the eggs for 7 to 10 minutes depending on how you like the yolk, then transfer them to an ice bath to cool.

Egg muffins. Like this recipe.

Egg recipes to try:

 

This should be a good start for any new cook. What else would you add? Which books are must-reads for kitchen beginners? Skills or dishes that everyone should have in their arsenal?

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how to render beef tallowI almost never hear of people cooking with beef tallow, even in Primal circles. I hear about lard, duck fat, ghee, butter, olive oil, and avocado oil, but rarely tallow. Hey, those are all great, delicious fats, and they deserve their prestige, but I like sticking up for the little guy. I like an underdog. In this case, of course, the little guy comes courtesy of a big cloven-hoofed ungulate.

Another reason to try tallow: those of you experimenting with the carnivore diet will want to mix up your cooking fats here and there. Each one has a different nutritional profile.

Here’s how to do it.

 


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How to Render Beef Tallow

To render beef tallow, you need to get your hands on some raw beef fat.

It’s called suet, and the best stuff for rendering is going to be solid and firm. Most suet comes from the tissue surrounding the kidneys and the loins, but any hard beef fat will do. What I did was buy steak and roast trimmings from a butcher. Grass-fed and grass-finished is best, but if you can’t find that, look for clean, organic meat. It should be inexpensive. If you can find a good butcher that deals with grass-fed meat, I’d imagine buying the fat trimmings is still fairly inexpensive and completely worth the extra effort.

I don’t know whether my batch was suet or not (I suspect there was at least a bit, judging from the thick, hard pieces that felt like cold butter when you sliced into them), and it did look a little ragged and hastily thrown together, but it was still fat. I wasn’t going to let a little uncertainty slow me down, for I was armed with the knowledge that fat can always be rendered.

Instructions

 

Using a chef’s knife, trim off any leftover tissue (it will be red or hard) and cut the fat into cubes. I’d read tons of contradictory information about particle size, with some recipes calling for larger, 1-inch cubes and others claiming finely diced or shredded fat got the best yield. When I rendered pre-shredded buffalo kidney fat, I went for shredded. So this time, I opted for cubes so I can test both ways. Shredding and cubing both work just fine.

 

So, after trimming the fat completely and removing all attached muscle meat and bloody tissue (this step is crucial, because meat and blood will only burn and ruin the purity of your tallow), I ended up with small cubes. Tiny bits of red are fine. You’ll end up straining later.

how to render beef tallow

 

Dry rendering vs. wet rendering method

Here, I could choose to dry-render over the stove in a high quality pot, or do a wet-render and get the potentially purest tallow by boiling and then separating fat from water. I’d read about several different ways to render fat, but I chose two that seemed to make the most sense. The wet-render sounded tempting, if a bit messy and time-consuming, but I eventually passed on it. I settled on doing the traditional dry-render over super low heat on the stove top. I used enameled cast-iron pots and about a pound of cubed fat in each.

 

Stove top dry render method

The stove top fat started rendering almost right away, even with just a tiny flicker of a flame doing the heating. After about 20 minutes, the first sign of “cracklins”began to show: light brown shriveled up pieces of (former) fat bubbling around inside the newly rendered fat. I was initially worried that I was going too fast too soon, but that wasn’t the case. The cracklins were great, and they never burned. The fat remained pure and clear.

how to render beef tallow fat

 

I used a fine mesh strainer and it was completely sufficient. The result was pure, delicious tallow that turned white in the fridge and was easy to scoop. If you look really closely, you can see some specks at the bottom of the jars, but you’d really have to look for them.

 

From my experience, both methods work equally well. If you like stay in the kitchen and tend to your dishes, go with the stove top method. As long as you keep an eye on it and keep the fat from sticking to the bottom, your fat will render much faster this way. If you want to go do other stuff while it renders, use the oven method. Other than keeping the heat low and occasionally popping in for a quick stir and scrape, you can pretty much set the clock and forget about the rendering.

how to render beef tallow

Anyone ever use the wet-render method? Got any tips for my next batch of tallow? Let me know!

Primal Kitchen Frozen Bowls

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how to make pemmicanIf you’ve ever had a meat or jerky bar made of finely chopped dried meat and perhaps berries, you may be familiar with pemmican. Pemmican consists of lean, dried meat – usually beef nowadays, but bison, deer, and elk were common back in the day) which is crushed to a powder and mixed with an equal amount of hot, rendered fat, usually beef tallow. Sometimes crushed, dried berries are added as well. For long periods of time, people can subsist entirely on pemmican, drawing on the fat for energy and the protein for strength, and glucose, when needed.

Vihljamur Stefansson, eminent anthropologist and arctic explorer, went on three expeditions into the Alaskan tundra during the first quarter of the 20th century. His discoveries – including the “blond” Inuit and previously uncharted Arctic lands – brought him renown on the world stage. People were fascinated by his approach to travel and exploration, the way he thrust himself fully into the native Inuit cultures he encountered. Stefansson studied their language, adopted their ways, and ate the same food they ate. In fact, it was the diet of the Inuit – fish, marine mammals, and other animals, with almost no vegetables or carbohydrates – that most intrigued him. He noted that, though their diet would be considered nutritionally bereft by most “experts” (hey, nothing’s changed in a hundred years!), the Inuit seemed to be in excellent health, with strong teeth, bones, and muscles. He was particularly interested pemmican.

The Inuit, Stefansson noted, spent weeks away from camp with nothing but pemmican to eat and snow to drink to no ill effect. Stefansson, a Canadian of Icelandic origin, often accompanied them on these treks and also lived off of pemmican quite happily, so its sustaining powers weren’t due to some specific genetic adaptation unique to the Inuit. In fact, when Stefansson returned home, he and colleague adopted a meat-only diet for a year, interested in its long-term effects. A controlled examination of their experience confirmed that both men remained healthy throughout.

So, pemmican has a reputation as a sort of superfood. While I’m usually leery of such claims, the fact that the stuff is essentially pure fat and protein (plus Stefansson’s accounts) made me think that maybe there was something to it. I set out to make my own batch.

 

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How to Make Pemmican

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs I got about a pound and a half of lean, grass-fed shoulder roast,
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh or frozen wild blueberries
  • Grass-fed bison or beef kidney fat, leaf fat, suet, or tallow

Let the meat firm up in the freezer, then slice it thin. After adding liberal amounts of salt and pepper, set the oven to the lowest possible temperature (around 150 degrees) and lay out the strips of meat directly onto a rack. Keep the oven door slightly open to prevent moisture buildup.

how to make pemmican dried bison

Put a handful of frozen wild blueberries on a small oven pan to dry out with the meat.

Let the meat dry out for about 15 hours, or until it takes on a crispy jerky characteristic that breaks apart easily. Pulverize the jerky in the food processor or blender until it becomes powder.

how to make pemmicanAfter the meat, repeat the process for the blueberries. No need to wash the blender in between – you’ll mix the dried meat and dried berries together anyway. Again, you want a powder. how to make pemmican

Now, render the fat. I used grass-fed bison kidney fat, which was already diced into tiny pieces. I put about half a pound of that into a cast iron pan and cooked it slowly over super-low heat.

how to make pemmican

I made sure to stir the fat as it rendered out, and watched closely so that it wouldn’t burn. When the fat stops bubbling, the rendering is done.

Use a strainer to avoid all the crispy bits; you just want the pure, liquid fat.

Mix the meat and berry powder together, then slowly add the hot liquid fat. Pour just enough so that the fat soaks into the powder.

how to make pemmican

If you poured in too much fat too quickly, you can add a bit of almond meal to firm it up. Once it firms, cut it into bars or roll it into balls.

how to make pemmican

Pemmican will keep almost forever. Pure, dried protein and rendered (mostly saturated) fat are highly stable, so I wouldn’t worry about it going rancid. If it does, you’ll know.

how to make pemmican

Now, my pemmican wasn’t exactly delicious. Without much spice, it comes out fairly bland. Maybe I’ll jazz it up next time with some more salt and spices, but I don’t think pemmican is meant to be eaten for pleasure. This is utilitarian food, perfect for long treks through the wilderness. It gets the job done, and I’ll probably make it again. It definitely doesn’t taste bad; in fact, the taste grows on you after awhile.

My dog certainly enjoyed cleaning up the bowl.

Has anyone else here tried pemmican? Let me know what you think!

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A Primal buffet is no ordinary buffet. Primal types are used to real food after all, and we don’t shy away from the rich, meaty and decadent. We expect flavor. We expect satisfying fare—even when it’s in the form of “small bites.” Whether you’re hosting the party or contributing to someone else’s spread, we’ve got seven tasty and filling recipes that will appeal to any taste out there. Bonus: they’re all three ingredients, which means less fuss and more fun for you.

Pulled Pork Sliders

The ultimate big “small” bite…

Easy Spinach Dip

FYI, this will be gone in a New York minute.

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Can we just call this dinner?

Baked Brie With Cranberries

Serve with good wine and zero apologies.

Teriyaki Meatballs

You’ll want to eat the whole platter, so make an extra for the guests.

Baked Goat Cheese Marinara Dip

A zestier take on traditional dip…

Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates

Because one bacon appetizer is never enough….

Hungry yet? Tell us which one is your favorite—and share other Primal and keto “small bites” you’ll be serving up this holiday.

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Although our holiday menus revolve around the delicious meats and savory sides, there’s still a soft spot for many of us when it comes to holiday sweets. Whether it’s baking cookies this time of year or serving show-stopping desserts at our holiday tables, we might give a little more leeway for treats as part of the special occasion. Below we’ve got recipes for every taste and preference—from Primal to keto, chocolate to peppermint, candy to mousse, pie to cheesecake…and even a jarred Primal cookie mix for gift-giving. Enjoy, and let us know what treats you’ll be baking and sharing this holiday.

1. Hazelnut Chocolates

2. Primal (or Keto) Fudgy Brownies

3. Keto Peppermint Bark

4. Keto Coconut Cheesecake

5. Cranberry Orange Olive Oil Cake

6. Low Carb Mug Cake

7. Pumpkin Pie

8. Sweet Potato Pie

9. Sweet Potato Custard

10. Chocolate Collagen Pudding

11. Mexican Hot Chocolate

12. Keto Fridge Fudge

13. Pecan Sandie Cookie Mix In a Jar

Thanks for stopping in, everyone. What Primal or keto treats will you be serving this holiday? Let us know on the comment board.

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Tea can mean a lot of different plants. There’s maté, the bitter South American shrub steeped in boiling water to extract the caffeine-like compounds contained within. There’s rooibos, the “red tea” made from a polyphenol-rich bush native to South Africa. There’s coca, the South American plant also used to make cocaine. There are the unnamed wild bitter root and herb teas used by the Maasai, the evergreen tip teas used by American natives to obtain vitamin C, the nettleleaf teas used across Europe.

For today’s post, I’m focusing on the actual tea plant—Camellia sinensis. All of the classic teas come from the same basic plant; the differences lie in how they’re processed after harvest. Most tea undergoes controlled oxidation to develop flavor and different bioactive compounds. The more oxidized, the darker the tea. The less oxidized, the lighter.

I’m also going to focus on the health benefits of tea, rather than get into the nitty gritty of tea grading, the endless bespoke varieties, the optimum temperature—tea expert stuff. I enjoy tea, but I’m not a connoisseur. I can tell you about the health effects, and I imagine that’s what most of you are here for anyway.

Types Of Tea

Even within “true tea,” there are multiple varieties.

White Tea

White tea is made from tea leaves that are very lightly processed without any oxidation. Studies show that it’s “lower” in antioxidants than green or oolong tea, but that doesn’t mean it’s “worse.”

White tea possesses compounds that inhibit the absorption and digestion of glucose, thereby lowering blood glucose levels.

White tea also shows a unique ability to fight amyloid plaque linked to Alzheimer’s disease (albeit in test tubes, not live people so far).

Green Tea

In Japan, green tea is lightly steamed. In China, it’s quickly toasted under dry heat. The result with each is light oxidation. It has a “grassy” flavor and, in general, the most antioxidant content—the catechins. In one study looking at the antioxidant content and effect of 30 different teas, the top 2 and 6 of the top 10 were green teas.

Most studies find that green tea is associated with the most health benefits among all the teas, but I take that with a grain of salt. For instance in this study, green tea was associated with better health outcomes than black tea among adults in the Mediterranean, but they failed to control for physical activity. Green tea drinkers had more physical activity, which the authors suggest is a benefit of green tea but I suggest is a feature of the “healthy user effect.” Green tea drinkers did more healthy stuff like exercise, while black tea drinkers were less likely.

There are consistent links between green tea and lower cognitive decline. We don’t see this as much in other teas (or coffee, for that matter).

Oolong Tea

Oolong is “halfway between” green tea and black tea: more heavily oxidized than green, less oxidized than black. Oolong also ranks highly for antioxidant content; in that same 30-tea antioxidant study, oolongs took 4 of the top 10 spots.

Black Tea

Black tea is fully-oxidized tea. It’s the highest in caffeine and rich in a class of antioxidants known as theaflavins.

Theaflavins in the 50-100 mg range (4-8 cups of black tea) reduced body fat and increased muscle mass in Japanese women, while green tea catechins had no effect.

Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh tea undergoes an additional level of microbial fermentation. It develops intense flavors and unique bioactive compounds.

For example, pu-erh contains alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase inhibitors that reduce the absorption of dietary glucose and lower blood glucose levels, particularly after eating.

Animal studies show protective effects against metabolic syndrome, hyperglycemia, obesity, and fatty liver. It seems to reduce liver fat, but by a strange mechanism: by increasing de novo lipogenesis (fat creation) in the visceral adipose tissue. Rodents in the study lost weight but gained visceral fat.

Matcha Tea

Matcha green tea is made from powdered, shade-grown tea leaves. Well, “shade-finished” might be a more accurate descriptor; a few weeks before the harvest, matcha-designated tea plants are covered with shade. This slows the growth, sweetens and deepens the flavor, and increases the amino acid content of the leaves (specifically L-theanine). Pulverizing the tea leaves into a powder increases the surface area and makes for a stronger, more potent brew. Plus, when you drink matcha, you’re consuming the leaves and all their polyphenols and amino acids themselves. The powder doesn’t get strained out like normal green tea leaves.

This seems to increase the antioxidant activity. First, there’s more L-theanine available. I’ve discussed the stress-reducing benefits of L-theanine before, but it’s also good against anxiety and pairs well with caffeine (more on that later). Plus, a 2003 study found that the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) was 137 times more bioavailable in matcha than a traditional leaf-based green tea, and more than three times as bioavailable as the “largest literature value of other green teas.” My guess is that the increased bioavailability is explained by the fact that you’re consuming the powdered tea itself rather than steeping and discarding the leaves. Another advantage of matcha is that because it’s so potent, you need much less of it, rendering any of the potential downsides of tea, like fluoride content, less troublesome.

(Can you tell that matcha is my favorite?)

The Health Benefits Of Tea

In general, tea is a rich source of bioactive polyphenols with suspected health benefits. Some of the potential anti-cancer effects reported by the study:

Chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD): In Korea, drinking more than two cups a day of green tea was linked to lower rates of COPD.

Colon cancer: Among Korean patients who’d had colorectal adenomas (benign tumors) removed, taking green tea extract reduced the recurrence of them at one-year post surgery.

Prostate cancer: In Hong Kong, green tea consumption was linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. However, follow-up controlled trials in men with prostate cancer had mostly null results.

Skin cancer: Among whites, both caffeinated coffee and tea consumption were linked to protection against basal cell carcinoma (although coffee had the stronger relationship).

Most of the cancer studies in humans are merely observational. More interesting are some of the other effects.

Most tea varieties have mild anti-hyperglycemic effects, most likely caused by the ubiquity of substances that inhibit the effect of glucose digesting and absorbing enzymes. In other words, drinking some tea with your meal will generally reduce the amount of carbs you absorb.

Tea polyphenols are among the best at inducing a beneficial hormetic response—the one where your body responds to the presence of “toxins” by upregulating its own defense capabilities and triggering a net beneficial cascade of health effects. It’s up there with coffee, chocolate, and red wine. Green tea, for example, triggers the Nrf2 pathway, causing an increase in glutathione and other antioxidant pathways our bodies use to reduce oxidative stress and nullify reactive oxygen species.

The (Few) Negatives To Look Out For…

Fluoride

I’ve covered fluoride before, and I’m still not sure of it. It seems to have some benefits for topical application to teeth, but systemic ingestion poses problems. For instance, women who consumed the most fluoridated water (and tea) during pregnancy give birth to kids with depressed IQs. Tea is very high in fluoride. The plant itself is quite good at yanking fluoride from the soil, and soil fluoride in tea-producing countries is on the rise due to industrial pollution.

High quality tea made from younger leaves is more likely to be lower in fluoride, since the plant won’t have had as much time to deposit soil fluoride into the leaves. The lowest quality, cheapest brick tea is made from the oldest leaves and will be higher in fluoride.

White tea is generally low in fluoride, since the leaves are picked when still very young. Green, oolong, and black tea leaves all stay on the plant long enough to pick up measurable levels of fluoride.

In Ireland, the only European country with legally mandated water fluoridation, the average fluoride content of brewed tea was 3.3 mg/L, with the highest levels hitting 6 mg/L. Based on Irish tea consumption, the authors suggest that “the majority of the population in Ireland are at risk of chronic fluoride intoxication.”

Organic Japanese-grown matcha green tea is a good option for fluoride minimization, as Japanese soil tends to be quite low in fluoride.

Microplastics

If you use plastic tea bags, your tea will be full of microplastics. Stick to loose leaf or paper tea bags.

How to Brew It

Okay, so how should you brew your tea?

Duration: If you’re trying to maximize antioxidant extraction, longer is better.

In one study of bagged and loose leaf black tea, longer brew times extracted more antioxidants.

For bagged tea, 5 minutes produced the most antioxidants.

For loose leaf tea, 60 minutes produced maximum extraction. However, the first 10-15 minutes were where the vast majority of antioxidants were obtained. Longer brew times extracted more, but the rate of extraction dropped off a cliff. The difference between 15 minutes of brewing and 60 minutes of brewing probably isn’t enough to justify waiting an hour for your tea.

Water choice: A recent study compared green and black tea brewed with three different waters: tap, bottled, and deionized. Tap water with higher levels of minerals produced the best tasting tea with the lowest amount of antioxidants. Bottled and deionized water with lower levels of minerals extracted the most bitter compounds, leading to a higher antioxidant level but harsher taste.

Water temperature: I’ve read and heard a lot of different “rules” for brewing tea. Some say to “never boil the water.” Others say the opposite. All I know is that I’ve never noticed a big difference—but I’m no expert. What I do know is that both low and higher water temperatures seem to extract and preserve a good amount of antioxidant content:

In the black tea study above, they used water at 80 degrees C or 176 degrees F. That’s well below boiling.

In the study comparing 30 varieties of green, black, oolong, white, and pu-erh teas, they used water at 98 degrees C or 208 degrees F. That’s almost boiling.

A Few Ways To Enjoy It

Collagen Matcha Latte: Read this post for directions.

Coffee Matcha: Sometimes I’ll make a batch of French press coffee and throw a spoonful of matcha powder in with the grounds. I’ll add some hot heavy cream to the brew. This is a great way to get caffeine and L-theanine at once, a synergistic combo shown to improve cognitive performance. Many find that theanine takes the jitter away from the caffeine buzz.

Creamy Turmeric Tea: Read this post, and add some black tea.

And…I’ve got a couple new ways that takes the work out of the above. For those looking to get out the door quickly in the morning, tea in hand, check out the new Primal Kitchen® Matcha Keto Collagen Latte and Chai Keto Collagen Latte. I’m excited about them. Let me know what you think.

Summing It Up

Like everything else, tea is no super-substance that will save you from cancer, diabetes, and obesity. But it’s a drink that’s consistently (and sometimes causally) associated with better overall health, has a long tradition of usage, and can complement an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle. All teas appear to have some benefits, so drink what you like most.

What kind of tea do you drink? How do you make it? How do you take it?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

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While there’s nothing particularly wrong with potatoes (in fact, we happen to love this recipe for scalloped potatoes), not everyone in the Primal—let alone keto—camp wants to serve potatoes at the holiday. They’re a technically Primal choice, but they’re decidedly high in carbs and not as high in nutrients as other options. Primal and Primal-keto eating shouldn’t be about deprivation—just thoughtful decision-making on what’s a good choice for you when it comes to holiday eating. Today we’ve got 13 delicious side dish recipes that stay true to the richness and flavors of traditional holiday cooking. Which ones will you be serving?

Green Bean Casserole

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash

Celery Root Soup

Spicy Squash and Sausage Stuffing

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

Cranberry Sweet Potatoes

Cheesy Keto Biscuits

Ranch Cauliflower Mash

Garlic and Mushroom Soup

Harvest Salad Bowl

Mashed Parsnips

Keto Turkey Gravy

Warm Mushroom and Chard Salad

Tell us which are your favorite inspirations for your holiday table, or let us know what you’ll be serving up for the perfect Primal dinner. Thanks for reading.

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Beauty isn’t everything and celery root is living proof. There’s nothing about its knobby, gnarled, beige appearance that would entice you to put it in your shopping cart. You’ve probably passed by it a hundred times nestled between the turnips and rutabagas, not even realizing what an amazing root vegetable you’re missing in your life.

The flavor of celery root strongly resembles celery, but there’s also something potato-like about it in both taste and texture. It’s often eaten as a salad, grated then left raw or quickly blanched and mixed with mayonnaise, lemon and mustard. This time of year we prefer to cook celery root a little longer before serving. Peeled and cut into pieces, this vegetable can be braised, boiled, baked or sautéed. If you’re tired of using cauliflower as a mashed potato stand-in, give mashed celery root a try.  Even better, gently simmer celery root, then puree it into a creamy soup.

Celery Root Soup is an incredibly easy recipe that can be doctored up into something a little fancier when you’re in the mood. The basic soup is simply shallots (or leeks) and regular celery sautéed in butter then simmered in broth or water with celery root for about 35 minutes. Puree the soup, then add whole cream (or coconut milk) to make the texture even silkier than it already is. Salt, pepper, add some chopped parsley and thyme, and you’re done.

Once you have this base, which is delicious as-is, the variations are endless. Add a little meat to the equation by frying bacon or pancetta in the pan with the shallot, or sprinkle crumbled bacon on top of the soup as a garnish when it’s done. Sauté mushrooms or spinach to add to the pot. Maybe grate a little Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top, or melt butter until it’s browned and has a sweet, nutty aroma and then drizzle it into your bowl.

You can make the soup with broth, bone broth or water. Water actually works quite well and lets the delicate flavor of the celery root shine through. Note: adding pureed celery root to other types of soup is a great way to make soup thick and creamy without adding dairy or potato.

So, next time you see this ugly but quite tasty vegetable at the store, go ahead and bring one home. It’s sometimes called celeriac, instead of celery root, and will most likely be displayed by the other root vegetables—not the celery. Celery root is a vegetable all on its own; it’s not actually the root of regular celery. The best way to attack celery root is with a paring knife, first cutting off the gnarled roots, then trimming off the skin.

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 stick butter
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (or 1 leek, sliced)
  • 2  pounds celery root, (about two large roots) peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 cups broth
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme

Instructions:


Over medium low heat, melt the butter in a deep pan. Add celery and shallot/leek and sauté until soft but not overly browned, about five minutes. Add celery root and sauté a few minutes more, then add 6 cups of broth or water and turn up heat slightly. Bring to a boil then turn the heat lower and simmer with a lid on for 35-40 minutes until the celery root is easily pierced with a fork.

Working in small batches (to reduce the odds of splattering hot liquid on yourself and all over your kitchen) puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. If you prefer soup with more texture, only puree half of the celery root and leave the rest in chunks. Return the blended soup to the pot and slowly stir in cream or coconut milk. Use the remaining 2 cups of broth or water to thin out the soup to your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley and thyme.

Nutritional Information (per serving with broth used):

  • Calories: 392
  • Total Carbs: 25.9 grams
  • Net Carbs: 20.7 grams
  • Fat: 27.65 grams
  • Protein: 12.72 grams

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Spend 90-minutes in the kitchen on a Sunday and you’ll be thanking yourself all week long. This low-carb, keto-friendly meal prep stocks your refrigerator with five ready-to-eat meals.

Combining home-cooked ingredients (like pot roast) with convenient store-bought ingredients (like rotisserie chicken) keeps the prep work manageable. Herbs, spices, sauces, and keto-friendly condiments keep the flavors fresh and new each night.

Menu (each meal serves 4):

Meal 1: Pot Roast with Roasted Asparagus and Honey Mustard Slaw

Meal 2: Chicken Coconut Curry over Cauliflower Rice

Meal 3: Beef Carnitas with Spicy Jalapeno Slaw and Guacamole

Meal 4: Asparagus and Mushroom Scramble with Arugula Salad

Meal 5: Chicken Noodle Soup

What You’ll Need…

Shopping List:

  • 4 pounds/1.8 kilograms beef chuck roast
  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • Eggs (half dozen)
  • 1 package/7 ounces/200 grams shirataki angel hair noodles
  • 2 onions
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 pounds/1 kilogram asparagus
  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 8 ounces/226 grams sliced mushrooms
  • 1 12- to 16-ounce/453-gram bag frozen cauliflower rice
  • 1 package shredded red or green cabbage (coleslaw)
  • 1 6-ounce/170-gram bag arugula
  • 2 limes
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • 3 cups (24 fluid ounces) beef stock
  • 8 cups (64 fluid ounces) chicken stock
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5 fluid ounces/400 ml)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Curry powder (1 tablespoon/15 milliliters)
  • Cumin (1 teaspoon/5 milliliters)
  • Chili powder (1 teaspoon/5 milliliters)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Primal Kitchen® Avocado Oil and/or extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Soy sauce or tamari or coconut aminos (2 tablespoons/30 milliliters)
  • Red wine vinegar (1 tablespoon/15 milliliters)
  • Slivered almonds (1 cup/300 grams)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1 cup/90 grams grated)
  • Primal Kitchen Honey Mustard Vinaigrette (or your favorite homemade vinaigrette)

Tools:

  • Instant Pot
  • 3 half-size rimmed sheet pans (13”x18”)
  • Parchment paper or foil (for easier cleanup)

Here’s the Plan…

Prep and Cook the Meat:

First, get the pot roast going because it takes the longest amount of time to cook. Season the beef by rubbing 1 heaping teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper into the roast.

Roughly chop two onions. Use one chopped onion for the pot roast and set the other aside for later.

Peel 6 cloves garlic and smash them with your palm.

Turn the Instant Pot sauté setting to high. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of avocado oil into the pot. Put the roast in the Instant Pot and sprinkle one chopped onion around it.

Sear the meat, turning as needed, until all sides are nicely browned (about 2 minutes per side). Mix the onions occasionally, so they become soft and nicely browned.

Add the garlic cloves, 3 cups beef stock, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, a few sprigs of thyme and one bay leaf.

Put the lid on the Instant Pot and set the pressure release valve to “sealing.” Use the manual setting to cook on high pressure for 50 minutes. When 50 minutes is up, let the pressure release naturally.

When the pot roast is done, remove it from the Instant Pot and let the meat cool on a cutting board. Shred the meat and store in two separate food storage containers for two separate meals.

While the pot roast is cooking, get to work on the other ingredients.

Prep and Cook the Sheet Pan Veggies:

Heat oven to 425ºF/218ºC.

Cover three sheet pans with parchment paper (optional, for easier cleanup).

Sheet Pan #1: Trim the bottom off the asparagus stalks. Lay the asparagus out on a sheet pan. Lightly coat the asparagus with oil and salt.

Sheet Pan #2: Slice the zucchini into ½-inch rounds. Combine on a sheet pan with the chopped onion that was set aside earlier. Lightly coat zucchini and onion with oil and salt.

Sheet Pan #3: Spread the sliced mushrooms out on a sheet pan. Lightly coat mushrooms with oil and salt.

Put all three of the sheet pans in the oven. Roast for 20 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

While the veggies are roasting, make the coconut curry sauce.

Make the Curry Sauce:

To make the coconut curry sauce, heat a few tablespoons coconut oil in a pot over medium heat. Add 3 finely chopped garlic cloves. Add 1 tablespoon curry powder and sauté 30 seconds. Add 1 can coconut milk and 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos). Bring to a boil then turn the heat down slightly and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

While the curry sauce is simmering, slice the white meat from the rotisserie chicken and chop into small pieces. Add to the coconut curry sauce.

Organize the Ingredients For the Week:

Pull all of the dark meat from the rotisserie chicken. Put the dark meat in a zip-top freezer bag.

When the veggies are done, let them cool. Store the asparagus and mushrooms in separate food storages container and refrigerate.

Add half of the zucchini and onion to the coconut curry sauce. Store the coconut curry sauce (with chicken, zucchini and onion) in a food storage container (or just keep it in the pot!) and put it in the refrigerator.

Add the other half of the zucchini and onion to the freezer bag with the dark chicken meat. Make sure to push out all the air when sealing the plastic bag. Put the bag in the freezer.

Serve Your Meals:

Meal #1: Pot Roast with Roasted Asparagus and Honey Mustard Slaw

Serve half of the pot roast with half of the roasted asparagus. Toss half of the shredded cabbage with a few handfuls of arugula. Dress the slaw with Primal Kitchen Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, or your favorite homemade salad dressing. Sprinkle slivered almonds over the asparagus and slaw.

Meal #2: Chicken Coconut Curry over Cauliflower Rice

Reheat the chicken coconut curry over medium heat. Heat the frozen cauliflower rice either in the microwave or in a sauté pan. Serve the curry over the cauliflower rice and garnish with fresh basil.

Meal #3: Beef Carnitas with Spicy Jalapeño Slaw and Guacamole

Reheat the remaining pot roast by adding the shredded meat to a hot skillet with a thin layer of oil. Cook until the meat is hot and a little bit crispy. As the meat cooks, season it with 1 teaspoon of cumin and chili powder. Mash 2 avocados with lime juice and salt to make guacamole. Add a sliced jalapeño to the remaining sliced cabbage, tossed with lime juice and fresh cilantro.

Meal #4: Asparagus and Mushroom Scramble with Arugula Salad

Chop the leftover asparagus into ½-inch pieces. Sauté asparagus and mushrooms in a skillet with a little bit of oil to reheat. Whisk 6 eggs and add to the pan, stirring to combine with the veggies. Serve the scramble with a side salad made from the remaining arugula and your favorite salad dressing. Grate Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the scramble and salad.

Meal #5: Chicken Noodle Soup

Put the frozen dark chicken meat and zucchini in the refrigerator in the morning to defrost. At dinnertime, heat 8 cups chicken broth. Add the chicken and zucchini with rinsed shirataki noodles and simmer until warm.

Thanks for reading today. What cooking tips or meal prep ideas are you looking for? Share what you’d like to see us cover in future recipe and cooking articles in the comment board below.

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Whether you’re a big breakfast person or not, everyone enjoys something warm and comforting in the morning, right?

From Primal pancakes to frittatas, we’ve got 10 delicious ideas for those who crave the savory or the sweet—as well as some filling coffees for those who prefer to keep the routine simple and the fare light in the a.m.

Enjoy any of these great dishes and drinks anytime of the day….

1) Butternut Squash Waffles

2) Vegetable Latkes

3) Egg Coffee

4) Apple Cinnamon Primal Pancakes

5) Bacon Pancakes

6) Pumpkin Spice Collagen Latte

7) Sweet Potato Toast With Avocado and Egg

8) Almond Butter Banana Pancakes

9) Curried Pork Frittata

10) Grain-Free Pumpkin Spice Granola

Have a favorite Primal or keto breakfast or questions about what to eat in the a.m.? Share your ideas and inquiries below.

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