Paleo Diet Sauces
By: Chef Cristian Feher
You've probably heard about the Paleo Diet. The premise is that you should eat like Man did thousands of years ago when we were hunter-gatherers. Which basically means that you avoid things that weren't around back then: refined sugar, grain products (like wheat, corn, flour, oats, etc), preservatives, and anything made in a factory. What's left is organic meats, fish, fowl, vegetables, herbs and fruits. You also avoid dairy, and legumes like peanuts and beans.
Yes, it might sound a little strict, but the customers that I have helped with this diet seem to do pretty good on it if they are willing to stick to it. You won't get to eat a cheeseburger and fries, but you can have grilled grass-fed steaks, fish, chicken wings, stir-fries and a lot of really good, healthy foods.
I recently worked with a Paleo expert. Dr. Kellyann Petrucci is the author of several books on the diet, including Living Peleo for Dummies. While working with Dr. Petrucci I had a chance to take a closer look into the Paleo Diet and was even compelled to try it myself. And not entirely for the food - the results were what most impressed me.
As a personal chef, one of my jobs is to help my customers by preparing foods for their diets. Over the years I have tried almost all of them. And I can tell you that most of them were a huge failure for one main reason - the food sucked! (Atkins was OK, because I got to eat tonnes of sausage, cheese, and bacon, but I eventually felt kind of sick all the time.)
Now, this is the part where you're expecting me to tell you how awesome Paeleo food is, right? Well I'm not going to say it's better than a cheeseburger, a plate of pasta, a seafood paella, or osso bucco. But I will tell you that after a week, I am still interested. Which says a lot.
My first complaint about most diets is lack flavor, variety, and satisfaction. So I thought, "If I am going to give this way of eating a try, I have to make it taste good." So I came up with three main sauces (all conforming to paleo guidelines) which I used to flavor and cook my protein and vegetables. At any given time over the past week, I have used one or several of these sauces over meat, fish, fowl, mixed into a plate of vegetables, or added to a very hearty salad with the addition of apple cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. It was all very good!
Below are the sauce recipes. Having a food processor is essential to making these, by the way. So, you finally have an excuse to buy one! And if you can't afford one, go on Craigslist.com, or your local thrift store and pick up a used one for next to nothing.
French Tomato Salsa
This is a variation of Pico de Gallo. But instead of using cilantro, I am using a more French herb - parsley. This is the easiest out of all the three sauces to make. This is a raw sauce and should last 4-5 days in your fridge in a container with a lid. However, if you would like it to last longer - say, a week or two, you can bring it to a simmer for 5 minutes, cool, and then put it in the fridge. You can also add a little bit of cayenne pepper, hot peppers of your liking, or dried red chilies if you would like the sauce to be spicy.
- 3 ripe field tomatoes, diced
- 3 cloves of fresh garlic
- 1/3 cup of fresh, clean, parsley
- Plenty of Celtic or Mediterranean sea salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a puree consistency is reached. Adjust salt and pepper before taking it out of the food processor.
Eggplant Basil Pesto
I wanted to make regular pesto using chashews, but I wanted to avoid the calories from the nuts. So, I used eggplant as the "filler" in this simple, yet tasty, pesto. You can also use green zuccini as the "filler" too if you wish.
- 1 eggplant, peeled, and diced
- 3 handfuls of fresh, clean basil leaves
- 1 handful of fresh parsley
- 4 cloves of fresh garlic
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Celtic sea salt and black pepper to taste
1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Make sure you adjust the salt and pepper before removing from the food processor.
Bell Pepper Chimichurri
A "Chimichurri" is an Argentinian sauce that goes on grilled meats. It's herby, flavorful, and fresh, and is one of my favorite condiments for meats, fowl and fish - it also happens to conform to the paleo way of eating! You can make it with any color bell peppers (the sauce will be different colors), and you can make it spicy by adding your favorite hot pepper.
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of fresh basil
- 1/2 cup of fresh parsley
- 1/2 tbsp of dried oregano
- Celtic sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil
1. Put all ingredients, except for the olive oil, in the food processor and mince the ingredients.
2. Transfer ingredients into a container. Fill with olive oil until the oil covers the ingredients. Adjust salt and pepper (stir it well every time you taste).
With these three sauces, you will be able to enjoy grilled meats, roast meats, pan-fried meat, and all your vegetables and salads while you lose weight and improve your health with the Paleo way of eating. There are MANY combinations that you can make with these. This should keep you from getting bored with healthy eating for a couple of weeks. Keep visiting this blog as I update the Paleo sauces, seasonings and fresh ideas as I, myself, get bored along the way!
And don't forget, that our ancestors did not sit around watching tv, using computers, or driving cars. You should always combine diet with exercise for best results. Food is just fuel, after all. Until next time!
Disclaimer: Always consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise regime. This article includes my personal opinions and views and should not be construed as medical advice.