Saturday, June 29, 2013

paleo diet sauces and recipes

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, 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.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Delicious Ways to Cool Off This Summer

Delicious Ways to Cool Off This Summer
By: Chef Cristian Feher

It's Florida. It's June. It's hot!  Did you ever wonder how people lived in Florida before air conditioning? Just imagine, during the 1920's, 30's and even the 40's, what the inside of your house would feel like on a day like today. 90 degrees and 70% relative humidity. Your sheets would stick to you, the house would smell like mildew, and you'd be covered in a perpetual layer of sweat. I suppose the human body can get used to anything.. But with heat like this, it's just hard to fathom.

Aside from the technological marvel that is your air conditioning unit, here are some delicious ideas to keep you cool.

Ditch the ice cubes! There are tastier ways to cool your drinks. Have you tried berries? Adding frozen berries to your drink not only cools it off, but adds a subtle layer of flavor.  I love club soda with frozen berries! I also really like to put frozen watermelon cubes in my club soda, the taste is fantastic. 

Alcoholic beverages can also benefit from the frosty addition of frozen fruits. Try putting frozen citrus quarters in your mug of beer. Or frozen grapes in your wine and champagne. One of my favorites is beer with frozen blueberries.

Hydrate! Air conditioners work on the law of evaporation, and so does your body. When your sweat evaporates, it cools you. That's why you feel hot and sticky on a very humid day - because the air has so much water in it that your sweat can't really evaporate very quickly and you stay hot. Damn, I got scientific, didn't I.  The point is that you need to have lots of water in order to have lots of sweat in order to cool off quickly.

Melons; like watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew (just to name a few) are made up mostly of water. In fact, fruits and vegetables have a much, much higher water content than carbohydrates and protein. So, the thing to do on a hot day is to load up on fruits, vegetables and salads. 

To make a really simple fruit salad, cut up your favorite fruits into a bowl - I like to use pineapple, grapes, watermelon and berries - add some fresh chopped mint for a cool, refreshing flavor, and if you're feeling festive, you can even add a little liqueur like coconut rum or Drambuie. 

A fresh salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and zucchini will ensure that you're munching on the veggies with the highest water content. Add to that salt and citrus juice and you've created a hydrating salad with electrolytes!

Hot spice is cool!  Spicy food cools you off. I'm sure you may be thinking that the last thing you want to eat on a hot day is a spicy bowl of chili, curry, or a spicy Mexican burrito. And I agree. However, the reason those foods would raise your body temperature is not because they have hot peppers in them, it's because they're fatty, oily, and rich. Fat is fuel. And your body is a furnace. If you add fat to the furnace, it heats up. Simple.

Hot peppers make you sweat, and sweat cools you off, if you mix that hot spice with foods low in fat and carbohydrates. Mixing hot peppers, hot sauce, or cayenne into foods like salads, veggie and meat stir-fries, light soups, and cold soups (like gazpacho), will cool you off. 

One of my favorite summer cool-off dishes is spicy seafood ceviche. Also, spicy sushi (if not loaded with oily, sugary sauces) would fit the bill. A dish of assorted raw sashimi with hot chilies would be under this category as well. And if you want to keep it simple, even a shrimp cocktail with horseradish and a little ketchup, and a cucumber salad on the side will be a refreshing snack on a hot summer day. Just remember to make is spicy and cut the fat, and you've created an air conditioned meal! 

Do you have your own food ideas for keeping cool in hot weather? If so, I'd love to hear them. You can always drop me a line at

Pasta Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Pasta Stuffed Peppers
By: Chef Cristian Feher

This is one of those recipes you want to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon - I did this in a rush on Tuesday - but I'm thinking about how much time the average person has during the week, and how fast they can cook. 

This is one of my household favorites. Everyone here can agree that stuffing peppers with pasta is a very good thing!

If you have tomato sauce and cream sauce already made, putting this recipe together will be much faster. If you have to make it from scratch, it may take you a little longer - that's why I suggested making it when you have some time.  Although the recipe turns out best when using freshly prepared sauces, you can technically buy pre-made sauces at the store. It will still be good, but not nearly as good as the original recipe. You can also tweak the sauces by adding cooked bacon pieces to the tomato sauce, or adding basil pesto to the cream sauce.

Note that in this recipe, I used spaghetti pasta because I didn't have angel hair.

You will need four basic things for this recipe:
1. Tomato Sauce  (recipe here)
2. Cream Sauce  (recipe here)
3. Angel hair Pasta (vermicelli)
4. Red bell peppers and shredded Parmesan cheese

Putting it all together:

Step 1:  Cut a circular hole along the top of the pepper and twist out the stem with the heart. Turn up-side-down and tap out the seeds. You should end up with a hollow pepper, perfect for stuffing. 

Step 2: Make some angel hair pasta, drain it, run it under cold water and drain again to stop the cooking process. 

Step 3: Mix the angel hair pasta with the cream sauce and stuff each pepper with as much angel hair pasta as you can fit in there.

Step 4: Put the stuffed peppers in a baking pan with a couple of inches of tomato sauce on the bottom.

Step 5: Sprinkle the top of each pepper with Parmesan Cheese. 

Step 6: Bake at 375 for one hour. If half way through baking, the cheese is starting to burn, put a piece of non-stick aluminum foil over the baking dish.