gluten free

My parents-in-law recently visited from Hawaii over the holidays, to help around the house as we adjusted to having a new baby in our family. It was great spending the holidays with them, but it also made me realize how much I miss living in Hawaii. I lived there from ages 21 to 28, and many of the events that shaped who I am today – from meeting and marrying my wife, to honing my skills as a home chef, to suffering the worst of my health adventures – came while living in view of the Honolulu skyline. For a few of those years, Janey and I lived with her parents, whom we affectionately called our “roommates”.

When we left the island in 2008, it genuinely felt like I was leaving home; time has caused that sentiment to wane a bit, but in the end, Hawaii has a special place in my heart. And within that special place in my heart there is another, perhaps specialer place in my heart, which is where Hawaii’s Chinese-style oxtail soup resides.

The title for Hawaii’s best oxtail soup is hotly contested. I’ve heard everything from Kapiolani Coffee Shop to Aiea Bowl. Somewhat surprisingly, restaurants attached to bowling alleys are generally known for having good oxtail soup – even the famous Kapiolani Coffee Shop oxtail soup got its start at Kam Bowl, which closed in 2007 but re-opened just last month.

I like to think that preparing an authentic dish from Hawaii makes the sting of not living there hurt a little less, and you really can’t go wrong with a Chinese-inspired creation that’s equal parts rich and comforting. So we’re going to recreate it today for those of us who can’t just drive to our local bowling alley to buy a bowl of soup. Included below are stovetop and electric pressure cooker variations of the recipe, whatever floats your boat.

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PSA: I’m offering a free preview copy of Paleo Takeout starting today through February 12th, via this 100% free bundle. A bunch of Paleo-minded authors and bloggers teamed up to provide some really helpful eBooks and meal plans – over 70 resources in all, valued at over $1,000! The preview copy of Paleo Takeout includes 10 recipes from the book, plus a few more thrown in for good measure.

Lately, I’ve been taking tiny steps to minimize all those little stresses in life. For example, I’ve been driving on backroads on my way home from work each day, which has much better scenery and fewer cars zipping in and out in front of me. It might take an extra minute or two out of my day, but it’s adding years to my life, right? That’s what I’d like to think. Regardless of any increases in my life expectancy, I’ve been arriving at home in a better mood, so it’s well worth it.

In similar fashion, we’ve recently been taking it a bit easy in the kitchen. Having a small baby at home will do that; my lullaby-singing skills have greatly improved, but I definitely have less time to chop up a bunch of ingredients. So meals like these Spaghetti Squash Bolognese Boats have been a hit, with minimal hands-on time but plenty of flavor. Plus, this recipe requires only three ingredients: squash, pasta sauce, and ground beef.

If you’re hoping to spend a bit more time in the kitchen, you could always make your own pasta sauce (here’s my recipe). Additionally, I’ve included quick instructions on how to roast the spaghetti squash seeds, so that nothing is wasted.

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Recently, I stumbled upon J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s technique for pressure-cooker risotto, and decided to take it for a spin using my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. Considering that risotto has been around for 600 years, it’s nice to see a new spin on a classic preparation.

This technique worked perfectly (big surprise), so I have been using it frequently as a means to make perfect risotto without all that stirring. I even had to buy a new bag of arborio rice this past weekend, which is a rare occurrence – risotto rice always seems to last forever. If you don’t have a pressure cooker (yet!), don’t worry, I’ve included stovetop instructions as well.

To highlight this new take on risotto, I decided to err on the side of decadent: duck fat, mushrooms, prosciutto, and orange zest all fit together seamlessly to form a dish that’s equal parts familiar and exotic – and surprisingly dairy-free, to boot.

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I don’t reverse-sear often enough. When faced with a choice chunk of beef, my go-to method is a traditional sear (see one of my favorite recipes of last year, this Roast NY Strip Loin). But many prefer a reverse-sear, where you cook the meat to just under your desired temperature, then blast it with some high heat to finish it off. This allows you to heat the meat evenly and results in a better distinction between the crispy crust and tender center (here is a good writeup). So I decided to share this method using these miso-marinated boneless short ribs.

Many folks in the Paleo world eschew all forms of soy, and balk at the idea of cooking with miso. But as I mentioned in my five years Paleo post last month, I believe a more nuanced approach to diet is appropriate, and we shouldn’t discount all foods from particular groups (even if it does make for handy and marketable “eat/avoid” charts). Here’s my stance on soy, taken from the pages of Paleo Takeout:

“Make no bones about it—soy is pretty terrible for you. It has been linked to malnutrition, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, and even heart disease and cancer. It has one of the highest toxin profiles of any legume, and it’s baffling that we feed this stuff to our children via infant formula.

But there’s a bright spot in all this doom and gloom; fermenting soy, especially through the long, slow process of making tamari and miso, eliminates its phytic acid and other digestive inhibitors. However, the fermentation process doesn’t totally destroy phytoestrogen, another bad guy, although it does reduce it by up to 90 percent; you’re likely ingesting more phytoestrogen through sesame seeds and garlic than through fermented soy.”

Miso’s bold flavor makes for a great marinade. Adding a bit of acidity, in the form of mirin (sweet rice wine) and sake, helps tenderize the meat as well.

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I’m the kind of guy who likes to grill in the winter. Well, let me rephrase that – so long as there isn’t a ton of snow on the ground, I like to grill in the winter. Living in Florida has its perks; we still have surprisingly cold weather here in the panhandle, but it rarely snows, and so I get to fire up my grill year-round.

One of my favorite reasons to grill in the cold is that it creates contrasting experiences. Winter in the air, summer in your bowl. This idea is best exemplified in these Chicken Teriyaki Bowls, accented with apple slices and white rice seasoned with furikake (I like Urashima furikake, which is made without additives).

Teriyaki sauce can be traced back to the Edo age in Japan, which started in the 17th century. An increase in urbanization and exposure to outside cultures resulted in an influx of new ingredients, which converged to make this tangy, sweet sauce that is perfect for grilling. Japanese restaurants gained prominence in the United States in the 1960s, and teriyaki sauce became the household name that it is today.

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It’s a New Year, which means many folks are just starting (or restarting) a new healthy eating adventure. One of the more popular eating challenges is the Whole30 (heck, it’s the #6 book on Amazon as of this morning). It’s been a few years since I’ve done a Whole30, which is a 30-day program with explicit guidelines. It doesn’t stray far from the way I eat anyway, other than the fact that it’s more stringent on honey, alcohol, dairy, and rice than my typical diet.

One thing I remember from my last Whole30 (in 2012, if memory serves me) was that I had a hard time keeping up my carb intake – at the time, the only carb-heavy foods allowed were sweet potatoes, beets, and plantains, which grew tiresome after a month of eating them. Luckily, the folks behind Whole30 remedied that in 2014, when they added white potatoes to their list of allowed foods. Hopefully this recipe – which includes two starchy vegetables – will make this month’s Whole30 a bit easier for everyone (also, don’t forget about this guide which transforms 94% of the 250+ recipes in Paleo Takeout to be Whole3o-compliant).

The turnip is one of the first cultivated vegetables, with some records dating back 17,000 years. Turnip roots aren’t as popular in the US as their greens, which are similar to mustard greens in taste. This soup is one of my favorite ways to prepare turnips, as it accentuates the natural creaminess of the root; serve this to your guests, and they won’t believe you that it’s dairy-free. Adding potatoes to the soup adds more body and heft to the dish, warming the belly on these cold winter evenings.

Fun fact: the rutabaga, another common root vegetable, was originally a cross-cultivation of the turnip and cabbage. It is also referred to as “neep” in some countries, likely a carryover from the Old English word næp (and before that, the Latin word napus), which meant “turnip”. Rutabagas and turnips are often confused for one another, with a common misconception that rutabagas are just large turnips.

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2015 may be behind us, but that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t reap the benefits of a year gone by. Case in point is the Best Paleo Recipes 2015 eBook, which is available for purchase starting today.

The book compiles six recipes each from some of the largest names in the movement, from Mark Sisson, to Danielle Walker, to Melissa Joulwan – 32 authors in all. Each contributor chose five of their favorite recipes from 2015, plus an additional recipe developed specifically for this eBook. I’m proud to say that I personally contributed six out of the 192 recipes in this book.

The book is broken down by section: appetizers, beverages, breakfast dishes, main dishes, side dishes, soups & salads, and treats & desserts. It’s just massive, nearly 500 pages in total, distributed as a PDF file – which means that you can copy it to your phone, tablet, and/or PC for easy access wherever you need it.

My contributions, pictured above, are some of my proudest moments of this past year. I’m also particularly fond of the exclusive Ratatouille recipe I developed for the book – it’s packed with flavor and comes together quite easily.

Click here to read more about the book, including a full list of contributors. Enjoy!

2015 really flew by, huh? I had quite a crazy ride over this past year: I released an eBook, a New York Times-bestselling cookbook, a smartphone/tablet app, embarked on a 12-week book tour, and welcomed our second son into the world. At the same time, this little website reached over 2.5 million readers, and a Yahoo news article about my health journey went viral.

More so than in previous years, I’ve caught myself reflecting on that fateful day in December 2010, when I first stumbled upon the ideas behind the Paleo diet. A lot has changed since then, and the movement has greatly expanded from the few forums that existed when I first changed my diet and restored my health. Here are 10 ideas on food and nutrition I’d like to share.

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Bobotie is a baked mincemeat dish and one of the more recognizable foods to come out of South Africa. It’s commonly believed that Bobotie was first derived from the Javanese dish Botok, as Dutch colonists brought the dish to South Africa from their settlements in Indonesia (née Dutch East Indies) in the 17th century. While Botok is made with minced meat wrapped in banana leaves, Bobotie is often seasoned with curry powder and dried fruit and baked with a egg custard topping – a reflection of both local ingredients and European colonial tastes.

This dish joins the ranks of other dishes on my blog, like Mulligatawny Soup and Sukuma Wiki, as exotic-tasting meals that can be created using items you likely already have in your pantry. These are some of my favorite dishes to create and share, as they have a fairly low barrier to entry but can expand your palate and culinary repertoire.

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Hi everyone, just in time for Christmas, I'm happy to announce that I have launched a smartphone app. It features all 300+ recipes from this site, organized and compiled in a beautiful, easy-to-use format. Better yet, it'll update every week with a new recipe! It works natively on tablets as well. This app has been in the works for some time, and I'm really excited to let you have a crack at it.

There are still some bugs to be worked out (for example, the ingredients aren't appearing in bullet-format yet), but I wanted to get this out to you folks now as my gift to you for the holidays.

The app is 100% FREE and available on both iOS and Android. I think it will be a great resource to consult when meal planning, grocery shopping, or in the heat of the moment while cooking. Enjoy!