Ajiaco is a soup found in both South America and Cuba. Its name comes from the word aji (“pepper”), originally traced to the indigenous Oto-Manguean family of languages that were prevalent in present-day Mexico as far back as 7,000 years ago. Today, the aji pepper refers to a specific pepper fruit (Capsicum baccatum) popular in South America, and is also known as the “bishop’s crown” pepper throughout the Caribbean. This aji pepper serves as the flavor base for the soup, giving it a subtle intensity and unexpected bite.

Another signature element of this dish is the potato. Nearly 10,000 years old, potatoes originated in the Andean mountain regions of present-day Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and it is estimated that over 4,000 native varieties of the tuber exist in these regions. This dish is traditionally prepared with a variety of potatoes, a testament to the diversity of potatoes available in South America.

This recipe is modeled after the Colombian version of Ajiaco, which always features chicken, corn, and potatoes (and the aji pepper, of course!). Like peppers and potatoes, corn is native to the Americas. The Colombian version is also spiced with guasca leaves, which are in the daisy family and native to South America. If you can’t find these dried leaves at your local international market, you can easily find them online.

The Cuban version of Ajiaco, also very popular, is a bit thicker (more akin to a stew), and features chicken, beef, and pork – what a feast. The Peruvian version is quite different from these soups, in that it isn’t served as a soup at all, but ran even thicker dish of braised potatoes and peppers (often without meat). And while all of these dishes now include ingredients that weren’t native to the Americas, such as garlic and onions, they still capture the spirit of the original (and likely forgotten) native dishes that inspired them.

And last but not least, a gentle reminder that the limited edition print version of my latest cookbook, The Heritage Cookbook, is only available for purchase through June 30th. Once they’re gone, they’re gone – they won’t be available in stores or on Amazon! These physical versions are really special to me; because I am publishing and shipping them myself, I can make the book look exactly how I envision it to be, and can sign/personalize each copy as I ship it out to you. CLICK HERE to learn more and to grab a copy for yourself!

Read Full Article

Hi, sending out a quick note to let you know that my friends at ButcherBox are running a deal where new customers receive a pack of BBQ favorites – baby back ribs, 2 lbs of ground beef, and 2 NY strip steaks – free with your first box (and in addition to everything else that comes in it!). This is a pretty great deal, and much better than what they usually throw in for new customers.

We have enjoyed our monthly ButcherBox package for the past couple of years now: they ship 100% grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken, heritage-breed pork, and wild-caught sockeye salmon directly to your door. They offer two main types of boxes – the first is a mixture of cuts selected by the team to help get your creative juices flowing (which comes bundled with recipe cards!), or an a la carte box where you can pick exactly what you receive. They also have two different sizes so you can customize your box to meet your family’s size. We like the value of ButcherBox (it comes out to less than $6/meal per person) and the fun of opening a box of new surprises each month — plus they let us specify the type of meat we want each month (all beef, or beef + chicken, and so on), which makes their service even more user-friendly.

Click here to learn more about their service and to sign up. This deal ends on Monday, June 10th (midnight PST), and please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below — happy grilling!

Here it is: my first recipe published on the blog that features dried beans. Well, technically, I posted a recipe in 2013 for Cow Heel Soup which featured split peas, but I made them optional. If you’re wondering why I incorporated beans into the recipes for my latest book, be sure to check out this post from last week – but long story short, the recipes in The Heritage Cookbook are historically accurate for a reason. The book investigates the link between traditional foods and health, with the underlying idea that we may have specific adaptations to the foods our recent ancestors relied on as staples. So to omit historical ingredients, prepared in traditional ways, undercuts the entire premise of the book. And just maybe, if eaten in a traditional context, some of these foods might not be so bad from time to time.

So yep, beans. We’re going to use fava beans or lima beans, which are nice and meaty. And like with all of the recipes in the book that feature beans, we’re going to soak them overnight, which increases their digestibility and makes them far easier to cook (plus, this is the way they have been traditionally prepared for thousands of years). One interesting note: while they have a similar appearance and taste, they are from two different corners of the world. Fava beans are part of the pea family, from the eastern Mediterranean, and have been cultivated for 8,000 years; lima beans, on the other hand, are a New World bean, discovered in Peru about 4,000 years ago. There’s an easy way to remember the origins of beans: peas, chickpeas, and fava beans are Old World, and everything else is from the Americas. Pretty cool, huh?

Oxtail stews are found all over the world, and were recorded as far back as the Roman times (but definitely eaten before then – it’s just that nobody was writing about them). This dish in particular is modeled after the Caribbean (specifically, Jamaican) version of this dish, developed at a time when slaves had to make do with lesser cuts of meat, like oxtails. This oxtail stew uses a healthy dose of allspice (native to the Americas) for its base flavor, and the meat is coated in a bit of sugar before being browned. This technique caramelizes the stew nicely, and is likely a remnant of sugarcane plantation cookery.

Read Full Article

A few readers have asked whether The Heritage Cookbook should be considered a Paleo or Primal book, like my previous two books.

While I didn’t deliberately tailor the book to any specific diet, the fact that the entire book relies on whole ingredients means that it is mostly adherent to many popular healthy eating trends. Flipping through the 303 total recipes in the book, I count 176 (58%) that are naturally Paleo or Primal friendly without any major adjustments, and the majority of those are also Whole30 compliant (you may have to omit or substitute a bit of butter, honey, or alcohol here and there). If you consider white rice to be okay, that’s another 26 to add to that list (so a total of 67%). Finally, 175 of the recipes are also low in starch and sugar, making them Keto or low-carb friendly. The rest of the recipes either feature some amount of traditionally-prepared corn and/or beans, or call for gluten-containing grains.

The presence of gluten in the book may throw you off, since this blog is 100% gluten-free. I continue to avoid gluten in my diet, but this is a good example to help describe the foundation of The Heritage Cookbook. The book investigates how genes affect our interactions with certain foods – including those that contain gluten (wheat, barley, and rye). Cutting out entire food groups can undermine the principle of the book, in that people with specific ancestry may be at an advantage to eat the historical ingredients of their ancestry group(s). But that doesn’t solve the issue we have with food interactions today outside of genetic predisposition – for example, my ancestors have a long history of wheat consumption, but learning that fact doesn’t make me able to eat wheat again without any adverse effects. After all, dietary reactions are the result of many factors, and genes are only one of those factors–albeit a very fascinating one! And since gluten reactions are one of the most prevalent digestive issues Americans face today, I made it a point to include gluten-free substitutions in every recipe (except a couple that specifically rely on bulgur or durum/semolina wheat).

Given the sheer volume of recipes in the book, another way to look at it is that these numbers nearly justify a cookbook of their own. For example, most Paleo cookbooks feature less recipes than the 176 that are found in this book (and same for the 175 keto recipes!). So there is still a lot of value to be had in these pages – and we haven’t even started talking about the 200+ pages of genetic and nutritional research, food history, and cultural observations found within the book!

So to recap:
58% of the book is Paleo/Primal friendly, and most of those are Whole30 compliant
67% of the book is Paleo/Primal + white rice (e.g. Perfect Health Diet) friendly
99% of the book is written to be adaptable to gluten-free
58% of the book is Keto or low-carb friendly

In answer to this article’s main question: is this book Paleo/Primal/Gluten-Free/Keto-friendly? I would say yes. But also no (way to make a decision, Russ). I’m not marketing it as aligned to any specific diet for a reason – and honestly, the variety of traditional foods found in our ancestral diets lean more towards eating a bit of everything around you (provided they are made from scratch and in a traditional context) than to eschew entire food groups. And that context matters; nowhere in the book do I call for someone to use wheat products (or really, any food product) as their main source of calories. Instead, I encourage the reader to eat along historical trends. Take a look at this graph below:

This indicates the changes in poultry consumption from the first year that global figures were calculated (1961, a time when more people were eating traditional foods than today), versus 2013. You can see that the landscape of food consumption has changed significantly over the past 52 years (I approached it as two generations, since generations are typically calculated as 25 years). An American looking at modern consumption trends around them may assume that eating 70kg/year of poultry meat is totally normal, but in 1961 the average was more like 17kg/year. Same goes for ingredients like corn, beans, and wheat – at the very least, the 1961 figures are a better indication of historical eating patterns than 2013 figures. But the key will be to look at the historcal eating trends of your ancestral origins. Are you an American of Italian origin? In 1961, Italians ate only 5kg/year (a little over 11 lbs, or 22 8oz servings a year!)–a far cry from the 70kg/year consumed by contemporary Americans.

And that’s one of the many insights and tools you’ll find in the book to help you figure out the best diet for your unique heritage.

More to come in the following weeks! And don’t forget that you only have until June 30th to grab a physical (hardcover) edition of The Heritage Cookbook!

With the release of The Heritage Cookbook last week, I’m ready to get back to how it all started–blogging. And honestly, it feels pretty great to be back in the saddle, fiddling with my old writing tools and codes. We’ll start pretty light for now, with recipes from my new book. I figure that since there are less than two months left to put in your order for the special print edition of the book, you won’t mind if I share recipes and stories from the four years it took me to get it into your hands!

Dimlama is a stew popular in Central Asia (especially Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan), made during that short window when vegetables are in season. It’s hard to grow vegetables above the ground on the Central Asian steppes, because constant winds are disruptive to the growing process; that’s why Central Asian cuisine has historically relied on underground vegetables like onions and carrots as their source of vegetables.

Preparing this dish is relatively simple: grab all the vegetables you have available, and layer them over meat (usually lamb, but sometimes beef or horsemeat), cover and simmer until everything is tender. No need to add water – the vegetables will release their own liquid. And it turns out that this dish is actually a bit of a revelation to cook, because it really brings awareness to the vegetables’ subtle flavors. Plus this meat-to-veggies ratio makes the rare chunks of meat that much more pleasurable. When first developing this recipe, I assumed that this wouldn’t be one of my favorites from the book; I was totally wrong.

Read Full Article

Click here to learn more about the limited edition print version

Hello everyone. After several years of research, writing, and designing, I’m ready to release my third cookbook. It’s called The Heritage Cookbook, and it combines genealogy and genetic testing with nutrition and cooking. The book is both a comprehensive dive into ancestral nutrition, food, and cultural histories, and a massive cookbook with 300+ historical and traditional recipes from around the world.

The digital version of The Heritage Cookbook is available for purchase today, with a variety of options. The simplest option is a PDF version of the book, which can be enjoyed on any home computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you prefer to read your books on Kindle or Apple Books, I created those versions as well. I designed each version from the ground up, so they all look pretty great no matter which format you prefer. All digital editions are $14.99 each.

Initially, I was going to limit this book to digital formats only, because it’s nearly too big to print (780+ pages!), and I am no longer affiliated with my previous publisher, so I don’t have the resources to print and distribute physical copies through bookstores or Amazon. But after a lot of positive response from friends and family, I’ve decided to do a special, limited edition print run of the book.

Here’s how the hardcover edition will work:

  • I’ve set up an online store at TheHeritageCookbook.com, where you can pre-purchase the hardcover book for a limited time period (now until June 30th).
  • At the end of the ordering period, I’ll compile and send my order to a small, US-based printer; however many books are ordered is how many books I will have printed.
  • I’ll then personally sign, number, and ship each book by hand with an expected October 2019 delivery date.
  • Shipping is included in the price and you will also get an instant download link for the digital (PDF) version of the book, so you can enjoy the recipes immediately.


The hardcover book price is $60, and I have to limit shipping to US and military (APO) addresses only, but I am positive that the stunning hardcover copy and included perks (free shipping, digital edition included, signed and personalized) make this version truly special.

This limited edition version of The Heritage Cookbook will only be available for purchase between now and June 30th. After that, they’re gone forever! Click here to read more and to purchase a copy for yourself. I’m especially excited about the hardcover’s unique cover, which is taken from a beautiful, custom painting made by one of my favorite artists, Martin at Continuum Watercolors. The physical version will also be the same dimensions as my previous cookbooks (although much thicker!), so they’ll all sit nicely on the same shelf.

If you’re not able to purchase the physical edition, never fear: the digital edition contains all the same content, and is super convenient to take with you on your phone when grocery shopping. Be sure to visit the digital edition landing page to see some more pictures from the book!

I think this is a really neat way to wrap up this chapter of my life. I really hope you love this book as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I think that the recipes you’ll find in The Heritage Cookbook are by far the best I’ve ever written, and the photos are the best I’ve ever taken–I’m very proud of this book. If you have any questions, I’ve also made a handy FAQ page that has all sorts of information. Or leave me a question in the comments below. Enjoy!

click here for the digital edition:

also available on:

Click here to buy the limited edition print version

Adobo is one of my favorite dishes; my original Pork Adobo recipe has lived on this site for over six years, and I published an updated, streamlined version last year (see: Oven Roasted Pork Adobo). And while I initially assumed that folks would seamlessly adapt those recipes for a chicken version, I’ve had several requests over the years. So voilà, this week’s recipe.

Adobo, often considered the national dish of the Philippines, is a method of stewing meat in vinegar. The word adobo itself is linked to a Spanish method of preserving raw meat by immersing it in a mixture of vinegar, salt, and paprika. When the Spanish observed an indigenous Philippine cooking method involving vinegar in the 16th century, they referred to it as adobo, and the name stuck. The original name for this dish is no longer known.

One last note – don’t forget about this month’s offer for Free Ground Beef for Life from my friends at ButcherBox. The deal expires at the end of this month, so be sure to check it out by the end of the week!

Read Full Article

Hi everyone, my friends at ButcherBox are offering a special promotion this month and I thought you’d want to hear about it.

All new customers who sign up via this link during the month of September will receive 2 lbs of their 100% grass-fed ground beef for the lifetime of their subscription.

I’ve mentioned ButcherBox several times before on my site, and they’re one of my favorite sources of quality meat. They deliver grass-fed beef (free of hormones and antibiotics), heritage breed pork, and free-range organic chicken directly to your door each month through curated or customizable boxes (complete with recipe cards). Their service is very economical, rounding out to less than $6 a meal. And by taking advantage of this promotion, two extra pounds of ground beef in every box is a pretty sweet bonus.

You may be wondering what to do with yourself, since you’ll be swimming in free ground beef for the rest of your life (well, the life of your subscription). Never fear – here are my eight favorite recipes that use ground beef:

Sukuma Wiki (Kenyan Braised Collard Greens with Ground Beef)
Beef Tinaktak (Chamorro Coconut Beef)
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Keema Matar (South Asian Spiced Mincemeat with Peas)
Picadillo Cubano (Cuban Beef Hash)
Bobotie (South African Mincemeat and Custard)
Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs)
Shepherd’s Pie

Click here to take advantage of this offer, which expires at midnight PST on September 31st, 2018. Enjoy!

This dish is summer in a bowl, equal parts comforting and exotic.

Bobó de Camarão (sometimes called Shrimp Bobó) is a shrimp chowder dish from coastal Brazil, thickened with mashed cassava (mandioca). This stew was likely inspired by a similar, traditional West African dish made with yams, which was brought to Brazil by West African slaves during the transatlantic slave trade from the 16th to 19th centuries. Other signature flavors from this dish include buttery red palm oil (dendê) and creamy coconut milk (leite de côco).

Red palm oil, originally from West Africa, is a controversial ingredient: the majority of palm oil is produced in Southeast Asia, where deforestation of palm oil trees has negatively impacted orangutan populations. For this reason, I prefer sustainably-harvested palm oil, like this one from Nutiva; their oil is part of the “Palm Done Right” international campaign, grown and harvested in Ecuador without contributing to deforestation or habitat destruction.

Given that red palm oil requires such careful consideration, you may be wondering why bother with it in the first place. Red palm oil is high in antioxidants and vitamins A and E, and has a health-promoting fatty acid profile (about 42% each saturated and monounsaturated fats)–in truth, it has one of the best nutrient profiles among cooking fats. And from a culinary perspective, the oil imparts a rich flavor, velvety texture, and has a high smoking point (about 350F). Over the past few years, I’ve come to prefer making popcorn in red palm oil, which adds a pleasing yellow color to the final product. If you don’t have access to sustainably-harvested red palm oil, never fear: this dish is also delicious when made with coconut oil or olive oil.

This dish is relatively simple overall, but does require a few phases: first, you’ll make a seafood stock using the shrimp shells, then boil the cassava and make a flavor base using tomatoes, onions, and peppers; next, you’ll blend the flavor base with coconut milk, pan-fry the shrimp, and put it all together. To save time, you can use peeled shrimp and pre-made seafood stock. But even then, this isn’t a dish I’d recommend you first tackle on a busy weeknight–it really benefits from an unhurried cooking environment, when you can play some relaxing music and envelop yourself in these tropical aromas. It’s worth the extra bit of effort and planning.

Read Full Article

First, an update. Thank you for the outpouring of support when I mentioned my reason for taking a break from blogging and social media. It’s been a challenging year for many reasons, but these past few months have been very restorative. I’m also happy to report that later today a newly-revised version of The Heritage Cookbook will be on its way to my publisher–a huge weight off my chest. More so than anything I’ve ever written, this new book carries a good chunk of my heart with it; three years of research and development, and moments of frustration and elation. I can’t wait to show it to you folks soon.

Second, let’s celebrate! Today I’m sharing my recipe for Caribbean-inspired sticky wings, spiked with a bit of rum for some tropical notes and a little bite. Traeger Grills recently sent me a grill to try out, and I thought this would be the perfect recipe to showcase the fun of using their products.

So yes, I’m back to blogging and maintaining a social media presence. I’ll probably ease into things, mostly because the family and I are trying to squeeze the last bits of fun out of what remains of summer — but you should expect to see more recipes soon.

Read Full Article