Friday, January 31, 2014

Recipe Symbiosis {Breakfast Quiche & CocoNana Chia Pudding}



I really dislike recipes that only use part of something, like my Chocolate Rochers, for example. (Recipe coming soon!) They only use an egg white. I've tried using the whole egg, and it does make a cookie, but it's not a rocher. I usually just save the egg yolk and eat it with breakfast the next day, but it still bothers me.

I really like finding a way to use all the parts of my ingredients to make recipes that go together, like the two dishes I'm going to share with you today.

These two recipes are amazing by themselves, but they come together quite nicely to create a perfect breakfast duo. And both are made in advance, making my morning meal super simple to throw together if I'm running late (which I almost always am).

The first is savory and full of veggies and protein. The great part is, you can change this up any way you want, using any meats and veggies you happen to have in the fridge.

The second is sweet and full of fruit and healthy fat - plus a good-for-you super food! What's not to love?

What is their common ingredient? Coconut. Most of the can is used for the second recipe, but a bit of the can is essential for the first. It's a wonderful relationship I look forward to each day!

I usually round this duo out with a mug of bone-broth based all-veggie soup, getting my day off to a great start!


Grab & Go Mini Breakfast Quiche

Ingredients:
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk/water
  • 1/2 cup chopped meat of choice
  • 1 cup chopped veggies of choice
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Any additional spices, to taste
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
  2. Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and spices, if using. 
  3. Divide the egg mixture between 6 mini loaf pans, 12 muffin tins, etc.
  4. Divide the meat and veggies between the different molds.
  5. Bake 20-40 minutes, our until the tops are dry and lightly browned.
  6. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.


CocoNana Chia Pudding

Ingredients:
  • The top half of a can of coconut milk (the solid part)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk/water
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • *optional: berries to sprinkle on top
Method:
  1. Mix all the ingredients together and place in the refrigerator.
  2. After one hour, stir/shake well. Leave in the fridge for at least 4 more hours to thicken.
  3. Serve chilled with fresh berries sprinkled on top. Keeps well in the fridge for a few days.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Whole30 is finished {here's what I learned}

Even though my Whole30 is "finished" today, that doesn't mean I'm going to go crazy on the sugar or start making a gazillion "paleo" treats... My body reacts poorly to carbs and sugary treats tend to give me a huge shot of sugar-carbs - no matter how paleo-friendly the treats might be.

Even though my usual diet is pretty Whole30 compliant, I still learned a few things about myself during this period. For example:
  • I much prefer black coffee to sweetened coffee. My first stevia-sweetened coffee after the end of my Whole30 didn't even get drank it was so sickly sweet to my palate. (I'm thinking amazing coffee-based drinks, much akin to those sold at coffee shops, would be exceptions to this preference.)
  • I still crave chocolate. I don't think that will ever change.
  • Cashews, almonds, and pistachios are just as easy to overeat as sugar. And when eaten in large portions, can be just as disruptive to my system. I now know to limit my portion sizes.
  • Sunflower seeds and goji berries make an amazing snack - salty, sweet, chewy, crunchy, time consuming so I have the time to realize I'm full... amazing!
  • I'm apparently into a bit of self-torture as I didn't stop pinning dessert recipes during my Whole30 - even recipes I knew I could never make and safely eat because of the sugar load. (Just because it's "paleo" doesn't mean it's good for me - or for anyone else for that matter!)

Now that I have my first Whole30 behind me, I'm looking forward to a great year of food. My goals for 2014 are:
  • Find a balance between healthy eating and wise treat choices, one that is sustainable in the long-term and will keep me healthy and happy.
  • Try many new recipes from my most recently acquired cookbooks (and the ones I plan on buying soon!).
  • Create new recipes to "replace" all of my Belgian favorites - not only the regional dishes but also family staples.
  • Inspire others to experiment with their own diets in order to find their personal happy place - food can {and should} be health AND happiness!
Feel free to leave any goals you may have for this year in the comments below - who knows? You just might inspire someone yourself!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Belgian Favorites {Endive Surprise}





My mother-in-law prepares most of the meals she serves herself - this means I have eaten many a home-cooked Belgian classic!

She spends a lot of time in the kitchen, but not a lot of time looking for recipes. Most of the recipes she prepares are either memorized and stored away in her head, or, for dishes she makes less often, handwritten on little cards clipped into a mini two-ring binder.

She doesn't own many cookbooks, and rarely uses the one she has - but there is one special book that stands out in her small collection: La Bonne Cuisine Française.

Between the covers of this book can be found all sorts of traditional meals, and while it is a French cookbook, many dishes are favorites in Belgium as well. I used to spend hours flipping through the pages of her book, reading the quirky tips and tricks for each recipe, learning new techniques and even cooking a thing or two myself.

You can understand my joy when I found a copy while at a local flea market! I quickly bought it and took it home, marking interesting recipes and dreaming up new dishes to make.

Want the yummy dressing recipe?
I sometimes share recipes only on
Instagram to thank my followers...
Follow me @bepaleoandthrive
Now, this cookbook is far from being paleo, or even paleo-friendly, but when I want to know how the "experts" do it, I turn to this book, then I adapt accordingly.

Which is exactly what I did when I got a hankering for baked endives.

I used to loathe this dish, as I found it rather bitter. Then I learned a trick - cut out the hard, bitter centers, keeping only the crisp leaves. This is now one of my comfort dishes, especially now that I have paleo-fied it!

I used dry-cured farm-style ham, but feel free to use your favorite.

Endive Surprise

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 Belgian endives
  • 4-6 slices of ham
  • 1/4 cup bone broth
  • 1/4 cup cashews (35 grams)
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Wash the endives and remove any damaged leaves. Slice each in half and remove the bitter core.
  2. Wrap each half in a slice of ham. Pack the endive halves into a baking dish and set aside.
  3. Using an immersion blender, blend together the cashews and bone broth. Pour over the endives.
  4. Bake at 200°C (400°F) for 45 minutes.
  5. Serve with a veggie mash and a green salad.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What to do when you have too many veggies {+ a tasty soup recipe}

I live by the principle that you can never have too many veggies, but every so often even I find myself with an overflowing fridge - and so many veggies that I just can't keep up!

One thing I like to do when this happens is freeze them. Vegetables like broccoli, carrots, zucchini... are wonderful for this. Carefully wash and dry each veggie, cut them into even sized pieces, and throw them into a freezer-safe bag or container. These are great for a last-minute veggie stir fry (just add some chicken and it's a meal!) or for quick and healthy breakfasts (see my Green Eggs & Ham recipe for ideas).

Other veggies, such as tomatoes, don't freeze quite as well... I prefer to cook up a big batch of sauce (traditional "spaghetti" sauce our something a bit more adventurous), divide it into meal-sized portions, and freeze that.

But what if your freezer is also overflowing (with discounted meat, for example)? You can always turn to your trusty dehydrator! (If you don't have a dehydrator, you can also use a traditional oven to dry food.) Most veggies turn into "chips" when dried, and can either be eaten as such or rehydrated later on by soaking in a bowl of water several hours before you need to use them. And don't forget how much flavor dried tomatoes can add to a meal!

The last extra-veggie-using tip I have for you is soup. Make a huge batch of soup, either for eating throughout the week or for freezing in small portions for later on.

And here is the recipe I use. I got this recipe years ago from my good friend Sarah, and, even though I've had to make a few alterations since going paleo, it's my go-to recipe. This soup can be made with any veggie you have on hand, and is great for using up all the bits and pieces you might find yourself with at the end of the week.

The very best version is the all-mushroom version, even though I have yet to succeed in making it even half as well as Sarah does...

Sarah's All-Veggie Paleo Soup
Ingredients:

  • 500 grams of veggies (about 1 lb)
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 cup homemade bone broth
  • Water
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • *Optional: your favorite "milk"

Method:

  1. Roughly chop the onions and garlic cloves. Cook in the ghee over medium-low heat in a large stainless steel pot.
  2. Wah and chop the veggies into equal sized pieces. Add to the onions and continue to cook until the onion becomes translucent.
  3. Add the bone broth and enough water to cover all the veggies, plus a little more.
  4. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until the veggies are fork tender (15-30 minutes, depending on the type of veggies used).
  5. Remove from heat and blend until smooth using an immersion blender. (You can also use a regular blender, working in small batches.)
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
*If you'd like a creamy soup, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your favorite milk and stir to combine. Gently heat the soup over medium heat, being careful not to let it boil.

If your soup is too thick and you're not adding milk, adding a bit of water or bone broth with do the trick add well.
Enjoy!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My face {and how I take care of it}

While this blog is mostly a food blog, there are other topics that deserve to be discussed - such as beauty and health care.

Part of my transition to a paleo lifestyle has included purging my beauty supplies (read about my no poo and no toothpaste experience here). I often get questioned by friends and family about my beauty regime now, so I thought I'd share it with the rest of the world as well.


Clean Up

I use this one - the
dropper is great!
image source
First off, I've ditched face wash for good. I use cool, clear water to rinse of the days' grime and that is all.

If I'm feeling especially dirty, I scrub my fave with a micro fiber cloth, still only using water.

If I'm wearing makeup, I use argan oil to take it off (or organic olive oil if I'm at my mother-in-law's house). All you have to do is pour a couple drops of oil onto your fingers, then gently rub your makeup until it comes off. Then, rinse it away!

Argan oil is extremely rich in vitamin E so it does a world of good for your skin, such as helping it heal, stay moisturize and even keep it looking young. Olive oil is great for all of that stuff, too!

Every oil has its own special benefits for your skin, so feel free to experiment and find what works best for you. Look for an ingredients list that says "100% Argan oil" (or whatever oil you are buying) to be sure you're not getting any unwanted chemicals as well.


Moisturize

I try to remember to moisturize my skin every day, but I often forget. (Before, I was always reminded by the uncomfortable, tight skin feeling I'd get after using soaps...) I simply put a few drops of Argan oil in the palm of my hand, rub my hands together, then smooth everything over my freshly cleaned face and neck.

And no, I do not have greasy skin using oil as a moisturizer. I used to have combination soon, and now I'd call it normal. No more greasy patches, no more dry zones - and no more pimples!

Pretty much any oil can be used for this as well.

*Bonus Tip*

After moisturizing your face and neck, remove the remaining oil from your hands by rubbing them on the ends of your hair. This works wonders to prevent split ends!


Makeup

I have, for the most part, stopped wearing makeup. When I do want to get all dolled up for a special occasion though, I turn to Avril, which is a great, online boutique that sells organic makeup for dirt cheap. And they actually work and look great!

Many companies like this exist, but if you're in Europe, I highly recommend giving them a try (I'm not sure if they ship overseas). I especially like that they list all the ingredients for each product so I can choose exactly what I'm willing to put on my face.

I'm currently using this mascara, this eyeliner, and this eye shadow. (Also, this aluminum-free deodorant works great!) I recently gifted some products to a friend as well, and she's in love, too.

One thing that was really hard to let go of was my chemical-laden lip balm. I would reapply every 5 minutes it seemed - once again because the tight, dry skin on my lips would remind me.

I am currently using this vitamin E stick from Perfectly Posh (Thanks, Momma!) and I hardly ever "need" it. I'd guess I use it 0-2 times a day. I take that as a sign that it's pretty good for my lips. This company also lists all their ingredients. 

*Bonus Tip*

After spooning some coconut oil (or any healthy fat for that matter) from its jar, rub the back of the spoon over your lips. You'll love how hydrated they become!


And there you have it! Simple, natural steps to take care of my skin and keep it looking its best.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dehydrating Stuff {bacon jerky}

I used to think that bacon was just about as good as it could get. Then I discovered bacon jerky. Bacon. Jerky. I'm drooling just thinking about it...

I'm pretty sure I finished a bag in one sitting the first time I saw some. Annnnd bacon jerky helped keep me alive as I flew home to Belgium from America (thank you, fast food joint, for your cheapo-salad sprinkled with my bag of bacon jerky). I mean, it's bacon jerky! It's chewy, fatty, salty, bacony goodness in a highly portable and easily preservable form!

The downside to bacon jerky? It doesn't exist in Belgium!

So what's a girl with a bacon addiction to do? Make her own!

Making my own bacon jerky also allows me to choose the ingredients that go into my mouth. I don't have my own smoker (though it is going to happen someday soon - just as soon as we have a backyard...) so I'm still forced to buy commercial bacon. I have managed to find a sugar-free (great for Whole30!) bacon at my local Delhaize, but I'm still on the lookout for a locally-sourced and cured bacon...

So far I've made strips of bacon jerky - but I'm thinking dehydrated bacon bits (lardons in French) would be AMAZING over a salad!

Bacon Jerky


Spread your bacon strips out flat on your dehydrator sheets and set your dehydrator to it's maximum setting.

Rotate the trays every 30 minutes or so, checking for doneness each time. Thinly-sliced bacon should take about 1 1/2 hours, thicker-sliced bacon may take up to 3 hours.
Store in an air-tight container for a couple days, or for a couple weeks in the fridge.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Surviving family dinners when no one else is paleo {festinade & raclette}

When it comes to following a paleo lifestyle, I'm pretty much a lone ranger. 

My Aunt Debbie is making her first, tentative steps into this marvelous world of real food... but she lives on a different continent. Then there's my cousin Manon (follow her on Instagram for some amazing, primal meal ideas @manonthyssen), but she's not present at all my family gatherings. 

My husband accepts to eat what I cook, and does so because it's friggin delicious, but he eats like everyone else when the occasion presents itself.

What does this mean for me? This means finding easy ways to adapt what my family is serving to sit my dietary needs and preferences - without changing too much for them.

Today I'm going to cover the festinade. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, click over and watch this short commercial clip. Judging by the people eating in that clip, I could do just fine. You haven't seen how my in-laws like to eat when using a festinade...

First, they start out by frying up some bacon (yum!) or some boudin blanc (essentially a milk sausage, which would be the death of me).

Next, they add some cubed potatoes (hello major indigestion) and top that off with cubed cheeses (the smellier the better - but still a no-go for me).

They continue this pattern, adding a couple slices of tomato here and there, a bite of salad just so they can say they had a veggie, until they can no longer eat another bit.

Then comes dessert. They finish off the meal by making mini crepes. Yup, you read that correctly. Mini. Crepes. They are freaking adorable, and, because it's my mother-in-laws' recipe, freaking delicious. Buuuut, another big no-go for me.

So what's a paleo eater to do? Use the festinade as it is meant to be used: as a personal-sized frying pan! My most recent festinade experience included the following, yummy ingredients:
  • sliced salmon fillet
  • jumbo shrimp
  • sliced tomatoes
  • sliced zuchinni
  • sliced mushrooms
  • sliced dry-cured ham
  • lots of green salad
  • Spices, spices and more spices! 
Another great idea for anyone not avoiding sugar would be to make banana pancakes at the end of the meal :)

Now if you're really paying attention, you're probably wondering why I wrote {festinade & raclette} in the title... yet I haven't spoke of a raclette at all. Well, that's because the same sort of meal can be (and has been) made with a raclette! (Again, if you have no idea what I'm talking about when I say raclette, check this out.)

If your raclette is a raclette-grill, it's even easier - load up on those cuts of meat!

The bottom line is, there's always a way to enjoy meals with those you love, even "traditional" meals that seem impossible to adapt. Sometimes you have to do a bit of planning ahead of time, but in the end, it's worth it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What's Fennel? {fennel carrot salad}

I love everything about this veggie. First off, it looks like it's waving at me every time I glance at it, and that just makes me happy! Second off, the smell is amazing, just like black licorice! And lastly, the it's really quite tasty - and soooo good for you, to boot!

They are an excellent source of vitamin C (great for people like me who can't tolerate eating oranges regularly) and are a powerhouse of other great things such as fiber, magnesium and potassium.

Some people even claim fennel has medicinal properties, such as relieving gas, bloating and cramps.

You can eat the bulb raw or cooked many different ways. My favorite ways are raw, sliced over a mixed green salad or diced over a grated carrot salad. I'm sharing this recipe with you today, as I make it during my food prep for the week. The recipe yields 8 small portions, but can easily be scaled down for a single meal or even up for a potluck gathering.

Fennel Carrot Salad
Ingredients:
Method:
  1. Peel and grate your carrots. (Food processors come in handy here.)
  2. Wash the fennel plant. Cut off any fronds (the green "fingers") and remove any damaged outer layers. Slice the bulb in half length-wise and remove the solid core from both halves. Dice what's left.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the carrots with the mayo, vinegar, fennel and mustard. Mix well to combine.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
If serving at a potluck, save a few of the green whisps from the fronds to garnish the dish.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Salsifies {+ a recipe}

Sometimes we receive weird veggies in our weekly veggie basket. But sometimes I purposely buy weird veggies. I mean seriously now, who really looks at a dirty stick and thinks, "yum!"?

But salsifies really are quite tasty, and pretty easy to cook as well (it's just the prep work that'll getcha!). They are a root veggie and are sometimes called "the poor man's oyster" because of their slight oyster-y taste.

You must peel them before eating them, and this results in a very big mess in your kitchen (if they are fresh) and very sticky hands (I usually have to scrub them with those little iron wool scrubbers to get all the gunk off).

With 19 grams of carbohydrates for every 100 gram serving, salsifies make a great, lower-carb alternative to white potatoes who are packing a whopping 37 grams of carbs per 100 gram serving!

These little "forgotten" veggies can be prepared in any number of ways, but I chose to share a very simple recipe for you today. You don't have salsifies? Feel free to substitute any firm vegetable, such as carrots or parsnips, or even potatoes if you can eat those. The result will still be delicious.

Fresh tomato slices with fleur de sel,
my salsify simmer and
a steak with Green Garlic sauce
Salsify Simmer

Ingredients:
  • 1 kg of fresh salsifies (about 2 pounds)
  • 2-4 cups of homemade bone broth
  • Sea salt and black pepper
Method:
  1. Pour about 2 cups of bone broth into a stainless steel frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Peel, wash and cut the salsifies into equal sized pieces (more or less the size of a finger). Add the pieces to the bone broth as you work.
  3. By the time you finish cutting all the veggies, the broth should be simmering. Add more bone broth if needed to cover the salsifies.
  4. Allow to simmer rapidly for 20-30 minutes, until the veggies are fork tender and the broth has cooked down to a sticky syrup.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. Serve alongside a good steak with a bit of the syrup drizzled onto.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hesitation sometimes leads to great things {Cabbage Stuffed Peppers}



We had just gotten back from our favorite butcher shop, and the day before we had picked up some fresh produce from the market. My fridge was stocked with lots of yummy ingredients, and I was getting ready to make dinner. I hadn't yet done my rough meal planning for the week, and I wasn't sure what I wanted to eat...

You see, I was hesitating between stuffed cabbage rolls and stuffed bell peppers. And I really couldn't decide. Both meals are complete, in that there is a protein and a complex carbohydrate involved. Both meals are warm and satisfying, and therefore comforting. Both meals are easy to make and don't have much clean up. All in all, they were tied for the win.


So I decided to make both. At the same time. And you know what? It was delicious.

Sometimes I start cooking with some wild idea in mind, and it ends up nothing like I imagined. And while it's always edible, there are times when it's just not very good.

This time, my friends, was neither of those. The spicy flavors of stuffed bell peppers married perfectly with the more subdued flavors of the cabbage rolls, with the tomato sauce topping it all off as the proverbial cherry on top. The hubster even declared that this was "good stuff". If you'd like a bigger meal, try serving this with "riced" cauliflower - or even regular white rice if you can tolerate the stuff.

Cabbage Stuffed Peppers serves 3

Ingredients:
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 250 grams ground beef (about 1/2 a lb)
  • 3 outer leaves from a green cabbage, hard centers removed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of Italian seasoning, divided
  • 1/2 tbsp of taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp of tomato concentrate
  • 500 grams of tomato sauce (a medium-sized box)
  • 1/2 cup of bone broth
Method:
  1. Wash the bell peppers, then cut them in half and remove the seeds. Place them cut-side up in a baking dish and pre-bake them while you prepare the rest the meat at 180°C (350°F).
  2. Meanwhile, cut the cabbage leaves into small pieces or ribbons.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the meat, the cabbage, 1/2 tbsp of the Italian seasoning, the taco seasoning and the tomato concentrate. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit of the tomato sauce to moisten it a bit.
  4. Remove the bell peppers from the oven and fill with the meat mixture. Return to the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through.
  5. While the meat is baking, stir together the tomato sauce, the rest of the Italian seasoning and the bone broth in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Let the sauce simmer on low while the peppers are in the oven.
  6. When cooked through, serve the peppers topped with tomato sauce.

Monday, January 20, 2014

You say potato, I say... well, potato. {+ a yummy mash}

I spent about 9 years of my life living in Idaho, USA. If you don't know or have never been to this state, you're missing out. It truly is a beautiful, wild place to live, known for its abundant wildlife, Rocky Mountains, thriving forests, dry deserts, and clear rivers.

And Idaho is also known for its potatoes. (Did you know that Idahoans aren't the only ones that love Idaho potatoes? About 8% of the potatoes grown there are shipped out to Five Guys restaurants all over the globe!) I spent a good part of the 9 years I lived in Idaho eating potatoes. I also spent most of that time feeling horrible.

Turns out potatoes hate me and find it funny to wreak havoc on my digestive system. Thanks, potatoes. But not really.


I've since needed to find replacements for some of my well-loved dishes, such as fries, scalloped potatoes, and, most of all, loaded mashed potatoes, which is the dish I will share with you today.

Lucky for me, many paleo-friendly veggies are out there to help me. This time around, I chose to use two parsnips and one parsley root, but any of your favorite root veggies will work perfectly for this recipe. Feel free to experiment, not only with the veggies you include, but also with the toppings. 

You can also just eat the veggie mash as is, leaving out the cashew cream and topping. Really, the sky is the limit here.

This little veggie mash went perfectly with my simple dinner of olive-stuffed sausages and olive oil drizzled tomato quarters. And the best part? The recipe makes enough for leftovers - hello delicious lunches!

  

Loaded Root Veggie Mash
Ingredients:
  • 500 grams of your favorite root veggies (about 1 lb)
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ghee
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 50 grams of sugar-free bacon
  • 1 green onion
Method:
  1. Peel, cut and steam the root veggies until fork tender. Mash and set aside.
  2. Cut the bacon into smallish pieces and cook over medium-low heat until crispy. Set aside.
  3. Thinly slice the green onion. Set aside.
  4. Blend together the cashews, water and ghee until smooth using an immersion or regular blender to make a cashew "cream". Stir this, the bacon bits and the onion into the mashed veggies.
  5. Divide the veggies into 4 small baking dishes, or put all into one medium-sized baking dish, running a fork through the top of the mash to create ridges. Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C (350°F), or until the tips of the mash begin to brown.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

You say zucchini, I say courgette {+ Pépé's recipe}

Or, maybe you're cool and you say courgette as well. Let's be friends :)

Or, maybe you just came here for the recipe. I can do that, too, but first, let me tell you the story (because there's always a story :p).

When I followed my then fiancé to Belgium, I was running headfirst into an unknown world: new country, new language, new people, new culture, and... new food. I wasn't sure how I was going to cope, but I was ready, and a bit excited, to try.

What I discovered was a beautiful country that looked like it belonged in a book of fairytales - everything was green, castles were everywhere, and even the houses were made of cut stone. The language was a biotch, but I muddled through it and now speak French like a pro (yes, I can even make the "rrr" sound!). The people were friendly enough, even though the culture clashed a bit (I still find it strange that I can kiss you to say hello, but it's out of the question to hug you when I want to say thank you...).

As for the food, it was either hit or miss. I have learned to love a lot of the misses now (tuna and peaches taste delicious together!) but there are certain things I will never find appetizing (boudin blanc? seriously? Even the name is gross.). One thing is for sure, a lot of test-tasting took place at Pépé's house. He never made anything especially strange, he just prepared things differently, or maybe it was a vegetable we didn't eat often in my family.

And here enters the zuchinni. And I'm not talking about just any zuchinni. I'm talking about Pépé's zuchinni. You see, Pépé has the greenest thumb of anyone I know, and only the tastiest of veggies leave his overflowing garden. He is also a very practical man. His reasoning is, if you harvest a zuchinni while it's small, you'll eat it at only one meal. But, if you wait and harvest it when it's as long and as big around as your thigh, well, you'll be eating that zuchinni all week long.

The first time I remember eating zuchinni was when I tried a slice of Pépé's pan-fried giant zuchinni. And I fell in love. The simple flavors come together in a true taste explosion in your mouth. It really is a dish you'd gladly eat all week long.

I've since made this recipe countless times, using Pépé's giant zuchinni, but also using traditional-sized ones when he doesn't have any to give me. This is a great way to prepare patty pan squash as well, so feel free to use whatever you have on hand.

Courgettes à la Pépé serves 1-2
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium zuchinni
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Sea salt & black pepper
Method:
  1. Cut your garlic clove in half and rub a frying pan down with the cut side.
  2. Pour about 1 tbsp of olive oil into the pan and heat over low heat.
  3. Wash and cut the zuchinni into even slices about 3-4 cm thick (about 1 1/2 ins).
  4. Place the slices of zuchinni cut-side down into the frying pan, then turn it over so the top is covered with olive oil.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. Let brown for 10-15 minutes before turning the slices over. Add more oil to the pan if necessary and season with more salt and pepper.
  6. Brown this side for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot as is, or cold with a drizzle of high quality olive oil.

Dining Out Paleo-Style {Liège, Belgium - Les Caves du Portugal}

The hubster and I don't eat out very often. We usually find we can recreate the meals ourselves at home (for a fraction of the cost) and have them taste just as good (or, sometimes, even better!). When we do go out to eat, we always try to choose restaurants that are a bit different than our traditional Belgo-Americano cuisine.

After trying many restaurants in our nearby vicinity, we have settled on a couple favorites that we keep going back to.

Photos de Les Caves du Portugal, Liège
picture provided by TripAdvisor
One of them is called Les Caves du Portugal. This also happens to be a restaurant my husband's grandparents love, and we find ourselves invited to join their table every so often (they eat there nearly every Sunday, sometimes changing things up with another favorite restaurant of theirs - and if they "miss" a Sunday, you can be sure to find them there during the week).

Everyone was worried about what I would eat at restaurants when I first started finding out about my food allergies and intolerances, but I was confident I would find something to please both my palate and my stomach.

Luckily for me, Les Caves du Portugal has a menu full of paleo-friendly options! All you have to do is ask if you need to make a change to something, and they are more than willing to adjust things for you. (I find this is true of most, if not all, restaurants).

There are always green and black olives waiting for you at the table, so you can munch on something while choosing your dish. They are house-marinated as well, and oh so delicious! Sometimes, if they're really busy and your food takes a long time to get to you, they'll offer a small plate of dry-cured Italian-style ham. I have seen the package for this ham, and one of the ingredients is dextrose, so you can make your own call there. I usually eat a small slice or two and savor the taste while the others load up their slices of baguette with slices of ham and stuff their faces :P

oh so yummy Venus clams
Pépé, my husband's wonderful grandfather, almost always orders a small dish of Venus clams for everyone to share before the meal. The sauce is white wine and olive oil with garlic and herbs. I just grab my fair share of clams and of the sauce to slurp up plain before anyone has a chance to dip a piece of bread into the dish. (Also, I'm extremely sensitive to white wine and one glass makes my joints swell up painfully - but I tolerate this sauce with no problems whatsoever. Experiment with things to see how you react.)

grilled sardines as seen on Instagram
follow me @bepaleoandthrive
One of my favorite meals to eat there is the plate of grilled sardines. I ask for two servings of salad, hold the fries, but if you tolerate white potatoes you could even keep the fries.

The salad dressing is delicious, and changes slightly each time which probably means it's actually homemade (rare in restaurants!). I asked once and they said it was a mix of oils, vinegars and mayonnaise, seasoned with salt and pepper. Works for me! (Yes, the mayo is probably made with rancid vegetable oil, but we can't always be "paleo perfect". It doesn't make me sick and I enjoy the meals thoroughly each time I eat there, so it's a win in my book.)

my extra side salad :)
My "dessert" is always a black coffee. I just give my little cookie or chocolate to the hubster (who is always more than happy to gobble it up for me). Sometimes they serve us small shots of a delicious Portuguese liquor called Bierao - sometimes I drink it, but it's always a bad idea (for me and my sensitive stomach). If you tolerate liquors well, this is a must-taste.

And besides great food, the service is wonderful as well. It's family owned and operated, and everyone is quick to smile as you walk in the door. The wait is a bit long on Sundays, their busiest day, but even then it's not exaggerated. If you're a sports fan, they usually have a soccer match (football for the non-Americans) going on the big screen. You can even call and reserve for large groups, if you'd like to have a birthday dinner or work function there.

The prices are very democratic as well. During the week, they have the menu du jour at 9€50, and besides that the dishes run you about 10-15€. The hubster and I usually eat there for less than 40€. They also have great group deals and special occasion menus that are well worth it.

pork & clams as seen on Instagram
follow me @bepaleoandthrive
And there's more than just sardines for the paleoist to eat - many of the dishes require just subbing the fries for more salad! If you tolerate white potatoes and butter, the options are even greater!

Some other favorites of mine are the grilled chicken, the Brazilian steaks (a must try!!), and the pork and clams (heavy on the piri-piri!). 

For those who tolerate dairy, the scampi kebab as well as the fish kebab dishes are also delicious.

If you ever find yourself in Liège, Belgium, and you feel like a little Portuguese cuisine, Les Caves du Portugal is a must try!