Category Archives: Primal

Primalized Pan-Seared Oven-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Dried Cherry-Port Sauce with Quince Paste

Yeah, the title is a mouthful.  But it tells you just what to expect; a flavor-packed hunk of meat. I modified a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook to make the recipe more primal and subbing in some ingredients that I had on hand. I couldn’t stop “mmmm’ing” the whole way through my delightful meal.  I hope that you find the same experience for yourself! For a veggie side I made roasted, cubed butternut squash that I started roasting a half-hour before starting the pork.

(Please note: this is not 100% primal with the port and quince paste being in the pan sauce.)


2 12 to 16 oz pork tenderloins, preferably fat-capped

1 1/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp pepper

1 tbsp coconut oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil, set aside. Sprinkle tenderloins with salt & pepper, rub seasoning into the meat. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until oil has tiny bubbles. Place both tenderloins in skillet; cook until well browned on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove pan from heat and tenderloins from pan to foil-lined baking sheet and place in oven on middle rack. (Start pan sauce while pork roasts). Roast for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, until internal temperature registers 145 degrees F.

Transfer tenderloins to cutting board and tent loosely with aluminum foil; let rest 10 minutes. Cut tenderloins crosswise into 1/2″ thick slices, arrange on serving platter and spoon pan sauce over meat and serve.


1 tsp coconut oil

1 large leek, sliced into 1/2″ thick slices

3/4 cup port

3/4 cup dried cherries (no sugar)

2 tbsp quince paste

3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces

Salt & pepper

After pork tenderloins have been put into the oven, add coconut oil and leek slices to skillet and sauté over medium heat. You may need to add a touch of water if pork bits are still sticking to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until leeks are soft.  Set skillet aside until pork comes out of the oven.

While pork is resting, return skillet to medium-high heat and add port and cherries, simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen an browned bits.  Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened. Add any accumulated pork juices from cutting board, continue simmering until again slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Off heat, whisk in quince paste and butter, one piece at a time.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Spoon sauce over plated tenderloin medallions.


1 butternut squash, peeled & cubed into 1/2″ cubes

1 – 2 tbsp olive oil

Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim both ends of butternut squash. Cut squash in half lengthwise, de-seed and peel.  Cut into cubes and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Turn mixture until cubes are well coated with oil and seasoning. Transfer to a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet. Spread cubes evenly on baking sheet, ideally there is a little bit of space between most of the cubes.

Bake for 30 minutes, pull pan from oven and using spatula, turn cubes.  Rearrange so that they are evenly spread out on sheet pan. I like my squash a little crunchy/crispy on the outside and tender on the inside so I cooked mine for an additional 30 minutes. Keep checking your cubes after 45 minutes for your preferred doneness. 

(Once I was done with my meal, I was reflecting on the flavors.  The pan sauce tasted really good on the butternut cubes but I overdid it by pouring some of the sauce onto the cubes in addition to the pork.  I think next time I’ll mince some fresh thyme or make an olive oil mixture with dried thyme while the cubes are roasting and add the fresh herb or oil mixture to the cubes just as they are coming out of the oven.  The thyme would pair extremely well with the pork and cherry/port/quince flavors of the sauce.)


Asian Veggie Bowl with Spicy Lamb Loin Chops-Primal Style

My friend Jena had a really good smelling broccoli slaw with sesame ginger vinaigrette on our drive to Targhee last week.  I love the smell of ginger and sesame oil.  And the sweetness of these types of dressings.  And how I love sweet.  And how I loathe sweet.  I can’t seem to break my addiction!

The slaw thoughts came back to haunt me at the grocery store today. I decided that I was going to mix it up by using steamed broccoli and fresh cucumber.  I did a quick search for primal sesame vinaigrette and came across one by Primal Palate that looked to fit the bill; no sugar and a good array of ingredients to start with.

I then grabbed a pack of lamb loin chops that I thought I could figure out what to do with when I got home.  I was excited to have a dinner that was going to have a front and center veggie with a complimentary meat.

I got the dressing to my liking after a few additions to the Primal Palate recipe.  I got stuck on the lamb though.  I wanted something that was spicy but I didn’t want to replicate what I had done for the broccoli.  I decided upon coriander and cumin with some white pepper, salt & black pepper.  But I wanted something else.  I threw out the question to a new friend and he shot back with “harissa”.  And I had harissa powder in my cupboard!  Harissa is a North African blend of dried peppers.  It has some heat.  And great flavor.

I have to say, the harissa was the icing on the cake, if you will.  It held its own against the lamb flavor (not that lamb flavor is a bad thing when you’ve got good lamb) and it complimented the ginger in the veggie dressing.  The pecans in the veggie bowl had a great cooling effect to the spice of both the sesame ginger vinaigrette and the dry rub on the lamb.


Serves 2

  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger root
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp coconut vinegar
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp tamari sauce
  • 2 cups steamed broccoli florets
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large cucumber, sliced
  • 1/2 cup roasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350 to roast pecans.  Once oven is hot, roast pecans on a sheet pan for approximately 8 minutes.  Bring water to boil to steam broccoli.  Steam broccoli florets for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, depending on preferred crispness of broccoli.  Once broccoli is done steaming, run under cold water to stop cooking.

While broccoli is steaming, mix the first 9 ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Set aside to let flavors meld.  Peel and slice cucumber. Slice scallions.  Once broccoli is cooled and well-drained, divide broccoli, scallions and cucumber into 2 bowls.  Crush pecans in hand and sprinkle over the top of vegetables.  Pour dressing over veggies when ready to serve.


Serves 2

  • 2 lamb chops
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp harissa powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Let lamb chops sit at room temp for 30 to 40 minutes.

Measure cumin and coriander seeds into mortar and pestle and grind the seeds to a fine powder.  Add the white & black pepper, salt and harissa to the cumin and coriander.  Mix well.  Lightly coat both sides of lamb chops.

Melt coconut oil in a sauté pan over high heat.  Turn heat to medium high and add lamb chops to pan.  Sauté each side for 3 to 4 minutes (my chops were just over an inch thick).  Cook until preferred doneness.  Let chops rest on a plate for 2 minutes before cutting into them.


Primal Prawns (or Cauliflower) in an Indian Coconut Sauce

I was leery about this recipe.  It seemed too simple to have any flavor.  I’m used to reading and preparing Indian recipes that have at least 12 different spices.  And typically, at least 2 of the ingredients are hard to find in our small Montana city that seems to have a hard time selling even the most basic of gourmet and especially ethnic ingredients.

I was pleasantly surprised.  I’ll be honest though, I almost stopped halfway through the prepping of the dish because I was not impressed with the then flavor of the coconut milk and minced onion/garlic/ginger paste.  But, I continued on thinking that I should give it a good try given that all of the prep was done and thus I had nothing to lose.  I even went so far as to think of possible other renditions with the end result.  Oh ye of little faith!

The subtle cinnamon, cloves and cardamom melded together perfectly with the coconut milk and gingery onion.  I think the absolute trick to this recipe is to give it time to let the flavors do their thing.  As with seemingly all Indian recipes, the dish improves even more after sitting overnight.  The sauce is perfect for the shrimp in that it’s quite flavorful but does not overwhelm the shrimp or cauliflower.  This will be one dish that will continually be on my rotation of Indian go-to’s.

I want to give great credit to Meena Pathak  for the great recipes in COMPLETE INDIAN COOKING.  This recipe is an adaptation of one of her recipes and a second recipe of hers that I’ve created a post around.

Pairs great with a mild Pinot Noir (I find most Indian goes great with Pinot Noirs).


Serves 4 – 6

  • 12 oz chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1″ piece ginger, sliced
  • 2 lb large raw prawns; peeled, cleaned & deveined – or –
  • 1 head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets – or –
  • a  combination of shrimp & cauliflower
  • salt, to taste
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried bird’s eye chile
  • 2 oz Greek yogurt
  • 12 fl oz coconut milk or 4 oz coconut cream with 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup water

Place onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender and process to a FINE paste.

Smear the prawns or cauliflower with a little salt and half the turmeric.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and fry the prawns over a high heat until just golden brown.  Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves.  Reduce heat to medium high and stir spices for 2 minutes or just until they are aromatic and lightly brown.  Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion/garlic/ginger mixture to the pan.  Stir-fry for approximately 4 minutes.

Add the remaining turmeric and bird’s eye chile.  Sprinkle with a little water and stir well.  Add the yogurt and mix well.  Pour in the coconut milk/coconut cream & water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.  (At this point it is going to come down to preference of thickness.  It can be cooked longer for a thicker consistency if desired.)

Add prawns and cauliflower.  Cook for another 8 minutes for shrimp and 10 minutes for cauliflower (check for doneness of florets).

Indian Night after a Long, Dry Spell

I haven’t been making much Indian since going mostly Primal.  I think it has something to do with not having the rice and naan to go with the curries.  It’s not as though I’ve cut it out completely but it’s definitely not been in my diet as much as it was at one time.

I really enjoy making Indian.  I have accumulated a lot of the spices that are common in Indian and scoff at the “optional” entries in recipes because, 1) I have those ingredients and have a slight superiority complex come out, and 2) I can’t imagine the recipe without them because after having used them I feel like the recipe just wouldn’t be the same without them.  Curry leaves are one of those ingredients that I just can’t imagine going without when listed in a recipe.

I was going through my cookbooks this morning trying to find an Indian recipe for some goat stew meat that I had defrosted.  In addition to a crockpot recipe for the goat, I came across 2 other recipes that I had marked as wanting to try and had all of the spices on hand.  It was a great day to tinker in the kitchen given that we’ve been pretty much snowed in and it’s still too cold to go out and enjoy the outdoors.  At least in my opinion.

The two recipes are adaptations of Chicken in Cardamom Cream Sauce in “Complete Indian Cooking” by Meena Pathak to go with Sweet Potato Chaat in “American Masala” by Suvir Saran.  I felt that the sweet potato recipe would be a great accompaniment/primal substitute for basmati rice.  And I was right!  Both dishes are delish, pair well together and I didn’t even miss the rice.

One note on spices: if you can or have the time, I would recommend freshly grinding the coriander.  It’s an easy spice to grind, the little globes just simply crush in on themselves.  The difference between store bought and freshly ground coriander is significant.  And this can make your dish that much more stellar!

I prepped my Chaat root vegetables and started roasting them when I started the Chicken Cardamom recipe.


Serves 4

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp freshly ground coriander
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 12 oz boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2″ to 1″ cubes
  • 200 ml cream
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp coconut sugar
  • salt

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom pods and bay leaves.  Turn heat to medium and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until they begin to crackle, approximately 10 minutes.

Add the ground coriander and canned tomatoes and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the diced chicken and fry, stirring continuously for 5 minutes.

Add the single cream, ground cardamom, fenugreek leaves and garam masala.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add coconut sugar and salt to taste.  Serve alongside Chaat Roasted Vegetables.

Chaat Spiced Roasted Vegetables

Serves 6

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  • 3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp roasted cumin seeds, ground
  • 2 Tbsp Chaat masala
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1 lime

Toast cumin seeds in a small cast iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat.  They are done when they are lightly brown and smell fragrant.  Let cool before grinding.

Prep the vegetables, adding others if you see fit.  Beets might be a good option.  Place vegetables in a large mixing bowl.

Mix the dry spices together in a small mixing bowl.

Drizzle olive oil over vegetables.  Stir vegetables so that they are evenly coated.  Sprinkle some of the spice mixture over vegetables.  Turn vegetables to spread the seasoning evenly on the vegetables.  Do not feel that you have to use all of the spice, I kept some back to use for later.

Line a sheet pan with tin foil or parchment paper.  Spread your vegetables evenly over the sheet pan.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Stir vegetables and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and lightly brown.  Remove from the oven and squeeze 1/2 to 1 full lime over the vegetables depending on your flavor preference.


My how time has flown by!  I am posting this recipe because I am so jacked that I have been able to re-create one of my favorite comfort foods into a satisfying primal meal, with “ketchup” sauce on top to … Continue reading

Primal Eating

Back in July, my friend Jenny came home from a work function where she had run into a co-worker that she hadn’t seen in a while.  The co-worker had lost weight and Jenny asked her how she had done it.  The co-worker referred Jenny to the website Mark’s Daily Apple.

Jenny told me and a few other girlfriends about the site. I immediately checked it out and liked what I found. The idea is to live “primally”, emulating our long ago ancestors through diet and exercise.

I got serious about primal eating at the beginning of August when I got back from Sayulita, Mexico. I cut out all grains, most starches and legumes, and as much sugar as I could. I noticed a dramatic effect in my feelings of satiety, energy and well being. I simply felt content.  And I wasn’t so bloated.

I am still eating a primal diet consisting of lots of organic greens and vegetables, grass fed meats from local producers and berries for my fruit. I cook with bacon fat, coconut oil and a little bit of olive oil.

In transitioning to this lifestyle, I have had great adventures in learning to cook differently so that I am not consuming the grains and starches that I was habitually consuming through breads, crackers, potatoes and beans.

One such recipe is shepherd’s pie. It’s a dish that I tend to make every fall when there is a bounty of game meat that I receive from hunting friends. That and the amazing fall harvest produce that is available at the farmer’s market and from my garden.

The top of the shepherd’s pie is generally made with potatoes and the “gravy” for the filling made with flour. Well, that needed to be changed. This recipe is based loosely on one that was posted on Mark’s Daily Apple by Cherie Randall.  You may notice that the topping is very similar to my cauliflower parsnip gratin in my post “What’s for Dinner? 11/8/2009”.  It is Cherie’s post that got me rolling on the gratin creation.  Thanks Cherie!


Serves 6 – 8


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-3 tablespoons cream (optional)
  • salt & pepper taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided into 1 tbsp each
  • 1 beet, peeled and cubed into ¼ “ cubes
  • 2-3 parsnips, peeled, cut into 1” lengths, the fatter lengths then quartered
  • 2-3 carrots, cut into 1” lengths, the fatter lengths then quartered
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground grass-fed beef, bison, goat, antelope, etc.
  • 1 tablespoon almond flour
  • 3/4 cup beef, veggie or chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons butter


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Break the cauliflower into chunky pieces and steam until just tender, approximately 10-12 minutes.

While cauliflower is steaming, heat butter in small saucepan over medium low heat.  Add garlic to the butter and keep on low heat, infusing the butter with the garlic flavor.  Don’t get the butter too hot or it will burn the garlic.  Let the garlic and butter mixture sit on low heat for approx 4-5 minutes, swirling the mixture on occasion.

Put the cauliflower in the food processor with the garlic butter and grated parmesan and process until smooth. At this point, you may want to add cream to give it a smoother consistency.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

Heat 1 tbsp butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add beet cubes and toss to coat with the butter.  Cook beets, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned and just fork tender.  Place beets into a medium bowl and return pan to heat.  Add the remaining 2 tbsp butter and add the parsnips and carrots.  Toss to coat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until slightly browned and just fork tender.  Add to the beets.  (It’ll take about 15 minutes to cook each the beets and the carrots/parsnips.  Don’t turn the heat up too high otherwise you’ll brown the veggies before they are done on the inside.) (Don’t over cook the veggies either, you want them just fork tender because they’ll continue cooking in the pie mixture as well and “finish”).

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté several minutes until soft. Add beef and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring to break up the meat so it browns evenly. Add beet/parsnip/carrot mixture and cook another five minutes.

Stir in the almond flour. Add broth and herbs and reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from skillet and put into a medium glass or metal casserole dish. Spread the cauliflower over the top.

Scatter 2 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces on top of the cauliflower. Bake 30-35 minutes until top is browned in places and pie mixture is steaming hot.