Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Many of us started a month of Strict Paleo eating (aka Whole30) recently. This recipe for Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus helped our family get through day one and we hope it will find its way into one of your meals soon. One thing is clear, following a paleo way of eating is not going to mean deprivation. Just look at our breakfast. I mean, really. This is good stuff.

prosciutto-wrapped asparagus

Before getting to the recipe I wanted to mention G’s last post. In it, my husband wrote about his fall off the “paleo wagon”. In order to enter his giveaway he asked that readers include a comment on one of their New Year’s resolutions. It’s been really interesting reading the comments and I know many of you are excited, like we are, to start with a clean slate in the New Year. Several people noted their resistance to making “resolutions” feeling this could be a set-up for failure. Instead, there are lots of people who set “goals” which is probably a better way to look at it. No matter what time of year, it’s always a good idea to strive for health and wellness.

Here are some highlights of comments we’ve seen so far:

  • Loss weight and/or add muscle
  • Complete a month of strict paleo eating (Whole30) without cheating
  • “Run an 8 minute mile”
  • “To believe in myself”
  • “Make our children healthier”
  • Be able to “keep up with” kids and grandkids
  • One random act of kindness once a week
  • and many more…

I’m really glad G posed the question because we have enjoyed reading the responses very much. So thank you to all who have participated so far. (There’s still time to enter as of this writing!)

Now for the recipe for these tasty morsels!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus:

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G’s New Year’s Paleo Resolution plus a Giveaway

(G’s New Year’s Paleo Resolution Giveaway is now closed. The three winners are listed at the end of this post.)

About two years ago, my wife Lea started “eating Paleo” in an effort to alleviate some health-related issues which she believed were possibly caused by certain kinds of food, like gluten. Partly to be supportive, and partly because she does most of the shopping and all of the cooking, I went along. I mean, really…what choice did I have?

To my surprise (admittedly, I was skeptical), the new way of eating proved wildly successful for her and for myself. When combined with a regular regimen of Yoga, walking, and occasional sprinting, I shed the pounds quickly! Without much real effort and a lot of tasty meals, I was able to see a “1” followed by a “6” on my bathroom scale for the first time since I was in high school over two decades earlier.

I was very proud of myself; I looked good, and I felt great. I celebrated my discipline at being able to cut out sweets and bread, and to eat well at work as well as at home. My wife applauded my resolve. Things were going great! Until…

The fall off the “paleo wagon”

…Something happened. I don’t know when, but it happened just the same. Slowly but surely, the carbs returned – a little bread here, a slice of pizza there. And of course, there was the beer. As you may have noticed from some of my beer reviews, I love the stuff. So…bread, pizza, beer…and two years later, it’s all back, and then some.

G contemplates his fall off the paleo wagon. (At "Grounds for Sculpture" in New Jersey)

G contemplates his fall off the paleo wagon. (At “Grounds for Sculpture” in New Jersey)


Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not fat. I don’t think I’m even chubby…but I am overweight, and I don’t like it. So, in an attempt to regain my previously trim physique, I am willfully joining my wife on the Strictly Paleo Plan for the month of January 2013. I’m hoping to not only lose weight and get back in shape, but to re-establish those good food and exercise habits that worked so well when we first “went Paleo” back in 2010.

Wish me luck! I’ll need it…


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The Strictly Paleo Plan

When I first discovered the Paleo lifestyle in February of 2011 I dove in headfirst and completed a strict Paleo eating plan for the first 30 days. My motivation was to figure out if what I was eating might be contributing to my fibromyalgia, fatigue, chronic respiratory infections and depression. I was already fairly lean but not especially healthy and I was frustrated with doctors who could not explain my symptoms. All my tests were normal and yet I was NOT okay. With the new year I am starting another “reset” by going Strictly Paleo© and thought it would be helpful to others to outline exactly what this means.

During my previous “experiment” I discovered certain food groups had been negatively impacting my health. The changes I have seen and felt since going Paleo have been pretty dramatic. If you have any unexplained aches and pains, inflammation, allergies, skin or digestive problems or other ailments or if you simply cannot manage to lose weight or keep it off you should seriously consider how the food you eat may be impacting your health. A Strictly Paleo reset may be just what you need to change your life.

What is Strictly Paleo©?

Most simply stated, Strictly Paleo means eating real food that excludes certain potentially problematic food groups for an experimental elimination period of at least 30 days.

What you DO eat:

  • Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fats from nuts, seeds and fruits

Here’s a handy guide to help with shopping.

What you DO NOT eat: Continue reading

Fried Sweet Plantains

Plantains are not a food I grew up eating in Texas. In fact, the first time I ate plantains was in a Cuban restaurant just a few years ago. But eating a Paleo diet means no grains or legumes so I have been trying a few new foods to fill in the gaps. My problem with plantains has been in trying to judge their state of ripeness and then cooking them properly.

Plantains, which are a staple food in tropical regions of the world, are usually inexpensive. I have purchased them for as little as $0.19/lb. at Costco. They are similar to bananas but are usually larger, firmer and lower in sugar. Plantains have about 220 calories and are high in potassium and fiber. The taste and texture varies dramatically with their state of ripeness. And unlike bananas, which are usually eaten raw, plantains are ordinarily cooked. When they are green, plantains have a taste and texture similar to potatoes and can be used in much the same way. White potatoes are excluded from the Paleo Diet. They are also categorized as a “nightshade” which can be problematic for anyone with an autoimmune disease. Plantains can be a good alternative to white potatoes. But when they are allowed to ripen fully (which I have found can take quite a while) plantains are very sweet and make a good dessert ingredient.

After a few mishaps I have finally figured out how to cook them in their ripe state. I do not like overripe bananas. By the time they are almost black, bananas are gross. But plantains are good up until they are almost completely black. The following recipe is to be used only with very ripe plantains (dark yellow with speckles and black spots). It is very simple, takes only a few minutes to prepare and is 100% Paleo. I like it as a dessert or as a part of breakfast.

2 very ripe plantains
3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)

Peel the plantains, cut them in half and then half again lengthwise. Heat the coconut oil in a wide bottomed pan on medium-high heat for a minute or two. Gently place the plantains in the pan and sauté on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Turn the plantains over, add the water and cover and simmer on low for another 8-10 minutes or until soft all the way through. Once the plantains have cooked down and the water has been absorbed, sprinkle with cinnamon on all sides. Serve warm.


Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

Kale Salad LR

While the squash and zucchini plants have suffered some damage from the dreaded vine borers, the kale plants are still going strong.  I used to say “I don’t DO kale” but have come around to the dark green side in a major way.  The following recipe came to mind when I realized that one of the benefits of kale is its ability to stand up to heavier sauces in its raw state.  Warm bacon dressing is used with spinach in part because it tastes good and also because spinach is more substantial than lettuce and can tolerate that type of dressing. Kale is even more hearty so I decided to try out a warm andouille sausage dressing that would match up well with the texture and taste of this particular green.

Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

G and I have been getting very comfortable with the concept of eating “dinner for breakfast” so it no longer seems weird to us to have kale in the morning.  This recipe also calls for fried eggs which is something easy to make in the morning and it really goes well with the salad.  G doesn’t like the egg on top of the salad and just eats it separately.  Personally, I think the egg on top is delicious and the egg yolk adds a nice creaminess to the dressing.

Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

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Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic is a classic French dish. This Paleo version of the recipe stands out in my mind as one of the all time biggest hits with my husband. The first time he tried it he could not stop remarking, in between bites, on how good it was. Even if garlic is not your favorite ingredient do not let this recipe scare you off. The cooking process involves boiling, frying and simmering the garlic which leaves the cloves very mildly pungent, sweet and tender. In fact, they practically disintegrate by the end of the cooking process leaving the sauce with a wonderfully rich flavor. The dish works well with “Cauliflower Rice”. I discovered that adding some of the resulting sauce to the cauliflower made it especially good. One bonus with these two dishes is you can make both of them ahead of time and reheat before serving. This is a simplified, crock pot and Paleo version of the classic Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic based on one by Ina Garten sans the butter, cream and flour.


  • 3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
  • 2 (3 1/2 pound) chickens, cut into eighths
  • Celtic Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fat (ghee, lard, tallow, etc…)
  • 3 tablespoons Cognac
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (optional)
  1. Separate the cloves of garlic (don’t peel them) and drop them in a pot of boiling water for about 60-90 seconds. Strain the garlic out, allow to cool slightly and then peel. Set aside.
  2. Dry the chicken and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the 3 tablespoons of fat in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the chicken, skin side down, until browned, about 3 minutes on each side.
  3. When a batch is done, transfer to a large crock pot and continue the process until all the chicken is browned.
  4. Add all the garlic to the pot containing the fat. Lower the heat and sauté for about 10 minutes, turning the garlic, until evenly cooked and browned.
  5. Add the Cognac and white wine and return to a boil, scraping any of the browned pieces off the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add the thyme leaves and pour the entire pan of garlic and liquid over the chicken in the crock pot.
  7. Cook on low heat for 6 hours.
  8. When ready to serve, remove the chicken from the crock pot to a large serving platter. Taste the sauce at this point and add in some Celtic Sea Salt (or table salt) and pepper to taste. If the sauce is not thick enough for your preference I recommend adding 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder at this point. Arrowroot tends to lose its ability to thicken if cooked. But adding it at the end, after the sauce has cooled down, seems to work well. Personally, I thought the sauce was fine without being thickened. Especially because I used some of it to flavor the “Cauliflower Rice” dish that I served with the chicken.
Alternate Instructions
If you want to make this dish all in one evening and serve it for dinner, rather than transferring the chicken to a crock pot,
  1. Place the chicken on a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
  2. Once all the chicken is cooked and the sauce is prepared add the chicken back into the large pot or Dutch oven and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes until the chicken is done.
  3. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and cook the sauce down to your preferred consistency and season to taste. You can use an immersion blender to purée the garlic which will thicken the sauce. If you prefer an even thicker sauce it would be at this point the arrowroot could be added before pouring it over the chicken.
Bon appetit mon cavepeople!