Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grilled guacamole

Avocados.  I didn't start eating them until I was 32.  And at that point I could only tolerate a few slices on a bacon cheese burger covered in blue cheese dressing.  When "J" started eating solid foods one of the first and still to this day favorite is avocados.  She can eat them directly out of the skin-no salt, no pepper, no hot sauce, just plain old avocado in a primal fashion.

Enjoy this guacamole with corn chips, next to your steak, on top of your burger or just eat straight out of the serving bowl with a spoon. Traditionally a jalapeno is also mixed in...but with a three year old I cut it out of the recipe.

This is a non measured "add X" amount recipe.  Sorry.

Ingredients: (makes serving for 2 adults and 1-3 yo)
2 Avocados
1/4 onion chopped (or grill a couple of round slices and then chop)
1 lime (but I use 2 because I like the extra lime juice flavor)
Cilantro (small bunch) chopped
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

1 small tomato diced and added to mix
1 jalapeno (grilled and seeds removed) chopped
Hot sauce

1. Heat grill

2. Slice avocado in a long quarters i.e. top to bottom leaving skin on
3. Slice limes in half
4. When grill is hot place avocado and limes over medium to high heat for about 3 minutes
5. As items grill flip gently with a bbq spatula
6. Once the avocados get grill marks, like a steak, on both sides remove from heat - the limes should be done about the same time
7. Remove avocado skins and mash
8. Squeeze limes over the mash (I prefer to use a hand lemon/lime juicer)
9. Add the onions and cilantro to the mash and mix together with a fork (along with any other optional ingredients)
10. Enjoy! Add salt and pepper to adjust for your liking.

Sidenote-"N" prefers to chill the mash before eating.  I'm happy with it hot or cold.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Grilled romaine wraps with bacon, onions, blue cheese and reduced balsamic

Damn these were good!  I am using an iPhone to take the pictures and the pictures do not do justice to the flavor of this meal.

Since eliminating gluten from my diet lettuce has become my official wrap for In&Out burgers and sandwiches.  This week I was inspired to grill romaine as another alternative for bread like products (tacos, burritos, bun).  With the dense leaves I figured worst case I could throw the outside leaves away while salvaging the inner lettuce guts.  This was not necessary.  They outside leaves were slightly wrinkled and softened while the inside stayed crunchy.  The grill flavor was so good and I envision more grilled romaine meals using ground burger, lamb, feta cheese, salsa...stay tuned for other ideas.

Ingredients: (assume 1 romaine lettuce per person)
Romaine lettuce
Bacon (2 slices per person)
Onion (1/4 cup per person)
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Blue Cheese - crumbled
  1. Heat grill
  2. Dice bacon and onion, add to fry pan and cook over medium heat until the onion is browned and bacon slightly crunchy - set pan contents aside

3. Add about 1/3 cup balsamic to fry pan and heat over a medium heat - the vinegar will bubble and slowly thicken up.  Do not overcook it as it turns into a taffy like substance.

4. Cut romaine lettuce in half and coat the inside with olive oil

5. Place lettuce on grill and monitor closely.  Turn often and remove from grill when browned and outer leaves wilted.

6. Place two halves on a plate.  Top the lettuce with bacon, onions and crumbles of blue cheese.  Drizzle the reduced balsamic vinegar on top and enjoy.

On an interesting side note, my cross country truck driving friend Steve is starting the Primal diet.  His challenge we be finding places to eat primal while on the road.  I am going to work on simple meals that he can cook on the small propane grill he is adding to his gear.  If you want to minimize your efforts, you could cook this meal all on the grill.  Grill the bacon crunchy-set aside.  Grill the onion by cutting it in rings, covering in olive oil (or butter) - set aside.  Reduce the balsamic in a small cast iron pan over the grill or not reduce it at all.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Can bitter lemonade still make a happy family?

"J" is taking on a whole new interest in food.  In some of the pictures you will see her three year old hands doing the work; mashing the bananas, squeezing the lemons or mixing the sugar solutions.  I'm probably breaking child labor laws but she voluntarily participates.  She even vacuums but that is another post.  Occasionally I will catch her eating whatever we are making or shopping for.  Just the other day she was eating raw kale while we shopped!

Yesterday, while "N" was running errands,  we made homemade lemonade.  The recipe calls for approx. 1/2 cup (24 teaspoons) of sugar...being the anti sugar dad we added 5 teaspoons.  Yes it was BITTER but you would have never known based on "J's" reaction.  Being a beautiful southern California day we decided to drink it on the front porch.  While sipping she glowed with pride.  When "N" got home from errands "J" told her how she squeezed (and ate) the lemons, mixed the sugar, added the ice...and this morning when "J" finished the last glass over lunch she asked when we were going to make some more.

Kind of Primal (egg free) pancakes

Besides for the occasional bite of pizza, a couple of strands of pasta and emergency tortilla wrap, wheat products have been out of my diet for over a year.  However these pancakes we devised for "J's" egg allergy are pretty good and I've become addicted to a couple (slathered in butter and almond butter) a week.  The mix is commercially produced and I've discovered when I eat wheat/gluten I tolerate bleached flour products better than whole wheat products.

(You can read more about the wheat health issues in Mark Sisson's book available at amazon through this link The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy.)

The recipe is pretty simple and slowest part is cooking the pancake mix.  Some days I will get out my two burner griddle but most of the time I use a small, flat fry pan.  The mix is pretty thick and I recommend keeping the pancake sizes to about that of a soda pop can circumference.  Anything bigger takes too long to cook and the outside burns.

Ingredients: (For 8 small pancakes - feeds my family of 2 adults and 1 3yo) 20 mins start to clean up
1 Banana
2/3 cup of bisquick
2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream

Optional: mix in if you want
Chocolate chips
Blue berries

  1. Put pan over medium heat
  2. Mash banana in a bowl with a fork until consistent with baby food
  3. Add bisquick mix to bowl
  4. Add cream to bowl
  5. Mix together until the dry ingredients are wet
  6. Check heat of pan by dropping a little bit (water hanging off your finger) of water onto the pan-if the water sizzles and dances the pan is hot enough - adjust heat if necessary
  7. Add a little bit of butter onto pan and swish around
  8. Using a measuring cup pour pancake mix onto pan to form small pancakes
  9. Cook until the mix bubbles and there is adequate firmness to flip over
  10. Cook other side and serve
Without the egg, and by adding the banana, the pancakes will not cook the golden brown we have all become accustomed to.  Let me know how you like the flavor.

The first photo is from breakfast today.  Apples for the ears and arms, crispy bacon for the legs, blue berries for the eyes, raspberry for the nose, almond butter for hair and chocolate chips for the mouth (added after pancake was cooked). 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wow-Kale can taste good

Kale-the next miracle veggie?  Whole Foods ranks it high on their list of best foods.  But most often kale is used as a decoration in the salad bar.  Kale can be grilled, roasted, boiled, sauteed, blended into soups, chopped raw into a salad...

Cooked properly kale can be a great side dish, cold snack or even a wrap for a turkey & cheese sandwich.  Today's recipe is inspired by the great southern Cal weather, cool evening beach breeze and awesome smell of grilled steaks.  I enjoyed the Kale with the ribeye steaks last night however the Kale was even better cold the next day as a snack.  After sitting overnight in the fridge, the usually rough center stem was softer and had a great smokey flavor.

Overall cook and prep time - 3 minutes (assuming you have a hot grill)

1 bunch of Kale from the supermarket (About $1-1.50)
Olive oil

Garlic Salt
Seasoned Olive Oil


  1. Heat grill
  2. Wash kale and dry
  3. Place kale in a round bowl and drizzle with olive oil...I cover half the olive oil opening as I pour the oil onto whatever I'm drizzling 
  4. Add salt/garlic salt onto the kale
  5. Place kale on grill over a high heat 
  6. Monitor the kale and minimize olive oil flare ups - turn often using tongs like OXO Good Grips 16-Inch Locking Tongs
  7. Once the OUTER kale leaves start to wilt/brown/crispy and the overall body shrivels up, remove from the grill
  8. I usually slice the kale in half and serve the upper half stem and leaves.  The lower half I cut the leaves off and do not serve the lower is too tough.
I just realized my chicken with prosciutto, basil and cheese pictures did not post.  I will add those to the previous post.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Paneed chicken with prosciutto, basil and cheese toppings

I love to cook with cast iron.  Cast iron Lodge Logic L14SK3 Pre-Seasoned 15 Inch Cast-Iron Skilletcan quickly transfer from the stove to the oven/broiler to finish off this meal.  Depending on the number of servings you may need to use a cookie sheet to finish this recipe.  The recipe assumes you are using an oven safe pan.

What is paneed?  Years ago while traveling cross country my wife and I had a few days in New Orleans....this was way before Katrina.  Our waiter, "Bear", was asked what is paneed?  His response, "Chicken cooked in a pan." The place was so good we returned the next night.  I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant.

Prep and cook time: About 20 mins

Lodge Logic L14SK3 Pre-Seasoned 15 Inch Cast-Iron SkilletIngredients: (for 1)
1 chicken breast (or two/three skinless/boneless chicken thighs)
Slice(s) of prosciutto or ham large enough to cover chicken
Handful of basil (love my plant growing on our deck)
Handful of cheese (sharper is better) to cover chicken
2-3 tablespoons of butter
Salt (I prefer fresh ground sea salt)

1/4 cup Bread crumbs (gluten free is preferred or Ian's Natural Food Panko Breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup Heavy cream


  1. Heat pan 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Place chicken in a heavy duty plastic bag
  4. Place bag on a cutting board and cover with a kitchen towel 
  5. Now comes the fun part, pound the chicken flat...use a meat tenderizer, can of food, bottle of wine, rolling pin, whatever you have that is heavy - should need about a dozen hits  
  6. Add butter to pan and melt over medium heat
  7. Pour bread crumbs into a bowl and season with sea salt
  8. Pour 1/4 cup of cream into a bowl, remove chicken from bag and drench in cream
  9. Transfer creamed chicken into the bread crumbs bowl and cover chicken with bread crumbs
  10. Place chicken into pan of hot, melted butter 
  11. Cook chicken for about three minutes over medium heat and then flip, cooking for about another three minutes (cook time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken)
  12. Turn off heat
  13. Place prosciutto on top of chicken, then basil leaves and finally a hand full of cheese (This picture is extra breasts I broiled on a cookie sheet)
  14. Place pan in oven and turn on broiler
  15. Broiler for about two minutes until the cheese is melted, slightly browned and bubbling (Love using cast iron)
You can skip 7-9 (the creaming and bread crumbing of the chicken) if you wish to avoid the carbs/gluten/wheat.  Just season the chicken with a little salt when you add it to the pan

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Carbonara (Primal and pasta options)

Carbonara is a rich, creamy pasta sauce.  Traditionally it is served over fettucini with a raw egg on top.  For this recipe the egg and peas are optional along with the pasta.  I use the zucchini as the pasta replacement for my primal diet.

Ingredients: (for 1 serving)
2 slices of bacon diced (I use Fresh and Easy sodium nitrate free bacon)
1/4 onion diced
1 tablespoon of butter (if I am out of butter or want more bacon flavor I use bacon grease)
1 zucchini sliced into long pieces
3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

1/4 to 1/2 cup of frozen peas
Serving of pasta


  1. Start heating pan (if you are making pasta start that now by following the pasta directions - delay starting the sauce a few minutes to ensure pasta is done at same time as sauce)
  2. Dice bacon and onions
  3. Add butter/bacon grease to pan and allow to melt
  4. Add bacon and onion and cook on medium heat for about two minutes-stir with wooden spoon 
  5. Add zucchini and cook on medium for about four minutes until it starts to brown - season with salt 
  6. Add heavy cream (and peas) and turn up heat 
  7. Stir as cream boils and thickens - about 2 minutes - DO NOT over heat cream 
  8. When cream thickens turn off heat 
  9. Add egg (optional)
  10. Add pasta (optional)
  11. Serve in a pre-warmed bowl
  12. Grate fresh parmesan using Zyliss 11370 Classic Rotary-Style Cheese Grater

Pasta Version

Primal Version

      Tuesday, June 21, 2011

      About Happy Food Happy Family

      About me

      Amateur foodie who likes to eat well along with being a father to a little girl with a life threatening egg allergy.

      I believe food heals the body and soul more than most medicine. 

      The goal of my blog is to help YOU eat better.

      History of food

      Traditionally meals were eaten with the extended family, neighbors and village.  While chewing on a piece of the hunt or harvest, stories told, companionship shared and new legends born. 

      Our new, and acceptable busy lifestyles have us eating out of a greasy paper bag, frozen box or just add water pouch.  This food is loaded with sugar, preservatives and modified ingredients. Are we really supposed to be eating sawdust (cellulose), industrial modified fats (partially hydrogenated oils/trans fats) or enzyme enriched corn syrup (high fructose corn syrup)?

      Moving forward

      Need help understanding how food affects you, what you should be eating or how to take better care of yourself through diet?  Then check out Mark Sisson’s book The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy  or Robb Wolf’s book The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet  Both books will shock your diet conscious, challenge the traditional food pyramid and improve your health.  Start getting better today by purchasing these books.

      Eating well doesn’t take much work.  Sitting down as a family or with friends does not have to be a drawn out, scheduling three weeks out, type event.  This blog will help you achieve better meals through proper planning, alternative cooking techniques and combining quality ingredients. 

      Disclaimer-I am not a classically trained chef nor will I guarantee everything will taste good to you (however my three year old enjoys my garlic butter brussels sprouts). 

      Ask yourself is the time to create and enjoy a wholesome, family type meal worth the time you will lose by eating poorly?