Make it your own. Cooking paleo-styles doesn’t have to be all that difficult. It is quite simple actually. Read on to see how easy it can be. This may be especially helpful to you if you are new to paleo. Substituting for paleo ingredients is highly doable in most cases. Take an old family recipe and make it your own. Grab a friend’s go-to dish and make it your own. Spruce up a meal idea from your past, by adding a new somethin’-somethin’ and make it your own. Shake up meals that you see being prepared on T.V, by mixin’ and matchin’ and make it your own. Or…….even try, transforming an entree from your favourite restaurant and make it your own. Have a looksy at a recipe from a cookbook and make it your own. Add in your own twist or flair, to make it unique. ‘Own it’, by adding in ingredients that suit your tastes and desires. ‘Own it’ by being upfront and giving credit, when and where credit is due. When inspired by someone or something, be sure to make note. Although most of the dishes I make, I think up on my own or create by throwing random ingredients together…this one was not a PALEOdISH ‘original’ to speak .
I purposely choose to post this one because – a) I love it so much and b) – knew the initial ‘store-bought version’ (source of my inspiration) wasn’t fully paleo. It was my mission then, to make a more paleo-ish recipe. You can do this too! Why re-invent the wheel!?! Let’s face it, we have all done this before. Is it copying? Naww…not in my books. Again, just be sure to show appreciation and acknowledgment towards the ‘thing’ or the ‘being’ that gave you the idea in the first place.
I first tried this salad quite some time ago (last year), when I was competing in the Element CrossFit Challenge. We were running behind and crunched for time…(as per usual), so I decided to pick up a few things to bring with me from the grocery store down the street. I walked in…did my littl’ stroll about and grabbed some ‘sweet potato salad’ from the “meal-to-go counter” (some of you from Toronto, may know the salad I am talking about – think Loblaw’s or ValuMart). In my mind, I thought this would be a quick, easy and yummy ‘post-wod’ meal. So off I went…and was good to go.
Since then, I have been meaning to ask them what the exact ingredients were…and from there, substitute ‘this and that’ in order to make my own. So, this is exactly what I did. Many people are hestitant or afraid to ask store owners, farmers, restaurant managers etc…what is in their food! Don’t be! Most places have the information readily available and are happy to provide it to you. Alright, on with the story…I proceeded to ask the young lady behind the counter and she responded by pulling out a big binder from beside the meat slicer. She flipped to the appropriate page and rhymed off the goods…the salad included: sweet potatoes, green onions, cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds, minced garlic, cilantro, canola oil, balsamic vinegar, mixed herbs, salt and pepper….and SUGAR.
After reading/hearing the list of ingredients, I thought to myself…meh…not too…TOO bad, but I can def make it more paleo and geared towards my taste buds. So this is what I did. I was influenced by the basic foundation for the recipe, so I obviously stuck with the roasted sweet potatoes and green onions, but made the following modifications. I took out the dried fruit…and added bacon. Why bacon? Well because it is wicked in damn near everything. Then I threw in pumpkin seeds, rather than sunflower. I wanted to try pine nuts, but they were nowhere to be found! Kept the garlic, but roasted the cloves instead. Yum! Switched the cilantro for fresh dill, because it is my fav! Ixnayed the canola and opted for olive oil instead. Stayed on par with a splash of balsamic and a sprinkle or two of sea salt and fresh ground pep. However, gave the mixed dried herbs the boot and added in some chili flakes instead, to kick it up a notch. I totally garbaged the sugar, while wondering why it was really even in there in the first place!?! Oh ya…I also squeezed in some fresh lime juice, because lately it goes in just about everything!!!
As you can see, a few minor changes here and there, but they def made a noticeable and fairly drastic change in the end product’s taste. I would have to say that the 3 ingredients that altered it the most were – the bacon, the fresh dill and pepper flakes. The roasted garlic was a close 4th, as that flavour was more prominent in my concoction. Again, back to the real purpose of my post. I wanted to show you that recipes are ever-changing. One individual person does not ‘own’ the only ‘egg frittata’, ‘beef stew’ or sole ‘roasted chicken’ recipe. Be creative, don’t over-think it and experiment with an array of amazing substitutes. Cooking can be an old pastime, a new venture or something to be shared among family and friends. Find a way to make it your own. Make it fit your lifestyle. More importantly, find a way to make it enjoyable. It is possible…explore a little.
the gal who never used to like to cook
- 3 medium sweet potatoes - chopped and roasted
- 4 cloves of garlic - chopped and roasted
- olive oil for roasting and dressing
- 8 slices of thick bacon - cooked and ripped into pieces
- 2 limes - freshly squeezed juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 green onions - thinly chopped
- a handful of fresh dill - chopped
- a dash or two of pepper flakes (optional)
- a few sprinkles of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- garnish with a handful of raw pumpkin seeds
- arrange slices of bacon on a tin foil-covered baking sheet and cook for 25-30 mins at 375 heat - keep an eye on it, as thickness of the bacon can vary cooking time
- when cooked, set aside to cool
- next, peel and chop sweet potatoes and garlic into cubed-like chunks
- toss in some olive/coconut oil and arrange on another baking sheet and roast for 30 mins or so at the same heat, until slightly browned
- remove and set aside to cool
- in the meantime, chop up green onion, fresh dill and prepare the other ingredients to form the dressing mixture in a bowl. Stir all dressing ingredients together.
- once the roasted sweet potatoes and garlic are cooled, proceed by adding in bacon pieces.
- finally, pour in dressing and mix everything together thoroughly - I like to use my hands here to make sure all is coated well!
- garnish with raw pumpkin seeds or other nut/seed of choice
- can be stored in refrigerator and is even more delicious and flavourful if served cold the next day!
Lastly, I want to leave you with a fabulous post by Mark Sisson, who outlines and discusses various Primal Substitues for Non-Primal Foods. Enjoy!