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Mixed Green Salad with Chevre and Pecans

This is the base for my slow roasted duck salad, but would also make a great side salad or with any other protein added. I know, cheese is verboten for paleo eaters and can be omitted. However, a small amount of herbed chevre (goat cheese) makes a delightful creamy accent to this salad.

For the salad:
1 large bunch of mixed greens
1 handful of plum tomatoes, halved
1/2 yellow or red pepper, diced into small pieces
1-2 tablespoons herbed chevre (optional)
1-2 tablespoons pecans
1 tablespoon dried cranberries or cherries (I combined the last 2 ingredients with a pre-packaged snack, pictured below)

For the dressing:
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic or apple cider vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 shallot
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
herbs and seasonings to taste (I used rosemary garlic finishing salt)
optional: 2-3 drops liquid stevia
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: add 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast and 1 tablespoon chia seeds to thicken and boost nutritional value

Add the salad ingredients together, along with the roasted duck or other topping.

This combination was perfect on the duck salad
This combination was perfect on the duck salad

Put the salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar and blend them with an immersion blender (or just blend in a regular blender if you don’t have an immersion blender). Coat the salad ingredients with the dressing, toss, and serve immediately.

Duck Salad With Herbed Chevre and Pecans
Duck Salad With Herbed Chevre and Pecans

Slow Cooker Lamb Stew

This is a hearty dish that holds up well in a slow cooker. Adapted from Nicki’s Indian Lamb Stew recipe (Paleo Slow Cooking cookbook).

1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
4 lbs boneless leg of lamb
1/2 oz dried mushroom medley or your favorite dried mushrooms
2 cinnamon sticks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced

Cut the lamb into stew-sized chunks, trimming excess fat. Grind dried mushrooms (I use a mason jar and immersion blender) into a rough powder and use your hands to coat the lamb with the mushroom powder.

Mushroom coated lamb
Mushroom coated lamb

With a paper towel, lightly coat the inside of your slow cooker with the coconut oil or ghee. Place the cinnamon sticks on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the lamb. Chop the carrots and onions and add on top of the lamb. Mince the garlic and ginger and place on top of the vegetables, then add the remaining spices.

Everything in the Slow Cooker
Everything in the Slow Cooker

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Ladled over Cauliflower Rice – Yum!
Ladled over Cauliflower Rice – Yum!

This is great served over Cauliflower Rice! And it tastes even better the next day.

Superfood Chocolate Bars

My friend Jody came by last night and showed me how to make homemade chocolate and now I’m obsessed! Using antioxident and mineral rich cacao and maca powders are the key. Jody was moving pretty fast and there was not a lot of measuring, but the results were AMAZING! Using high quality, organic, nutrient-rich superfoods, herbs and spices elevate this “treat” into an evolved guilt-free superfood. You’re welcome.


2 cups chunks of cacao butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup (adjust for taste/preference)
1 cup organic raw cacao powder
1 cup superfood herbs – this is where you can get creative. We used approximately the following measurements: 2 tablespoons each of maca, cinnamon, lucuma, mucuna (just a tablespoon), shiitake mushroom powder [makes it creamy], rice bran with tocotrienlos [not “paleo” but this is Jody’s recipe and he says it has lots of Vitamin E; it does not have the carbohydrate part of rice] and mesquite powders.*
Pinch of sea salt
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional but adds a great spicy kick)
Dash of cardamom
Dash of nutmeg

Whisk together the dry ingredients together in a large glass bowl, reserving some to add later if needed for consistency. Gently melt cacao butter and coconut oil over a double boiler (or in a bowl over simmering water). Once liquified, stir the vanilla and maple syrup into the oils.

You will need some kind of molds. Silicone molds are the best, but any plastic will work also, such as empty yogurt or cream cheese containers (wipe with a paper towel in coconut oil to make it non stick).

Add the oil to the powder and whisk together. You won’t have much time before the chocolate cools.

Adding the oil to the powder
Adding the oil to the powder

Whisk until the consistency is smooth and creamy, like a thicker cake batter, not grainy, for a few minutes. If it is too thin, add powder that you reserved until it thickens up.

You want it to look like this
You want it to look like this

Spoon the mixture into your silicone molds, not very high. I’d say chocolate bar height . . .  hahaha

Chocolate poured into molds
Chocolate poured into molds

Refrigerate for about an hour, then pop them out of the molds and store in the fridge in an airtight container until you eat them up.


*Variations: I would say if you just used the items in bold you would be just fine if you don’t plan on investing in all these other powders. Or invest in them and add them to your morning smoothies. Or you can add macadamia nut chunks! Goji berries! Dried cherries! Just make the ratio 1 cup cacao powder to 1 cup “other.” Imagine your favorite artisan chocolate bar that you pay up to $7 for and make it yourself, only better, fresher, more immediately and without the packaging. That is the kind of empowerment we offer here at Evolving Dish. : )

Cauliflower Rice is Very Nice

Pre-paleo, I was a big fan of rice. Not a big fan of cauliflower. I learned that rice was not very nutritious or healthy. I was sad. Then I learned I could easily make delicious “rice” with cauliflower. I was happy. True story!

1 large head of fresh cauliflower
2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil, or 1 tablespoon of each
1 teaspoon (or more, to taste) crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Break the cauliflower into florets and remove the stems, and rinse in a colander. Optional step to soften the cauliflower – put the colander in a large glass or metal bowl and pour boiling water over the florets, letting them sit a minute, then drain.

Side note – do you have a stainless steel electric water kettle? I love mine! Boils water quickly, no plastic internal parts. Need frozen veggies warmed quickly? Skip the microwave and put the frozen veg in a glass bowl or storage container. Pour boiling water over them and let them sit a few minutes. Drain or remove with a slotted spoon. Easy and nutrients are preserved! And you can use the veg water for soup or stocks. (Or be a weirdo like me and drink it.)

Place the florets in a food processor, in 2 batches, and pulse until it looks like rice.

Don’t put too much in like I did!
Don’t put too much in like I did!

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, and melt the ghee and/or coconut oil. Add the onion, red pepper and garlic, and stir until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. (Mix it up – add sliced mushrooms! Jalapenos! Other sliced vegetables, minced ginger and coconut aminos!)

Add the cauliflower and saute until it is tender, about another 5 minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste. This was a yummy bed to my slow cooker lamb stew, recipe coming up soon!

On being a high-maintenance eater. AKA My FAILeo Diet.

<em>“Not the Cape May lump blue-claw crab cake with creme fraiche, fried quail egg, oestra caviar, duck confit, and peach con frutti again?!!”</em>
“Not the Cape May lump blue-claw crab cake with creme fraiche, fried quail egg, oestra caviar, duck confit, and peach con frutti again?!!”

My name is Stephanie, and I’m a high maintenance eater. I was vegetarian for ten years, and have been eating gluten free for the past few years, and have always sought out healthy, organic, sustainable food, but eating clean all the time is hard. It takes discipline, readily available and affordable good food, and preparation. Allow me to recount some recent circumstances where Paleo turned FAILeo.

On the road:
I took a 10 day road trip to visit some friends in Utah (Neena!) and Arizona, then Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Yay! Oh wait, what to eat? I realized a week before my trip that it was probably too late to order Primal Pacs. So I picked up some nuts, dried blueberries and jerky at Trader Joe’s. The jerky was organic beef and wild-caught salmon, but they both have sugar. (Side note – my dog also likes to eat Paleo, go figure.)  My sister in law hooked me up with some of beautiful eggs from her pastured chickens, which I brought to Neena’s. (But I also brought tequila, shhhh.) This was not enough food for all the hours of driving.

GAS STATION FOOD IS NOT FOOD!! Walking into a gas station convenience store hungry is almost tear-inducing; it is so frustrating for a high maintenance eater to be surrounded by “food” with nothing to eat. I have elited (made up word) myself out of pretty much every “food” offered commonly everywhere. No grains, (no chips, pretzels, sandwiches, donuts) no sugar, soy, hydrogenated oils (candy bars, drinks) or dairy. I don’t buy the jerky because I don’t know/trust the source, plus it often has MSG, sugar and other evils. And the fruits and nuts (forget peanuts, they are legumes) – well, I just imagine them sprayed down with pesticides and skip it. I did drink a Starbucks vanilla coffee drink and ate an Almond Snickers bar by the end of the trip.

I drank with friends. Shocking. Actually, nearly every day. Sigh.

StephyD has been embarking on the lovely adventure of online dating. On the VERY RARE occasion I find someone even remotely datable and agree to meet, I prefer to not show ALL my crazy at once. I may reveal that I like to eat healthy food and have a food blog, but don’t go TOO much into my orthorexia. So in the interests of seeming “normal” I might have a cocktail or glass of wine. Or a Jack and Coke, popcorn with Peanut M&Ms and basket of steak fries with ranch dressing. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

(“Orthorexia nervosa” is the informal name of an eating disorder – more precisely, an aberrant eating pattern – defined by an extreme obsession with healthy eating food.  According to an article in The Guardian, the term was coined by Steven Bratman, MD in 1997. He combined the Greek “ortho” – straight and correct – with the medical prefix “orexia’ – appetite –  to describe a “pathological fixation on proper eating”. 

People with orthorexia may feel virtuous about their “good” food choices, but vile and self-loathing if they should stray.  They may spend hours and hours planning what to eat, and opt for nothing if the right food is not available.  The Guardian says the pattern is typically seen in “well-educated, middle class, adults over 30”…who have rigid rules about which foods are pure and good. The pattern may start with food allergies and diets where foods are systematically eliminated until only a small number remain.  Excerpted from this article. OMG this is me!)

Eating clean – an unhealthy obsession or the only sane option to optimize health? Anyway, I’m back home and happy to have more control over my food choices, even if the choice of men around here is some slim pickin’s.

[Cartoon from the New Yorker, April 2, 2012 print edition, by Harry Bliss]

The Dish on the Whole 30

Here is my wrap-up of my Whole30 experiment, complete with embarrassing before and after pictures! The Whole 30, brainchild of Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, is a dietary reset plan stemming from the paleo community. Their book It Starts With Food spells out how and why it can be amazingly transformative to spend 30 strict days without sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy and legumes, while focusing on REAL food – lean sustainable animal protein, good fats (avocado, olives, coconut oil, ghee) and lots of organic vegetables (and some fruit and nuts). After 30 days you can gradually reintroduce different foods to see how you feel. It’s the ultimate experiment, with your body and mind as the subject.

Before I started the Whole30 program on January 1, 2013, I had reached the heaviest I had EVER weighed. EVER! I’m not going to share the number, except it ended in a 3. Here is a “before” picture. I realize I don’t look all that fat, but I felt puffy and bloated. I was drinking too much, eating too much sugar, and my energy, sleep and moods were all over the place. This picture was taken on Maui in October. Another Mai Tai or 3? Sure!!

Before Whole30
Before Whole30

When my friend (and co-Evolving Dish blogger) Neena told me about the Whole30 and It Starts With Food, I jumped at the chance. Mostly I just wanted to lose some weight and give my liver a rest. I have a wheat allergy so giving up grains isn’t a big deal for me. And I can take or leave dairy.

The first week was ROUGH, I won’t lie. I had headaches and was tired and cranky. Sugar is a nasty, needy, persistent scorned bitch and it wanted back in my life! It is like Glen Close in Fatal Attraction. “I won’t be IGNORED, Stephanie!” But I kept with the tough love approach (it’s just 30 days, I kept telling myself) and had signed up for the daily Whole30 encouraging emails, which really helped. Pretty soon, I started feeling GOOD. I was sleeping well, had lots of energy, and yes, my clothes were fitting better. But the most significant change I noticed was in my moods. I was . . . happy.  No mood swings. I began to realize that what I thought was a melancholy default for me might be attributed to my sugar and alcohol consumption. Yikes.

After the Whole30:

  • I lost 10 lbs and am back to my “normal” weight (also ends in a 3) – and you know what? I kept thinking I wanted to lose even more weight and get to this much lower mythical weight (also ending in a 3) but I’ve decided to let that go. SERIOUSLY. Life’s too short. I will be 44 in April, I don’t hear ANYONE complaining when they see me naked ; ) and I will be happy if I maintain this weight. So for the first time in my life “weight loss” isn’t a goal.
  • I had the energy to resume running and to start to get back in shape.
  • My insomnia is gone.
  • And the biggest change of all – when I eat this way, I am happy.

Right after my 30 days (well, 29.5, if I am being completely honest) I binged on alcohol and sugar. A few times last week. And the mood swings and fatigue started right back up. I have decided to eliminate sugar again. And the alcohol? Well, that’s a more inconvenient truth – but I will definitely be more mindful about my consumption. In summary, this has been a fantastic experiment and journey that I recommend for anyone wanting a “do over” on their eating habits! Thank you all for your encouragement during this time : )

Bison Portobello Meatloaf

This hearty dish will bring all of whichever gender you wish to be brought into your yard. I like how the portobello is a nice meaty complement to the lean bison. And this is an original recipe, yay!

1 lb ground free range bison (or grass-fed organic ground beef)
1 finely chopped yellow onion
1-2 tablespoons ghee/clarified butter or coconut oil
1 large or 2 smaller portobello mushroom cap(s) – about 1 cup, with stems removed, diced in chunks
Dash balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup shredded or grated sweet potato*
1/2 cup almond meal/flour*
1 cup sugar-free ketchup or marinara sauce (2/3 for loaf, 1/3 for topping)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon ground thyme or your favorite Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

* If you eat oats, you can substitute 1 cup quick-cooking oats for the almond meal and sweet potato. The point is to have some starch to bind the meat into its loafy loveliness.

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 – inch loaf pan. (Or you can make it free form on a baking sheet, allegedly.)

Heat the butter or oil in a skillet. When melted, add the onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent. Then add the portobello mushroom.  Splash a dash of balsamic vinegar to add a little depth and acidity if you like, and cook until the mushrooms are a little soft and the vinegar cooks off, just a minute or so, then remove from the heat.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl (reserving 1/3 c. of the sauce for the topping) and then add the onion/mushroom mixture from your skillet into the bowl.

Knead the mixture gently with your hands until everything is well blended.

Fill the loaf pan with the meat and mushroom mixture. Bake until the meat is firm to the touch and has shrunk from the sides of the pan or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf reads 160 F. This takes about 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let rest for 15 minutes, and serve with the remaining sauce. Or tons of ketchup, I won’t tell.

I served it with some salad, avocado and beet kraut. Yum! (I wish I had a better picture. I am learning this photography stuff.)

Lemon Mustard Chicken

Mustard Chicken
Mustard Chicken

This recipe is fast, easy, and delicious! The lemon and mustard add a fantastic bite and tang. I adapted it from Diane Sanfilippo’s Practical Paleo. Another variation, with honey, is also on her blog, Balanced Bites.


4-5 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 tablespoons butter, ghee or coconut oil, (or a combination) melted. I do this in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave.
2 tablespoons gluten-free mustard (I like stoneground)
1/2 Yellow Onion
1/2 Lemon
Fresh Rosemary Sprig (optional)
1 teaspoon dried seasonings to taste (I used rosemary-garlic salt and black pepper)

Preheat oven to 425 F

Add the mustard and dried seasonings to the measuring cup with the melted butter and stir. Place the thighs in an oven-safe dish and pour/brush the mixture evenly over each thigh.

Cut up the onion and lemon into large chunks, and arrange in the dish with the chicken, and top with the rosemary sprig.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165 F when inserted into the center of one of the thighs. The juices should run clear.


Homemade Mayo = Omnipotence

I made mayonnaise for the first time yesterday and I felt so self-satisfied and strangely powerful. “I am a Golden God!” (Almost Famous, anyone? . . .). Easy! Delicious!  This recipe is adapted from Melissa Joulwan’s homemade mayo recipe from The Clothes Make the Girl.  [PS Her book Well Fed is amazing!] If you don’t have an immersion (“stick”) blender, you may want to try her regular blender method. But then I will wonder why you don’t have an immersion blender? That, plus a mason jar makes so many recipes (think smoothies and soups) a breeze! Anyway, I digress.


1 large egg
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 1 cup light oil. I use avocado oil. Or even sometimes MCT oil.*
1 teaspoon mustard (yellow, Dijon, stoneground or dry) or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry dill weed (optional) [Dilly-O finishing salt from Salinity Salts is great in this and made in Southern Oregon :)]

  1. Let all of your ingredients come to room temperature, about an hour.** Break the egg into a mason jar and add the lemon juice, mustard, salt, dill, and 1/4 cup of the oil.
  2. Blend the ingredients together with your immersion blender until the ingredients are combined.
  3. Slowly drizzle the remaining 1 cup of oil into the jar with the immersion blender resting on the bottom of the jar until the liquid forms the emulsion, a few minutes. You will hear the pitch change lower to signal your victory.
  4. Enjoy! The mayo expires when your egg does, but probably won’t last that long.

Inspirations and Variations – for a spicy kick, add cayenne or some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (you can find the Embasa brand cans in the Mexican food section of most supermarkets – and a little goes a LONG way, heat wise! Go for the small can.) Chipotle mayo goes amazingly well with roasted potatoes. I’ve even added roasted jalapenos for a kick. Or use the mayo to make tuna or egg salad or deviled eggs (perfect steamed easy-peel hard or soft boiled egg recipe here). Or ranch dressing dip for healthy chicken wings. Once you see how easy, fresh and superior homemade mayonnaise is, I doubt you will ever want to buy it at the store again.

*I used to use light olive oil but a friend pointed out that this oil can be of questionable origin/processing. We recommend steering clear of rapeseed (canola) oil and other random vegetable/corn oils to avoid GMO ingredients and rancid, heavily processed chemically-laden ingredients in general. [One friend uses Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which tastes too strong for me, but she likes it. Another friend uses a mixture of EVOO and coconut oil! So it is fun to experiment with oils but I am loving the avocado oil!]

**Did you know it is considered strange to refrigerate eggs in many countries? If you have farm fresh, organic eggs and eat them pretty quickly, it’s ok to leave them in the pantry for a few days, promise.

Different Day, Same Breakfast

I am lazy value efficiency. This go-to breakfast is filling, delicious, Whole fn 30, and best of all – SO QUICK to make! PS I am horrible at measuring and do a lot of winging it, eyeballing, flavoring “to taste/mood” etc.

  1. Heat up some (1-2 TBS) coconut oil or ghee in a large skillet on medium high.  Add crushed red peppers and/or onion and/or garlic to spice it up (optional)
  2. When your onions are translucent or spices warm etc., add a BIG bunch of greens, piled up in the pan. More than you think (they will cook down). Spinach, arugula, or a power green blend of baby spinach, kale, swiss chard, etc. Not-too delicate (e.g. lettuce) leafy greens.
  3. While your greens are cooking (this only takes a few minutes) stir occasionally with a spatula or wooden spoon and lightly beat 2-3 eggs (depending on your size; could be more if you are a large athletic man etc.) in a bowl, add whatever seasonings you like (salt, pepper, dill are easy.)
  4. Put the cooked greens on a plate, then put the eggs in the same pan (you may need more oil) and scramble them. While they are cooking, cut an avocado in half, put in on your plate, and top with salsa (optional).
  5. Throw the eggs on the plate, and you’re good to go! You can probably get this done in 5 minutes.
  6. Variations – Kalamata olives instead of avocado. Add more/different veggies to your scramble