My diet has gotten kind of sloppy after several years of living in the city, working outside of the home, and being so on the go. Sugar had made it’s way back in through the not-so-occasional soy chai and the dark chocolate habit I’d picked up again; living in the Mission District, rice and corn once were again becoming staples; I had even been testing the waters with dairy, feeling certain a little bit couldn’t possibly hurt after years of estrangement between me and the cow. (Wrong!) My body doesn’t lie and was sending some pretty clear messages: soy and dairy made for immediate tummy trouble, the corn and rice stop up the works; sugar weakens the immune system and would leave me compromised in more ways than I care to relate. So after a recent confirmation it was time for renewed restrictions, signs all pointed to Paleo for new inspiration on fabulous food without the starchy grains, dairy or sugar.
Last night I picked up the ingredients and got started on my base, a rich bone broth made of organic chicken on sale at the Whole Foods where I work. I covered the chicken in filtered water and added a half cup of apple cider vinegar, putting away the rest of the groceries while the bones soaked in the vinegary water. The vinegar interacts with the minerals in the bones, enabling the minerals to break away from the bones and into the water so they are available to us when we consume the stock. Bone-broth soups are a traditional food that are deeply nourishing, better than taking calcium pills for strengthening our own bones. Oh and they taste so good! I separated the meat from the bones after about an hour, and left the bones and broth to cook on low heat overnight, adding carrots, celery, an onion with the skin, a piece of kombu, and some kosher salt. In the morning I strained the concentrated liquid and set it aside to cool. (It was so good I had to drink some with my breakfast!)
Tonight I came home rather late from work. It was raining and cold, and I was a bit despairing about how much energy I had to fix a nice meal. I really needed to feed myself, though, so I got on the internet and searched for a recipe I’d found the other day on the recipe blog “Against All Grain.” Because I was particularly saddened by the loss of rice in my diet, I wanted to start with a rice substitute, so I chose author Danielle’s Saffron Rice recipe. It is made with cauliflower! Now this may seem strange to some readers, but my friend Shay makes a cauliflower fried rice that is indecipherable from the real thing, so I knew it was possible. And I love saffron! I made a few amendments, adding a 1/2 onion, because I felt like it and some Applegate pork sausage, which I sliced up and added after the stock went in. Danielle’s recipe calls for a number of Indian spices in addition to the saffron. While I love Indian flavors, and even had some homemade Garam Masala on hand in the pantry, these spices rather overpowered the saffron. I think the next time I will just use saffron and leave out the Garam Masala and other spices. Also my rice dish didn’t look anywhere near as pretty yellow as the finished dish she had pictured on her site; I had to add some turmeric for coloring. Nevertheless, the result was terrifically satisfying. The Garam gave a little kick to the warming spices, and the variety of textures and flavors between the cauliflower rice, the peas and the sausage, were the perfect complement on this stormy evening. Now one of the best things about this recipe is that it preps and cooks up fast. Thanks Danielle! And thanks to Dawn Purcell whose postings of Danielle’s phenomenal paleo food photos keep showing up on my Facebook news feed!