Go Pauleo™ *

Curves ahead

Watch out!  Curves Ahead!


In my spare time, which arguably has been very limited lately (family, work, travel, volunteering, volunteering…) I have been reading about people who have lost their enamor with the Paleo approach/lifestyle.  Almost without fail the reason people lose their way is because of their obsessive relationship with the approach and/or food.  This really isn’t meant to be an uber restrictive, make you freak out if you eat _______ lifestyle but that’s where many who abandoned the lifestyle went to.  At least that’s the way I see it.  Answer yourself these questions.  Do you freak out (just a little) if a particular food touches your plate (allergies aside)?  Will you not eat if you can’t eat 100% squeaky clean?  Did you pass on a social event because the wrong “food” was going to be there?  Are you a Paleo perfectionist making everyone’s life around you miserable (read – a living hell) because they aren’t doing it right!? (see Diane’s very insightful post on this subject here: http://balancedbites.com/2012/06/paleo-perfectionism.html). If you answer yes to any of these, you are risking burning yourself out and doing yourself a huge disservice to your own health and sanity.  Keep reading…..

Paleo gave me a beautiful gift.  It gave me the gift of enjoying life again to the fullest.  It gave me weight loss, it gave me freedom from arthritic pain, it gave me awareness that wheat and I don’t play well together (and we probably never will), it gave me freedom from prescription medications for arthritis(es), blood pressure and pain and it gave me what started to become a bit of an obsession.  This is where I think those that ultimately leave this approach to life and search for something new start.  I think that something is right under our noses but we often don’t see it; relax.  This is life and none of us will get out alive.

I believe an elimination diet like Whole30 or 21 Day Sugar Detox is a great GREAT teaching mechanism for darn near everyone.  Really making a pact with yourself to eliminate potential sources of inflammation and intestinal distress for a period of time (without cheating) and introducing them back can teach you amazing things about a) your body, b) the fuel you choose to put in it and c) what Big Food is putting into your processed foodstuffs.  It teaches you to connect with your food in ways you may not have before.  Starting with whole, fresh ingredients, preparing a meal from scratch and enjoying the bold flavors that come out when you lose the processed sugar crap can be life altering.  But this is where it can also start to go horribly wrong.

Allergies aside, when you start to fear foods and worry one slip will ruin all you have accomplished or panic because there is “nothing” you can eat so you choose to skip a meal rather than make the best choice possible with what you have; now you’re descending into the danger zone or outright hell.  Elimination diets are teaching instruments, they are not prescriptions for life.  As Whole30 says on their website, it’s not Whole365!

I’ve been paleo/primal for over a year now and I am thrilled with the results and truth of the matter, I have no intention of moving away from eating whole, nutrient dense foods that we prepare ourselves but I am realizing that even I forget from time to time, that this is a framework, a construct, GUIDELINES; not hard and fast rules to live by.  Wheat and I fight each other anytime I have brought it back (and I will largely remain gluten free going forward) but that doesn’t mean I won’t try a wonderful restaurant again where they serve Headwiches (sandwiches as big as your head) and a cold craft brewed beer again.  In fact, that day is likely coming very close to the end of my current Whole30 challenge I am hosting with Paul L. my blogging partner in crime.  I’m going to Paris later this year for vacation with the family and you can be damn sure I will be eating bread there (pain or not)!  Will I abandon this lifestyle that gave me all these wonderful gifts?  Will I invite wheat back to my daily table?  Absolutely not!  Being able to run (even walk) again without pain is truly a gift and one I very much understand how it was manifested and aggravated by the food I used to eat.  But even I need to remember that life won’t be lived by putting up a wall of can’ts and wont’s.  Enjoy that occasional indulgence, don’t stress about it, don’t freak out because it is there, embrace it then do what is right for your body.  Last remember this; what works for me, might not work for you.  There is no one-size-fits-all dietary solution that will solve everyone’s challenges.  You need to research, experiment and work with your own body to find that sweet-spot that only you can own.  Paleo, primal, WAP, SAD, All things in moderation…. All are just starting points.  For me, I’m going Pauleo™*, because that’s what works for me!

*Go Pauleo™ can be found here http://thoughtfulcavedad.com/random-thoughts/paleo-primal-30-day-challenges-dairy/

Updated 1-21-2013

Copyright © 2013 “The Culinary Cave Dad”


Hollandaise and Crab Hollandaise Variation

I love this velvety sauce and was trying to come up with a dairy free version for our Whole30 challenge.  This works beautifully and quite frankly, I like it better than the dairy version. This versatile sauce can be served over any kind of veggie but Brussels sprouts, broccoli and asparagus are our favorites.  The crab version is great over fish and fantastic on a grilled steak.Try it out, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!






2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup coconut cream (make sure you get some of the heavy stuff)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
½ lemon squeezed (about 1 ½ Tbs)
2-3 Tbs Ghee


1 cup picked through and drained crab meat (optional)



Place eggs through lemon juice over a double boiler (aka a glass bowl over a pot of hot water).  Cook a stir frequently until the mixture thickens, then add ghee one tablespoon at a time whisking until incorporated.


For the crab variation add crab meat and heat through.


Updated 1-17-2013

Copyright © 2013 “The Culinary Cave Dad”


Paleo, Primal, 30 Day Challenges, and Dairy

Glass and Bottle of Milk

Photo Credit: macalit via Compfight cc

30 Day Paleo Challenges, 21 Day Sugar Detoxes, and Whole30’s, oh my!  T’is the season, I guess.  New year, let’s start over, rid ourselves of the 5, 10, or 15 pounds we gained (or think we gained) over the annual 5-week long Holiday Gluttonfest.  So, clearly the answer must be to swing to the opposite extreme and completely deny ourselves of anything enjoyable in life and just to make it unbearable, we join a new gym and beat ourselves to death on treadmills, ellipticals, and other treatment various human rights groups would stage world-wide protests over, were it not voluntary.

Here in the Paleosphere, we’re not all that different than “the mainstream SAD people”, are we?  If we were, then January 1st would be “just another day” following “just another month” from a dietary perspective, right?  But noooooo. We’re all over this 30 Day Challenge and Detox thing. Just look around you.  Every Crossfit box worth their kettlebells is running a Paleo Challenge of some kind or other.  Facebook groups like 30 Days in the Cave (Culinary Cave Dad’s and my own FB group (pssst, still time to join if you want to!)) are popping up as well. And my good friend Diane Sanfilippo is holding the “Largest ever 21 Day Sugar Detox group”.

We’ve lost our way…

But it seems that something has been lost in the original intent behind the Paleo Challenge, and this seems to have led to a lot of confusion over dairy and it’s role in the diet with respect to Paleo.  Does Paleo allow dairy?  Or is that what’s called “Primal”.  If it’s “Primal”, then why does Robb Wolfe admit to consuming dairy and even go so far as to say that Paleo plus dairy is a “potently anti-inflammatory diet […] loaded with nutrient quality.” ?  [ The Paleo Solution Podcast Episode  92 ]

Let’s take a step back and realize what exactly “The Paleo Diet” really is.  First and foremost, it’s the name of a book by Loren Cordain, whom many credit with being the “Father of Paleo”.  The term “The Paleo Diet” is in fact a trademark owned by Cordain.  As a result, when Mark Sisson wanted to write a similar book, using the term “Paleo” would both add confusion and possibly infringe upon that trademark. Hence, “The Primal Blueprint”!

Controversy over dairy in the science…

Cordain does in fact recommend against consuming dairy, claiming that it’s more harmful than not.  But there is plenty of controversy over this claim. And Chris Kresser has done an excellent job discussing  the science which both backs up and contradicts his assertions.  The irony here is that Robb Wolf, who recommends eliminating dairy in his book, actually admits to consuming dairy, and Mark Sisson, who’s books claim dairy is okay, actually does not tolerate it, and therefore does not consume diary (I can’t find a reference to this claim, but I’m 99.999% positive I’ve heard Mark state this on some podcast or other).  So, we have the current leader of the Paleo movement (Robb) ostensibly saying one thing and doing the opposite, and the leader of the Primal movement (Mark) preaching it’s okay, but completely avoiding it?  How does this make sense?

The original intent behind 30 Day Challenges…

Coffee with Cream

Photo Credit: larskflem via Compfight cc

Then there is the age old question of, “What can I possibly put in my coffee if I can’t have dairy?!”.  There are some who say, “Man up and drink it black like the gods intended!”, and there are other apologists out there who claim that coconut milk really isn’t an evil abomination when combined with the Elixir of Life and personal insult to those very same coffee gods!”  So what do we do?

Again, let’s take a step back and think about what is going on with dairy, and why is it considered off-limits, especially on a 30 Day Paleo Challenge.  When Robb first proposed what he now calls “Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation”, his intent was for one to undertake what, in the medical world, is referred to as a “standard elimination diet”.  There was, and is, absolutely nothing magical about what Robb was proposing.  Every doctor and allergist in the world has at some time likely recommended a similar approach whether or not they understood the concept of “Paleo” nutrition.  The basic premise is to eliminate those foods which are most irritating and known to cause problems for the human body.  It’s the old Marx Brothers routine,

Patient: “Doc, it hurts when I do this!”
Doctor: “So, don’t do that!”

Robb’s approach, and Mark’s, is to eliminate the most basic causes of inflammation in the digestive tract. Everyone hears the “Eliminate these things from your diet..”:

  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol

But almost everyone seems to forget the end of that sentence which states, “…for 30 days.” And the next one which states, “And re-introduce it as you see fit.”  He in fact goes on to explain exactly HOW to re-introduce each of these foods in order to determine if you do have any kind of sensitivities or aversions to them.

Now, most people in the Paleosphere seem to agree that cutting out most grains is a good idea.  And there’s not a lot of debate about legumes in general.  Everyone also pretty much agrees that the clear, non-grain based alcohols are fine on occasion, and that sugar is something best left out entirely (there’s a whole separate discussion lurking here about gradients and spectrums which I plan to dive into at a later date).  But dairy seems to raise the ire in some people.  One side claiming there’s no good reason ever to consume it, the other claiming it’s perfectly fine as long as you stick to grass-fed, pastured products, ideally in their most natural, raw, unpasteurized, unhomogenized state.

Can I have dairy or not?

So where does this leave us?  Right back to the ever unpopular “It depends”.  My take on it is this. If you’ve done a 30 Day Paleo Challenge; Robb’s, The Whole 30, the “Squeaky Clean Paleo” protocol or Auto-Immune Protocol from Practical Paleo, etc., have properly re-introduced dairy back into your life, and subsequently determined that you have no issues with dairy, then have at it and enjoy it.  On the other hand, if you have issues with dairy, then it’s probably obvious and wise that you should avoid it. This shouldn’t be rocket science or brain surgery folks.  If you test something and determine it doesn’t bother you, then why intentionally avoid it?  Just because some person on the interwebs said so?  You’ve already determined it doesn’t bother you!

A grass-fed cow

Photo Credit: Eduardo Amorim via Compfight cc

But what about when doing a repeat 30 Day Challenge?  Should you exclude dairy during these repeat performances?  I guess it again “depends”.  What is the purpose of doing another 30 Day Challenge?  And is dairy a trigger food for you?  Do you perhaps have cheese more often than you should?  Again, my take on it is very individualistic.  I’ve done many 30 Day Challenges, most of them with a complete avoidance of all dairy.  However, I’ve determined through so much experimentation that I have absolutely no issues with dairy of any kind in any amount.  And for me, coffee is not worth drinking without a little bit of grass-fed heavy cream or butter in it.  Just enough to take the bitter edge off, but not so much that the coffee becomes a milkshake. We’re talking 1-2 tablespoons at most per cup.  I’ll have 2 cups/day, so at most 4 TBSPs of cream or butter.  Not unreasonable at all, and given my particular, individualized situation, certainly not enough to cause me problems.

Again, though, we need to look at why are you doing this 30 Day Challenge?  What are you challenging? Robb’s intent is for it to be an initial transition to Paleo, that “people do a really stout buy-in in the first 30 days then reintroduce foods to kind of see how things go.” [ The Paleo Solution Podcast Episode 92 ].  The 30 Day Challenge state is NOT meant to be the state that most people live in year round.  Nor is the 30 Day Challenge state something he expected people do frequently.  It is intentionally very strict because it is designed as a means of removing inflammatory and antagonistic substances from the diet in order to provide the body a calm and soothing environment in which to heal itself.  It can’t do that if it’s getting attacked on all sides by the dietary equivalent of a pack of hyenas.  So, remove the hyenas from the picture, let the body heal, re-introduce possible problematic items methodically and see how the body reacts.  THAT is the intent behind the challenge. Therefore, as I’ve said, if you’ve already tested and discovered dairy is not problematic, then relax and enjoy it. Otherwise you’re avoiding something just because a specific elimination diet protocol tells you to do so. This, despite the fact that you are now using that protocol for purposes other than the one it’s designed for!  That seems kinda silly.

A new dietary plan to replace Paleo!

So, if you’re doing a Paleo Challenge and treating it like a detox, perhaps you need to re-think your average daily approach to eating.  Perhaps your problem is that you’ve allowed too many hyenas into your body.  And if that’s the case, then a 30 Day Challenge isn’t going to help you in the long term.  It’s how you eat MOST OF THE TIME that matters, not how many 30 Day challenges you complete over the year starting January 1st.  By the time you’ve gotten to your 3rd 30 day challenge, you probably shouldn’t even notice that you’re doing anything different!

So, with that in mind, I introduce to you to the new dietary concept of “Pauleo“!

Pauleo™ is the concept of eating real, fresh, nutrient-dense whole foods and avoiding all man-made, highly processed, nutrient-deficient, industrialized food products whilst thoroughly enjoying those food which you have determined “work for you” through a stringent and strict 30 Day Elimination Diet Challenge and methodically re-introduced according to the proper protocol.

Pauleo™, for example, fully allows one to have grass-fed, pastured, minimally-processed heavy cream or butter in one’s coffee, if one tolerates dairy.  Pauleo™ completely and totally forbids dairy for any individual who has not first proven that they tolerate dairy as described previously.  In fact, Pauleo™ completely prohibits anyone from attempting this nutritional lifestyle without first having completed at least one 30-Day Paleo Challenge and properly re-introducing all removed foods according to the prescribed protocol. Pauleo™ is also open to only those individuals named Paul or those individuals willing to answer to the name Paul for the duration of time they plan on following the PauleoPlan. (Paulas and Paulettes may be acceptable as well, we’re waiting to hear back from our legal department.)

Now, back to dairy. Be aware it does contain a lot of fat.  And it can be a trigger food for many.  If your goal is to lose weight and dairy is quietly contributing a bunch of calories to your daily intake that you’re not also burning off with some form of activity, it might well be the culprit that prevents you from reaching your goals.  If this is your first 30 Day Challenge, you’re better off sucking it up and avoiding the dairy completely like I did.  Partly to determine whether or not you are sensitive to it, and partly to realize what you’re capable of accomplishing in 30 days.  You might surprise yourself and discover you like your coffee black, or that coconut milk does work for you, or that you don’t even want the coffee anymore.

So, who’s up for a Pauleo™ 30 Day Challenge?  It comes with a side a bacon!

The Travelin’ Paleo Man


Being gluten-free by necessity makes dining out an outright challenge.  If you aren’t gluten-free, ask for a gluten-free menu sometime.  All those foods that LOOK gluten-free on the menu, really aren’t sadly enough.  Thankfully the paleo, gluten-free trends are making it easier for folks like me as most places are increasing their selections but what about when you are strict paleo or doing something like a Whole30 or 21 Day Sugar Detox Level 3?  Well, then dining out usually, in a word sucks.

OK, I do have a couple of local places where I know I can get a nearly squeaky clean delicious paleo meal but I also travel a fair amount and then, it’s not so easy as I often find myself in strip-mall hell.  So what do you do?  Well, if you are going to have meat of any kind, expect that it will have been touched by soy, canola or corn oil sometime in the preparation.  You can ask that it is not but chances are not good.  So just accept it and move on (unless you are allergic).  Tell them you are gluten-free and ask for a gluten-free menu.  If nothing on that menu looks good ask if they will do meat and steamed veggies or salad with grilled lightly seasoned meat.  If they won’t, move on.  If they will, watch what they bring to the table as they still often want to dress things up because the plate doesn’t look good.  Case in point, I ordered grilled steak and double steamed broccoli this week and told the waitress about my gluten issues.  The steak came out on a bed of breaded onion straws because the plate didn’t looked dressed without it (it got sent back).

Take care when looking at the gluten-free menu.  My cousin the Travelin’ Primal Man will have an easier time finding something but you’ll find that most chefs and most restaurant chains want to tickle your fat sensors so dairy is often heavily featured.  This is also true for pseudo grains and pastas.  Generally speaking you will be able to make something work.  Also be aware that some restaurants, particularly slower fast food ones like Panera will have secret, nearly paleo meals but you have to know before you go.

In my kitchen, I can whip up exotic flavors and amazing combinations of foods.  Don’t expect this when you are on the road.  Expect middle of the road protein and veg; resign yourself to it, then when you’re pleasantly surprised, all the better.  This is even more true when you go out with a group or worse eat in at lunch.  They’ll have five pizzas in front of them and the waitress will look at you like you have eight heads when you ask for a gluten-free menu and end up with iceberg lettuce and hockey puck of a chicken breast and some red wine vinegar because they use canola.

So salads are your friend while on the road (watch the cheese monster and sugar coated nuts) but pack some tasty treats when the meal leaves you flat.  Take some kale chips or beef jerky along for the ride.  Macadamia nuts for me are a life saver and even sneak a tin of sardines in that carry on luggage.  This three day trip I just completed left me culinarily empty.  Thankfully, the rocking Cavemom had made the family free-range pork chops, roasted bacon sprouts and carrot-ginger soup.  At least in this restaurant, I can always eat fabulous, whole food meals!


Copyright © 2014 “The Culinary Cave Dad”

32 Ground Beef Recipes (mostly Paleo)

My normal Saturday morning ritual is to hit the gym at 7:00am for an hour or so of Olympic lifting.  After that I head over to a nearby farm where I get most of my produce (even in these harsh New England winters Jaimie over at Springdell Farms manages to have something delicious for me).  The weekend before New Year’s I picked up another huge, pastured turkey weighing in at 20-25 pounds.  The one we had at Thanksgiving was so unbelievably delicious we wanted another one for our annual New Year’s dinner as well.  If you haven’t tried Culinary Cave Dad’s Super-Delicious Turkey Brining Concoction, you really owe it to yourself to try it.

Anywhoo. I got home with said huge turkey and discovered I had absolutely no where to store it.  See, just after Thanksgiving my friend Matt, who’s parents own Bear Hill Farm informed me that my pig was ready.  This was quite fortunate since I was pretty much out of meat at this point.  Of course, when it rains it pours, and less than 2 weeks later, Carolyn, my beef farmer from Wheel-View Farm e-mailed me to let me know they were going to be heading out on their “Eastern Tour” to deliver grass-fed beef orders.  John and Carolyn live “out west”, about an hour from me.  Every few months they make a trip east and stop at various, convenient meeting places so their customers can swing by and pick up their orders.  Fortunately for me, they’re willing to stop at a place just off the highway less than 10 minutes from my house!  Unfortunately for me, they were coming the weekend before Christmas.  I had little room in my chest freezer for 100 pounds of beef, grass-fed or otherwise.

But what choice did I have?  They wouldn’t be coming back this way for at least another 3 months, so it was now or drive out there when I got the chance. I spent the better part of 2 hours re-arranging the chest freezer in the basement and the freezer upstairs as well trying to fit both the pig and the beef.  I finally made it all fit.  That’s when it hit me that of my 100 pounds of beef that I get, 60 of it is ground.  60 pounds of ground-beef.  Contemplate that for a minute.  3 bags at 20 pounds each of 1-pound packages of ground beef.  The 1 pound packages certainly make it far more convenient than those 5+ pound “family packs” I could get at the local warehouse store.  But 60 pounds is  a LOT of ground-beef.  Fortunately, I LOVE a good burger, and we have them often with that much on-hand.  It’s kind of our “goto” meal.  But there’s so much more you can do with ground beef.  Yet, pretty much all we ever do it with is make burgers, my favorite Ginger Curry Acorn Squash Hash, and the occasional meatloaf.

So, I put the call out to some of my fellow Real Food Blogger friends for more ideas.  Below I have collected 32 different recipes for using ground-beef.  Not all of them a strict Paleo, but it’s not tough at all to adapt them by substituting or just leaving out entirely, the non-Paleo ingredients. Enjoy!


Hollywood Homestead - Hidden Liver Burgers



  • Author: Tonja Pizzo
  • Meal: Chili
  • Tags: Paleo Chili Groundbeef


  • Author: Shannon Spicer
  • Meal: Marinara recipe
  • Facebook: All Things Health
  • Tags: Sauce Tomatoes Italian Gluten-Free Grain-Free
  • Notes: No actual beef in the recipe, but so easy to add!



Shepherd’s Pies

Soups & Stews

Stuffed Peppers/Squash

  • Author: Angela England
  • Meal: Stuffed Veggies
  • Facebook: Untrained Housewife
  • Tags: Veggies Freezer-Friendly Squash Simple Budget-Friendly Dairy Cheese Gluten-Free Grain-Free


And if all that isn’t enough, Loriel over at Healthy Roots, Happy Soul and Andrea over at Homemade For Elle have similar posts with even more Ground Beef recipes!  That’s 133 recipes for ground-beef.  I think that might be more recipes than I have ground-beef for 🙂

Culinary Cave Dad’s Award Winning Potato Chip Chili

Inspirations – Emeril Lagasse, Montgomery Inn and yes, Betty Crocker!


Betty was the first chili recipe I made and included the cocoa which is just amazing in chili and also clued me into the fact that the unexpected often yields great flavor.  When I decide to go off the paleo path I will also serve this over potato chips.  I saw Emeril put chili on top of chips with blue cheese and I love the Saratoga chips that Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati makes so I use both.  My measurements are approximate since I mainly eyeball things but this is more or less the recipe.


  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef, bison or even turkey
  • 1 large onion, fine diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs Chili Powder
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt (start with one, add more at the end if needed)
  • 1 Tbs Ancho Chili Powder (or other roasted chili – this isn’t a blend it is just the pepper)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • Add spices to your liking – I tend to use ancho, adobo, chipotle, cinnamon (just a hint)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp coriander (seed not the leaf)
  • 1 – 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (don’t leave this out)
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano (can use turkish as well)
  • 1 tsp Tabasco (or your favorite hot sauce)
  • 1 10 oz can of tomatoes with chilies (Rotel)
  • 1 15 oz can no salt stewed tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers diced (I often just use a bag of frozen Trader Joes pepper blend)
  • 1 1/2 cups bone broth (homemade preferably)
  • 2-3 peeled diced and roasted sweet potatoes (400 deg oven, fat of choice, salt and pepper – toss on sheet pan roast 20-30 min)
  • Pickled or fresh jalapenos and guacamole to garnish


  • Cook and break up the beef, onions garlic and spices until beef is brown in a 4-6 qt pot.
  • Add the two cans of tomatoes bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer covered 30 minutes.
  • Add peppers and potatoes along with the broth, bring to boil, reduce to simmer uncovered for about 15-20 minutes more until chili is thickened some.
  • Check for seasoning adjustments if needed.

To keep things paleo, serve in bowls topped with jalapenos and guac.

The Award-winning Non-Paleo Chili option

If you want to go a little off the paleo path, try this as described below with potato chips, cheddar and blue cheese!

To serve, place a handful of chips (kettle chips or make your own) in the bottom of the soup bowl, ladle one to two ladles  of chili on top, sprinkle with cheddar and blue cheeses top with a dollop of sour cream or guac and jalapenos if desired.

Saratoga Chips


  • 3-4 baking potatoes – sliced thin, skin on with a mandolin ~1/4” or thinner
  • 2-3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper


  • Pre-heat oven to 450 deg.
  • Mix potatoes oil and spices until all are covered with spice mixture (I use a zip top bag to do this).
  • Grease two cookie sheets with olive oil and place chips on a single layer.
  • Bake until chips are crispy 30 – 40 min – check occasionally and depending on your pans and ovens and the thickness of the chips you may need to turn them.
  • You can also fry and add the seasonings at the end.

Updated 1-4-2014
Copyright © 2014 “The Culinary Cave Dad”

New Years, New Routines, New Beginnings…

Here I am at 8:30 on the morning of New Year’s Eve.  I’ve been up since 7:00am, which is late for me.  I’ve been getting up at 5:30 for the last few months.  It’s part of a new routine I started a while back in an effort to find more time in the day to get things done, more specifically, work on this here blog for you folks.  Ironically, the getting up early has proved to be simpler than the actually working on the blog (opening my laptop is a dangerous proposition for me, who is so easily distracted by time-wasters like Facebook or my latest interest, G+…).

This is the time of year to contemplate new beginnings and to reflect on the past. As I think back over the past year, or even the past 3 since I began my Paleo journey and obsession with learning more about health, I’m amazed at how many things I’ve changed in my life.  I’m more amazed by those who have yet to discover that self-discovery, self-experimentation, and intentional change can open up entirely new paths in life.

A little over 5 years ago I left a company I had fallen in love in with in order to start a new job closer to home and filled with promise and adventures in learning new things.  Sadly, that company fell apart and 6 months later I found myself unemployed for the summer.  That summer was possibly the best one I’ve had since being a kid.  3 glorious months with nothing to do but spend time with my family, sleeping late, and having fun.  September came, and with it the kids went back to school and I found a new job.  It was a little further away than I liked, and paid a lot less than I had been making previously, but it was a job and this was the worst economy since the Depression.  So I was thankful.  I had just begun learning about food and nutrition that past summer while reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  And in January, just 4 years ago, my wife convinced me to join the local health club. It was affordable, we had an income again, it was close to home, and I needed something since I was no longer biking 120 miles/week.  It was here I discovered Crossfit, and with it, Robb Wolf, The Zone Diet, and eventually Paleo.

A year later I joined a new Crossfit gym, one that has become a second home, its members a second family,  and it’s owner, a brother.  I continued down the Paleo rabbit hole, eventually losing over 40 pounds and getting down to the same weight I graduated from college at 20-mumble years ago.  And thus began yet another re-invention of myself and another adventure.  The quest to become strong.  Something I had never really been.  This required the exact opposite approach I took to losing weight.  It meant eating far more than was comfortable, far more than my body wanted.  But I was convinced, despite a few naysayers, that I could do this using a Paleo template.  Now, 3 years later I’m back up to the same weight as before I started addressing my diet, and most of it is muscle.

As I look around me though, I see far too many people who have been coasting through life with the same sickly routines.  Changes in their lives are foisted upon them by illnesses and ailments requiring extra visits to doctors and by these doctors in the form of new medications to counter-act the side effects of old medications. Occasionally these changes are in the form of visits to hospitals, sometimes short, sometimes long, occasionally over major holidays like Christmas.  Almost never are these changes arrived at by choice, intention, or the desire for improvement.

Recently I let a good friend of mine talk me into entering a weightlifting competition, something I was (and am) not really interested in doing.  I’m a behind-the-scenes person, one who shuns the limelight.  Donning a singlet and walking to center-stage with the light (literally) shining on me and me alone as I attempted to snatch a measly 55 or so kilos. As the date of this meet sped towards me I realized I was more nervous about this one even than I had been about pretty much anything else in my life to this point.  Even in my first year of Crossfit when I committed to undertaking Murph, something so incomprehensibly beyond my abilities, I was not as nervous as I was about this meet.  The difference I think, is this.  Murph was a solitary event for which I could train over the course of a couple of months and completed with a few like-minded (possibly crazy) friends in the comfort of my own gym.  It was an event which could be scaled and adapted in so many ways failure was removed as an option.  The weightlifting meet wasn’t something I could train for.  I could and did practice the lifts, and certainly improved over time.  But there was no spotlight or crowd with which to get comfortable.  Though, ultimately, it is neither the spotlight nor the crowd I feared.  At the root, it wasn’t fear, it was self-identity that was the problem.  I didn’t (and to some degree still don’t) see myself as a weightlifter, or as a strong person.  I’m an athlete, or at least a person with athletic tendencies.  But I’m not a weightlifter. Looking at the other weightlifters, and possibly clouded by this image of Donny Shankle hanging in my gym:

Donny Shankle

I felt completely inadequate and not at all like a weightlifter, standing there on the platform, in my singlet; more like Scooter from the Muppets.

Definitely NOT Donny Shankle...

Definitely NOT Donny Shankle…

I’ve never considered myself as being afraid of much.  I’m willing to endure being uncomfortable, putting up with annoyance, doing what has to be done to succeed at my goals, etc.  I have a REALLY high “pain-threshold” when it comes to dealing or putting up with things most people won’t bother with. But putting myself out there in full view of the world, COMPETING, not just practicing, in an event where I don’t see myself as an equal to those around me, THAT was scary.

I’ve thought about this a lot over the past few months,  and I now wonder if this is what keeps many people from a life of re-invention, or even just making the small changes necessary to get them on the road to a new life.  Are people trapped in careers, marriages, being unhealthy, addicted to various substances simply because they can’t imagine themselves as any different?  Are they paralyzed by the thought of change?  Not failing to change, but by the idea that they aren’t who that new person needs to be?  I’m not talking about those who are just comfortable about where they are and have no desire to change anything.  I’m talking about those people who are so obviously miserable with their own existence, so uncomfortable in their own skin, always complaining about this, that, or another thing, and yet never do anything about it. That person, who, when you greet them and ask, “So, how are you?”, they reply with a litany of complaints longer than Santa’s list of naughtiness.  The ones who, the first hundred times, you offer some help, advice, comfort, etc. none of which is ever heeded.  Oh sure, they’re more than happy to listen and smile.  But also just as quick to explain why none of that will ever work for them. Worse, are the ones who agree with everything you say, give you a false sense that you’ve helped them, and yet completely ignore anything you’ve said…

Change can be scary.  Especially big change.  And it’s always scarier when you’re alone.  Being up there on that platform by myself was more than uncomfortable.  Yet, committing to and completing Murph, a feat much more physically demanding in both time and effort wasn’t one bit scary.  Why?  I had a team with me.  It wasn’t me up there by myself in front of a huge group of people all staring at ME.  It was me, and a bunch of friends up there determined to accomplish something great, for ourselves in honor of a hero.  The key being we were a team.  And with a team anything is possible.

Paul and I have formed quite a team over the past few months.  He’s made this here blog a reality by being my teammate.  And now we want to expand that team.  We want you on that team.  We want to help you change your life, in big ways and in small.  Whether it’s changing your diet, getting more sleep, or undertaking some new challenge, we want to help.  To do that, we’ve created a Facebook group called “30 Days in The Cave”.  It’s open to anyone and everyone. And we want you to join us.  Some of us will be committing to a 30 Day Paleo Challenge, others might want to scale things down a bit and start with something like my friend Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox.  Whatever your challenge, Paul and I are here to help.  More importantly, we want YOU there to help!  Paul and I are just two guys.  We don’t know all the tricks, tips, or secrets.  But the more of you who join, the more of you there are to help each other.  And one thing I’ve found is that you never know when that one thing you say, because of your unique perspective, might end up being exactly the one thing another person needs to hear to lift them up and help them on their way.

So, please, join us in The Cave.  We’re kicking off our 30 Days on Monday, January 6th and we hope to see you there!

Updated: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to It Starts with Food as Michael Pollan’s book.  In fact, that book is by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig of Whole9.com and The Whole30 Program. Michael Pollan’s book is In Defense of Food.

HOT Paleo Jambalaya!

I LOVE me some HOT Paleo Jambalaya!  It’s a great satisfying bowl of fiery hot goodness (at least in this house – you can feel free to tone it down). This one doesn’t need a roux to start and we use a cauli-rice to give that traditional look to the dish.  Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the completed dish for you but my onion gave me some love so I will share that with you!  Enjoy

HOT Paleo Jambalaya!


Even the onion loves HOT Paleo Jambalaya

Even the onion loves HOT Paleo Jambalaya



  • 2 Tbs bacon fat (or your favorite cooking fat) or 3 strips of bacon, diced
  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs or breasts , cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 lb andouille sausage, slice in half then into ¼” thick slices (half moons)
  • 1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined (chop up if large)
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (I use my lovely wife’s home canned version)
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 bell peppers chopped (I often use a bag of Trader Joes frozen pepper mix)
  • 3 stalks chopped celery
  • 3 cups chicken stock (make your own here)
  • 1 tsp salt (or less depending on what spice blend you use)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp Tabasco (or less or more)
  • ½ Tsp your favorite Creole spice mix or cayenne
  • 2  ½ cups raw cauliflower rice (pulse florets in food processor until looks like rice ~ 10 times will suffice).
  • Chives or green onions and parsley to garnish


Jambalaya often uses a roux to thicken and flavor this spicy Louisiana favorite but since I am wheat free, this is my way of getting the same depth of flavor without the wheat (evil grain).   Bacon also give a smoky depth to the dish if desired.  Make sure you know what is in your andouille too, cheaper versions often include gluten and/or wheat based fillers.


In a large stainless skillet or dutch oven, sauté the chicken and sausage with the bacon fat (or bacon pieces) over medium–high heat until sausage and chicken is nicely browned.  You are developing levels of flavor here.  Don’t be tempted to just cook the meat through, you want brown.  This will take about 10-15 minutes.  Add the stewed tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers and celery.  Continue to sauté until all the liquid is gone and the veggies are starting to brown as well, another 15-20 minutes.  This is an advantage of stainless, you’ll start to stick and caramelize the veggies you want this!  This process is replacing the toasted roux flavor.


Add about one cup of the stock and scrape up all those brown bits that have stuck to the pan.  Add the remaining stock and seasonings, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add cauli-rice and shrimp (and any liquid from the shrimp), cook another 10 minutes or so, you want the cauli rice to be al-dente.  Can mix in green onions and parsley now or sprinkle on top when serving. 


You can alternatively make the cauli-rice by roasting it in a 400 deg oven with some pepper and olive oil until it is lightly browned.  Serve the Jamba over it. 


Updated 12-14-2013

Copyright © 2013 “The Culinary Cave Dad”

Cranberry Meatballs and Cranberry BBQ Sauce

I’ve become fascinated with the humble cranberry ever since my partner in crime, the Thoughtful Cave Dad suggested roasting them with squash.  I’ve roasted with Brussels sprouts and bacon, cauliflower and other veggies as well as squash – fantastic flavor.  This dish came to me while I was thinking about what to take to a friends house for a party.  The sauce is a variant from another recipe from Whole Foods but I’ve eliminated the refined sugar and amped up the flavor profile somewhat.  Next time I plan on using dates for the sweetness.  This sauce is really savory with a bite as I like a more savory flavor profile but if you like sweeter, go ahead with some additional honey or your favorite sweetener!   The meatballs are really good as is but I like the addition of the sauce.  We’ll see how the party guests like it!  BTW the meatballs do include a nut flour to help with binding but you really don’t have to use it.


Cranberry Meatballs and Cranberry BBQ Sauce

IMG_2253 IMG_2256


1 ½ lb ground turkey
2 Italian Sausages (casing removed)
2 eggs
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1 cup cranberries
1 really big handful baby spinach
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp freshly minced sage
½ cup almond flour (omit if desired or sub other flour – coconut, arrowroot, etc.)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper


Preheat oven to 400 Deg.

Mince all the veggies and berries.  To get a really fine mince, I used a food processor and put in the onion, garlic, spinach and cranberries but you can hand chop as well (if you’re a masochist).  Mix all ingredients thoroughly (use your hands – no really, use your hands – put that spoon down).  I use a small scoop to form the meatballs and put them on a greased baking pan.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until meatballs are lightly browned and 160 deg internally.  You can stop here and enjoy them as is, they would be really good with some spaghetti squash.  Alternatively you can make the BBQ sauce below, put the meatballs in a slow cooker on low put in BBQ sauce and let simmer for 2-4 hrs.


Cranberry BBQ Sauce


3 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 6oz can tomato paste (read the labels – should just be tomatoes)
1 Tbs dry mustard (can also use Dijon)
1 ½ cup cranberries
¼ cup molasses (could also use dates for sweetness, will do that next time)
¼ cup + 2 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp cayenne
1 ½ cup chicken stock
½ tsp Tabasco
1-2 Tbs honey (if desired can add more if a sweeter sauce is desired)

In a 1 qt pot over medium heat sauté onions and garlic until golden brown. This will take about 15 minutes or more.  Don’t rush it, this will provide a real sweetness to the sauce and huge flavor.  Watch as it gets brown as you can go from caramelized to charcoal in seconds.

Add the tomato paste and molasses (or dates), stir briskly and cook for about 5 minutes to get some color on the paste.  Add cranberries, apple cider vinegar, cayenne, mustard, Tabasco, salt and pepper.  Stir occasionally and cook for about 5-7 minutes, you will start to hear the cranberries pop.  Add in the stock, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Blend the mix with an immersion blender (if you want to paint your walls) or stand blender (if you’re a wimp) adding honey in this step if desired. Add a little more stock or water if too thick.  This would be good on chicken or pork or a perfect match for those meatballs you just made!

Note: This recipe was featured in Divine Heath From the Inside Out’s Gluten-Free Slow-Cooker Roundup!

Updated 1-21-2013

Copyright © 2013 “The Culinary Cave Dad”

Happy Thanksgiving!

We don’t have a fancy Thanksgiving Post.

Or some extravagant recipe for this Day of Gratitude.

We don’t have any beautiful shots of our birds roasting in the oven.

Or all the amazing dishes we’re planning on eating today.

We haven’t done a big run-up to “The Big Day” with any of that stuff.

We don’t have some great Thanksgiving themed e-Book for sale, or even for free.
And we don’t have some spectacular give-away to promote our site with.

What we do have is Gratitude and Thankfulness for all of YOU!  Our 350+ friends, family, and strangers who have decided to follow us on Facebook, G+, Twitter, and our blog where we occasionally wax poetic and often long-windedly about all things Paleo and Family.  Your presence here is why WE are here!  So THANK YOU for providing us with all the fun Paul A. (The Culinary Cave Dad) and I have had in the almost 3 months since we started this thing!

A special Thanks to those early folks who joined us at the very beginning!  Both my immediate family and my other family at Crossfit Woodshed, especially Lynne and Christine!  Thank you to my friends who came along for the ride, and to all the family and friends of Paul A. who allowed him to drag you into this with us.  Without all of you early adopters we would never have gotten started!

Thank you to Paul A., The Culinary Cave Dad, without you in the kitchen as Head Chef, I’d be recipe-less!  Your friendship and partnership these last few months has made this adventure more fun than I ever expected it could be!  You’ve helped me eliminate my irrational fears and encouraged me every step of the way!  We are truly brothers!

Thank you to my friend Jeff, who trusted me enough to help him start his journey to being healthier and happier.  It’s a long road, and you’ve come a long way in a short time!  Thank you for trusting me and allowing me to share your story !

Thank you to Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites for your friendship, mentoring, trust, and encouragement!  Without all that, The Thoughtful Cave Dad would never have come to be!

Thank you to Bill & Haley, The Food Lovers, for your friendship, support, and never-ending supply of humor and inspiration!  Your cookbook Make it Paleo changed the game of cooking for me and continues to be my favorite, go-to reference when I need a new meal!

Thank you to George, The Civilized Cooking Caveman, for your Service, friendship, support, amazing Banana Bread, and for getting out there and proving that anyone can learn several new skills at the same time as changing careers.  You continue to be an inspiration to me!

Thank you to Orleatha Smith, Mrs. Paleo Eats over at Level Health Nutrition, for your friendship and most amazing smile on the Internet!  You make me smile every time you do! Thank for continuing to help me stumble along in this online world, something you wouldn’t expect a guy surrounded by technology his entire life to need so much of!

Thank you to Liz Wolf, Cave Girl Eats.  You’re constant nagging to “Just start a blog” in your E-mail Monday newsletter is a big part of the reason I finally started!  Thanks also for sharing your homesteading journey with us.  I live vicariously through you with every picture and story about your chickens and goats!

Thank you to Robb Wolf, whose book started it all for me.  Thank you for your generosity and time that you’ve put into this mission over the past 15+ years and leading the way!  Without you, none of us would be here on the road to health!

And most of all, a HUGE Thank You to the CaveWife and CaveKids, without whom I’d be lost.  Thank you for putting up with my obsessiveness about the Paleo Lifestyle, for telling me when I’m getting too obsessive, when I need to lighten up and relax.  Thank you for teaching me so much along the way these past few years!  I love you all so much and can’t imagine life without you!

And with that, Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you all enjoy a day filled with Family and Food.  Kick back, relax, and enjoy the day!


Paul L. The Thoughtful Cave Dad…