Monthly Archives: March 2013

Coffee Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage and Blueberry Salad


This is one of the most delicious and exciting new dishes I’ve made in a while. It reminds me of something you’d get in Hawaii with all the colorful fresh veggies, and of course the pork would be rubbed in Kona coffee. Maybe I’ll move there and open a beach-side food stand. Until then, I’ll just enjoy this bright meal and daydream of luaus, crystal blue water, and volcanoes.

I love this purple and blue themed cabbage salad–the flavors pair together perfectly and it is so refreshing to both the taste buds and the eye! It is a great complement to the rich flavors in the coffee rubbed pork. I served them with a bunch of beautifully in-season asparagus and some sauteed mushrooms and pearl onions I had left in the fridge. Delicious!IMAG0688-1 (1)

Coffee Rubbed Pork Tenderloin (adapted from Gobo Root) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 3 to 4)

  •  1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly ground coffee
  • 2 tsp. coarse ground sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. macadamia nut oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the ground coffee, sea salt, sugar (if using) and cayenne pepper in a small food processor. Pulse until mixture until finely ground and well combined. Rinse the pork and pat dry. Cover the pork with the rub, cover, and refrigerate to marinate for 2 hours.

Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add the pork tenderloin and sear, 1-2 minutes no each side. Transfer the pork to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes. Cover the pork with tin foil and let rest on the counter for 5 minutes. The meat should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Slice and serve with red cabbage salad (recipe follows).


Red Cabbage Salad with Blueberries and Goat Cheese (slightly adapted from Sweet Paul Magazine) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4)

  • 1/2 head organic red cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 c. organic blueberries
  • 1/3 c. pistachios, toasted
  • 4 Tbsp. organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place shredded cabbage in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes. Drain water and pat cabbage dry. Place all ingredients in a bowl. Toss well and season with salt and pepper.

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Primal Meatballs and Homemade Ricotta Cheese


Spaghetti and meatballs has always been one of my all-time favorite dishes, especially my dad’s meatballs! I’ve always made his recipe which uses ground turkey, so I wanted to try a more traditional recipe with ground beef and ground pork, but still with some of Dad’s best tricks, like using a muffin pan to bake the meatballs instead of frying. The oven still gives them a nice browned exterior without all the grease. The result=deliciously flavorful, moist meatballs that I topped with sweet tomato sauce and fresh homemade ricotta cheese. This will definitely satisfy any craving for spaghetti and meatballs and you can serve it over roasted spaghetti squash if you like. Great for guests or when you are really in need for some Italian comfort food!


Meatballs (Difficulty-Easy; Makes 8-10 large meatballs)

  • 1 lb. organic free-range 85% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork (organic if you can find it)
  • 1/4 lb. prosciutto, chopped
  • 1/2 large sweet onion (preferably Maui), grated
  • 3/4 c. almond meal
  • 1/2-3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh organic parsley
  • 1/2 c. organic buttermilk
  • 1 large organic free-range egg yolk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. organic ketchup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 recipe of Don’s famous Pomodoro sauce

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a muffin pan with olive oil based cooking spray. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir with your hands to incorporate together. Gently form into large round meatballs (I made 8) and add each to its own well in the muffin pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Test the meatballs with your fingers–they should have a little give but be firm enough that your fingers spring back when applying a little pressure. You can also test with a meat thermometer. They should be around 145 degrees in the center. Let cool in pan for about 5-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make tomato sauce according to recipe. Transfer meatballs to sauce pan and turn to coat. Serve with fresh ricotta cheese (recipe follows), drizzle of high quality finishing olive oil, spaghetti squash, and parmesan cheese.



Fresh Ricotta Cheese (slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine) (Difficulty-Intermediate; Makes ~1 cup cheese)

  • 6 1/2 c. organic whole milk
  • 1 1/2 c. organic heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. organic distilled white vinegar

Line a large sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth or paper towels and set it over a large bowl.


Bring the milk, cream and 1 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a large nonreactive pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the lemon juice and vinegar and cook, stirring, until the mixture curdles, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into the prepared sieve and let drain, at least 5 minutes or up to 30 minutes for thicker cheese. There will be a lot of liquid (whey) left over as it only makes a small amount of cheese. You can actually redo the process with the leftover liquid to make even more ricotta. It also makes great cooking liquid! I used it in place of broth in my cauliflower rice and it gave it even more flavor. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I drizzled finishing oil on mine and seasoned with a tiny bit of salt.


Raspberry Maple Breakfast Quinoa


Most of my days begin with a protein smoothie, but every once in a while I like to change it up so I don’t get sick of them. When it comes to food, and all of life really, I’m all about variety! So here’s another breakfast option for all my primal friends out there. And it can be made with so many other flavors too. I think next I’ll make blueberry or cinnamon pecan.


Raspberry Maple Breakfast Quinoa (Adapted from Katie at the Kitchen Door) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4)

  • 1 c quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 c coconut milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 2 c organic frozen raspberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c pecans
  • 1/4 c pure organic maple syrup (I use grade B)

Add the quinoa, milk, and 1 cup of the raspberries to a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Let simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until quinoa has unfurled, about 15 minutes.


Keep a close eye on it, as simmering milk frequently froths up and can burn fairly easily. Once quinoa is done, stir in cinnamon, pecans, maple syrup, and remaining raspberries. Enjoy warm. This can be easily made ahead and reheated for a quick breakfast before work or even on-the-go.


Hearty Chickpea Pasta


I still remember when my dad first saw an idea for this recipe from Mario Batali on the Food Network many years ago. He always gets so excited about new recipes, especially pasta–must be where I get it from! I have been in love with this dish ever since he first made his much more exciting version of it, and have adapted it into my own over the years. It is a great comforting hearty dish for a winter day, one where you are cheating and eating pasta of course. I think this sauce could also be could with quinoa or even zucchini ‘pasta’ if you wanted to try to make a lower carb version. I had some organic rotini in the pantry so I used that, but I think the texture of the sauce goes best with mini rigatoni.


Pasta with Chickpea Puree  (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 4-6)

  • 8 oz. organic mini rigatoni or other pasta shape
  • 4 Tbsp. cold pressed organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow or red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs organic celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 organic carrot, grated or finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2-1 c. reserved pasta water or organic chicken broth
  • 1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Put a large pot of salted water up to boil. Cook pasta according to box directions, reserving one cup of cooking water (if using). When al dente, remove the pasta to a strainer and run under cold water to stop the cooking process–there’s nothing worse than overcooked pasta!

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, celery, and carrot, and saute until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, chickpeas, and red pepper flakes and cook another 2-3 minutes.


Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. While blender or food processor is still running, add the cooking water or chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time until the mixture is smooth but still thick. Drizzle in remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked pasta and sauce to the skillet and stir until heated through, adding more pasta water or broth as needed to achieve the preferred texture. I like my sauce to be thin enough to coat the pasta, but still thick enough to be creamy and hearty. Serve with a generous heap of parmesan cheese and a light drizzle of high quality finishing olive oil (I love their McEvoy Ranch Organic Olive Oil that my brother got me at Whole Foods).


Cheese and Chile Stuffed Mushrooms


I made a delicious Primal version of the Food Network’s cheese and chile stuffed mushrooms this week. They were packed with flavor and added some nice variety to my meals. They would also make a great and easy appetizer or snack for guests! I added bacon to mine for some extra protein (and flavor), but these are easily made vegetarian by simply leaving it out.


Cheese and Chile-Stuffed Mushrooms (Adapted from the Food Network Magazine) (Difficulty-Easy; Makes 4 large mushrooms)

  • Cold Pressed Organic Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 4 medium organic Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 organic scallions, sliced
  • 1 poblano or Anaheim chile pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c. almond meal
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh organic parsley or cilantro, or both
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 c. shredded organic cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/3 c. Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 slices of crispy cooked bacon (optional) 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with a little olive oil (I actually used about 2 Tbsp. of leftover bacon grease-yum!). Remove the stems from the mushrooms and coarsely chop them. Scrape the gills from the underside of the mushroom caps using a spoon; discard.


Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, half of the scallions, the chile pepper and garlic and cook, stirring, until the pepper is soft, about 4 minutes. Add the mushroom stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup almond meal and cook 1 minute. Remove from the heat; stir in the parsley or cilantro and season with salt and pepper.


Stuff the mushroom caps with one-quarter of the chile pepper mixture and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. If using, break bacon into small bits and add to mushrooms. Top the mushrooms with equal amounts of cheddar cheese. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the cheese is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Top with the greek yogurt, remaining scallions, and a pinch of chopped parsley or cilantro.