Saturday, July 31, 2010

Portabella Mushroom Paleo Burgers with Peppers and Onions

    I do a lot of talking about grass-fed beef around here, and it's about time I posted a recipe for it. As far as steak goes, I'm something of a minimalist: Steak is steak. It tastes like steak, and that's why I like it. No need to douse a good, thick steak with marinade, or, commit steak sacralege and smother it with A1--instead, salt and pepper usually do the trick for me, maybe a little bit of garlic smooshed into it as well.

     Burgers are a bit of a different ball-game though, and adding things to the meat to enhance and complement the flavors are what good burgers are all about. But how, you ask, can you have a Paleo burger without a bun? Easy! Just skip the bun! The meat is the most important part anyway, right?
     Yeah...I know, I know, it's not the same..but I'd much rather have a bunless burger than no burger at all.

    This particular recipe uses portabella (or portobello. or portobella.) mushrooms in it, but if you're not much of a fan of mushrooms, I urge you to maybe give it a try anyway (unless, of course, you reeeeally don't like mushrooms). Most people associate mushrooms with those rubbery pieces of chewy weirdness that come on pizzas--the crappy kind that come in a can. Portabellas are heartier, meatier, and, well, just better tasting in general.  Here, they actually serve a purpose: As I've mentioned before, grass-fed beef is much leaner than regular beef. What that means, is that with a grass-fed burger, the meat tends to dry out quicker on the grill because it doesn't have all the fat to insulate it. Mixing portabellas into the meat keeps the burgers moist and delicious, even if you overcook them a bit.

So check this out, it's like the easiest recipe of all time (originally inspired by this buffalo burger recipe):


Grass-Fed Portabella Mushroom Burgers Topped with Peppers and Onions
Makes: 4
*please be sure to note Mike's impeccable grill marks.*

For Burger:
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (you can use whatever onion you like, I'm kind of hooked on yellow ones right now)
8 ounces portobello mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teas. salt
1/4 teas. ground black pepper
1 pound ground grass-fed beef

For Topping:
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1/4 c. sliced onion
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  •  Finely chop mushrooms and onion in food processor (or the old-fashioned way, with a knife). You're probably thinking to yourself, "Holy crap! That's a lot of mushrooms!" Do not be alarmed--they will cook down a ton.   
  •  Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onions, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture begins to brown and most of the liquid is gone. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool until it is just warm, stirring every couple minutes.
  •  Once mushroom mixture has cooled, mix it into the meat a little bit at a time using your hands (yay!), then make into 4 patties.
  •  After that, preheat grill for high heat. Meanwhile, toss the topping ingredients in a heated skillet with olive oil. If you want, you can just use the same skillet as you did for the mushroom/onion mixture. You want to cook the peppers and onions until they're soft and topping-like. Add salt and pepper to taste, or whatever else you deem appropriate (garlic, maybe?)
  •  While your peppers/onions are cooking, place your burgers on well-oiled grill grates. Remember that grass-fed beef cooks a lot faster than regular beef, so don't expect them to be cooking long. Generally speaking, grass-fed beef takes about 30% less time to cook than conventional beef, and tastes a lot better when cooked between rare and medium, typically (any more than that and it becomes too tough, although this recipe lends quite a bit of moistness to the burgers, so medium well would probably still be good). Sear the burgers over high heat for one minute on each side, and then lower heat and cook and additional 2-3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. (For more tips on how to cook grass-fed beef, click here.)
  •  Remove from grill, and top with peppers and onions, and you're all set. Some people like to wrap their Paleo burgers in a lettuce leaf, but I'm not really big on that. If anything, it just makes me miss the bun more. Another suggestion I've seen would be to make the patties longer and thinner, and have them 'Double-Down style'--i.e. meat-toppings-meat, wrapped in paper. Personally, I'm fine with just having one by itself with some toppings, and feeling fancy-like and proper because I have to eat it with a fork.
A word about this recipe: The night Mike and I had these, neither of us thought that the burgers screamed "MUSHROOM!!"..Instead, the flavor was very subtle, not necessarily a crazy mushroom bonanza. So take that for what it's worth. Enjoy!


       Have any Paleo burger suggestions, toppings, or bun substitutes? Post them here!

 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Paleo For Dummies: Part II - Smart Foraging at the Grocery Store

    In my first Paleo for Dummies post, I covered the basics of Paleo meal building. Today, I'm going to cover some grocery store basics, including tips on how to put together a Paleo shopping list, how to navigate the aisles, what to avoid, and some ways to save a little cash on your grocery bill. There's a lot to cover here, so kick off your shoes and get comfortable.



First thing's first:  

 Have a Plan.

     - Just like most other aspects of life, the old "if you fail to plan, plan to fail," adage applies here.
  • Set Aside a Day (or part of a day, rather) for Shopping: I like to pick one day a week to do all of my 'big' grocery shopping for the week. For me, that includes hitting up Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Market District Giant Eagle over in the East End. This weekly Sunday ritual is something I look forward to, rather than dread. Gathering most of what I need for the week in one trip means less stopping at the store throughout the week (which in turn means I spend less money, and helps keep my eating more on track).
  • Write a List..and STICK to it!: Ah, this one is very important, especially for people just getting acclimated to Paleo living. It's generally a good idea to map out some sort of meal plan for the week--For me, that usually means planning one or two 'elaborate' meals (like the ones in this blog, which aren't really elaborate at all), and then grabbing enough basics (chicken, shrimp, vegetables) to put together a few different easy convenience meals throughout the week.
         Ideally, your grocery list should follow this basic outline:
         Meat-
         Seafood-
         Produce-
         Nuts/Oils-
         Spices/Herbs-
         Misc-
         Household-

        Look familiar? Yep, it's basically all the meal components from Paleo for Dummies I.
  • Focus on high-quality proteins first, produce second. If you're working within a budget (who isn't?), it's much more important to seek out grassfed/free-range "clean", organic meats than it is to worry about buying all organic produce.

      What if I can't afford grassfed beef all the time/It's not readily available in my area?

        -With meat, it's best to to opt for organic to avoid all of the pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones conventionally-raised meat contains. Grass-fed beef is more nutritious and has more omega-3's and vitamins, but if your budget doesn't allow for it, don't stress. If grass-fed is out of the question and organic is still too expensive, at least opt for leaner cuts of meat since most of that chemical crap is stored in the animal's fat. Eating fatty cuts of grass-fed meat isn't a problem though.
      -With chicken, free-range is best, but if it's unavailable, at least make sure you opt for organic, or the kind that doesn't have added antibiotics/hormones. If you can't buy free-range, stick with white meat and don't eat the skin.
      Also, consider cutting your portion sizes down. The bulk of your meal should be comprised of vegetables--your meat shouldn't really take up half your plate (although I have been guilty of this before, myself). Everything in moderation. :)

      As for seafood, opt for wild-caught for the most part (particularly with salmon). Fresh seafood is great..but is often expensive. Frozen seafood is typically cheaper, and you don't have to worry about it going bad.

        Which Produce Should I Include?   

        -First off, be realistic. Don't buy vegetables/fruits you aren't crazy about just because they're healthy and you 'should' eat them.  Odds are, they're just going to wind up rotting away in the fridge. Also, don't buy ingredients for recipes you aren't sure you're going to have time to make. Only buy what you KNOW you are going to eat in the next few days, otherwise you're just throwing money away.
      -Second, buy in season. Right now, grocery stores are pretty much throwing berries and summer vegetables at you. Eat them now, while they're cheap, because in a few months the prices will go up again. Not sure what's in season? Here is a decent list of when you'll find certain things in Pennsylvania (with links to other states as well).
      -Third, opt for more nutrient-dense veggies over their less nutritious counterparts. This means more green leafies like spinach, kale, and chard, and less things like iceberg lettuce, green beans, celery, and cucumbers.
    
      Local farmer's markets are all over the city right now, too, with many of them offering good produce for cheap. Shop around to find the best ones (if you're so inclined), and feel good about the fact that you're supporting your local farmers and your community, as well as getting the best of what's in season in your area. Clueless about how to find these? Here is a link to all of the farmer's markets in the Pittsburgh area, including an interactive map.

        Does it matter if my produce is organic?

        -In some ways, yes.  Conventionally-grown produce isn't as nutritious as it was 30 years ago, thanks to synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and growth chemicals that hamper fruits and vegetable's ability to synthesize nutrients and makes it harder for them to absorb them from soil. Plus, all of those chemicals and pesticide residues stay on your produce, which you wind up ingesting--and washing them doesn't really help much.
        Can't afford to go organic all the time? Here are 2010's top 12 foods with the highest concentration of pesticide residue (i.e., "The Dirty Dozen"), in addition to 15 foods you don't need to buy organic. Most of what you'll find on the Dirty Dozen list are fruits--which you should be trying to limit anyway. Consider this a good reason to cut back on your fruit intake (if you eat a lot, like I do. or. Did), while at the same time saving yourself some cash (i.e., instead of buying several bags of grapes throughout the week because they're cheap, buy one bag of quality organic grapes and make them last. Get the idea?)
       Avoid the foods with the highest amounts of contamination, especially if you have children, as higher levels of pesticide exposure in kids has been linked to a dramatically increased occurance of ADHD. The good news is that it only takes 7 days to rid your body of the pesticide residue by switching to organic produce, which is good enough reason to start eating organic today.

     What about frozen/canned vegetables and fruits?

.

  -When not in season, this is one of the most budget-friendly ways to get many fruits and vegetables.  Frozen veggies are usually cheaper, and many are bagged at the peak of ripeness, so they can actually be more nutritious than things you'll find in the produce section sometimes. Supermarkets usually offer good deals on these, so stock up when they're on sale. Frozen veggies are especially good for people who have the whole I-didn't-use-the-spinach-in-time rotting vegetable problem. Same with fruit.
      Canned fruit can (literally) be a bit sticky, as most of it is stored in heavy syrup or some kind of sugary liquid--if you buy canned fruit, look for kinds that have been packed in their own juice. Canned vegetables can be decent picks, as long as they don't contain added salt (Paleo Rule of Thumb: If it has a label, READ IT!). A lot of nutrients are lost throughout the preservation process, however, so try not to rely on them solely for your vegetable needs. It's worth noting that there are some exceptions-tomatoes being one, with more lycopene found in canned tomatoes and sauces than in fresh ones. Carrots and pumpkin are other good picks.
    Aww, Nuts...


    Don't go nuts with nuts.  Yes, they are a decent fat source, and are loaded with vitamins and all that jazz, but nuts are expensive (compared to oils), can screw up your omega-3/omega-6 ratios, and are easy to over-snack on. I prefer to eat them as a finishing touch to a meal, or a small snack, not by the fistful all throughout the day. Instead, a good-sized portion should be a small handful.  If you love nuts (ha ha), and know you have trouble with portion control, try rationing them out into small, single serving bags to keep you satiated without going overboard. I know there's a pun here somewhere about 'shelling out money,' but I'll spare the cheese and move on.

  What about oils? Which ones are best for cooking/grilling/etc?

   We touched on this a little in Paleo for Dummies I, but for a refresher, check out Mark Sisson's Definitive Guide to Oils. Top staple oils are olive oil and coconut oil, but feel free to add other oils for variety. You should always avoid vegetable, canola, any kind of hydrogenated oils, margarine, saturated fats from grain-fed animals,soybean oil, grapeseed oil, and trans fat. Everyone has their favorites, but it's best to stick with saturated fats (coconut oil, grassfed butter, ghee, lard, and tallow) for cooking at high temps, olive oil for cooking at medium temps, and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling and flavor after cooking. Other oils, like avocado oil or macadamia nut oil add great finishing touches to dishes as well (more information on this can be find in this great post by Balanced Bites.)
   Knowing the smoke point of different oils is also key when it comes to retaining their flavor, and getting the best of what each has to offer. This is a nifty little guide that tells the different smoke points, and the types of dishes that each oil works best with.
    Once every other week or so, I like to splurge on a new, different type of oil to expand my kitchen's flavor arsenal. This is the sort of thing that keeps things interesting for me, so I don't really get bored with the food I eat.

  Not much new to say about spices/herbs, except that I will stress again to keep you vupboard stocked with a good variety and experiment with new things!

 The "Misc" category is basically anything else you may need, foodwise--usually just stuff like unsweetened almond milk, eggs, vinegars, and whatever else that doesn't fit into any of the other categories. I always like to pick up a can or two of coconut milk to have on hand for a quick weeknight curry if I'm feeling saucy. It's all part of that who "well-stocked pantry/fridge" thing, which is sortof Paleo gospel.

Whew.

 Now that we're all clear on what to buy, here are some basic shopping tips:
  • Shop around. I know that reading the weekly circulars sounds like something your grandma does, but this is the best way to grab the best deals on the stuff you need. Also, here in Pittsburgh, you aren't just limited to Whole Foods for your Paleo necessities. Trader Joe's is typically cheaper, and Right By Nature offers some competitive prices as well, and they also offer online shopping/home delivery. Additionally, although I've never been there, I also hear the East End Food Co-op is pretty rad, too. Oh, and Giant Eagle's Market District has been building quite an impressive selection of organic, all-natural foods recently, so if you aren't in the mood for extensive foraging, it's pretty much a one-stop shop.
  • Buy some items in bulk. Bulk chains like Sam's Club and Costco offer great prices on bulk items, and have even started carrying some organic produce. Because yes, I REALLY do actually need a duffel bag of broccoli and a suitcase-sized container of spinach. Also, the rotisserie chickens at Sam's club are cheap (like $4.77), and, while they aren't free-range, they're now gluten-free and they don't contain added steroids, hormones, or antibiotics. I like to buy two, pull all the chicken off the bones, and Viola! Lunch for the whole week is served with hardly any extra effort on my part.
  • You have your list, so try not to deviate.
  • Shop the perimeter of the store. Don't go wandering down the Pringles aisle by mistake--you no longer have any business dealing with any of that, so steer clear, unless you just want to torture yourself.
  • Odds are, if it comes in a box or a cellophane wrapper, you don't need it.
  • If it contains ingredients you cannot pronounce, avoid it.
  • Use coupons! Another trick from up grandma's sleeve, clipping coupons is a great way to save on household items like laundry detergent, body wash, zip-loc bags, etc. Mike laughs at me and my little coupon organizer, but it's definitely worth the extra time spent clipping. Many grocery stores double coupons, too, which adds up to even more savings.
  • Avoid buying soda, juice, tea, etc, even if it is organic. Stick with good, old-fashioned water. It's cheaper (wayyyy cheaper), and just plain better for you.
  • Ask yourself, "Do I really NEED this?" for renegade items not on the list that find their way into your shopping basket.
  • On days throughout the week when you stop at the store to grab one or two things, don't get a shopping cart. Grab a basket or just carry items in your hands--that way, you get what you came for, and leave.
  • To really save money on produce, consider joining a CSA. We missed out last year due to extremely limited funds, but it's definitely something we're going to do this year. Like shopping the local farmer's markets, this is a great way to support community agriculture (ah, so that's what "CSA" stands for), and you get a good variety of local, seasonal items.
   I think that just about covers most of it. If not, here are some added links for your enjoyment:

 Have any other money-saving tips or anything you'd like to add? Post them here!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Maple Salmon and Mediterranian Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

      As you've probably gathered from reading this blog so far, I LOVE seafood. Shrimp, mahi mahi, swordfish, lobster, albacore and ahi tuna are among some of my favorites (or, they were before I got pregnant. Swordfish, I'm talking to YOU). More than any other fish though, salmon is king in my book.  It is a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with Omega-3's, high-quality protein, vitamins A and D, plus B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorous, and magnesium. Oh, and it tastes reeeeeally good, too. 

     When choosing salmon (or any seafood), it's important to opt for wild-caught, and avoid any fish that is farm-raised, for a lot of the same reasons that it's better to buy grass-fed beef over the commercially-raised kind. Most farm-raised salmon contains (in addition to a laundry list of other toxins): pesticides, antibiotics, and artificial colorings to give them that rich pink or red hue they wouldn't otherwise have (which has been linked to eye defects and retinal damage). Farm-raised salmon has less Omega-3s than wild-caught, less protein per ounce, and more PCBs, which have been shown to increase cancer risk. Not to even mention the environmental havoc these fish farms are wreaking.

     You get the picture.

     I wasn't trying to ruin your appetite there, but it's definitely something to keep in mind when you're out perusing the fish counter.

     On to the NOMS!

As you can see, I'm not very good at flipping salmon properly. :)

      This Maple Salmon recipe dates back to my Pre-Paleo days, where it's been one of my top salmon preparation methods for the past couple years. I wish I could take credit for it, but it is only slightly modified from a recipe from allrecipes.com (the original found here).

Maple Salmon
Serves 4

 Ingredients:
   1/4 cup maple syrup
   2 tablespoons coconut aminos or wheat-free tamari
   1 clove garlic, minced
   1/8 teas. salt
   1/8 teas. ground black pepper
   1 pound salmon

  • In a small bowl, mix together the syrup, coconut aminos/tamari, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • Place salmon in a ziploc bag and pour marinade in with it.
  • Let marinate about 30 mins - 1 hour, tops. (Salmon has a richer flesh and can hold up to marinating a little longer, but generally speaking, seafood shouldn't marinate longer than 30 minutes or else it will turn mushy. Or, in the case of an acidic marinade, begin to 'cook'. Think ceviche.)
  • Grill: Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place salmon on lightly oiled grill grate and cook for 4-6 minutes per side.
  • Oven: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place salmon in shallow baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until it flakes easily with a fork.
A few things about this recipe: Like honey, maple syrup is considered "Paleo-friendly" because it is an all-natural, from-the-earth sweetener. But while it is Paleo-friendly, it should only be used sparingly. If you really want to reap the true benefits of the Paleo lifestyle, including weight-loss, balanced energy, and optimal performance (particularly with high intensity workouts), you should definitely keep the consumption of these things to a minimum. Eating Paleo doesn't mean that you can eat as much sugar as you want, as long as it's within the confines of the "natural sweeteners" category. It's still sugar!
     Mark Sisson does a good job outlining what he calls the "Carbohydrate Curve" Here.--Stay within those guidelines and you'll be fine. Keep in mind that our brains are trained to desire sweetness in food--once you veer away from using things to sweeten, you will find that the cravings for them will diminish (former candy addict, speaking here.)
         But hey. Don't be afraid to live a little. A little maple syrup or honey here and there isn't going to kill you, and if it'll keep you from going off on a full-on candy binge, by all means, have it! I just feel like I needed to clarify on the topic, since my last couple posts have involved honey/syrup. It's definitely a once-in-awhile treat.

       The next recipe I made as a somewhat salty, savory companion to the maple salmon. I drew inspiration from this recipe on Epicurious, adding a few things along the way. It's a hearty, filling salad made with some of my Mediterranian veggie favorites. Oh! and Bacon!

Mediterranian Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
Serving Size depends on how much you decide to make.
The dressing usually makes enough for 3-4 servings.

Ingredients:
   Salad: (Try and use your best judgment here. Use more of what you like, less of what you don't)
   Baby spinach
   Olive oil
   Artichoke hearts, halved or quartered (I used the frozen ones from Trader Joe's, defrosted.)
   Red onion, sliced
   Portabella mushrooms, sliced
   Roasted red peppers (to save time, I just used the ones from a jar--in water, not oil. Again, Trader Joe's.)
   Pine nuts
   Salt and pepper to taste

   Dressing:
   One package of uncured, all-natural bacon (the package I used had 10 slices of bacon)
   2 garlic cloves, minced
   1/4 teas crushed red pepper
   1/2 teas. dried thyme
   1/2 teas. dried oregano
   1-2 T Sherry wine vinegar
   1/4 teas salt or to taste
   
  • Cook bacon over medium heat to desired doneness. Transfer to paper towels.
  • Turn off heat, set skillet with drippings aside
  • Heat olive oil in a separate, medium-sized skillet on medium-medium/high.
  • Saute onions until they begin to soften, then add artichoke hearts, red peppers, and mushrooms.
  • While veggies are cooking, start heating the bacon skillet again on medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper,thyme, and oregano, stirring until garlic begins to brown slightly (about 1 min). Add vinegar and stir, then add salt. Scrape up those browned bits. Trust me, you want them in your mouth.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Place baby spinach in salad bowl or plate, top with cooked vegetables and a small crumble of bacon. Pour dressing on top, as well as a sprinkle of pine nuts. You may also want to add some crushed black pepper or a little more salt here.
A few things about this recipe: Not much to add here, except to say that the bacon dressing may need tweaked to suit your tastes depending on what kind of bacon you use. Some bacon produces more grease when cooked than others, and some brands are saltier than others, so you may need to adjust the amount of vinegar/salt.  Regardless though, you really can't go wrong with anything bacon.
    The night I made this, the bacon fat was actually from bacon I cooked for breakfast--we didn't add any to the salad (because there wasn't any left). It's never a bad idea to save some bacon fat to use in recipes like this, or to use to add a little extra (BACON!) flavor to a vegetable/meat you're cooking. Any bacon left over from this recipe can be stored in a ziploc bag in the fridge for a quick meat snack fix.  Also, it's a good idea (it's always a good idea) to make extra veggies. These ones are great in an omelette the next day!

      That's all for now.

In case you wanted to learn more, here are some good links to stuff about wild caught vs farm-raised salmon:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Honey-Chipotle Grilled Shrimp with Creamy Avocado Salsa


       Er. *Ahem*. Hi again.

       So this past 4th of July weekend, we held our first CrossFit South Hills BBQ. There was an amazing turn-out, and an even more amazing array of Paleo goodness: Tons of fresh fruits and veggies, grilled chicken, grass-fed steak, a couple of different vegetable salads and salsas, Paleo cookies, and these bad-ass bacon-wrapped, chicken-stuffed jalapenos that one of our members, Nathan, made. No one went home hungry, that's for sure.

      I brought several things to share that day, but the two stand-out dishes of mine were the honey-chipotle grilled shrimp and the avocado salsa.


     Apologies for the picture quality--the first night I made these we couldn't find the camera so we used Mike's camera phone. Getting this in our stomachs while it was still hot-off-the-grill took priority over getting a good photograph. (Hey, it happens.)

      The salsa recipe I found on Epicurious, tweaking it to better suit my Paleo/personal taste (used more tomato, wayyy less salt, olive oil in place of vegetable oil, etc.).  This site, as I've mentioned before, is my go-to favorite for Paleo recipe ideas.  Many of them (the meat and vegetable dishes, at least) are already Paleo, and others, like this one, are easy to 'convert.'

      Ok, first off, before we even get into anything else, I need to tell you about a delightful contraption I took possession of recently, that has made my salsa-making kitchen time way less sucky and tedious:

Behold! The Vidalia Chop Wizard!

     Seriously, this thing is awesome. I found it for $19.99 at Target, but I'm pretty sure you can get it anywhere that kitchen devices are sold (Walmart, Amazon, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, etc). If you're a stickler for uniform-sized chunks in your salsa and hate chopping stuff, this is for you. Anyway, I just had to give it a shout-out since it definitely made my life easier this past weekend.

      Back to the recipes!

Creamy Avocado Salsa
Serves 4

 Ingredients:
2 avocados
3-4 small-to-medium sized vine-ripened tomatoes
3/4 c. red onion, chopped fine
1 jalapeno, diced fine (more if you like more heat)
5 T lime juice
1 T extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1/2 teas. salt or to taste
  •   Chop up avocados. Not sure how to do this without messing it up? Here is a great How-To from Simply Recipes.
  • Set aside
  • Next, in a separate bowl, chop up your tomatoes. I seeded mine first. (Another How-To, here). In the same bowl, add onion, jalapeno, oil, salt, and lime juice.
  • Using your hands, gently fold the avocado into the the tomato mixture a little bit at a time. this will keep it from getting overly mushy.
     That's it! Now, a few things about this recipe: 5 tablespoons of lime juice is a lot. While I typically advocate the use of all-fresh ingredients, if you're on a tight budget, the recipe will still turn out fine if you use one of those little $.79 lime-shaped bottles of 100% lime juice you can get at the grocery store. I won't tell anyone, I swear.
       I said to use 3-4 tomatoes--this is a matter of personal preference. If you want avocado to be the shining star here, go with three. If you don't mind tomato playing the 'best supporting actress' role, add another one. Or two.
      Also, make sure your avocados aren't overly ripe. The couple of times I've made this recipe, I got slightly ripe avocados, and the salsa wound up with a creamy (as opposed to salsa-y) texture, hence the name of the recipe. Not necessarily a bad thing, but if you were to use really ripe avocados, it would wind up looking more like guacamole. Regardless though, I will admit that this isn't the prettiest salsa in the world, no matter what you do. It tastes good though--that's all that matters!
      This salsa will keep for a few days in the fridge--try it alongside some bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, or with grilled chicken breast for lunch.
    
    You definitely, DEFINITELY have to try it with the next recipe though! It is pretty much food nirvana when paired with the salsa. 
     This one is an original collaboration between me and Mrs. Dash. She is one sassy bitch.

    Honey-Chipotle Grilled Shrimp
Serves 2, with a little leftover. Leftovers are good.
  Ingredients:
    3 T honey (I used organic wildflower honey from a local farmer's market)
    4 T olive oil
    1 teas. cumin
    Salt to taste (one twist of my sea salt grinder is enough for me)
    Dash of oregano
    A few squeezes of lime juice
    20-25 medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  •  Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl.
  •  If it seems too thick (from the honey), whisk a small amount of warm water in it to thin it out a bit.
  •  Add lime juice
  •  Place shrimp in bag and pour most of marinade in to coat. Save small reserved amount to brush on while cooking.
  •  Fire up the grill.
  •  If you're going to do the skewer thing, skewer up those bad boys. Or use a grilling tray. This particular time, I used some pre-soaked cedar papers (found at Giant Eagle) and just wrapped a few shrimp in each, placing them seam-side down on the grill, which gave them a nice, woody taste that complemented the other flavors well. Whichever way you choose, shrimp cook pretty quickly, so you want to keep an eye on them.
  •  Grill on medium heat, about 3-4 minutes per side, or until they turn opaque. You definitely don't want to overcook them, or they'll be tough and rubbery. No one likes rubbery shrimp.
      A few things about this recipe: This is one recipe that is virtually impossible to mess up. I made several batches of these at the bbq without proper measuring utensils and very approximate ingredient proportions--in fact, I think I stuck with a simple 3 spoonfuls honey, 3 spoonfuls olive oil, 3 spoonfuls Mrs. Dash ratio--sometimes more or less and it still turned out pretty freakin' good.
    Also, I've never really used lime juice in my cooking much before, but have always heard cooks on TV talk about how it 'brightens up a recipe.' I really had no idea what that meant until I gave it a shot with this.  If you taste the marinade before and after, you might experience the same "aha!" moment I did, so don't skip the lime unless you want to miss out on it's pleasingly subtle awesomeness. You could even add an extra squeeze of lime to the shrimp while they're cooking if you're an extra big fan of lime's zing.

     Good stuff!

     Before I go, here is a cool link that one of our members, Mike B. shared with us this week with lots of great, easy grilling ideas to keep things interesting this summer (not all are Paleo, but a good deal of them are):

101 Fast Recipes for Grilling

    Try any of these, or the recipes above? Have any suggestions? Let me know what you think!