Primal Gourmet Paleo Primal and Healthy Recipes Tips and Kitchen Trips Mon, 17 Sep 2018 23:13:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pesto Potato Salad – Whole30 Mon, 17 Sep 2018 23:13:00 +0000 Pesto Potato Salad is an ideal side dish for a summer BBQ or weeknight meal. It's easy, delicious and real crowd pleaser!

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I brought this Pesto Potato Salad to a friend’s BBQ yesterday and am happy to say it was a hit! Either my friends really enjoyed it or they’re amazing liars! I’d like to think it’s the former but you never know these days!

Pesto Potato Salad Primal Gourmet Whole30 Easy

Though the BBQ was not exactly a potluck, I decided to bring something homemade anyhow. Partly because I think it’s a nice gesture, but mostly because I’m currently doing a round of Whole30 and wanted to make sure there was a compliant side dish that I could enjoy!

You may have noticed I’ve been eating my weight in Basil Pesto at the moment. My mother’s garden is overflowing with basil so I’m making the most of it while it’s still around. If you find yourself in a similar situation, pesto is a great idea.

I like to keep my pesto very simple and easy (you can find the full recipe here). It’s made with only a handful of ingredients and can be blended together in a mason jar using an immersion blender  or you can throw everything into a food processor.

The pesto will last up to 5 days in the fridge or you can store it in mason jars, freeze and use throughout the winter months. It goes great on just about everything, including my Perfect Zoodles, Emergency Roast Chicken, and Crispy Fried Eggs.

As far as the Pesto Potato salad goes, it’s as simple as boiling some baby potatoes until fork tender, draining them and letting them come to room temperature before tossing in an appropriate amount of pesto. You can also try gently smashing a couple of cooked potatoes with your hands before tossing in the pesto. This way you can get some creamy texture throughout the salad.

It’s a great side dish to bring to a gathering because it’s easy, can be made ahead of time and can be served at room temperature!

Pesto Potato Salad

Pesto Potato Salad is an ideal side dish for a summer BBQ or weeknight meal. It’s easy, delicious and real crowd pleaser!

  • 2 lbs new potatoes
  • 1/4 cup Easy Basil Pesto
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with a four-finger pinch of kosher salt and add potatoes. Cook until fork tender.

  2. Drain potatoes and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Let potatoes come to room temperature.

  3. Using your hands, gently smash the larger potatoes. Leave the smaller ones whole.

  4. Add Easy Basil Pesto (recipe here) and gently toss potatoes to coat. Best served at room temperature.

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Easy Basil Pesto – Whole30, Paleo Fri, 14 Sep 2018 17:29:29 +0000 Everyone should have a jar of Easy Basil Pesto on hand year round. You never know when you're going to want a big spoonful of summer in a jar!

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So, the summer months have passed and you’re left with more basil from the garden than you know what to do with?! No? Me neither! I recently moved to a condo and had a hard enough time growing basil when I had an actual garden. What can I say? I don’t have a green thumb.

Nevertheless, that shouldn’t stop a single soul from making this Easy Basil Pesto. It’s dead-simple, requires only a handful of ingredients and can be stored in the freezer for the winter months ahead!

Easy Basil Pesto Whole30 Paleo Primal Gourmet

Basil Pesto tastes amazing on just about everything. Try tossing it with big handfuls of my Perfect Zoodles, spooning it over some Emergency Roast Chicken, or some Crispy Fried Eggs, or even using it as a salad dressing with some leafy greens! The possibilities are truly endless!

Unlike traditional basil pestos, this recipe is completely dairy-free, which makes it both Whole30 and Paleo compliant. You’d never guess though. It’s creamy, rich, luxurious, and packed with tons of fresh and vibrant flavours! It’s basically summer in a sauce!

Easy Basil Pesto Whole30 Paleo Primal Gourmet

If you want a mini arm workout, you can make this Basil Pesto the old-fashioned way by using a mortar and pestle. Or, you can cheat and blend everything with your immersion blender directly in a wide-mouth mason jar. Alternatively, you can use a food processor but I find that you lose quite a bit of the Basil Pesto in the process of transferring it to a storage jar.

The purists will undoubtedly kick and scream at the thought of blending basil (a big no-no in Italy), but I think it’s totally fine. Especially considering how tasty the finished product is.

I leave the choice up to you. You’re the boss, applesauce!

Easy Basil Pesto Whole30 Paleo Primal Gourmet

The Secret to the Best Basil Pesto?

For maximum flavour with minimal effort, you MUST toast the pine nuts before making the pesto. This is done by simply adding the pine nuts to a dry skillet and heating them over med-low heat for 12-15 minutes or until they are golden brown and fragrant. Just be sure to keep an eye on them and move them regularly so that they don’t burn!

Easy Basil Pesto – Whole30, Paleo

This Easy Basil Pesto is Whole30 and Paleo friendly. It’s as simple as adding everything to a wide-mouth mason jar and giving it a whirl with your immersion blender. 

  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (lightly toasted until golden brown)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil ( preferably cold-pressed)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Add raw pine nuts to a dry skillet and heat over low heat until golden brown (approx. 12-15min). Move regularly to avoid burning.

  2. Add pine nuts and remaining ingredients to a wide-mouth mason jar and pulse with immersion blender until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as required. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

  3. Go get a massage because you deserve it after all that hard work in the kitchen!
  4. Come back to enjoy your pesto with ALL THE THINGS.

Note: this works in a food processor and blender but that involves more clean up!

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September Whole30 Reflections (almost mid-month) Wed, 12 Sep 2018 19:34:48 +0000 I'm almost mid-way through my September Whole30 and felt the need to reflect on the program. This is as much for me as it is for anyone else who needs it.

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september whole30 reflections

It’s only day 12 and I can already say that the September Whole30 has proven to be a surprisingly challenging month for my third round of the program.

With my brother’s birthday, Rosh Hashana, and the upcoming eve and culmination of Yom Kippur, I’ve had and will continue to have my work cut out for me. I’ve already said, “no thank you” to more bread, pastries, pizza, pasta, rice, sugar, alcohol, ice cream, chips, and everything in between, than I did throughout all of August.

My brother had to change restaurant reservations so that I could eat at this party (we went to an Italian restaurant. I ordered steak and veggies). I love him for doing that for me, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty.

The usual suspects crept up at each gathering.

Friends and family said, “Just have a taste, it’s not a big deal.”

“It’s your brother’s birthday! You’re not even going to have a slice of cake? That’s rude!”

Or, “It’s Rosh Hashana! Not eating chala bread and matzo ball soup would be a sin! You’re offending your ancestors”

My favourite one yet, “don’t worry, we won’t tell your Instagram followers. It will be our little secret.” As if I was doing this to entertain others.

Before long, I was even trying to convince myself! “They’re right! Just enjoy today and start again tomorrow!”

Had I truly considered these things in advance, maybe I wouldn’t have gone through with the program. There are just too many obstacles! Too many holidays and events! The challenges would just be too great! I wouldn’t enjoy myself! It would be easier to schedule it for October!

Unlike many in the community, I didn’t wait until September 3rd, the ‘official’ start date of the September Whole30. Instead, I started on the first, Labour Day, and there’s a reason for that.

Truth is, there’s no such thing as a perfect time for anything, Whole30 included. There will always be a reason, condition, event, wedding, circumstance, job, or trip. Before you know it, it’s December and the holidays are coming. You’ll tell yourself, I’ll wait until January to change my life. But I’ll probably be nursing a hangover on January 1st so best to wait until the 2nd!

To this day, I credit my personal rehabilitation to the decision to act immediately. Some of you may have read a bit about my health journey here. For those who haven’t, let me paraphrase. On December 23, 2012, the night of my birthday, probably still drunk, I wrote a list of intentions and committed to changing my life the very next day. I did not wait until New Year’s. I was tired of waiting. I always let myself down. That year would be no different from the others so why expect anything else?

I learned that intentions are one thing. Actions are another. I love the saying, “The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.” Dreaming has come natural to me for as long as I can remember. What I had to teach myself was hustle. Hard work trumps talent every day of the week.

September has reminded me that I, perhaps like some of you, need to continue to work at my relationship with food. Over the years, I’ve gotten much better at learning to identify triggers and foods that don’t sit well with me. But I’m far from perfect. I am an ‘at-risk’ eater. I am, and likely always will be, at risk of falling off the wagon. When it comes to food, I have a very, very hard time having ‘just one’ of anything. Be it potato chips, a slice of pizza, beer, or shot of whiskey. What can I say? I love it all and am very generous with my love!

So, how did I get back to a place where I found myself in need of more structure? So much so that another round of Whole30 was in order? After all, as the “Primal Gourmet”, I’m supposed to be a walking example of the Paleo lifestyle. At least, that’s what people have told me I’m supposed to be.

Well, I indulged this summer. Perhaps a bit too much. Catalina and I went on a three-week trip to Romania with our family. It was full of amazing local eats, wine and beer! Lots of beer! I came back feeling more than sluggish so doing a September Whole30 made sense for me. Not as a way to repent for my sins. But as a way to recalibrate my compass.

I veered off of true-north and want to get back on track. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less.

There’s been a recent trend amongst members of the Whole30 team and its community warning people of abusing the program. Many are using Whole30 to the same effects as a yo-yo diet. You binge for months at a time (the summer months and December, for example) with the expectation of leaning heavily on the program for a month to atone for your guilty pleasures. You shed a few pounds, feel a bit better about yourself and then it all goes south the day after the program when you reward your hard-earned rewards with a plate of pasta and bottle of Chianti. That’s right, I said bottle!

Even a blind man on a galloping horse can see that this is a dangerous and debilitating cycle. It defeats all of the hard work you’ve put into rehabilitating yourself and your relationship with food.

I’m not a certified Whole30 coach, so take this with a grain of salt, but the above warning should not be confused with postponing the program when you need it most. If you’ve fallen off the wagon and find value in the structure that Whole30 offers, I say use it to your advantage. Especially during the hardest times of the year.

The same thing goes for those mid-program who slip, be it accidentally or mindfully. All hope is not lost and you should not throw the baby out with the bath water!

Whole30 works best when it challenges you. When it pushes you so far outside your comfort zone that you question it day in, day out. This is where the magic happens. This is where you realize things about yourself you never even stopped to consider. At least, that’s what’s happened to me.

And when you smash through these obstacles, you are rewarded with the greatest sense of accomplishment that no one can deny you of.

You can triumph. You can succeed. And when you do, you will realize that no one else is doing the work for you.

YOU are in control.

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Short Rib Ragu – Whole30, Paleo Mon, 10 Sep 2018 20:55:04 +0000 This Short Rib Ragu is easy, delicious and tastes even better the next day! Try serving it with zucchini noodles or cauliflower purée!

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Short rib ragu might just be one of my all time favourite things to eat and cook! I know, I know! I say that about everything. But this time I really mean it! It’s easy, insanely delicious and tastes even better the next day!

I’ve written a bit about Ragu in general before, specifically when I shared my Instant Pot Lamb Ragu recipe. But I’ll save you the hassle of jumping pages and repeat some of the fundamentals here. Unless, of course, you want to make Lamb Ragu with your Instant Pot.

Speaking of, this can definitely be made in the Instant Pot. I’ve gone ahead and included both the stovetop and Instant Pot versions below!

Short Rib Ragu Whole30 Primal Gourmet Paleo Recipe Easy

Short Rib Ragu Whole30 Primal Gourmet Paleo Recipe Easy

Ragu, a primer…

Ragu, in case you were uncertain, isn’t just the stuff you buy in a bottle at the grocery store. If we’re talking the real-deal here, ragù is a rustic, Italian meat-based sauce that is slowly cooked and typically made with wine and/or tomatoes. The ratios will differ, as will the types of meat used. Ragù can be made with beef, veal, pork, venison, boar, ox tail, short rib, sausage, lamb, rabbit, and the list goes on.

It can be made with ground meat, or larger cuts like shoulder, leg, ribs, etc. Variations will inevitably differ depending on region, family and tradition. Some people will include milk in the sauce, others cream, and others will curse you for six lifetimes if you add either. Sometimes you will find the sauce being flavoured with oregano and thyme, or it can include rosemary and sage. But you never, ever add cilantro!

Short Rib Ragu Whole30 Primal Gourmet Paleo Recipe Easy Short Rib Ragu Whole30 Primal Gourmet Paleo Recipe Easy Short Rib Ragu Whole30 Primal Gourmet Paleo Recipe Easy

‘Bolognese’ is perhaps the most popular ragù. It’s North America and Europe’s darling ‘pasta sauce’. Of course, you’ll never catch an Italian calling anything Bolognese without using the word ragù in front of it. The absolute best ragù Bolognese I ever had was in a small town called Biassa, a few kilometres from Riomaggiore in the Liguria region of Italy. I can still taste it! You can read a little bit more about that experience and watch my video for Simple and Delicious Paleo Bolognese here.

As mentioned, most ragù recipes call for using wine to braise the meat. Though wine will yield a very delicious sauce and help to break down tougher cuts of meat like lamb leg or shoulder, it is not entirely necessary. I have made more ragù than I care to admit – with and without wine – and I am so confident in my alcohol-free, entirely paleo and Whole30 compliant versions that I will put them up against any nonna’s recipe. The only thing this recipe can’t compete with is the childhood threat of getting nonna’s wooden spoon to the back of the head if you don’t finish it all and lick the plate! In that respect, nonna wins – no contest.

Short Rib Ragu Whole30 Primal Gourmet Paleo Recipe Easy

If you like ‘Bolognese’ you’ll LOVE this Short Rib Ragu

Today, I’m sharing a slightly different version of the classic Italian dish. This Short Rib Ragu is very similar to my ‘Bolognese’ but uses large chunks of lamb leg instead of ground meat. The result is a beautiful, rich, hearty sauce full of shredded, melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

I love to serve Short Rib Ragu over my Perfect Zucchini NoodlesIf you’re not a fan of zucchini noodles or haven’t had luck making them, you MUST read this secret tip for making zoodles!

In the fall and winter months, try serving this Short Rib Ragu with this Cauliflower polenta. It’s every bit as flavourful as corn polenta but won’t leave you feeling weighed down. The flavours go so well together too! The sweetness from the cauliflower plays very nicely with the richness of the lamb and earthy flavours from the rosemary. The dish is best when rounded off with some beautiful, Garlicky sautéed greens. You can use kale, chard or even collards.

Short Rib Ragu Whole30 Primal Gourmet Paleo Recipe Easy

Instant Pot vs. Traditional Braising

I made this Short Rib ragu in my mother’s 9qt Le Creuset Dutch ovenIt’s not exactly the cheapest pot in the world but it’s an heirloom piece that can be passed from generation to generation.

However, as mentioned above, this Short Rib Ragu can also be made in the Instant Pot (see recipe below).

Speaking of, the ragu can also be made in a slow cooker, if so desired. For the latter, it will take approximately 6-8 hours on low heat and 3-4 hours on high. I still recommend browning the meat and sautéing the vegetables before adding to the cooker. The choice is yours!

If you read my Instant Pot Review then you know that my Lamb Ragu is one of the recipes that convinced me of the benefits of having an electric multicooker. By using the Instant Pot, you can reduce the cooking time by more than half and the flavours are still remarkable.

Nevertheless, I am also an advocate for the time-honoured tradition of making good food slowly, even though we don’t always have that luxury. If you want to cook this Short Rib Ragu in your Instant Pot, feel free to follow the exact same steps outline in my Lamb Ragu recipe here.

In case you are wondering, I own the Instant Pot V60 6Qt 6-in-1 and I whole-heartedly recommend getting an Instant Pot. But before you do, I encourage you to read my review first.

For a more comprehensive list of my favourite kitchen tools and cookware, visit the shop page on my blog.

I hope you like this recipe and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below!




Short Rib Ragu – Whole30, Paleo

~Stovetop Method~

This Short Rib Ragu is Whole30, Paleo, gluten-free & every bit as flavourful as traditional versions. Try serving it with zucchini noodles or cauliflower purée and sautéed greens.

  • 2-3 lbs beef short rib (boneless or bone-in)
  • 1 medium-sized onion (diced)
  • 3 celery stalks (diced)
  • 2 carrots (diced)
  • 1 head garlic cloves ( smashed, left whole)
  • 2 24-oz jars tomato passata
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-7 sprigs fresh thyme
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves (roughly torn)
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  1. Preheat Dutch oven over med-high heat for 5 minutes. 

  2. Meanwhile, pat short ribs very dry with paper towel. Season all sides with kosher salt.

  3. Add avocado oil to preheated Dutch oven, raise heat to high and brown all sides of the short rib. Transfer browned meat to bowl and set aside.

  4. Add onion, celery and carrot – season with a pinch of kosher salt. Sautée vegetables until softened (approximately 10-12 minutes). Be sure to scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pot.

  5. Add garlic, cook an additional 60 seconds.

  6. Return browned meat to pot, add tomato passata, thyme, and bay leaves. Season with freshly-cracked black pepper, stir to combine, bring sauce to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and cook 2.5-3 hours or until meat is fall-apart tender.

  7. Transfer meat to a bowl and shred with two forks. Discard thyme stems and bay leaves.

  8. Return shredded meat to pot, add torn basil leaves and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as required. Note: If ragu has reduced too much, simply add a little bit of stock to reconstitute.

  9. Serve overtop of cauliflower purée, mashed potatoes, or zucchini noodles.


Short Rib Ragu – Whole30, Paleo

~Instant Pot Method~

This Instant Pot Short Rib Ragu is Whole30, Paleo, gluten-free & every bit as flavourful as traditional versions. Try serving it with zucchini noodles or cauliflower purée and sautéed greens.

  • 2-3  lbs  beef short rib boneless or bone-in
  • 1  medium-sized onion diced
  • 3  celery stalks diced
  • 2  carrots diced
  • 1  head garlic cloves smashed (left whole)
  • 2 24- oz jars tomato passata
  • 2  bay leaves
  • 6-7  sprigs fresh thyme
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1  handful fresh basil leaves roughly torn
  • 1  tbsp  avocado oil
  1. Set Instant Pot to Sautée mode and allow to preheat.

  2. Meanwhile, pat short ribs very dry with paper towel. Season all sides with kosher salt.
  3. Add avocado oil to preheated Instant Pot and brown all sides of the short rib in batches. Transfer browned meat to bowl and set aside.

  4. To the Instant Pot, add onion, celery and carrot. Sautée vegetables until softened (approximately 10-12 minutes). Be sure to scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pot.

  5. Add garlic, cook an additional 60 seconds.
  6. Return browned meat to the Instant Pot, add tomato passata, thyme, and bay leaves. Season with freshly-cracked black pepper, give everything a stir and cook on Sautée mode until the sauce comes to a simmer. **Note: this will help reduce the time it takes to seal the Instant Pot and Initiate the cooking timer.

  7. Close the lid, set the pressure release valve to the ‘Sealing’ position and program the Instant Pot to Manual Mode, High Pressure for 60 minutes. **Note: You can also use the ‘Meat/Stew’ mode with High Pressure for 60 minutes.

  8. After cooking time has elapsed, depressurize manually, and switch back to the Sautée mode to reduce the sauce to desired consistency. Discard thyme stems and bay leaves.

  9. As the sauce reduces, use a pair of tongs and a fork to shred the meat in the pot.

  10. Add torn basil leaves and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as required. Note: If ragu has reduced too much, simply add a little bit of stock to reconstitute.

  11. Serve overtop of cauliflower purée, mashed potatoes, or zucchini noodles.

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How to Make Perfect Zucchini Noodles Mon, 10 Sep 2018 20:10:22 +0000 There's a secret step to making the most perfect, al dente zucchini noodles and you'll never guess what it is! It's as simple as...

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Tired of soggy zucchini noodles? You know, the ones that leave a pool of sour, green liquid at the bottom of the bowl! Well, there’s a way to avoid that and make perfect zucchini noodles every single time!

The best news? It could not be simpler!!!

Strangely enough, most of the recipes I’ve seen involving zucchini noodles never call for this step. Why? I have no idea!

I’ve seen recipes that involve steaming the zucchini noodles, pan-frying them, microwaving them, and just about everything in between. All of these things can be done but they WILL NOT get rid of the excess liquid you see floating under your bowl of ragu!

How to make Perfect Zucchini Noodles 

in 3 Easy Steps:

1. Spiralize Zucchini:

I know, this is an obvious step but have you ever considered the integrity of your zoodle? You want long, luxurious strands of ‘pasta’ that dance between your mouth and plate. I’m sorry to say that using a dollar store variety spiralizer just won’t cut it!

I am a big fan of the OXO Spiralizer. It’s sturdy, easy to use, comes with three blade attachments and is fairly compact.

How to Make Perfect Zucchini Noodles Primal Gourmet Whole30 Paleo Easy

2. Salt Your Zucchini Noodles

Yes, you read that correctly! You MUST salt your zoodles. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the secret!

Mind blow, right?

It’s really that simple, I promise. All you have to do is season your zoodles with a pinch of salt (kosher or other) and massage all the strands to coat.

Then place the zoodles in a collander set over a bowl and wait. In just a few minutes, liquid will start to drain from the zoodles into the bowl. After about 30 minutes, almost all the liquid will have drained.

If necessary, or if working with a large batch of zucchini noodles, you can help the process of draining the liquid along by gently squeezing the zoodles. You’ll notice a tremendous amount of liquid releasing.

How to Make Perfect Zucchini Noodles Primal Gourmet Whole30 Paleo Easy How to Make Perfect Zucchini Noodles Primal Gourmet Whole30 Paleo Easy How to Make Perfect Zucchini Noodles Primal Gourmet Whole30 Paleo Easy

3. Stop Cooking Zucchini Noodles

This is probably the most difficult concept for people to grasp.

Zucchini noodles do not need to be ‘cooked’. Instead, try warming them up by tossing them in whatever sauce you’ll be serving them with.

For example, if making my Short Rib Ragu, all you need to do is add the drained zoodles to a pan with the sauce and toss to coat. The heat from the sauce will be enough to warm the zoodles without killing the ‘al dente’ texture.

You’ll end up with a perfect, toothsome bite of zucchini noodles that will surprise even the most serious skeptic!

Short Rib Ragu Whole30 Primal Gourmet Paleo Recipe Easy

I hope these simple steps help you achieve zoodle greatness because there’s nothing worse than a soggy bowl of ‘zpaghetti’!

Am I right?

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What to Consider When Buying Cookware Tue, 04 Sep 2018 18:51:06 +0000 Buying cookware can be challenging! Especially when you don't know what to look for! Read this list of things to consider before buying any pots and pans!

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When it comes to buying cookware, there are quite a few things to consider. Do you get a set? Do you buy individually? What do you even need?

Your top priorities when buying pots and pans are cost, quality and material. After that, aesthetics, or the way things look, become an important, albeit subjective, factor.

In a perfect world, these three things will align in perfect harmony. Generally speaking, they actually do when you fork over a pretty penny. In the world of cookware, the old adage rings true; you often get what you pay for. Nevertheless, even those on a fairly conservative budget can still find great quality cookware at a reasonable price, which also happens to look good.

Keep in mind that in the same way that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t choose cookware based solely on looks.

Sure, I like shiny, new objects as much as the next guy (OK, maybe even more), but pots and pans are tools and they serve specific purposes. It’s far more important to have functional cookware than something that just looks pretty. Don’t get me wrong, having a matching 10-piece set of pots and pans is great but who cares if your salmon filet keeps sticking to the bottom of the sauté pan?

What to Consider when Buying Cookware Primal Gourmet

Cookware Sets vs. Individual Items

The question of cookware set vs. individual items is perhaps the most common one I get asked.

There is no single answer here. It really depends on the cook. To get a small discount (and to save time on decision making), many people choose to buy a 10 or 12-piece set of matching pots and pans. They rarely stop to think if it’s actually what they need!

Oftentimes, this appears to be a ‘cheaper’ and ‘easier’ way to go. This rings especially true for first-time, rookie buyers who don’t necessarily know what they need in the kitchen or how much to spend on it. Cookware companies are smart and many of them play to your shortcomings. They know you’ll most likely want to go the quick-and-easy route and end up coming back for more because you don’t have everything you need! Don’t fall into this trap unless you are absolutely certain it’s the right fit for you.

Before purchasing a cookware set, you should read my list of Essential Pots and Pans for Every Home Cook. You’ll see that some essential items are never included in sets.

If you still insist on purchasing a cookware set, here are a few things to consider:

What’s Included? You may think you’re getting a better deal, but are you? Cookware sets often include similar pots or pans in two different sizes. Ask yourself if you really need a 2qt and a 3qt saucepan. Chances are you don’t and can just get away with a single, 3qt one.

What’s Missing? If you love to make soup and stock, you’ll undoubtedly need a stockpot. Does the cookware set include one? What size is it? 6qt is the bare minimum size I recommend for stockpots. Also, keep in mind the list of everyday essentials! Last time I checked, no cookware set included a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. Grill pans are also usually sold individually. Keep in mind that you will still need to factor in the cost of certain items regardless of how much you pay for a matching set of cookware.

Are you falling into the trap of ‘X-number’ of items included? Cookware sets are always counted by the number of pieces sold, this includes lids! That means that a 10-piece set probably only consists of 5 or 6 pots and pans and 4 or 5 lids. Again, think about what you need and what you’ll use.

What Material is the Set? Are you looking into a fully stainless steel set of cookware? If you plan on cooking perfectly scrambled eggs, you’ll still need a non-stick skillet (especially if you’re a beginner home cook). On the other hand, are you purchasing a fully non-stick set? If so, which pan do you expect to perfectly sear your steak in? Answer: you’ll want cast-iron!

The bottom line when it comes to buying cookware sets is to consider the usage of each item included. The set may or may not actually be cheaper than buying things piecemeal or one at a time if you factor in which items you actually end up using.

Giveaway GreenPan Revolution Williams Sonoma Primal Gourmet Whole30

Top Considerations: cost, quality, material, aesthetics

Regardless of whether or not you purchase a set or individual pots and pans, you should still consider these three things:

1. Cost

 I highly recommend defining a budget and staying within it. Otherwise, before you know it, you’re in over your head and have to explain why you just spent $200 on a pot you already own in a different material! What can I say? I got 99 problems and buying unnecessary cookware is one.

You should, of course, only buy what you can afford. However, you should always keep quality in mind. One of my favourite sayings is, “If you buy cheap, you buy twice.”

Being “pennywise, pound foolish” is not the name of the game here. Instead, make informed decisions and purchase the best quality as possible for your hard earned coin. Investing in a high-quality pot or pan may actually save you money in the long run if you take proper care of it.

This doesn’t mean you always have to buy the most expensive pots and pans on the market. The good news is there are tons of options these days.

You should also regularly check to see if things go on sale in stores and online.

There are even some new kids on the block that are cutting costs by selling directly to the customer online and foregoing retail, brick-and-mortar middlemen. I have yet to personally try them, but companies like Made In are something to consider.

Another way to save money is to check the racks at house ware stores like HomeSense, TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, etc. I have seen outrageous sales on Le Creuset Dutch ovens, Lodge Cast-Iron skillets and All-Clad Roasters, to name a few. We’re talking up to 60% off MSRP.

2. Quality:

Quality is almost always proportionate to cost. However, you don’t have to break the bank to get decent, everyday cookware that will last a long time if you take proper care of it.

One of my favourite brands for non-stick skillets is Ballarini. The cookware is made in Italy and part of the Zwilling group of brands.

I am particularly fond of their Granitium non-stick coated pans. They are some of the most durable I have ever used and most are PFOA and heavy metal-free. I continuously recommend them to friends and family!

3. Material

There are a few subtopics when it comes to the ‘material’ of your pots and pans.

A. What do you like to Cook?

The material of your cookware will factor into what you can and do cook in it. For example, uncoated cast-iron is not best suited for acidic foods like citrus or wine. You also cannot boil water in it or the pan will rust.

You should, therefore, consider what you like to cook most often. Do you find yourself grilling a lot of lean protein indoors (chicken, steak, etc)? If so, you’ll probably get more use out of your cast-iron cookware, which can withstand high heat.

If, on the other hand, you cook more soups and stews, stainless steel pots might be where you should invest more money.

Try to determine what you cook and what you want to cook. The last thing you want to do is splurge on a stainless steel set of pots and pans only to realize you really love to eat eggs every day of the week.

B. Cooking Surface:

Do you have an electric, gas or induction cooktop? Is it glass? Are you afraid of scratching it?

If you have an induction cooktop, you have no choice but to look for compatible pots and pans. Luckily, cast-iron is naturally compatible.

C. Handles

Some pots and pans come with handles made from different materials. If you want something that you can cook on the stove and in the oven, you will need to find one with oven-safe handles.

D. Lids

Lids are often overlooked when it comes to buying cookware. You always want to look for ones that are tight-fitting.

Also, consider the material of the lids. Are they glass or steel? Glass will allow you to see what’s going on in the pot during the cooking process.

As with the handles, you should consider if the lids are oven safe. A heavy-bottomed, shallow, stainless-steel stockpot performs similarly to an enameled Dutch oven. If you have a tight-fitting stainless-steel lid, you can most likely cook with it in your oven.

4. Aesthetics:

To put the aesthetics conundrum into perspective, let’s compare Lodge and Finex. Both companies manufacture exceptional cast-iron cookware. Whereas a 10” Lodge cast-iron skillet will set you back about $15 USD, a comparable Finex skillet runs for about $170 USD.

If you have the budget for a Finex and appreciate the beautiful, stainless-steel, coiled handle, I say go for it! Does it cook any better than the Lodge? Not necessarily. The choice, therefore, is up to you. For all I know, owning a Finex skillet has been your dream! Who am I to stand in the way of that?

2016 Holiday Gift List For Foodies Kitchen Ideas Chef Home Cook Gifts Vitamix Chemex


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Essential Pots and Pans for the Home Cook Tue, 04 Sep 2018 18:48:22 +0000 Every home cook should have these essential pots and pans in their cookware arsenal. Each piece is practical and allow you cook nearly everything!

The post Essential Pots and Pans for the Home Cook appeared first on Primal Gourmet.

2016 Holiday Gift List For Foodies Kitchen Ideas Chef Home Cook Gifts Vitamix Chemex

I take great pride in my collection of cookware. It’s big, beautiful and carefully curated with unique pieces that I’ve picked up here and there.

Recently, I had to downsize because my wife and I moved into a condo with very little storage space. I quickly found myself having to pick favourites that would make it into our new home. Luckily, whatever I didn’t take is being stored in my parents’ basement. Thank goodness because I’m not ready to part with most of it just yet!

The overarching question I had to face was: what do I need? More specifically,

What are the essential pots and pans I can’t live without?

Of course, I brought more than necessary because I’m an over-achiever. But if I was asked (as I often am) to list what I consider to be the essential pots and pans for every home cook, this is what I’d include:

  • 2 non-stick skillets (6″ or 8″ and 12″ or 14″)
  • Cast-iron skillet (10″ or 12″)
  • Enameled Dutch oven (5.5qt or larger)
  • Sauté pan (5qt)
  • Sauce pan (3qt)
  • Stock Pot (6qt or larger)
  • Baking sheet with oven-safe wire rack (13″x9″)
  • Ceramic roasting dish (13″x9″)

For first time buyers or those looking to make some changes, purchasing cookware can be a daunting task. I’ve been doing it for over 15 years (I bought my first pan when I was 16) and still find it challenging. There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of companies to choose from and thousands of options when it comes to shape, size, and material. You also have to decide if you want to commit to buying a full set or just buy things individually.

Before you know it, you want to give up your search altogether and stick to cooking everything on your beat up, old, Ikea pan. You know! The one your mom bought you before going to college! It sits in a cupboard on top of your glass cutting board. Oh, the horror!

The bottom line is whether you’re a beginner home cook or a foodie fanatic, Chef’s Table-watching food blogger (what? You don’t watch Chef’s Table?), you’re going to need a few essential pots and pans to cook with. This is especially true if you actually want to enjoy the process of cooking!

In this article, I’ll share the types of pots and pans I think are essential for the beginner homecook. In other words, it is my humble opinion that everyone should own ALL of these. With the essentials in your arsenal, you should be able to cook just about anything and everything, with a few minor exceptions. I will also share which specific models/brands I personally own and recommend. Sadly, even though I really want to, I won’t be sharing any of my favourite specialty pans, griddles or braisers in this article. Those are not essential and need to go on a separate list.

For a more comprehensive list of kitchen items that I recommend, including knives and cookbooks, you can visit the Shop Page on my blog.

Basically, I’ve approached this list with a newly-wed couple in mind (mostly because that’s who keeps asking me to write this article). Having said that, I think it equally applies to a single person, small family, or anyone that is looking to start from scratch or even add to their arsenal. After all, I’m listing the essentials.

The common thread with each of these pots and pans is their versatility. I hate the idea of a unitasker (credit: Alton Brown) so I’ve done my best to select things that can tackle a variety of jobs in the kitchen.

By purchasing versatile cookware, you ensure that you will use everything you buy (i.e. no useless purchases, as my brother calls them) and you will have less storage space to worry about (something I took for granted before moving into our condo).

 For a more general list of things to consider when buying cookware, please read this article.

Disclaimer: If you’d like to take my recommendations, as many have happily done in the past, terrific! I kindly ask you to please purchase through the Amazon affiliate links provided. I earn a (ridiculously) small commission on purchases made on Amazon. Most of these items are actually cheaper on Amazon anyways and you don’t pay a penny extra by clicking these links. In the process, you help support my blog and feed my family! Thank you very much in advance!

Non-Stick Skillet – 6” or 8” and 12″ or 14”

Paleo Pancakes Easy Recipe Best Sunday Breakfast Primal Gourmet

I recommend a minimum of 2 non-stick skillets.

I always keep a 6” or 8” non-stick skillet solely for frying eggs. If you’ve ever tried making a French omelette with anything but a great, non-stick skillet, you know exactly how valuable this pan is. Nothing else touches this pan but eggs, unless I’m making a western-style omelet, in which case I will lightly sauté some vegetables and or bacon in it.

I also keep a 10” or 12” skillet that I use for frying fish, reheating leftovers, sautéing vegetables, making Paleo PancakesSalmon Cakes or Sedaring Scallops. It’s ideal for anything you want to cook over med-high to low heat and don’t want sticking.

I don’t care what the owner’s manual or the Reddit trolls tell you, NEVER, EVER, put these in the dishwasher and don’t you dare use anything but a wooden or silicon spatula on them. Wash them with warm soapy water and the soft side of a sponge promptly after each use.

As for storage, you can either purchase a set of felt protectors or place pieces of cut up cardboard between each pan when stacking. It’s best to store them separately though. They will eventually get scratched.

Brands I Recommend:

Buy on Amazon

  • I am a huge fan of any of the Ballarini Granitium coated pans. They’re PFOA and Heavy Metal Free and most models have a helpful Thermopoint indicator that lets you know when the pan is hot (helpful for beginner cooks).
  • They’re the most durable non-stick skillets I’ve ever used. My first Ballarini Bologna has been my egg pan for over two years and it’s still turning out insanely good omelettes.
  • I also have a set of GreenPan Revolution cookware that I use as my daily driver. GreenPan is renowned for its ‘healthy’ and ‘clean’ ceramic cookware that is free of toxic materials. The Revolution line is only sold at Williams Sonoma and isn’t exactly the cheapest. But it is durable and as long as you care for it, you should get your money’s worth.

Cast-Iron Skillet – 10” or 12” 

Thai Braised Curry Chicken Paleo Primal Gourmet Whole30 Healthy Recipe Easy

The workhorse of any kitchen is a cast-iron skillet. It’s practical, safe, versatile, affordable and, with proper maintenance, will outlast you. You can use it on the stovetop, throw it in the oven, or even cook with it over open fire.

Everyone should own a 10” cast-iron skillet, at minimum. It’s big enough to cook a spatchcocked chicken but not as clunky as a 12”. If you have the storage space for another cast-iron skillet, I recommend getting a 6.5” skillet for crispy eggs!

A well-seasoned, cast-iron skillet will be virtually non-stick. Where it differs from non-stick skillets proper is in its ability to withstand outrageously high temperatures. Most non-stick skillets can only withstand temperatures of up to 400F. Some can handle 450F. Anything above that and the materials start to break down. Cast-iron, on the other hand, can handle temperatures of above 500F, which means they’re safe for almost all home ovens.

I use it for my Perfectly Seared Steak, Cajun Roast Chicken, Breakfast Hash, Crispy Eggs, and everything in between.

Perhaps the biggest issue/deterrent for most people is seasoning and maintenance. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think!

Watch my detailed video on how to how to perfectly season your cast-iron pan.

Brands I Recommend:
Lodge Cast-Iron Primal Gourmet

Buy on Amazon

  • I am a big fan of Lodge cookware. They’re affordable, great quality and easy to care for.
  • If you want to drop a couple extra dollars, Finex Cookware is a connoisseur’s piece

Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Oven – 5.5qt or larger

Paleo Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Soup Easy Weeknight Supper Idea Primal Gourmet Recipe

An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is one of my favourite pots to cook with. Cast-iron takes a little while to heat up, especially over an electric stovetop, but it maintains heat very well and distributes it evenly. These pots are suited for stovetop and oven cooking, which means they’re versatile and practical. You can do everything from boil, sear, fry, roast, braise and bake in them. They’re also great for soups!

The enameled coating protects the cast-iron from rusting and does not involve any seasoning (cast-iron seasoning, that is).

I recommend purchasing a Dutch oven that is at least 5.5 qt so that you can tackle larger batches of soups, stews, ragus and/or braised whole-cuts of meats (think lamb shanks!). Remember, a 5.5qt Dutch Oven can do everything a 4qt one can, but not the other way around. You might as well get the larger size since the price difference won’t be that significant.

I use my Dutch Ovens for things like Bolognese, Barbacoa, Beef Stew, Osso Bucco, Shepherd’s Pie, and so much more!

Brands I Recommend:
Staub Cocotte Amazon Primal Gourmet

Buy on Amazon

  • I love my Staub Dutch ovens (also called cocottes) like my children. They sit perched atop my kitchen shelves like trophies. They’re heavy, conduct heat well, have tight-fitting lids and are durable. They are not cheap but you pay for quality and design. They are made in France and have a lifetime warranty that protects against defects. I also like that the Staub lids are lined with a dimpled interior that funnels moisture directly back onto whatever you’re cooking, as opposed to cascading down the sides or just the center. The interior is coated with a dark enamel, but it does not require seasoning like untreated cast-iron.
  • Le Creuset is another excellent option. Like Staub, they cost a pretty penny but, again, you get what you pay for. These lack the dimpled lids and have a light-coloured interior, which means you can get a better idea of how the fond develops on the bottom of the pot. However, this also means that you are more likely to see any scuffs or discolorations. Personally, the discolouration doesn’t bother me since the inside of the pot is meant to be used. However, I have had some readers tell me that they obsess over a perfectly cleaned interior.
  • Looking for a budget-friendly option? Consider this Lodge enameled Dutch oven. It may not be as fancy shmancy as Staub or Le Creuset but it will get the job done!

Alternatively, if you are in the Toronto area, head to any Home Sense store and try to find a Cuisinart Dutch oven. They usually have a few on sale for a fraction of the retail cost. It was the very first Dutch oven I owned and used it for years (you can see it in action in my Bolognese video). I passed it on to my brother and sister-in-law after getting my Staub.

Sauté Pan – 5qt

Whole30 Cod alla Diavola Primal Gourmet Easy Recipe

I used to think sauté pans were not essentials, until I found myself cooking with one almost everyday of the week.

Unlike a skillet, the high walls of a sauté pan prevent oil splatter. They also give you the option of using the pan to cook things like smaller batches of soups and stews, pan-roasts, meatballs, and stir-fries. You can also use it to shallow-fry things like my Cod Fritters.

Like your Dutch oven, it’s better to go a bit bigger with your sauté pan. 5qt is a good target size. Since this pan is often used to brown things, surface area is crucial. The larger size will pull off everything a smaller one can and more.

Stainless steel is a practical choice for sauté pans. Whichever you purchase, look for one that has a heavy bottom. A thin bottom will transfer heat too quickly and scorch your food and/or pan at high temperatures.

Brands I Recommend

Buy on Amazon

Sauce Pan – 3qt    

Buy on Amazon

You may not always want or need a giant stockpot or Dutch oven. Having a smaller sauce pans is ideal for making smaller batches of soup, reheating leftovers, blanching vegetables, boiling potatoes, or making sauces. The long handle and smaller surface area also makes them more suitable to reducing sauces over the stovetop.

They can also be used to make big pots of Turkish-style coffee, just saying.

Brands I Recommend:


 Stockpot – 6qt or larger

Buy on Amazon

Although your Dutch oven can likely handle just about everything your stock pot can, sometimes you will find yourself needing to use both at the same time. Or, you may find that your Dutch oven is just too heavy and you can’t stomach the idea of lugging it in and out of the kitchen sink for cleaning. My wife, for example, dreads the thought of having to wash dishes after I make a hearty stew!

Having a fitted steamer basket/insert is also quite useful. Most of the time it comes at no extra cost so you might as well try to find a model that includes one. Personally, I like to use it for steaming broccoli, cauliflower and other veggies. If you cook pasta, it serves as a built-in colander.

Unless you plan on making giant vats of stock, a 6qt pot should be sufficient for a small family. If you want something bigger, you might as well go with an 11qt or higher. No sense in getting anything in between.

Brands I Recommend:

Baking sheet with Oven-Safe Wire Rack – 13″ x 9″

Spanish Sheet Pan Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Olives Whole30 Paleo Primal Gourmet

I don’t bake many cookies but I do use my baking sheet very often.

They’re perfect for sheet pan suppers like this Sesame-Ginger Salmon or Spanish Chicken situation. I also like to use them for my Emergency Roast Chicken and Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

As far as sizing goes, the standard is 13 x 9.5”. It’s perfect for family-sized meals and double batches of my Paleo Biscotti.

Brands I Recommend

Buy on Amazon

  • The USA pans are great and can be purchased with cooling rack inserts that fit snugly within the pans. This is important for easy clean up. Simply fill the sheet pan with hot, soapy water. Flip the cooling rack upside down and lay flat in the water to help degrease. If you purchase a cooling rack separately, make sure it fits the dimensions of your pan and that it is oven-safe.

Tip: save yourself some clean up by always lining the sheet pan with some parchment paper. Unless, of course, you are broiling, in which case the parchment paper can catch fire!


 Ceramic Roasting Dish – 13″ x 9″

Fennel Citrus Salad Primal Gourmet Healthy Vegan Recipe Ideas

These are not only great for baking casseroles and lasagnas, but you can also use them to serve food in. Personally, I prefer ceramic ones to glass because I think they make for better presentation pieces.

Most recipes call for 13X9” pan so it’s a good idea to get that size.

Brands I Recommend:

Buy on Amazon

  • This one by Staub is terrific. Staub makes fantastic ceramic products that are backed up by the same warranty as their cast-iron products.
  • For a budget-friendly option, consider this one by Lodge.

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16 Things to Cook This Long Weekend Fri, 31 Aug 2018 20:51:35 +0000 Looking for Grilling Ideas? Check out this list of 16 Things To Cook This Long Weekend. All the recipes are Paleo and many are Whole30 compliant!

The post 16 Things to Cook This Long Weekend appeared first on Primal Gourmet.


I don’t know about you but I’m always counting the days until the next long weekend! They’re a time to relax, hang out with friends and family, and cook! As many of you know, I’m partial to grilling up a feast every chance I get and this coming long weekend I intend to throw down some serious eats over open flames! Not exactly sure what I’ll be cooking just yet but I am taking requests so if you fancy a new recipe, feel free to drop a line in the comments box below!

In an effort to help you ditch the monotony of frozen patties and depressing hot dogs, I’ve put together a list of my absolute favourite things to grill or have at a summer BBQ. All of the recipes are Paleo and many are Whole30 compliant. Just be sure to read the ingredients to find out which ones are right for you!

You’ll find everything from my famous Whole30 Greek Burgers, which should be consumed whether doing a round of Whole30 or not, to a refreshing Watermelon, Tomato and Jalapeño Salad. Feel free to add one or two recipes to your lineup or build an entire menu with an appetizer, main course and plenty of sides!

P.S. The Warm German Potato and Asparagus Salad is not to be missed! Trust me 😉

As always, if you cook a recipe be sure to share it on Instagram and tag @primal_gourmet so I can follow along!

Happy Cooking!

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GIVEAWAY – PRIMAL GOURMET X TRAEGER Mon, 27 Aug 2018 22:02:39 +0000 I've teamed up with my friends at Traeger to give away 3 (three) of my favourite aprons. I practically live in this thing and am stoked to share the love!

The post GIVEAWAY – PRIMAL GOURMET X TRAEGER appeared first on Primal Gourmet.


GIVEAWAY – Primal Gourmet x Traeger

(contest now closed)

Giveaway - Traeger Canvas and Leather Apron

 Contest Ends 02/09/18 @ 23:59EST

Enter Now!

I’ve partnered with my friends @TraegerCulinary to bring you an amazing GIVEAWAY!

We are giving away Three (3) Brown Canvas and Leather Traeger Grilling Aprons!

This contest is open to United States and Canadian residents only.

please read full Terms and Conditions below


  1. Complete each of the fields in the entry form above. Include your full name, email address, Instagram username (e.g. @user_name) and Country of Residence.
  2. Follow @primal_gourmet and @traegerculinary on Instagram.
  3. Tag at least one friend on the corresponding Instagram post comments on the @primal_gourmet Instagram account.


1.The promoter is: Primal_Gourmet

2.The contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram, Facebook, or any other social media platform.

3.There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.

4.By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.

5.Competition is running on Instagram and Facebook social platforms.

6.Multiple contest entry form submissions are not permitted and will be disqualified.

7.Closing date for entry will be September 2, 2018 at 23:59 EST. After this date no further entries for the competition will be permitted. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.

8.Contest open to person 18 years of age and older. Contest limited to United States and Canadian residents only.

9.The rules of the competition and how to enter are as follows:

10. The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in any event, for any reason, or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.

11. The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.

12. The prize is as follows:

The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.

13. The winners will be notified by email and/or direct message on Instagram within 7 days of the contest closing date.

14. All entries received must have public Instagram accounts at the time of contest winner selection so that each winner can be verified by promoter and/or its agents to check that each individual entry follows @primal_gourmet and @traegerculinary on Instagram.

15.If the winner cannot be contacted or does not claim the prize within 7 days of notification, the promoter reserves the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.

16. The winner (after notification) will inform the promoter and or its agents when and where the prize can be delivered.

17. The winner must agree to posting that he/she has won the contest on his/her Instagram.

18. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.

19. The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, as well as their entry. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current Canadian and US data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.

20. The winner’s name will be available 28 days after closing date by emailing the promoter.

21. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.

 Primal Gourmet Paleo Recipes

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Whole30 Approved Emergency Foods – A Redefinition Thu, 23 Aug 2018 21:18:35 +0000 As more and more Whole30 Approved items go to market, I can't help but wonder if they are leading people astray. Is it time for a redefinition?

The post Whole30 Approved Emergency Foods – A Redefinition appeared first on Primal Gourmet.

September is just around the corner and I’ve heard that many of you are taking on the September Whole30, myself included! Whether this will be your first round of Whole30 or you’re a seasoned vet looking to reset after a laidback summer, you will likely find yourself in need of quick and easy options that are both affordable and tasty (myself included here as well)!

Inevitably, you will come across the term ‘Emergency Food’, which refers to products or items that are compliant with the program yet should only be eaten in case of an emergency, such as during travel. Perhaps the most common of these Emergency Foods are bars, jerkies, and meat sticks. More recently, bottled, drinkable soups have become popular with the Whole30 crowd.

Whole30 Approved Emergency Foods Primal Gourmet Paleo

Since starting my health journey back in 2013, I’ve noticed an exponential growth in the amount of health-focused, real-food products that have gone to market. I’m talking specifically about the ones that target the paleo and Whole30 crowds.

The good news is that as the Whole30 community continues to grow, so too do the pre-packaged food options that cater to us. Many brands have finally realized the value in developing real-food products that are free of added sugars, grains, dairy and unhealthy oils. Not only is it healthier for their customers, it’s actually good for business! Their efforts are being rewarded by loyal patrons spreading the good word!

Things like RX and Epic Bars are slowly becoming household names. Better yet, cans of flavoured fizzy water that were once unheard of are now borderline cult obsessions.

Is it just me, or are soda water brands the gremlins of the food industry? They just keep multiplying!

In an effort to establish quality control and no trademark infringement, Whole30 began a Whole30 Approved program. I will go on record and say that I think the Whole30 team has done an excellent job in terms of developing a strict, no-nonsense program. Products are vetted and only if the ingredients, “core values, and mission are in line” with those of Whole30 and their followers, they earn a Whole30 Approved label. If you see the label, there is no doubt that whatever it is you’re buying has gone through a comprehensive screening process.

Having spoken directly with certain brands, I know that the Whole30 Approved program is above board and not something taken lightly. Many applications are denied.

You can read the full list of Whole30 Approved brands here.

One thing many of the people who read my blog don’t actually realize is that I live in Canada (Toronto, ON), and the Whole30 approved product landscape is very different here. We don’t get half of the products that have gone to market in the US and those that have made their way north are oftentimes significantly more expensive! Don’t even get me started on the Costco situation in Canada!

Because many brands reach out to me with product sample offers, I know that it’s a literal nightmare to try to get things across the border. It’s always funny when companies ask to send samples. I can almost predict the speed at which they change their mind once they hear I’m in Canada and learn of the customs documents and duties required for shipping food products across the border! I can only imagine what the logistics are when doing things at scale!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t experience some FOMO. I recently reached a tipping point and convinced Catalina to take a road trip with me to Buffalo just to do some grocery shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Thanks to the power of social media, I now know that Wegman’s carries a lot of the same products for cheaper!

I have to admit, Catalina and I really liked many of the products we purchased (caveat: some were paleo compliant but not Whole30 approved). I was happy to see that most of the new kids on the block are very keen on creating things that are of high quality and actually taste good! Granted, most of the products were not exactly cheap but using alternative flours or organic, grass-fed, sustainably raised animals is no small feat. Not to mention the fact that many of these companies are at the forefront of a food industry revolution and the winds of change are only just starting to blow. My only hope is that as the market for these products continues to grow, costs associated with production will go down and the savings will be passed on to the consumer.

Despite the lack of Whole30 approved products available in Canada (and the high price for those that are), I think I’m rather lucky in a certain sense. Not only am I forced to be a bit more resourceful in seeking out products that are compliant but don’t necessarily have the Whole30 approved badge, but I’ve also had to consider what qualifies as emergency food in terms of what’s available to me.

Thankfully, Melissa Hartwig has already tackled most of the questions that come my way so if you’re looking to hear it from the headmistress herself, please read this very insightful and useful article.

Nevertheless, I am constantly asked which Whole30 Approved items are my favourite and where to buy them in Canada. First and foremost, Canada is huge and what’s available in Toronto might not be in Moncton. Secondly, when I tell people that I like prosciutto, roasted almonds and carrot sticks, they are thrown for a bit of a loop.

For me, emergency foods are things that are pre-cooked or can be eaten raw, can be eaten on their own or mixed together to create a dish. They can also be things that are premade, such as compliant salsa or mayo. They should keep well in the fridge or fit in my pantry cupboard. Ideally, they can be eaten cold or at room temperature.

Emergency Food examples include:

  • Deli meats
  • Cured meats (such as prosciutto)
  • Olives
  • Canned artichokes packed in water
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Crushed chili peppers in olive oil
  • Sardines canned in olive oil
  • Canned wild tuna
  • Canned wild salmon
  • Almond butter
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Red Salsa
  • Green Salsa
  • Pickled Hot Peppers
  • Fruits (apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, bananas, grapes, cherries, peeled oranges, peeled grapefruits, berries, etc).

Don’t get me wrong, I take no issue with the occasional RX bar, for example, insofar as it’s done within reason. After all, these are called Emergency Foods. The problem, however, is the inherent risk of people inadvertently falling into the same poor habits they were trying to break by doing a round of Whole30.

Before you know it, you’ll be moving more and more towards pre-packaged foods and further away from whole foods that require more of your attention. It’s important to keep in mind that one of the Whole30’s greatest strength’s is its ability to restore a person’s connection with the produce section of their grocery store.

One thing that truly saved my butt during my January Whole30 was my commitment to the portable salad (AKA the Car Salad). Every night, I packed a salad for my commute to work the next day. I’m not talking boring, bland salads here. I’m talking big, beautiful monsters bursting at the seams with interesting flavours, textures and ingredients.

In fact, the ‘car salad’ itself became my emergency food. I got so good at packing salads that it inspired an Instagram challenge with over 500 entries. Some of you might remember the #PGsaladchallenge. I’ll probably bring it back in September as I plan to do another round of Whole30!

On most days, salads were constructed around the need to repurpose leftovers, which meant that all I had to do was throw things into a container with some leafy greens and I was set. Other times, when the fridge was a bit bare, it was about challenging myself to make something out of nothing. In these dire circumstances, I leaned more heavily on my list of Emergency Foods that I had in my pantry. Let me tell you, I’ve never been happier to see a jar of fire-roasted red peppers in my life.

Whole30 Approved Emergency Foods Primal Gourmet Paleo

Everything from the arugula to the peppers in this salad came out of a bag, box, jar or can.

I quickly realized that having a well-stocked fridge and pantry were crucial to my success in staying within the program rules. I don’t fare well when I’m not prepared and my guess is you don’t either! Failing to prepare is preparing to fail! My hunger contributes to poor health choices. I want to grab the nearest carbohydrate and shove it in my mouth as fast as possible.

Conversely, I’m the type of person that will eat whatever it is I have prepared ahead of time. Probably because I can’t erase the image of my mother beating me with a wooden spoon for wasting food!

I truly believe that the words we use to describe our food have an impact on our understanding of them. Do your best not to fall into the trap of equating emergency food with grab-and-go, pre-packaged options. Know that they are available should you need them, but they should not be your first choice.

You can (and should) start thinking about ways to create your own definitions of what qualifies as Emergency Food. Fire-roasted red peppers might be a good place to start?!

The post Whole30 Approved Emergency Foods – A Redefinition appeared first on Primal Gourmet.

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