Paleo Friendly&Fabulous
Arroz a la Cubana was  one of my favorite dishes growing up as a
child in the Philippines.  Like most Filipino dishes, there are many
versions and variations to this dish but in my home, ground beef was always
the base and it was always served with steamed white rice, fried plantains and
topped with a fried egg.  To stay true to my #pff lifestyle and to
make whole30 compliant, these are the substitutions I made...

Cauliflower rice in place of regular steamed rice
Grass Fed and organic ground beef for regular beef
Coconut and or avocado oil for frying and sautéing
Organic and free range eggs
I make sure that the tomato paste and the raisins have no added sugar in them

Arroz a la Cubana
2 lbs. grass fed and organic ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
4 Tbsp. no sugar added tomato paste
1/2  cup no sugar added beef broth
1/2 cup no sugar added golden raisins
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add 1 Tbsp coconut oil and swirl to coat pan.  Add the onions, crushed red pepper and a pinch of salt  to the pan and sauté for about 3 min.  Add the garlic and stir for 30 sec until fragrant.

2. Add the sweet potatoes and red bell pepper, sauté for about 5 min.  Add the tomato paste and stir to combine for about 2 min.  

3. Crumble the ground beef into the pan with your hands or wooden spoon and saute until the beef and the sweet potatoes are cooked through.   Add the raisins and the beef broth. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated but not dry.  Salt and  pepper to taste.

*If Serving with Fried Plantains:
Peel and slice 2 ripe plantains to 1/8 of an inch thick.
Heat a non - stick pan with about 1 cup avocado oil.
Fry plantains until golden brown on both sides.

*For Cauliflower Rice:
Here are a  few cauliflower rice recipes to peruse.  You can find many on Goolge.

 *Top with a perfectly cooked sunny side up if you desire. 
Enjoy!  It's breakfast meets dinner!

*I actually added minced celery to this recipe as I had some that needed to be
used - it did not take away from the flavor but I typically don't add celery
when I make this.
First posted on 7.2.2014
The recipe I was most excited to try from the Well Fed cookbook was Bora
Bora Fireballs.  Let me tell you - they did not disappoint!  With
flavors like pineapple, succulent pork and sweet coconut - it made me think of
Palm Trees, Tiki Torches and Ocean Breezes - what's not to be excited about!
 Juicy, spicy, meaty and sweet - these meatballs are addictive.  I
especially love the nice crunch the coconut breading gives you when you first
take a bite.  I've made this 3 times now during my whole30 experiment.
 I brought some to work and as an appetizer to my gym's summer palooza
party recently and now the recipe is being requested.
Bora Bora Fireballs
I concocted my own special dipping sauce to go with this recipe.

1 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. plus 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. plus 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup crushed pineapple, no sugar added, packed in its own juice
2 T coconut aminos (I buy these from Amazon to replace soy sauce )
1 1/2 tsp. dried ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 scallions, white and green parts very thinly sliced
1/2 fresh jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 lbs. ground pork


1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper
or aluminum foil.  Heat a large non stick skillet over med - high heat,
then add the coconut.  Toast, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until
golden brown, about 3 min.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt
and 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper.

2. Drain the cup of canned pineapple in a sieve
placed over a bowl to catch the juice.  Press the pineapple pulp against
the sieve with the back of a spoon to extract the excess moisture.  Place
the pineapple in a large mixing bowl and save the juice for later.

3. To the pineapple, add 1/2 tsp. salt, 3/4 tsp. cayenne, coconut aminos, ginger,
garlic, scallions, jalapeño and eggs.  Beat with a wooden spoon until
combined.  With your hands, crumble the pork into the bowl and knead until
all the ingredients are incorporated.  (at this point I usually will take a
small piece and cook it in the microwave to test my seasonings - season
according to taste by adding more salt if needed)

*Now comes the fun part

4. Arrange the bowls of pineapple juice, spiced toasted shredded
coconut, and seasoned pork for easy access.  Measure a level tbsp. of pork
to make a meatball, lightly douse it in the pineapple juice, then roll it in the
coconut, pressing the coconut shreds into the meat by rolling the ball between
your palms.  Do not overdo it with the breading!  Line up the
meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart.

5. Slide the meatballs into the oven and bake for 25-30 min, until sizzling and golden

Serve with my special dipping sauce


Left over crushed pineapple
Juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup left over juice of pineapple
1 Tbsp ghee or clarified butter (To
clarify butter, melt unsalted organic butter in a pan until it runs clear and
you will see the milk solids separate from the fat - strain the milk solids with
a fine sieve and you will be left with clarified butter)


1. Puree all of the ingredients except for the ghee in a blender or food processor.
2. Heat a small saucepan over med-high heat.  Add 1 tbsp. ghee or
clarified butter to the pan.  After about 30 sec. add the pureed pineapple. 
Stir to combine and add 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper. 
3. Bring to a boil then lower heat and continue to simmer until sauce begins
to thicken about 7-10 min.  Mix in 2 tsp. of apple cider vinegar.
4.  Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.  Serve with meatballs. 

This is long overdue as this #pff  paleo friendly&fabulous Pad Thai has now become
 a weekly staple in my household.  It starts with what Melissa Joulwan calls her Sunshine Sauce. 
Thank you for this Melissa as I love peanut butter anything! 
One of my concern when I started my whole30 and transitioning to a
Paleo lifestyle in general,  was giving up peanut butter.   I could eat PB off a spoon and call it a meal. 
Not to mention any type of peanut sauce for dipping veggies or any type of satay.   
Naturally, one of the recipes I wanted to try immediately from the Well Fed cookbook was Sunshine Sauce. 
This is AMAZING!!!!  Use this as a dipping sauce or use this for making Pad Thai – Just try
it!  It is that good!

Ingredients: Sunshine Sauce adapted from Well Fed
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon coconut aminos (this is a substitute for soy sauce and I
get it from Amazon)
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter (I like Organic Sunbutter no sugar added)
dash ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup coconut milk

1. Place all the ingredients except the coconut milk in the bowl of a food processor and whirl
until well blended.
2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper, then add the coconut milk.
Process until it’s blended and smooth. Store covered in the fridge if not using immediately.
3. Use in Pad Thai or as a satay dipping sauce.

The organic Sunbutter contains ONLY roasted sunflowers seeds, so if you’re
very committed to avoiding added sugars, go for the organic. 

PictureRoasted Spaghetti Squash
Next up, you have to prepare your faux noodles. 
I like to use spaghetti squash and I like to roast mine al dente.   I roast the spaghetti squash at 375 degrees for 35 min.  You may cook
it longer  if you prefer a softer  texture. This can be prepared ahead
of time and kept in the refrigerator until ready for use. 
Zucchini is another great faux noodle substitute. 
Either green or yellow will work but you will need a julienne peeler
 or a spiralizer to slice through the zucchini making them look like spaghetti strands. Don’t include the seeds if using a julienne peeler as this will make for watery noodles.


Ingredients: Basic Zucchini Noodles Adapted From The Clothes Make The Girl
4 zucchini, julienned with a julienne peeler or spiralizer (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1. Place the julienned zucchini in a colander or wire strainer and toss generously with salt until the
strands are lightly coated. Allow the zucchini to sit for 20-30 minutes to remove excess water. Rinse with running water, drain well, and pat dry with paper towels. Now you have two choices: go directly to step 2 or… for
absolutely al dente noodles that do not get mushy, return the noodles to the colander and place in the fridge, uncovered, for 1-2 hours. This allows the strands to dehydrate even further.

2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add the prepared zucchini noodles.
Sauté them in the dry pan until just tender, about 1-2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and drizzle the olive oil over the noodles, stirring gently to coat the strands. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Skip this step if you
are using Zucchini as your faux noodles for Pad Thai

PRO TIP! You can julienne and sweat the zucchini in advance, then store raw
noodles in a covered container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Quick pasta whenever
you need it!

PicturePad Thai Fixings
You’ve got the sauce and the noodles, now for the other
components – protein and veggies.   You can use chicken, ground pork,
shrimp or keep it vegetarian.   For veggies, I like to use sugar snap peas, red bell peppers for that pop of color and I garnish with cilantro, chopped cashews  and spring onions.    
There is quite a bit off prep work involved in making a #pff Pad Thai so this is definitely a weekend meal or you can do what I do which is to “prep”  on
a Sunday so I can just put it all together  for a quick stir fry on a weekday.   I can assure you that it is worth all the work plus you can enjoy a serving or two of this dish and not feel like you are in a “food coma” afterwards.

#pff Pad Thai
Ingredients: for Paleo Pad Thai, serves 2 
1 batch Sunshine Sauce
2 large eggs
2 tsp. coconut aminos
2 tsp. plus 1 tsp. coconut oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup snap peas, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 cups cooked spaghetti squash (I typically use 1 med –large size spaghetti squash) or Zucchini noodles
6-8 ounces grilled chicken thighs, diced or 1lb cooked ground pork (Sauteed with some onions until
brown and cooked)

1. Crack the eggs into a small bowl, and use a fork to scramble them with the coconut aminos. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons coconut oil  to the skillet, and when it’s melted, pour in the
eggs and let them spread like a pancake. Reduce the heat to medium and cover with a lid, letting the eggs cook until they’re set and beginning to brown on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip and lightly brown the other side. Remove the
eggs from the pan and cut into strips with a sharp knife.

2. Using the same pan, increase heat to medium-high and add 1 teaspoon coconut oil to the pan. Sauté the onion and snap peas, stirring with a wooden spoon, until they’re crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the spaghetti
squash, chicken, and cooked egg to the pan and, stirring with a wooden spoon, cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the Sunshine Sauce to the pan and stir-fry until everything is well-blended and hot. Divide among 2 bowls, sprinkle with your garnish du jour and enjoy!

Top your Paleo Pad Thai with any or all of these:
  • chopped cashews, almonds, or sunflower seeds
  • chopped scallions
  • chopped cilantro
  • a squeeze of lime
  • red bell pepper strips


#pff Pad Thai served Family Style
I first posted this on 6.26.2014. 
El Minzah is the famed five star hotel in Tangier  frequented by famous
poets, Hollywood actors, dignitaries and politicians since it opened it's doors
in 1930.  It is still considered the most prestigious hotel in North Africa
and I believe this salad is still being served to this day.  I've actually been to Tangier,  for a quick
day trip while on holiday in the southern coast of Spain, but I have not had the pleasure of visiting this hotel.

The combination of  sweet orange, cool mint, salty olives, crunchy &
slightly sweet fennel feels like a party with Moroccan flavors in your mouth.
 It is the perfect summer salad to complement any of your grill-tastic
So I digress a bit from Melissa Joulwan's recipe by adding a slaw of sweet kale,
brussel sprouts, cabbage and radicchio from a pre-made mix I bought at Costco.
 You can certainly make your own slaw but I love this particular Sweet Kale
Salad mix.  It added a nice bite and crunch along with the fennel.
4 - 5 large seedless oranges
1 cup slaw mix 
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly with a mandolin 
1/4 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
1 cup large black olives, pitted and cut in half
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 clove garlic minced
salt & black pepper to taste
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Fennel fronds, minced, for garnish


1. Use a sharp knife to peel oranges, removing all of the
bitter white pulp and the membrane on the outside of the orange sections.
 with your fingers, separate the sections and cut them into 1-inch pieces.
Place in a large bowl.

2. Remove the fronds from the fennel and reserve some
for garnish.  Cut the ends off the fennel bulb and slice it very thinly,
crosswise or use a mandolin which is what I do.  Add the fennel, onions,
olives, slaw mix, and mint to the oranges.  Gently combine with a rubber

3. In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, paprika, cayenne,
coriander, garlic, salt and pepper.  Add the oil in a slow drizzle,
whisking continuously.  Pour the dressing over the oranges and toss gently
to blend.  Let the flavors meld for about an hour before serving.
 Taste and adjust seasonings,  fill the hallowed oranges with the salad mix, then top with minced fennel fronds.


El Minzah Orange Salad
Who can relate to one of these scenarios?
It's girls night out at your favorite GNO restaurant.  

1. You are with a bunch of your BFF's and when it comes time for dessert, you order one with 6 spoons to share.
2.  You are having date night and you split a dessert with your significant
3.  Watching your calories, you forgo dessert altogether.

 Personally the first 2 scenarios happen a lot because let's face it, just
like most, I like to end my meals with something sweet.  

Now it's possible to have your "cake" in this case a fruit crisp or
cobbler, and eat it too with this #pff recipe - which I tweaked a bit - from the
Well Fed cookbook. 

Are you ready for this?  No Sugar, no Dairy and no Grains!  This
peach crisp is everything you expect from a crisp/cobbler - warm, tender, sweet
chunks of fruit - crumbly, nutty, cinnamon-scented topping - the very definition
of a perfect summer dessert.  

Peach & Almond Crisp
Try this recipe for your next barbeque.   Trust me, you will want seconds
and you know what - it is perfectly okay!
 6 peaches, cut into 1/2 inch dice (about 6 cups)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 3/4 cup almond flour
12 dried organic, no sugar added,  pitted dates
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1.4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp coconut oil chilled until solid, then diced
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
 1. Preheat oven to 350 F
 2. In a medium bowl, mix the peaches, lemon zest and lemon juice with a wooden
spoon. Allow to rest at room temperature while you prepare the topping.
 3. Place almond flour, dates, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a food processor.
 Pulse until combined.  Sprinkle the chilled diced coconut oil over
the flour and pulse about 10 times then process on high for 5-10 seconds until
there are no lumps.  
4. Pour the topping into a bowl and use a fork to mix in the slivered
 5. For an 8 inch square pan or round pie plate, pour the fruit into the pan,
pressing it gently into place with the back of a wooden spoon.  Sprinkle
the almond topping over the fruit and lightly press into the fruit with the back
of a wooden spoon or with your fingers.
6. For individual ramekins, place 6 ramekins on a baking sheet covered with
parchment paper.  Spoon generous 3/4 - 1 cup servings of the fruit into
individual ramekins (you may end up with 5 depending on the size of your
ramekins) pressing the fruit into the ramekins with your hands.  Place
about 3 Tbsp of topping onto each ramekin, gently press down to cover the fruit
with your fingers.
 7. Cover the crisp lightly with foil and bake for 30 min.  Remove foil
and bake for another 5-10 min until bubbly and browned.
*Refrigerate any leftovers.
 *This is best enjoyed warm and it is even better the second day warmed up
in the microwave for about a min.
Caramelized Coconut Chips
Anyone who knows me well knows I LOVE POPCORN!   I especially love those supposedly
"skinny" ones with only 35 calories per cup that are popping up in grocery
stores - Boom Chika Pop, Popcorn Indiana etc…They have become my go-to salty and
the kettle corn for that salty/sweet snack.  Obviously not on the paleo approved menu,
I was certainly missing my favorite "junk food" if you will - until I tried the Caramelized Coconut
Chips from the Well Fed cookbook.  Popcorn be damned!  I've now found
a whole30 compliant alternative that more than satisfies my craving for that
salty crunch.

No they do not taste like popcorn but these
cinnamon-caramelized coconut chips come very close to the experience: the
saltiness, the mild sweetness and that ever-so-satisfying crunch.  I can
live with that!

1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened coconut
flakes (I buy mine at whole foods)

Mix the salt and the cinnamon in a small bowl with a fork.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat - about 2 min.
Add the coconut flakes and distribute evenly so they form a single layer in the pan.
Stir frequently as they begin to brown rather quickly so Pay Attention - about 3 min
When the flakes take on that caramel color, remove pan from heat.
Sprinkle the hot coconut flakes with the salty cinnamon and toss until evenly seasoned.
Transfer to a plate and allow to cool in a single layer to achieve maximum crunch.

 Now sit in front of the tele, watch whatever your guilty pleasure is
and enjoy this #pff snack!  May be stored at room temperature in an
airtight container - if they last that long.
Spinach and Meat Muffins
 This protein rich Meat & Spinach muffins from the Well Fed cookbook was a pleasant surprise.  Most people, myself included,  think of muffins for breakfast as something sweet and something you can grab-and-go.   Take the sweet out of the equation and you have a densely packed flavorful meat and spinach little package which can be enjoyed hot or cold, as a sit down meal or on the go.

1 1/2  ground beef
3 bags of frozen spinach (thawed)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of, garlic minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp coconut oil (I buy organic, extra virgin)
3 large eggs, beaten
12 cup muffin pan
muffin liners
 1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Empty your thawed spinach in a
colander and with the back of a wooden spoon, press down to drain all of the
liquid -you should end up with a ball of clumped spinach.
3. Heat a large
saute pan with 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Add onions and garlic, saute for about 3
min till onions are tender and translucent. Add the ground beef, continue to
saute until browned, about 5-7 min.  Add the spinach and mix just until
incorporated.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.
4. Turn heat
off, add the beaten eggs and mix well into the spinach/ground beef
5. Measure 1/2 cups of the meat mixture into the lined muffin
pan(you should have enough for 12 muffins)
6. Bake at 375 for 35-40
 *Leftovers may be
refrigerated and heated up before serving.
Here's what I
will do next time:
Add sliced button or cremini mushrooms for a meat,
spinach & mushroom muffin