Adaptability. That is the key to successfully committing to a paleo lifestyle and diet.
It’s what cavemen were all about, right? The primitive peoples who best adapted to their surroundings were the ones who lived long enough to create healthy offspring who could repeat the cycle once again. Our ancestors were the strongest, smartest, most resourceful, most adaptable of their time.
Natural selection aside, I am talking about a different kind of adaptation. When it comes to making delicious paleo meals in the kitchen, don’t be frustrated by recipes containing grain and dairy. Just adapt them to meet your needs, like I did with this shakshuka.
Shakshuka is a popular dish right now in the blogosphere. I had seen gorgeous poached eggs swimming in a rich tomato sauce all over my Instagram for weeks when I first got serious about making some of my own. The only problem? Shakshuka is traditionally eaten by scooping up the vegetables and eggs on pieces of challah bread. Which is a problem for me because, you know, bread. I started brainstorming -- what else could I use as a vehicle to deliver savory Shakshuka from the skillet to my mouth? Plantain chips are too small, even the sturdiest red cabbage leaves would wilt… I guess I can just use a spoon?!
I was still squandering over my grain-free Shakshuka substitution problem later that day as I browsed recipes on Foodgawker. It was when I came across some really fabulous looking potato skins that the metaphorical lightbulb went on. What if hollow out a few baked potatoes, pop the skins back in the oven with some olive oil to make them nice and crispy, and use my new sturdy potato boats as gluten-free Shakshuka scoopers?!
A little creativity can go a long way towards making your paleo lifestyle work for you. Before zucchini noodles and avocado-based desserts became mainstream, there was one or a few people who came up with a substitution in a pinch because of their dietary restriction. When we approach certain grain and dairy containing foods with an “I can’t eat that” mentality, eating paleo can be a drag. But if we approach those same foods with a little bit of creativity, we get cauliflower pizza crust! Frozen banana ice cream! Bulletproof coffee!
TL;DR -- Learn to adapt recipes to meet your needs, and eating paleo will become more delicious, fun, and sustainable, than ever before.
Shakshuka with Crispy Potato Boats
This traditionally Middle Eastern/Israeli dish is a must try for breakfast lovers everywhere. Featuring the classic tomatoes, spicy peppers, onions, and poached eggs, I snuck a few additional vegetables into my version in the form of zucchini, swiss chard, and hearty russet potatoes.
4 large russet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil (or rendered animal fat, I used pork)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
7 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 28 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 large bunch swiss chard leaves, stemmed and chopped (kale or spinach would work great here as well)
For potato boats, heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pierce the potatoes a few times each with a fork, and place directly onto baking rack. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool. While potatoes cool, make shakshuka.
For shakshuka, heat oil or animal fat over medium heat in a large cast-iron skillet. Saute onion, bell pepper, zucchini, jalapeno, and garlic until translucent. Season cooked vegetables with salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir for a minute or two until spices become fragrant. Add both cans of diced tomatoes and stir. Bring to a simmer and add swiss chard leaves. Stir until leafy greens are completely wilted, then crack 6 eggs overtop of tomato sauce mixture. Place a baking sheet or large lid over skillet and let eggs cook to desired doneness (mine took about 10 minutes over medium heat).
While eggs are cooking, cut potatoes in half longways to make 8 potato boats. Using a large spoon, scoop out the potato centers, leaving about ¼ inch of starchy potato rim inside the skins. Reserve mashed potato centers for another recipe (mine are frozen in a ziploc bag, and I will use them to thicken my next chili or stew!). On a small baking sheet, drizzle hollowed out potato skins with olive oil and sprinkle with S&P. Return to oven for 9-10 minutes until the outsides are a little crispier and sturdier. Serve shakshuka in big bowls with potato skins alongside.