Comfort Food

17 Oct

I’ve have never been one to take the easy road in life, except in the context of actual roads on which I’m traveling (I am quite opposed to biking uphill). It was my reason for choosing engineering, for choosing to go to graduate school. Even choosing to come to St. Louis was influenced in a small way by the desire to leave my comfort zone, a desire that has been quite fulfilled. I must admit that the idea of going primal gave me that same buzz, the innate satisfaction of just knowing that there was some goal to struggle toward.

Since beginning my primal journey, I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time on the internet searching for and book-marking recipes. It generally happens like this: As I am perusing my usual food blogs, I come across a flour-y vice of my yesteryear, and my heart clenches with panic. I wonder what I will I do when I want, nay NEED, that cinnamon roll? I spend two hours searching for the perfect primal or easily converted recipe, which will in all likelihood remain forgotten in my bookmarks folder. And when I finally need that cinnamon roll? Cinnabon. Don’t judge, I maybe go there once every three years.

The recipes aren’t all faux non-primal foods (I finally learned how to not overcook a steak thanks in large part to Mark Bittman and my cast iron pan), but the vast majority are, simply because those are the recipes floating out there in the interweb. I think that for most people, myself included, becoming primal means giving up a lot of comfort foods: mashed potatoes, breads, cookies, oatmeal (I won’t ever stop missing you, oatmeal). When finally, by intention or accident, you stumble across a recipe that hits similar notes, it’s a bit magical.

Let’s be honest: nothing can replace these comfort foods. No matter how many different kinds of nuts you blend up in a bowl, it can never become oatmeal (Trust me, I’ve tried). But the longer you can go without, the foggier those memories become. Suddenly that mashed cauliflowers looks a lot like potatoes, especially when flecked with freshly ground black pepper and streaked with melty butter.

It’s all part of the challenge: having the determination to tell the waitress to not bring bread to your table, the self-restraint to abstain when presented with a giant platter of free, if mediocre, brownies (still working on that one…), and the perseverance to miss these foods, to eat something else in their stead, and then to keep missing them…at least for now…

…oatmealllll…..

Primal Shepherd’s Pie

DSCF3919

*These proportions made one small pie that I ate on my own, but probably could have served two people. Whoops…

For the mashed faux-tatoes:
1/3 head of cauliflower
1 tbsp cream cheese
1 tsp butter
Assorted spices: I used freshly ground black pepper, salt, paprika, and garlic.

For the filling:
1/4 package ground meat
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 big clove garlic, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
handful frozen spinach
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/8 cup frozen corn (Delicious, delicious primal foul. Sorry, but the filling really needed some color. Sub for a red or yellow pepper. Or both.)
Assorted spices: black pepper, salt, paprika, oregano, basil, chipotle Tabasco)

For the top:
Lots o’ cheese: I used cheddar and freshly grated parm.

Steam the cauliflower until tender and blend with cream cheese, butter, and spices until it had the consistency of mashed potatoes. Taste, and add more of any of the ingredients to your liking. Creamy-ness may also be enhanced with sour cream, plain green yogurt, or heavy cream. Flavor can be enhanced by butter, butter, and more butter (Just ask Paula Dean). Set cauliflower aside.

Heat some oil in a pan and add onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent, then add the meat. When it starts looking cooked through, add tomato paste, spices, and a splash of water for easy-mixing purposes. When it starts bubbling add the veggies and cook until everything is heated through. Transfer to small baking dish, spread with faux-tatoes and sprinkle with cheeses. Bake at 350C until everything is hot and the cheese is melty.

I had mine with a side of oven roasted balsamic and mustard glazed carrots. Just like the cavemen would have eaten.

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3 Responses to “Comfort Food”

  1. skynan October 17, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    the important thing is knowing when you should indulge–mediocre brownies? meh. effing decadent chocolate cake that someone made from scratch and brought in for work colleagues? DEFINITELY. sensible indulgences once in awhile are totally fine, if not necessary for a healthy psychological relationship with food.

  2. BellaBallestra October 24, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    So here’s a question. So far, my research into primal eating has basically been reading your blog, and some stuff I ran into when searching for a stuffed acorn squash recipe. How do we think tofu fits into the equation? Tofu is distinctly not run-down-on-the-savannah-and-whack-over-the-head-with-a-club-able, but so delicious and full of Becky friendly protein!
    and darn it now I don’t know what to go find for lunch.
    and I should be doing my midterm
    Silly distracting internets

    • achelseamorning October 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

      This dude is like…the primal kingpin: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/10-things-to-know-about-tofu/

      but i think the general idea with primal is eat what you have to eat, but try to cut back on grains/processed foods/etc. What i like about this diet is that it’s really only as strict as you want it to be (aka I still eat the free cookies at seminar). So if becky needs tofu-proteins, then eat them. And if becky needs to bake something delicious, she should ship it to st. louis…

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