notes from caveland

so, i’ve been following a modified paleo diet lately, just stripping down to the basics to reset my system, and at about 2 weeks in, i feel like i’ve settled into a stride. it’s a bit weird not to have some of the comfort go-to’s, but a little sleuthing and experimenting has led me to some pretty good finds. here are some little pick-me-ups for anyone kicking the sugar habit, off gluten & grains, or avoiding dairy [for the record, i’m also off legumes, which includes peanuts & soy].

rose water and orange blossom water
rose water and orange blossom water

fruit salad dressed with rose water – your sweetest dessert treat is fruit on the paleo plan, but that doesn’t mean some nice cave-person from one cave over wasn’t, uh, distilling rose water for you to dress it with. ahem. while distilleries aren’t exactly ancient technology, rose water has no added sugar and imparts a deliciously fragrant perfume to your fruit salads.

soda with lemon & orange blossom water – sure, soda with lemon is a go-to [and very easy if you have a soda stream], but dress it up & live a little! orange blossom water is a sweetener-free addition to soda and tea [and cocktails for when you return to the future].

homemade aioli
homemade aioli

homemade aioli – if you’re pro-mayo and trying to eat paleo, it’s a great opportunity to try your hand at homemade mayo. i like thomas keller’s whole-egg aioli recipe, which is easy to whip up in a blender. awhile back i made a huge batch of sugar-free smoked chili pepper sauce, but you can easily use what you find at the store to spice it up into chipotle aioli or dijon or whatever you like.

sweet potato and golden beet chips
sweet potato and yellow beet chips

baked root vegetable chips – one of the great ironies of this diet is that you can eat guacamole, but not most conventional chips. i decided to try my hand at baking chips from sweet potatoes and beets, and found they’re easy and satisfying to make! they come out like terra chips [most of which also have no added sugar], and the fun part is you can season them any way you like. try soaking in lemon, lime or vinegar and then sprinkling on a mix of spices and salt. use a dehydrator, or bake in a low oven, turning often as they dry and curl. the chips will shrink in size, so cut the roots diagonally if you like larger chips. beets shrink up quite a bit, and are best for snacking on a satisfying crunch, but sweet potatoes are large and sturdy enough for salsa and guacamole.

sesame flax crackers
sesame flax crackers

flax seed crackers – i’ve experimented with these in the past with mixed results, but after a spin through the raw section at whole foods, i was inspired to revisit my efforts. i came up with a combination i really like, using flax seeds, shredded coconut, almond meal, sesame seeds and crumbled hijiki seaweed soaked in a mixture of coconut aminos, sesame oil, ginger juice and water, seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper. spread it to .25″ thick on oiled aluminum foil and bake on low heat to dehydrate. i baked mine above 105º so it’s not a raw food, but it’s light and crunchy with a cayenne kick.

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