Stuffed Campari Tomatoes

Appetizers, Greek, Low-carb, Mediterranean, Paleo, Tomatoes

My book club meets tonight, and I’ve been tasked with bringing an appetizer. Trying to make something that excites a group while also remaining semi-Paleo can be challenging. I know there will be plenty of other delicious and indulgent cuisine so I’m aiming to bring a light bite that won’t hurt our waistlines. IMG_2740

Since it’s tomato season, I’ve decided to stuff Campari tomatoes with fresh basil, feta cheese and toasted pine nuts. A quick drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar and a touch of good olive oil and this appetizer is ready. I’m sure the ladies will enjoy it and hopefully its prettiness will make up for the fact that I didn’t finish the book.

Stuffed Campari Tomatoes

What you’ll need: 

Melon baller

Sharp knife


8-12 Campari tomatoes or 8 plum tomatoes (cherry and grape tomatoes are too small for this recipe)

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 green onion (scallion), chopped

3 1/2 ounces of feta cheese (I use reduced-fat)

6 large basil leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil


Carefully slice the very top off each tomato. Using a mellon baller, carefully remove the inside pulp and seeds from the tomatoes to create little cups.

In a bowl, mix together the scallion, pine nuts, feta cheese and basil and combine well. Fill each tomato with feta-mixture. Then drizzle one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over the top of all the tomatoes. Repeat with olive oil. Serve immediately and enjoy.

*You can make this ahead of time and keep it lightly covered in the refrigerator. However, don’t add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar until you’re ready to serve your dish. 

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Pork al Pastor? Yes, Please!

Lettuce wraps, Mexican, Paleo, Pineapple, pork

I came across this traditional northern Mexico dish in one of my Paleo-inspired cookbooks, Paleo By Season by Peter Servold. It was so delicious that I immediately  wrote down my modified version. I’m pretty sure my family kept saying that it was just so good, but it was hard to tell since they were talking between bites of food. IMG_1657

The key to this dish is to let the meat marinate overnight, and to use a hot, dry pan to cook it. Do not add oil to the pan because the browning of the pork is what makes this truly amazing. The pork is the star, and it really shines with this combination of flavors.

Because we strive to follow a Paleo diet, I serve this with lettuce cups instead of the traditional corn tortilla. I also add fresh chopped toppings including white onion, cilantro and lime wedges. I’m sure this pork pastor would be equally delicious on a salad or over seasoned vegetables.

The meat only cooks for 12-15 minutes so do the garnish prep-work early. You only want to stir the meat a few times while it cooks to ensure even browning. Serve right away and enjoy it while it lasts. This recipe should serve four people, but my family of three licked the plate clean.


1 to 1-1/2 pounds of pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2” pieces IMG_1602

1 jalapeno pepper, cut in half and seeded

1 cup pineapple, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

(ingredients for servingIMG_1627

Butter lettuce cups

1 small white onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges


Combine all the ingredients from the first list in a bowl, cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and let the mixture marinate for 10 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

When ready to cook, remove the pork mixture and set it aside for about 15 minutes to help bring it closer to room temperature. Heat a large, dry saute pan over medium-high heat. Add all of the marinated pork mixture and evenly cover the bottom of the pan. Cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. However, don’t over stir in order to brown the meat perfectly. Serve immediately with lettuce cups and garnishes.

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Paleo Lunch: Asian Cucumber Bites

Appetizers, Asian, Chicken, Leftovers, Low-carb, Paleo

Eating Paleo can be very delicious and satisfying. However, planning meals and adhering to the “no dairy, no bread” diet can be a challenge. Personally I can follow Paleo for almost every meal, but I occasionally add a non-Paleo element to satisfy the masses. IMG_2055

The peanuts in this simple Asian Cucumber recipe aren’t Paleo, but my husband loves their flavor and crunch. So feel free to replace them with almonds or just omit them when you make this nice light lunch or pretty appetizer. These little guilt-free “bites” are perfect to pop into your watering mouth.

Using leftover or rotisserie chicken makes this recipe a snap. The key is to let the cooked chicken marinate in the ginger dressing for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavors. Slice the cucumber and radishes thinly, and you can assemble this an hour ahead of time. This recipe serves one for lunch, but you can double or triple it if you are using it for an appetizer.


4 ounces shredded cooked chicken

8 cucumber slices, 1/8” to 1/4” thick

8 radish slices, 1/8” to 1/4” thick

2 tablespoons ginger dressing (I use Makoto)

2 tablespoons peanuts or almonds, chopped


Marinate the shredded chicken with the ginger dressing for 30 minutes. Place one radish slice on top of one cucumber slice, then top with the shredded chicken and chopped peanuts. Enjoy!

Iowa Tenderloin, Florida-Style

Arugula, Paleo, Pan fry, pork

“Pork tenderloin sandwich” by Glane23 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

I recently visited my husband’s family in the Midwest for our niece’s graduation. While in his hometown we had several traditional meals that were anything but Paleo. One of these famous heartland favorites is the “tenderloin.”

This is basically a breaded and fried pork chop sandwich. No actual tenderloin meat is  used (as far as I can tell) and usually people leave off the word “sandwich” when they order the “tenderloin.” From what I hear, Indiana and Iowa both think they make the best tenderloin.

But enough semantics. This tasty pork sandwich got me thinking about how to make it as Paleo as possible while respecting the dish’s tradition. First things first – get rid of IMG_2052that bun. Secondly, let’s pan fry instead of deep fry. Thirdly, let’s figure out how to add some greens. Voila! A Florida girl’s answer to a Midwest favorite.

Pounding the pork chop to 1/4″ thickness is the key to this recipe. Ask the meat department to “tenderize” the pork chop or you can beat the pork chop with a mallet until it’s 1/4″ thick. The result is a crispy, tender pork chop that the whole family will want to eat.

This dish doesn’t fully adhere to Paleo, but it gets pretty close. Chicken breasts can be a substitute for those who don’t eat pork. The Midwest purists will be shocked at my addition of arugula and lemon, but I don’t care! The combination is elegantly delicious and reminiscent of my husband’s roots.


4 boneless pork chops, pounded or tenderized to 1/4” thickness IMG_2036

1/2 cup almond flour or regular all-purpose flour

1 egg, beaten and mixed with 2 tablespoons of water

1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter or ghee

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups arugula

4 lemon wedges

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper


Take the flour, egg mixture and breadcrumbs, place each in its own shallow bowl, and create a “bowl assembly line” to bread the pork chops. Gently dip each pounded pork chop in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip into the egg wash, then into the breadcrumbs, making sure the ingredients adhere well to the pork chop.

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In a large pan, heat one tablespoon of butter or ghee and one tablespoon of oil over medium to medium-high heat. Cook two pork chops at a time, for 4-6 minutes per side, allowing them to get brown and crispy.

Remove pork chops from pan and place them on a plate. Loosely cover with foil, and repeat the process with the remaining two pork chops.

When the second set of pork chops is ready, combine arugula, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a separate bowl.

Top each pork chop with a cup of arugula mixture and serve with a lemon wedge.

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