When I was on the low carb craze I was constantly trying to find replacements for the big four of complex carbs: bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice. And when I went Caveman the search continued, although packaged food was no longer an option. Well, if you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I bake my own bread using organic nut flour I grind myself, so we can scratch that one off the list. We also know that a nice substitute for potatoes are root veggies like rutabaga, turnip, celery root, and beets, so we have that carb loaded tuber taken care of. Pasta? I’m still trying. I came close using zucchini, but not close enough to blog about it yet. Give me some time, trust me, I’m more anxious to find a pasta replacement to eat than you are to read about it (EDIT: Caveman of the future says wait, just wait). That leaves rice. Well, I have a confession to make. I found a rice replacement months before starting this blog, I just haven’t made it since I started writing about my caveman adventures. It’s pretty simple too.
Since I started this diet (“crazy diet” as all my “friends” call it when they continue to roll their eyes at me, despite the health results I’ve achieved), I’ve tried many new things. Plus, many more things I’ve eaten before but never cooked. Greens are a good example. Collard Greens have long been a favorite of mine, mostly as part of one of my favorite meals, a plate of soul food, fried chicken, macaroni ‘n cheese, and collard greens. Yum! I never knew how to cook collards (or cared to know), but this diet has forced me to broaden my horizons. Since this diet, I’ve cooked collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and chard. I have to say collard greens are now my least favorite of the group. I love mustard greens because of the mustard flavor (I can barely pass by a Jewish deli without stopping in for at least a hot dog, so mustard runs through my veins). My love of kale has been covered in previous blogs (look it up, you lazy bastards). And I love my new favorite chard, because it is naturally salty!!! Besides coffee and pasta, salt has been the hardest thing for me to give up on the caveman diet (I still cheat with coffee once a week, on Sunday mornings). So anything that naturally has salt (meaning I don’t have to add salt to it) is a welcome addition to my dinner table! I’ve passed Swiss Chard in the grocery store many times, but was too bewildered by its thick red stems and giant green leaves to even attempt to cook it. But I had Rainbow Chard the other day for the first time and I was wowed by it! Like a salty spinach!
"What the hell does this have to do with rice, Numnutz?" Patience.
All these greens have something in common. Whenever I see demos of cooking them, only the leaves are used. The stems are usually thrown away. Now why I decided to cook the stems I have no idea, but I did, and I’m glad I did. First time I tried it I threw some kale stems in the food processor, and chopped them as fine as possible. Then I simply sauteed them in olive oil, garlic, and black pepper. I cooked them until they were almost soft, but definitely far from mushy, and then served food over it as if it were rice. Any dish you make that’s usually served over rice will work with this trick. I started calling it green rice, or healthy rice, certainly the healthiest “rice” you will ever have in your life. No, it doesn’t taste like rice, so stop calling me a liar. And it’ll never be white. But it does have the texture and feel of rice in your mouth, and it’s not a far leap to trick yourself into thinking that’s what you’re eating, especially if you NEVER eat rice like me. Memory is a weird thing, the longer you’re separated from something, the harder it is to remember it, so when you have this, after not eating rice in forever, you can actually think “Hey, this is a lot like rice,” without feeling like you’re a complete moron.
Since I had some Rainbow Chard for the first time the other day, and discovered it’s salty goodness, I saved the stems for a shrimp dish I enjoy making (but this will work with any green stems, like kale, broccoli, etc). Same technique:
1. Throw the stems in the food processor and chop ‘til fine. I like the rainbow stems because they’re all different colors, whereas the other greens’ stems are, well, green (duh). If you use Swiss Chard it will be a nice red color, so keep that in mind when picking ingredients for whatever you’re serving on top of it. The caveman diet preaches eating different colored items during each meal, to get different nutritional benefits the earth has to offer, so Rainbow Chard is a good way to get green, red, yellow, and orange all on your plate at the same time.
2. Saute in olive oil, garlic, and black pepper until it’s no longer crisp, but not mushy. Set aside.
Now for my shrimp dish. I first made this to recreate a Thai dish my friend Kristin and I used to love. I first made it with peanut oil, but now I use olive oil, because peanuts are legumes, and not allowed on the paleo diet (peanuts are not nuts, they’re legumes and are toxic in their raw state). The original dish called for mint, but I use whatever I have around now, like basil, or cilantro, which I used tonight. It also calls for different colored bell peppers, but I had some chili peppers I bought at the farmers market this weekend, so I used Poblano, which are mild, and Serrano, which are spicy! Any combinations of oil, peppers, and herbs will work with this dish, so cater it to your favorite flavors, or whatever you have in the house that needs to be used up.
ALL INGREDIENTS ALL ORGANIC, ALL THE TIME:
WILD CAUGHT SHRIMP
ASSORTED PEPPERS (they all work)
ASSORTED SPICES (cilantro, basil, or mint work the best)
GINGER (optional depending on other ingredients used)
1. I heated up some olive oil in a pan, then added the ingredients one at a time, to build flavors (a trick I’m learning from watching Michael Symon’s new show “How to Cook Like An Iron Chef”).
2. I added fresh garlic (I could have added ginger too if I wanted to keep it Thai, but the chili’s are from mexico, so I left it out for a more Mexican flavor).
3. Then added some sliced red onion, then the peppers, then three quarters of the cilantro, some black pepper, and then the shrimp. Shrimp are so easy, unless you try to clean them, involving de-veining, and all that bullshit. Life is too short. I bought a bag of raw, frozen, WILD (must be wild, farm raised shrimp are full of bad cholesterol, but wild shrimp are full of good cholesterol!) shrimp from Trader Joe’s, and all my work has been done for me. Just about 2-3 minutes on each side, until the shrimp have a nice bright orange or pink color (depending on the shrimp you use). Right before it’s done I add the juice of about a half a lime, and the dish is done! Plate the healthy “rice” and serve the shrimp dish over it, add the remaining fresh cilantro, and dig in!
Mmmm, Caveman like shrimp! No like tails! Take tails off before eating! Fake rice fool Caveman! Caveman idiot! But this idiot eating shrimp, and you’re eating crap! Who’s idiot now? Ugga-Bugga!!
EDIT: Caveman from the future here again to say you can find a similar shrimp recipe here: Paleo Surprise! and here: Orange Ginger Shrimp!. Also, cauliflower rice makes for an even better rice substitute! Click Here!