Grow your own veggies vegetable patch organic gardening Paleo Network

Why I’m growing my own veggies

Just a few weeks ago I converted the old sand pit that the previous occupants of my house had left behind, to a vegetable patch. Well, when I say converted, I mean mixed some topsoil into the sand. I also re-purposed an old archway they’d left behind into a climbing frame for some green beans.

I put in loads of different seeds to see what would work, and basically forgot about them – until yesterday I saw 28 fully grown beans climbing up the arch! The basil is also working well, but it looks like the spinach I planted has been a bit too much of a hit with the slugs.

Grow your own veggies vegetable patch organic gardening Paleo Network

I’d love to become completely self-sufficient, even if just for vegetables – hopefully with a bit more experimentation I’ll be able to plant more of what works and abandon planting seeds that have no chance in my garden.

Vegetables are surprisingly expensive to buy – and there’s no choice. There are perhaps three varieties of tomatoes, one type of zucchini, two spinach varieties – whereas in the real world there are hundreds of varieties. Take the beans as an example, they’re currently about $5 a kilo at my local supermarket (non-organic). I bought the entire packet of seeds for $1.50 and it looks like I’m going to get quite a big crop.

I also love the idea of being able to pick my dinner off the vine/ plant immediately before cooking it. You really can’t get any fresher than that! Of course, I can also guarantee that my veg hasn’t been sprayed with nasty chemicals, so that’s another huge win. And what can be more satisfying than eating the rewards of your labour!

I’m hoping that since temperatures never really get down to a frost here, I’ll be able to grow something all year round. But failing that hopefully with the aid of my dehydrator, some pickling recipes and my freezer, I should be able to wean off buying my veggies from the supermarket.

Whilst I have got a garden, I’m hardly using any space for my veg – if you’ve just got a balcony, or can squeeze in a window box, you’d be amazed what you can grow – give it a try!

I’d love to hear if you grow your own veggies, and what you’ve had most success with! Any tips would be gratefully received!

Is bacon really bad unhealthy nitrates processed paleo

Is bacon really so bad?

Whenever I even mention the b word I get called out. Yep, apparently bacon is highly processed and must be avoided at all costs.

But is it really bad?

Almost everything we eat is processed in one way or another. We buy our meat cut, or maybe ground. We buy our meat dried or frozen. When I think of processed meat, I think of meat that has been ground up, combined with chemicals and other dubious ingredients and given a completely new form and shape (think “chicken” nuggets and hot dogs). Bacon is not processed like this.

Bacon bad for you nitrates sodium cured processed pork belly preserved Paleo Network

Why is bacon so different?

Bacon has been around for a long time, from the days we needed to preserve our meat to enable us to keep it for longer without it going bad. I don’t think the fact it’s preserved is the issue – the issue is how it’s preserved – and there are a lot of differences here.

Traditionally, bacon would have been preserved using salt, but since we’ve all got so worried about the wrong things being unhealthy, we now avoid sodium like the plague – so many modern techniques use ingredients that are a long way from natural, to preserve the meat.

If you’ve looked at the ingredients on packs on bacon, you’ll have seen huge differences. Looking at my local store, they offer bacon with contents between 83% and 95% pork – clearly the lower pork content bacon is to be given a wide berth.

But what about the other ingredients in packages bacon? Here are the ingredients I found, in various quantities:

  • Water,
  • Salt,
  • Dextrose (Corn), Dextrose (Maize),
  • Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (Maize)
  • Sucrose, Sugar (yes – they add SUGAR to bacon!)
  • Mineral Salts (450, 451, 452),
  • Antioxidant (316),
  • Sodium Nitrite (250).
  • Food Acid (325)

But did you know you can get bacon uncured, without any of this? If you have a butcher like mine, you’ll be able to get pasture raised uncured bacon, without any of these additional ingredients.

What about nitrates?

Nitrates are a big talking point when it comes to bacon. Well, even unprocessed bacon contains nitrates naturally, and believe it or not celery is high in nitrates – and we don’t see warnings on sticks of celery. For more information on why dietary nitrates aren’t a bad thing – check out these studies: Inorganic Nitrate Suplementation Lowers Blood Pressure in Humans: Role for Nitrite-Derived NO Hypertension, 2010, 56, 274-271 and Dietary Inorganic Nitrate Improves Mitochondrial Efficiency in Humans.Cell Metabolism, 2011, 13, 149-159.

As for the sodium, when you eat a natural paleo diet – it’s often actually a good thing to get more sodium into your diet.

And the fat content?

Of course, a huge argument against bacon is the saturated fat content. Yes, bacon is a lot higher in fat than turkey. But I don’t need to tell you why eating fat is not a problem, do I?

What do you think about bacon? Do you eat it often? Where do you get yours?

are you eating contaminated fruit paleo network

Are you eating contaminated fruit?

I’ve bought frozen fruit quite a few times recently. It’s often far cheaper than the fresh equivalent, and it’s far less wasteful, since I don’t eat a lot of fruit. In the summer it’s great for a quick frozen dessert too.

Contaminated Frozen Fruit Hepatitis A Australia Mixed Berry Paleo Network

So I’ve been horrified to read about the recent contamination recall on frozen mixed berries. Apparently certain packs have been recalled due to a potential Hepatitis A contamination. It hasn’t been long since the horse meat scandal, but this seems so much worse, since the only ingredient in these packs is the fruit. With the hose meat contamination, it seemed to be mainly in heavily processed foods.

With illness starting up to 28 days after exposure to the Hepatitis virus, it may not even be clear yet how widespread the issue is. The official advice is now to boil berries before eating – but really, who does this?

The other shocker with this latest recall, is that the fruit in question is from China and Chile. I meticulously check where any fish and seafood I buy comes from, but had naively assumed the fruit would be domestic.

It really begs the question how can the contaminate have got into the product in the first place? Contamination often seems to occur through transfer of fecal matter from an infected person. Unbelievable that in this day and age of health and safety standards that could happen.

After hearing about this latest scare, I’m going to freeze my own fruit from now on. It’s going to be local fruit, washed and organic. It seems to be the only way to ensure you actually know what you’re eating.

I wonder what the next food scare will be?


Happy Thanksgiving paleo recipes turkey healthy

Happy Thanksgiving

With a lot of my readers being American, I couldn’t ignore the fact that today is Thanksgiving in the USA. So if you’re American – Happy Thanksgiving – and if not – how about having your own international Thanksgiving day? It’s often quite hard to get hold of Turkey where I live in Australia, but I find it a little easier to obtain at this time of year, thanks to the American Expats who live here!

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, how can you accommodate your guests while still keeping it Paleo? Fortunately there are several options out there that will be great for everyone, using a few substitutions to the traditional Thanksgiving menu.
Happy Thanksgiving paleo recipes turkey healthy

Substitution Ideas For Traditional (Non Paleo!) Thanksgiving Recipes:

  • Substituting bread crumbs. A lot of recipes will ask for bread crumbs when you are cooking. A good alternative to bread crumbs is crushed up pork crackling/ pork rinds. Just crush them to the same consistency as you would bread crumbs – or alternatively try ground nuts.
  • Instead of sugar, if you can, try to omit entirely. If you can’t, try a more natural sweetener, like raw honey.
  • Substitute starch with spaghetti squash, butternut squash, or acorn squash.
  • If you are planning on making a salad use a natural dressing like olive oil and lemon or lime.
  • If you’re making a dessert, a recipe may call for whipped cream. An alternative to whipped cream is chilled coconut milk – both healthy and delicious.
  • Instead of making a traditional desert, keep it simple with berries in coconut milk.

Cooking for a group of family and friends is a great chance to show case your Paleo diet – and show that eating healthy food does not sacrifice amazing tasting food.

Thanksgiving is a time to share thanks for the blessings in your life – a worth while thing to do if you’re American or not. Are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Halloween healthy paleo recipes

Happy Halloween

Do you celebrate Halloween? Like so many festivals, Halloween is heavily linked with trashy food. If you are interested in ways to have a great Halloween while still following a healthy Paleo lifestyle then read on, because I have some great ideas to help you have a fun holiday.

Halloween healthy paleo recipes

One of the things to keep in mind with Halloween is that it’s all about spending time with family and friends and having a good time – rather than the treats you can and cannot eat. I know that Halloween is a big “treat” holiday, but there are plenty of other things you can focus on to have a good time.

As far as trick-or-treating goes, you can still have fun and do that; however you want to focus on the social fun traditional aspect of it, rather than the end result of candy. Take your family out and have fun. You can have a lot of fun creating unique costumes and so this is your chance to go out and show them off. At the end of the night you can spend time with your family and make your own tasty paleo treats. Some parents offer their kids a buy back scheme – to offer cash or another reward in exchange for the junk they collected.

I was really impressed to see how one father enabled his son to join in the fun – whilst avoiding the sugar filled junk normally given to trick or treaters – see the photo below. Would you try something like this?

Paleo Diet Halloween Trick or Treat Alternative
You can make some great Paleo friendly treats to enjoy. Try spiced nuts, jerky and kale chips instead of sweets and candy.

When you buy pumpkins to carve, make sure you save the inners to make a huge batch of pumpkin soup. You can use the carved pumpkins to serve dips for veggies, instead of plain bowls.

Well there you have it! Here are some ideas for you to make the most out of your Halloween. Just remember to not focus on what the world tends to focus on, which is the sweets, lollies and candy. Focus on having a fun time with friends and family and prepare some Paleo friendly snacks in advance.

Do you do anything for Halloween? How do you keep it Paleo?

16 Paleo Slow Cooker Tips & Tricks for your Crockpot

16 Paleo Slow Cooker Tips & Tricks for your Crockpot

If you’re short of time and aren’t using a slow cooker – you need to get one! There’s nothing like coming home after a long day, to a freshly made, hot paleo dinner.

16 Paleo Slow Cooker Tips & Tricks for your Crockpot

If you’ve not used a crock-pot before, here are my top tips:


They are completely safe to leave turned on all day, however, it’s always a good idea to make sure it’s sat alone on your counter with nothing sat too close to it.

If you can spare an extra few minutes, try searing your meat and veggies too. This makes a big difference with a far richer flavour of the final dish.

For maximum efficiency prepare your vegetables and meat the night before, so all you need to do in the morning is put them in and turn it on.

Along the same lines, I always avoid overly complicate recipes that call for lots of preparation. I figure the whole point of using this method of cooking is to save me time, not add to it.

Try to keep your cubes of meat and harder vegetables in uniform sizes to make sure they all cook at a similar rate.

Don’t overfill your slow cooker. Aim for no more than two-thirds full – and you only need to half cover the ingredients if you’re adding in extra liquid. This method of cooking loses virtually no liquid to evaporation, so once those veggies cook you’ll find you have more than enough liquid.

Put a lid on it

Make sure the lid is on properly – and don’t be tempted to lift it off mid cook for a nosy – it will take a long time to regain the lost heat.

If it’s looking to watery towards the end of the cooking time, this is the time to remove the lid. The extra liquid will evaporate thickening up your dinner.

Set the time carefully, go for a slower longer cook, over a faster hotter cook for deeper flavours and more tender meat.

Buy big

My top tip is to buy big! I stupidly bought a small one. I should have bought one like this. When you go to the effort of making a slow cooked meal, always double up on quantities so you have a few spares to put in the freezer. Cooking in a small one just seems like a waste!

Whilst most crock-pots have a removable “crock”, some are one piece – avoid these models as they’ll be a nightmare to clean!


Try making stock in your slow cooker – I always get great results and find it needs a lot less attention than when I do it on the stove.

One of my favourite things about slow cooking as that it allows me to use cheap cuts of meat, that would be tough in a faster cooking method. So when you see cheap cuts on offer – buy them and make a slow cooked dish with them!

Whatever you do – don’t use lean meat! Fat not only helps with flavour but will keep the meat moist instead of tough and dry.

For the same reason I also keep bones in and keep the skin on the chicken.

Finally, for maximum flavour wait until just before the end of the cooking time to add in your herbs and spices.

Now try these

Here are some of my slow cooker recipes:

Slow Cooker Chicken Coconut Veggie Stew

Creamy Coconut Slow Cooker Beef

Slow Cooker Jamaican Goat Curry

If you’ve got a slow cooker, which model do you have? Have you got any tip tips to share?

Recipe simple paleo stir fry-min

Recipe: Simple Chicken Stir Fry

Sometimes it’s nice to make something simple and easy for dinner. And it doesn’t get much easier than a stir fry.

Whilst you can buy packets of ready to use vegetables to throw into a pan – don’t do this! Where I live a packet of pre-prepared veggies is upwards of about $7.50 a kilo. Or you can buy your vegetables individually. I get carrots for about $1 a kilo and cabbage for about $3 a head. Cheaper, probably fresher and only the nice bits. The only difference is that the prepacked veg are drier which is better for stir frying. I just use a cheese cloth to remove the excess liquid from my freshly grated veg – and save lots of money in the process.

Recipe simple paleo stir fry-min



Recipe: Simple Chicken Stir Fry
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Sometimes it’s nice to make something simple and easy for dinner. And it doesn’t get much easier than a stir fry. Whilst you can buy packets of ready to use vegetables to throw into a pan – don’t do this! Where I live a packet of pre-prepared veggies is upwards of about $7.50 a kilo. Or you can buy your vegetables individually. I get carrots for about $1 a kilo and cabbage for about $3 a head. Cheaper, probably fresher and only the nice bits. The only difference is that the prepacked veg are drier which is better for stir frying. I just use a cheese cloth to remove the excess liquid from my freshly grated veg – and save lots of money in the process.
Recipe type: Dinner
  • Large spoonful of coconut oil
  • Chicken breast (free range, obviously)
  • 2 carrots
  • Half a head of cabbage
  • Dash coconut aminos
  • Sea salt
  1. Melt the coconut oil in a pan over a medium heat
  2. Cut up the chicken as you like it (strips or diced) and throw into the pan
  3. Grate the vegetables in a food processor*, or using an old school grater. In a clean tea towel or cheesecloth, wring out the excess liquid. I used cabbage and cauliflower – but throw in whatever you have!
  4. Once the chicken starts to look golden and is cooked through, add in the grated vegetables.
  5. Add the dash of coconut aminos for flavouring and season to your taste. You can also add in some herbs and spices if you want to change it up.
  6. *I usually prepare a lot of veg to take make enough for several meals. If you’ve got the food processor out, you might as well get good use out of it!

buying paleo in coles woolworths

Paleo food shopping in Coles

Don’t judge me – sometimes I buy my paleo food from Coles, my local grocery store. I live near a great greengrocer, butcher and an Aldi – and have a twice monthly farmers market a few suburbs away – but sometimes time and budget make paleo shopping in Coles the best option.

buying paleo in coles woolworths

So can you buy paleo in Coles?

A few years ago Coles lacked so many paleo staples – but now I see more and more paleo friendly lines appearing by the week. The fat-is-good-for-you and it-matters-where-your-meat-comes-from messages seem to finally be going mainstream.

This week I saw a whole new line in grass-fed beef at my local coles – so thought it’s a good time to assess the store for their paleoness.

I’m not going to go into fresh produce too much, but they do have a range of organic fruit and veggies.


This is the new range of grass-fed meat I found, Graze. It’s also hormone free and comes from 180 NSW and Victoria cattle farms. So far they have porterhouse, scotch fillet, rib-eye, eye fillet, rump, schnitzel, lean mince, roasts, stir fry, casserole and ribs. So if you buy from Coles – support this range – we want more of it!

Graze Grass-fed beef meat Paleo Coles Supermarket shopping list primal

In terms of chicken, Coles offer the Inglewood Farms brand of organic chicken. I always get a whole chicken ($11.90 a kilo) instead of chicken breasts ($31.40 a kilo) – you literally get the rest of the bird free that way – and who doesn’t love a roast chicken?

How about kangaroo? One of the great things about kangaroo is that they aren’t farmed – so you know you’re getting naturally reared meat. Buy the plain steaks though, and avoid the pre-marinated or processed kangaroo products.



Eggs are easy as most people seem to be on-board with free-range eggs now. Unfortunately Coles don’t offer Omega-3 enriched eggs (get these from Woolworths). And my other gripe is that eggs aren’t stamped in Australia.


Coconut oil used to be a foreign concept to the big supermarkets. Now Coles offer two Melrose Organic jars ($8.75 or $11.72 for 300ml – good for an emergency) and also the Prochef coconut oil spray I wrote about before.


Coles also sell a jar of Naturals by Melrose Almond Butter Spread ($8.03 for 250g) or Cashew Spread Butter ($8.42).

Luckily olive oil has always been abundant. There are loads of brands. Which is your favourite?

If you’re looking for more animal fats, you can also get a rendered duck fat from Coles.

Rendered duck fat animal Paleo Coles Supermarket shopping list primal

Canned paleo

A few brands of coconut milk are available including TCC, Trident and Ayam. I always buy Ayam as it has the best ingredients. Also, never buy the light versions (you can always add water yourself).

The other tinned ingredient I buy is tomatoes (here’s why). There are loads available, but I find a brand like Mutti has the best ingredients.

Canned tinner diced chopped whole tomatoes Paleo Coles Supermarket shopping list primal

Paleo baking

You’ll find several brands of almond meal/ almond flour including Freshlife and the Lucky brand, but with prices upwards of $22 a kilo, they aren’t cheap. Bob’s Red Mill organic coconut flour is available as about $26 a kilo too.


Other things in Coles

You can also find Melrose Apple Cider Vinegar (see what you can do with it here) and several types of Pink Himalayan Salt

If you’re looking for a bread alternative, you’ll be please to find nori seaweed wraps.

Nori sushi rolls wraps sheet Paleo Coles Supermarket shopping list primal

So over to you – what paleo friendly items have you found in Coles that we should know about? Which of the big supermarkets do you think is the most paleo friendly?

Eating paleo on $50 a week budget-min

How far can $50 a week go – cheap veggies

I told you about my $50 weekly food budget and I thought I’d share with you how I’ve been achieving it. As I mentioned, I shop around between my local independent green grocers, Aldi and Coles supermarket. Whilst I find some good specials in Coles and Aldi, I almost always find the green grocers to be the best bet for cheap veggies.

My other reason for liking the greengrocer as well as it being cheap, is that almost everything is from local farms – and it’s pretty much all seasonal, rather than expensive imported produce.

I eat a lot of veg and use it to bulk out all of my meals. I pick veggies roughly based on their nutrient density – I’m going to buy kale and spinach over iceberg lettuce.

So, here’s what I selected the other day at my greengrocers….

Spinach (silverbeet) $0.99
Kale $2.00
Butternut Squash $3.00
Brussels Sprouts $2.49
Broccoli $1.97
Onions $1.49
Cauliflower $2.49

Total Veg Spend $14.34

I compared the cost to what I would have paid in my local Coles supermarket (see below)


Buying the exact same produce would have cost over double in the supermarket – $31.07, leaving less than $20 for meat for the week!

What did I do with the produce?

I made a huge batch of butternut squash and carrot soup (I had a few carrots left over from my previous shot)

I used the cauliflower to make an experimental new pizza base

I made a greens & beef stir fry with the silverbeet, kale, sprouts and broccoli

It’s cheap – but is it organic?

Unfortunately it’s not all organic. Of course I’d love to eat everything organic, but on a tight budget it’s just not feasible. However – one good trick I’ve found, is that not may people seem to buy organic where I live. This means the organic produce is quite often reduced to less than the conventional produce, as it approaches it’s use by date. So keep a look out.

I’d love to hear your tips for eating well on a budget – how do you do it? Share in the comments below!

How to grind your own beef mince ground grinder paleo network-min

How to Grind Your Own Ground Beef Mince

A while ago I wrote about why I don’t buy ground beef (or any mince meat for that matter). But I love cooking with it. Making it yourself is the only way you can possibly:

  • Know exactly what’s in it
  • Be sure it only contains good cuts of meat
  • Know how fresh it is
  • Know it’s safe to eat medium-rare
  • Know it will taste good

How to grind your own beef mince ground grinder paleo network-min

The first time I tried it I used an old fashioned mincer like the one in the photo above. It was a total mess, with meat juice going everywhere! So since then, I’ve worked out how to do it properly with the mincer – but also far faster with my food processor.

How to Grind Your Own Ground Beef Mince:

1) Find a good cut of meat, not too lean – a bit of fat makes all the difference. I often buy a cut that is on special offer, then freeze the ground meat that I make.

2) Depending on what you’re making with the mince, you might also grind another type of mince too. For example, I like to make my bolognese with half beef and half pork mince.

3) This is the step I found out the hard way. Cube the meat evenly, then put in the freezer for a couple of hours. Do this, it makes a huge difference and stops your kitchen resembling a crime scene. I’ve even taken to putting the grinding plate into the freezer too. Without it being super cold it won’t grind properly and will be a mushy nasty mess. You have been warned.

4) In small batches feed the meat cubes into the food processor or grinder

5) Check for any un-ground pieces to put through again, and get rid of any gristle that has made it’s way through.

6) Whatever you don’t use, straight away freeze in small batches for use in a future recipe.

And once you’ve ground your meat? Try some of these recipes:

Chilli and Cumin meatballs with a mango and pomegranate salsa
Texan Style Sweet Potato and Bison Burgers
Spiced Beef Kofte with a Pomegranate Glaze
Tomato-Free Bolognese Recipe
Mexican Turkey Burgers with Coriander Guacamole