You know what makes pizza so delicious? That perfect combination of italian tomato sauce and melted cheese, plus meaty or veggie toppings. The pizza base is nothing more than just a gluten-filled, over-processed plate to put the good stuff on. And it fills you up too fast to enjoy more of the good bits. So here’s an idea – use veggies as your pizza base!
Eggplant is a fun place to start with this idea, as it’s easy to slice, quick to cook, and the flavour goes well with your pizza sauce and any toppings.
Get the Good Cheese
To make it a really primal pizza, all that’s left is to replace processed cheese with some unpasteurised (raw) parmesan cheese like Grana Padana or Parmigiano Reggiano. We have found these in our local supermarket, but you have to make sure to get a European brand that says unpasteurised in the ingredient list.
No-Crust Eggplant Pizza Ingredients
– 1 Eggplant
– Olive oil (or melted butter or ghee)
– Tomato paste
– Italian dried herbs like oregano, thyme, sage, parsley
– Raw parmesan cheese, grated
– Optional: fresh basil leaves, finely diced chorizo or other meat.
No-Crust Eggplant Pizza Recipe
Step 1: Slice eggplant into rounds of even thickness. Not too thick, not too thin. Or you can slice your eggplant lengthwise to make bigger ‘pizza bases’.
Step 2: Lay eggplant slices on a baking tray or on your broiler (oven grill) tray. Spray or brush lightly with olive oil or melted butter/ghee.
Step 3: Turn broiler (oven grill) to med-high heat and cook eggplant slices until lightly browned.
Step 4: Flip eggplant, brush or spray again with olive oil or butter and cook until lightly browned.
Step 5: While eggplant is cooking, mix dried herbs into the tomato paste and season well with salt and pepper. Pizza sauce!
Step 6: Spread pizza sauce onto browned eggplant slices. Then sprinkle grated cheese on top of the sauce. Add any optional diced chorizo, chicken or other meat, if desired.
Step 7: Put eggplant pizzas back under the heat for a couple minutes, just until the cheese melts.
Step 8: Top each eggplant pizza with one basil leaf to serve. This last step is optional but highly recommended for amazing flavour, especially if you’re not using any other toppings.
Best served immediately as an appetizer or side dish. Everyone is impressed with these when I serve them at dinner parties!
Unless you must have that crusty crunch in your pizza, why bother with all the gluten-free, paleo pizza crust recipes that are so time-consuming and don’t add any delicious flavour to your pizza? The best grain-free pizza crusts are the vegetables themselves!
Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day or any other celebratory event, everyone has their own traditions and way of celebrating, but much of it will include a lot of sugar, processed food and alcohol. These “festive foods” are strongly tied to all the happy holiday memories, making a powerful emotional connection in our minds when we eat these foods. In our minds, happiness is tied to eating marshmallow bunnies, christmas cookies, halloween candy, valentines day chocolates…and as we get older, washing it down with celebratory drinks. So it’s no wonder so many people are sick at the end of the holiday period, when it’s time to get back to school and work. Well maybe it’s time for some new traditions! Isn’t it possible to celebrate, have a holiday AND take good care of our bodies so we feel amazing even after the party is over?
All I Want For Christmas is a Good Body
The number one New Year’s resolutions are to get fit, lose weight, and eat healthy, but we spend several weeks before the new year trashing our bodies! Well, this is the year things are going to change for YOU. You are reading this article, and soon will be armed with new ways of approaching any holiday time so that you don’t come out the other side tired, sick and several kilos fatter. So let’s get to it – If there’s going to be a holiday feast and party platters, let’s talk about food!
Every Feast Starts with Meat & Veggies
Meat and veggies are always a feature at any holiday gathering, so make these foods the bulk of your plate! If you’re throwing the party or bringing a plate, make colourful and delicious meat and veggie dishes. When you go to a party, find the meat and veg and fill up on those first. What’s more festive than a roast pork with crackling and roasted vegetables? Or for summer holidays – fresh prawns, barbequed meats and colourful salads? The list of festive meat and veg dishes could be endless but here are some ideas:
– Chicken, beef, lamb or fish on skewers! Alternate the meat with colourful veggies and grill them up for an easy main party dish. Kids love to help make the skewers too.
– Roast turkey, lamb, ham, chicken, pork, or beef. Rub on some salt and herbs; crisp up the crackling; stuff poultry with cut oranges or lemons. You’ll have healthy leftovers for days.
Throw plenty of veggies in too while you’ve got the oven on. Whole sweet potatoes, pumpkin, parsnips, beetroot, onion…or cut them all up and make a roast veggie medley.
– Whole grilled fish, fish cakes, fresh prawns and other shellfish. Seafood is very festive and the possibilities are endless.
– Green beans or broccoli sprinkled with crispy bacon; grated/shredded cabbage, carrot and capsicum (bell pepper) salad with chopped nuts, raisins, orange wedges, oil and vinegar; leafy green salads with loads of colourful toppings.
Sweets without all the Sugar
The best sweet food for any occassion is fruit. Make fruit skewers, fruit salad or a fruit platter. Use as many colourful fruits as possible for the season. Cut fruit shapes with cookie cutters. Hollow out melons to use as a decorative fruit salad bowl.
Nuts and seeds are another perfect snack food for any get together. Toss raw nuts with mixed spices; serve nuts in the shell with a nutcracker; make a trail mix; roast pumpkin seeds.
One of the biggest obstacles, however, to your healthy holiday is all those chocolates, cakes, cookies and candies. Every holiday, there they are staring you in the face, luring you with happy sugar-filled fun memories. There are three ways of getting over this hurdle:
1/ Just say no. If you are the type of person who can’t just have one bite, and is easily addicted to sweets, make a pact to yourself to not even have one bite. Before each party, remind yourself of the consequences of eating sweets: weight gain, bad moods, tiredness (sugar coma), getting sick, or whatever relates to your body and goals. Fill up on meats, veggies, fruits and nuts, and if anyone asks, keep your explanation simple and upbeat.
2/ Choose your battles. Decide which holiday sweets are your absolute favourite and have a small plate or handful of that. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule – take great care of your health 80% of the time, and it will be strong enough to handle the stress, sugar, and toxins you incur 20% of the time. Have a plate of christmas pudding, a slice of pumpkin pie, or a small Lindt chocolate bunny as part of your celebration. Enjoy it slowly and leave it at that.
3/ Make paleo / primal sweets and treats. With the paleo ‘movement’ and health awareness growing rapidly, there are hundreds of recipes for baked goods and sweets with less to no sugar and flour. And being homemade, it won’t have additives and preservatives! Some great sites for these recipes:
In many of our cultures, hardly any celebration is without alcohol. However, if you are eating well, exercising and making lifestyle changes to feel healthier and/or lose weight, drinking alcohol can quickly reverse all your hard work. So try these ideas during the holidays:
If you want to only have a few drinks:
– Sip your drink slowly. Slowly drink a full glass of water between each drink.
– Drink spirits straight or only mixed with water, soda water, or sparkling water. Leave out the soda and fruit juice mixers!
– Dilute your wine and champagne. Halve your glass of white wine and fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water. Fruit puree fills up a champagne glass well and tastes nice.
– Keep lots of healthy food snacks nearby as alcohol will make you crave junk food.
If you want to celebrate without drinking at all:
– Bring a bottle of sparkling mineral water and some fresh limes, so you’ll have a nice drink for yourself. Also, drinking this in a short glass looks like a cocktail, so you won’t get pestered to have an alcoholic drink.
– Make mocktails with blended fresh or frozen fruit and sparkling mineral water.
– Think about how great you’ll feel tomorrow and know that you’re not really missing much.
Eating isn’t the only holiday activity
There is more to holidays than consuming food, alcohol and material goods! Put your time and energy into memorable activities and traditions and make your celebrations revolve around the activity.
– Go for a walk or drive to look at Christmas lights
– Set up an Easter egg hunt or a more challenging scavenger hunt for adults
– Have a Halloween costume parade and competition
– Go Caroling or sing carols at home
– Play board games, do puzzles, make crafts
– Play at the beach, in the snow, by the lake, in the park
– Serve meals at a homeless shelter or deliver old clothes to the needy
– Thoughts: Say no if you feel too busy or pressured; omit holiday traditions that are too stressful; stay within your budget and do free things; make time for yourself.
– Breath: Take time to stop and breathe and/or lay on a foam roller; use your holiday time to learn breathing techniques, meditation and yoga.
– Water: Keep drinking plenty of filtered water. Keep your water bottle with you at all times.
– Movement: Get outdoors and play; dance with friends and family or by yourself in the living room; do some stretches every morning or night; join an active group or sport.
– Rest/Sleep: Get to bed by 10pm on the nights when you are not out, so you don’t accumulate too much sleep debt from late night celebrating. Don’t overschedule yourself, make rest time.
The Golden Rules of Healthy Socialising
Lastly, never forget the golden rules of staying healthy at parties, dinners, and social events. These apply perfectly to holiday time:
1/ If you know there won’t be much healthy food offered, eat well before you leave home!
2/ Never stand next to the food table / buffet / snack table / bar.
3/ Carry lots of whole food snacks with you like raw veggies, nuts, fruit, egg muffins, salmon cakes, and spinach bread. This is especially important for your children!
4/ For main meals, serve up your plate then don’t go back for seconds. Avoid family style dining and buffets when possible. Learn more on portion control.
5/ Decide before you go if you will have no sugar and/or alcohol or just a little, and stick to it.
6/ Enjoy a small amount of unhealthy food and drinks if you are following the 80/20 rule for health and weight maintenance.
7/ Don’t make a big deal explaining your healthy choices. Simple, upbeat answers work best.
Above all, enjoy yourself! Stressing about the challenge of staying healthy over the holiday can cause more health problems than actually having the cookies. So instead of thinking that you will be deprived of treats and drinks, focus on all that you will receive and enjoy about the holiday – homemade food, friends and family, music and activities. Happy Holidays!
Note: ‘Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks’- This is a video transcription.
Hi! I’m going to make lamb shanks this morning because it’s a busy day and I want to have a beautiful dinner tonight. But I’m not going to be home later to cook it so I’m going to get it going here now and let my slow cooker to do all the work while I’m gone all day. I’m going to show you how quick and fast it is to do everything, before you even take off for the day.
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Take out your slow cooker. Anytime you’re going to cook meat you also want to let the meat sit out a little bit so it gets more to room temperature and cooks more evenly. So, I took out my lamb shanks before we had breakfast and I’m going to take my big pan and get them browning. I take coconut oil which is my favorite high heat oil and I am going to brown the shanks so I need medium to high heat.
While that’s heating up, I’m going to think what else I will have with my lamb shanks. I am going to have carrots, onions, and some garlic cloves. While the pan is heating, I will start chopping things up. So, because everything is going in the slow cooker and gets nice and melded together, you can really be random about how you cut it, it is really up to you. You can have big chunks of onions, you can have tiny little chunks, depends on if you want thin sauce or chunky sauce. Lamb shanks always come out delicious. It’s a beautiful cut of meat, it has plenty of fat to make the sauce tasty, so you can really play around with the sauce. I am going to show you basic way that I have been doing them. It’s a little bit of tomato paste, a little bit of tomato puree, some dried herbs, nothing fancy. Because that way anytime you want to cook some shanks, you usually have all the ingredients on hand. But once you get down the basics, then you can try out some different shank recipes, some orange peel, red wine is always good. You can use stock or water…you don’t have to be fancy, it’s all up to you. This really is all about just getting food cooking, so that you have a nice dinner when you come home. It’s really more about convenience and having healthy food when you don’t have a lot of time for preparation.
So I have done my onions quite small like that, just diced them up, and I am going to dice up some carrots now. You notice my carrots are all funky looking – this is a really good way to get cheap, organic carrots. They are certified organic but I bought them as juicing carrots because they are not pretty. They are all the pieces that came out funny looking. People like pretty food so the not pretty ones are really cheap. So I bought my juicing carrots because I’m going to chop them up anyway, It doesn’t matter what they look like. I am doing them fairly small this time. I do them kind of cut in half and then do some half moons. That way it’s just going to go in with the sauce.
I think my pan is going to be nice and hot now so I am going to check it. Go like that to get the oil around. You can kinda see when it is getting hot, but sometimes I just go like this (sprinkle some water). It is hot. Throw my shanks on. Look at that, nice big pan so you can get six shanks in there all at once. I’m going to get my insert from the slow cooker and put it over here so when the shanks are ready, they’ll go straight in.
I’ll finish my chopping, will do lots of carrots. You can make carrots the main veggie inside the slow cooker with the shanks or you can dice them up really small and make them part of the sauce. All this can be done while the little one is drawing and playing over there on her table. This is one of Kaiya’s favourite meals. Nice and messy, kids love it, they can pick up the bones and eat the meat; suck the marrow out of the bottom of the bone. I have got my carrot and my onions, and I’m going to do a few little garlic cloves. I cut the ends off the garlic and then I press the knife on top of the garlic, give it a little push and then the skin comes off much easier. Garlic and rosemary are always well paired with lamb so I like to put lots of garlic. Ok, I am going to check on my shanks. Get my tongs, give them a twist. Yep, they’re getting nice and brown.
Most people picture shanks on top of a big bed of mash potato, I happen to love that as well. So yeah, you can serve your lamb shanks on a bed of mash potato, or you can serve them Mediterranean style with some couscous. Or if you don’t want to have any starch or any grains, you can just serve them as is, and you can make your sauce more full of vegetables. Another good veggie that goes well with this would be celery. Celery breaks down beautifully in the slow cooker. Recently we actually even had our lamb shanks on a bed of spinach, didn’t even cook it (the spinach). Put a big bed of baby spinach and then popped the lamb shanks on top, poured the sauce over and it looked beautiful.
Now, with slow cookers, browning your meat beforehand is optional. It is an extra step, it does take extra time. I like to do it with shanks in particular, as it doesn’t take as long as when you have diced meat, and gives it some extra colour and flavor. Now my shanks are looking nice and brown, I am going to put them in the slow cooker. I got a nice big slow cooker so can fit six shanks in here. We are a family of three but I always make at least double so we have a lot of leftovers. Take that (pan) off the heat for a second while I try to get my shanks in. I don’t want it (the oil) to be too hot that it starts smoking, so that will cool it down a little bit.
Now we’re going to throw all this stuff on. I am going to throw the onion on first. I’ve still got plenty of coconut oil, plus the grease from the lamb which gives it a really a nice flavor. Onions are getting nice and brown, it only takes a couple minutes. I will throw the garlic on now and all the carrots on top. With the carrots you can do them with the sauce, like I am doing now, or you can just throw them in (slow cooker) on top later. But this way the carrots get mixed in with the herbs and sauce, so just let it pick up all the beautiful brown bits of the lamb from the bottom of the pan. Then I grab some of my herbs from my cabinet, some thyme and rosemary. You can use fresh herbs or dried herbs or a combination of the two. All depends on what you have on hand at the time, and will prevent you from saying that you can’t make the recipe because you don’t have the right ingredients. You can just “wing it”, as long as you have the basic idea.
Now, I like tomato passata, as it comes in a jar instead of a can, and it’s just basically a tomato puree. And organic concentrated tomato paste gives a really good thick texture. Two heaping tablespoons does it for the tomato paste and then add the passata, which is nice and runny so pour it on generously. Again I’m not really measuring here; I just kind of pour it on until I can see that I can cook my veggies in it. So I’ve coated the onion, garlic, carrots and herbs with my tomato paste and tomato puree and I am going to let the heat go a bit high to let the flavors meld together. It’s quite thick so I just get a tiny bit of filtered water and pour that on. You can be the judge of your own sauce thickness. I let it come to a bit of a boil and now simmer. Let it simmer for five to ten minutes; really depends on how much time you have. Once it’s ready just pick it up (the pan) and pour it on top of our shanks.
Put it (the slow cooker) on low so it can cook all day long. You can really keep your shanks in there for eight to ten hours and not worry if you’re going to be home late from work. It will be beautiful when you get home. It’s done and literally, look what I have to clean up – hardly any dishes, just my pan and a chopping board and I will have a beautiful dinner when I get home.
Like I said, if you want to have some potato with it, or some sweet potato, you can really just chop them in half and throw them on top, and when you get home, that can be your base.
“Shanks” for watching!