A couple of years ago, I showed up at the inaugural Ancestral Health Symposium at UCLA exhausted and grouchy. After just coming off a week of graveyard shifts, driving 300 miles to Los Angeles, and staying up late eating various animal parts with new friends, I was a mess. I was slumped over in a folding chair, staring into my iPhone, when a woman came up to introduce herself. I stayed planted in my seat, and mumbled something back before she left.
Henry, who was a few feet away, walked over to chide me. “Whoa. I know you’re tired, but you know that you were incredibly rude to that person, right?” (He actually used a stronger adjective than “rude,” but this is a family-friendly blog, so I paraphrased.)
He was right. I felt awful, and my stomach knotted up. I bolted from my seat and scanned the room, desperate to find the person I’d just blown off so I could apologize. But I failed. For months afterwards, every time I met someone new, I reminded myself to not act like a complete…rude person.
Flash-forward one year. Henry and I headed down to the first PaleoFX conference in Austin, and decided to stay in a house with a number of other Paleo blogging friends, including Diane Sanfilippo, George Bryant, Bill Staley and Hayley Mason, Liz Wolfe, and others. Diane’s roommate at the house was Diana Rodgers.
Diana and I hit it off right away. While the rest of the house headed out for a morning CrossFit beat-down, Diana and I went on a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood and chatted. As moms of two young kids, we bonded over stories and jokes, and it became immediately evident that we both share an acerbic, sharp-edged sense of humor. When Diana learned that I’d be attending AHS in Boston, she invited our entire clan to stay with her on her family’s farm in Carlisle. I accepted on the spot.
But it wasn’t until that evening that it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks: Diana was the person I’d rudely blown off at AHS.
"IT’S YOU!" I exclaimed. Diana smiled and nodded.
It’s a testament to Diana that she was willing to stay in a house with me despite the way I’d acted. And Diana didn’t just tolerate me; she was warm and generous, and quickly became a close friend. Since then, we’ve stayed with her family in Massachusetts, playing on the farm, hanging out at the beach, chowing on good grub, and generally having a rollicking good time. (I’m pretty sure Diana even forgave me for almost burning down her house.) We shared a house in Texas again this year, and I’m excited that we’re going to hang out twice more this month in two different states.
Best of all: our kids love her kids.
That said, even if I knew nothing at all about Diana, I can honestly tell you that I absolutely adore her new cookbook, Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go.
When transitioning to a Paleo lifestyle, a lot of people are stymied by the perceived lack of breakfast and lunch options. “What am I supposed to eat if I can’t have cereal or waffles or sandwiches?” My standard response has been “EAT DINNER FOR BREAKFAST” or something along those lines, but Diana’s gone the extra mile. The pages of her book are jam-packed with all sorts of quick, flavorful, Paleo-friendly meals—and not just for finicky children, but for adults with more grown-up palates, too.
There’s something for everyone here. In the mood for a quick salad? Try Diana’s Two-Minute Steak, Egg, and Endive Salad or her Wild Tuna, Orange, and Parsley Salad. Looking for soup instead? How about some Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca de Peixe) or Shrimp Coconut Lemongrass Soup? And if you’re in search of new ideas for simple but insanely tasty wraps, rolls, and roll-ups, look no further. You’ll be amazed at the variety of flavors that Diana’s crammed into this volume.
For the past several weeks, we’ve been cooking our way through Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go, and have made everything from beautiful and delicious Curried Green Eggs & Ham…
…to ingeniously simple and satisfying Pastrami & Pickles in Radicchio Wraps…
…and Thai Curry Crab Cakes to Go.
Everything’s turned out wonderfully. There’s a ton of great stuff in Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go, but the Lamb “Dosa” Purses with Coconut Crème is definitely one of my favorites.
Before I went Paleo, I used to hit up southern Indian restaurants all the time in search of the best chaat: chana batura, idli, pani puri, kathi kabobs—all served with sweet and spicy chutneys and sauces. And, of course, no meal would be complete without dosas made with rice and lentils and filled with vegetables spiced with rich, fragrant Indian seasonings. I haven’t had dosas in a long time, but these lamb-stuffed purses certainly brought me back.
With Diana’s permission, here’s her incredible recipe from the book, in her words:
"These spicy little packets are to die for! The inspiration for these comes from my friends at Chive Sustainable Catering & Event Design, the company that prepared the food for a sustainable feast event I hosted on my farm. I’ve changed the recipe slightly by adding potato. I thought potato would make them more “dosa-like” while adding a little healthy starch. What resulted are these perfect Paleo packets to eat on the go. This recipe takes a bit longer to make than the others, but believe me, it is completely worth your time. If you don’t want to wrap them in Swiss chard, then serve them over arugula and drizzle with the coconut crème. Goat, pork or beef can also be substituted for the lamb.”
Makes about 30 bite-sized wraps (3 large servings)
FOR THE MEATBALLS:
- 1 large or two small sweet potatoes
- 1 pound (454 g) ground lamb
- 3 tablespoons (6 g) fresh mint, minced
- ½ yellow onion, chopped into ¼” (6 mm) dice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (add a little less or omit if you don’t want them spicy)
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
FOR THE WRAP:
- 30 Swiss chard leaves for wrappers (medium-sized is best)
- 1 package toothpicks
FOR THE COCONUT CRÈME:
- ½ cup (120 ml) full-fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ lime, juiced
Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 2-inch (5 cm) squares; boil until done, about 15 minutes.
While they are boiling, add the remaining ingredients to a bowl and preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7).
Drain the water and with a potato masher, mash the sweet potatoes until they are still slightly lumpy but mostly mashed.
Add the potatoes to the lamb mixture and use your hands to mix well.
On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, form little oblong balls–sort of like mini hot dogs.
Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes or until light brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
While the meatballs are cooling, boil a large pot of water. Blanch the Swiss chard leaves for 2 to 3 minutes and remove to place in a bowl of ice water.
To roll, take 1 leaf of Swiss chard and dry it off.
Remove the stem at the bottom. Place a meatball in the leaf and roll the bottom part up, then fold over the sides, tucking in as you go, and continue to roll until the meatball is covered with the leaf. Hold in place with a toothpick. Continue until the rest are rolled.
To make the crème, mix together all of the ingredients. The result is a refreshing, aromatic sauce. It’s also a terrific salad dressing, especially over roasted lamb and arugula.
Believe me, gang: with innovative flavor combinations and simplicity at the heart of every recipe, this cookbook is a must-have for your kitchen library.