Hi everyone, my name is Russ Crandall, and I write for a blog called The Domestic Man, where I focus on traditional and international recipes. As a last-ditch effort to take control of my autoimmune issues (I was diagnosed with Takayasu’s Arteritis in 2006), I adopted a Paleo diet in 2010 and found almost immediate relief of my symptoms. I’ve been developing recipes to fit my lifestyle ever since.
My take on the Paleo diet is that traditional recipes – those that were developed and refined over hundreds (if not thousands) of years – are the secret to delicious, healthy meals. After all, many of them are naturally Paleo-friendly already, so it makes my job as a recipe developer all that easier! I am so convinced that traditional recipes are important that I wrote a whole book on the subject; I released my debut cookbook, The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle, about a year ago.
Another subject that I am passionate about is balancing macronutrient ratios. When I first started eating a Paleo diet, I lost a lot of weight – more than I wanted to – and felt increasingly tired (remember that at the time, Paleo was almost exclusively promoted as a low-carb diet). It was only when I started to re-introduce carbohydrates that I felt best. So I played around with different starchy foods, like rice, potatoes, and plantains, and found a balance that worked best for me. Surprise surprise, it turns out that macronutrient ratios that are aligned with traditional eating practices made me feel best!
So I wrote an eBook of my starch-related journey, called The Safe Starch Cookbook. It features 64 of my favorite carb-minded recipes, developed specifically as a tool to help folks who want to reintroduce carbs incrementally following a period of low-carb, but don’t know where to start. I also like to think that it’s a great resource for people who already eat carbs but are looking for a bit of inspiration. So if you’re looking to try your hand at a bit of rice or potatoes, or just want to find a few new delicious ways to prepare plantains, sweet potatoes, or squash, I think you’ll like The Safe Starch Cookbook. (Plus with your purchase of The Safe Starch Cookbook, you will get a 13 recipe preview eBook of Russ’s upcoming book Paleo Takeout!)
Here’s a recipe from the book, called Ital Stew.
Ital Stew is a Jamaican dish aligned with the Rastafarian movement. The word “ital” is derived from the word vital, and is similar to the concept of kosher. Specifically, ital food should be vegetarian, unprocessed, and from the earth. Some believe that even iodized salt should be avoided, and only pure sea salt is acceptable. Since meat is considered dead, it is not ital, although some Rastafari are known to eat small fish.
There is a lot of variation to this dish. Typically, it’s made with several different kinds of starchy foods (I used squash, taro, potatoes, and plantain) in a coconut milk broth. It’s lightly spiced, with just thyme and pimento (allspice).
- Serves: 4
- Prep time: 10 mins
- Cooking time: 35 mins
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
- 3 green onions, bottoms removed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups pumpkin or squash, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 cups taro, cut into bite-sized chunks (about 1 lb)
- 2 cups potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks (about 2 lbs)
- 1 cup okra, cut into 1/2” pieces (about 10 okras)
- 1/2 yellow plantain, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3 carrots, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 cups collard greens, sliced
- Juice of 1/2 lime (1 tbsp)
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small handful cilantro, chopped
- In a stockpot, warm the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion. Sauté until translucent and softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, allspice, and thyme, and sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute.
- Add the green onions, bay leaves, coconut milk, and water. Bring to a simmer, then add the pumpkin and taro, and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat if it turns into a boil – you’re looking for a lively simmer, but not a full-on boil. Add the potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the okra, plantain, and carrots, and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally, remove the green onions (and any bay leaves and thyme sprigs you can find), then add the collard greens; simmer until darkened and bright green, about 4 more minutes. At this point, all of the vegetables should be easily pierced with a fork.
- Remove from heat, and add the lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste; once it tastes good, stir in the cilantro and serve.
** This stew is traditionally made with split peas, which I omitted to save time and because many people avoid dried peas on a Paleo-style diet. To cook this dish with peas, you’d want to soak them for 10-12 hours, then add the peas when you add the coconut milk and water, and cook until soft, about 1.5 hours, before moving on to the next steps.
** Be sure to tell your dinner guests not to eat the whole pimentos. If you’re serving this to children, consider using 1/2 tsp ground allspice instead of whole berries.