3 Reasons to Use an Amazon Echo in the Kitchen

Amazon Echo Dot

I love food, but I also love technology. Ask my wife. My two most visited sites from my phone, laptop or desktop normally consist of a Primal site and a tech website. So consider this post a slight departure from our regularly scheduled programming – sorta. This will read like a product placement, but trust me Amazon didn’t pay me to post this about the Echo. I just thought this would be a good post to identify my top 3 reasons I love using an Echo Dot in my kitchen, and when Apple releases something similar I’ll probably consider it as well. So below I’ve identified my top 3 uses for using an Amazon Echo Dot in the kitchen.

1. Timers

This sounds basic, and believe me it is. But man, a hands free way of telling the Echo to set a timer really comes in handy. So how often do I use it to set timers? ALL THE TIME. The main reason for setting timers is actually to get our toddler into her chair to eat a meal. We started out by telling our daughter to get in her chair because breakfast/lunch/dinner was ready, but as toddlers do she began to resist and get an attitude so we started a new method by having Alexa set a timer for us to get our daughter in the chair. So we now can tell our daughter to go to her chair when she hears the timer. This has evolved to where we use it to convince her of nap time and bed time as well. It’s great and really has worked for us. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Can’t you just use your phone for that?” Yes but no. My iPhone 7 has become much more capable at picking up “Hey, Siri” commands than my iPhone 6, but it’s still inconsistent, and when I’m dealing with a sassy toddler I don’t have time for inconsistent. The Echo is consistent. It hears me no matter if the TV is loud, the stove fan is going on or if I’m frying up some bacon for my brussels sprouts and bacon recipe. It always picks up my request to set a timer. Now besides using it as a brainwashing technique for our daughter I still love to use it for setting hands free timers for cooking, which is great because it can handle multiple timers unlike my iPhone. I have to say using it for a timer is our number one used function of the Echo.

2. Shopping List

The second most used function of my Echo is for adding grocery items to my shopping list hands free. This is HUGE. Once again yes I can use my phone for it but my phone is inconsistent and it doesn’t always pick up what I’m saying to add to a list – which is terrible when I’m standing at the grocery store looking at my iPhone list and it says “eight” instead of what I really meant was eggs (no I’m not making this up). Alexa on the other hand handles all my hands free shopping lists requests quite well. I really love this ability because it really does come in handy while I’m cooking and I remember in the moment I need more cumin or some other can of tomato sauce but my hands are full or dirty and I can just shout to Alexa what I want. Now the way I do my shopping list for the grocery store is actually in the regular notes app on the iPhone. I like keeping it real simple when I make my grocery list every week. So I have a reminder set on my phone every week to check the Alexa app’s shopping list. Then after I look at what I’ve shouted to Alexa throughout the week then I add that to my main shopping list in the notes app.

3. Measurements

The third most used function of my Echo is having Alexa convert measurements for recipes. First, I’m really bad at math and second I’m just not good at converting the measurements in my head. I look at so many different recipes online and in books and I always have trouble with things in grams, ml, cups, teaspoons and tablespoons. I’m terrible at getting this stuff straight! Any home cook would appreciate this feature. It sure does beat trying to look at some paper reference card taped to your cupboard, or trying to google the conversion while you have raw chicken on your hands.

There are a few more things I wish it could do. Two things I keep thinking in my head that I wish it can do are control my TV with just my voice and for it to somehow display recipes. Amazon recently updated their Amazon Fire TVs to be controlled with Alexa devices but this still doesn’t entirely control the TV the way I would like. I would need something more like a Harmony Hub for something like this, but I digress. For displaying full recipes Amazon now has the Echo Show, but I have no idea how well that displays recipes and responds to your voice. Hope all this technobabble helped.

tl;dr

You should buy an Echo Dot.

Simple Sesame Seed Butter Cookies

Simple Sesame Seed Butter Cookies

When I’m at work the first meal I eat during the day is around 11:30 am and normally it’s a pretty huge salad with some side of meat like canned sardines or canned tuna. Then I’ll eat dinner with my family around 6:00 pm. So somewhere in between there I snack on jerky, macadamia nuts or my favorite – some sort of nut/coconut butter. I prefer coconut butter or my own macadamia coconut butter where I just enjoy it by the spoonful. Nut butters or coconut butter is a good high fat snack to eat and will fill you up quick. I do like almond butter but it’s not my favorite.

Simple Sesame Seed Butter Cookies

So one day I was at this new grocery store by my work and I saw some sesame seed butter. I bought it thinking I would switch up the kind of butter I would snack on in the afternoon. Well when I took my first spoonful of it, it tasted absolutely terrible by itself. I’ve used Tahini (sesame seed butter) before on a faux hummus recipe with eggplant, but never by itself. So I had to do something with this huge jar of sesame seed butter I was left with. So what better thing to make than cookies. I turned to my favorite cookie recipe and just took out the chocolate and added the sesame seed butter instead of the almond butter. I think they turned out great and my kids thought so as well.

Simple Sesame Seed Butter Cookies

Simple Sesame Seed Butter Cookies
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sesame seed butter
  2. ¾ cup coconut sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 egg yolk
  5. 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  6. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  7. ¼ teaspoon salt
  8. 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  9. additional sesame seeds for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl mix the sesame seed butter with the coconut sugar, vanilla extract, baking soda, salt and sesame seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the egg and egg yolk. After the eggs are whisked, mix them together with the other ingredients until thoroughly mixed together.
  4. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper and form about 6 balls of dough per baking sheet (12 total cookies). Smash down slightly with a fork. Then bake 6 at a time for about 10–12 minutes. When they’re done sprinkle some additional sesame seeds on top and let cool. Try not to eat them all in one sitting.
That's So Primal http://www.thatssoprimal.com/

Dad’s Smoked Ribs

Dad's Smoked Ribs

Ok now these aren’t actually my Dad’s Smoked Ribs. My Dad makes great ribs, he always has, I’ve written about them here. What I wanted to do though was tweak my Dad’s recipe a bit and try to get his ribs a little more smokier. So for the past few months I’ve been testing out this method and it works great. Ask my family, they’ll tell you how much they love these ribs. I make two racks and they all get eaten that night pretty much.

Dad's Smoked Ribs

Now I know this method is sorta cheating if you ask someone who’s really into smoking meats. They would never dare boil or put the ribs in the oven – right – but not everyone has a smoker and this is the next best method, in my opinion, if all you have is a Weber and an oven. You can get some great fall off the bone ribs that have a wonderful smokey taste to them if you follow this recipe. So this recipe is really a combination of my Dad’s ribs and my coworker’s Dad’s ribs where his dad finishes his ribs off in the Weber to get the smokey flavor. This step where you finish them off in the Weber basically replaces the last two steps of my Dad’s recipe where you return the ribs to the oven uncovered for 30 minute, then throw them on the grill. I’ll explain it all in the details below.

Just know this: If all you have is an oven and a Weber this is the easiest way to make fall off the bone great tasting smokey ribs.

Dry Rub
Dry Rub

Butter knife to remove membrane
Butter knife to remove membrane

Get your hand under there and start pulling
Get your hand under there and start pulling

Pull the whole membrane off
Pull the whole membrane off

Dry rub and put in the oven for 2.5 hours
Dry rub, fill dish with some water and put in the oven covered with aluminum foil for 2.5 hours

30 minutes before they come out of the oven get the chimney going
30 minutes before they come out of the oven get the chimney going

These are the coals I use
These are the coals I use

Soak the chips also for at least 30 min
Soak the chips also for at least 30 min

After 2.5 hours pull the ribs out of the oven and brush with BBQ sauce
After 2.5 hours pull the ribs out of the oven and brush with BBQ sauce

Pour the coals to one side of the Weber and place the wood chips on top of the coal
Pour the coals to one side of the Weber and place the wood chips on top of the coal

Dad's Smoked Ribs
Load the brushed ribs in the Weber on the opposite side of the coals. It’s ok to stack them a bit.

Leave them to smoke for 1 hour
Leave them to smoke for 1 hour

After 1 hour pull them off the Weber
After 1 hour pull them off the Weber

Then slice em and eat em all up!
Then slice em and eat em all up!

Dad's Smoked Ribs
Print
Ingredients
  1. Rub
  2. 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  3. 2 tablespoons paprika
  4. 4 teaspoons granulated garlic
  5. 4 teaspoons chili powder
  6. 2 teaspoons black pepper
  7. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  8. Sauce
  9. BBQ Sauce of your choice (I like this KC Masterpiece)
  10. Meat
  11. 2 Racks of Pork Ribs (Baby or Spare, I prefer Baby Back for this because they fit easier in my Weber)
  12. Tools
  13. Weber
  14. 2 Pyrex Dishes
  15. Basting Brush
  16. Hickory Wood Chips
  17. Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
  18. Chimney Starter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Remove the back membrane of the ribs with a butter knife. You MUST do this step or else the ribs will all stick together and not fall off the bone. You’ll most likely need to cut down the rack of ribs into smaller sections to fit in the glass dish.
  3. Apply the dry rub to both sides of the ribs. Place ribs in the glass dish and line the bottom with around a half inch of water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 2.5 hours.
  4. 30 minutes before you take the ribs out of the oven start the chimney with the lump charcoal. Once you get the chimney going soak a couple handfuls the wood chips in water.
  5. Right before you take the ribs out of the oven, load the charcoal to one side of the Weber. Then place the wood chips on top of the charcoal.
  6. When the ribs come out of oven cover with sauce and put in the Weber on the opposite side of the coals for 1 hour. Put the lid on with the bottom and top vent open all the way. Don’t open at all for 1 hour.
  7. After the 1 hour, take the ribs out and brush again with a light coat of BBQ sauce while they’re still hot.
  8. Then… Enjoy!
That's So Primal http://www.thatssoprimal.com/

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

Awhile back I reviewed Exo and Chapul, cricket flour based protein bars, and compared the two since they both were very similar product offerings. At the time I had harsh words to say about Chapul because they had way too much sugar, barely any fat and a minimal amount of protein. Here is a quote from my last review:

Chapul has very little fat since there are no nuts and coconut. Therefore leaving the Chapul bar a very high carb snack that will leave you with with a sugar crash quickly after consuming it.

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

You can read the full review here, but that all sounds pretty terrible for Chapul. However, I was recently contacted by a Chapul representative and was told that they’ve taken in a bunch of feedback from customers and critics and have totally reformulated their recipes to contain more protein and less sugar. I was told that the changes were made to improve the nutritional benefits of the bars and to follow consumer health trends. That was the pitch I was told, so let’s take a closer look at how these bars have reinvented themselves and to see if they’ve redeemed themselves in my eyes from being a low fat, high sugar, low protein bar!

As always we will be reviewing these reformulated bars for: Nutritional Profile, Affordability, Taste. Let’s get to it!

Nutritional Profile

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

Now this is where the rubber meets the road, or the cricket meets the… grass? Bad joke sorry. Ok so they sent me their sampler pack which has one of each of their bars. I’ve listed below the new nutritional profiles for each of their bars:

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

Chapul Matcha Green Tea & Banana
Total Fat: 10g
Total Carbohydrate: 14g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 8g)
Protein: 10g
Ingredients: Coconut Nectar, Chapul Protein Blend (Chapul Cricekt Flour[Brown Crickets, Acheta Domesticus], Pea Protein, Rice Protein), Almond Butter, Tahini, Dried Bananas, Date Paste, *Sesame Seeds, Pea Protein Crisps, Green Tea Extract, Matcha Tea Powder, Vanilla Extract, Natural Banana Flavor, Salt, Monk Fruit Extract. *Organic

Chapul Chaco: Peanut Butter & Chocolate
Total Fat: 13g
Total Carbohydrate: 15g (Dietary Fiber 5g, Sugars 8g)
Protein: 10g
Ingredients: Coconut Nectar, Peanuts, Date Paste (Chapul Cricket Flour[Brown Crickets, Acheta Domesticus], Pea Protein, Rice Protein), Cocoa Powder, Sunflower Butter, Cacao Nibs, Salt, Vanilla Extract, Monk Fruit Extract. *Organic

Chapul Thai: Coconut & Ginger with Lime
Total Fat: 15g
Total Carbohydrate: 15g (Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 9g)
Protein: 11g
Ingredients: Coconut Nectar, Date Paste, Sunbutter, Almond Butter, Almond Pieces, Chapul Protein Blend (Chapul Cricekt Flour[Brown Crickets, Acheta Domesticus], Pea Protein, Rice Protein), Coconut Flakes, Powdered Ginger, Vanilla Extract, Salt, Monk Fruit Extract, Lime Oil. *Organic

Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne
Total Fat: 10g
Total Carbohydrate: 18g (Dietary Fiber 6g, Sugars 9g)
Protein: 10g
Ingredients: Sunbutter, Coconut Nectar, Date Paste, Chapul Protein Blend (Chapul Cricket Flour[Brown Crickets, Acheta Domesticus], Pea Protein, Rice Protein), Cocoa Powder, Cocao Nibs, Pea Protein Crisps, Coffee Grounds, Vanilla Extract, Salt, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Nutmeg, Cayenne Powder, Monk Fruit Extract. *Organic

Ok so that’s a lot to look at but I wanted to get each bars new formulation listed here so we can take a look at a few things. I want to see how this new formula stacks up to their old formula and how it stacks up to my all time favorite primal protein bar: Exo. First let’s take a look at what they’ve done new here. Here is their old formula from my previous review of the Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne bar:

Chapul Aztec

Old Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne
Total Fat: 2g
Total Carbohydrate: 36g (Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 25g)
Protein: 5g
Ingredients: Organic Dates, Cocoa, Chapul Cricket Flour (Brown Cricket, Acheta Domestica), Organic Espresso Roast Coffee Beans, Cayenne.

WOW. First off congratulations to Chapul for seriously changing up the nutritional profile of these bars. Honestly, this is a pretty substantial change. Just looking at the fat, carbs and protein what do we see? First off this is no longer a low fat bar. This bar now has a pretty substantial amount of fat in it which will be good for your fat burning beast energy needs. Second we see the carbs drop WAY down from 36g to 16g. Amazing they cut it in half, with now only 9g of sugar per bar. That’s pretty great. Third is the protein… Now by the numbers this is great, they’ve doubled the protein from 5g to 10g. How did they go about doing this? Well, by the ingredients you can now see they’re doing a “Chapul Protein Blend” which is Cricket Flour, Pea Protein and Rice Protein. When I first saw this I reached out to Chapul and asked why they made this change and they said they “added a blend of other protein sources to increase the protein and the taste of our products.” It would’ve been nice to see these bars use 100% cricket protein for their protein source but I see the reasons they incorporated this blend – also I’m sure it’s cheaper to use a blend like this instead of pure cricket flour which helps brings the cost of the bars down or improves their profit margins.

Now let’s see how this new recipe compares to my all time favorite protein bar by Exo:

Exo Cocoa Nut

Exo Cocoa Nut
Total Fat: 20g
Total Carbohydrate: 23g (Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 13g)
Protein: 10g
Ingredients: Almonds, Dates, Coconut, Honey, Cricket Flour (Acheta Domesticus), Cacao Nibs, Cacao Powder, Ground Flaxseeds, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt.

What I love about Exo is they taste great, have 10g of protein, have a good amount of fat to sustain your energy needs and are relatively low in sugar. Chapul’s new recipe however almost gives my favorite Exo bar a run for it’s money! It doesn’t have nearly as much fat but it’s still a great improvement from before. The protein is matched at 10g granted it’s now a blend instead of pure cricket flour like Exo – but it has fewer carbs and sugar than Exo. Definitely a worthy competitor to my favorite Exo bar.

All of these bars have varying ingredients like ginger and coffee and matcha to get those variations in the bar flavors, but I like how they’ve added more nuts and seeds to each of their bars. I like the sunflower butter and almond butter additions to these bars to bring up their fat content. Also the fact that they add in Monk fruit is a good way to make the bars still taste sweet while keeping them low in sugar. Kudos Chapul.

Overall, great job Chapul on the new recipes!

Affordability

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

New Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne
Price per bar: $2.55 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $30.60 (subscription)

Old Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne
Price per bar: $2.83
Price per 12 bar box: $34.00

Exo Cocoa Nut
Price per bar: $2.66 (subscription)
Price per 12 bar box: $32.00 (subscription)

There really isn’t too much to say here regarding price. They stack up more or less the same to a bar this quality. I’ve included their pricing from my previous review because I think they now have a subscription model like Exo which brings their price per bar down. I haven’t seen the price of these in my local health food store but they may be slightly cheaper there especially if they’re on sale.

As I’ve said before, I’m willing to pay almost $3 per bar for something like this because it’s a pretty substantial snack. It’s not just some high carb-no protein-low fat bar like Nutrigrain bars or something. You’re going to have to pay slightly more for a bar made with real food – and I’m ok with that.

Taste

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

With these new recipes these really are brand new bars. Granted they have the same names, they have so many different ingredients that I was really excited to see how they taste. I ate these over the course of a week so I could eat it after working out and swimming and see how long it kept me satiated, as well as really getting a sense of what each bar tastes like. I didn’t want to just bite a piece off of each and tell you how they kinda taste. And just to get it out of the way, no, none of these bars had cricket legs or antennas in them. The crickets are not noticeable. Specifically because it’s a powder/flour from ground up crickets. If you’ve never had a bar made out of crickets, you should try these bars. It’s not a big deal. Now that we got the cricket thing out of the way. Let’s see what each bar tastes like:

Chapul Matcha Green Tea & Banana
You really taste the banana in this bar. It has a nice crunch from the sesame seeds and pea protein crisps but the texture is kind of grainy for some reason? I’m not exactly sure why. The bar is significantly sweeter than the others. I do like the taste though, it just really leaves a banana taste in your mouth. So if you don’t like bananas probably stay away from this bar. I like bananas though so I really enjoyed this bar.

Chapul Chaco: Peanut Butter & Chocolate
This one is more chocolatey than it is peanut butterey. Very filling bar. Though peanut putter isn’t Paleo, I still enjoyed this bar very much. It has a little bit of a crunch with the bits of peanut pieces. This bar was slightly more chewy than the others but that may be because it was a colder day when I ate it. If I left this in my car on a warm day I imagine it would be very soft and gooey. Mmm.

Chapul Thai: Coconut & Ginger with Lime
This one is probably my second favorite bar. It has a really good ginger taste at first and then and once you start chewing you really taste the coconut. The texture of this bar is good, it doesn’t have too much crunch nor is it too grainy. I really like the taste of this one, there isn’t one flavor that’s too overpowering which I like. All the flavors go together very well including the hint of lime.

Chapul Aztec: Dark Chocolate, Coffee & Cayenne
This one is probably my most favorite bar. I really like the taste. Just a little hint of the cayenne. Definitely more filling with the seed butter. Nice texture not too chewy. Similar texture to a Larabar. You can taste the crunch of the crisps and some coffee bean flakes.

Conclusion

I really think Chapul has a done a great job at improving the nutritional profile of their bars while still tasting amazing and I’m so glad they took the time to reach out to me and let me know they reformulated their bars. To be honest I kind of wrote them off in my mind because I was never too excited to eat a 36g carb protein bar with low fat and low protein. So thank you Chapul for the samples, reaching out to me and for reinventing your cricket protein bars!

Buy some samples and decide for yourself:*
Chapul Sampler Pack
*After you figure out which flavor of Chapul you like I suggest you sign up for a subscription.
Buy some Exo too to compare yourself

Reformulated Chapul Cricket Bar Review

5 Ways to Eat More Greens

5 Ways to Eat More Greens

Everyone knows that we should be eating more leafy greens, but sometimes it just seems so hard to fit them in our day. That’s why I’ve assembled this list of 5 ways to eat more greens so that we can all make some sort of attempt to get something green in our diet on a daily basis.

1. Shakes

This one’s pretty easy and it’s nice because when you make a shake with some berries, protein and fat – you can always throw in some frozen or fresh leafy greens.There’s really no thought to this one, throw as much in the blender as you like and you won’t even notice it in your shake. I normally prefer kale or spinach but when I had swiss chard in my garden, that was a nice addition too to a shake mixed with some Primal Fuel.

2. Big salads with primal dressing

This is my preferred way to get a bunch of greens. Every day for lunch I just throw a whole bunch of greens in a bowl and toss with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. When I get tired of that dressing I normally make my own Caesar with avocado oil and anchovies or I really like Primal Kitchen’s dressings or Tessemaes. All you have to go is find a dressing you love without industrial seed oils and you’ll have no problem eating a whole bowl of greens with seeds, cheese and meat.

3. Frozen bags of greens

This one is quick and dirty. Just cook some frozen greens with some butter/olive oil and garlic in a large pot or skillet and make it a quick side for your dinner (or breakfast). You can throw in a ham hock or something like that and make some traditional southern collard greens. If you’re looking for another side for your dinner, this is always a great choice.

4. Kale chips

Its so easy to eat a whole bag of potato chips but we should try to replace that habit of eating a whole bag of kale chips. The problem with that is a bag of potato chips is less than a dollar and those really good kale chips are like $5 for a small bag. So you should make your own. It’s a great way to eat a whole bunch of kale and they taste great. I normally follow a recipe similar to this but throw some dill, onion powder and garlic powder on them to give it a little “ranch” feel.

5. Omelets

Now I’m still perfecting my omelet technique but really all you have to do is cook a bunch of leafy greens on the side with some butter or lard and then toss them inside an omelet with a bunch of cheese or something. Whenever my wife and I are on vacation I love it when the places we stay have those build your own omelet bars because I ask if they can cook my omelet in butter, then I hand them the little cubes of butter normally by the rolls – then I just have them throw everything else in there making it a leafy veggie stuffed omelet.


There ya go, some very quick idea starters on how you can incorporate some more leafy greens into your day!