Posts filed under: Hello, foodlings

Simit RingFour years ago at my women-only gym, the middle-aged Turkish women I did crunches with talked about pastries. It reminded me of my first summer in Turkey, where instead of crunches, my neighbors would knit or crochet in our garden while talking about baked goods.

Is there no bad time or place to talk about pastries?

My vocabulary has become peppered with the Turkish versions of pastry dough (börek), cake (pasta), and salty or sweet cookies (tuzlu and tatlı, respectively). Baked sesame seed rings (sımıt) are a daily part of our life.Eat, and then work it off. Bonding in the form of locker-room chat. On the aerobic floor, commiseration over leg lifts and latent stomach muscles. Chats about tattoos, taboos, and domestic routines.Food was my initiation into Turkey – hours in my mother-in-law’s kitchen taught me the aromas and textures that filled the Turkish table – but my (now CrossFit box) gym in Turkey is a social sphere of my own choosing.

Pastries for me these days must meet some vigorous requirements (gluten-free, sugar-free, grain-free, and fun-freeor so everyone else says) and when I do indulge in standard fare, I pay the price for it with poor digestion, this weird itchy skin thing, and a lot of griping that scares off friendly people, but I have made some incredible edible discoveries with almond flour and baking soda. I have also discovered that I don’t need the pastry fix like before. The gym fix? That is ongoing.

Fast-forward four years and tonight I am doing a core exercise with a newbie woman who makes it twenty seconds out of the forty five needed to hold the pose before dropping her legs, taking a breather, and starting up again. She looks distraught, but committed. I am so proud of her – 20 seconds is no small victory. I smile her onward – you can do it! When we finish, I tell her, Bende yapamadım sekiz ay once. Çoooook kötü yaptım.” Basically: I sucked bad in the beginning, too.” I tell her to ask Fatih Hoca if she needs proof. She grabs her stomach – But I have all of this! I grab mine, too. So did I!

We smile at each other and stretch out in companionable silence. I just know we’re going to be best gym buddies.

And here’s a little secret: her squats are soooo much better than mine were when I started. One day I’ll tell her and we can laugh about it together. Maybe over a grain-free, sugar-free, dairy free pastry.


The Taste of Initiation was originally published on

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Pesto pizza with arugula and red onion on a flourless, grain-and-cauliflower-free crust

Pesto pizza with arugula and red onion on a flourless, grain-and-cauliflower-free crust

Okay, okay, I get it – you don’t eat grains or cheese, but YOU WANT PIZZA. You’ve got nothing in the house, it is exactly dinner time and you hand starts reaching for the phone to order in. But you live in Istanbul, Belize, or the Siberian Mountains and no one delivers dairy-free, grain-free pizza. (Do they anywhere? Pray tell in comments below.)

Put down the phone.

Have some potatoes? (Nightshade-free people, read below.)

A couple eggs?

Sea salt?

Brilliant. You’ve got pizza dough.

Vegans, avert your eyes.

Vegans, avert your eyes: ground beef and liver on flourless crust

Cauliflower upsets my stomach – most cruciferous vegetables do. My days of bulking up on steamed broccoli are over, and my experiments with cauliflower pizza crust left me bloated and gassy even after I eliminated cheese from the recipe. In a fit of desperation – most of my food experiments involve wanting something so bad I can’t think straight – I grabbed my hand-grater and started attacking my root veggies. Because if you ask me, if it can be grated, it can be made into anything: pancakes, crusts, and stay tuned for a shredded egg-free “omelet”. Every time I make this crust it is different because I use what is on hand. Please share your experiments with me!

Root Veggie Crust

(makes 2-12″ round pizza crusts)

Pre-heat oven to 200C (400F)

4 medium sized potatoes, grated*

2 eggs (egg-white sensitive folks, use 3 yolks)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

*SUBSTITUTIONS: replace one potato with 1 medium-sized grated zucchini; replace 1 potato with 1 large grated carrot, radish, or any root veggie you fancy; nightshade sensitive: use sweet potatoes instead of white; no sweet potatoes, you say? try a zucchini-carrot-radish combo (3 large carrots + 1 zucchini + a handful of radishes or 1 big radish) Note: too much zucchini and the crust will be very liquidy. I learned this the hard way.

Grate veggies into medium sized bowl, add eggs, oil, salt. Stir. I use round pizza pans with air holes and the “dough” leaks through the holes so I cut a circle of baking paper and line the pans first. Pour out dough mixture onto the parchment paper and spread as thin as possible. The thinner the mix, the crunchier the crust, but be careful not to leave gaps. Pre-bake crusts for 10-15 minutes until crust is golden. Add sauce and toppings of choice. Bake for another ten minutes until edges are crunchy. Eat your heart out.

Dairy-Free Sauce Ideas:

Pesto made with basil, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and sea salt (no need for parmesan, or nuts if you are sensitive)

Tomato-paste sauce (if you are not FODMAP sensitive) spunked up with garlic, basil, oregano olive oil, and thinned with water (when you are in a pinch and don’t have homemade sauce on hand)


Bacon, bacon, bacon… leftover shredded chicken breast, shredded kale/spinach/arugula, sauteed ground beef/lamb, liver


Ready, Set, GRATE!

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turkishcoffeeI like talking about food – a lot. An nauseum if you ask some people. That is one reason I started this blog. I also like feeling good – another topic that I love to talk about. But food and feeling good could not, no matter how hard I tried, fit into the same sentence several years ago. That has changed since I started eating whole foods and making lifestyle changes.

The other reason I started this blog is because I live abroad. I find it challenging – actually, in some cases, impossible – to have access to the same resources as friends and family at home. I’ve learned some stuff along the way that may be useful. Maybe it will be useful to you, too. And that’s the third reason I started this blog – I love to share.

Welcome to my table. Hoş Geldiniz. 

The name Paleo Abroad is a little bit deceiving. I do not mean only someone living overseas trying to live it up Paleo style. I mean abroad – as is expanding one’s horizons. And for me that has meant getting over my fear of giving up the stuff that is traditionally excluded on a Paleo diet – grains, dairy (with exceptions), legumes, and that pillowy white stuff – sugar.

But the real reason I started this blog is because I love bacon.

If I ask really, really nicely, will you send me some?

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