Slow Carb and Paleo Recipes and Tips for the Holiday Season

I know you’re all getting ready for the holiday season and that normally means food.  Lots and lots of food.  And potential to pack on a few pounds that never really go away.

No one wants that, do they?

Keep the menu lean and healthy with one of these holiday recipe ideas put out by some friends of the Slow Carb Foodie.

A fantastic almost freebie from Jason over at Finding My Fitness (and a regular contributor here) has put together an ebook with Thanksgiving tips and tricks for Slow Carb and Paleo eating so you and your family can enjoy a happy and healthy holiday.  Since the date is fast approaching, he’s lowered the price to $1 – a steal!  Even if you miss it, check it out for the rest of the holiday season.  There’s 7 pages on preparing the perfect poultry,  7 scrumptious sides, 6 decadent desserts, 3 delicious drinks!  You’ll be set for the rest of 2012.

Looking for a healthy way to stuff your bird?

Check out this recipe for Paleo “rice” stuffing – made with cauliflower.  Looks yum!

Need some fresh ideas for what to do with your turkey leftovers?

This looks like a super easy recipe for Turkey and Black Bean Soup (ignore those crackers in the picture!)

Need some post Thanksgiving reading material while you surface from your Turkey coma?

If you were somehow under a rock and haven’t heard, Tim Ferris has just released the Four Hour Chef.  I’ve got mine on my Kindle and can’t wait to start reading this weekend.  Make sure you order a hardcopy (or the digital version!)

For those of you in the US, I hope you all have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.  I’m on vacation in tropical Northern Queensland, Australia for the week, so no Turkey for me.  I’ve been enjoying (a few too many) cocktails, doing some business planning for 2013 and trying to relax by the pool.  Next week I’ll be back to Melbourne, and looking forward to finally enjoying some summer weather.

Paleo Holiday Recipes

Guilt-Free Egg Nog For The Holidays!

Paleo egg nogThis is a guest post from Jason of Finding My Fitness

It’s crazy to think that you can go to the grocery store and see Christmas decorations already (at least here in the U.S.).

Around this time, I usually love to start drinking egg nog. There’s a problem though.

I can’t stand it anymore.

That’s not entirely true. I love it in theory. But then I start drinking it, and it’s so sweet that I can’t take much of it. Plus it’s too thick for me. I’ve given up milk for water long ago.

Then I found a recipe on Mark’s Daily Apple for a Primal Egg Nog. It’s a good recipe, but it needed a bit of help for my palate. This one is totally dairy free and uses honey instead of syrup.

Here’s my mostly-paleo, even sort-of-slow-carb egg nog. I hope you like it!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups coconut milk, divided
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1-2 tbsp organic honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ground nutmeg or cinnamon for garnish

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, combine the egg yolks, 2 cups of coconut milk, and honey.
  2. Over a medium-low heat, stir the milk continually until it starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. It’s important to gently stir the whole time.
  3. When it’s done with the heating, cool it in an ice bath until it gets to room temperature. You have to cool it quickly so the yolks don’t cook. Keep stirring for a few minutes.
  4. At this point, add the rest of the coconut milk and the vanilla. Maybe even a dash of nutmeg. Stir well.
  5. Before serving, garnish with some nutmeg or cinnamon.

Play around with the sweetness. Err on the side of less and adjust up.

I love that this egg nog is thick but doesn’t seem to coat your mouth in a film like its dairy counterpart does. And it doesn’t put you into a diabetic coma.

And especially if you love coconut, this will be right up your alley!

Incidentally, I’m just about finished with a Thanksgiving Recipe e-book, and this is one of my featured recipes. If you want to have a healthy Holiday season, this is an e-book for you.

Folks on my mailing list will hear about it first and get a hefty discount, so if you’re interested, you might want to get on the list. You’ll also get 10 of my favorite slow-carb recipes as a thank-you for signing up.

Happy holidays!

I’d love to hear from you. What is your favorite holiday-time drink? How can you modify it to fit within paleo/slow-carb guidelines?

-j

Jason has been overweight his whole life and is on a journey to being healthy and fit. He writes about his 4 Hour Body adventures with tips, encouragement, and advice on FindingMyFitness.com. Subscribe to his newsletter to get some more great slow-carb recipes!

Why I really stopped the Slow Carb/Paleo diet

Hello Slow Carb-ers and Paleo-ites.  It’s been awhile, and I’m now gearing up to get back into the swing of things.

I stopped blogging a few months ago when my computer crashed, and I lost all of my food pictures and recipes I had stored on my desktop(not the brightest way to store things!)

That was only part of the story though.

I honestly just wasn’t that motivated anymore.  

No matter what I did, I could not seem to lose weight.  I trouble-shooted my diet to no-end.  The cleaner I ate, and the more I exercised, it didn’t matter.

My body was stubbornly hanging on to every last pound.  

I was pissed off and frustrated that the better I ate, and the stricter I was with myself nothing was happening.   So I just stopped trying.

That all started about 10 months ago.  It wasn’t until recently though that I bothered having any health tests run to see if there was something else going on.  And there was.

Adrenal Fatigue – not a major health issue, but it certainly explains why I wasn’t able to lose weight and also a good reminder of the importance of other lifestyle factors on your health (too much stress and not enough sleep can throw your adrenals into overdrive.)

In any case, after getting a diagnosis a few weeks ago, I stopped worrying about my weight and started focusing on getting healthy (now part of that is that for most people with adrenal fatigue, you can’t lose weight while your adrenals are under stress), so the dignosis made me take a hard look at my life and changes that needed to be made.

A big part of healing the adrenals is through proper diet – no caffeine, no sugar, lots of vegetables, aiming for a mostly alkaline diet and reducing acidic foods.  It can certainly be done following a Paleo diet, but what I’m sensing is of the utmost importance (at least for me right now) is getting those other lifestyle factors under control.

So over the next few months I’ll be sharing with you some of what I’m doing and implementing and will hopefully getting back into sharing some recipes as well.

If you’re struggling to lose fat on these diets (and you’re truly following them), I’d highly recommend getting some health tests done and also looking at your overall lifestyle for clues.  

photo credit:   Wilson, James L., N.D., D.C. Ph.D.. Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. Petaluma, CA. Smart Publications. 2001.

 

Request for Recipes – What’s happened to the Slow Carb Foodie?

Hi there to everyone in Slow Carb Land.  You may have noticed that it’s been ages since I’ve posted on here.  Well, two things happened.

1)  My lap top crashed (the dreaded blue screen of death), and I love all my food photos of recipes I’d cooked and was planning to post one day.

2)  I’ve been experimenting with other ways of eating that stretch the definition of slow carb quite a bit.

I’ve actually been at a bit of loss as to whether or not to keep up the blog as my own diet and health interests change, and I’m not longer cooking as many Slow Carb Meals each week.

The only reason I’m considering keeping the blog up is because (despite my lack of updating), the blog still gets plenty of visits – 300-500ish on any given day, and 2-5 signups to the newsletter.  So this makes me think it’s serving a purpose for some of you out there.

So, here’s my request:  If you’re out there, and you’re reading this – would you like to contribute a Slow Carb Recipe to keep the momentum of this blog and recipe repository going?

Please comment or message me at jason @ slowcarbfoodie.com

Health and happiness to all.

Intermittent Fasting: The Quickest Way To Look Sexy In A Bathing Suit

This is your plate on IFThere’s a really great way you can quickly lose body fat, and it’s more simple than what you’re currently doing.

No, I’m not going to tell you to cut calories or starve yourself. That doesn’t actually work in the long term, because once you start eating the calories again, you put the weight back on.

What I want to briefly talk about today is the practice of intermittent fasting. It could change the way you approach your goals for a while.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

The first time I read up on it, I thought IF was simply skipping breakfast. The more I read about it, the more I realized that you really don’t have to skip breakfast. You can, but it’s not essential.

The really quick overview behind IF is that you give your body several hours with no intake so that it can begin to burn the body fat it’s stored more efficiently.

Why would I want to do that?

Our bodies can be lazy. They burn the easiest stuff they can get first, and that happens to be glucose. Once the glucose is gone, they realize they better start burning some fat.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to have an array of benefits that include (but are not limited to):

  • rapid fat loss
  • increased insulin sensitivity
  • more efficient use of the glucose you do consume
  • lowering blood pressure
  • easier tissue repair (some say anti-aging benefits)

So how do you do it?

There are many forms of IF from what I’ve seen, but one of the easiest methods is a 16-8 schedule. Basically, you don’t eat for 16 hours and then you eat within an 8 hour window. When I did it, for example, this was my schedule:

  • 6am – Wake up
  • 10am – Breakfast
  • 2pm – Lunch
  • 6pm – Dinner
  • 10pm – Go to bed

I still ate all the calories I would have, I just condensed my intake to a shorter window.

A couple days during the week I experimented with this I would only eat breakfast at 10am and dinner at 6pm. Both meals were bigger than “normal”.

You could also completely skip a whole day of meals to spice things up.

Tips to help you get going

  • Incredibly important: Don’t try IF if you don’t have everything else dialed in. Your food quality should be superb, you should be getting decent exercise, and your sleep should be long and restful. If all that’s in line, then proceed with some IF experimentation. IF stresses your body, so if you’re already stressed for other reasons, take care of those first.
  • Keep busy. When you’re not used to fasting, it can be exhausting trying to stick to it. That’s why I like the 16-8 schedule. I’m not going too long after getting up before eating, and I’m not spending too much time in the evening to get bored. On the days I only ate twice or did a whole-day fast, if I was busy I hardly noticed it. When I was bored, I felt incredible hunger pains.
  • If you want to take as much advantage of the fasted state as you can (and its ability to mobilize the stubborn fat), do some mild cardio when you’re nearly done. For example, you might go for a 30-45 minute walk (or longer, if you can) in the morning when you wake up or a bit before eating your first meal.
  • Drink some caffeine. It’s a stimulant (as if you didn’t know…) that actually works to unlock the fat stores while in a fasted state to be burned more.

Further reading

If you’re interested, I highly recommend checking out some other sources. Here are the sources I went to when I was learning about IF:

To Eat or Not To Eat, That Is The Question. – Robb Wolf’s Blog
Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy? – Mark’s Daily Apple
The Myriad Benefits of Intermittent Fasting – Mark’s Daily Apple
Intermittent Fasting and Stubborn Body Fat – Lean Gains
(Lean Gains is actually one of the foremost authorities in IF, so if you really want to go deep, check out many of his articles).

And if you’re interested more about my personal experience with it, check out my post on intermittent fasting on Finding My Fitness.

What are your thoughts on intermittent fasting? Is it just a bunch of baloney? Would you ever try it? Let us know in the comments!

Jason spends most of his time writing about his adventures with fitness on the 4 hour body and paleo diets. Check out his newsletter and get 10 more free slow-carb recipes.

Slow Carb or Paleo Lemon Herb Chicken

paleo-chicken recipeChicken is a staple for Slow Carb and Paleo eating so I’m always looking for new quick and simple ways to make it taste good.  Herbs are a great way to do that without a lot of fuss.

It’s summer in Australia so while most of you in the Northern Hemisphere are digging into soups, stews and heartier fare of all kind, I’m enjoying fresh, light summer food with the help of the herbs I’m growing on my balcony.  This is a super easy recipe where you can mix and match whatever herbs you have.  I serve it with salad or slightly wilted fresh spinach.

While this is quite a  light chicken dish, you could definitely eat it in winter as well.  Just try serving it with green beans or roasted veggies instead.

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Thighs (or 2 Large Chicken Breasts) cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbs olive oil or macadamia nut oil
  • Juice from ½ a lemon + a bit of lemon zest
  • 2 Tbs fresh herbs chopped (I used oregano, but basil, thyme, rosemary or tarragon would all be great!)
  • Salt to taste ( I use about 1 tsp sea salt)
Directions
  1. Put all ingredients in a ziplock bag or sealed container
  2. Marinate at least one hour in the fridge (I do mine overnight.)
  3. Heat up a frying pan
  4. Toss chicken in
  5. Cook till done – about 5 minutes


Time-saving tip: Make this in bulk and freeze batches of chicken pre-marinated and then thaw on the day you want to cook it.

How To Prepare Vegetables Even Your Pickiest Eater Will Love

Slow-carb recipe tips: preparing delicious vegetables
On the slow-carb diet, one thing you’re going to eat more of than you probably ever have before is vegetables.

It seems really obvious, but a lot of people just don’t get it. To lose weight, they eat less calories, and that – to them means smaller portions of bread, fats, and sugars. But really, that’s not the way to do it.

It seems like a secret that no one knows but is right in front of your face. The best way to lose weight is really by eating more: more veggies.

Think about it this way: in a cup of whole oats you have 607 calories and 103 grams of carbohydrate (that’s more carbs that I eat in a day). In a cup of green beans, you have 44 calories and only 10 grams of carbohydrate. Sure, the grains might fill you up more, but that’s what fat and protein is for. I’d take 3 cups of green beans over a cup of oatmeal any day (and I love oatmeal)!

But I don’t like vegetables

I’ve actually heard someone talk about how they’re tired of choking down vegetables. Now, I understand it can get old quick. I can only stand broccoli in my omelet for about a week before I switch it out for spinach or kale. But vegetables could really be an untapped market in weight loss nutrition!

So I want to help out a bit. I’ve learned to love vegetables, and I’m trying different kinds I hadn’t considered before. Maybe one day I’ll write a post about different – and possibly strange – vegetables, but today I’m going to skip ahead to some cooking tips.

You see, loving veggies probably has a lot to do with the way you cook it. Personally, I love the flavor in vegetables. They come packed with a lot on their own. But often the cooking method can really seal the deal.

Roasted

This is a very easy way to prepare some delicious vegetable sides, especially if you’re already roasting some meat besides. They can go in together, and sometimes even in the same pan.

Technique: Prepare your veggies in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle some cracked sea salt and pepper on top. Bake in a 375 to 400 degree oven (F) for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.

Recommendation: Try roasting asparagus, cauliflower, onions, squashes, or sweet potatoes.

Grilled

It won’t be long before we’re all in relatively warm weather and smelling the familiar scent of coals blazing under some delicious meats. You grill because you like the flavor it gives to your chicken or steak. Why not also give that same flavor to your vegetables?

Technique: Much like roasting, toss your vegetables with some olive oil. This helps the browning and helps keep them from sticking too much. Sometimes I’ll form a tray out of aluminum foil if I’m grilling smaller veggies like cherry tomatoes, onions, or sliced peppers, but you can also just lay them right on the grill.

Recommendations: There’s nothing like grilled onions, peppers, zucchini, or eggplant. You have to watch some of the softer ones, though, because they get really soft really quick.

Stir fry

When people see the word “fry”, they automatically think it can’t possibly be healthy. But you know better, and you know that nice fats from oils are an essential part of a solid diet. Because you’re using a hot pan, though, you can’t just use any oil. I recommend using coconut oil or clarified butter when you stir fry.

Technique: To stir fry, use high heat with a few tablespoons of oil. When the pan is hot, toss in your veggies and keep tossing until cooked to your liking. I love to add just a smidge of sesame oil at the end to give it sort of a rich nutty flavor.

Recommendation: Some of my stir fry favorites include cabbage, green beans, and broccoli.

Sautéed

With a nice saute, you can thoroughly heat vegetables without wilting them too much. This is great for vegetables that are soft anyway. Again, you’ll need to use a fat with a high smoke point, like coconut oil or clarified butter.

Technique: Sauté is much like stir fry, only the action isn’t as intense. Heat your pan and a bit of olive oil over a medium-high heat. Toss in your chopped or sliced vegetables, stirring just occasionally.

Recommendation: You’ll love sautéed zucchini (my favorite), tomatoes, onions, and peppers.

Steamed

Most people might say this is the healthiest way to cook vegetables. I really don’t think it matters, except for flavoring purposes. What I like about steaming vegetables is that they won’t take on any extra flavors, and they often beautifully exhibit their natural colors. I love how green broccoli gets when steamed, for example.

When you steam, you’re just a step away from raw. They’re soft enough to not crunch, but still natural enough to show you what their real flavors are.

Technique: You can get steaming inserts for pots, and that’s probably the most recommended way to steam. Basically you add water to your pot, stick the veggies in the steaming tray, and cover. Cook time will depend on the vegetable and your preference. Check it, and when it’s as soft as you want, it’s done.

Alternatively, I’ve steamed veggies in the microwave. In a bowl, you can put a few tablespoons of water and add the vegetables. Most microwaves these days have a “fresh vegetable” button or setting you can use that will pretty much cook them perfectly.

Recommendation: My favorite vegetables to steam are carrots, parsnips, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Raw

Of course you don’t really have to cook your vegetables, now do you? Many vegetables can lose some nutrients in the cooking process, and sometimes their flavor even changes.

When you get your taste buds back under control, you will actually begin to find really delicious flavor in raw vegetables. I personally love to eat raw peppers, carrots, celery, and tomatoes just to name a few. Experiment, and you’ll find a whole new world of flavor!

We want to hear from you! What’s your preferred method of enjoying a nice veggie? Lay it out in the comments!

photo credit: thebittenword.com

Jason spends most of his time writing about his adventures with fitness on the slow-carb and paleo diets at his blog, FindingMyFitness.com. Want even more recipes? Check out his newsletter and get 10 more free slow-carb recipes.

Slow-Carb Recipes for Chicken: 30 Different, Totally Delicious Recipes

photo credit: ruben alexander

Not too long ago, I talked about eggs. Today we talk about the chicken. So I guess we have that answer!

One of the easiest and most versatile proteins you’ll find on the slow-carb diet is chicken. I find it’s the quickest way to a solid slow-carb meal when I don’t know what else to have.

It can be easy to get tired of the same old thing every time, though. In an attempt to help you overcome the boredom, I’ve gone around the internet looking for some of the best chicken recipes and put them in one spot.

To determine what would go on the list of the dozens upon dozens I saw, I answered one question: what would I love to have for dinner tonight?

Here are the internet’s 30 best slow-carb chicken recipes! I had a hard time deciding how to categorize them, but this is what I came up with.

Soups/Salads

Classic Chicken Salad - photo by Riki Shore
photo by Riki Shore

Thai Chicken Salad
Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Soup
African Style Chicken Salad
Classic Chicken Salad

Grilled/Roasted

Slow Carb Chicken RecipeSmoked Fruit & Pistachio Stuffed Chicken
Smoked Pepper & Onion Stuffed Chicken
Tandoori Chicken
Chicken Cordon-Bacon
30-Minute Easy Slow Carb Roast Chicken
Just Chicken and Mushrooms
Jalapeño Dijon Grilled Chicken

International

Slow Carb Chicken Curry RecipeSlow Carb Peppery Chicken Curry
Spicy Balinese Chicken Wings with Sambal
Chicken Korma with Mixed Vegetables
Indian Butter Chicken 4HB Style
Slow Carb Orange Chicken
Oven Barbequed Chicken
Chicken Satay

One-Pot Meals

Rosemary & Spinach ChickenPaleo Chicken Bog
Slow Carb Greek Pot Roasted Chicken
Moroccan Chicken Casserole
Asian-Inspired One Pot Chicken
Rosemary & Spinach Chicken
Southwest Chicken & Beans
Chicken Cacciatore

Miscellaneous

Slow Carb Chicken TendersTaco chicken wings with guac dip
Chicken Tenders: Slow Carb and Paleo Comfort Food
Peggy’s Chicken “Fried” Steak
Coconut Curry Chicken Nuggets
Chicken Livers and Onions

Do you have a favorite chicken recipe? Share it in the comments!

Jason spends most of his time writing about his adventures with fitness on the slow-carb and paleo diets at his blog, FindingMyFitness.com. Want even more recipes? Check out his newsletter and get 10 more free slow-carb recipes.

Slow Carb and Paleo Party Food

slow-carb-super-bowl-party-foodsSuperbowl can be a landmine of bad food choices on the Slow Carb or Paleo diet if you don’t plan for it.  You can also stick to the plan pretty easily and eat some killer food if you’re up for a bit of prep.

Here’s a few ideas to have a Slow Carb or Paleo friendly Superbowl Menu if you’re looking to keep it “clean” and not blow your eating plan on Super Bowl Sunday.  I’ve hand-picked recipes from my own blog as well as a few of my other favorite food recipes and bloggers.

What will you be eating on Superbowl Sunday?  Will you be sticking to your eating?
Feel free to share your recipes below.

Snacks & Nibbles
Raw veggies with Guacamole or Salsa
Green Olive and Almond Tapenade
Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
Paleo Meatballs
Egg and Pesto Stuffed Tomatoes
Bacon Cups
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus with Cilantro Mayonnaise
Jalapenos: Bacon Wrapped Chicken Stuffed
Shrimp with Sugar-Free Cocktail Sauce
Deviled Eggs or Demoned Eggs
Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Salads
Chimichurri Salad
Heart of Palm and Avocado Salad

Full-on  Food
Spicy Bacon Lentils
Asian Lettuce Cups
Korean Grassfed Shortribs
Lamb and Vegetable Kabobs
Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders
Spicy Buffalo Wings
My Favorite Slow Carb Chilli
Mexican Pulled Chicken Stuffed Peppers
Red or Green Thai Curry

Cocktails
Nor Cal Margarita
Vodka Soda with Lime
Red Wine

I hope these recipe ideas inspire.  Or if you’re Slow-Carbing you could just take the day off.  

 

Why (And How) You Should Drink Yerba Mate on 4HB

The Best Way To Enjoy Yerba Mate
photo by juanpol on Flickr

Question: What did Tim Ferriss say was the world’s greatest beverage? Do you think you’re already drinking it?

I’ll give you a hint: if you’re from the Rio de Plata region of South America, chances are you’ve been drinking it since you were a child, and your family’s been drinking it for generations.

If you’re a North American, it’s possible (but still not likely) that you have recently picked it up because places like Whole Foods decided they should sell it for really high prices as the new “secret” beverage.

I have no idea about the rest of you. ;^)

Have you guessed it yet?

I’m talking about yerba mate.

Enjoyed by millions of South Americans for hundreds – maybe thousands – of years, yerba mate (pronounced yair-ba MAH-tay) can be all of refreshing, healing, soothing, and warming. Traditionally “taken” in lose-leaf form, you can buy it bottled, canned, and in tea bags these days.

(Side peeve: I’ve seen people write it “yerba maté”, and I don’t understand why – it’s not yerba mahTAY. Don’t do that.)

What is this magical herb?

As a really quick primer, yerba mate is a tea leaf grown primarily in South America. Most places get theirs from Paraguay (tierra bendita) or Brazil. Argentina also produces a lot of brands of yerba. It’s related to the holly plant, but I wouldn’t recommend trying it with our (American) holly bushes.

Health benefits

I’m not sure if the native Guaraní people knew the health benefits of yerba mate when they started cultivating and drinking it, but it turns out there are quite a bit. Paraguayans in the countryside believe it helps you live longer and keeps you fit (I kind of think it’s their hard work ethic personally). Superstition aside, science has revealed some of its benefits.

Yerba mate is an antioxidant on par (or better than, depending on who you ask) with green tea. It’s got a form of caffeine that helps yerba serve as an energy booster. Several compounds that have been studied for their anti-inflammatory properties have been isolated from yerba mate leaves. If you listen to Robb Wolf at all, he’s all about anti-inflammatory properties. It’s one of the reasons we eat slow-carb that Tim Ferriss never told us about.

For more information, a quick Google search on “yerba mate health benefits” will find you more info than you can read in a day.

How to enjoy your yerba mate

There’s a right way and a lesser way to enjoy it. I’m going to tell you the right way. If you choose to go the easy (and less interesting route, may I add), I won’t think any less of you. But I really want you to try it my way!

“Taking” yerba mate is a very social event. You do it with friends, and you almost always share the same “cup” (guampa) and “straw” (bombilla). You sit, you drink, you chat, you laugh, you enjoy. When I drink mate, I’m reminded of the awesome times I had in Paraguay and it makes me feel the warm fuzzies.

The traditional way to drink is to fill the guampa up about 3/4 of the way with the looseleaf tea. Often you’ll find the tea mixed with some mint leaves, maybe some anise, or perhaps some orange or lemon peel. The one I’m drinking as I type is “normal” blend that my wife added some anise seeds and orange peel to.

You slip the bombilla into the guampa, covering it with the leaves. I like to tilt the leaves so there’s an incline from the bottom to the top. The idea there is that you leave some of the leaves dry so when your tea starts losing its flavor, you add some more dry to kick things back up.

Yerba mate is brewed on demand. That is to say you pour as much water into your guampa as you will drink in that turn, usually just about a mouthful. Don’t let it sit; it’ll get bitter really quickly, at least at first. When you take your sip, you pour one for your friend and pass the guampa over. This goes on, a new brew for each person in the group, in a circle until the water’s gone or until no one wants any more.

Variations on the theme

The way I’ve described it is the typical Paraguayan style. If it’s cold out (anything below 70°F), you drink it with hot water. If it’s hot out, there’s absolutely nothing more refreshing than an ice-cold “tereré” (cold mate).

When I’ve had mate with Brazilians, they have a much bigger gourd and you usually fill it up once per round, and each person takes a sip, as opposed to drinking everything in the guampa like I described.

Paraguayans also add certain crushed plants or roots into their water as herbal remedies for things. Argentinians almost always had hot mate, even when it was hot out, and almost always with sugar in it. When I did have cold mate in Argentina, it was usually with a sugar-free juice mix in the water (typically a citrus fruit).

If you’re Uruguayan and have a different custom, I’d love to hear it!

My recommendations

If you haven’t guessed, I generally drink it the Paraguayan way. I’ve got a set that includes a thermos (two actually – one for hot water and a bigger one for cold), beautifully decorated with stained leather, a carved guampa and a silver bombilla.

Are you ready to try it yourself?

My favorite place online to get it is Amazon. If you can’t find a latin market that carries it, this is where I’d suggest going. You can find some in higher-end grocery stores, but it’s overpriced and not as tasty as the South American brands (although the manufacturer you’ll find has told me they buy their yerba from Paraguay, which makes me happy).

Go ahead – give it a shot, and drop us a comment to let us know what you think!

Jason spends most of his time writing about his adventures with fitness on the slow-carb and paleo diets at his blog, FindingMyFitness.com. Want even more recipes? Check out his newsletter and get 10 more free slow-carb recipes.