Handy Recipes: Primal Finger Foods

So, yesterday we established that while you do in fact eat like Grok, what you really mean is that you eat the same types of food as Grok, but your use of a knife, fork and spoon means that you aren’t actually eating like Grok.

Here’s the challenge: For just a day, ditch the eating utensils (we’ll even let you pick the day so that you don’t find yourself drawing stares at your spouses fancy schmancy office party!) It’s a fun way to get in touch with your inner Grok (as well as save up some valuable space in your dishwasher!)

The following is a dinner menu you should consider getting your hands on…literally.

Before you scoff at the simplicity of this menu (are they really giving me a recipe for a simple garden salad?) know that the beauty of eating Primal is that dishes can be both utterly simple and absolutely delicious. Enjoy!

Garden Salad

The cornerstone of every good meal, let’s kick off with a hearty salad!

2 cups greens
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 green pepper, seeded, chopped
1/4 cup chopped sweet onions
3 small radishes, sliced
1 medium tomato, seeded and cut into eighths
Sprinkle of garlic salt
Fresh ground pepper
Dressing of choice

To make this a hands-on experience, it’s best to chop the various vegetables into bigger pieces – the lettuce, for example, can be used to scoop up all the other good stuff and by having bigger pieces, you won’t be left chasing an errant slither of onion around the bowl. Also, you can forgo the dressing if you would like – this will keep you nice and tidy and besides, when you are using fresh vegetables, all you really need to bring out the flavor is a little seasoning.

Whole Chicken

Drumsticks, wings, thighs and all. Tearing into a whole chicken will make you feel just like Grok!

4-5lbs whole chicken
2 large Vidalia onion coarsely chopped
6 celery stalks, cleaned and chopped
3 apples, unpeeled and cut into wedges
Salt and Pepper as desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the chicken and pat dry. Remove any giblets and remove any large deposits of fat from the inside if desired. Fill the cavity with chopped apple, onions and celery. Place chicken in a deep, pre-greased pan or roasting dish. Cook for about 2 hours (depending on oven and temperature of bird before placing in the oven) or until a meat thermometer reads an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before diving in! We recommend removing the limbs first and tearing into those and then using torn pieces of the body of the chicken to scoop out the “stuffing” (but be warned, the inside gets piping hot, so proceed with caution!)


Prepared this way, you’ll never again feel the need to use a fork when dining on asparagus!


Bunch of asparagus
1 large white onion, sliced
Olive oil
Sprinkle of sea salt and coarse ground black pepper

First, wash the asparagus and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Snap off the ends of the asparagus (which tend to be a little bit tough). Place in a Zip-lock bag or shallow container with the sliced onions and drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Now, you can either throw these on a (foil-lined) baking tray a la the Barefoot Contessa or you can sauté them in a frying pan. Cook until they are just tender.

Steamed Artichokes

Have a little time on your hands? Artichokes make for a fun – although labor intensive – finger-lickin’ good time!


3-4 Artichokes
Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Use a large paring knife to trim the stem and cut the tops of the pointed leaf tips on the remaining leaves. With your hands, gently open up the leaves to expose the inner choke and carefully remove (heck, you can even use your fingers with this – even the prep is getting Primal!) Squeeze lemon juice into the heart and place in a bowl of water and lemon juice to prevent browning. Repeat for remaining artichokes.

To steam the artichokes, fill a large saucepan with about two inches of water. Then, over a medium heat, bring the water to a boil. Add artichokes in, stem side up, lower heat to medium-low and cover pot. Steam 25 minutes or until leaves pull off easily and the heart appears tender. Drain well and set aside to cool to room temperature. To eat, dip a leaf in a fine balsamic vinegar (or homemade butter or mayo) then bite down to remove the flesh of the leaf with your teeth. Discard remainder and repeat until all the leaves are gone. Then, you get to enjoy the heart!

Pomegranate Seeds

Sure, eating this one is Primal, but the really fun part is preparing it with your hands!


With a sharp knife, make a cut through the top of the pomegranate. Set knife aside and use your hands to pry apart the fruit. Cut the fruit again so that you now have it in quarters. Using your fingers, separate the peel and membranes. To do this, place the whole fruit in water to allow the seeds to fall to the bottom. You can then skim the membranes (which float) from the top and then strain the seeds. Rinse, place in a bowl and dig in!

Have fun playing with your food!

pinprick, ulterior epicure, -sel, JOE M500, jek in the box Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Eat With Your Hands

Going Grubby: The Primal Benefits of Dirt, Dust and Dishevelment

More Primal Recipes

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16 thoughts on “Handy Recipes: Primal Finger Foods”

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  1. Mark, I am a big fan, but I have to say I think you’ve kind of gone off the deep end with this eating-with-your-fingers thing. Having said that, the best finger food I know of is Korean barbeque. You marinate and grill (on a flattop) little (1/2″ x 2″) strips of meat, and then eat each one with a little piece of garlic, some hot sauce and maybe some small pieces of veggies all wrapped up in a piece of romanine lettuce. It’s fun and absolutely delicious, and of course meets the primal criteria. Best of all, kids love it. Give it a try!

  2. Alex,

    This isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. Just a fun little Primal experiment. As I tried to make abundantly clear I’m not suggesting all Grokkers out there start eating with their hands at every meal!

    But I must say, it sounds like your Primal finger food Korean barbeque idea is well worth trying.

    Thanks for the comment and for being a loyal MDA reader.


  3. Unfortunately it looks my schedule will proclude me from participating in this experiment until Sunday… but then watch out!

    For artichokes – it also tastes great to add a touch of red wine vinegar to the water you bowl them in. It helps to bring out the deep flavor of the artichokes!

  4. Korean barbecue is great, but don’t forget the regular barbecue! Don’t saute that asparagus. Toss it over some charcoals! Hell, do it with the artichokes, the chicken, and the whole frickin’ salad as well!

  5. My kids are gonna love this! Other than I’m going to have to be very careful about explaining when they can and when they can’t just use their fingers … haha.

  6. I tear into meat all the time and other food with my fingers. Though I think it would be kind of silly for some of these after doing all that prep work with a knife and then just pretending you didn’t have it.

    In fact I’ve been thinking about smoking some ribs tomorrow. Smoked ribs with only rub and no sauce. Don’t worry no one asks for sauce. Those I could do no knives for prep or eating.

    I’ve also made stuff backing with no utensils, not even my knife sometimes.

    But hey, have at it I say. Not like I wouldn’t do it.


  7. i think the best part of eating a pomegranate is picking the seeds out of the membrane with your fingers. i like to skip the soaking in water step and split the pomegranate as desert with a date. it’s a very sexy, hands-on fruit. love it.

  8. I always eat like this. What, that isn’t what everyone else is doing?

    My girlfriend put plastic lining under the part of the kitchen table where I sit, I’d say she’s accepting my inner caveman well.

  9. Just last night i did Kabobs and a whole fryer on the grill.( I grill the chicken wrapped on Non Stick Foil) I just have to use the knife to cut up the whole chicken, but how fun to eat grilled Kabobs with your hands!

  10. Very frustrated from looking for “bring a finger food” recipes that will guarantee that there is at least one real food on the table at baby showers, church receptions, etc. I end up eating the junk. 🙁 My budget is in the broken shoestring category, so healthy nuts and such are out. Any suggestions?