Okay, I admit it. My first two years on AIP, I ate no red meat, or mammal anything. I was on my way to being vegan when I fell really ill, and it was a big challenge mentally and emotionally for me to accept eating animals again. I remember the first time I roasted a whole chicken… I wanted to cry and throw up all at the same time as I handled that sweet little bird carcass. Right. TMI?

I have done really well on my fishy-birdy AIP. However, I am well aware of the need to branch out my diet for various reasons, including and not limited to: More variety of organ meats, check; less chicken (high in inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids), check; lastly, and most importantly to me… I want to reduce the amount of salmon I eat. WHAT?

Salmon is my favorite animal-based food. In the past two years, I’ve had way more salmon than I did in the entire previous ** decades of my life. However, I live right next to the Puget Sound, and I get to watch Orca whales (commonly called “Killer”) frolicking in the water on a regular basis. My connection to these magnificent animals really comes from the heart, and I have become aware of how the Southern Resident (SR) Orca pod is an endangered sub-species that is declining (only 78 members!), and studies show they are having a hard time finding enough to eat. They don’t interbreed with non-SR whales, so their survival is somewhat on the edge right now.

"Granny" the Orca whale breaching above waterline

J2 “Granny” who is 103 years old! (photo credit: Alisa Lemire Brooks)

Amazing fact: the Southern Resident Orcas are not mammal eaters. This sub-group of whales eats fish. And salmon is what’s on the menu. They prefer Chinook, otherwise known as King salmon. Every restauranteer’s favorite. The numbers of King salmon are decreasing largely due to over-fishing, and studies are showing that the SR Orcas are having a hard time getting enough to eat. Recently, a pregnant female died locally, and the autopsy showed she had been starving during the pregnancy. I’m not writing this to depress you. What I’m moving toward is that I want to live more sustainably in my environment, and living so close to the Sound, it’s in my awareness every day that the more salmon I eat, the more I contribute to the declining amount of life-sustaining food for the Orcas.

Call me extremist. But if you’ve ever had the magical opportunity to stand on a shoreline, and see 40+ Orca whales swim leisurely by (really! the three separate sub-pods of the SR group sometimes swim together in groups of 40-78 whales), 50 feet from the beach, breaching, cartwheeling, spy-hopping, playing, and basically being gorgeous, you’d understand. You can hear them breathe from shore. You can hear the wet spray blowing as they exhale. Sometimes, people even hear their vocalizations above water. I haven’t, but the rest of it I have experienced. If you want to read more about the Southern Resident Orcas, check out the Center for Whale Research’s website.

What do Orcas have to do with beef jerky? Well, I decided to expand my diet, and one fine day, a friend offered me some beef jerky she’d made. It had been years since I’d tasted beef. And wow, that jerky was fabulous. So, a few months later, I took the dive and bought some organic grass-fed stir-fry beef strips from Skagit River Ranch at my local farmer’s market, and rustled up some jerky.

I got the idea for this jerky from a guest post by Diane Sanfilippo on Robb Wolf’s website. I used it as a base and then modified it a bit and added some lemon. The lemon balances the savoriness of the sage and the sweetness of the maple just right. This stuff rocks my world. I make it for the trail, as well as for having around the house or taking with me on trips around town. Let me know how you like it! This recipe is featured in the Paleo AIP Recipe Roundup #58 over on Phoenix Helix.

Sage Maple Beef Jerky

Recipe is per 1 lb beef. One lb raw meat will yield about 1/3 lb jerky. Increase amounts accordingly for bigger batches. Sliced as below, one pound of beef will fill approximately one and a half 14″ dehydrator trays (here’s the dehydrator I use).


1 lb grass-fed beef (Use a lean cut with visible striations. Cuts vary by tenderness and price, but “london broil” or eye of round is generally the best)
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs coconut aminos
1 Tbs grade B maple syrup (it’s heavier and more flavorful than grade A)
1 Tbs warm water
juice of 1 medium lemon (go with 1/2 if you don’t love sour things)
1 tsp salt
.25 tsp black pepper (NOT AIP)
.25 tsp garlic powder or granules
1 Tbs fresh chopped sage leaves (or 1 tsp dried sage)
– you can substitute rosemary for the sage if you prefer it.


1. In a bowl large enough to hold the meat, combine all ingredients but the beef, and mix well.

2. Trim the fat off the beef. If you are using grass-fed beef, leave a little of the fat on the beef since it’s more nutritious than on non-grass-fed beef. Remember that the more fat you keep, the quicker the meat will spoil. Since I eat mine fairly quickly, I don’t worry too much about it.

3. Using a very sharp knife to cut against the grain of the meat, slice it into approximately 1/8″ slices. Alternate options: Have your butcher do it for you (they generally do it for free) or use a food processor. I get mine pre-sliced from the rancher.

4. Add the beef strips to the mix.

5. Mix so the beef is covered evenly by the marinade, cover, and marinate in the fridge for 8-12 hours, turning 2-3 times to assure all pieces get evenly soaked. If you’re in a crunch for time, you can marinate for less time, but the flavor may not be as full.

6. Drain off marinade (I save it to cook into a beef stir fry the same evening – really tasty! In fact, if you have a lot of meat marinated, save some out for a stir fry – it’s amazing!).

7. Place beef pieces on dehydrator trays, leaving 1/2 inch of room between each piece for adequate air flow.

beef strips on dehydrator tray

beef strips going into the dehydrator. the strips look light due to having soaked in the marinade all night. really, the cow wasn’t anemic!

8. Set dehydrator to 150°F, and dry strips for 4-6 hours, depending on how thin you sliced them, and the efficiency of your dehydrator. Do not over-dry unless you want a good jaw workout.

9. Jerky is done when the strips are pliable and leathery, without obvious moisture, but not bone-dry. Let the strips cool completely before packaging.

10. Package in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place. If you notice any moisture in the packaging after a day or two, dry the strips for another hour and repeat the packaging process.

Beef jerky should keep for 2-3 weeks on the shelf, and up to a couple months in the fridge.

TIP: Always label your dried food with the date, item, and even the ingredients. I keep a roll of masking tape in the kitchen cabinet just for this.

Below are images of the same tray before and after drying. The images are taken from slightly different angles, but you will recognize the shapes of the pieces.

raw beef strips on dehydrator tray

raw beef strips on dehydrator tray

finished beef strips on dehydrator tray

finished beef strips on dehydrator tray

Just for fun… if you made it all the way down the page, here’s some extra credit for you:

Click here to open some extra fun stuff about Orca whales!

This video is of the Southern Resident Orcas close in to Point Robinson Lighthouse beach on Vashon Island, WA, 11/24/12. I was on that beach that day, and it was magical.

Note: The video starts with a view from up high on a bluff. By law, boats are not allowed to get within 200 feet of whales, however, this boat is the NOAA Whale Research Boat, which is allowed. They are researching the whales’ lifestyle and language in an effort to help preserve them. The beach video starts around 1:19.

Moments to hone in on:
3:52 – Lots of whales!
5:06 – Lots more whales, whales breaching
7:29 – “Mike”, one of the big males (his dorsal fin is about 6 feet tall!)

And, “The Cartwheel Contest” at the same beach a week later… unbelievable!:

If you want to learn more about Orca whales, go to The Center For Whale Research‘s website!