Monday, June 27, 2011

Mmmm, cookies

Since trying my first paleo pizza crust, I figured almond meal/flour would make for a great cookie. I first tried a recipe from Elana's Pantry, but have adapted it to a more paleo friendly version. The cool thing about this recipe is that you can stick just about anything in it - nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc. Below I go with dried cranberries and crushed walnuts...



Almond Cranberry Cookies
  • 2 ½ C blanched almond flour
  • ½ t celtic sea salt
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ C grapeseed oil
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • Up to ½ C applesauce or honey (I recently made this with only about 2 T applesauce and they were sweet enough to pass as cookies)
  • ½ C crushed walnuts
  • ½ C dried cranberries
  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Stir together wet ingredients in a smaller bowl
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry
  4. Form ½ inch balls and press onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  5. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes
  6. Cool and serve

Makes 24 cookies

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What to do with veggies

One of the unexpected benefits of my paleo research of late has been related to vegetables. Not only am I simply eating more fresh veggies, but a greater variety and in different formats. Especially now that I'm back at work, including an adequate portion of veggies with our meals has to be efficient.  I've already posted about kale chips, but there are a few other easy veggie ideas worth sharing. In no particular order...

Cauli-puree
Cauliflower is the kind of vegetable I like to prep in advance, even the day before or right after buying. It saves time in the supper rush, but also ensures it's good and dry come time to cook. Pureed cauliflower can be mashed potato-like (though not according to Tim). Simply steam until soft, but not mushy and then take a hand blender or regular blender to it. I've been adding a bit of coconut milk, salt and pepper to ours. You want to be careful that it's not too mushy/watery, so that it turns into a soup. This is the kind of recipe you can go almost anywhere with - garlic, herbs, curry, who knows? Last night we had cauli-coco puree with pork chops. Yummy and simple.

Cauli-rice
Again, simple. Run your cauliflower through a food processor (or use a grater - though be warned, you will get cauliflower bits EVERYWHERE) briefly until it kinda resembles rice. From here, you can cook it for a couple minutes in the microwave, throw it in a veggie hash of some kind or whatever you like. I've cooked up meatballs, added a side of uncooked cauli-rice and popped them in the freezer for lunches. Just defrost and nuke in the microwave - delicious. You can also just stir-fry, adding fresh herbs, ginger, other veggies, whatever flavours that tickle your fancy. Stick it under a coconut curry dish. The list goes on...

Ground beef, cauli-rice, shredded brussel sprouts
Veggie stir-fry with nuts
Especially while I was home, I did a lot of random stir-frying whatever veggies I had on hand. This often included bell peppers and asparagus. A great way to add a bit of extra fat (aside from whatever you're cooking in) and flavour is to throw in some nuts, like walnut pieces.


Chips or fries
I've learned you can pretty well make chips or fries out of any root-or-the-like vegetable: parsnip, turnip, sweet potato, etc. Just slice them up (again, this is probably one you might prep in advance when you have a few minutes), drizzle/mix them generously with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sometimes I use a plastic bag for this, or just a large bowl. There are a few keys to the success of making chips/fries...
Sweet potato chips
  • Cut them as uniformly as you can, and for chips as thinly as you can.
  • Lay them out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet so that they aren't overlapping or touching.
  • Bake them at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, flip 'em, and put them back in until they look done (e.g. crispy, but not burnt).
  • Keep an eye on them. Like the kale chips, it may take a few tries to get it just right for your oven and your taste.

Turnip fries prepped

Finished sweet potato fries

Throw them anywhere!
I made a tomato sauce dish tonight with sausage and zucchini. I remembered we had some organic, frozen spinach looking to be used, so I tossed that in. (Even better is throwing in greens that are approaching that "I'm totally not eating those" phase.) A great addition, worked well. Toss some greens in your smoothie. Add extra veggies to your sauces. Go wild.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Have you discovered kale chips yet?

Although Tim would disagree, these things actually taste reminiscent of potato chips. They're super easy to make, have plenty of health benefits, and are a great way to vary your intake of greens. The recipe is pretty standard, but you might have to do a little trouble shooting to find the right time/temp combo for your oven. Here's how it works:

  1. Wash your large bunch of kale thoroughly and dry it completely (I often prep the kale the day before)
  2. Tear or slice kale into bite-size pieces
  3. Dump kale in a large bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil, salt and pepper
  4. Lay kale out on parchment paper lined baking sheet (don't pile it up, make sure it's just one layer - I've made this mistake before)
  5. Bake for 8-9 minutes at 375 degrees (This seems to be the magic formula for our oven, you may have to tinker with this a bit. You want them good and crispy, but not burned.)
  6. Take out and enjoy!

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Fudge Babies

    I don't like dates. Or, I thought I didn't like dates, until I tried them in larabars. Then in this magical little recipe. I'm not big on these new-fangled acronyms the kids are all using, but OMG. So simple, so fudgy and delicious. And mostly dates? Wow.

    There are lots of variations on this recipe out there, it's a good one to experiment with.

    1 1/3 C pitted dates
    1 C walnuts
    4 T cocoa
    1 t vanilla extract

    Simply run all of the ingredients through your food processor until it's all mixed and kinda doughy, ready to be rolled into balls. Roll into balls or make into bars. Keep them in the fridge. At this point I only have a small food processor, so I half the recipe. Saving up for a major processor upgrade now that I've demonstrated my need (if only for these delightful treats).

    Paleo Spaghetti Bolognese

    This is another one of my first paleo recipes. The original came from Paleo Diet Lifestyle, but I've modified it here and there based on the few times I've made it. This dish tends to be a bit different everytime, but always hearty and yummy. This is a great dish to cook up on a Sunday and portion out for lunches or the freezer.

    This time with zucchini


    Spaghetti

    • 1 Lb lean ground beef (preferrably grass-fed)
    • 2 T butter (or other cooking fat of your choosing)
    • 1/2 C chopped bacon (or more if you like)
    • 1 large onion, chopped and diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 carrots, diced
    • 2 celery sticks, diced
    • Any other diced veggies your heart desires (zucchini, muchrooms, etc.), a great way to get rid of borderline produce
    • 2 t dried oregano
    • 2 t cumin
    • 2 t chili powder
    • A few shakes of hot sauce 
    • 6 oz can of tomato paste
    • 1-2 cans crushed tomatoes

    Instructions

    1. Heat a large dutch oven or pot and add cooking fat
    2. From here, you gradually add all of your ingredients...
    3. Start with the bacon, let it get a head start for a few minutes
    4. Next add carrots, celery, onion (and any other veggies), cook for a few minutes to soften them up
    5. Add the ground beef, cook until just about no more pink bits
    6. As the beef is cooking, throw in your cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, garlic and oregano (I'm pretty loose with this part, just throw in what you like)
    7. Onc ethe beef is just about done, add tomatoes, tomato paste
    8. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for up to 60 minutes (if you have them)

    While your delicious meat sauce simmers, it's time to prep your "spaghetti." There are at least two simple ways to cook a spaghetti squash, baked in the oven or in the microwave.

    Oven

    1. Heat your oven to 350 F.
    2. Poke holes all over the whole squash, to let pressure out while cooking (I use a metal skewer).
    3. Put the squash in the oven for about 60 minutes (give or take, based on size).
    4. When it's  ready, the skin should be somewhat soft.
    5. Let is cool for a few minutes, then slice it in half length-wise.
    6. Carefully scoop out the centre seeds bits with a fork, then use the fork to scrape it out in strands (like spaghetti - ta da!). 

    Microwave

    1. Poke holes all over the whole squash, to let pressure out while cooking (I use a metal skewer).
    2. Cook squash on high for 12 minutes, give or take for size. I usually split the time, flipping the squash over half-way through.


    Make sure not to overcook them because they will become mushy and won’t make pastas. It's better a bit underdone than over.

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Molly's (Mostly) Paleo Cake

    We celebrated Molly's first birthday on June 7 and I was determined to find a good cake recipe, as paleo as possible. I went to one of my favourite sources for treats, Elana's Pantry. Elana a whiz with almond flour and other great baking alternatives, and she's got a couple of books (don't own any myself...yet). I adapted a cupcake recipe of hers into a cake format, which worked pretty well.

    The icing on this is kinda strange, almost like a simple chocolate coating (think of a DQ dipped cone). You definitely want your cake to be good and cooled off before frosting. I baked the cakes (doubled recipe for two-layer cake) a couple of days before, put 'em in the fridge, then did the icing the night before. I basically poured the "icing" slowly over the cake.


    Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Frosting

    • ½ C coconut flour, sifted
    • ½ t celtic sea salt
    • ¼ t baking soda
    • 6 eggs
    • ½ C grapeseed oil
    • ½ C agave nectar or honey
    • 1 T vanilla extract
    1. In a medium bowl, combine coconut flour, salt and baking soda
    2. In a small bowl, blend together eggs, grapeseed oil, agave and vanilla
    3. Mix wet ingredients into dry and blend with a mixer or hand blender until smooth
    4. Pour batter into well oiled cake pan
    5. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes
    6. Cool completely
    7. Top with chocolate frosting (see below)
    Chocolate Frosting

    • 1 C dark chocolate chips
    • ½ C grapeseed oil
    • 2 T agave nectar or honey
    • 1 T vanilla extract
    • pinch celtic sea salt
    1. In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and grapeseed oil
    2. Stir in agave, vanilla and salt
    3. Place frosting in freezer for at least 15 minutes to chill and thicken
    4. Remove from freezer and whip frosting with a hand blender until it is thick and fluffy
    5. Frost over cake, cupcakes or between cookies (whatever you like)

      First up, meatballs


      This was one of the very first (and somewhat complicated, for my level of experience anyhow) paleo recipe attempts. I found it at Everyday Paleo, an awesome site with lots of great recipes. I've made a couple small modifications based on personal preference. My first crack at this recipe was okay, but the second time was delicious!

      Meatballs

      • 1.5 lbs ground beef
      • ½ C dried unsweetened cranberries, diced
      • 5 garlic cloves, minced
      • ½ C diced cilantro
      • ½ t sea salt
      • ½ T Garam Masala (I'd never heard of this, but found some in the international foods aisle at SuperStore.)
      • Dash or two of cayenne pepper
      • Black pepper to taste
      • 2 T coconut oil
      Sauce
      • 1 6oz can tomato paste
      • 1 can coconut milk
      • 5 green onions, diced
      • 1 ½  t Garam Masala
      • ½ t sea salt
      • Pan drippings (mmm, pan drippings) from meatballs
      1. Using your hands mix together the meatball ingredients except for the coconut oil.  
      2. In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat.  Make sure the pan is nice and hot before you start adding your meatballs.  
      3. Once the oil is hot, form golf ball size meatballs and add to the pan.  
      4. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown.  Remove the meatballs and set aside.  
      5. To the pan drippings add the tomato paste, onions, and spices and using your whisk, blend these ingredients together with the pan drippings.  
      6. Slowly add the coconut milk, whisking as you pour.  
      7. Once the sauce is well mixed, bring to a simmer and let it cook for 3 minutes.  
      8. Add the meatballs back to the sauce, cover the pan and cook for three minutes.  
      9. Turn the meatballs over so that they are coated with sauce, cover and cook for another 3 minutes. 
      10. Serve with a bit of cilantro on top. 

      It was bound to happen...

      So I've been tweeting for.. well, 218 tweets worth of time. A couple months maybe. What made me finally latch on to twitter was a recent change in eating--on February 6, 2011, I "went paleo" (no grains, no sugar, no legumes, minimal dairy). I loved it and wanted to talk about it all the time...but also wanted to keep some friends. Twitter became the outlet for my "paleothoughts." And, now, having been at it for a little while, I'm starting to collect some great recipes and ideas that may be worth sharing. So here we go...