Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pumpkin Softies {AIP, Paleo}


I had an idea for a chocolate-chip-cookie-without-the-chocolate-chips, and i set about to test my idea... but then I saw half a sugar pumpkin sitting on my refrigerator shelf, all lonely like, and, long story short, I made pumpkin flavored cookies. And they were soft. The end.


Pumpkin Softies

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe plantain (yellow with black spots or black)
  • 1/2 green plantain
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • Dash of sea salt
Method:
  1. Blend together all ingredients using a high speed blender or an immersion blender until smooth.
  2. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes to thicken.
  3. Place tablespoons of the dough on a nonstick baking surface. The dough will not move much so flatten as desired.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C (350°F).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

AIP Cinnamon Cake Rolls {AIP, Paleo}

AIP Cinnamon Cake Rolls

When I was young, we used to buy those tins of cinnamon rolls that were all ready for the oven and eat them nearly every weekend.

Then we realized how much better homemade cinnamon rolls were and that making them, while time consuming, was actually quite simple. Our weekly store-bought cinnamon rolls turned into weekly homemade cinnamon rolls - and it was a beautiful thing!

Then I moved to Belgium and decided to make a batch of cinnamon rolls for my in-laws. I decided to do this during winter. In a house that was only heated as little as possible. My cinnamon rolls didn't rise, even though they were set to do so in front of the fire, and I was so disappointed by this failure that I didn't attempt to make them again for the next seven years!

Then the other day I wanted cinnamon rolls. I'm currently in stage one of my AIP reintroductions though, so this was going to be a bit more difficult than just following a paleo-fied cinnamon roll recipe. I was going to have to get creative.


Steps to make the AIP Cinnamon Cake Rolls

I threw a few things together, adjusting as I went and ended up with something that looked like a cinnamon roll... but had the texture of a very moist cake. {I know so many of you hate the word moist, but this is very moist.} I therefore called these Cinnamon Cake Rolls. So, while they were a very yummy treat, they didn't quite measure up to the cinnamon rolls of my youth. Give the a try and let me know what you think :)

AIP Cinnamon Cake Rolls Close Up
AIP Cinnamon Cake Rolls 

Ingredients:
  • 350g mashed Japanese sweet potatoes
  • 175g green plantain
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2-3 tbsp granulated sugar of choice
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon

Method:
  1. Mix together the potatoes, plantain, flours, and salt.
  2. On a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper, press the dough out in a rectangle, about 1/4 of an inch thick.
  3. Brush the dough with the melted coconut oil. Mix together the sugar and the cinnamon, then sprinkle the mixture onto the oil.
  4. Using the plastic wrap to help, roll the dough up tightly, starting at the widest end to make a long log. Cover the log with the plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  6. Remove the log from the fridge and unwrap. Cut into individual rolls using dental floss or a very sharp knife. Gently reshape if necessary.
  7. Place the rolls on a baking dish and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until slightly browned on the edges. 
  8. Allow to cool 10 minutes before handling so the dough will firm up. 

If desired, serve the rolls topped with icing. {I used this AIP frosting recipe by Mickey Trescott.}

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Broccoli Mash {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}


Broccoli mash is stupid-easy to make and requires very little prep. It's also easy to customize with your own favorite flavors - instead of using the cooking water to thin it out a bit, try using coconut milk. If you can tolerate ghee or grass-fed butter, both are excellent additions and flavor boosters. And any herb or spice can be added after boiling.

It's also a great way to use those pesky broccoli stems. Blended with the florets, the stem adds just the right amount of creaminess, making this side irresistible!

I don't like this mash eaten cold, but it stores well in the fridge and reheats nicely, so it's a perfect veggie to make ahead and eat throughout the week {the hubster likes to take this in his lunch}.

Just make sure to rinse the broccoli well before boiling - I usually end up scooping out a boiled caterpillar or two myself... :/


Broccoli Mash

Ingredients:
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • Sea salt and black pepper
Method:
  1. Fill a medium pot with water and heat over high.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and chop the entire head of broccoli (florets and stem). Roughly chop the onion and garlic.
  3. Put the veggies into the boiling water and boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the stem pieces are tender.
  4. Drain off the water, reserving 1/4 of a cup.
  5. Using a high speed blender or an immersion blender, blend the drained veggies until smooth, adding in some of the reserved water to achieve the desired texture.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook {Cookbook Review}

The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook ipad photo

Wow. Just wow.

This cookbook moved me. Not quite to tears, but I was deeply touched by what I read.

Now you may be thinking that I'm a special kind of crazy, or wondering what kind of onion joke I'm about to make, but the truth is, this cookbook is obviously a very personal piece of work.

To start with, The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook has all the regular information concerning AIP, healing and living - but with a very friendly touch that leaves you with the feeling that you just spoke to a friend about the ins and outs of autoimmune coping.


After the introduction, the guidelines and the tips come the yummy looking recipes. Angie takes these recipes a step further though and classes them according to what phase of AIP you're currently navigating. You'll find over 50 mouthwatering recipes here, covering breakfast, lunch and dinner - with snacks and desserts to boot!

But. There's even more. And I dare say this more is the best part. This is the part that really got me and I found myself skipping over the drool-worthy recipes just to find the next bit to read.

You see, Angie shared her autoimmune journey with us, sprinkling the chapters of her life throughout the healing recipes of her amazing cookbook. Not only did reading her story make it seem like she was right there telling it herself, but it also made me feel normal.

Struggling with autoimmune disease, especially if, like me, you never managed to get a diagnoses for any of your problems, can make you feel like an alien. I often felt different than the others, and even more so when I decided to eat paleo and then AIP. Angie's story made me realize that others have felt some of the same feelings as me, if not all of the same feelings.

Confusion. Fear. Helplessness. Frustration. Anger. Contentment.

I've felt them all, at different times during my journey to better health, and Angie has, too. Reading her words helped me put words to my own emotions and, in the space of the one car ride I spent reading, has helped me find a new sort of peace regarding my health decisions.

Not only that, but I'm more than ever reassured that AIP was what I needed to feel optimal. I'm currently nearing the end of the Phase 1 Reintroduction Period and I've had great success with reintroductions. But even if I can't reintroduce all of the eliminated foods, or if their reintroduction will require more healing, I have proof that AIP, modified with my successful reintroductions, can be satisfying long-term. Angie Alt is that proof, and I thank her for all her cookbook has done for me.

If you're wondering whether or not AIP is for you, or if you're hesitating about giving it a go, give this a read. If you don't find yourself nodding your head as you read, recognizing many of the same struggles as ones you went or are going through, then maybe, maybe, the autoimmune protocol isn't your solution. But if you're reading this review, then it probably is.

And even if it isn't, the cookbook is well worth it for the delectable recipes. They all use normal ingredients and require minimal prep time. They were also all tested by Angie's sister, Jenifer, who doesn't follow any special diet at all - just to make sure they would be tasty enough for any and all people you might be cooking for.


And just to get your mouth watering, here's a recipe Angie so kindly allowed me to share with y'all!

This recipe is simple, uses simple ingredients, and is simply delicious! The hubster and I were both blown away by how much flavor was packed into our pork chops! I let out an, "oh my god!" and the hubster an, "oh putain!" {which, by the way, is a French expletive}. In other words, this is good. Real good.


Lemon Rosemary Brined Pork Chops
Lemon Rosemary Brined Pork Chops || Angie Alt

Lemon Rosemary Brined Pork Chops
Author: 
Prep time:  
Cook time:  
Total time:  
Serves: 4
I love brining! It is an easy, flavorful way to prepare a meaty main dish.
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups filtered water
  • 5 tablespoons salt
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 20 ice cubes
  • 4 bone‐in pork chops
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine water, salt, onion, garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, lemon and vinegar. Bring mixture to boil over high heat, stirring until salt dissolves. Remove from heat, cover and let sit 10 minutes.
  2. Place ice in a large bowl. Pour brine over ice and stir to melt.
  3. Place pork chops in a large freezer bag. Add brine and seal. To avoid spills, place bag in a large bowl and set in refrigerator for 3 hours.
  4. After brining, remove chops from bag. Rinse and pat dry. Discard brine. Grill over high heat for 2‐3 minutes per side. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Prosciutto Salad {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Prosciutto Salad

I like Brussels sprouts - but I love them with bacon! And I'm thinking I'm not alone on this as there are many sprouts recipes including bacon.

Sadly though, I have yet to find bacon here in Belgium that doesn't make me sick. I finally decided to avoid bacon in an effort to find better health, thus ending an incredibly long love-hate relationship between me and the smoked porky goodness.

But the other day I got a hankering for Brussels sprouts. I would have just roasted some and eaten them with sea salt, but the hubster doesn't like sprouts. He only tolerates them when bacon is involved. 

Then I thought about Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo and her Porkitos. Porkitos, for those who don't know, are baked prosciutto slices. I used dry-cured ham commonly found around here, which worked perfectly. Just be sure to read the labels and go with a sugar-free meat, whatever you choose to use.

And what did the hubster think about all this? Well, sprout-hater that he is, he fought me for the salad that was left in the serving bowl. When he finished scarfing it all down, he threw his hands up in the air and said, "It's just so good! Make that whenever you feel like it." 

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Prosciutto Salad

If that isn't a seal of approval, I don't know what is!

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Prosciutto Salad

Ingredients:
  • 10 large Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup Porkitos
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt and black pepper
Method:
  1. Thinly slice the sprouts and place in a serving dish. 
  2. Crumble and sprinkle the porkitos over the sprouts.
  3. Mix together the oil and vinegar, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Dress the salad and toss to combine.
  5. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for a few days.

Bonus!

This recipe works well with finely chopped broccoli florets as well - simply use one small head of broccoli instead of the Brussels sprouts and follow the directions as usual. {The hubster prefers this with the sprouts.}

Chopped Broccoli & Prosciutto Salad

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Churroed Pig Ear {AIP, Paleo}

I'm a pretty adventurous eater, and my father-in-law knows that, so when he saw a discounted package of pig parts, he bought it for me. The pack included a pig ear, foot and tail. Don't you think the tail looks eerily like a fingernail-less finger?


Anywho, back to the pig parts. They sat around in my freezer for awhile because I couldn't decide what to do with them. Then my copy of The Paleo Approach Cookbook arrived - and there was a recipe for trotters. I pulled the pack out of the freezer and prepared the foot and tail following the recipe.

Both were pretty dang tasty prepared this way, though I preferred the tail. The tail had more actual meat, while the foot had a lot of squishy stuff. I wouldn't go out of my way to prepare trotters again, but I just might hunt down more tails...

Anywho again... I was still left with an ear. I had boiled it with the foot and tail so that it would be ready, and it was now time to tackle the beast.


I decided to deep fry it.

Then I decided to cover it in cinnamon and sugar.

Those were two of the best decisions I have ever made.

Now, bits of the ear were gross. Like, the inner ear had hairs. Eww. So I cut that part out and threw it away. I'm adventurous, but that was too much for me. The hubster came home just as I was finishing the frying, so he didn't see the ear, therefore, he tried a bite. His reaction: not worth it.


I, on the other hand, loved them!

They were crunchy on the outside, and chewy-meaty-squishy on the inside! They had a great churro look and flavor, but they also had an amazing pork flavor that shone through. Deep fried cinnamon and sugar pork - what more could you ask for?


Churroed Pig Ear

Ingredients:
  • 1 pig ear
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar of choice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Fat for frying
  • Optional: 2 tbsp granulated sugar of choice + 1 tsp cinnamon
Method:
  1. Boil the pig ear for 3 hours, topping off the water if needed to keep covered.
  2. Remove ear from water and rinse with cool water until cool enough to handle.
  3. Slice as desired.
  4. Mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon, then coat the slices in the mixture.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the fat over medium-high heat until hot.
  6. In small batches, fry the slices until golden brown. Remove from fat and drain on paper towels.
  7. If using the optional coating, sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon while still hot.
  8. Allow to cool slightly, then enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Make Your Own Kombucha {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}

Make your own kombucha

I don't have easy access to fun paleo things here in Belgium. No convenient snacks, no awesome beauty products - and no kombucha. I searched high and low for kombucha here in Belgium, wanting even to simply taste the drink everyone in the healthy-eating community so raved about, but I couldn't find any for about two years! 

Then, randomly, my cousin found some at our local grocery store. Score! I tried it and liked it - and then I started seeing this fermented tea all over the place! Now if only I could get my hands on a live bottle of kombucha to grow my on scoby...

Healthy scoby

Wait - what?! A scoby? Scoby is a fun little acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. The scoby is what makes regular tea turn into deliciously fermented kombucha - and it's alive. Most of the kombucha found in regular grocery stores is no longer alive - it has been pasteurized, or heated, for safety reasons. This process kills off any harmful bacteria that may be in the tea, but it also kills off all the beneficial bacteria naturally found in kombucha, thereby removing any point to drinking it.

Kombucha is reputed to being highly beneficial for gut health. Apparently, it promotes a healthy bacterial balance in our intestines, leading ultimately to better overall health. Kombucha doesn't cure anything, but it creates a healthy bodily environment allowing our health to take control. Many people find gastro-intestinal relief from drinking a glass of kombucha per day, but other symptoms seem to be helped as well, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It really is a magical drink, but one I thought I would have to live without.

Then I got lucky. My aunt gifted me a couple bottles of live kombucha that she bought at a small health foods store, and this is where my kombucha journey begins...

Growing a Scoby

In order to grow a scoby, you need some live kombucha. {You can also buy a scoby online.} You'll be able to drink most of the bottle of kombucha, but you'll want to save about a cup's worth. Place this kombucha in a different glass jar - this will become your brewing jar, so choose a size that works for you.

Tip: Start smallish and work your way up to a bigger jar - don't immediately go for the 5 gallon barrel. I started my kombucha in a half-gallon jar.

Brew 1-2 cups of plain green or black tea, using 2-4 tea bags. When the water is still hot, stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar. Use regular old cane sugar for this. The anti-bacterial properties of honey will kill your scoby. When the tea has cooled to room temperature, add it to your kombucha starter jar. Cover the jar with a square of cloth held with a rubber band {old t-shirts work great for this} and place in a cool area {meaning, not hot, not cold} out of direct sunlight.

You should start to see growth after about a week. {If there's no growth after three weeks, your kombucha was dead. Throw out the liquid and try again with new kombucha.} The top of the tea will become thick and jelly-like. After about two weeks the jelly mass should solidify and become tan in color. Continue to allow the scoby to grow until it is at least 1/4 of an inch thick.

Healthy scoby

Making Kombucha

Now that you have a scoby, you're ready to make kombucha! Brew enough green or black tea to fill your brewing jar, using enough tea bags to make it strong and enough sugar to make it sweet. {Taste it - it should be too strong and too sweet.} Very carefully remove your scoby from the jar {with clean hands!} leaving the starter tea in the jar. Place the scoby on a small plate and sprinkle with a bit of kombucha. Pour the room temperature tea into the jar, mixing it with the starter fluid. Gently return the scoby into the jar ad cover with the t-shirt. Place the jar once again in a cool area {meaning, not hot, not cold} out of direct sunlight.

The next part is up to you. Allow the tea to ferment for at least a few days, then taste it. To taste, simply slip a straw into the jar below the scoby and take a sip. If it's to your liking, you may bottle it and start a new batch. If it's not yet how you would like, return it to it's fermenting spot and allow it to continue doing its thing.

A 7-day ferment will yield a rather sweet kombucha, with it getting progressively tangier and then more bitter as time goes on. {I like it best after about 15 days.} Once the kombucha is as you like it, remove all but a cup of the fluid from the jar. Start a new batch using the directions above if desired.

The kombucha you removed can either be drank plain, or it can be flavored. The easiest way to flavor kombucha is to mix it with fruit juice in whatever proportions you want.

You can enjoy the drink right away - or you can allow a second ferment to happen. To do so, simply place the jars of kombucha in a cool area {meaning, not hot, not cold} out of direct sunlight for 1-3 days. This will result in bubbly kombucha.

Make your own kombucha

Scoby Tips & Tricks

The biggest thing you can do to care for your scoby is to always wash your hands before handling it! Keeping it clean ensures that it will stay healthy. If your scoby starts to mold {has black, green or red spots} you'll need to throw it and the tea away. Brown bits or strings are usually okay and are just yeast overgrowths. If in doubt, throw it away.

Each batch of kombucha will most likely produce a baby scoby, though sometimes the mother scoby will just grow a bit thicker. You can either store these extra scoby's in a "scoby hotel" in the fridge {a small jar with a bit of kombucha} or give them away to people who would like to make their own kombucha. There are also other ideas online, such as including them in recipes or even eating them plain. Run a quick Google search if you're interested.

Sometimes scoby's will float nicely on top of the kombucha, but other time they'll sink down to the bottom or even float sideways halfway up the jar. This is just fine, as long as the scoby is healthy, and will not affect the quality or taste of your kombucha.

Don't use flavored teas to make your kombucha as the different spices, oils or other ingredients may hurt your scoby or even make it mold.

"Floaties" in your kombucha are just fine to drink - they are either baby scoby's or yeast growths. If you don't want to drink them, simply filter them out.


Who else makes their own kombucha? 
What tips or tricks do you have to share with us?