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?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pull Pork Tongue {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}

When I saw pork tongue for sale at my local Carrefour, I grabbed the two-pack and threw it in my basket without even thinking. It was only as I realized I was digging through the shelves looking for more packs that it hit me: I was buying tongue. Wha?!

I just shrugged and carried on with my searching. And while I didn't find any more tongue, I did find four packs of beef liver and two packs of pork heart, all of which got thrown into my shopping basket as well. I often grind up some liver and/or heart to add to my breakfast sausage, and the hubster is used to this by now, but I was sure he wouldn't accept the idea of eating tongue quite as easily...

And I was right.

He whined and moaned and complained long before I even put the tongues on the menu. When the day came to cook them, he spent the day sending me threatening texts {If you don't make me a steak or a pork chop instead, I'll go eat fast food!} which soon turned into pleading texts {Please, could you make me something else?}. I told him to be a man and eat the dang tongues. 



Dinner time came and I served him up a big plate of tongue. I had even gone the extra mile and shredded the bad boys just so it didn't look one little bit like a tongue. He spent a good five minutes "searching" for I-don't-know-what in his mess of meat before I finally yelled and him and threatened to force-feed him if he didn't just try it already!

He tried it - and loved it! {And I must admit, it was full of flavor!} As he put it:


It doesn't taste like tongue... 
Actually, I don't know what tongue tastes like. 
It's good. Real good.

He then pulled a gluten-filled bun out of the freezer, plopped it into the toaster, and proceeded to eat the tongue like a pulled-pork sandwich, but hey, baby steps, right? I got him to eat - and like - tongue. And I now have permission to make tongue again when I like. #winning


Pulled Pork Tongue

Ingredients:
  • 2 pork tongues
  • 3 small onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup of bone broth
  • Water
Method:
  1. Slice the onions and place in a pressure cooker or a slow cooker. Peel the garlic and cut in half, adding to the onions.
  2. Rinse off the tongues and lay on top of the onions and garlic. Sprinkle with thyme and celery salt, and add the bay leaves.
  3. Pour in the bone broth, then add water to cover the tongues.
  4. Place on the lid. If using a pressure cooker, pressurize, then cook for 3-4 hours. If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  5. Once cooked, remove the tongues from the liquid and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Meanwhile, heat up the liquid over high heat and allow it to boil rapidly so it reduces by at least half (reduce more for drier meat, less for soupy meat).
  7. When the tongues are cool enough to handle, remove the skin by scoring and peeling. It should come off easily.
  8. Using two forks, shred the meat as desired. 
  9. Once the liquid has reduced, add the meat back in to reheat. Serve hot.

Friday, October 31, 2014

AIP Paleo Menu & Budget {Week 27/10 - 2/11}

When I first started eating paleo, one of my biggest questions was, "Well, what exactly do I need to eat?" I had no idea what a typical day, let alone week, looked like, and even the simple task of grocery shopping seemed daunting because I didn't know how much food to buy!

I'm pretty comfortable with this lifestyle now though, and even though the hubster isn't 100% paleo, we have a certain groove and things tend to run pretty smoothly now. I thought I'd share a typical week of menus plus the amount I spent on the groceries for the week - you know, just to give other newbies an idea of what to expect expenditure wise, as well as an example of daily paleo eating.

A quick note about expenses... my grocery bill has gone up slightly since going paleo. It went from about 325€ per month to about 400€ per month. We eat a lot more meat than before, and we also eat a lot more veggies. So yes, in the days of subsisting on bread and pasta for most meals might have been cheaper, it also was painful and boring. Also, I don't really pay attention to what I spend when I'm grocery shopping. I know I have about 400€ per month that I can allot to food {household items such as washing power and toilet paper are also included in this budget}, so I just buy whatever I feel like eating, including some extras that we could easily live without. If 400€ a month is too much for you, know that when I shop deals and make an effort to spend less, I can stay below 300€ pretty easily. We just have less variety is all.

Anywho, on to the menu! Most weeks I choose one cookbook and try to make a maximum of meals from it. This both ensures that I'm "getting my moneys' worth" out of each book, as well as varies our meals pretty well from week to week.

Breakfast
For me: 
Bone-broth-based veggie soup {made from the weeks' scraps}
Cauliflower "Fried Rice" {The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook}
Three Herb Beef Patties {with added beef liver and pork heart}

For him:
Sauteed zucchini
Three Herb Beef Patties {with added beef liver and pork heart}

For us Sunday:
Cinnamon Ginger Baked Pears {The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook}
+ everything else from the other days

Three-Herb Beef Breakfast Patties || Mickey Trescott
Lunch
For me Monday-Friday: 
Half a bag of salty plantain chips
Mediterranean Salmon Salad {The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook}
served on a bed of fresh spinach

For him Monday-Thursday:
Herbed Roast Chicken {The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook}
Mixed bell peppers and onions cooked with the chicken

For him Friday:
Hubster Cheat Day {he goes out to eat with his coworkers}

For us Saturday:

For us Sunday:
Usually a restaurant meal with the hubster's grandparents, family lunch with parents, or we scrounge/clean out the fridge. There's never a real plan for Sundays.

Tuna & Peaches Salad || Meg White

Snack
Crossfit days:
Banana {the hubster puts his in his protein shake}
Half a can of tuna + avocado {mayo for the hubster}

Non-crossfit days:
Apple
Prosciutto
Carrot sticks
 {The hubster usually also has nuts or peanuts}

Dinner
Monday:
Lamb meatballs with Garlic & Spinach {The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook}
Curried Cauliflower {The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook}

Tuesday:
Chicken Caesar Salad {The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook}
Yuca fries for me {The Paleo Approach Cookbook}
Potato fries for the hubster

Wednesday:
Pork tongue {recipe coming soon!}
Rosemary Roasted Carrots {The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook}

Thursday:
Broccoli mash {recipe coming soon!}

Friday:
Leftovers, scrounge meal

Saturday:
Dinner with the parents

Sunday:
Usually a restaurant meal with the hubster's grandparents, family lunch with parents, or we scrounge/clean out the fridge. There's never a real plan for Sundays.

Cranberry Braised Short-Ribs || Mickey Trescott

And this weeks' grand total was: 84,63€. This is more than enough food for the week, and we'll be eating some of the veggies into next week as well. This budget works for us - and I hope my menu helps inspire y'all just a wee little bit!

How much do you spend on groceries? 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Squash Fish Bake {AIP, Paleo, Whole30}


I recently received a veggie spiralizer and have since been spiralizing all the things. And one evening the hubster and I were rushed and needed a quick dinner - so I pulled out the spiralizer.

I spiralized a mystery squash.

My cousin @primalmanon gave me squash from her garden... some were spaghetti squash {yay!} and some were... unidentified. I'm sure this recipe would work with whatever squash you have, such as pumpkin, zucchini or butternut. Heck, it would probably even taste great with veggies such as carrots. Just have fun with this one, okay?

(PS - If you don't have a spiralizer, go buy one already! Just kidding... you could dice the veggies instead :p)


Squash Fish Bake

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups of spiralized squash of choice
  • 2 fish fillets of choice
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup bone broth
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper
Method:
  1. Place the squash "noodles" in a baking dish. Lay the fish on top.
  2. Pour the coconut milk and bone broth over the fish, then season with thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. Bake uncovered at 200°C {400°F} for 25-30 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the fish is lightly browned.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Not-So-Sweet Beet Cookies {AIP, Paleo}

I don't like cooked beets.

I love raw beets, and even have two different shredded beet salad recipes on my blog. Raw beets are crunchy, slightly sweet and pair well with tangy dressings.

Cooked beets are squishy, overly sweet and make everything to touch taste nasty.

Except for one recipe: The Urban Poser's Tomato-Less "Marinara" Sauce.

This sauce is just so dang good. Jenni says that this sauce is one of the greatest things she has ever made - and I believe it! This sauce looks, acts and tastes just like a tomato sauce should! All without a single nightshade. It's like some kind of voodoo magic - and I'd gladly sell my soul for this sauce, it's that good!


But anyway, back to the subject on hand: beets. This sauce uses beets. I have an incredibly hard time finding fresh {read: raw} beets at my local grocery stores, but I can always find ready-cooked beets. That doesn't matter for this recipe as they need to be cooked anyway. The problem is, they are sold in packs for 4-6 beets. Jenni's recipe only calls for 2-3 beets. Can you see my problem?

Now, I could just make a double batch and freeze the extras, but my freezer is only about the size of a large microwave. That space is precious and reserved for meat, veggie scraps and bones. I needed a way to use up the extra cooked beets, but a way that would mask the flavor enough for my temperamental palate...

I tried blending it into a green smoothie, and while the taste was alright, it wasn't delicious - and I ended up getting a sugar headache after eating it all. {I'm pretty sensitive to sugar these days and have to keep my doses fairly low.} 

I didn't give up though, and eventually a plan hatched in my head - beet cookies. I'd seen beets used in red velvet cakes, so I figured red velvet cookies could work as well. I mixed a few ingredients together in a bowl and put them in the oven to bake - and you know what? It worked. 


These cookies are just barely sweet - both in taste and ingredients-wise - so they're perfect for people like me. They are super soft and chewy, but they hold together very well and are therefore perfectly portable and holdable - they would be great for lunchboxes! And they even have a slight oatmeal-cookie texture to them, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The only thing I didn't like was the color - I was expecting a nice red hue {the batters' color is great!} but it baked into a dark brown. It is still an appetizing color, but red would have been better :p

In any case, enjoy these not-so-sweet, guilt-free cookies! Oh, and did I mention they're AIP compliant? #teamAIPforlife 

Not-So-Sweet Beet Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams beets 
  • 1 green plantain
  • 3 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Method:
  1. Blend everything together, except the coconut, using a high speed blender or an immersion blender.
  2. Stir in the coconut.
  3. Place dough on a nonstick baking surface, forming cookies as you wish.
  4. Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 20 minutes.
  5. Enjoy hot or cold.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Feeding Dinner Guests {who aren't paleo}

In my circle of friends, we often invite each other over for a simple dinner of pasta. It's simple to throw together, fairly cheap to make for a crowd and nearly everyone has at least one recipe they excel at making. It was always possible to please everyone with this formula... until I went paleo.

We have our fair share of picky eaters in the group, but it was usually just a question of leaving out this spice or not using that particular ingredient. And if someone forgot, it wasn't the end of the world. Easy.

With me though, it's a different story. I have horrible reactions to many, many ingredients. I know what to look for, but most people don't realize that gluten, lactose and corn are hidden in everything. Everyone tries their best, but often I just bring my own meal as cross contamination happens more often than not and my evenings are spent agonizing in my bed.

That's when I eat over at someone's house... but what about when people eat over at my place?

I recently invited some of my girl friends over while our men were off hiking and tasting whiskies in the wilderness of Scotland. As I planned the food, I immediately thought of pasta. I would just use Zoodles! I decided though to make something that wasn't a SWYPO meal. I would make something yummy and already paleo.

I would make a salad.


I decided on a simple green salad topped with shredded chicken and black olives, dressed with an Italian vinaigrette. The flavors of this simple salad married perfectly. The only thing I would have done differently would be to add sun dried tomatoes. They would have taken the taste to a whole other level!

Before the meal though, I needed snack food. Here in Belgium, it's customary to offer copious amounts of finger food before the meal. I'm usually never hungry by the time dinner comes around, but tradition is tradition, so I went with it.


I chose to make a simple veggie platter composed of cucumbers, carrots and Belgian endive with my delicious Real Deal Paleo Ranch for dipping. I then sliced up some mild chorizo, some dry cured ham and even some Italian cheese {just because I'm super nice like that}.

The finger foods were a hit {the pretty presentation changes everything in my opinion - and yes, those are Christmas napkins, cause I'm classy like that} and the salad was light enough so that even after all the veggies no one went home stuffed beyond belief!


I "should" have offered a dessert as well, but it completely skipped my mind. Luckily, the girls didn't mind :P

I could have made up simple chocolate mousses though, or even banana "ice cream" with or without a warm berry crumble. Dessert doesn't have to be complex and full of sugar to be delicious and pleasing to many crowds :)

So the next time you're having non-paleo eaters over for dinner, go the simple yet flavorful route. Less stress means more fun had with your friends - which is the point of any get together in the first place! :)