Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rabbit & Plum Stew {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}

Tuesday and Thursday evenings are crossfit evenings for the hubster and I and we don't get home before 9 o'clock. Therefore, I like to cook a meal Tuesday afternoon that will still be yummy when I reheat it Tuesday and Thursday evenings. This is one such meal.



Now, I used to think I didn't like rabbit. The hubster really likes this meat though, so I made the effort of buying and preparing it one day... and I discovered I loved it! Turns out, basic, oven baked rabbit isn't for me. But put that hopper in a sauce and let it simmer? Oh yeah. That's what I like.

The first time I made this recipe, I used prunes, which are dried plums. This resulted in a sweet sauce, which the hubster preferred. This week though, I used fresh plums and the resulting sauce was savory with a delightful fruit taste, which I preferred. Feel free to use whichever sort you have on hand - or the sort that will give you the taste you are looking for.

This also happens to be a traditional Flemish dish, coming from the northern part of Belgium, though I have chose not to include the traditional wine in the sauce.

This recipe makes about enough for two people for two meals. I served it with my Roasted Rhubarb & Sweet Potatoes {roasted potatoes and onions for him} and a green salad.

Rabbit & Plum Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 rabbit, cut into 6-8 pieces
  • Fat of choice
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of bone broth
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 8 plums or prunes, pitted
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 juniper berries
  • 1 clove
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Heat fat in your cooking pot and brown the pieces of rabbit on all sides, transferring them to a plate when done.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the onion in half, then thinly slice the halves. Add to the pot once the rabbit is removed, allowing the onion to brown.
  3. Mince and add the garlic, string for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the bone broth and the plums and bring to a boil. 
  5. Add rabbit pieces and seasonings, then cover, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until cooked through.

Mushroom & Spinach Stuffed Patty Pan Squash {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}

My sweet cousin Manon recently gifted me a few of her mom's garden-fresh squashes... and one of them was a patty pan squash! It was so cute and scalloped and white and everything! I just knew it needed to be stuffed.



I decided to stuff that cutie with ground beef, spinach and mushrooms. I taste-tested the raw meat, like I always do, to make sure it was spiced enough - and I almost ate it all just like that! It was good!

I put the little guy into my oven... and pulled it out, perfectly browned, and served it to a happy hubster! It's very simple to throw together, yet very impressive to serve to others.

Feel free to customize it as well, swapping your favorite greens for the spinach, such as kale, or your favorite veggie for the mushrooms, such as chopped carrots. And don't forget - you can eat the rind! Don't waste any of that yummy squash!

Mushroom & Spinach Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 small to medium patty pan squash
  • 500 g ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt (use less if the salt is finely ground)
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 5 button mushrooms, diced
  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
Method:

  1. Cut off the top of the squash and hollow out the seeds. 
  2. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and stuff inside the squash.
  3. Bake for 45-60 minutes at 180°C {350°F} or until the meat is no longer pink in the center.
  4. Slice and serve hot.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Read the labels! {Tortilla Wraps}


The hubster and I ate tacos last week. We often eat "tacos", but we usually serve them nacho style on a bed of chips {corn chips for him, plantain chips for me}. This time though, he wanted tortillas for the "real" taco experience.

So, we did our grocery shopping for the week - and he picked out his tortillas. They sat on our shelf all week, then it was finally Friday and we got to eating our tacos! 

I had my usual taco salad with a side of plantain chips... and he threw together his first real taco in I don't know how long. He ate the first one, then got the urge to look at the back of the tortilla package. He said, "Wow. I should have looked at that before buying them..." He made a second taco though, and ate it as I finished my salad.

Then he took out The Book. This book isn't even ours {I think the hubster borrowed it from a co-worker} but I highly suggest that everyone buy a copy {or borrow a copy long-term, like we seem to be doing}. Here's the website to learn more.


This book lists all European food additives, explains potential consequences and uses a color code {green, orange, red} to classify them according to their danger level {safe, harmful, dangerous}. 

Anyway, back to those tortilla wraps... Here is a picture of the ingredients list, the one the hubster didn't read before throwing into the cart {pro tip: always read the ingredients list, or better yet, only buy food that doesn't have an ingredients list because it's an ingredient itself}:


Alright, now, as I was saying with the hubster, they could have stopped at the first three ingredients and the product would have been cleanish. Not paleo, but it would have been made from simple ingredients. "Whole wheat" would have made it clean, but I digress...

The truth is, they didn't stop at three ingredients. They didn't even stop at six ingredients. There are FOURTEEN ingredients in these tortilla wraps! Huh?! Let's go through them one by one, shall we? {Note: Any additive with a capital letter "E" in front of it means it has been accepted by Europe and is allowed in European-grade food products.}

  • Wheat flour: if you really need explaining on why this is bad for you, check out this article by Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple.
  • Water: Okay, this one is good for you :)
  • Palm oil: This one can be good for you as well - though there is no way of knowing if it's sustainably harvested or not.
  • E422: Glycerol. Can be transgenetic. Can cause nausea, migraines and high blood pressure. To be avoided by pregnant and nursing women.
  • E466: Microcrystalline cellulose. Cotton by-product {part of the waste that results when treating cotton}. Cancer-causing.
  • E412: Guar Gum. Can cause allergies, nausea, flatulence, abdominal cramps, eczema, poor absorption of vitamins and minerals.
  • E500: Sodium Carbonate. A leavening powder.
  • E450: Diphosphate. Synthesized from phosphate salts. Can cause hyperactivity, digestive troubles and poor absorption of vitamins and minerals. Rats have shown reductions in fertility, life expectancy and size.
  • Salt: Good for you.
  • E296: Malic acid DL or L. DL: Natural or chemical, can cause digestive troubles in infants and children. L: a GMO authorized in food for children and infants, can cause digestive troubles in infants and children.
  • E471: Mono and diglycerides of fatty acids. Often mixes of chemical products, can also be transgenetic. Can prevent proper growth, can prevent absorption of essential fatty acids, can increase liver and kidney size, can reduce uterus and testicle size.
  • Dextrose: Any added sugars are a bad idea.
  • E282: Calcium propionate. Chemically produced. Can cause digestive problems and migraines. Is also used to treat "athletes foot".
  • E202: Potassium sorbate. Chemically produced. Can provoke birth defects. Can also cause asthma, hives, rhinitus and digestive troubles.
Is that enough for you to put down the tortilla wraps? It certainly was enough for the hubster. He threw out the four other tortillas, preferring to eat the leftover taco fixings in a taco salad when we finished them off last night.

And when we went grocery shopping for this week, we decided to look at the ingredients list of the other tortillas available in our grocery store... the others weren't much better! Worse, it became obvious there aren't many regulations for those lists. One package had a very long list of ingredients, but written out in words. Next to this package full of numbers, the words look healthier - but they really aren't! Remember: if you can't pronounce it or buy it in a whole-foods form, IT'S NOT FOOD!

Re-reading this book has also prompted us to stop eating foods with nitrates and nitrites. This means no more canned corned beef, and no more bacon. Here's what the book has to say about added nitrates and nitrites:

  • E249 Potassium nitrite: Chemical. Can prevent the transportation of oxygen in our blood. Interacts with other additives and thereby becomes cancer causing. Can also cause shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. 
  • E250 Sodium nitrite: Chemical. Can prevent the transportation of oxygen in our blood. Interacts with other additives and thereby becomes cancer causing. Can also cause shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. Can cause hyperactivity, asthma, insomnia, low blood pressure, cancer.
  • E251 Potassium nitrate: Chemical. Also used to make fertilizer. Can prevent the transportation of oxygen in our blood. Interacts with other additives and thereby becomes cancer causing. Can also cause shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. Can cause hyperactivity, asthma, insomnia, low blood pressure, cancer.
  • E252 Sodium nitrate: Chemical but may also be derived from animal carcasses. Also used to make fertilizer, gun powder and other explosives. Can prevent the transportation of oxygen in our blood. Interacts with other additives and thereby becomes cancer causing. Can also cause shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. Can cause hyperactivity, asthma, insomnia, low blood pressure, cancer.
We have both decided that eating the foods that contain these additives just isn't worth it. What food contain these additives?

Delicatessen {deli meats}
Salaison {salted meats}
Foie gras
Cured bacon

Even organic meats of these sorts can contain these additives! We will be extra vigilant when reading our food labels for now on.

Do you read food labels? Are there any exceptions you make when buying certain products?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pépé does it better. {Shredded Beet Salad}


I am a HUGE fan of mustard, and put it on basically everything. I've even eaten it by the spoonful. I'm pretty much gaga over mustard. So when my cousin Manon asked for advice of how to eat her beets, I quickly recommended my Bister Beet Salad, confident that she would love it just as much as I did!


Well, she tried it and had this to say: 

Bister Beet Salad that I really liked!
But Meg, I have to say I like Pépé's better :)

Well... if Pépé's was better, it had to be good! I would have to ask Pépé how he made his...

Shortly after this, I decided to do an AIP Whole30. This meant no mustard {mustard is made from ground mustard seeds, seeds being off-limits for AIP}. But, Bister L'Impériale is a type of mustard! This took my want to try Pépé's beets to need to try Pépé's beets.

Luckily I invited myself was invited over for lunch that week - and Pépé prepared freshly harvested beets!

Verdict? They are good. Real good. Possibly even better than my Bister Beets, but I'll let you be the judge.


Shredded Beet Salad

Ingredients:
  • 2 small, young beets, peeled and shredded
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Combine beets, onions, oil and vinegar, tossing to mix.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Savory Rhubarb Pie {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}

Since the hubster and I have started going to crossfit three times a week, and two of those times are during our usual dinner time, I've needed to up the ante a bit with food prep and meal planning - namely, planning a meal I can cook Tuesday afternoon and easily reheat Tuesday and Thursday evenings after our WOD.

An easy meal idea I came up with was Sheppard's Pie, and the hubster was happy with my choice. I am currently going through an AIP reintroduction period though, and I don't want to push things too far with tomatoes, just in case {so far, I can handle them in small doses, but if an actual sauce is too much, I don't want to find out when that's all I have ready to eat}.

I decided to make two separate dishes then, the hubster's dish using white potatoes and tomatoes, and my dish using sweet potatoes... and rhubarb.

I had originally planned on making a "no-mato" sauce of some kind, but then my eyes fell upon my pile of garden fresh rhubarb and I thought back to my yummy side dish - Roasted Rhubarb & Sweet Potatoes. The rhubarb in that dish cooks down into a delicious sauce, coating the sweet potatoes in a tangy layer of goodness. I figured they'd make a nice replacement sauce in my Sheppard's Pie.



I was right.

No, this is not hubster approved. He tasted it without me even asking him to, but he just shook his head and said, "I really don't like rhubarb." I guess that means that if you don't like rhubarb, don't make this dish. But if you are looking for a savory rhubarb dish, and one that is also AIP and Whole30 compliant, then go for it.

I know I'm truly looking forward to Thursday evening, just so I can eat the rest of it!

Savory Rhubarb Pie

Ingredients:
  • 300 grams ground beef
  • 2 stems of rhubarb
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bone broth (can also use water)
  • 2-4 sweet potatoes (about 400 grams)
Method:
  1. Cook sweet potatoes using your favorite method. I poked holes in them and microwaved mine for about 7 minutes. Set them aside to cool.
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and break it up a bit with a spatula.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the rhubarb into thin slices, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add to the meat and stir to combine, breaking up the meat as you go.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally as it cooks.
  5. When the meat is cooked through, add the bone broth, scraping the browned bits up from the bottom. Remove pan from heat and spread the meat mixture in the bottom of an oven-safe dish.
  6. Peel the cooled sweet potatoes and mash them. Season with salt and pepper to taste and spread over the top of the meat mixture, making little peaks on the top with a fork.
  7. Bake at 200°C (400°F) for about 30 minutes, or until the tops of the peaks begin to brown and the meat mixture begins to bubble.
  8. Serve hot. Reheats wonderfully.

AIP Whole30 Check-In {reintroductions}

Well, as I write this, it's Day 31 of my Whole30 - but I only made it to Day 28 of AIP. You see, I hadn't really told anyone I was doing AIP {don't make that mistake if you intend on respecting your engagement} and so when my mother-in-law told me what we were having for dinner to celebrate my brother-in-law's birthday, I really didn't have it in me to tell her I couldn't eat it {she was stressed enough with party planning as it was}. I just decided that I would begin my reintroductions that day instead of waiting for today, Day 31. 

I have listed my intended reintroduction order below, though that may change depending on other social engagements I may encounter. I will also be updating this post each time I reintroduce a new food.



Tomatoes {+ Eggplant}

Day 28, I had one small, organic, garden fresh, raw tomato at lunch with no noticed symptoms. Later than day, I had regular store-bought, non-organic cooked tomatoes and eggplant, once again with no noticed symptoms.

Day 29, I abstained from eating tomatoes and didn't notice any changes.

Day 30, I had half a large, store bought tomato, raw, at lunch. No symptoms were noticed all day.

Verdict: Tomatoes are safe!

Mustard

Day 28, without realizing it, I also ate mustard {in the vinaigrette}. As noted above, I did not react to anything I ate that day.

Day 34, I knowingly had mustard again {in a vinaigrette} and experienced no symptoms.


Verdict: Mustard is safe!



Whole Eggs

Day 31, I had one over-easy egg {conventional store quality} with the yolk cooked fully for breakfast. I noticed a bit of flatulence soon after my meal, and it progressively got worse throughout the morning. Weirdly, it got progressively better after lunch - which had raw tomato. About mid-afternoon, I had a rather disagreeable bowel movement {I'll spare you the details}. 

Day 32, I returned to full AIP {no eggs or tomatoes} to allow my system to go back to functioning normally.

Day 33, I had one over-easy egg {conventional store quality} with the yolk cooked fully for breakfast. I thought things were going well... until they most obviously weren't. To keep things short and sweet, I had a bad bathroom trip and everything has been smelly since.

Verdict: 
Conventional, store bought, whole eggs aren't safe!


Egg yolk

Day 34, I returned to full AIP. I had no reactions.

Day 35, I ate two scrambled egg yolks {I rinsed them off, removing as much of the white as I could}. I didn't experience any issues. I also ate mayo later that day {raw yolk} with no issues.

Verdict: Egg yolks are safe!




Paprika & Nightshade-based Spices



Day 35, I went out to eat and decided to take the plunge and order my favorite dish - which also happens to be smothered in paprika. Plus I doused it with tons of hot sauce {ingredients list: chili peppers, bell peppers}. I had no reaction to the meal. I will probably eat these sparingly, but for now...

Verdict: Nightshades are safe!



Egg White

Day 36, the hubster convinced me to try egg whites... so I whipped up some meringue and ate two raw egg whites... and had no reaction whatsoever. I still need to try them cooked alone...

Ghee 


Seed-based Spices


Coffee 


Coconut


Tapioca


Cocoa

Other Seeds


Nuts


Eggplant & Sweet Peppers



Creamy without the potato-y {Cauliflower Leaf Soup}

I eat cauliflower quite often, usually in the form of cauli "rice", though now I'm going to have to add cauli "cheese" to that as well. 

I always used to throw away the green leaves and tough stem... then I started adding it to my bone broth whenever I happened to have a batch going the same time I was prepping my head of cauliflower.

Then one day, I wondered if I couldn't just eat the leaves and stem.

I ran a quick Google search, just to make sure the leaves were edible, and then got to work on cooking them. I made a soup.



That soup was delicious y'all. It was ultra creamy, just like if I had put potatoes in it. It was full of flavor, a bit of a cross between tasting like cauliflower and cabbage to me. It was also a beautiful pale green color. Everything about this soup was perfect - and it was even preventing waste!

This soup tastes great as is, or with fresh herbs blended in at the end. You can also add other veggies - this creates a decadently creamy soup {cream of broccoli, anyone?}. And don't forget to always find new ways to use up your kitchen scraps - you'll often be nicely surprised!

Cauliflower Leaf Soup

Ingredients:
  • The outer leaves and stem of one head of cauliflower
  • 1-2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup of bone broth
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Wash and chop the leaves and stem. Put in a large pot and add onions, garlic and bone broth.
  2. Add water to cover the veggies and turn on high. Bring to a boil and reduce slightly.
  3. Allow to boil gently until very tender {20-30 minutes}.
  4. Blend very well using an immersion blender and season to taste.
  5. Serve hot or warm.