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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Paleo Baking Powder

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

baking_powderLike cornstarch, baking powder is one of those small ingredients that’s easy to overlook. Most commercial versions contain cornstarch as the filler that keeps the base (sodium bicarbonate) and the acid (usually sodium aluminum phosphate) from reacting with each other while stored on your shelf. But it’s very easy to make your own thus avoiding the cornstarch and ingredients that have the word “aluminum” in them and give baking a metallic taste.

So this week’s recipe is simply how to make your own healthier, better tasting baking powder for immediate use or longer term storage as follows:

Ingredients

  • one part baking soda
  • two parts cream of tartar (a natural substance made in the fermentation process of grapes)
  • one part arrowroot – optional if you plan to make enough to store for future use

Directions

If you are only making enough for a one-time immediate use, just mix the appropriate amounts of baking soda and cream of tartar together to meet your need. Substitute evenly for any recipe that calls for baking powder.

If you wish to scale up and store about a half cup of BP for future use, then mix 1/4 cup cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons baking soda and 2 tablespoons arrowroot. The latter will extend the shelf life of your leavening for up to 3 months. After this amount of time, it would be wise to test the efficacy of the baking powder before using it by placing a half teaspoon in a small bowl and then pouring about a quarter cup of boiling water over the powder. If it bubbles happily, it is still good.

Don’t Overlook the Little Things

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

chocolate_puddingWhen going to the trouble of cooking Paleo or if you’re just trying to make sure that what you eat is as free from weird junk as possible, make sure you don’t overlook the little things.

One example is cornstarch. When a recipe calls for this as a thickener, arrowroot usually makes a great Paleo substitute. Cornstarch is a highly processed “food” that always involves prolonged chemical exposures and almost always is a GMO. Pure arrowroot powder, on the other hand, is milled pretty much the same today as it was ancestrally and is something that, unlike cornstarch, you could make pretty easily at home if you wished.

Arrowroot can be used as a Paleo alternative to cornstarch or flour in cooking as long as what you are using it in is non-dairy (can become slimy in milk) and will not be exposed to heat for a prolonged period of time as arrowroot loses it’s thickening power at extended high temperatures. When substituting for cornstarch, it’s an even exchange. When using arrowroot as an alternative to flour, use half as much arrowroot as flour.

A few other things to know about arrowroot: It will clump up when added directly to liquids so it is recommended that you mix it into a small quantity of your liquid before stirring it into the main pot, so to speak. And when purchasing arrowroot, be on the lookout for additives as some manufacturers combine it with potato starch.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups coconut milk or nut milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot
  • 3 large egg yolks

Directions

Put 1 1/2 cups of the milk, the honey, vanilla extract, cocoa and salt into a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove pan from heat.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk, arrowroot, and egg yolks together in a bowl. Gradually whisk the hot chocolate milk into the egg mixture.

Return to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat stirring constantly until the pudding comes to a full boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and continue stirring until thick, about a minute or two more.

Pour the pudding into approximately 6 small serving bowls; I like to use sake cups or shot glasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set – 4 hours to overnight.

Baby Kale

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

baby_kaleOne of the highlights of winter season vegetables is the abundance of beautiful kale which is a cold weather crop. Especially wonderful is finding baby kale greens at the farmer’s market or grocery store and frying it up in this perfect recipe from Bobby Flay:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds young kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider or red wine vinegar

Directions
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft; do not burn.

Increase temperature to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.

Fast Food Paleo

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

aidellsIn a perfect Paleo world, you’d hunt it, skin it, gut it, maybe cook it, and then eat it. Ideally, the next best thing would be to work with ingredients that are as close to their natural state as possible. But if time, space or permit issues are limited for any of the above, there are occasions when thoughtful hunting in a grocery store will reward you with fast-food Paleo time savers.

As I rely on Aidells sausage for a quick post-workout protein blast, I did a little research to find out which of their flavors might be Paleo approved and stumbled on this informative site to help guide me to guilt-free convenience.

Here’s an idea for a 1-dish-1-pot single serving meal in under 10 minutes:

Ingredients

  • 1 Aidell Chicken Apple Sausage (or other Paleo-friendly sausage of choice) sliced into bite-sized rounds
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 1/4 cup loosely chopped red onion
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil into a small frying pan set on medium-high heat. Add sausage and brown, about a minute or two.

Remove sausage from pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add more oil if necessary to cook garlic for about a minute.

Return heat to medium-high. Add zucchini and onion, and stir-fry until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Return sausage to pan, and stir with rest of ingredients until everything is piping hot. S & p to taste, and serve.

Butternut Squash Roasted With Fresh Thyme

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

butternut_squashseedsRunning from September to March, we’re in the middle of butternut squash season, and they are really stunning right now. Crazy good for you, a cup of cooked squash skyrockets with vitamin A (over 400%), half your vitamin C for the day, 2 grams of protein and more potassium than a banana (582 mg). Wow! And did I mention delicious? Grab yourself one of these voluptuous vegetables and give yourself a wonderfully comforting side dish full of flavor and good health.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium large butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes, about a half inch (and reserve the seeds to bake as a bonus snack!)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 dense tablespoon of minced fresh thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°.

Toss all ingredients into an appropriately sized bowl to mix, then transfer to a 9 x 12 inch pyrex baking dish. Sprinkle generously with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Bake for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is soft and just turning brown. Serve golden hot.

And when the oven has cooled to about 300°, bake the reserved seeds for about 12 minutes. Great plain or give a toss with a little olive oil and salt before baking.

Warm Sweet Potato Salad

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

sweet_potato_saladThis is an adaptation of Warm Mexican Sweet Potato Salad from Jane’s Healthy Kitchen. After making and loving the original recipe, I decided to try a strict Paleo variation that excluded the nightshades (original recipe uses bell peppers and cayenne and chile powders). As I haven’t figured out a way yet to get that exquisite cayenne kick from a pure Paleo palette, my version lacks the delectable fierceness of Jane’s, and I wouldn’t think any less of anyone who wanted to finish this off with a few good shakes of a searing sriracha.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 to 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, loose dice
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

Directions

Scrub potatoes and microwave until just done-on-the-firm side. (Ovens vary; mine took 6 minutes.) When done, cut into bite-sized chunks and toss into a large mixing bowl.

While potatoes are cooking, sauté bacon over medium heat until just crisp.

Remove bacon and toss garlic and onions into the pan with the hot bacon fat. Cook about a minute stirring to keep garlic from burning. Add zucchini, lower heat to medium low and continue to cook stirring occasionally until just-soft; about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare dressing by collecting remaining ingredients in a jar and shaking well.

Chop the cooked bacon and add, along with the other sautéed ingredients, to bowl with potatoes. Pour in dressing and stir until everything is well combined.

Serve warm.

Stir Fry

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

stir_fryI love stir fries. They’re easy and are completely cool with being impromtu. They don’t require much thought or necessarily even any shopping. It seems that even when the fridge is empty, there’s always something – a bit of broccoli, celery, the sugar snap peas I keep on hand for school lunches – tucked away in the recesses that with the addition of a few pantry basics, such as onion and cashews, becomes a fantastic five-minute side dish.

I learned from a friend who is a Thai chef that the secret to a good stir fry is, oddly enough, not to stir. Not much, anyway. You want to let your oil heat to almost smoking, throw in your veggies, and let them “grill” on the heat of the pan’s surface for a bit. After they’ve had a chance to sear on the side tossed in, give them a quick flip with the spoon and then let sit some more repeating until they are cooked just enough to still be crisp yet have that delectable seared flavor that turns fast into fantastic.

Ingredients

  • About 1 1/2 tablespoons of favorite cooking oil (I use coconut or olive)
  • A few cups of chopped vegetables of choice, key here is cut everything about the same size for even cooking
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 1/2 cup cashews or walnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Add oil to wok or large skillet and place on stove over medium-high heat. Let this get really hot, a minute or two or until oil is almost smoking.

Evenly combine all the ingredients in a bowl. When the pan is really hot, throw everything in, give a quick stir to coat with oil and then let veggies sit for about 15 seconds. Give a few good tosses and then let vegetables sizzle against the pan surface for another 10 or 15 seconds. Keep repeating until veggies are to your liking, usually a few minutes.

Add salt and pepper, give a few more tosses and serve.

Chocolate Pomegranate Spice Clusters

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

chocolate_pomegranate_clustersAfter burning out on countless batches of chocolate covered raisins, I’ve turned my attention to other things to add to dark chocolate including, just to spice things up, some spice! If the addition of cumin seems just too odd to you, this is great with just the chocolate and arils. But the secret hint of a flavor that is at the same time both elusive and recognizable gives this recipe a sexy mystique that has so far made it quite popular with all of my culinary guinea pigs. See what you think.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces (chips or bar loosely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • a generous 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Directions

Place chocolate, oil and cumin in a bowl and microwave for about a minute or so until melted, but not burned. A few unmelted lumps are okay, just stir until these are dissolved and chocolate mixture is mostly smooth.

Mix pomegranate seeds into chocolate.

Form into 1″ clusters and place on plate or sheet of parchment and chill for about a half hour.

These will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days but will probably be long gone before then!

Chocolate Covered Raisins

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

chocolate_raisinsThis is easy. Really, really easy. And it’s delicious from both kid and grown-up perspectives alike. I make it with just four ingredients, but you can add nuts, shredded coconut, chia, other dried fruits or anything your Paleo imagination can come up with for this 2 minute-to-make, low-processed sugar delight.

Ingredients

  • 50g (about a quarter cup) 85% dark chocolate bar chopped or broken into bits (this is even good with unsweetened chocolate as the raisins provide plenty of unprocessed sweetness)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa nibs

Directions

Place chocolate and oil in a bowl and microwave for about a minute until melted, but not burned. A few unmelted lumps are okay, just stir until these are dissolved and chocolate mixture is smooth.

Stir in raisins and nibs and mix until these are evenly coated.

Spread evenly onto a large plate or sheet of parchment and place in freezer for about a half hour. Remove, break into desired-sized bits and enjoy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Great to pack in a school lunch.

Fresh Homemade Pomegranate Juice

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

pom_juice