Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Paleo Almond Vanilla Sponge Bread

Practical Paleo - Almond Sponge Bread

We had really high hopes for this Almond Sponge Bread from Diane Sanfilippo's Practical Paleo. It looked great, moist and "spongie". The kids sat eagerly waiting for me to cut them each a piece. Everyone took one bite and spat it right back out. We tried adding honey butter to give it some flavor and sweetness. It was still barely edible.

This recipe was a flop at our house. I'm sure we will encounter numerous recipes as we venture into real nutrient dense eating that don't suit the palates at our house.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Paleo Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Paleo Sweet Potato Gnocchi 
I'm on the hunt for carb dense paleo recipes. I've been strictly paleo for just over a month now and I've lost about 10 pounds. Five pounds would have put me at my goal weight. 10 is almost too much. My husband is convinced I'm on some crazy diet to lose weight.

I'm still learning how to keep myself nourished. It is harder when you can't just grab something out of the cupboard. I've skipped a few meals over the last month because there was nothing "acceptable" for me to eat. I've assured my husband that I will figure this out and that starting to eat cheese and desserts again is not the only solution.

I made a big batch of carb dense sweet potato gnocchi on Sunday. It was VERY time consuming, but the results were super yummy! I had enough to take leftovers for lunch yesterday, I added some to my breakfast this morning and I still have some left over for tomorrow. The gnocchi reheats well in the microwave and in the oven.

My husband loved the gnocchi, the kids are on the fence. It's a little too different for them to like but I think it will grow on them.

The recipe for Paleo Grubs "Yummy Sweet Potato Gnocchi" is easy to follow. I used the measurements listed in the recipe and they worked great for me. I did leave my batter in the refrigerator for about 5 hours before I cooked it and I peeled my potatoes before cooking them wrapped in tin foil. Rolling out the ropes, boiling and frying the gnocchi is a lot of work and it's super messy! My kitchen looked like a grease bomb had exploded.

Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the kitchen from preparation to cooking to cleaning up. Don't forget to wear an apron!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dairy Free Chocolate Custard

Dairy Free Chocolate Custard
Nothing about making the move to nutrient dense paleo has left my tastebuds wanting. Sure sometimes I can't find a quick snack but I'm eating some of the best food I've ever made!

Last week I was on a mission to create a paleo custard recipe.  My first attempts were eatable but not mouth watering. My first success was a vanilla custard which will be featured in the September issue of Stepmom Magazine. Last night I had a sweet tooth and all the right ingredients to attempt a chocolate custard!

This custard doesn't set up super firm. I don't mind the slightly runny consistency. If you want a firmer custard, slowly add a little bit of arrowroot powder to the mixture in step 8. This will also speed along the process if you don't want to stand over the stove string for 20-30 minutes.

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 TBS cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 3 TBS honey
  • 2 egg yolks
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  • arrowroot (optional)

Don’t cheat or rush any of these steps. If you do, you won’t get great results!
  1. Make a double boiler out of a large pan and a small pot. Fill the pan half full of water on the stove over low heat. Put the pot inside the pan.
  2. Add the coconut milk, vanilla extract, and honey to the pot and heat it till it's hot.
  3. Turn off your stove. Leave the pan and pot where they are.
  4. In a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks.VERY slowly, one tablespoon at a time, transfer the hot coconut mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. You will curdle your eggs if you do this too quickly.

  5. Transfer the mixture back to the cooking pot.

  6. Turn the stove back on low and whisk in the cocoa powder.

  7. Whisk lightly but constantly until the mixture thickens. This takes 20+ minutes. If you aren't getting the consistency you want you can slowly sprinkle arrowroot powder into the mixture. Only add about 1/8 tsp at a time. 
  8. When you achieve a good consistency, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into serving dishes. This will catch the clumps you likely didn’t even know you had.
  9. Allow the custard to cool. 
  10. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight to allow it to fully setup.
  11. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cayenne to serve.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Asparagus Soup for Bladder Infection

Asparagus Soup
How would you like to stare down a cup of asparagus soup like this in the morning? And again in the afternoon... and another one that night? I'm going to be doing exactly that for the next three days.

One of the reasons I started my nutrient dense paleo adventure was my chronic low back pain. I have a congenital defect where my L5 vertebra is partially fused to my sacrum. For over three years now my back has been bothering me daily to varying degrees. Researching online I started finding articles about the paleo diet, more specifically eating nutrient dense, real food and the effects it could have on chronic inflammation. Going paleo wasn't going to be a huge dietary change for me. I was already gluten free and eating about 80% paleo anyway.

About 2 weeks into my paleo experiment, my back pain got worse. A lot worse. I couldn't figure out what was going on. I also got a bladder infection, another issue I've been plagued with over the past few years. Frustrated with my latest bladder infection I consulted Google for some home healthy home remedies. I found a great list on Natural News, three sounded doable; cranberry pills (or juice), lemon water, and asparagus.

I drink lemon water every morning already. I needed to increase my dose though. So I've upped it to the juice of 2 lemons in 10 oz of water.

Not wanting to add another drink to my routine, I'm opting for the cranberry pill once a day.

I was most intrigued by the asparagus remedy:
Take about 5 or 6 asparagus stalks and boil them in a small pot until very tender. Eat them and drink the juice from the pot. Repeat two or three times daily to help clear the infection quickly.
Chowing down on soggy asparagus and drinking the water however did not sound very palatable. So, I made soup.

I drank it for a day with my breakfast, lunch and dinner. My bladder irritation did improve and so did my back pain! Neither were cured after just one day so I am going to try my 3 part remedy for the next 3 days.

Asparagus Soup Recipe

  • 2 bunches of asparagus, ends removed, cut into 2" pieces
  • water
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • crispy prosciutto (optional)
  • olive oil (optional)
Soup Directions:
  1. Wash and cut your asparagus. 
  2. Put the cut asparagus in a pot and add enough water to just cover it.
  3. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Cook on med heat until super tender, about 7-10 minutes should do the trick. 
  5. I turn off my stove and let the asparagus and water cool for about 15 minutes before I throw it in my blender. 
  6. Pour some in a bowl or cup and top with crispy prosciutto and a drizzle of olive oil. 
  7. Store the rest in a bowl in the fridge to reheat on the stove later. I store my prosciutto in a separate bowl to keep it crispy. 
Crispy Prosciutto:
  1. Preheat your over to 350 degrees. 
  2. Cover a baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. Lay 3 slices of prosciutto on the parchment paper.
  4. Cook in the oven until just crispy (about 5 minutes)
  5. Let the prosciutto cool, then chop it up. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Screen Printing Sunday at Grease Diner

Screen Printing at Grease Diner
I am totally addicted to finding new artsy activities on Groupon and Living Social. This month I found a great Groupon deal for the Grease Diner in Oakland. The kids started planning their shirts 2 weeks before we actually went. When the day finally came they were so excited. They weren't disappointed either.

The whole process took about 2 hours. Before actually printing each shirt, there were a number of test prints on different materials. Each of the kids left with about 6 different prints on the various materials in addition to their shirts. They were thrilled!

John and Laurie were awesome. In addition to the screen printing classes they have a store front filled with all kinds of different artwork from local artists. I even saw stuffed animals from a San Francisco Artist who I'd meet at FabMo a few years back!

The kids can't wait to go back. Next time I will plan to make a shirt for myself too. I will bring the blank t-shirts for us all though. They provide them at the Grease Diner for a very reasonable price but the selection is limited. I'm pretty particular about my t-shirts too. I don't want to come up with an awesome design and then print it on a shirt I'll never wear.

All in all it was a great experience that we would recommend to everyone.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Plantain and Egg Breakfast

Plantains and Eggs
When I was in El Salvador, I loved the typical breakfast; fried plantains, eggs, cream, beans and a bit of cheese. Fried plantains have been a favorite of mine ever since.

I made the plantains yesterday thinking that the kids would eat them up. I was wrong. They took half a bite, got that look kids get when their tastebuds reject what they've put in their mouth, and told me apologetically they didn't like it. Poor little sugar bugs, their taste buds must be really messed up if these weren't sweet enough for them.

Luckily my plantains re-heated perfectly in the oven for this meal. I was pretty skeptical when I pulled them out of the fridge but 10 minutes baking in the oven at 400 did the trick!

  • fried plantains (recipe to come)
  • 2 pasture raised eggs
  • 1/2 and avocado
  • 1 - 2 TBS coconut oil or ghee
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • avocado oil (optional)
  1. While your plantains are re-heating in the oven, cook your eggs as you like them in a pan with coconut oil or ghee. I love fried eggs, I break the holds and let the runny goodness flow forth. 
  2. Remove you plantains from the oven. Place a heap of them on your plate. I you are like me you will want to put your eggs on top of the plantains so that the yolk will run all over them. If you are a scrambled egg type of person and don't like your food to touch, you can just put them next to each other on your plate. 
  3. Add your slice avocado and sprinkle the whole meal with salt and pepper to your liking. If you want you can drizzle some avocado or olive oil on your avocado. Squeezing some lemon on it would be a good option too. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Coco-Nutty Grain Free Porridge - Practical Paleo

Paleo Grain Free Porridge
Looks delicious doesn't it? My most recent paleo cookbook purchase was Practical Paleo by Diane Sangilippo. I love that the first half of the book is a guide to shopping, eating out and understanding the relationship between food and our health. It's super informative and laid out really well!

I wasn't a huge fan of the Coco-Nutty Porridge. Admittedly, I have never liked "porridge" so it might just be me. It was filling though, and for me sometimes that's enough. Not enough to make it again though.

I opted to use the full fat coconut milk over the water option in the recipe but ended up needing to add water as well to get a good consistence.

If you are a fan of porridge, this might be a great alternative to your morning oatmeal. Personally I'm going to stick with my Berry Yummy Breakfast (recipe to come).