Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Spring salad: Grated beetroot and apple

October 11, 2011

This is a colourful and flavourful salad right in time for the warmer days ahead and, like everything else I tend to make, easy! Plenty of antioxidants, healthy fats and flavour are to be had with this salad which tastes super fresh.

Just be careful of getting beetroot stains all over you when making it – though, for the ladies, beetroot makes for a great blush.

Ingredients

1 large raw beetroot, peeled and grated
1 large apples, peeled and grated (go for a sweeter variety rather than a tart one)
1 orange, juiced
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup walnuts, either whole or roughly chopped

Method

Combine all ingredients in a bowl! That’s it 🙂

Beetroot and apple salad

Beetroot and apple salad

 

Baked bacon – you better believe it :D

September 22, 2011

For meat eaters, bacon is surely one of life’s simple, but great, pleasures. Cooked well, it’s manna from heaven. I hadn’t eaten bacon for quite a few years until I found some great free range bacon (Spring Hill brand) and noticed that a lot of Paleo bloggers actually bake it rather than fry it. You may not believe that bacon could be improved on, but you’d be happily proven wrong! This is a far superior way to prepare bacon, and you can collect the grease for smothering veggies with later! Trust me, you won’t go back to eating home-prepared bacon that’s fried.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 220 or 200 deg celsius for fan forced. Prepare bacon by making sure it is as dry as possible, for example by blotting with paper towels. Line a shallow baking tray with parchment (baking) paper and then place the bacon rashers on a wire rack. This will allow the bacon to cook through and for the grease to drip on to the parchment paper.

Bacon

Bacon prepped on a rack and lined backing tray

Once the oven has reached the right temperature, place the tray on the middle shelf and set a timer for 10 minutes. Check on bacon after 10 minutes – it’s ready when the flesh is a darker pink colour and has curled up a little. It usually takes between 10 and 15 minutes. Since the oven is so hot, be careful not to let it burn!

Bacon

Bacon, ready for nom nom's!

Once it’s ready, remove from the oven and turn over each rasher to allow more grease to drain off the rashers and on to the paper. Serve bacon with breakfast, lunch or whenever the hell you feel like eating it. Do not discard the fatty bits – that’s where you get all your crucial fat-soluble vitamins and energy source from!

Keep remaining rashers in the fridge for later nom nom’s.  Leave the wire rack and the baking tray to cool for a while. Once the grease has solidified, scrape it off with a knife or spatula and store in the fridge. A tiny bit goes a long way, so enjoy a smear on veggies at dinner time 🙂

Paleo suppliers – Sydney and beyond

August 24, 2011

I often get asked where I get my Paleo supplies from. I’m Sydney based and have a few favourite haunts from which to get my bits and bobs. It would be great if I could regularly afford to shop somewhere like Thomas Dux, but that isn’t about to happen soon, so the places I go offer good bang for my buck, along with some intriguing people-watching as in the case of hippy hangout The Suveran in Bondi Junction – aka the crazy in the coconuts place.

I’ll be updating this list as I discover new gems but these are my preferred suppliers so far. Aside from this list, Asian supermarkets, quality butchers, seafood markets and growers markets are also great places to source Paleo goodies from too!

The Suveran
244 Oxford St Bondi Junction NSW
Phone: 02 9369 4040
Website: thesuv.org

I absolutely love this place. It’s so unique that going there feels like an adventure and I always wonder as I’m heading towards it “what tidbits of oddball information am I going to pick up today?”

They have two stores – one stocks organic produce and lots and lots of staple products such as coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, coconut flour, nuts, dried fruits – and the other is more of a cafe-style hangout with a stash of supplements and raw chocolate to die for (though watch out for the carob lurking in the fridge right next to the chocolate, doh!) This is also where I get to indulge in coconut water and flesh from A REAL LIVE COCONUT!

I usually order a delicious lunch of slow cooked lamb shank with veggies and salad. And I never forget to grab the free coconut that you get with purchases of $10 or more. Get the gang to cut it open with a machete, grab a straw and slurp your way to heaven. When you’re done with the juice, get them to crack it again, in half this time, to scoop out the flesh.  I always laugh when I read the items on the menu, their wacky sense of humour is in evidence with dishes such as “lamb crap” – that would be a crepe.

The Suveran

The Suveran - delicious hippy food served with a side of coconut

The Suveran is very Paleo friendly and works well for people on other types of diets as it’s all gluten, dairy and sugar free. Everything tastes phenomenal – except the carob that is 🙂 They have a wide selection of health books – you can read their copies for free and then buy a new copy if you wish to. They’re a non-profit so the prices are very reasonable indeed and I really like their ethics. I’m planning to go to their cooking class on September 3rd so I can pick up some tips to improve my cooking, and nab their treasured chocolate recipe.

Dr Earth Healthfoods
311 King St Newtown NSW 02 9519 3495 and
444 Oxford St, Bondi Junction NSW 02 9389 2160

I could easily drop $100 in here no problems. Though I don’t buy supplements in Australia anymore, I rely on this place for a few of my favourite food and beauty items – coconut flakes are only for $6 for 500grams, organic hair care products, cheap goats milk soap and natural scented soaps (only $5 for 3 cakes). I really like the staff in the Newtown store, led by the wonderful Adam – they navigate their way around the over-stocked store like acrobats and always have a smile. I’m relaxing my strict Paleo-adherance at the moment to include things such as fermented soy and buckwheat, so this is where I get miso paste, tamari and 100% buckwheat noodles and bread. I make a mean miso soup with the paste, noodles, seaweed and Dulse flakes.

Sign up as a member to get 21% off on selected days each month (this is on most products except perishables and practitioner products).

Wholesome Natural Health Market
181 Broadway BROADWAY NSW

02 9211 1171

Wholesome Natural Health Market

Wholesome Natural Health Market

This store is quite similar in range to Dr Earth and they also have the same discount structure and the same discount days – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right? A great range of fresh and packaged products and really knowledgeable staff make this store a real treasure.

Wholesome Natural Health Market

Wholesome Natural Health Market

iHerb
iherb.com

My addiction to US online store iHerb is so bad that I’ve got VIP status. Ouch! I don’t buy supplements in Australia anymore because the US has much better range and incredibly cheap prices. I’m sorry Australian retailers, but I need to save money somewhere and this is how I do it. I order all sorts of goodies from iHerb including rose hip oil – only $5 instead of the $20+ you pay in Australia – lots of supplements, coconut flakes and coconut butter – which is soooooo tasty, cacao powder, stevia drops, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant. You get the drift, it’s awesome. At the moment, orders are taking about 3 weeks to arrive after ordering, but the discounts make it worth it. My hot tip is to keep your order under $US80 and under 4 pounds in weight (the checkout calculates this for you) so you get airmail shipping for only$6. I usually make sure my order is as close to $80 as possible to get the best value I can from each order.

If you want to try out iHerb, feel free to use my discount code for $5 off first time orders: ISO110

Be really careful not to order anything that’s illegal to import in to Australia… I did this once and got a slap on the wrist from quarantine…oops! But I was trying to buy something that was $7 compared to $70 in Australia and didn’t realise at the time I couldn’t import it. Here’s the ICON database to check on the legalities of importing things in to Australia and iHerb also has a handly list that appears on the shopping cart page to advise what items are often confiscated by customs. Do be careful, especially if you try to buy some expensive supplements like I did….turns out customs don’t like mushrooms…who knew?

The big supermarkets

For those on a budget, the main supermarkets are an important place to stock up on fresh produce, meat, oils etc. Here’s what I tend to get from each place.

Coles: macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, turkey mince, lamb mince, dukkah (spice mix), spices, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, coconut milk, coconut water – this is going to be a summer treat since it’s in a popper box you can freeze 🙂

Woolworths: Select tinned wild Alaskan salmon

Aldi: free range eggs, smoked sardines, bulk avocadoes, bulk zucchini, Italian proscuitto, macadamias

The Nut Roaster Company
79-81 Chapel St, ROSELANDS, NSW
02 9759 1206

Nut roasters are where I stock up on nuts and almond flour for those all important biscuits and muffins!  I also get my anchovies in bulk (in olive oil) and olives, though the last time they were way too salty, even for me.

Nuts

Obviously, I like nuts.

7 Star Supermarket
408 King Street, Newtown
Tel: 02 9565 5521
http://www.7starsupermarket.com.au/

I pick up Spring Hill free range bacon and their AMAZING aged beef mince from this store. This is the best beef mince you will ever taste, I’m not kidding.  They also stock all sorts of organic, gourmet products and really cool smoked fish.

Harris Farm Markets
Locations around Sydney

Great range of dried fruits, fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of unique products such as duck meat and duck fat, free range pork and sustainable tinned fish. And I love to pick up Ginger Nectar which is an incredibly potent ginger juice with honey. I really like my ginger, what can I say?

Flemington Markets

Submitted by Gazza, this has become a real Sydney institution for fresh produce and flowers. According to Gazza:

(Sat morning – get there early!) is a source of freshly grated coconut (done at the markets) and fresh (frozen) coconut milk. You can get kim chee too (Korean fermented veges, good source of probiotics).

I need to get there stat, just to try the grated coconut!

Alfalfa House
http://www.alfalfahouse.org/

Don’t be put off by the vegan-sounding name – Paleo peeps can get a lot of their staples from Alfalfa House whilst purchasing goods in a considerate manner. Alfalfa House is an ethical, not-for-profit (just like The Suveran) co-operative that shuns packaging for most goods. Perusing their website, the items available that are most relevant to Paleo would be fresh produce, spices, eggs and wide range of oils.

Meat, poultry and game suppliers

I’ve collated this list from around the traps but so far haven’t bought anything from them as I’m currently restricted by a limited budget.

Urban Food Market: really keen to try out the diced goat and some of the free range pork

Otway Pork: I’m going to be trying a pork belly from this supplier soon. After my first attempt at pork belly was an absolute disaster that almost sent me vegetarian, I’ve done my homework to find a quality product

Craig Cook’s Prime Quality Meats:  Submitted by Gazza (thanks!) – he sources 100% grass fed platinum beef from this store  with outlets all over the city, except the deep south for some reason

Stapleton’s Quality Meats: Just had to add a butcher located in southern Sydney (Sutherland and Gymea) to make up for Craig Cook’s being everywhere except the south!  I haven’t shopped here yet, but they seem to have a wide range of meats including venison, which I last ate in a French restaurant about 10 years ago – it’s been too long! They also have an online shopping and a delivery service.

Spring Hill Beef (and bacon): As mentioned above, the mince is the best I have ever tasted, and I’m really happy with their bacon product too.

If you have any great Sydney-based or online suppliers, let me know so I can add it to this list!

My Paleo shopping list

August 23, 2011

One of the important logistical tasks when starting Paleo (especially if you have decided to jump right in rather than start slowly) is to compile a list of items to pick up from the supermarket/health food store/food market. I thought I’d supply mine for anyone interested to find out what I consider my staples that make life that much simpler!

Oils ain’t oils

Fat is controversial, no doubt about it. What is “controversial” about Paleo is that the demonised saturated fats such as coconut oil and bacon fat are approved, whereas vegetable and seed oils, such as sunflower and soy, are out.

My list of oils:

  • Avocado oil (this is a fruit remember) – works well as a salad dressing or to roast veggies
  • Olive oil (as above, this is a fruit) – I use this occasionally for cooking and on salads
  • Coconut oil and butter – I use the oil to cook my eggs each morning and to spread on buckwheat bread
  • Bacon fat – I cook free range rashers of bacon on a wire rack and then collect the fat on a tray to use on vegetables at dinner…mmm!
  • Macadamia – this is excellent as a salad dressing and also can be used in baking. Incredible flavour.
  • Almond oil – this is also good in baking

Fruit and Veg

Ok, so fruit is an iffy area as excess fructose is considered damaging to the metabolic system and a cause of inflammation and fatty liver disease. At the moment, I’m not eating much fruit at all because I’m trying to fix my hypoglycemia for good (blood sugar swings resulting in low blood sugar) and my gut health, but the types of fruit I generally think are good in terms of bang for your buck nutritionally speaking are:

  • Bananas – it’s a shame they’re still priced like gold bars but these are a veritable powerhouse fruit and great in baking
  • Red or ruby grapefruit – studies link grapefruit to weight loss and good skin. This is much more palatable than the traditional yellow grapefruit
  • Kiwi fruit – packed with awesome enzymes and Vit C, love these furry critters
  • Berries – low fructose and high in Vit C
  • Papaya or pawpaw – full of good enzymes
  • Lychee – I love these for their silky texture and unmistakeable taste. They work a treat in cocktails too!
  • Pink lady apple – these also have a beautiful, subtle flavour and apples are considered a great broom for the intestines
  • The very occasional medjool date. God these are incredible.

Vegetables can also be high in fructose unfortunately, such as carrots and beetroots, but if you have no metabolic issues, munch away!  Gillian McKeith, that hardcore tele-nutritionist from the UK, has been absolutely slated by some of the UK press (it’s happened to the best of us ;p) over her credentials, but I always remember her saying that everyone should make an effort to eat a rainbow and I can’t agree more. The colours of the vegetables represent different beneficial compounds of the vegetable (for example orange veggies have caretenoids) so it’s important to get a good mix as much as possible. Here are some ideas and if you want to see how creative you can be with veggies, check out my fave Paleo site Nom Nom Paleo…the woman is amazing!

  • White: Onion, garlic, parsnip, leek, taro, cauliflower, artichoke
  • Green: bok choy, baby spinach, English spinach (delicious sauteed with onion and cinnamon), broccoli, brussel spouts (great with bacon or tossed with avocado oil and roasted), zucchini (very versatile, for chips or “pasta”), other green leaf vegetables, sugar snap and snow peas, green beans, asparagus, cucumber
  • Red: capsicum (delicious roasted or fried in a pan), tomato (ok this is technically a fruit!)
  • Yellow: squash, yellow zucchini
  • Orange: sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots
  • Purple: cabbage, eggplant, spanish onion, beetroot, some sweet potato varieties

Baking supplies

People tend to panic when told they can’t eat grains, especially when they think of the baked goods they’re so enamoured of.  However, you CAN bake plenty of amazing, healthy treats within Paleo as long as you’re careful with your sweetener. Here is what I bake with:

  • Free range eggs
  • Oils – coconut, macadamia
  • Almond flour/meal (must be the type with the skin removed first)
  • Coconut flour
  • Coconut milk
  • Rice syrup (probably the best low GI option)
  • Maple syrup, occasionally and only a small amount
  • Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, ground ginger
  • Fine celtic sea salt
  • Berries
  • Dried fruits (though I’m not eating them much at the moment)
  • Nuts – my favourites are pecan, macadamia, hazelnut and walnut
  • Sesame and chia seeds – I use these when I make savoury biscuits or coconut bread
  • Bi-carb/Baking soda
  • Arrowroot (for thickening)
Baking supplies

Baking supplies

Herbs, spices and flavourings

Spices are definitely one of the important elements of a creative Paleo menu and really make dishes that much more zesty without a lot of effort. Along with this list, there’s also mixes such as harissa (which I want to try) and of course, Indian spice mixes.

  • Dukkah (amazing Middle Eastern nut/spice mix that’s fantastic with chicken as a baste)
  • Cinnamon and cloves
  • Five spice
  • Star anise
  • Mustard powder
  • Fine celtic sea salt
  • Chilli flakes
  • Tomato paste, tinned tomatoes
  • Whole black pepper
  • Sichuan peppercorns
  • Thai curry pastes (yes, you can track some down with no nasty additives)
  • Sesame seeds (great for rolling chicken pieces in before frying, so simple!)
  • Fish sauce (mixed with garlic and ginger for an amazing and easy steak marinade)
  • Fresh garlic (do not buy the Chinese stuff please, get the good purple variety)
  • Fresh ginger
  • Onion
  • Thai basil
  • Italian basil
  • Rosemary
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Chives
  • Curry leaves
  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh chilli
  • Lemons and limes

Seafood

Where possible, it’s a good idea to source wild caught, sustainably produced fish. Farmed fish is generally a big no-no, on account of the fish being fed a distinctly non-fish diet of grain. Ridiculous right –  ever seen a fish out in the wheat fields snacking on some bushels?

Here are the types of fish I tend to buy:

  • Tinned mackerel fillets
  • Tinned sardines in olive oil or brine (avoid the ones with flavours or vegetable oils)
  • Anchovies (I’ve started buying these in big glass jars when I get my deli goods – not many brands use olive oil though which is what you need)
  • Tinned Alaskan salmon (fresh salmon in Australia is farmed Atlantic salmon
  • Smoked salmon (though truthfully, I think this is farmed which sucks, I would love to live closer to stocks of wild salmon)
  • Blue grenadier or gemfish (beautiful sweet, white fish varieties)
  • Fresh Prawns
  • Tasmanian scallops
  • Tinned tuna (I only eat this once a fortnight or less due to the mercury content of large fish)

Other great seafood options are lobster, calamari, oysters, octopus, crab and sashimi grade fish. I really want to learn how to cook seafood properly, this is a definite area of weakness for me.

Glorious seafood

Glorious seafood

Meat and Poultry

Good animal protein is a must in my humble opinion. I find my energy levels are much better if I get two serves of animal protein in per day. Not to mention helping me to get those all important amino acids which are crucial for building things such as neurotransmitters. Here’s what I tend to eat:

  • Grass fed beef (it can be difficult to get meat that is both grass fed and finished, most is finished on grain)
  • Free range chicken – mince, breasts with bone in (great for baking), breasts without bone or skin, free range BBQ chicken, Portugese chicken (mmm!)
  • Goat – great for curries and a non-pasta ragu
  • Free range pork products (good cuts are middle bacon, pork belly, pork shoulder with bone in
  • Free range turkey – turkey mince for example makes for great burger patties
  • Lamb – lamb shanks are pretty damn good slow cooked. Of course there’s also sweet lamb chops, rack of lamb and lamb mince for burger patties
  • Bones, for making stock and to make some yummy drinking broth. Beef bones, chicken and pork bones are the ones most commonly used

Snacks

This is another area to concentrate on when getting prepared to switch to Paleo because it’s easy to come undone when there’s no longer a chocolate bar around!

  • Nuts – pecans, macadamias, walnuts, brazils, hazelnuts
  • Fruit – as above, though I tend to stick to low fructose options like berries
  • Coconut butter (this is different to the oil)
  • Coconut chips (warning, these can be addictive)
  • Coconut milk
  • A glass of coconut milk sprinkled with cinnamon
  • Zucchini and root vegetable chips
  • Almond, macadamia and hazelnut butter

Condiments and Miscellaneous

  • Baba ganoush
  • Olives – having a total love affair with olives at the moment. I particularly like to OD on Sicilian olives, I like their distinct apple green hue.
  • Olive tapenade – did I mention I like olives?
  • Almond, macadamia and hazelnut butter as above

Beverages

I’m hardcore, I like herbal tea. Here’s what I find myself sipping day to day:

  • Tulsi Rose tea
  • Yogi tea range – loving Aztec sweet chilli and Hazelnut vanilla
  • Campos coffee – mostly swiss water decaf but I also mix in some organic too. I’ve found that I get a really good quality brew using a simple stainless steel stovetop cafetiere (please please please never use aluminium ones if you want to keep your marbles!) Coffee is most likely not Paleo at all, I’m a deviant at times, what can I say ;p
  • Fresh coconut water. I’m lucky enough to get this occasionally from The Suveran in Bondi Junction. Get a free coconut when you spend more than a tenner. Yum! Though you do get funny looks if you take it away and walk down the street sucking on a big coconut. I have now seen coconut water with no crap added in the aisles of Coles. I froze one and snacked on it just like in the olden days with fruit poppers. Ah, those weren’t the days.
  • Mineral water with fresh lime. No idea why, but I love limes. A lot.
  • Liquor – yes, Paleo is not all boring. Of course, alcohol is strictly not Paleo at all, but like I’ve mentioned before, it’s not much fun to stick to a dogma all the time. My drink of choice is Bombay gin with soda water and fresh lime (maybe a couple of drops of stevia if I’m feeling wild). I know others who make cocktails out of coconut milk and vodka, which I’ll get around to one of these days.
Tasty tasty bevvies

Tasty tasty bevvies

Yer crazy in the coconuts: Coconut bread

July 27, 2011

Coconut must be one of the most versatile foods on the planet – it provides oil, milk, butter, cream, water, aminos (seasoning), flakes, flour…you get the drift. In Paleo and Primal circles, it’s a real staple and some are known to take their addiction to extremes – hey Nom Nom Paleo, I’m talking about you! Hang on, I just realised I own ALL of the coconut products I just mentioned…which means I’M CRAZY IN DER COCONUTS.

The lady and the coconut.

The lady and the coconut.

After one successful and one not-so-successful attempt at Elana Amsterdam’s almond butter/flour bread recipes, I decided to try out a coconut flour bread recipe to see if it will make the grade as my go-to bread staple. And the verdict is in…YES, coconut flour bread is a far better bread option than the almond. Why? Because it doesn’t need almond butter which is either expensive or tedious to make and it only takes about 5-10 minutes to prep.  You can’t beat easy and cheap (ish). Well, folks, it’s not as cheap as that $1 bread advertised as food these days by Woolworths. But I don’t consider that food, no one should. Call me elitist, but that stuff does more harm than good, no matter how much you need to watch your $.

Ok, enough with the radical health rant…here’s the recipe and some pretty pix.

Ingredients

6 eggs
1/2 cups coconut oil (or ghee, or butter depending on your dairy tolerance)
1/2 juiced lemon
1-2 tbsp honey or rice syrup, depending on taste
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup coconut flour
chia and sesame seeds for the crust

Method

Preheat oven to 165C or 350F.

Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl and mix the wet ingredients in another bowl.  Then combine the two lots of ingredients together and mix well until there are no lumps in the mix.

Line a bread tin with baking paper or grease well. Pour bread mix into the tin and smooth the top down, making sure the height is even across the tin. Then spread the top of the bread loaf with chia and sesame seeds.

Bake for 40-45 mins and check the bread is ready by inserting a skewer in the middle of the loaf to make sure the bread is cooked throughout (nothing should be on the skewer when you remove it).

Once ready, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for an hour. Once cool, slice carefully with a sharp bread knife. I think this bread is best kept in the freezer and toasted lightly when you want to eat it.

Coconut bread fresh outta the oven.

Coconut bread fresh outta the oven.

Coconut bread - check the gorgeous brown and golden hues.

Coconut bread - check the gorgeous brown and golden hues.

Condiments: The best down home ketchup yer ever gawna taste!

July 27, 2011

Ketchup is surely one of life’s greatest pleasures. But, you’ve never tasted ketchup ’til you’ve tried this one. It’s honest to god the bees knees. Make it and you’ll never douse your hot chips with Heinz ever again. This is another Mark Sisson recipe that I’ve adapted slightly, using less apple cider vinegar than the original recipe calls for. It does still need that vinegar though, to give it a real bite.

Condiments are well worth time investing in, because they help jazz up lots of different meals even when you’ve got no motivation to make anything special.  Depending on the ingredients, they can also last quite a while in the fridge – the apple cider vinegar in this ketchup means it will keep for weeks.

Ingredients

280g of tomato paste (usually 1 can or 2 small tubs)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
3 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
3 tbsp white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp black pepper

Ketchup ingredients

Ketchup ingredients

Method

Mix all ingredients in a food processor or with a hand blender until smooth. Add a bit of water if too thick. Store in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator. Easy!

Paleo tomato ketchup

Paleo tomato ketchup

Paleo coconut flour pancakes

July 22, 2011

As I’ve written before, eating Paleo does not mean going without your favourite treats. Pancakes are really easy to make in a Paleo style, using either almond flour or coconut flour. But you still have to perfect your pancake flipping technique – there ain’t no short cuts in that regard! On that front, I’ve got a long way to go.

This recipe is from Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Cookbook which, admittedly, I have neglected for a while, possibly because the book design isn’t quite as sparky as others I’ve got. But the recipes really are great with such variety, so I really have no excuse.

Here’s the lowdown on making these easy, delicious and healthy pancakes…surely an oymoron?

Makes 5 large pancakes or 10 small.

Ingredients

3 eggs
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup coconut flour
t tsp baking soda
1/2 cup water

Method

Whisk together eggs, oil. coconut milk and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients, stirring until smooth. Add the water to thin the batter out until you’ve reached the desired consistency.

In a well oiled pan, cook pancakes until browned on both sides (about 3 minutes on each side).

Serve with your choice of garnishes – berries, nuts, coconut milk, cinnamon…it’s up to you!

Coconut pancakes with berries

Coconut pancakes with berries

Rosemary and hazelnut cookies!

July 10, 2011

To balance my last post about the joys of organ meats, here is a more “girly” post on subtly sweet cookies. Mmm, mmm! This is easily one of my favourite Paleo things to make, even if I spent a whole half hour chopping hazelnuts last time I made them. What I love about these is that the almond flour (aka almond meal) has its own natural sweetness that wheat flour doesn’t, plus they are high in protein and good fats. At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, these are far better than any store bought cookie.

As always with Elana Amsterdam recipes, I substitute out the Agave nectar and grapeseed oil for maple syrup/rice syrup and coconut oil respectively. Paleo purists may have an issue with maple syrup and rice syrup but I prefer the maple to honey and after researching, I found that rice syrup is probably preferable to anything else considering my hypoglycemia issues. I do eat a little white rice from time to time, although it is a grain and therefore forbidden on strict Paleo, it is one allowance I make so as not to send myself insane, especially when eating out and options are limited. I also had to add an egg as the mix doesn’t bind all that well. But, one very important thing is to give the dough enough time in the freezer to set well – this makes cutting the dough in to cookies easier as they break less.

Without further ado, here is the recipe along with some photos to tempt you to give them a try.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 med-large egg
3 tbsp rice syrup or maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, baking soda, hazelnuts and rosemary. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, coconut oil, vanilla and syrup. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Cookie ingredients

Cookie ingredients

Place the dough in a horizontal line along cling wrap (use enough cling wrap so as to be able to then cover the dough as a roll). Roll the dough in the cling wrap, tie up the ends like candy wrappers and shape into a large log about 4cm in diameter. You may need to squish the sides of the log to ensure it is wide enough and that there are no cracks in the dough.

Cookie dough prepped for rolling

Cookie dough prepped for rolling

Place on a baking tray in the freezer for an hour or until very firm  but not frozen (may take an hour and a half).

Cookie dough rolled up like candy

Cookie dough rolled up like candy

Remove the log from the freezer and preheat the oven to 350 fareinheit (180 celsius or 160 in a fan forced oven). Don’t worry that the log is not perfectly round! If it is firm enough, remove the cling wrap and use a sharp, wet knife to cut 1cm thick slices. Transfer the slices to lined baking trays leaving 2cm between each cookie.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until brown around the edges and relatively firm. Let the cookies cool on the baking trays for 30 minutes, then serve. These cookies go really well with a nice herbal tea such as Tulsi Rose tea (my current fave herbal tea). Ensure to store in an airtight container.

Cookies served with Tulsi rose tea

Cookies served with Tulsi rose tea

In defense of organ meats

July 3, 2011

As recently as a generation ago, organ and gland meats such as sheep’s brains, lambs fry (liver) or kidneys were somewhat of a standard fixture on home dining menus across Australia. But more recently, it has taken the influence of hipster chefs such as Ben Millgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz, of Bodega and Porteño fame, to introduce organ and gland meats to a younger crowd of food lovers. Porteño in particular features dishes called “sweetbreads” which make use of different glands, such as thymus, in creating some genuinely unique culinary experiences. I should note here that I am a bit iffy in regards to eating veal, considering how it is produced, so I may not be lining up to try it when I get to Porteño sometime.

As  a gal raised (hur hur) on more ‘palatable’ cuts of meat – think lamb chops and rump steak – I had to get over my squeamishness at the prospect of consuming the liver of another creature. “Why would you do something so ridiculous?” you ask. Well, in my efforts to improve my health, I really needed to look at radical change to my diet. No B.S. “superfoods” such as goji berries were going to cut it. The standard western diet, in comparison to  that of the traditional Japanese diet in particular, is known to be somewhat monocultured in terms of the variety of foods eaten. Sure, we may oooh and aaah at the latest sourdough bread creation, however bread is still bread is still bread right? I don’t think we’re eating enough of a variety of foods (not to mention many are eating things that is just plain wrong for human consumption and are not even food) to maintain good health.

I think many people would be surprised at how deficient they are in absolutely essential nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and B12. Along with resolving gut health to allow for optimal nutrient absorption, a varied diet that includes a range of animal products is the key to getting these nutrient levels up and keeping them up. B12 in particular, is an essential nutrient implicated in depression and dementia, and the best version of B12 for human health can only be obtained from animal products such as liver, beef and, in smaller amounts, eggs. It’s not enough to pop a B12 pill – all nutrients are best obtained from food sources since the food contains important co-factors such as enzymes that allow the nutrient firstly to be absorbed, and secondly, to be effective once it has been absorbed. Good health after all, does not occur in a vacuum. Liver, or lamb’s fry is simply a nutritional powerhouse according to Mark Sisson of popular Primal blog Mark’s Daily Apple.

More about B12

Unfortunately, we live in a world where modern medicine places barely enough emphasis on nutrition as the cornerstone to good health. As such, most doctors will not acknowledge an obvious nutrient deficiency even when it stares them in the face. Instead,  there is too much reliance on the numbers from very basic blood tests which tend to show disease states rather than help to uncover the cause of that disease to connect the dots. With lab tests, the lab ranges are based on people that are sick, rather than healthy, so those lab ranges therefore are not representative of optimal levels of different nutrients.

B12 is a really interesting example of how misguided lab ranges, and the reliance on them, can be. In Australia and the UK, the “normal” range for B12 starts at 200 whereas in Japan – which has some of the lowest rates of Alzheimers in the developed world-  it begins at 500. This means that if you have a B12 level of 240, which can be found to correlate to dangerous symptoms indicating irreversible nerve damage, you will not be investigated for pernicious anemia (a common cause of B12 deficiency) and started on treatment if you live in a country where the range starts at 200. If you lived in Japan, however, you would likely be placed on an aggressive B12 treatment plan of regular injections. Where things get complicated for B12 testing, and the best example of how useless some blood tests can be for a doctor to order, is that if you have taken any B12 whatsoever in the past year, either as a shot, or in a multivitamin, the test will skew the result and show massively inflated levels of B12. What this means for people who need to be especially on the ball with their B12 status – vegetarians, vegans, those with family history of B12 deficiency, poor diet or digestive issues – need to use some more advanced testing options to assess their status and take action from there. Chris Kresser, of The Healthy Skeptic blog, has a great article covering all of this B12 information.

Where to from here?

Since I’m on a high-fat-consumption bender at the moment  (more on that later), I’m really tempted to try sheep’s brains as long as Mum cooks them to an old favourite recipe of Grandma’s that she guarantees me is delicious. Brains in mammals are known to have a high fat content which sounds pretty good to me! I will probably pass on the tripe (stomach lining) though, that might be taking things too far!

One thing I will always steer well clear of is foie gras, which is made in the most disgusting manner possible involving the force feeding of ducks to make their livers fattier, and therefore more tasty to the supposedly ‘refined’ tastebuds of senseless food elitists the world over. It’s good to know that some suppliers are now making humanely-produced foie gras, but of course some purist gastronomes don’t believe it is as tasty as the traditional foie gras. We can only live in hope.

Lamb’s Fry recipe

Here is a really tasty recipe for cooking lamb’s fry (liver) – calf liver can be substituted if lamb is not available.

Ingredients

1/2 kilo lamb’s fry, sliced in 2 1/2cm slices
1-2 brown onions, sliced in to wedges
1/2 red capscisum (red pepper) chopped into 1cm wide slices x 3cm high slices
1-2 tbsp oil
beef stock or stock from bone marrow (this is really tasty but needs to be prepped in advance)
2-3 tsp arrowroot powder (a Paleo-friendly thickener)
pinch of salt

Method

Soak liver for a short time (5-10 mins) in warm salted water and pat dry. Heat 1tbsp oil in a pan, add onions and cook until the onions are golden. Then add capsicum to saute.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remainder of oil to the pan and add the sliced liver. Brown on both sides, return the onions and capsicum to the pan. Add the pinch of salt.

Add enough stock to cover and simmer until the liver is tender.

To finish, thicken with arrowroot powder and garnish with herbs.

Lamb's fry (liver) with onions, capsicum and gravy

Lamb's fry (liver) with onions, capsicum and gravy


Rich Chocolate slice…need I say more?

March 1, 2011

I think one of the scariest prospects about starting any new way of eating, such as Paleo, is that of a life without chocolate. #Firstworldproblem surely? Yes, it probably is a problem for spoilt first worlders, but nevertheless it warrants some attention so that anyone thinking they may jump on board can be reassured that there’s no need to give up on the chocolately goodness. It’s just a matter of ditching the totally unnecessary ingredients that are used in commercial chocolate products such as truckloads of sugar. It really is that simple.

A couple of years ago, I came across the raw chocolate brand Loving Earth. The chocolate “butter” is incredible. Very rich, very decadent. I used to get mine from Dr Earth in Newtown on their regular discount days. The warmer months are the best time to eat it, as the coconut oil in it is pretty runny, meaning the butter is reaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyy smooth!!

Loving Earth Chocolate butter

Loving Earth Chocolate butter

Loving Earth is a conscientious brand with great corporate values to go with their delectable products. I really love seeing how the range constantly expands with really cool authentic products that are sustainably produced.

Anyway, back to the point of this post…the chocolate slice.

On the back of my Nui coconut flour packet is a simple recipe for chocolate slice which I was itching to make. I had most of the ingredients and planned for some simple tweaks to accomodate my current addiction to raspberries (is there a better fruit ?)

So, here’s the recipe, lovingly typed out by me…

Rich Chocolate Coconut Slice

Rich chocolate slice

Rich chocolate slice with raspberries and pecans

Ingredients:

  • 70gms raw cacao powder
  • 130g coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup (I used mostlyorganic honey)
  • 50g coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts (or the nut of your choice – I used pecans)
  • 4 free range eggs separated
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (but of course)
  • 50g  fresh or frozen raspberries

Method:

Grease a 24x18cm slice tin with coconut oil (or line with non-stick paper). Preheat oven to 160C.

Combine the cacao powder with melted coconut oil. Whip egg yolks with maple syrup/honey til well mixed and creamy. Add the chocolate/coconut oil mix to the maple/egg yolks and stir well.

Gently fold in the flour and the nuts until well combined. Add salt to the egg whites and whisk or beat until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the egg whites into the slice mix, add frozen raspberries and transfer to the slice tin.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. Store in the fridge.