Grain Free Tortillas

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Yes, I’ve been MIA again.  Life just seems to get busier every year.  I’ll spare you the details for now but I just wanted to share something I thought was so exciting.  Grain free tortillas!  I’ve made versions of this with coconut flour but coconut flour has a very distinctive flavor that I like in baked goods but not much else.  These tortillas are soft, elastic and pliable with a neutral flavor.   Aren’t tortillas really about what you are eating them with??  These stayed together, didn’t get soggy and weren’t grainy.  Can you tell I’ve tried several different versions?  I’ve been doing a lot of reading about gut health, our microbiota and  increasing dietary fiber.  I’m certainly guilty of not having anywhere near enough soluble or insoluble fiber in my diet for years and years on end.  And I’ve paid the price.  So in my quest to rectify that I’ve been trying out new foods to work with.  Plantains were on that list.  Plantains have about 57 grams of carbohydrate for a medium green one.  Yes, that’s a lot but I’ve never come close to eating a whole one in one sitting anyway.  Of those carbs 4 grams are resistant starch.  Resistant starch is a type of dietary fiber that we are unable to digest.  It travels down to our large intestine where our bacterial army does it’s magic.  That starch/fiber is what our gut bacteria feed on.  If we don’t feed our micro flora they don’t tend to stick around and proliferate.  We can take probiotics but unless we feed them they are transient and temporary.  Why is our gut bacteria important?  Well, It’s what keeps us healthy.  80% of our immune system is in our guts.  It drives our metabolism and those bacteria are the producers of butyrate.  Butyrate is a byproduct or waste product of our bacteria feeding on the resistant starch.  That butyrate is used by our bodies as energy.  It is also a powerful inflammatory in our guts, it helps decrease gut permeability and because that starch isn’t digestible by us but by our bacteria there is no spike in our blood sugar.  Actually, resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity and reduces blood sugar. Amazingly, it has a “second meal effect” meaning that it helps control your blood sugar for the following meal as well as the meal in which it was consumed. Resistant starch is associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer and may help with weight loss due to its ability to decrease blood sugar spikes post meal.  It may help decrease appetite and help to maintain lean muscle mass.

Anyway, back to the recipe.  These are the reasons I am excited to find a way to enjoy plantain.  Now to the recipe.  This was super fast and easy.  You will need a high powered blender and a large nonstick pan.

Ingredients:

1 green plantain

2 eggs

2-3 T milk or water

pinch of sea salt

coconut oil for the pan

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Peel and slice the plantain.  Add it and the eggs and salt to the blender.  Blend until smooth. Add just enough milk to thin out the batter so that you can pour out the batter into a thin layer.  Water may work just as well if you are dairy free.  Heat pan and enough coconut oil to lightly cover the bottom.  Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the hot pan and swirl the pan or use the back side of a spoon to spread the batter into and 8-10 inch round.  Cook on medium heat until the bottom side is lightly browned and then flip to brown the top side.  When finished lay it on a plate covered with a paper towel.  Repeat for the rest of the batter stacking them on top of each other with paper towel in between.  These were great warm with a little butter (has to be Kerrygold!) or dipped into olive oil.  I added some Italian seasoning to one batch and it was great.  Next time I will try some herbs de provence.  Cumin and coriander might be good too.  When they are completely cooled the paper towels can be removed and these can be stored, covered in the fridge.  Warm slightly in the microwave for a few seconds to enjoy them later.  They are just as soft, elastic and pliable the next day.

Crunchy Paleo Cranberry and Seed Crackers

Paleo Cranberry and Seed Crackers

Paleo Cranberry and Seed Crackers

 

Have you been looking for a good grain free cracker that is crispy and crunchy like a cracker should be?  Me too.  I like my previous crackers very much.  They were almond and flax based and very tasty.  These crackers however are completely different.  No almonds in sight.  They are very crispy and crunchy and will stand up to being heavily smeared with goat cheese.  I served these at a dinner party last weekend to a bunch of non paleo, gluten eaters and there wasn’t a crumb left over.  I think that speaks volumes.  I got the idea for this after making Carol’s Gluten Free Seed and Nut Bread.  I made it exactly as written which is a rare thing for me and it was amazing.  I got thinking that it reminded me of a GF cracker I had this summer in Whistler, BC.  These crackers are the best GF cracker I’ve ever had but they are not grain free and the only variety that is GF is impossible to find in stores which I personally think is a mistake on their part.  So with Carols bread recipe and that cracker in my head I came up with this amazing little cracker.  This is 100% exactly what I wanted it to be.

1 cup sunbutter (as in peanut butter made out of sunflower seeds instead of peanuts.  Trader Joes carries it.)

3 eggs

2 T coconut oil

2 T honey

1/4 cup tapioca starch

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 T chia seeds

1/2 cup dried whole cranberries**

12 unsulfured dried apricots diced to about the size of the cranberries

1 cup whole roasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil a standard sized loaf pan with coconut oil then line the pan with wax paper.  Cut off the paper that hangs over the sides of the pan.  This doesn’t have to be pretty.  It just helps the loaf pop out easily.  With a hand mixer combine the sunbutter, eggs, oil, honey and salt.  Mix in the tapioca and chia seeds.  When that is well mixed hand stir in the apricots, cranberries and pumpkin seeds.  Put the batter in the pan and smooth out the top.  Bake for 45 minutes and cool.  Slice the loaf as thinly as you can.  I cut each slice in half so that they are smaller.  Line a cookie sheet with parchement paper.  Lay the crackers out on the pan.  Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes or until they are lightly browned, dry and crispy.  Let them cool completely.  They become more crunchy when they are cooled.

**I have used dried cherries in here too.

GF Cranberry Pecan Bread

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Ok, this recipe is not in any way paleo.  Not even close.  That said, despite the fact that I have been mostly paleo/primal for the last 2 years this blog gets more traffic from my bread recipes (see here, and here) than anything else.  So, for those that want great gluten free bread that is better than anything you can find in a store, that is moist and tender and doesn’t have a grainy texture or fall apart if you look at it funny, here it is.  This is a slightly sweet bread and is really nice for a change.  I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Wet Ingredients

3 eggs

1/3 cup expeller pressed melted coconut oil

1/3 cup honey

1 1/3 cup very warm water

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 T yeast

Dry Ingredients

1 cup sorghum flour

1 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup ivory teff

1/2 cup dark teff 

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 T plus 1/2 top xanthan gum

1/2 cup chopped raw pecans

Preheat oven to 200 degrees and then turn it off keeping the oven light on.  Heat water (it needs to be pretty hot because when you add it to the eggs etc it will cool down considerably.  After adding the water to your other wet ingredients you want the temperature to end up being about body temperature.)  Add cranberries to soak for a couple of minutes while you get the other wet ingredients assembled.   In the bowl of your stand mixer add the eggs, melted coconut oil and honey and mix well.  Add water and cranberries and yeast and stir until combined. Let it sit so the yeast will proof while you assemble your dry ingredients and prepare your pans.  Using mini loaf pans lightly grease with coconut oil and then line with wax paper.  This doesn’t have to be pretty or exact.  It won’t matter in the end.  Roughly trim the edges of the paper so it doesn’t hang over the sides too far.  In a large bowl sift all of your flours with the xanthan gum and salt.  When your liquid ingredients look all foamy add the dry ingredients with the mixer on medium low.  Mix well.  Scrape down the sides.  Mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until well combined.  Add pecans and mix through.  Divide the dough between the two pans.  Coat your hands in melted coconut oil and smooth the tops of the loaves.  Make sure your oven is turned off with the light on and place the pans on the middle rack to rise for 25 minutes.  When the time is up turn on the oven to 350 degrees and set the timer for 38 minutes.  No need to pull the bread out to pre-heat the oven.  When they are done remove from oven and let cool on the counter top, in the pans.  When they are cool enough to touch you can remove from the pans and slice and serve.

Asian Slaw

Yes, those are peanuts in the picture.  No, I don’t usually eat those.  Sunflower seeds are a better choice.  The second time I made this I did have sunflower seeds and used those.  I liked it better.  I came up with this idea after eating at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant.  I get the same salad every time I go there.  Their version likely has soy in it and now that I think about it probably wheat because they use regular soy sauce.  Hmmm and I wonder what they sweeten it with.  I know it isn’t honey… Crap!  The restaurant also adds daikon radish, shrimp and BBQ pork (and does not have the seaweed in it).  I want to try that at home too but that will require some pre-planning.  Does ayone have a good recipe for Vietnamese BBQ pork??   This salad is sweet and salty and was whipped up in 10 minutes.  I almost didn’t post this recipe.  I realize that most people don’t keep Thai basil and arame in their house as a staple. I don’t expect this to be a very popular post.  However, this is currently my favorite salad and if you happen to have access to the ingredients I highly recommend it.

Asian Slaw

Half a head of green cabbage – shredded

1 english cucumber with the skin on – quartered and sliced

fresh Thai basil – handful

fresh mint – handful

big pinch of dried arame (seaweed)

sunflower seeds as a topping

Dressing

1/4 cup EVOO

3 T Braggs liquid aminos or coconut aminos

1 T sesame oil

1/4 cup unsweetened rice vinegar

3-4 T raw honey

Soak the arame in room temperature water.  It softens in just a few minutes and doubles or triples in size.  Next make your dressing.  Combine all ingredients in another bowl and whisk together until well blended.  In your food processor using the slicing blade shred half a head of cabbage.  You could do this by hand too if you are less lazy than I.  Then slice your english cucumber lengthwise into quarters and feed it through the food processor (or slice by hand).  Very coarsely chop the Thai basil and mint.  Add cabbage, basil, cucumber, mint and arame to a large bowl.  Mix everything together.  Dress the salad as you need it.  The dressing keeps well in the fridge.  Top with a handful of sunflower seeds.

This post was shared at http://www.realfoodwholehealth.com/2012/01/fresh-bites-friday-january-27-2012/

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I hate the idea of throwing things away.  I had 3 big over ripe bananas sitting there waiting to be used.  I tweaked an old recipe of mine for Banana Nut Muffins and they turned out great.  The kids loved them.  My 7-year-old who isn’t a big eater tossed back 2 right away and then asked if I could make more for her lunch.  Sure!  No problem.  These were really quick to make despite the fact my 3-year-old was “helping”.  These muffins are not sweetened with anything but bananas.   Well, bananas and chocolate chips.  🙂  They are grain, nut, gluten, soy, dairy free and have no added sugar.  AND the kids still loved them. 

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 mashed over ripe bananas 

1/2 tsp baking soda

6 eggs

1/4 cup melted coconut oil 

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use ENJOY LIFE)

I’m not much into the mucking around with the mixing of the wet in one bowl and then mixing of the dry in another bowl and then finally mixing the two together.  Sifting?  Forget it.  Way too many dishes.  So… Preheat your oven to 350.  In a large bowl add the bananas and mash them a bit.  You can use your hands for this and save dirtying yet another piece of kitchen equipment.  Add the eggs, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and melted coconut oil.  Use a hand mixer and mix until well blended.  Add the coconut flour and mix until pretty smooth.  Then stir in your chocolate chips.  Line 11 cupcake tins with liners.  I used a level ice cream scoop to spoon the batter into the lined tins.  12 would have made a nice number but the ice cream scoop made this recipe in 11.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  These are great warm.  If there are any left after these cool store them in the fridge.

This post was shared at: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/monday-mania-1232012/, http://www.realfoodwholehealth.com/2012/01/fresh-bites-friday-january-27-2012/

Cabbage Rolls – Paleo Approved

Paleo Style Cabbage Rolls

You simply have to try this.  It is a teeny bit time consuming but worth every minute.  The cabbage rolls I remember – and it’s been a really long time – were stuffed with white rice and ground beef.  These cabbage rolls are stuffed with ground beef and cauliflower rice so are therefore low carb, GAPS legal and paleo approved.  I did all the work the night before.  I made marinara from scratch, as always.  I suppose you could buy a jar or two if you are short on time but the sauce is great and has no weird ingredients so I think it is worth the effort.  I stuffed the cabbage rolls, put them in my crock pot, covered them and put them in the fridge overnight.  In the morning all I did was cover the rolls with the marinara and set the temperature to low.  I came home to an unbelievable aroma and a dinner ready to be devoured.

Paleo Cabbage Rolls

1 large head of green cabbage

Remove core and steam entire, intact head of cabbage in 1-2 inches of water for approximately 5-8 minutes.  Set the cabbage in the water core down.  There is a fine line between over cooking the leaves and leaving them still too stiff to be pliable.  It is probably easiest to steam for 5 minutes, allow to cool enough so that you can peel off the outer leaves and then stem for another couple of minutes to soften the inner leaves.  When you have the leaves soft but not too cooked and separated, set them aside.

Marinara

2 T olive oil

1 large onion chopped

6-7 cloves of garlic, minced

2 stalks of celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz) or 2 cups chopped fresh

1 tsp dried basil

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 cups stock/bone broth, preferably homemade (I happen to use pork because that’s what I  grabbed out of the freezer. Beef or chicken or whatever would work too)

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

2 tsp red wine vinegar/or fresh squeezed lemon juice

Heat large saute pan and add olive oil.  Add onion, celery, garlic and carrots.  Instead of hand chopping these I just put them all in the food processor using the S blade and made it into a fine meal consistency.  It doesn’t really matter because you are going to blend the final sauce anyway.  Saute until veggies are soft, approximately 10 minutes.  Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and stock.  Simmer, covered for about 30 minutes then remove from heat.  Add red wine vinegar/lemon juice.  Start mixing the filling for the cabbage rolls now (See next section).  When you are done making the filling and the marinara has cooled a bit, use a stick/immersion blender or even food processor to blend your sauce to a smoother marinara.

Filling

1 large finely chopped onion

2 T bacon grease or other fat of choice

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp Italian seasoning (this should be only herbs with no fillers or preservatives)

1 1/2 lbs of ground beef (I used grass-fed)

1/2 large head of cauliflower, grated in food processor (I guess this could be done with a box grater but I value my knuckles and time)

1 egg

2 tsp sea salt

black pepper, however much you like

Saute onion and garlic in saute pan with fat.  Cook until onions are starting to brown and are soft.  In a large bowl combine raw beef, onions and garlic with remaining ingredients.  Mix well.   Using your hands is easiest.

Assembly

Fill each cabbage leaf with about 1/4 cup of filling.  Roll into cylinders and tuck flat edges under.  Some of my smaller leaves were still a little stiff (this is why I think the steaming should be done in two steps) so the edges were not tucked.  It didn’t matter.  I just wedged the looser ones in between the tighter ones.  I did all of this the night before and placed them in my crock pot, covered them and put them in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, well mid morning, I pulled them out and covered the rolls with all the sauce.  I set the crock pot to low and left the house.  I came home to dinner ready and an absolutely amazing smell.

Stuffed Squash

Stuffed Squash

Honestly, I’m not a big lover of squash.  I eat it because it is a sort of neutral filler, it’s often cheap and it’s low carb.  I can’t eat it by itself.  Ick.  In something like my lasagna, sure no problem.  So, in my CSA bag for the last few weeks there were several squash.  I made some squash pancakes which were great but I still had a few of those squash that have the hard yellow exterior.  Those things were staring at me every time I opened the fridge for a week.  I considered giving them to the chickens.  I am so glad I didn’t.  This is by far the very best way I have ever eaten squash.  I loved it and so did everyone else.  It was great in my lunch the following couple of days too.

Stuffed Squash

4 squash halved lengthwise, seeds removed

olive oil

s&p

Drizzle squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Filling

2 T fat of choice (I used bacon grease)

1 large onion, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 T Italian seasoning (check ingredients. there should only be herbs in there – no fillers or preservatives)

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

10 sliced black olives (maybe 1/3 cup)

1.5 lb ground beef

1 can diced tomatoes or 3-4 chopped fresh

1-2 tsp red wine vinegar

Heat oil in large saute pan.  Add onions, bell pepper and garlic.  Saute for approximately 10 minutes or until veggies are nearly cooked.   Add ground beef, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  When beef is nearly cooked through add tomatoes and olives.  Cook until beef is done.  Remove from heat and add vinegar.  When squash is tender remove from oven and fill tightly with ground beef mixture.  Return to oven and bake for 10 additional minutes at 375.  Serve immediately.