Eat Evolved

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You are what you eat. Eat what you've evolved to eat.

Nut-Free Strawberry Banana Bread

August 7th, 2012

I’m always trying to mix up Preschooler’s weekday breakfasts. We don’t have time to make her bacon and eggs in the morning, and her day care is nut-free, so that limits our options greatly. Our general cop-out is yogurt, but that can tend to have a lot of sugar in it, so I prefer to make her something homemade. Lately I’ve been making this recipe, and it’s almost indistinguishable from real bread. Last night Husband and I ate the heel slices with a bit of Rawtella, and it made an awesome dessert. For those of you who are coconut-phobic, you absolutely can’t taste it in here–it just tastes like banana bread.

Preheat your oven to 350. Set out two mixing bowls, one small and one large. In the large bowl, mash two or three very ripe bananas with 1/3 cup of melted ghee or coconut oil (or butter, if you’re not dairy-averse). Whisk in six beaten eggs, two tablespoons of honey, and a teaspoon of vanilla.

In the small bowl, add a half-cup of sifted coconut flour, a teaspoon each of baking soda and baking powder, a half-teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of cinnamon. Mix it with a fork, then dump the whole bowl into the wet ingredients. Whisk them together, then put the bowl aside. Slice up 6-8 strawberries into small bite-size chunks. Whisk the batter again to make sure you’ve gotten all the lumps out, then fold in the strawberries. Bake in a well-greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

The cool thing about this recipe is its versatility. You can leave the strawberries out, or replace them with a different berry. You can add nuts or chocolate chips if you want it to be more of a dessert than a breakfast. You’ll end up with a moist bread with a nice soft texture and a golden brown crust. I apologize for not having pictures for this one. Hopefully I can take a picture of it soon and add it later.

Spanish Meatballs

July 20th, 2012

We’re getting our half-cow tomorrow. This morning, the only thing left from our last one was one poor lone pound of hamburger. I had to use it, but one pound is tough to do much with. Thankfully, I also have a bunch of ground pastured pork, so I figured I’d do something that combined both of them. I also had a bunch of leftover roasted garlic mayo from yesterday’s BLT adventure. I thought back to my love of albóndigas from tapas restaurants, and an idea was born.

First, I mixed a large handful of fresh parsley and a leftover slice of that bread from Against All Grain in the food processor. Warning–this makes more of a paste than it does soft breadcrumbs, but it worked, so I don’t care. Mix the resulting paste with a pound each of ground beef and ground pork. Add a teaspoon or so of saffron salt (or a teaspoon of sea salt mixed with 1/4 teaspoon of crushed saffron threads) and a tablespoon and a half of minced garlic and blend again.

Heat three tablespoons or so of olive oil in a Dutch oven. While the pan is heating, roll your meatballs. I ended up making 27, so you should get anywhere from 24-30 of them. Fry the meatballs in the olive oil, browning on all sides. You’ll likely have to do this in two batches.

While the second batch is browning, finely mince a small onion. When the second batch of meatballs is done, put them aside with the first batch. Fry up the minced onion in the fat left in the pan. Try to scrape up any browned bits from the meatballs. After about 3-4 minutes, add another tablespoon of minced garlic and sauté for another minute.

At this point, if you wish, add 2-3 tablespoons of red wine. Scrape up any remaining browned bits and cook, stirring constantly, for another minute. Add a tablespoon of smoked paprika and a half-teaspoon of salt and cook for another minute. Stir in a can of diced tomatoes and a can of tomato sauce. Add cayenne to taste. Return the meatballs to the pan and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes. Serve with a side of garlic mayo. These would also be good over cauliflower rice or mashed cauliflower.

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BLFingT

July 19th, 2012

Tonight, since Husband returned from a business trip late last night, I rewarded him by making BLTs. It’s the perfect time of year for them–tomatoes are in season! A good BLT is one of the things I miss the most about eating bread.

Well, thanks to Against All Grain and their lovely cashew-butter based sandwich bread, I don’t have to miss it anymore. This stuff is pretty calorie dense, so I won’t make it frequently, but for a special treat, it’s lovely. I sliced the loaf in half and then lengthwise to get slices that were shaped more like traditional bread, then griddled them in the pan I used to make the bacon, after I poured out all the grease. I think next time I’ll put in just a teaspoon of honey, if any, but that’s the only change I’d make. With crispy bacon, fresh tomatoes, salad greens, and homemade roasted garlic mayonnaise, it was a great summer meal.

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Cod with Bacon Sauce

July 18th, 2012

During the description of this recipe, I will tell you how I screwed it up. I’m not perfect; some of my experiments are failures that range from minor to epic. This one was minor. This cod is not as good as it could be. I’ll tell you what I did wrong, and hopefully give you a couple of ways to avoid my pitfall.

I had a frozen package of cod that was 26 ounces. The recipe I was using as a base to kick this off called for 16-20 ounces. If you just have a pound of cod, fry up 4 strips of bacon to start. If you have more, like I did, fry up 6. Get them nice and crispy, then drain them on paper towels and set them aside.

Here’s where I went wrong. The original recipe said to dredge the cod in flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I figured coconut flour would work best in this application. I was totally wrong; it just got soggy. No crisp at all. Thankfully, everything else tastes so good that this wasn’t too big of a deal. So either skip that step completely and just cook the cod in the bacon grease with a tablespoon of ghee added for 2-3 minutes per side, or until it flakes easily with a fork, or dredge in almond flour instead of coconut.

When the fish is done, remove it from the pan and keep it warm. Remove the grease and wipe the pan clean. Return it to the heat and melt four tablespoons of ghee. Thinly slice an entire bunch of green onions, the green and white parts, and cook the white parts in the ghee for two minutes, then add the green parts and cook for another 2-3 minutes. While that’s cooking, crumble the reserved bacon. When the green onions are done, add the crumbled bacon, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and a tablespoon and a half of capers. Whisk it a few times to combine, then serve it on top of the cod.

This was actually really yummy. I just wish I hadn’t used coconut flour.

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Sausage and Crawfish Jambalaya

July 15th, 2012

The saga of cleaning out the fridge before the cow is ready (on the 18th, yikes!) continues. This weekend, among other things, I thawed out a pound of crawfish. There are exactly three things that should be made when one has a pound of crawfish, and all of them are Cajun. Today, I decided to make a version of jambalaya, using cauliflower rice. Tomorrow, it might be étouffée (Paleo Comfort Foods has a great version), or maybe gumbo.

The first thing you’ll want is a pound of pre-cooked andouille sausage. Wellshire makes a good brand with minimal fillers. If you don’t like spicy, you can sub some cubed chicken breast–just make sure to cook it in some fat, as you’ll need it later. For the sausage, you can simply slice and fry. Use a big pot, because this is a two-pot meal and it’ll all end up in this one eventually.

When the sausage slices are brown, add one diced onion, one diced green pepper, and two large stalks of celery, also diced. There should be enough rendered grease from the sausage to cook them in. If not, add some fat of choice. When the veggies have softened, add some garlic (four or five cloves, minced) and cook for another minute or so. Then add a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, a 6-ounce can of tomato paste, three cups of chicken stock, a tablespoon of Creole seasoning, two teaspoons of chili powder, a few pinches of salt, a half-teaspoon of dried thyme, and cayenne and black pepper to taste. Let this simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another large skillet, heat up a tablespoon or two of oil. In that, sweat a small minced onion, a diced green pepper, and a minced shallot. When they are soft and the onion and shallot are starting to turn golden, add a head of grated cauliflower. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until cauliflower is soft. Stir in a tablespoon of Creole seasoning. If your seasoning is salt-free, add salt to taste.

By this point, hopefully your jambalaya is done. Add a pound of crawfish tails to the pot and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower rice and serve.

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Sous vide flank steak with dairy-free creamed spinach

July 11th, 2012

So I finished my Whole30, if you can call it finished seeing as I haven’t gone back to my old ways. I’ve lost 8 pounds, an inch off my waist and an inch and a half off my hips, and gained a great deal of energy and a much better attitude. I don’t even miss dairy all that much, especially when I can find great substitutes like I did tonight.

But I’ll begin with the flank steak, and tell you a little story about the girl with no freezer space. We’re getting half a grassfed cow again next week–something that generally fills up our chest freezer at least halfway. But then on Monday, I noticed that my favorite pastured pork provider actually had availability for the first time in ages. I ordered some skin, chops (best chops on Earth), ground pork, and spare ribs. And I might have gotten a little carried away. I have a freezer that’s…pretty full. And it has to be decidedly less full in a week and a half. Eep. When I put the pork in, I took out some other stuff–a chicken, some sausages I got from my organic grocery delivery service, and a flank steak.

Sous vide is a great way of cooking lean meats like flank steak. For this one, you’ll need some sort of immersion cooker–there are ways to hack a cooler into a decent sous vide machine, but that’s for shorter times than this will require. You’ll want either a Sous Vide Supreme or the less expensive Sous Vide Magic which turns crock pots or rice cookers into sous vide cookers. I asked for the Magic last Christmas, but got the Supreme Demi, because Husband is just that awesome.

To make the flank steak, rub it with a bit of the green stuff or some salt and pepper, put it in a vacuum-sealed bag, and put it in your sous vide at 131 degrees. You can even put it in fully frozen if you want–I did. That temperature gets you medium-rare. If you want rare, try about 127. If you want it more cooked than medium-rare, you’re nuts and should probably just go be a vegan or something. 24 hours later (mine was more like 27, and it would probably still be good up to 48 hours later), take it out, pat it dry, and either sear it on very high heat for a minute per side or take your kitchen torch to the outside of it. When the outside is seared to your liking, slice it thinly against the grain. It ends up with an awesome texture–mine had some gristle in it that I was worried would make it too chewy, but it just pulled right apart, and the gristle was all gelatin.

For the creamed spinach, I used the raw cashew “cream” sauce base from Against All Grain, replacing the basil with dried parsley and ignoring the rest of the (admittedly delicious-looking) recipe. Whiz your soaked cashews and reserved soaking water in the food processor. It’ll look runny, but it eventually sets up. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice and whiz it again until it’s smooth. Add a little bit of it to some sautéed baby spinach and stir until it’s warmed through. You may also want to add some extra salt. The rest of the sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days. I plan on tossing it with some broccoli tomorrow.

Doesn’t that look awesome? I can attest that it was. I don’t miss the dairy in the least.

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Chorizo and sweet potato breakfast casserole

June 17th, 2012

One of my major difficulties in sticking with the Whole30 in the past was breakfast. I’ve always had the thought that breakfast should include cheese of some sort. Going dairy-free for breakfast is harder than any other meal. Eggs and cheese is a perfect combination. What a sad life it is without them.

Turns out I just wasn’t creative enough. This time, I was prepared. I spent a couple of weeks before I started poring through all of my favorite paleo recipe sites, putting every recipe that sounded remotely good into Pinterest so I could access them later. One that I found that sounded good was Everyday Paleo’s Southwestern Frittata. And really, the only way I could improve upon it was to make it more southwestern, by replacing the ground beef with homemade chorizo.

To make the chorizo, put two pounds of ground pork into a bowl. Add a tablespoon and a half of smoked sea salt; a tablespoon of ancho chile powder; a half-tablespoon each of paprika, chipotle chile powder, and minced garlic; and a half-teaspoon each of dried oregano, ground coriander, black pepper, and cumin. Mix it thoroughly with your hands. Add a tablespoon and a half of red wine vinegar, mix with your hands again until the meat is a uniform texture, and refrigerate for an hour.

While your chorizo is chilling, chop your jalapeños and onions, and shred your peeled sweet potatoes. Grease your baking dish with bacon grease. For the record, I doubled the recipe and it fit perfectly in a 13×9-inch casserole dish. I just had to bake it a bit longer.

Other than replacing the ground beef with chorizo, I followed the Everyday Paleo recipe exactly. And I cannot wait to have some of it tomorrow morning.

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Mofongo with ropa vieja

June 16th, 2012

One of my coworkers just got back from a vacation in Puerto Rico and raved about a dish she had there called mofongo. She described it as a garlicky mashed plantain mound with whatever meat you wanted. I adore plantains–they were my favorite carb even before going paleo–ahead of bread, potatoes, rice, you name it. So I googled for a recipe. Turns out it’s pretty simple–fried then mashed slices of green plantain mixed with ground up pork rinds and minced raw garlic. It’s usually topped with some sort of stew. I HAD to make this.

I’ll start with the stew, because it takes the longest to make. I altered a version of the crockpot ropa vieja recipe from PaleOMG. First, remove the bones, if any, from your chuck roast, and save them for stock. Salt and pepper both sides of your roast and brown it on both sides in your pressure cooker.

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Remove the meat and add your peppers, onion, and spices–I added minced garlic here instead of inserting the garlic into the roast.

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When your vegetables soften, add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, along with some sliced pimento-stuffed olives (I don’t have the aversion to them that PaleOMG does, and they are really, really good in this dish) and the bay leaves. Put the meat back in, submerging it as much as possible, and cook on high pressure for an hour, allowing the steam to release naturally before opening the lid. Alternatively, you can do it in a crockpot, as PaleOMG suggests, or covered on the stovetop in a Dutch oven on a low simmer until the meat pulls apart easily.

When the meat is almost done, start the mofongo. Peel four green plantains. This is easier said than done–you’ll likely have to score the peels with a knife to remove them. Slice each plantain into 1/2-inch slices on the diagonal and soak the slices in a bowl of salted water for 15 minutes. Drain them and dry them before frying.

Coat the bottom of a frying pan with a layer of either olive or coconut oil, using medium heat. Add the plantains in batches and fry for five minutes per side. They should be golden but not brown. Put each batch in a large mixing bowl when it’s done.

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While the plantains are frying, grind up pork rinds or chicharrones in a food processor. You’ll want a cup of crumbs–just keep adding more until you get what you need. I think about 2-3 ounces will do it. Add the crumbs to the plantains.

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Using a potato masher or a food processor, mash together the plantains and pork rind crumbs. Add some olive oil if necessary. Mix in 4 cloves of minced raw garlic. Using your hands, mash the mixture into balls.

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Shred the meat from your stew into small chunks or strands and ladle it over the mofongo, making sure to get plenty of veggies and liquid.

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This was ridiculously good. All the flavors go together perfectly. If you want, you might want to try garnishing it with some sliced avocado, but it’s not at all necessary. It’s dense and filling–a little goes a long way. I doubled the recipe and it made enough for two dinners, a Preschooler plate, and eight good-sized lunch portions. And sorry, Coworker, but I’m not sharing!

Pressure cooker pot roast with carrot and parsnip gravy

June 15th, 2012

Husband just spent five days on a business trip, and likely did a lot of things to wreck his gut. I texted him as he was heading home to ask what he’d like for dinner, and he asked for something with bone broth. Being a good wife who is well aware of the health benefits of bone broth, I obliged.

You’ll begin this one by browning all sides of a seasoned (I used smoked sea salt and pepper) 2.5 pound roast of some sort. Mine was a heel of round, but this would work fine, possibly even better, with a chuck roast of some sort. You’ll want to brown it for about five minutes per side, in a tablespoon or so of coconut oil, olive oil, or bacon grease.

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While it’s browning, peel and coarsely chop a large onion and five small parsnips. When the roast is browned, remove it from the cooker and set it aside in a bowl or on a cutting board. Add the onion and parsnips to the cooker, along with a few handfuls of baby carrots, three cloves of minced garlic, a teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and some more salt and pepper. Cook them for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften.

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Add two cups of bone broth and a teaspoon of coconut aminos, and return the roast to the pan, submerging it as much as possible. Put the lid of the pressure cooker on and cook at high pressure for an hour. Allow the pressure to go down naturally.

When you can open the cooker, remove the meat and set it aside. Use an immersion blender to blend the vegetables and broth into a smooth purée.

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If it’s not thick enough, boil it to reduce. I boiled it for about fifteen minutes while I was making some roasted asparagus. When the gravy is thick enough for you, reduce the heat to low and return the meat until it’s warmed back up. Serve the gravy over the meat. This one would be good with mashed cauliflower or cauliflower rice. I just served it in a bowl with a side of roasted asparagus and roasted garlic aioli for dipping.

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Baked eggs in bacon cups

June 10th, 2012

As I mentioned before, I’m starting a Whole30 tomorrow, so my normal breakfast of egg cups is a no-go. I’ve tried them without cream and cheese before, and they’re pretty sad and flat. So I had to come up with something else that would be quick to reheat in the morning. Enter these. Bonus points for being really easy to make. Not counting salt and pepper, they have exactly two ingredients.

For each one of these, you’ll want a strip of bacon and an egg. Cook your bacon about halfway. It will start to brown and the fat will turn translucent, but it will still be pliable. When it gets to that point, drain them on paper towels, then wrap each slice around the outside of a muffin tin. If you’re not using the silicone kind, grease the tins a bit first. Or you could use a silicone muffin tin.

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Break an egg into each cup. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, depending on your desired level of doneness.

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