Eat Evolved

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

Cold sesame kelp noodles

June 10th, 2012

I heard recently that kelp noodles are low-carb, low-calorie, and taste pretty decent, so I made Husband order some. It’s 90 degrees outside today, and I took Preschooler to the playground this morning while Husband mowed the lawn, so both of us were not interested in a hot lunch. I also had some leftover sliced cucumber and some cold salmon that needed to be used. Cold sesame noodles seemed like a great treat.

Start with a one-pound bag of kelp noodles. Rinse them off, shake them dry, and toss them with a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Put the bowl in the fridge while you make the dressing.

Put six tablespoons of tahini in a small bowl. To that add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition. Do this until the texture is thick and creamy. I used probably five tablespoons of water total, but it depends on how oily your tahini is–mine was pretty thin to begin with. You’ll notice it actually thickens with the first couple of tablespoons of water, before eventually thinning out again as you add more.

In another small bowl, whisk together three tablespoons of coconut aminos, a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar or white vinegar, two cloves of minced garlic, and a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger root. If you can’t find coconut aminos, use an equal amount of wheat-free soy sauce (also called tamari) with a teaspoon or so of honey added. Whisk that mixture into your tahini. Add two minced scallions. Toss this with the kelp noodles and add half a sliced cucumber.

To serve, put the noodle and cucumber mixture into bowls and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and another minced scallion if desired. Add any cold leftover meat you want; I used salmon, but it would be great with shrimp, chicken, or sliced pork.

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Totally homemade grass-fed ghee

June 10th, 2012

Husband and I have bought lovely grassfed ghee from Pure Indian Foods a number of times, but I’ve always wondered if it was economically feasible to make my own. And by make my own, I meant starting from cream and ending at ghee. I love the grassfed cream from Snowville Creamery in my area (and chances are you have someone doing something similar in yours), but it comes in half-gallons only, and I find it very difficult to use before it goes bad. Making butter is an easy way to use up cream that’s nearing its expiration date. Plus, I’m starting a Whole30 tomorrow, so having dairy around won’t do me any good.

For butter, all you need is cream and a blender or food processor. Fill your vessel up not much more than halfway (for a full half gallon, I do two batches), and blend. About a minute in, you’ll have nice whipped cream, if you want to stop and grab some for berries. Keep blending, and you’ll notice that the whipped cream will start to look a bit crumbly and yellow. That’s the beginnings of butter. Eventually it’ll separate into butter and thin whey. When the butter clumps together into a large ball, you can take it out. Drain the whey off by pouring your blender contents into a strainer set over a large bowl. Let it drain for about ten minutes, then turn on the sink and make sure the water is as cold as it can get. Roll the butter into a ball, getting any small scraps that may have been separate from the initial clump, and massage the butter under the water, then take it out and squeeze out all the water. Keep doing this until the water that comes out of the butter is clear–that’s how you know you’ve washed all the remaining whey out. At this point, you could add salt if you want salted butter, and just store it in the fridge.

But we’re making ghee. Stick your butterball into a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat (I used my simmer burner for this). Very slowly allow it to melt and bring it to a boil. You’ll hear it crackle–that’s all the water cooking out of the butter from the butter-making process and from the milk solids that naturally occur in butter. Make sure it’s just barely boiling and the butter remains yellow; if it’s brown, you burnt it. The top will get very foamy.

Stir it occasionally. Eventually, about ten to fifteen minutes after it started boiling, when you stir the foam away you’ll be able to see to the bottom of the pan. That means your milk solids have all separated from the clarified butter. Turn off the heat and wait about 20 minutes, then pour it through a fine mesh strainer or a couple of layers of cheesecloth into a jar. It should look like liquid sunshine.

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I got a little less than three cups of ghee out of one $10 half-gallon of cream, which seems like a good deal. If you don’t have a good source of grassfed cream, you can always start with a few sticks of unsalted Kerrygold butter. The ghee will keep in your fridge for at least a couple of months. I’ve never had it go bad before using it all. Use it for cooking in place of butter. It also makes a great dip for seafood or artichokes when heated and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt.

Coconut-Free Chocolate Pudding

June 6th, 2012

A friend of mine came to my office the other day to talk about the recipes I’d been posting on Facebook. “They seem good, but I’m allergic to nuts and coconut. Do you have to use coconut?” I mentioned that most of my uses of coconut oil could be replaced by olive oil or bacon grease or grassfed butter or ghee with no major changes in flavor. But my go-to chocolate pudding that I’d just posted simply couldn’t be done without coconut milk. I mentioned that I’d made chocolate pudding with avocado that was pretty good. She looked appropriately horrified–and to be honest, so was I the first time I saw this one. But it’s good, honest. The kiddo has her face in a bowl of it right now. Husband says he likes it better than the coconut milk version, although I think he’s a little crazy. Plus, it’s full of great nutrients, and no added sugar! And it’s dead simple–if you can operate a blender, stick blender, or food processor, you can make this.

To make enough for two grownups and one Preschooler, simply blend one ripe banana, one ripe avocado, a teaspoon of vanilla, and three to four tablespoons of cocoa powder. Scrape down the sides as necessary to fully blend it. If your banana is ripe enough, you need nothing else. If it’s not sweet enough, add a teaspoon of honey.

This recipe can be doubled, tripled, whatever. You’re limited only by the size of your blender. It’ll keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Sure, your avocado will brown, but it’s chocolate pudding, so you won’t really notice.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding

June 4th, 2012

No picture for this, as most pictures of brown things in a bowl look gross. But this is one of my favorite easy go-to paleo desserts. The kid loves it–I have pictures of her looking like she has a goatee from licking her bowl.

It’s really simple to make. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine a can of coconut milk and a cup of dark chocolate pieces. Whisk constantly until the chocolate is fully melted. Add a tablespoon of vanilla, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and several shakes of cayenne to taste. You can skip the cayenne if you want, but it really brings out the flavors without adding a notable amount of burn–Preschooler eats it and doesn’t even notice.

Pour it into small bowls or ramekins, put them in the fridge for at least two hours, and enjoy a yummy dessert that won’t make you feel gross afterwards.

Roasted leg of lamb and roasted radishes with radish greens

June 3rd, 2012

This is technically a Game of Thrones feast, but as the recipe was not a reworking of one specifically found in the book, I won’t count it as such.

You’ll want a 4-5 pound bone-in leg of lamb. About two hours before you plan on cooking it, mix three tablespoons of Dijon mustard, a tablespoon and a half of coconut sugar, a tablespoon and a half of minced garlic, a teaspoon of crushed dried rosemary, a teaspoon of salt, and a half-teaspoon of black pepper. Coat your lamb in this mixture and put it in the fridge until it’s ready to go on the grill.

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You’ll want to cook it over indirect heat at 350 degrees until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part reaches 125 degrees.

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For the radishes, you’ll want a bunch of radishes with greens attached per person. Trim the radishes at root and stem, reserving the greens. Wash both radishes and greens carefully, then coarsely chop the greens. In an ovenproof skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil until it shimmers, then toss in the radishes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Pop the whole pan in the oven and roast for fifteen minutes, turning the radishes once halfway through (I didn’t and probably should have). Put the pan back on the stovetop on medium heat and toss in two tablespoons of butter, stirring to coat the radishes. Then add the greens and toss until they’re wilted, about two minutes. Finish with a splash of lemon juice, about 1-2 tablespoons.

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Serve the radishes alongside thinly-sliced lamb, and enjoy eating your Dream of Spring.

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Pressure Cooker Chili

June 3rd, 2012

This recipe is great for make-ahead lunches. I like to make a big batch on Sunday–it gets me and Husband to Thursday before we need to think about lunch again. It’s also perfect if you just bought a bunch of grass-fed beef and need to get it out of your freezer.

Start with 1.5-2 pounds of stew meat. I cut up a bone-in chuck roast and saved the bones in my freezer bag of stock bones. Brown them in a tablespoon or two of coconut oil in your pressure cooker, sprinkling them with salt and pepper as soon as you put them in. You’ll want to do this in batches; if you crowd the pan you won’t get a nice browned crust on the meat.

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Remove the meat when it’s browned and set it aside. Add a chopped large onion to the pan and cook until it’s soft, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Add a tablespoon or two of minced garlic and cook for another minute. Pour in three cups of beef stock and boil until it’s reduced by half. Stir in two pounds of raw ground beef–it will break up and start to brown in the stock as you stir.

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Add four tablespoons of chili powder. I don’t mean generic stuff labeled “Chili Powder,” I mean ground, powdered chili peppers, particularly a kind that has the name of the type of chili on the label. I used Guajillo, but Ancho or even Chipotle would work. You can knock this down to three tablespoons if you don’t like spicy chili. Toss in a heaping tablespoon of cumin, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of salt, and several healthy grinds of black pepper, then add a large (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes, a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (I used Muir Glen), and 3/4 cup of salsa verde. Put the browned meat back in the pot. Bring your pressure cooker up to high pressure (15 psi) and cook for an hour, then let the pressure reduce naturally before removing the lid.

This will make six healthy-sized bowls. Serve with sliced avocado for a nice Whole-30 meal.

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If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can do all this in a Dutch oven. After you put the meat back in, put a lid on it and simmer, stirring occasionally, for three hours.

Grain-Free Game of Thrones: Eggs with Fiery Dornish Peppers

June 3rd, 2012

One of the highlights of my blogging career (ha!) was when one of the ladies responsible for the awesome ASOIAF food blog, Inn at the Crossroads, posted a comment on one of my grain-free GoT posts last season. They probably did this because I linked to them, but still. They’ve hit the big time now, and published a cookbook. GRRM wrote the intro and everything. Husband surprised me with it two days ago, and I’m already planning some attempts at primalizing many of the recipes.

One that thankfully needed no alterations was their Dornish Breakfast. Husband has been wanting this for ages. Basically, it’s lightly scrambled eggs with “fiery Dornish peppers,” which Inn at the Crossroads approximated with a jalapeño, a cubanelle, two poblanos, an orange bell pepper, two red cherry peppers, and an onion, all coarsely chopped. You save three tablespoons each of the chopped peppers and onion, and finely mince those.

Fry the onion and peppers in olive oil for about ten minutes, (I added saffron salt because it seemed to fit) then add an ice cube, put a lid in them, and steam for another 6-7 minutes. Remove them from the pan, then add more olive oil and put in the minced peppers and onions. Fry those until they’re soft (2-3 minutes) then break six whole eggs into the pan. I added four yolks to that because I had them from the pot pie yesterday. Let those cook until the whites start to set a bit, then sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and some shredded raw cheddar if you want. At that point, scramble the eggs until the whites are done. Serve alongside the reserved pepper and onion mixture.

I served these with some leftover smoked sausage and had a breakfast so hearty that I fasted through lunch even though I spent my morning chasing Preschooler around the zoo.

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Grain-Free Game of Thrones: “Pigeon” Pie

June 2nd, 2012

So my plan for the Game of Thrones finale was to make “pigeon” pie (aka chicken pot pie), but that went out the window when I saw a pretty local leg of lamb at Whole Foods. So that’s going to be tomorrow, and the pot pie was tonight’s dinner instead. But it’ll still work great for a Game of Thrones feast!

I started with the recipe for chicken pot pie at Health-Bent. I used two small parsnips, eight baby carrots, a few garlic scapes, three purple potatoes (I’m on a bit of a carb refeed–these can be skipped if you’d like, just add more carrots and parsnips), a small Vidalia onion, some shiitake and oyster mushrooms I picked up at the farmer’s market today, and some kale leaves.

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Cut all your veggies into bite-size pieces as pictured above. For the kale, remove the stems and tear the leaves into one-inch pieces. Dice the onion.

Heat up two tablespoons of oil (I used coconut, but olive oil or bacon grease would work) in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a pound of bite-size chicken breast pieces and sprinkle them with salt and black pepper. Cook them for three minutes, then turn and cook for another three minutes.

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Remove the chicken and put it in a bowl for now. Add two more tablespoons of oil, and then add the veggies–root vegetables on the bottom, kale and mushrooms on top. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of dried thyme.

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Cover the pan and let the veggies cook for 15 minutes, removing the lid to stir every few minutes.

In the meantime, make your crust. I did not alter the Health-Bent version. I used a pastry blender to cut the butter in with the almond flour, then an electric beater to mix it once the egg whites were added. It will be a moist consistency, more like batter than dough.

By the time that’s done, your veggies should be close to done too. Remove the lid and add 2.5 of your 3 cups of chicken stock, stirring to scrape up anything that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan. As that simmers, add two tablespoons of tapioca flour to the remaining stock and whisk until it’s smooth. Stir that into the veggie and broth mixture, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the chicken back to the pot and continue to stir for a couple more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the mixture into a casserole dish.

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Spread the crust evenly across the top of the dish, then bake at 400 until the crust is golden brown. Health-Bent said 12-15 minutes, but mine took 25–I think my egg whites were bigger than theirs.

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Pizza de queijo

May 29th, 2012

This is, no lie, one of the best food experiments I’ve ever made. Mind you, it’s so borderline Primal that I debated including it on this blog. It has a lot of dairy, it’s not exactly low-carb, and it might induce SAD cravings. That having been said, it’s delicious, and will be something special once I perfect it.

Of course, there’s a backstory. At the beginning of this month, I went to a conference in Dearborn, Michigan with a few of my favorite coworkers. We went out to a local pizza place called Buddy’s one night, and I decided to try their gluten-free personal pizza. Its main ingredient was tapioca flour, and it was incredible. I didn’t miss wheat at all.

It reminded me of one of my favorite recipes from my Brazilian great-aunt, pao de queijo. This translates roughly to “cheese balls.” They are little crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside balls of pure joy. Every time she made a batch, they’d be gone before they cooled down. Once, I took a boyfriend to meet the extended family, and he said that they’d go perfectly with spaghetti. At the time I thought he was insane, but I remembered his comment when I had Buddy’s gluten-free pizza…and in the immortal words of Gru, “light bulb!”

To start, put 4 cups (or 500 grams) of tapioca flour in a large metal or otherwise heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat 2/3 cup of a neutrally flavored oil with two cups of milk until it boils. Watch this carefully, because it goes from boiling to boiling over in ten seconds or so! Once it’s boiling, pour it into the tapioca flour and stir with a wooden spoon or heatproof scraper until it’s all absorbed into a sticky ball.

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Add two beaten eggs and a cup and a half of grated Parmesan cheese. You may want to knead it in with your hands–it should have cooled off enough by now.

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Wait for about 10-15 minutes, then oil your hands and press the dough into a pan. I’d do two things differently next time–I’d lightly grease the pan, and I’d use a half-sheet pan instead of a round to make the crust thinner. If you were making the cheese balls here, you’d instead roll it into golf-ball sized spheres and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

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Bake the dough for 25 minutes, then put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the top a bit.

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Top with pizza sauce (make sure to check your labels as most contain sugar–Whole Foods makes a good sugar-free version in their prepared foods section), and whatever toppings you desire. I used Italian sausage and onions.

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I’ve tried lots of pizza clones–meatza, pork rind crust, cauliflower crust…and this is the first one that didn’t make me feel like I was missing out at all. It is just plain awesome. Sometimes you just have to have pizza, and no bizarre substitute will do. Husband’s exact words after taking his first bite were “I don’t think I’ve ever loved you as much as I do right now.” I think that’s the best endorsement I could get.

Peach-blueberry cobbler

May 28th, 2012

We went to a family pool party yesterday. Great time, but full of SAD desserts–cupcakes and cookies and things I would dearly love to eat, but can’t. So I made a dessert that my family could eat, but others wouldn’t even know it was paleo.

Start by cutting six small ripe peaches into eighths. Put them in a small lidded Pyrex baking dish along with a cup of blueberries. Stir in a tablespoon each of lemon juice and vanilla, and three tablespoons of tapioca flour.

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In a small bowl, mix a cup and a half of almond flour with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a quarter cup each of melted butter (or coconut oil or ghee) and honey.

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Crumble the topping onto the peach mixture. Pat it down with damp hands if you wish.

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Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for five more minutes to brown the topping some more, if you wish.

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