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Paleo Whipped Cream!!

Father's Day Whipped CreamOK, I have been living off of my Paleo Pudding since I figured it out last month.  It is so easy and delicious, and I don’t feel like a guilty jerk for eating it.  Win. Win. Win!

Yesterday, in honor of Father’s Day, I had the opportunity to make French toast for a special father in my life.  Only problem was, I wanted to eat some version of that French toast, too.  OK, I admit to topping his with *real* powdered sugar, but I also gave him (and myself) the option of faux whipped cream.  It is a very simple variation on the already staggeringly simple pudding recipe, but man did it take my gluten-free, sugar-free,dairy-free French toast from mediocre to amazing!  And the father-type-person ate it, too!  And liked it!!  The proof is in the pudding (er… whipped cream in this instance)!

Paleo Whipped Cream:

Mix with emersion blender or hand mixer:

1 can coconut cream (can be found in the Trader Joe’s baking aisle)

1.5 tablespoons (or maybe even more — I love the stuff) vanilla

5 packets Truvia (or sweetener of your choice)

Mix until fully blended.  Refrigerate for at least an hour to set.  Enjoy on top of French toast, Paleo Pudding, or just on its own with a spoon — I am not saying I would ever do that.  I mean, of course not!  Just imagining one might if one was so inclined.  Also thinking this and the chocolate pudding might work really well as icing, too, and wondering what would happen if I baked them like cheesecake?  The possibilities are endless; I think it’s time for a snack break…

 

Mmmm….. Whipped Cream!! Where have you been my Whole (30) life??!!

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Paleo Pudding II

20130426-233533.jpgRight, so at the end of my last bout of Whole 30-ing (and the beginning of my period) last month, the chocolate cravings got too intense, and I invented Paleo Pudding.  I must now change the name of it to Paleo Pudding: Beta.  I managed to improve upon the pudding significantly enough that I am compelled to post the new recipe.  I have been shoving it down my own throat and the throat of anyone who walks through my door for the last two weeks.

Because it contains stevia, it is NOT Whole 30 compliant, but as a sweet once-in-a-while treat (read: every goddamned night and twice on Thursday), it is pretty darn amazing.

Paleo Pudding II

Mix until well blended (if I had an immersion blender, I would use it for this):

1 can coconut cream (available in the baking aisle of Trader Joe’s)

1/4 cup cacao powder (cocoa powder would work just fine, too, but it’s not a “super food.”)

1 tablespoon vanilla

4 packets Truvia (or non-sugar substitute of your choice)

Chill in refrigerator for an hour (if you can wait that long)

 

Serve with fresh berries.  Makes +/-4 servings.  Oh, who am I kidding? I could eat this all in one sitting using my finger.  And no berries.  Amazing!! And it totally satiates the intense fat cravings I have been having.  Next step: put it in the ice cream maker.  Holy yum, Batman!

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Paleo Party

It’s a party up in here!  I have always enjoyed entertaining.  And over the years I have built up a decent sized collection of recipes that are sure fire hits at parties large and small — my go-to recipes.  For quite a while after I started eating more healthfully (and in the past when I would be on a fairly healthy stint) I would still serve these carb, sugar, and dairy-laden delectables when I would invite friends over.  I would either allow myself to cheat, “In the name of the party,” or I would drool hungrily in my own special kind of deprivation torture.

Almost two years into relatively consistent clean eating,  I have finally discovered that I can, low and behold, make delicious, healthy food for parties — food that my guests and I actually enjoy and that doesn’t make us all (ok, just me) sick for days afterwards.  Gone are the times of artichoke spinach dip with wholegrain crackers and brie en croute.  (Wow, that does sound a little bit good….)

Since I am hosting a party this coming weekend, and my diet is particularly strict this month due to August being a  Whole 30 month for me, I decided now would be a good time to consolidate some of my favorite paleo and party friendly recipes.  Let’s get this party started — caveman style!

First, here are some resource I was glad to find.  The links below have some delicious and relatively healthy party snacks:

http://pinterest.com/leah_lutz/paleo-party/

http://paleohacks.com/questions/120090/recipes-for-a-paleo-party#axzz23NGDdpXY

http://paleohacks.com/questions/14426/paleo-party-foods#axzz1v3KgbvZa

I even found some recipes for paleo-friendly adult beverages.  Yum!

 

Here’s a list of some of the things I have made for recent parties.  Hopefully I will find some inspiration for my upcoming party here:

  • Artichoke  and Mama’s Magical Dipping Sauce
  • Guacamole and fresh veggies (I will probably serve some organic corn chips, too, and try desperately not to eat them!)
  • Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus (I just steam asparagus and wrap one or two spears in  a slice of prosciutto.  Certainly, more complex recipes are available.)
  • Deviled eggs (Lots of yummy recipes online.  Again, you may wanna make your own mayo here.)
  • Chicken Satay (I usually cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and serve them on long sticks in jar like a chicken bouquet.)
  • Israeli salad (I prefer it with red onions instead of green, and I usually do it without bell peppers, too.  I may even add some olives)
  •  Figs in Pigs (Bacon-wrapped figs)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Gluten-free brownies (I usually add some dairy-free [also from Trader Joe’s] chocolate chips) — still a cheat, but better than full-blown brownies
  • Flourless chocolate cake (I am wondering if I could sub out coconut oil for the butter.  May try that next time.)
  • Dried fruit and nuts

Keep in mind, this is not all totally paleo — one could probably not eat this sorta stuff everyday and achieve fitness/health goals, but I feel so much better spending my extra calories on food that actually feels good in my body (if I don’t eat too much of it — Ugh!  I won’t even begin to post about that right now).

Here’s to a happy and healthy party!  Cheers (and grunts)!

 

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Wendy’s Guacamole

I have a dear friend for whom I had the privilege of being sous chef as part of my nanny gig with her family.  While playing with her young children, I chopped, and peeled, and prepped many a food item during the course of my stay at her house.  It was both delightful and educational.  Many of my favorite recipes have their roots with Wendy, and the things I learned from her over the years continue to serve me on a regular basis — she taught me the word, “ramekin.”  Does that not say it all?

Much of Wendy’s cooking has a south of the boarder flavor — her salsas and hot sauces are coveted among her friends and family.  But my favorite Wendy recipe of all, the one I find myself using over and over again is her guacamole.  I have been making Wendy’s guacamole for nearly fifteen years now, so perhaps it has morphed some in the process?  If you love it, it is all Wendy’s doing; if you find it lacking, surely it is something I have inadvertently done to it over the years.  That said, one of my favorite aspects of this recipe is its forgiving nature — it is one of those recipes that comes out best when you taste as you go, adding more tang here or pep there as you see fit.

Ingredients:

2 large ripe avocados (or 3 medium-sized ones)

1 plum tomato finely chopped

1 jalepeño pepper seeded and finely chopped

1 small red onion (or half of a medium-sized one) finely chopped

1 bunch cilantro (minus stems) coarsely chopped

the juice of 2 limes

garlic salt to taste

Place chopped onion, pepper, tomato, and cilantro in a medium-sized bowl.

Squeeze the flesh of the avocados into the bowl (it’s ok if the pits get in there — supposedly leaving one in helps prevent browning — and you can always take them out later).

Using a fork, gently mix the avocado in with the other ingredients, smashing avocado as you go.  I like to keep things a little lumpy and imperfect (no, I am not talking about my ass this time).

Once the mixture is blended to your liking, add  about a quarter teaspoon of garlic salt and the juice of one lime.  See what you think, and add more salt and juice as needed.  (Go slowly here — much easier to add than to take away.  Yes, I speak from experience!)

Note:  I like to taste this on a spoon rather than a chip because the salt of the chip can interfere with the flavor of the guacamole itself.

This is a dish best made an hour or two (no more than six) before you plan to serve it.  To minimize browning, store in the refrigerator with plastic wrap flush against the surface of the guacamole  — limiting air exposure limits the browning, so I’m told.

Serve with fresh veggies and corn and/or tortilla chips.  If I am cheating a bit, I really love Trader Joe’s organic corn chips with this.  Um, they’re kinda like Fritos.  Need I say more?

 

Enjoy!  (And thanks, Wendy!)

 

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Mama’s Magical Dipping Sauce

One of my favorite food-related memories from childhood is eating whole artichokes with my mom. She would pretend to be horrifically disappointed as my sister and I devoured the flesh off the leaves, racing to the heart, eating it all before my mom could get to it.

A big part of the reason for our artichoke fervor (perhaps the only reason at first?) was that we would dip each fleshy bite in my mom’s magical dipping sauce. I still love her sauce, but since it calls for mayonnaise and soy sauce, I had written it off of my paleo list for a spell. Coconut Aminos to the rescue!

I keep some of this dip in my refrigerator pretty much at all times. The Child will eat boatloads of fresh veggies if they are coated in this stuff, and of course I pretend to be horrifically sad as she makes whole cucumbers disappear.  I put it on just about everything. Artichoke still tops my list, but asparagus is particularly tasty with it, too.

If you are following paleo strictly, you probably want to start by making your own mayonnaise (due to sugar and “bad” oil found in most varieties). I feel pretty good about Trader Joe’s brand. Yes, it’s got canola oil in it, but I’m not ready to throw down and make my own yet (although Sarah makes it look pretty easy).

Mama’s Magical Dipping Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons (about the juice of half a lemon) lemon juice

2 tablespoons coconut aminos

garlic salt to taste

Stir until smooth and serve with your favorite cooked or raw veggies.

Store in the refrigerator.

Need help cooking the artichoke:

Trim sharp ends off of artichokes, pry the leaves apart a bit to expose the lighter interior leaves.

Place in steamer basket and drizzle with olive oil, and white wine vinegar.

Sprinkle with garlic salt.

Steam over medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour.

Artichokes are done when a leaf towards the exterior can be easily pulled out by hand.  You should be able scrape off the flesh with no effort.

Yum!

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Paleo Pancake Recipe

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I love these pancakes. I make them every three mornings or so, and refrigerate the leftovers for use over the next few days. They feel like a real treat to me, and I savor them — even without any syrup.  The four eggs also make me feel like I am getting a good dose of protein to go with my fake junk food.

Admittedly, I’ve sort of made the recipe up each time I make these.  The version below has worked pretty consistently, but it is loose and forgiving (Like an old whore?  Bad!  So bad!  Jeez!  Where’d that come from?  It’s a good thing no one is reading this).  Tomorrow I might try adding some chia seeds or some other hippie nonsense (to the pancakes, not the whore — I don’ think you can teach an old whore new chia seeds)

Ingredients:

1 medium-large ripe banana (or two small ones)

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar (optional — especially if the banana is super sweet and ripe)

1/3 cup coconut floor

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum*

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

dash of light coconut milk (if desired)

Coconut oil to grease your cast iron skillet

Mix banana, eggs, vanilla, and sugar (if using) in the blender until smooth. Add dry ingredients and blend again. Let the mixture stand for about thirty seconds — this allows the xanthan gum to gel (Don’t make the mistake of adding more xanthan gum right away — give it a minute. You may need to add a wee bit more coconut flour or a wee bit of coconut milk in order to achieve the desired consistency — it should be similar to that of SAD pancake batter.

Pour batter straight from blender into heated, coconut oil-coated skillet. Flip your pancakes once the batter starts to bubble. Periodically add more coconut oil to skillet as needed.

These are delicious served with fresh berries or even thawed frozen berries — the juice from the frozen berries soaks in, and I am adept at pretending it is syrup. With fresh berries, I sometimes pour some coconut milk over the pancakes or smother them with coconut butter. Très Yum!

* The xanthan gum is an amazing and necessary addition to this recipe.  Prior to using it, these pancakes were more of a scramble — they totally fell apart, as did I when I could not convince my toddler that they were real pancakes.  This magical “sticking-together-powder” makes the pancakes more beautiful and has the child fooled into thinking she’s eating a treat.  Mwah-haaaaa-haaa!

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Figs in Pigs

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Eat at least one before serving your guests or you won't get any!

Um wow. I think I could live on these. After reviewing a few different recipes online, I came up with my own version of bacon wrapped figs. I served them at a Valentine’s Day party recently and they were gone in minutes. Soooo yummy! Part of my reason for mucking with other recipes was that I couldn’t find any fresh figs this time of year. I am sure this recipe would work fine with fresh figs, but I would skip the chicken broth step — I just did that to reconstitute the dried figs.

Here’s what you’ll need to make about 2 dozen:

1 package “happy” bacon (I like Niman Ranch)

1 tub of Trader Joe’s dried mission figs

About a cup of chicken broth

Roughly 2 dozen toothpicks

Tinfoil

Silpat

Jellyroll pan

Medium sauce pan

Strainer and paper towels

1. Par bake the bacon on a jelly roll pan covered in tinfoil (saves on clean up) at 400 degrees for about ten minutes (no need to preheat oven, just throw that bacon in there).

2. Discard any hard stems remaining on figs and place figs in sauce pan. Pour in enough chicken broth (about a cup) to cover the figs. Bring to a low boil and simmer on med-low heat until the figs begin to plump slightly.

3. Using a paper towel lined strainer strain out liquid and dry the figs as much as possible.

4. remove par cooked bacon from the oven and cut each strip into thirds.

5. Wrap a third of a strip of bacon around each fig and secure with a toothpick.

6. Place bacon-wrapped figs on the silpat-lined jellyroll pan with the seams facing down as much as possible (to avoid unraveling)

** Can be refrigerated for a day or so in this state and baked as guests arrive so that everyone who enters your home is met with the scent of fresh bacon wafting from the kitchen.**

7. Bake for about ten minutes in an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Serve immediately (and eat one before you serve them, because if you don’t get in there fast, you’ll miss your chance!).

I served these with some fresh goat cheese on the side, and those eating cheese really appreciated the combo. If you are into the cheese thing, you could easily stuff these little suckers prior to baking.

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Step 3: Strain the Figs

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Step 7: bake at 375 degrees for about ten minutes

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