Monday, November 21, 2011

Gingerbread with Orange Cream Cheese


This was a special request for Thanksgiving that sounded something like, "Hey you need to come up with a recipe for gingerbread and orange cream cheese." My friend didn't actually think I was going to make it, and neither did I.  Damn I'm sure glad I did.
One thing about this recipe is that the almond does tend to overpower the ginger... so I had to up the ante about 1/4 tsp.  Make sure you taste the batter before you pour it and see if it still needs more. And try to stop yourself from sitting on the couch with a spoon and the bowl of cream cheese because it will tempt you.
This would be a great cupcake and frosting situation.  ... I'm thinking minis...

Gingerbread
10 pitted organic dates
1 organic orange (juiced)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 pastured eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder (Grain Free)
1/2 tsp arrowroot powder
1 tbs xylitol
1/8 tsp stevia extract
1/4 tsp organic cinnamon
1/8 tsp organic ground clove
1 1/4 tsp organic ground ginger
1 1/2 tbs coconut oil (lard or butter)
1/2 can organic full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 3/4 cups almond flour
pinch of sea salt


Directions
Put the dates in a bowl or container with the orange juice and vanilla extract and leave it at room temperature for about an hour. This is to soften them. When it looks like some of the liquid is disappearing, they are ready. Preheat the oven and put your oil (butter or lard) in a loaf pan and stick it in the oven to melt.  Add your spices, the eggs and stevia to the date mix and blend it all together until you have a nice smooth liquid. In a large mixing bowl put all the other dry ingredients together then add the blended date mix, coconut milk and melted oil. Mix with a hand mixer and taste it to check the sweetness and ginger. Pour the mix into the loaf pan (or cupcake molds) and bake in the middle of the oven at around 375 until there is some color on the top. Serve with delicious orange cream cheese.


Orange Cream Cheese
1 package organic cream cheese
4 tbs organic coconut milk
1/4 cup organic orange marmalade (I make my own - see below for substitution*)
pinch of organic ground ginger
1/8 tsp stevia extract


*If you can't get organic marmalade or one without sugar, you can take a whole orange and puree it, put the puree in a sauce pan with a tiny bit of liquid (water or fruit juice) and simmer it with a tbs of xylitol. Taste it for the level of sweetness you want but try to keep it a little tart. Once it seems to have reduced or thickened, let it cool.


Directions
Whip the cream cheese and coconut milk together in a bowl and add the other ingredients while you mix. Check the taste as you go, adding more marmalade or sweetener as you desire. It is not supposed to be an overpowering orange flavor... it is more of a hint. Smother on a piece of gingerbread and welcome to heaven.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sweet Mashed Potatoes


Here is a great Thanksgiving recipe that will help your whole family eat a little healthier. My sister and I consulted each other on this one in attempts to get our family away from good ol' green bean casserole. Everything in that recipe is canned... it's just so wrong... and yet somehow it became family tradition. Hopefully this week I can post enough recipes to break all of the unhealthy traditions going around.
This is a much healthier potato dish than your standard mashed potatoes. Tried and documented by Kelly Sharon (my sister).

Ingredients (for 8 servings)
3 organic sweet potatoes
½ of an organic sweet yellow onion
1 head of roasted organic garlic
Organic or homemade Chicken broth (set aside 1 1/4 cups)
Butter or lard (for dairy-free)
1 package of bacon 
1/2 tsp sea salt
sea salt & pepper to taste
organic rosemary

Directions 
Put the garlic in the oven to roast. Boil the sweet potatoes in half water, half chicken broth with about 1/2 tsp of sea salt and 2 sprigs of rosemary. Boil until fork tender, then drain the water. Mash the potatoes with the roasted garlic, about 6 tbsp of butter and approx 1-1 ¼ cups of chicken broth. Add in the chopped onion and about 5 pieces of chopped bacon.  Salt & pepper to taste.  Put in a greased baking dish with the rest of the crumbled bacon on top and a little more butter.  Baked on 400 deg for about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Steak sauce


One thing I really miss is A1 Steak Sauce, and with all those steaks we eat, there has to be a substitute. So, this is what I came up with.

Ingredients
1/2 cup organic orange juice (I squeezed my own)
6-8 pitted organic dates
1/4 cup coconut aminos
1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons organic dijon mustard (sugar free)
1/2 cup brewed coffee
2 tablespoons organic ketchup (sugar free)
2 tablespoons chili sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp stevia extract (optional- add after ingredients have cooked down)



Directions
Blend all ingredients in the bullet and pour into a saucepan to simmer. Once the mixture has thickened, check the taste and add the stevia if you would like it to taste sweeter. You can also add a little arrowroot powder to help with the thickness (1/2 tsp or so).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chocolate Mousse tart


This is a chocolate lover's delight! Another experiment gone perfect led me to this mousse on a crunchy crust. My husband keeps saying I should do it without the crust, but I prefer the texture. Plus, the cacao nibs are awesome.

Oh, and... did I mention you can eat this for breakfast? It won't hurt you one bit and is packed with protein.

Crust
1 Tbsp Lard, Butter or Coconut Oil
1 Cup raw organic cashews
1/4 Cup organic cacao nibs
1 Cup organic almonds
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 Cup organic cocoa powder
1/2 Cup xylitol
1/8 tsp stevia extract
1 Tbsp coffee grounds



Filling
6 Whole pastured eggs
1/2 Cup xylitol
1/4 tsp stevia extract
1/2 Cup organic cocoa powder
1 tsp brewed coffee
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 Cup organic orange juice



Directions
For the crust: Put all of the ingredients, except the cacao nibs, in a food processor and chop until the nuts have broken down, but maintain a chunky texture. Mix in the cacao nibs with a mixing spoon, not with the processor blade. Pour the crumbles into a square baking dish and push into the sides. Place in a preheated oven (about 375 or 400 if you live at altitude) and let bake while you make the filling.



Filling: Whip all ingredients in a blender, food processor or bullet and pour into the crust.
Bake the tart until the top gets a little color and the center is not jiggling. It will probably inflate like a brownie when it's almost done, but it will deflate when it cools. It tastes great at room temperature or chilled.






Friday, November 11, 2011

Eggnog (dairy and sugar-free)


I don't know about you, but I am obsessed with eggnog (sans the alcohol). Every year I get super excited for the season. I usually go through a half-gallon in a week on my own, and that is with a mix of half eggnog - half milk in my glass. It is dessert for me. But because it is primal, that means I can have it any time of day, in a latte or by itself. The fact that I now can drink a ton of it and not gain weight is unbelievable to me.
This recipe is dairy AND sugar free because my husband and I are staying away from dairy (even though that is the best way to have it).


Ingredients
6 pastured eggs
1 tbs xylitol + some stevia extract (to taste)
1/8 tsp freshly grated organic nutmeg 
1 can of organic coconut milk/cream (for dairy version, use 1 pint of heavy cream + 2 cups milk if you prefer it not so thick) 

Directions
In the bullet or a blender whip the eggs, sweetener, vanilla extract and nutmeg. When the eggs look thoroughly mixed add the coconut milk (or cow's milk) and continue to whip. Chill and serve with a little nutmeg as a garnish.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Primal Apple Crumble




Tis the season... of apples! Apples baking makes me not just think of, but feel like fall, Halloween; leaves rustling in the wind and bundling up next to a window with something sweet. Just to have that warm smell in the house, I came up with this recipe and was extremely thankful for the whim.

Primal Apple Crumble
6 organic apples cored and sliced (you can use any variety)
1 tbsp xylitol
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp lard, butter or coconut oil


Directions
Heat the oven to your usual baking temp (mine is about 400 degrees) and put a casserole dish in with the tablespoon of lard, butter, or coconut oil until it melts and you can coat the dish. Throw in the apple slices tossed with the cinnamon and sweetener. This gives the apples a head start while you put together the crumble topping.


Crumble Topping
1 2/3 cups almond flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp baking powder (Grain Free)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup xylitol
1/8 tsp pure stevia extract
1 pinch of sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp lard, butter or coconut oil
1 pastured egg


Directions
Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl making sure to break up any clumps of coconut flour or other ingredients. Use a pastry dough blender to mix in the wet ingredients until you have a crumble that is the same consistency of our quiche crust. This means it is a loose crumble but still sticks together when pressed. Take the apples out of the oven and with a spatula flatten them or move them around until you have a reasonably flat surface for the topping. Pour the crumble on and move it around to cover the entire apple filling, pressing just enough to have it stick together. Put it back in the oven until the topping becomes a little browned (at least 20 minutes). I know when stuff is just about done the good-ol'-fashioned way... when I can smell it. When apple cinnamon starts wafting through the house, it probably only has another 5 minutes or so.

Serve it hot or cold, with ice-cream or custard, whip cream or créme fraiche. You could even add some whole walnuts in with the apples or chopped into the topping. It is an addictive way to use the abundant fruit this season. I will probably make this for my non-primal family for Thanksgiving (win them over with sweets that aren't bad for you).  Enjoy!


Tools: Pastry Blender


This is one of my favorite tools and will be needed for the next recipe post.  Since I bake so much and am constantly creating bread alternatives, this is the only thing I need to make quiche, tart, pizza crusts and crumble topping for my primal apple crumble. I highly recommend you add one to your primal pantry tools.
It is used to mash the butter or lard into your dry mixed ingredients and create that crumbly texture needed for crusts. It distributes the wet ingredients very thoroughly. Just make sure you have already mixed your dry ingredients.



I have the one pictured above right. It is nice that the blades go all the way up the sides to the handle but sometimes the nut that holds it all together comes loose and parts go flying. I would probably prefer one that was a little more sturdy like the one on the left. Either way, you probably won't spend more than $15 for even the top-of-the-line dough blender.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Nut Clusters Cereal


I don't really eat cereal and never cared for it. But I had an idea that it would be easy to make cereal primal, and it is. It is nice to have something crunchy to eat when I get that craving. This stuff is, as my Grandma once said, "nuttier n'a squirrel turd."

Ingredients
2 cups chopped almonds (or your favorite nut)
1 cup of each of the following:
  sunflower seeds
  pumpkin seeds
  shredded unsweetened coconut
  chopped walnuts (or another kind of nut)
6 oz of dried fruit (I used apricots)
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
1/4 tsp stevia extract

Directions
Put the dried fruit in a bullet cup, add the lemon juice and fill with water until covered. Let this sit for a couple hours at room temp or until you notice the water has mostly dissappeared. Once the dried fruit looks nice and plump add the stevia and blend until it is a thick paste.  
Mix all of the nuts in a large mixing bowl and add the sunflower seeds. Put the shredded coconut in a food processor with the pumpkin seeds and blend until the mix is pretty well broken down. Add this into the nut mixture and stir until everything is evenly distributed.
Now add the fruit paste to the dry mix and spread it out on a baking sheet to toast in the oven. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until everything looks toasty, making sure to stir it around every couple minutes. When it looks done, turn off the oven and let the mix stay in there to dry out completely. Maybe throw in a few slivered almonds or dried berries.  Put it in an airtight container for later.
Voila! Nut clusters!




You can use any kind of fruit or nut, making sure that you are countering more bitter nuts with a sweet fruit. Pumpkin seeds also tend to be bitter. Try a banana-walnut version but make sure you add a little more sweetener to make up for the strong walnut taste. You can also add cocoa powder to the paste to make a chocolate version or you can add dried berries to the mix after it has been toasted. Yum!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quiche


This recipe is mainly for the crust.  Once you have this part down you can make any kind of quiche imaginable.  In fact, you can take all of the savory elements out of the crust recipe and replace them with sweet ones to make the perfect crust for a tart!

*UPDATE - I have made this crust many times for sweet and savory dishes having omitted the ground flax seed. It works just as well with 3 cups of almond flour or 2 cups almond flour and 1 of coconut flour. This should simplify things a bit on the supply end of things. I also use this for pies and anything that needs a crust.

Quiche crust
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 1/2 cups fresh ground golden flax seed 
10 or more roasted garlic cloves (I roast my own)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cold water
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp of seasoning of your choice (I used a little cayenne, onion powder, and an organic mixed seasoning)

*If you eat dairy, definitely throw some parmesan cheese in there!
**If you are making tart crust use 2 to 1 ratio almond to coconut flour.  Use lard or coconut oil instead of olive oil; sweeten with stevia extract or xylitol (both is better); cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and vanilla extract to season; lower the amount of salt to a pinch or two.

Directions
Mix all of your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl with a whisk to make sure it is evenly distributed.  Crush or chop the garlic cloves and add to the dry mix with the olive oil and water.  Use a pastry dough blender (a food processor works just as well) to mix the ingredients until you have an evenly moist pile of crumbles.  Dump the crumbles into a pre-greased baking dish and begin kneading them down into an even layer all the way up the sides.  I usually bake it for about 5 minutes before I fill it.
And there is your crust!


Now for filling the quiche.  I use bacon almost every time because I can sauté all of my veggies in the bacon grease to really get the flavor in everything.  I did this with red onion, spinach and fresh parsley this time and if I were eating dairy right now you can bet there would be cheese!


Once all of your veggies and extras are spread evenly around in the crust, you can pour an egg mixture over the entire thing almost up to the top of the sides. For this size quiche I used 1 1/2 dozen eggs, however, if I were eating dairy I would have used a dozen eggs, a cup or so of organic heavy cream and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.  Cream cheese or goat cheese is definitely a wise choice. 
Don't forget to season this egg mixture too!  Use about 1/2 tsp or more of sea salt and maybe a pinch of some of the seasonings you used in your crust.



Once the egg mixture is poured over everything it will go in the oven until everything has a little brown color on it and a toothpick comes out clean.  I usually bake on or around 400 degrees because I have no patience.  Just remember, I am baking at 10,000 feet and I am constantly checking the progress of what I am cooking.  Generally, when you start to smell what you are baking, it is time for it to come out of the oven or pretty close to it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cauliflower Pilaf


Using cauliflower as an alternative to rice is nothing new to some people but perhaps I can offer what I think is the best way to prepare it.  I have never liked cauliflower cooked or raw and have heard the same from many others, so why not mask the taste as much as possible?  This is a recipe inspired by my sister, who proved to be quite a primal chef while putting me up for the last couple weeks at her place in Encinitas, CA.  (Sidenote: Jimbo's is a great place to shop for most of your primal needs if you live in that area.)

Cauliflower Pilaf
1 head organic cauliflower
10 or more cloves of roasted garlic (I roast my own)
handful organic fresh parsley
4 tbs. bacon grease (or organic butter)
4 organic green onions
1 cup organic broth (doesn't matter what kind - I make my own stock)
sea salt and pepper to taste
organic no-salt seasoning

Directions
Grate the head of cauliflower or put it into a food-processor until it has the same consistency or size of rice.  Chop your green onions, roasted garlic and parsley and throw them into a skillet with the bacon grease.  Add the cauliflower rice and seasoning.  *I used a grill seasoning mix and a couple dashes of hot sauce for an extra kick.
After the pilaf is getting a little color (it won't turn yellow- this happens to be the color of the cauliflower we used) pour the broth in the pan and let it soak into the mix.  That's it!

You really can use any kind of veggies or seasoning you want.  The key to the recipe is really the butter or bacon grease giving it that meaty flavor.
The bar-b-que chicken thighs are a recipe passed down from my fiance's family, so I will let him post that one.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tools: Silpat


This convenient silicone mat is an amazing tool for making sweet-potato fries, cookies, biscuits for eggs benedict or even just a steak.  You can buy them online through amazon.com or stop in to Bed Bath & Beyond and pick one up.   They even make round ones to fit in your cake pans!  I would advise anyone who is regularly using a baking sheet to get one.
Make sure that you are not putting it in the dishwasher when you are done because it will make your food taste like soap for ever after.  Because it absorbs a little of what you cook on it, I would also not recommend that you cook a piece of salmon and then bake cookies right away.  Why not just have two? ...one for sweets and one to use for savory items.  Silpat's specific cleaning instructions are on their website.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Homemade Bacon

Making bacon is not easy.  It takes a lot of time, patience and failed attempts to get it right.  But once you get it right, it is well worth it.  I have yet to see pastured bacon in the store.  Even the organic bacon with no nitrates still comes form grain fed pigs.  Sometimes we get bacon from our CSA, which raises pastured pork but it is cured with sodium nitrate and I'm not interested in that on a regular basis.  So, I make my own.
First, you will need a good source of pork belly; sometimes it is called pork side.  We get our pastured pork from our CSA.  They raise healthy, pastured pigs on their farm in Wellington, CO.  Once you find some quality meat, it's time to make bacon.


The Brine
Ice Water
Sea Salt
Black Pepper or any other spices

That's basically all that needs to be in the brine but you can add whatever spices you'd like to it.  Most traditional bacon brines have sugar in them, too.  I do not use sugar but you can add maple syrup or honey if you think it needs some sweetening.  The amount of salt is up to you.  For about 2 lbs of pork belly, I use about 1/4 C to 1/2 C of salt.  A little salt goes a long way.  But keep in mind you need that salt to prevent it from growing harmful bacteria. It takes some time and practice to get it right.
Add your salt and whatever other spices to some boiling water and let simmer until it is all dissolved.  Then add that to the ice water and submerge your pork belly in that mixture.  I put mine in a Pyrex container with a plastic lid but anything that will fit the belly and brine mixture will do.  The pork needs to be fully submerged, so putting a ceramic plate on top of it to weight it down is a good idea.
Put it in the fridge and let it brine for about a week.  Next you need to "freshen" it.

This means rinsing the pork off with cold water for about 20 minutes.  You are trying to wash off all the excess salt.  The brining process will get the salt and spice flavor into the meat but you don't need extra on the outside.  If you don't freshen, your bacon will be way too salty.
After freshening, pat dry with paper towels.  And now we smoke.

Bacon needs to be cold smoked.  I have a regular, old smoker.  So, what I do is get the wood chips smoking a whole lot, load the water tray with ice and smoke the pork belly for about 20 minutes.  This ice will keep the temperature down but you need to have a lot of smoke going before putting the pork in.  Otherwise you will overcook it.  Keep in mind, you're just adding smoke flavor to the belly, not cooking it.  Keep an eye on it because you can overdo it very easily.  This takes time and practice to get right.
Remove and let your pork belly cool.  Once it is cool, wrap it tightly in plastic and stick it in the fridge overnight.  Don't try to cut it, yet.  It needs to cool overnight.
Now, slice.  I use a deli style meat slicer to cut mine into strips but a knife will do.
Now, you have bacon.  Enjoy.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tools: the Bullet


When I used to tell people that they needed to get a "magic bullet" they would look at me like I was a pervert.  You should have seen my mom's initial reaction when I told her I wanted one for Christmas.
Well, for those of you who don't know, it is not a sex toy.
The Magic Bullet is a blender, a whipper, a grinder, a smoothie-maker, an instant gratification machine.  You can make your breakfast, lunch and dinner in it and follow it all up with some chocolate mousse.
If you don't have one, get one.  I use it for almost every single recipe I put together.  We are already on our second one because after one year of 2-3 time a day use, the motor will begin to slow down.  But who cares, at no more than $50 for the whole getup, it is extremely worth it (Costco usually has the best deal).  We will probably be buying many more in our future.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chocolate cookies


These are very rich and very simple.  I would definitely recommend adding walnuts and/or chocolate chips to make them truly decadent.  I didn't have any at the moment (part of the problem of not having the pantry fully stocked).

Chocolate Cookies
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp arrowroot, tapioca or a similar starch
1/2 tsp baking powder (grain-free)
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup xylitol
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp stevia extract
3 eggs
2 tbs strong brewed coffee
3 tbs lard, coconut oil or butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs almond butter 
1/2 cup whipped coconut milk


Directions
As always, combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (except shredded coconut) and whisk until everything is evenly blended.  When I say whipped coconut milk, I am referring to what we did for the coffee-creamer recipe. That is, taking an entire can of coconut milk/cream and whipping it so that the solid and liquid are combined.  When done in the bullet or another whipping device, this creates a very thick and frothy cream.  Take 1/2 cup of this and whip it further with the 3 eggs and other wet ingredients. After all of the wet ingredients are combined, I add the shredded coconut and blend because it is extremely dry and I am trying to compensate.  Combine the wet with the dry mix and you have cookie-dough.
Bake at 375 degrees on a greased baking sheet or silpat until they don't jiggle (about 10 minutes).  Err on the underdone side, otherwise they might dry out. The recipe yields about 18 good-sized cookies.
Again, feel free to add any nuts or extras.  That can only make them more delicious!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bacon


It's been said many times: bacon makes everything taste better.  I didn't always eat this much bacon.  But now when I have my breakfast without it, I feel gypped.
Besides enjoying it for breakfast it works wonders for sauteed veggies, adds depth of flavor to meatloafs, burgers, chilis and can even be incorporated into sweets. Always, ALWAYS save the grease!  It is definitely one of my secret ingredients for cooking.

The brands we buy when we are unable to make our own are Coleman, Beelers, and Applegate Farms.  You can find Beelers, Applegate Farms and Maverick at Natural Grocers.  Coleman and Applegate Farms can be found at most Kroger locations.  Whole Foods carries some of these and their own version of uncured bacon.  The bacon you want is the bacon that has as little processing as possible, no or minimal sugar, preferably organic and uncured.  The truth is, there is no such thing as "uncured" bacon.  If it wasn't cured, it wouldn't be bacon.  That's all marketing.  "Uncured" on a label of bacon simply means it was cured with natural sources of nitrates and nitrites.  Usually these companies use celery juice powder to cure the meat instead of sodium nitrate (1 -2 grams may be lethal.)  I am partial to the Coleman bacon because it is very thin and gets crispier faster but they come in all ranges of thickness.
Ideally you want to make your own bacon, which is not easy and takes some experimentation to get it just how you want it.  Right now we have some brining in our fridge that will get smoked today and sliced tomorrow.  After you get the basic recipe down you can start to play with the flavoring.  Then, once you've become a pro, you can experiment and even add some liquor to your brining process.  Enjoy!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Carrot Cake (grain-free)


I love this recipe!  We are literally fighting over bites of this cake as it rapidly disappears and we even eat it for breakfast.  This recipe was originally made using dates as the majority of the sweetener, however dates have too much sugar for my weight-loss plan.  If you don't mind the sugar, just substitute the xylitol with about 10 or more large pitted dates that you have ground into a paste (and taste the final mix for desired sweetness).  It is equally if not more amazing this way.  


Carrot Cake
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
3 tbs xylitol
1/2 tsp stevia
1 tsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp baking powder (Grain-Free)
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk/cream
2 tbs brewed coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbs lard/butter/coconut oil
2 cups peeled carrots chopped in a food processor
regular sized bag of pecans


*I have changed the amount of liquid to a lesser amount. Because I live in high-altitude, extra liquid is needed to keep my baking moist but this is not necessary at sea-level.


Directions
Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl with a whisk. (This is something I always do to ensure the flours and other ingredients are broken up and evenly mixed.)  Whip the wet ingredients together, except for the carrots, in a blender or bullet and then combine with the dry mix.  Lastly, add the processed carrots.  This can be poured into well greased cake rounds, cupcake molds or a brownie or loaf pan and baked at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Let it cool significantly before frosting and serving, otherwise it does not set up to a cake-like consistency. 
The pictures here are of a 3 layer cake with frosting in between the layers and poured on top (I think I doubled the recipe).  The final touch is toasting the pecans on a sheet in the oven until you can smell them, then crushing them and sprinkling liberally on top.


Frosting
1 can of previously refrigerated full fat coconut milk/cream (the thicker-the better)
a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
1 tbs brewed coffee
sweetener of your choice: xylitolstevia, etc... (or about 8 pitted dates processed into a paste)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whip the ingredients together in a bullet, food processor, blender or with your muscles and a whisk, sweetening to taste.





Sunday, May 8, 2011

Coconut coffee creamer


The hardest part of making the transition to a primal diet is cutting out dairy. I still eat cheese but I am trying to cut dairy out entirely.  So, now I need to find a substitute for milk/cream in my coffee.  I drink a ton of coffee and I have tried many times using almond milk, hazelnut milk and coconut creamer.  Unfortunately, nothing sticks.  I just can't get the right creaminess with nut milk and though the coconut creamer at the store is very close to half'n'half, it has sugar in it and still has too strong of a coconut taste.
Well, I may have finally figured it out.  It is very simple but it gets the job done without added sugar or an overly strong coconut flavor.  I use about 3 spoonfuls to get the color above.

Coconut coffee creamer
1 can organic coconut milk/cream (never light)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
sweeten with stevia extract to taste


Empty the entire can of coconut milk/cream into a blender or bullet and whip it all together with your vanilla and stevia extract.  Store in a container (in the fridge) that you can spoon the creamer out of; otherwise it will solidify in a pourable container and you will not be able to pour it out.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Resources: Almond Flour


One of our readers has directed us to his source for almond flour: Nuts Online
It looks like they have blanched, unblanched and organic almond flour in a variety of bulk sizes for a much better price than offered at your local health-food store.
They also have chia seed, shredded coconut, dried fruit and every kind of nut and nut flour you could dream of.  I can see it now.... cashew flour cookies, or better yet- pistachio!
This is definitely a great one-stop pantry stocker.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Resources: Trader Joe's


Trader Joe's is a grocery store I became accustomed to when I lived in California.  So, when I was visiting these last couple weeks I stopped into many a location to stock up on food for my travels.  Luckily for us Trader Joe's is not just limited to SoCal anymore but unfortunately for myself, Colorado is not yet a future site for one.  For all of you fortunate primal eaters with a location near you, here is a mini-review of some of the products they have in stock that suit our needs.

These are just the items I saw at the Southern California location I was near.  There may be more available at the location near you.  Please share with us what you find!

*organic chicken
*Applegate Farms grass-fed beef hot dogs
*organic leafy greens, herbs, and various fruits/veggies
*wild salmon
*Kerrygold butters and cheeses
*raw milk cheese and/or grassfed milk cheese
*raw milk (yes, lucky Californians can buy it at the store)
*organic condiments
*nut and seed butters
*stevia (only the extract has no other added ingredients)
*raw nuts (the roasted have rice-bran oil or other undesirable ingredients)
*73% chocolate bars that contain no soy  (only $1.99! YAY!)

Beware the dried berries- I made the mistake of buying them before reading that they have added sugar...
I had a major sugar-crash after.  Yikes!  Always READ THE LABELS to make sure!

If you don't have a location near you send an email to the company or keep them in mind when you are traveling.  To download a list of all there locations click here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Homemade Lard


Animal fats such as pork lard, beef/bison tallow and poultry fat are excellent forms of cooking oil.  They are great for baking and sauteing.  Generally, you can substitute them for butter in baking recipes.  Lard was once a common staple in most American homes. These days it is rare to find someone with a jar of lard in their pantry.  Well, take a look in my pantry.  I have two jars in there (in the fridge, actually).  
I don't use just any lard.  It is important, not only where your lard comes from, but how it was processed.  The next time you're in the grocery store, take a look at the lard on the shelf.  It's most likely hydrogenated and comes from factory farmed pigs.  I am not interested in cooking with oils like that.  So, I make my own lard.  I would also make tallow and poultry "lard" if I had a good source of fat from those animals but I do not.  So, we're sticking with lard for now.
The first step is sourcing your pig fat.  We get our pig fat from a local farm that raises organic, pastured pigs.  Their pigs are a Yorkshire cross breed that are pastured and have lots of room to roam.  They eat lots of farm fresh vegetables and fruit.   
It is important that your pig fat is pastured, as well as organic.  Organic pigs can still be fed a diet corn and soy.  That fat is not Omega 3 rich.  It is rich in Omega 6.  That's not what you're looking for in a cooking oil.  Look for pastured pork from a local farm. Pigs are omnivorous, like us. They need to be able to roam around and eat grubs, fruit, tubers, etc... The factory farmed pigs don't get this.
Once you have a good source of pig fat, you're ready to make lard.
Lard
Cut your pig fat into small pieces.  

Load the pieces into your slow cooker.  Turn it on low and let the slow cooker do its thing for a few hours.  It should take about 5 hours, give or take, to render your lard. It is a good idea to keep an eye on it after a few hours.  If you let it go too long it can burn, although it does take a while.  I have done that once before.  
Once there is mostly liquid in your pot and your fat pieces are starting to crisp up, it is time to jar your lard. You will need to strain the liquid.  
I store mine in mason jars but any jar will do.  
Pour the liquid through the strainer and close your jar.    

Let it cool for several hours until it is at room temperature.  The liquid will turn white and become solid at this point.
Store it in the refrigerator and you're all done.

What's left in the slow cooker are the crispy pieces of fat.  These can be stored and used as a sort of "pork crackling."  They can be salted and used as "bacon bits" for salads or a number of other things.  This is where you need to get creative.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Almond Flour


Almond flour is practically in everything primal and it doesn't come cheap in your local health food store.  I vaguely remember it being as much as $12 for a pound of Bob's Red Mill brand.  Well I am going to share with you an incredible money saver for almond flour.  I get mine through my workplace (a bakery/candy shop) that orders their candy from a candy/nut supplier.  Those of you who live in Denver might be completely unaware of Jerry's Nut House.  It is not listed on their website but they do have almond meal, blanched and un-blanched.  I made the mistake of getting un-blanched one time and got yelled at because it is a tiny bit more bitter with the skin on.  However, I still use it and the only difference is it's just more nutty in the recipes.  Since it is not necessarily a publicly available product, I can't predict what they will charge for their minimum order of 20 lbs.  If you are lucky, it could be as little as $100.  You do the math, that is dirt cheap and our 20 lbs lasts us about 4-6 months with frequent baking.
For those who do not live in Denver, do a little internet research and see if you can find a candy/nut supplier near you.  If they don't sell to the public, see what kind of arrangement you can come to.  Maybe if a couple people get together and want to buy a couple of boxes, they could be persuaded.  And don't forget, get the blanched!

Milk products


I love milk.  Like most children I was not allowed to leave the dinner table until I finished my milk.  I probably didn't love it as much then as I did later. When I became a little older and was outside terrorizing the neighborhood with my childhood friends I would often take a break and come inside the house to chug down some milk (if no one was looking, from the carton).  It was what I drank to quench my thirst.  I will say, to this day, that if anyone ever wanted to go head-to-head in a milk challenge I would win hands-down.  Even now, I can't force myself to put down a latte and pick up a glass of water.
As we grew up the milk began to get thinner and thinner until we were drinking what seemed like white water.  Everything became "skinny", non-fat, skim,... whatever.  I wish some of those women that order "skinny" anything could see me now.  I drink full-fat milk, half and half, heavy cream and milk so thick it has milk chunks and it tastes so good that I want to bathe in it (great for the skin, by the way).  Not only is the milk full fat but it is as minimally processed as possible.  If I could get it straight from the udder, I would.  Raw milk is truly the best kind of milk you can buy, if it is available.  Unfortunately, there are laws against selling raw dairy products in some states.  It is so illegal that a swat team will literally break into your store and destroy your establishment at gun-point (no joke).
A brand that I am lucky to have available to me is Kalona SuperNatural.  The dairy farmers (many of which are Amish and Mennonite) do not use chemicals, chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.  Their milk products come from grass-fed cows, are totally organic with no added hormones and are non-homogenized (a process which mixes the milk and ruins the flavor and quality).  The products are also Grade A and have way more nutrients than what you generally get at the store probably because the milk is pasteurized (the legal requirement making it not raw) at the lowest heat allowed.  Industrial-scale milk producers heat their milk up to as much as 265-300 degrees in their pasteurization process while Kalona SuperNatural heats it to 145 degrees.  Read more about their processing methods on their site.
Hopefully the Natural Grocers near me will carry more of their products soon but as of now I drink the whole milk and use their buttermilk for making crème fraiche and adding to my baking. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mexican seasoning



Combine:
1 tbs chili powder
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp ground dry oregano leaves
1 tbsp ground dry thyme leaves
1 tbsp garlic powder 
3/4 tsp cayenne


*The majority of these spices are the Organic Spices available at our local health food store, Natural Grocers.

Chili-cheese fries


This is a great chili for fries, dogs, burgers, etc... because it is mild and rich. If you want a hardcore spicy chili, this is not the stuff. However, you can add to it to get whatever spice level you desire.
I have been obsessed with chili-cheese sweet potato fries ever since I took on the challenge. Since I am trying to limit my starch intake, this is a treat I make only once in a while.

Chili
1 tbs homemade lard (saved bacon grease is better for this recipe)
1/2 onion diced
8 cloves diced garlic
2 pounds of ground grass-fed beef, bison or both
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup brewed coffee
1/3 cup diced jalapenos
2 15 oz. cans organic diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can organic tomato sauce
2 cups homemade beef stock

Directions:
In a slow-cooker or stock-pot melt the lard and get the onions and garlic sauteing. While that is happening, combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix it together. When everything is hot and sizzling, add the meat to your pot and throw in the dry mix. As soon as the meat is thoroughly browned, add the coffee, jalapenos, wine and stock. The cans of diced tomatoes can be thrown in as-is, however I prefer to blend everything with the tomato sauce before adding to the mix. Let it simmer or cook on low in the slow-cooker until it looks like that disgusting chili they throw on your food at the fast-food restaurants. That's exactly what we're going for; disgustingly delicious!

Sweet-Potato Fries
Get yourself some organic sweet potatoes, peel them and then slice them however you like in a french fry fashion. If you soak them in water for about 10 minutes after you cut them, this is supposed to take some of the starch out. Get the oven heated to 400-415 degrees and move a rack to a low spot above the heating element. On a baking sheet (I also recommend a Silpat) melt a couple tablespoons of lard, bacon grease or butter and toss your fries around on it. I season mine with Old Bay or blackening seasoning or just plain sea salt. Make sure to move them around as they cook. It takes a while because they are so full of water, so expect at least 30 minutes of "frying" time. At some point, they will look ready but not really have a crispness to them. You may never achieve the crispiness you expect but put them on a high rack under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes to come close. Keep an eye on them because they can start to burn quickly.

Put a pile of fries on your plate, add chili and cheese. Need I say more?
Once you start making this, good luck. I promise you will become addicted.

Coffee


There are 3 coffee roasters that I am a huge fan of and I consider myself something of a coffee snob. Coffee is not only something I drink everyday but something I definitely think should be in the pantry for all kinds of cooking. It brings out the flavor of chocolate, deepens the flavors of chili and stews and is the perfect primal cooking substitute for Worcestershire. The brand of coffee I use only matters because I am drinking it and don't like the cheap stuff. If you are not drinking it and just cooking with it, you can use whatever kind you want. Brew up a pot, put it in a bottle with a stopper and save it for cooking in the fridge. I am particular to the espresso blends because I would rather brew espresso and judge my coffee from these. On a side note, for those of you who have never been a barista, you can brew the same beans for coffee, espresso, Turkish coffee, toddy, etc... The only difference is how the bean is ground and the coffee is extracted.

My favorite Colorado brand is the NOVO espresso blend.




My favorite California brand comes from a roaster whom I worked with, KEAN.

Of course, if you ever get to Portland you will be referred to Stumptown Roasters. It is well worth the hype. You can order their espresso blend online, called Hairbender. You can even sign up for a monthly subscription to their beans.