Artichokes with AIP Bagna Cauda (Instant Pot/Steamer)

I seem to have a real problem – I have become totally addicted to artichokes!

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Artichokes are an edible variety of thistle.  They are high in fiber, and are a good source of niacin, potassium, phosphorus, copper, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and manganese.  They have a large number of health benefits – they are very high in fiber, and contain more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables.  They are reputed to be able to prevent cancer and to be good for the heart.  They can help to reduce blood pressure and can function as a liver tonic.  These are just a few of this amazing vegetables benefits – they truly are a wonderful vegetable that everyone should be eating!

The first time you cook or eat one of these spiky looking vegetables, they can be very intimidating.  How are you supposed to get down to the delicious tender heart.  What do you do with all the spiky thorns that may be present on the ends of the leaves.  How are you supposed to cook it?  And more importantly, how are you supposed to eat it?

Don’t be afraid – once you know how, they are very easy to cook.

You can cook them in a steamer or an Instant Pot (which is what I did) I will give you full instructions on how to do this in the recipe below.  It is very simple.

To eat them, you pull off a leaf, dip the base in a tasty dip – I used Bagna Cauda in this recipe, and then you scrape off the fleshy part of the base with your teeth, discarding the rest of the leaf.  As you get closer and closer to the center, more of the leaf is edible.  Once you get to the center, you will find the hairy “choke”.  This part is not edible.  Use a spoon to scrape it all off, and what you have left is the delicious choke.  This can be cut up,  dipped in the dip and eaten.  You can eat the stem – it is a personal preference.  It can taste a little bitter, so some prefer to trim it off.  I like to keep it on my artichokes and nibble at it to see how bitter it is – it can also be very fibrous, so even if you leave it on, you may need to discard it anyway.

It always surprises me that you end up with a HUGE pile of leftovers after eating artichokes!

When selecting artichokes, try to buy ones that are tightly closed – if the leaves have started to open they are old and will not taste as good.

This gets messy fast – drippy, oily – expect it to drip on your clothes and your chin…..  lots of napkins are recommended!  Maybe even finger bowls if serving to “company”!  There is no “dignified” way to eat artichokes!

This is a very hands-on, tactile, sense-driven way of eating – something that I absolutely LOVE!

 

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Bagna Cauda is Italian in origin, and translates to mean “Hot Dip” or “Hot Bath” depending on which website you believe.  It is a blend of Olive oil, butter, garlic and anchovies, that is served warm.  Obviously, because it contains butter the original recipe for Bagna Cauda is not AIP unless you have successfully reintroduced butter – and given my anaphalactic dairy allergy, this is something that I will never be able to do.  So I decided to come up with an AIP version of this deliciously savoury dip.

Don’t just keep Bagna Cauda for artichokes – it is delicious with all vegetables – dip steamed carrots, fennel, celery, asparagus and anything else you can think of into this warm, delicious and salty bath.  Or drizzle it over a perfectly cooked, rare, sliced steak.  Have fun with it and be adventurous.!

This recipe serves 2 as an appetizer or side dish, but I am a greedy piggie, and I ate it all to myself!  You can share the bagna cauda from the same dish if you like or divide it between 2 separate small ramekins or dishes.  It is also easily multiplied up to feed more than 2 people – in-fact, if you are feeding a crowd, with an instant pot this would make the simplest appetizer!

 

Artichokes with Bagna Cauda (AIP)

(serves 2 unless as greedy as me!)

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Ingredients

For the Artichokes:

  • 2 artichokes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 of a lemon
  • a lemon cut in half

For the Bagna Cauda:

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup AIP approved fat – I used bone-marrow fat for this recipe, but bacon fat would make a delicious substitute.  You could also use a good quality coconut oil or home-rendered lard.
  • 3 anchovy fillets (read ingredients to ensure they are preserved in an AIP approved oil if canned.  If salted, rinse the excess salt off)
  • 3 cloves of garlic

Method

The first thing that you need to doo is to trim your artichokes as these are going to take the longest time.  Take the artichoke and cut off the end of the stem – I do recommend that you leave some stem on, because while it can taste bitter and can be fibrous it can be edible, and you cannot tell if it is until after it is cooked).  Take a vegetable peeler and peel the stem around all its girth, removing any small and loose leaves.

Next, put the artichoke flat on a cutting board and using a very sharp knife cut an inch off the top of the artichoke – this removes a lot of the spiky bits that may be present.  Check the remaing  leaves for sharp points and if you find them, but them off with a pair of scissors.  Rub all the exposed areas with a cut lemon to prevent browning.

If you are using an Instant Pot, put the trivet in the bottom.  Add 1 cup of water, the bay leaves, the lemon and the garlic. Add the trimmed and prepared artichokes.  Turn on your instant pot and select Manual.  Press the + button to 20.  Let it run for 20 minutes, the  do a quick release of pressure.  Remove the cooked artichokes and test for done-ness by pulling off a leaf – if it does noBat pull off with minimal pressure/strength cook for 5 mins longer.  Keep warm until the Bagna Cauda is ready.

If you do not have an Instant pot, put the lemon, bay and garlic in a pot with a cup or two of water.  Place a steamer basket over the top and add the trimmed artichoke hearts. cover with a lid, and cook for 45 minutes.

Once the cooking time is done, if using an Instant Pot, do a fast steam release (I like to put a cloth over the vent to stop any damage to my ceiling and kitchen cabinets). check that the  artichokes are cooked by pulling a leaf out.  It should pull out easily – if it is not cooked, you need to give it 5-10 minutes more.

Keep the artichokes warm and make the sauce.

To make the Bagna Cauda, put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Transfer to a pan and heat up.  Simmer for 2 minutes (do not worry if it appears to curdle that is because of the protein in the anchovies).  Transfer to heated serving dishes (ramekins for single servings, a heated fondue pot for larger portions if you have multiplied up).

Serve at once as a dip…..

Shared at: Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable

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This blog-entry does contain affiliate links that help support my blogging activities.  If you click on a link, you will never be charged more than the regular price for the item, but I may receive a small reward as a result.  Please rest assured that all of the items or ingredients I recommend in this post I have used personally.

 

Reiki

I became a Reiki Master yesterday.

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This has been over 10 years in the making, but I am so glad that I did it.  It was an important part of my physical, mental and spiritual healing – not only from my autoimmune issues, but also from the abuse that I have suffered over the years.

The peace that this has given me is amazing.  And I have to say that it was truly a life-changing experience.

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For those who do not know what Reiki is, this is a brief description.

Reiki is a method of energy healing that originated in Japan and is based on Buddhist teachings and philosophy.  While originating from Buddhism, Reiki is NOT aligned with any religion and is not a religious practice in itself.   It is a spiritual practice (at least for me), but is primarily a healing practice.

Reiki uses the universal life-force or energy that surrounds everything on Earth to support and encourage the body to heal itself.  It can heal on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  The body wants to heal, it is smart and it knows what it needs.  Reiki allows that to happen.  It is also protective, something that gives me great comfort.

Reiki can be a hands-on treatment (laying on hands), but it can also be a totally hands-off treatment – either by just “hovering” the hands over the body of the person being treated, or by distance treatment – yes you can provide a Reiki treatment for someone who is not physically present – even for someone on the other side of the world!  The energies know where to go and what is needed.  It is very gentle and very safe.  This makes it ideal for those who cannot or do not like to be touched.

Reiki does not diagnose, and should not replace regular medical care.  But it does work very well alongside other treatment modalities, both alternative and allopathic.  It is a holistic treatment, treating the whole body on all levels.

I intend to use the Reiki along side my regular massage practice, incorporating it into my massages to make them more effective, but I can also offer a stand-alone Reiki treatment if requested.  For the stand-alone Reiki, you would not need to undress, and you would not need to even be touched.  This makes it an ideal healing treatment for those who do not like to be touched (for anyone who has suffered from physical or sexual abuse for example).

Anyone in Calgary, Alberta, Canada who wishes to book a treatment with me, I can be contacted via Hands On Massage Therapy or by email charlotte@handsonmassagetherapy.ca

I can also give distance Reiki treatments on request.  Please contact me at charlotte@salixisme.com for pricing and details.

New Tattoo

I went today to get one of the last vestiges of my marriage removed.

A new more positive tattoo

A new more positive tattoo

I had a tattoo between my shoulder blades that contained my ex-husbands name.  And I was finding it hard seeing it every time I looked over my shoulder while stood in front of a mirror.  And even when I did not see it, I knew it was there.  I could feel it dragging my spirit down.  And I felt a lot of anxiety knowing that I had his name on my body.

Before

Before

I know that there are some risks with getting tattoos, especially when your immune system does not work as it should (like in those of us with autoimmune disorders).  I am also aware that you are more likely to get problems with red pigments.  But I wanted the phoenix because of what it symbolizes.  Phoenixes really need the red of the fire!  And if I was getting a tattoo, I was going to get one I loved, one that looked beautiful, and one that really meant something.

The phoenix really does all that for me.  I have literally risen out of the ashes of my previous life with my ex-husband.  The process has been very empowering, and very uplifting, although it has been painful as well.  The pain of getting this tattoo (and it was really REALLY painful, especially around the 3 hour mark.  I nearly called a halt at that point!) symbolizes that pain too.  I may not be quite “all there” yet, I suspect I never will be – life is, and should be, about continual growth.  And getting this was an important step to me healing and growing.

It is a lot bigger than my previous one, but that was needed to ensure that the previous one was totally covered by the dark area.  I love the way that the tail extends down my spine.  I love the detail and the shading (the shading was the most painful part as she was repeatedly having to go over already sore and inflamed areas).

But I think the final result is worth it!

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I had this done by Amber at The Arthouse Inc in Kensington (Calgary).  And she did a fabulous job!  She came up with the original design, then produced this wonderful piece of body art especially for me!

New Home

I moved into my new home today!  I am so excited and happy to finally have my own place and be independant again.  And to have a place that I can really make my own.

These are a few pictures of it, taken as the moving company was just starting to bring stuff in.  (they are not the best quality pictures – just ones snapped with my phone).  It is small, but perfect for me – 2 bedrooms, and just what I need to get myself back on my feet again.

The most important room in the house!

The most important room in the house!

Another view of the kitchen - small but useable.

Another view of the kitchen – small but useable.

The main living area with the second bedroom beyond the open door.

The main living area with the second bedroom beyond the open door.

Part of the master bedroom.

Part of the master bedroom.

 

I will take some more, better pictures once I have everything unpacked and settled (and once I have found my camera, which is somewhere among all the boxes in the second bedroom!)

And once I have finally unpacked everything and got everything sorted, I will be able to get back to cooking and writing recipes again…..  Something that I cannot wait to do!

 

Lacto-fermented Garlic and Dill Pickles

I ended up with a bunch of pickling cucumbers in my CSA box a week or two ago, so decided that it was time to make some pickles.

I like to enjoy some probiotic rich food with every meal if I can, and these pickles fit the bill perfectly….

2 Chicken drumsticks, collard greens with bacon, half a sliced avocado and some pickles

2 Chicken drumsticks, collard greens with bacon, half a sliced avocado and some pickles

Because the cucumbers I received were not very even in size, I decided to slice them this time and make pickle slices.  You could easily make whole cucumber pickles or even use cucumbers cut lengthwise into spears.  Whole cucumbers may take a little longer depending on the size, but the process is exactly the same.

In order to keep the cucumber pickles crunchy, you need to use a source of tannin – some people use grape leaves, but I decided to use green tea because that is what I have handy for making my kombucha.

Lacto-Fermented Garlic and Dill Pickles

Makes 1 pint jar

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Place the teabag and the salt in the 2 cups of boiling water and leave to stand until at room temperature.  Stir well to dissolve the salt.

Meanwhile slice the cucumbers into ¼” thick slices.

Peel the garlic but leave the cloves whole.  Place the garlic and dill in the bottom of the jar and then fill the jar with the cucumber slices.

Once the tea/brine has cooled to room temperature, pour this in the jar until they are covered with the brine. You probably will not need all the brine, but it is better to have made too much!

Now you need to weigh them down.  As you can see in the picture above, I used a smaller mason jar that fit nicely inside the mouth of the larger jar.  Other people use clean, boiled river-rocks, glass marbles or even a food-grade plastic bag filled with more brine.  Anything will work as long as it is non-toxic, will fit inside the jar, and will hold the pickles under the brine.  A glass jar just works well for me.

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Cover the jar and any weights with a clean, densely woven cloth.  I like to use a tea-cloth as they wash well in case of any accidental brine spillage, yet they are densely woven enough to keep bugs out.  Do NOT try to use the cheap, loosely woven “Cheesecloth” sold in grocery stores – the weave is far too loose on this, and even with multiple layers fruit-flies and other bugs will get into your pickles!  Hold the cloth in place with either string tied tightly round the jar or an elastic band.

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Leave your pickles on the counter for 4-6 days at room temperature.  I like to stand the jar in a dish to catch any brine that might spill over the edge of the jar – it makes less of a mess on the counter.

After 4 days, taste one of the pickles and see if it is to your liking.  If it is, now is the time to put a lid on the jar and stash them in the fridge.

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If not, leave them on the counter-top for an extra day or two.

Serve cold with your favourite meals….

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If using small whole pickles, they may take an extra 3-4 days depending on size.  Really large whole pickles might take up to a week or two to get properly pickled.

When making whole pickles I will sometimes use a crock or a large pot – in this case a baked bean pot that I will never use for cooking beans…

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Just scale up the recipe, remembering to use 2 cloves of garlic and 2 sprigs of dill for every cup of brine you are making up, and using 1 TBSP of salt and 1 green teabag per cup of brine.

Place the garlic and dill at the bottom of the crock, then pack the cucumbers on top:

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Pour over the brine, and then weight down with something that will keep the pickles under the surface of the brine.  In the case of my bean-pot, because of the shape and the narrow neck, I use a ziplock bag filled with brine.  If you are using a straight sided crock, you could use an appropriately sized dinner plate or anything else that fits.

Cover the crock tightly with a lid or a cloth (I like to put a piece of clingwrap over the mouth of my bean pot, and then place the lid on top to make sure no insects get in.

Ferment for 1-2 weeks depending on the size of the pickles before transferring them to smaller jars and storing in the fridge.

Shared at:  Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable

Farmers Market Fruit Crumble – AIP/Paleo/Vegan/Gluten-Free

I went a little bit overboard the other day while at the farmers market and bought a TON of fruit…  far more than I could reasonably eat before it all went soft and over-ripe.  And in addition to everything I bought (apricots, strawberries, saskatoon berries and blackberries) I also had a bunch of rhubarb in my CSA veggie box.

I was at a little bit of a loss as to what to do with all this fruit, and then I remembered that I had a pot-luck to attend the next day.

Normally, I make savoury contributions to potlucks as there is usually very little that I can eat apart from what I provide.  But this time I decided to make a dessert using all this delicious fruit.

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The fruit I used was everything that I had got from the farmers market – apricots, strawberries, blackberries, saskatoon berries and the rhubarb.  But you could use any fruit you have that is seasonal.  It could also be made with frozen fruit.  Just keep the quantities to 5 cups of assorted fruits or even 5 cups of one single fruit (It would be delicious made with just apples for example).

It was an absolutely delicious crumble – tangy, and not too sweet.

Remember, even though this dessert contains minimal added sugar/sweeteners, fruit still contains a lot of fructose.  The aim on the AIP is to keep your fructose levels under 20g a day.  In addition, sugar in any form is very inflammatory, and for those people with Autoimmune Disorders, this can cause a setback in the healing process, or could even trigger a flare.  Keep desserts and sweet treats like this to a once in a while “treat” rather than an every day indulgence.

This dessert is also made to be shared – it is ideal to make as a dessert when you are having the family over for Sunday lunch, less so as a regular dessert after your meals each day.  Keep the portions small and you should not have too many problems with sugar consumption.

Farmers Market Fruit Crumble

serves 8

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For the fruit filling:

  • 5 cups assorted fresh or frozen fruit (I used 1 cup each of diced apricots, chopped rhubarb, halved strawberries and blackberries and saskatoon berries )  Feel free to use whatever fruit you have available.
  • 1 tbsp tapioca flour or arrowroot starch
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup

For the crumble topping:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Mix the fruit together in a bowl and toss with the tapioca flour or arrowroot starch.  Pour into a 9″ square baking dish.  Drizzle the maple syrup over the fruit, aiming to get it as evenly distributed as possible.  If you are using frozen fruit, there is no need to thaw it first.

Put all the ingredients for the crumble topping in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs.  If you do not have a food processor, you can easily do this by hand.  Simply mix all the dry ingredients together and rub the coconut oil into the flours using your fingertips.  Then mix in the vanilla and maple syrup.

Sprinkle the crumble topping over the fruit, aiming to get an even layer.

Bake the crumble in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until the fruit is bubbly and the crumble topping is nicely browned.

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This can be served hot, warm or cold depending on preference.  It is even easy to reheat – simply place the crumble in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for 10-15 minutes until heated through.

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I like to serve this with whipped coconut cream

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Mmmmmmmm  delicious!

Shared at: Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable

Cauliflower-Kale “Rice”

Cauliflower makes a great rice substitute, but being white, it can look a bit bland.  I like to add some extra colour and nutrition by adding greens.

Kale pairs really well with cauliflower, and is one of my favourites.

This recipe is not only paleo, it is gluten and grain-free and also AIP-friendly.

Cauliflower-Kale “Rice”

serves 4

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  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp fat of choice (lard, tallow, bacon-fat or coconut oil are all good choices)
  • ¼ cup of bone-broth – preferably homemade from grass-fed/pastured bones
  • sea salt to taste

The first thing you need to do is to turn your cauliflower into “rice”.  The easiest (and least messy) way to do this is to use a food processor.  Cut the cauliflower into florets and place these in your food processor.  Pulse it until it resembles grains of rice.  You may need to do this in batches.

If you do not have a food processor, you can still make cauliflower “rice”, but it is a messy process – take a box grater and grate the cauliflower florets.

Take the tough stems out of the kale, and shred the green parts finely.

Peel and chop the onion.  Peel and crush the garlic and chop finely.

Melt the fat you are using in a large skillet or a wok (I actually use a wok for this as it is bigger than my skillet).

Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until softened.  Do not let the onion brown or burn.  Toss in the garlic and add the kale.  Now add the bone broth, and steam-saute the kale until it is tender.

Add the cauliflower and season well with salt.

Cook, tossing constantly until the cauliflower is heated through and is tender – about 5 minutes.

Serve at once.

This is a wonderful side dish that goes with pretty much anything.

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AIP Salmon Cakes With Avocado Aioli

Because I am cooking for myself a lot of the time now, I tend to make a lot of single person meals.

The only exceptions to this are when I am also cooking for my 2 housemates, or I am making something that will keep in the fridge for a few days and is easily reheated.

This recipe is one of my “single person” meals, although it would easily be doubled or tripled if you needed to feed more people.

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Salmon is a fish that is very good for us because it is an oily fish that is high in the anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids.

I usually have some wild-caught salmon fillets in the freezer that I can pull out and thaw when I need to make a quick meal just for me.

I used white (Japanese) sweet potatoes here, which are slightly less sweet than the familiar orange ones.  This recipe would work just as well with the regular sweet potatoes however…

There will be more avocado Aioli than you need for one person – just cover the remainder tightly with clingwrap, ensuring that the clingwrap is in contact with the surface of the sauce.  It will keep for another day in the fridge and can be used as a dip with veggies for your lunch.

AIP Salmon Cakes with Avocado Aioli

serves 1

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For the Salmon Cakes

  • 1 fillet fresh or frozen salmon 4-6oz (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1 green onion – chopped
  • 1 tsp capers – rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley – chopped
  • pink Himalayan salt to taste
  • arrowroot flour to dust
  • 2 TBSP coconut oil – divided

For the Avocado Aioli

Prick the sweet potato all over and then cook it in the microwave for 5 minutes until it is fork tender. Depending on the power of your microwave, it may take more or less time than this.

If you do not want to use a microwave, you can also bake the sweet potato in the oven – wrap it in foil after pricking it, and bake for 30-40 minutes in a 350°F (175°C) oven until it is fork tender.

While the sweet potato is cooking, melt 1 tbsp of the coconut oil in a small skillet.  Add the fish and cook for 3 minutes per side until it is opaque and flaking.  do not over cook the fish!

Once the sweet potato is cooked, use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of the skin into a small mixing bowl and mash it well.

Flake the fish into the bowl, discarding any skin.  Add the green onion, capers and parsley, and season to taste with the salt.  Mix well.

Dust your hands with some arrowroot flour and shape the mixture into 2 patties, 1″ thick.  Dust the outside of the patties with more arrowroot flour.

Melt the remaining tbsp of coconut oil in the same skillet that you used to cook the fish.  Add the salmon cakes and cook for 5 minutes per side until heated through and golden brown.

While the salmon cakes are cooking make the avocado aioli.

Place all the aioli ingredients in a food processor and puree till smooth.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and necessary.

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Serve the salmon cakes on top of a bed of sauteed spinach with some of the avocado aioli on top.

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Store any remaining aioli tightly covered in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Shared at:  Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable