Lunch (09/30/13)

Last packed lunch of the month!

This is what we all took for work today….

lunch09-30-13

Clockwise from the top left:

  • home-cooked  spice roasted pumpkin seeds (recipe to follow) in the little dipper with 2 energy balls below
  • homemade beef jerkey
  • red leaf lettuce with a “sausage and eggs to go” muffin cup
  • baby carrots
  • 2 squares of 85% cocoa solid chocolate in the middle treat container

also taken but not show was fruit (either an apple, a banana or a mandarin orange) and a water-bottle filled with water.

Zucchini Soup

I made this soup for lunch because I had several leftover zucchini that needed using up.

It was delicious – creamy, smooth and very satisfying.  And even though it contains 8 cloves of garlic it doesn’t really have a pronounced garlic flavour.

Zucchini Soup

Serves 6

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1 tbsp oil or fat (I used coconut oil)

1 onion – finely chopped

2 sticks of celery – chopped

8 cloves of garlic – crushed

3 zucchini – chopped

leaves from 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)

4 cups of bone broth

1 can of coconut milk

salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, and add the onion and celery.  Cook gently for a few minutes to develop the flavours and soften the veggies slightly.  Then add in the garlic.  Cook for a few more minutes before tipping in the chopped zucchini.  Add the thyme and the bone broth, taste and season as necessary.

Simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are all tender.

Add the coconut milk and puree with a stick blender.

Re-taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.

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This soup is good hot or cold.

Granny Pierce’s Apple and Onion Chutney

I was lucky enough to receive around 30lb of apples from a very kind lady on Freecycle last night…

And this chutney is what I made from some of them.

This is a family recipe, and is not Paleo, but I figure that you don’t eat more than a tablespoon of this type of condiment at a time, so the small amounts of sugar that it contains won’t make much of a difference to our overall health.

This chutney is used as a relish – it is wonderful in sandwiches, with cold or hot sliced meats, with cheese and even with things like pork chops.

Granny Pierce’s Apple and Onion Chutney

Fills 4 500ml/1 pint mason jars

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3lb cooking apples

1lb onions

8oz honey

8oz cane sugar

3/4 pint of vinegar

zest and juice of 2 lemons

1 jalapeno – seeded and chopped

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

4 whole cloves

8 peppercorns

1 tbsp mustard seed

1 tbsp coriander seeds

Wash, peel and core the apples and chop into small bite-sized chunks.

Peel and chop the onion finely.

Tie the whole cloves, peppercorns, mustard seed an coriander seeds in a small piece of cheesecloth.

Place the chopped apple and onion and the bag of spices in a large, heavy bottomed pan.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat and simmer very gently for several hours until the chutney is thick and brown.  This will take at least 4 hours, and it is ready when a spoon drawn across the surface makes a thick track mark.  Stir the chutney occasionally during this time.

Once the chutney is thick, fill warm sterilized mason jars.  Put on the lids and screw them down tightly.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Once cold, label and store in a cool dark place for at least 1 month before using.  Once opened, store in the fridge.

Zucchini Hummus

I love hummus, but seeing as it is made from chickpeas (which are a legume), it is most decidedly not Paleo…

There are a large amount of Paleo Cauliflower “Hummus” recipes out there, but I don’t have any cauliflower right now, so needed to come up with an alternative dip for the lunch-boxes….  but I did know that I wanted a “hummus” to dip the eggplant chips in.

After rummaging in the fridge for a while, I came up with some zucchini….

And a plan formed….

This recipe contains tahini (sesame seeds) which is an AIP stage 2 reintroduction.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Zucchini “Hummus”

serves 6

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2 large zucchini – peeled and roughly chopped (no need to chop finely, this is going in the food processor!)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup tahini

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp cumin

4 cloves of garlic

1 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

This recipe takes seconds to make.  All you are going to do is dump all the ingredients in the food processor and pulse it until it forms a creamy dip.

Check the seasoning and add more salt or pepper as needed, then transfer to a serving dish and chill until required.

Simple!

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Surprisingly, this actually does taste like hummus (I suspect it is the combination of tahini and cumin).  It is also pleasantly thick.  And because the zucchini were peeled, it even looks like hummus.

I just KNOW it will taste fabulous with those eggplant chips.

And of course being a dip, it will encourage the kids to eat more veggies as well…

Don’t just keep this as a lunch-box filler though.  This can be used anytime you want a dip for veggies or chips.  I also suspect that it is thick enough that it could make a good filling for a wrap or sandwich as well.  And of course it would be fabulous as an appetizer or snack…

And of course it is a great way to use up a glut of zucchini!

Baked Eggplant Chips

I came across this recipe for Baked Eggplant Chips on The Cooking Caveman blog and just KNEW I had to make them.  I mean….  eggplant, chips…  crispy and crunchy…  what is not to love

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And they seemed perfect to go with the zucchini hummus that I made for a packed lunch.

My plan was to make them pretty much as in the recipe…

I sliced 2 smallish eggplants as thinly as I could (I wanted them crisp).

Then I laid them out on 2 baking sheets lined with Silpat mats.

I brushed them with olive oil, and sprinkled them with some black pepper, thyme and garlic powder (I know I diverged from the recipe here – I didn’t have any onion powder, and I wanted to use a herb).

And I popped them in a 200C/400F oven for 10 minutes.

After 10 mins, I flipped them over and rotated the top baking sheet to the bottom of the oven so that they would cook evenly.

After another 10 mins, I checked on them…  and most were browned, one or two were starting to burn slightly.  And with 2 exceptions, every single one was still soft!

I wanted crisp chips D***it!

Then a thought occurred to me….  I own a food dehydrator.  These chips were cooked and browned, just not dry.

So I tipped them all on to one of the dehydrator trays and set the heat to it’s highest setting (68C/155F) which is normally reserved for dehydrating meat and fish to make jerky.  Veg is usually dried at a lower temperature (52C/125F) – what can I say?  I was impatient!  Besides they had been at a higher temperature than that in the oven.

And guess what?  A couple of hours later, I had beautiful, browned and crispy eggplant chips…..

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I suspect that to get really crispy chips in the oven I would need a lower temperature than in the original recipe, and also to use a fan oven (Sadly I do not possess a fan oven) so that the warm air is circulating to encourage them to dry out as well as to brown.  What happened in my case is that they cooked and browned but stayed moist.

Eggplant is an AIP stage 4 reintroduction.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Packed Lunch (09/27/13)

Today’s packed lunch (really only packed for Hubby – he has a full day, I finish at 2:30 (so barely worth packing a lunch for) and the kids all finish school at mid-day.  But the same food is available in the fridge for the kids to eat along with leftovers (chilli and cauli rice) from last night.

lunch09-27-13From the top left-hand corner he has:

  • Baby carrots (a little white on them is OK – it is down to them drying out when the packet is opened)
  • Crispy eggplant chips
  • Zucchini hummus in the big dipper
  • a homemade energy bar and some dried peach slices
  • 2 squares of 85% cocoa solid chocolate in the center

He will also take 1/4 cup of walnuts and an apple separately as a snack.  And water or coffee to drink.

This lunch does not look as pretty as a lot that I have posted, but it is just as nutritionally sound and should be very tasty….

My Gluten-Free Bread

I have tried several versions of gluten-free (or paleo) bread…  and while I have a few favorites (most noticeably this one), I always find they come out dense, heavy and not really what I am wanting.

What I really wanted was a yeast leavened gluten-free bread….  something that I can make a loaf out of (and the one I linked to above is not good for making loaves out of – believe me, I tried!  It is however excellent for flatbreads and crackers).  I want one that I can slice into thick slices, toast and slather with butter….

I have spent a while playing around with recipes, making loaf after loaf…. and finally I have come up with a bread that I am happy with.  It may still be a little crumbly (but no worse than any other homemade bread tbh), but it can be sliced and IT TASTES LIKE BREAD!

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Happy dance time!

OK the loaf is not perfect, it cracked down the side and browned more on the bottom than on the top (that is more down to my oven than anything else…. It heats from the bottom) and it could have been browner on the top (I suspect brushing it with some eggwash before baking would help with that), but I was really, really happy with it!

If you are following a pure paleo plan/whole30 or wanting to loose weight I would not recommend you eat this – it is NOT pure paleo and it is packed with carbs… but it is a gluten-free bread for when you need one for someone who is not paleo, are desperate for that piece of toast or you just simply need something to make a PBJ sandwich for a quick lunch or breakfast for the kids… (and don’t forget, young kids NEED extra carbs – this is a great way of providing them with carbs without harming their guts by giving them regular bread full of gluten)

To my mind, this comes into the “eat it occasionally as a treat” category rather than the “eat it as a daily staple”.

This bread contains whole eggs and both chia and flax seeds, and as a result, it is an AIP stage 2 reintroduction.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

My Gluten-free Bread

Makes 1 loaf

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1/2 cup rice flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

2 cups tapioca flour

2tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp flax seeds

1 tsp salt

3 eggs

3 tbsp olive oil

1 cup water

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp yeast

This recipe is simplicity itself.

Take the yeast and sugar and add it to the water, and leave it to activate and froth while you mix the rest of the ingredients.

This means dumping the rest of the ingredients into a bowl or a food mixer (do NOT try this in a food processor – the tapioca flour will produce a nasty sloppy mess!).  I use my kitchen-aid mixer and it works well.  Otherwise a wooden spoon and a bowl works….

Mix, until evenly blended – no need to knead, there is no gluten to develop.

You want a smooth, even textured dough that is not too sloppy.  Add more water if too crumbly, more tapioca flour if too dry.  The exact amounts may depend on the humidity in your area.  I find if it is raining I need to add way less water.

Place the dough in an oiled baking tin and leave it to rise for 1 hour – it won’t rise as much as a gluten-containing loaf, but it will increase in size a little

Then place the loaf-tin in a preheated oven at 180C/350F and bake for 35-40 minutes until browned and the loaf sounds hollow when the base is tapped.

Remove from the loaf tin and cool completely before slicing.  It will crumble into teeny tiny bits if you try to slice it while hot!

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And don’t forget to save all the crumbs on the bread-board to use as a gluten-free breading… store them in a ziplock bag in the freezer and they won’t go bad!

Paleo Chilli (in the slow cooker)

We have a busy night tonight…

Not only do I have to go to a band camp meeting at C’s school, C also has jazz band practice after school and then Roundup band practice after that (it coincides with the band-camp meeting), so I am going to the band-camp meet, and Hubby is taking C to the Roundup band practice, dropping her off and then coming over to join me at the meeting.  Then we will pick her up after.   Poor C is going to be exhausted!

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So I expect to be back late…  very late.  We seem to be on a run of late nights this week as there is just so much that needs to be sorted out right now.

Because C, Hubby and I won’t be back home to eat until at least 9:30, a slow-cooker meal seems ideal, especially if it is one that everyone can dip into as and when they want to eat.

So I made a paleo version of chilli in the slow-cooker.   The plan is to serve this with cauli “rice” that is already cooked and in the fridge, but it would be just as good by itself.  I am planning that those who do want the cauli “rice” can just nuke it in the microwave.

This is an AIP Stage 4 reintroduction recipe because it contains both tomatoes and chilli.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Paleo Chilli (in the slow cooker)

serves 6-8

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2lb ground beef

1 onion – chopped

1 stick of celery – diced

2 carrots – diced

1 green pepper – diced

6oz mushrooms – sliced

2 cloves garlic – crushed

156ml/5.5 floz can of tomato puree

3 cups bone broth

1 cup of red wine (optional – replace it with more broth or water)

2 chipoltle chillies in adobo sauce

1 green jalapeno – seeded and chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp oregano

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

This is simple to make – throw everything in the slow cooker, mix it up, put on the lid and turn it on.

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Cook on low for as long as you need, at least 8 hours, but it can sit for a lot longer if needed.

I know a lot of slow-cooker chilli recipes say to brown the meat first, but I don’t bother.

Serve hot either by itself in bowls or with cauliflower “rice”

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Now that the recipe is done, back to the Roundup Band….

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C has just been accepted to join this, and we are very proud of her.  It is a Junior High marching band based in Calgary, and is one of the best junior high marching bands in Canada (and I suspect North America too).  Last year in 2012, they were a gold medal junior band at the World Association of Marching Show Bands competition in Calgary.  They play, not only in Calgary (they are featured at the Calgary Stampede and the Stampede parade amongst other things), but throughout Canada and even internationally.

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This makes it the third band that C is a member of as she also plays with her Junior High Concert Band and Jazz Band.

So now you see why we are so proud of C!

BTW we got home at around 9:45 and C said she was mentally tired and her feet hurt but she felt fine….  and that it was good fun 🙂

She has a band-camp for roundup band at the weekend too which came as a bit of a shock for us…

Ham Soup

I know I have said this before, but I make a lot of soups…  mostly for lunches, but sometimes for dinner as well.

And last night, we ate soup for dinner, along with some gluten-free (but not low carb) bread.  The bread was not AIP, the soup however is.

And tbh the bread was more there to wipe the remainders out of the bowl once we were done as the soup itself was filling and very satisfying.   In fact it was really only the girls that ate the bread…  Hubby and I didn’t need it.  And I think they had it more because it was there.

Tonight’s soup featured a very rich ham-bone broth that I had made.  Each time I have been cooking the hams we obtained from our half of a pastured pig, I popped the bone into the freezer.  By the time I had four of them, I made some ham bone broth.

You could also use the stock/liquid that you obtain from cooking a boiled ham.

And then I used this broth to make this delicious soup.

Even though we ate this for dinner, it would make a fantastic lunch, and if you had an insulated food jar, you could even send it into school with your kids as part of a packed lunch (actually, that is most likely what will happen to our leftovers!).  Older kids and adults that have access to a microwave could also be given this in a small mason jar.  Just remind them to remove the lid before microwaving!

Ham Soup

serves 6 with leftovers for lunch

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1-2 tbsp of fat of your choice (I used bacon/ham fat)

1 onion – chopped

2 cloves garlic – crushed

2 large carrots – peeled and chopped

2 sticks of celery – chopped

2 small sweet potatoes – peeled and chopped

4 cups of ham stock/broth

2 tbsp chopped parsley

2 cups shredded leftover ham

sea salt to taste (if your ham broth is salty, you may not need this – taste it first!)

This recipe is simplicity itself, much like a lot of soup recipes.

First of all you need to melt your fat in a pan ad add the veggies (onions, garlic, celery, carrots, sweet potato).  They don’t need to be cut too finely as you are going to puree the soup once the veg is tender.

Allow the veg to cook over a medium-high heat for around 5-10 minutes to soften slightly, then add the ham stock/broth.  Allow to simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables are all tender, then puree with a stick blender.

Add the parsley and leftover ham, heat through, then taste and season if needed with sea salt.

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Serve hot…