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

AIP Pork Belly “Ramen” – Paleo/Gluten-Free

I am a huge fan of Japanese food, and one of my favourites is Ramen.  Not the icky, cheap, packets of ramen you can buy in the grocery store, that are really nothing more than a chemical-shit-storm in a packet.  I am talking REAL ramen….

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The problem is that ramen noodles are made with wheat.  And the broth usually contains soy.  2 things I cannot eat…

The solution is to make my own using spiralized zucchini as the noodles, and a rich flavourful pork bone broth infused with AIP friendly Asian flavourings.  The broth is made with a pigs foot, and has that sticky, rich quality that you only get from a gelatin rich bone broth…

The pork belly is a simpler form of the AIP Crispy Pork Belly that I have posted about in the past.  The only difference in this case was that the pork belly I had happened to buy was not in one piece and I did not marinate the pork before cooking it as I felt that the finished dish would be flavourful enough without it…

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This recipe does take a fair bit of forward planning if you are going to make the broth, but if you had some chicken bone broth stashed in the freezer you could always use that instead….  it probably would not be quite as good as if you made this broth, but it will still be very good!

Don’t be dismayed by the long list of ingredients or the time that this takes to make – the results are worth it!

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You will most probably have far too much broth – that is OK, just store it in a mason-jar in the fridge or freeze it for another time.

AIP Pork Belly “Ramen”

Serves 2

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For the Asian Pork Broth:

  • 1 pigs foot – split in half
  • 1lb meaty pork neck or back bones
  • 1 onion – halved (no need to peel)
  • 1 stick celery – chopped
  • Trimmings from 1 fennel bulb (optional – this provides a slight aniseed flavour not unlike star anise)
  • ¼ cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 garlic cloves – peeled but left whole
  • 1″ chunk of root ginger – peeled and sliced into discs
  • a piece of Kombu (Dried kelp), 3″ x 1″ – optional
  • Stems from parsley and cilantro
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar

For the Pork Belly:

For the Ramen Noodle Soup:

  • 2 medium sized zucchini – spiralized using the finest blade (I use this spiralizer)
  • 2oz crimini/baby bella mushrooms – sliced
  • 2oz enoki mushrooms – trimmed
  • 2oz sliced bamboo shoots
  • 2 green onions – chopped
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • Coconut Aminos to taste

To make the broth:

The first thing that needs to be done is to get the pork broth made.  This is best started a day or two ahead of when you plan to make the ramen.

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in some boiling water for 1 hour.

While this is happening, place the pigs foot and the pork bones in a large pan and cover with cold water.  Bring the water just to a simmer but do not allow the water to boil.  Skim off any scum that forms on the surface of the broth.  Do not skip this step as this helps to make the broth nice and clear.  Boiling the broth will allow the impurities in the scum to mix back in with the broth, and this will make it cloudy.  After about 20 minutes of simmering, no more scum should be forming.

Now add the mushrooms and the soaking liquid, and all the remaining broth ingredients to the pot.  Return to a simmer, and continue to cook for around 8 hours, topping up the liquid as necessary to keep the bones covered.

Strain out any solids, and transfer the broth to the fridge to cool, where it should set to a firm jelly with a thick layer of fat on top.  Remove the solidified fat from the top of the broth, and save it for cooking, or use it to cook the pork belly.

Cooking the pork belly:

The next step is to cook the pork belly.  This also needs to be started the day before you plan to serve the Ramen Noodle Soup.

Take the pork belly and score the skin with a very sharp knife, taking care not to cut into the flesh.  It does not matter if your pork belly is all in one piece or is in several small pieces as mine was.

Place the pork, skin-side up on a rack over the skin and pour over a kettle-full of boiling water.  This firms and contracts the skin and is the secret to getting it really crispy.

Place the pork belly in the fridge and allow it to dry out overnight.  Don’t skip this step – it is essential that the skin is really dry before it is placed in the oven or it will not crisp!

An hour or two before you plan on serving the soup, you need to cook the pork belly.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Melt the lard, coconut oil (or the fat you skimmed off the top of the pork broth), and rub this well into the skin-side of the pork belly.  Sprinkle the skin with salt and rub it in to the scores you cut.

Place the pork belly, skin-side up on a rack over a roasting tin, and place in the oven.

Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F (175°C).  Continue to cook the pork for 15-20 minutes more until it is cooked through, and the juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife.  At this stage, you can decide if the pork skin is crispy enough for your liking

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If you want it extra crispy, preheat the broiler to high, and broil the pork, skin side up for 30-60 seconds until it is crisp but not burned.

Remove the pork belly, cool slightly and slice into thin slices.

To assemble the ramen noodle soup:

Cut the ends off the zucchini and spiralize them using the smallest blade on a spiralizer.  I have this one.

Place 3-4 cups of the pork broth that you made a day or two earlier in a pan and bring to a simmer.  Taste it, and add coconut aminos as necessary until it tastes just right for you.  Don’t add so much that it is very salty however!

Add the zucchini noodles to the broth and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the noodles are just cooked but not mushy.

Remove the noodles from the broth and divide them beteween 2 soup bowls.

Add the sliced crimini mushrooms and the bamboo shoots to the broth and simmer for 2 minutes to heat through and just cook the mushrooms.

Meanwhile, divide the spinach, cilantro and enoki mushrooms between the 2 bowls.  Pour over sufficient broth to cover the noodles, adding the mushrooms and bamboo shoots.  Add the sliced pork belly on the top and serve at once.

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Eat with chopsticks, using a spoon to slurp up all that delicious broth!

Shared at:  Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable

 

First CSA of the Year – and why you should use a CSA

I haven’t posted in a while, but I just HAD to share with you all my little haul from the first CSA of the year.

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I went with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from Eagle Creek Farms.

In case you have never heard of a CSA and do not know how it works, this is a basic description.

Prior to the start of the growing season, you sign up for the CSA – either a half share (which is what I did – designed to feed 2-3 people) or a full share, or any combination of these.  What you will need will depend very much on how many veggies you eat and how big your family is.

The farmers then start growing their crops based on the number of people who have signed up for a CSA.

Basically, you are providing the funds up front to enable the farmer to buy the necessary seeds and to pay for the labour needed to bring that crop to harvest.  Essentially you are buying shares in the crops that they will be harvesting in the future, and come time when they are ripe, you get a share of those crops, usually in a weekly or bi-weekly delivery, depending on the particular CSA you signed up for.

BTW did you know that there are CSA’s for everything from fresh veggies (the kind I signed up for) through to fruit ones.  There are even CSA’s for grass-fed meat, dairy produce (raw dairy included in areas where it is legal), eggs and grains (if you eat them)….  google CSA [your local area] to find ones local to you!   Obviously not all of these CSA’s may be seasonal, but many are.  There are also Winter CSA shares that you can buy that rely on stored root veggies and the few winter crops that can be grown (seasonality depends on location).

And some CSA’s include non-perishable items like fermented veggies or preserves.  The one I use includes the occasional bunch of flowers which is always nice to receive.  The bunch I collected today is in my bedroom where I can enjoy if without the cats destroying it!

So the downside of a CSA?

There is some risk with this – crops can and do fail.  But it is very unusual for a farmer who offers a CSA to only grow one crop.  And if one fails (for example the carrot harvest), others are likely to make up for it.  They also often carry out subsequent plantings of seeds, so that if one crop fails, a later one may succeed and provide a good harvest.

In addition, often you do not get much choice as you get what is ripe and ready to harvest when you go to the pick-up point.  (very few CSA’s deliver to your house, although some do.  The ones I have seen local to me all have pick-up/drop-off points at various farmers markets around the city).  Some do offer a limited choice – the one I use does.  It works on the simple method of “take one item from each bin”, and where there is a choice, the bin will contain one or more items that you can choose from.  If you are strict AIP, you will almost certainly receive some items you cannot eat yourself….  but then again, you may also be able to trade or gift them with someone (a neighbour, a friend or a family member)

Also, because this is a seasonal thing, you are only going to receive those veggies that are actually in season and ripe at the time.  This means in early summer you get a TON of greens, but in the fall/autumn you will get a TON of roots – plan accordingly!  We cannot cheat Mother Nature!

So if there are risks involved, why should you sign up for a CSA?

Well first of all, it is supporting local farmers.  Usually, the produce you will be receiving will be either organic, or grown in a sustainable fashion, but either way, it is locally grown, and you can bet that it is always in season.  And then there is the chance to go to the farmers market/collection point and actually MEET your farmer…

And these veggies are so fresh because they were picked if not that morning, probably the day before. Some of them may even be still “living” and have the roots intact or still planted in a pot! (Winter CSA’s are often different here, as they often involved stored veggies.)  And then when you add in the fact that you do not always know what you are going to be receiving, there is the element of surprise.

And it is FUN – you get to try veggies that you never knew would exist!  You can experiment!

As I said, today was the first CSA collection of the season (a week late because of the rain, hail and other bad weather we have been having in the Calgary region these last few weeks).  So I headed to Northland Mall to their Farmers Market to pick up my half-share.

For me, a half share works perfectly – for the most part I feed just myself due to my dietary issues,.  But I do like to share my bounty with my 2 wonderful housemates, so having a little bit extra works well.  I also eat far more veggies than the average person so a 2-3 person share probably means a 1-2 person share when it includes me!

This half share cost me $355, which I paid for back in March, and is designed to feed 2-3 people each week…  I figured that I would most likely spend more than $355 over the 16 weeks that this CSA will run – it only works out at around $22 a week.  I don’t know about you, but I normally spend FAR more than $22 a week on fresh produce!  And that is just for myself….  as the half-share I bought is designed to feed 2-3 people, I will have some leftover to share with my 2 housemates to earn myself a little bit of good-will (goodness knows I NEED it! – I OWE them a bundle for their boundless and freely given support)

And if all else fails, I will ferment, dry, freeze or otherwise preserve the veggies before they go bad.

So what did I get in my first CSA share (bear in mind, this is early in the season and only designed to feed 2-3 people for 1 week – this is a half-share, a full-share gets double this amount):

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Now this is a TON of nutrient dense greens!

At the back, we have a bunch of flowers (there was a choice of 2 different bunches – a welcome non-edible addition that made my heart sing!).  And also a small potted basil plant.

Then working from the far left-hand corner in a clockwise direction, I received:

  • a large bag of pea shoots
  • a small bag of lambs quarters greens
  • horseradish greens (with itty, bitty baby horseradish roots attached)
  • garlic scrapes
  • cilantro
  • purple kale (this was a HUGE bunch!)

Lots of greens as you can see, which is hardly surprising seeing that this is very early in the growing season in Calgary.  This is what I mean when I say that you have very little control or choice because you are getting what is ready and seasonal at the time of collection.  And at this point in the growing season, in Calgary, that means greens.

But I seriously LOVE greens, so all is good in my world!

For what it is worth, I could choose between the garlic scrapes and a single bulb of young garlic (I chose garlic scrapes simply because I have never eaten them and am always open to new fthings), and between the kale and collard greens (I went with the kale because it was a bigger bunch!)

There are some very new items here – some I have never eaten but am excited to try.  I have never had lambs quarters, horseradish greens or garlic scrapes.

I will need to test out the pea-shoots, but I suspect that they will be OK – I ate a few on the bus on the way home (they just looked so fresh, tasty and appetizing!) and I have had no reaction to them 5 hours later.

The flowers and the basil plant (small, but he will grow!) were a welcome surprise.

After collecting these, I went for a walk around the market and bought myself a few other bits:

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At the back – organic strawberries

Then clockwise from the far left:

  • organic arugula
  • the cutest, freshest radishes (I plan to use both the greens and the radishes)
  • some of the most flavourful blueberries I have ever tasted
  • a huge bag of wondefully ripe cherries

These last purchases cost me less than $20, so I am one happy bunny….

So that is my farmers market haul…

total costs:

  • CSA share (divided between 16 weeks) – $22
  • extra items – $17:50 (the stuff in the second picture)

Not bad as all of this will be shared beween 3 people!

So will anyone tell me that eating local is not affordable try visiting your local farmers

Wild And Raw – Calgary

I went down to Wild and Raw in Kensington (Calgary) today because I had to meet someone.

I had never been there before, but I knew that they at least served bone broth (because the person I was meeting was the person who supplies their grass-fed beef bones that they use in the broth (Rachel from Trail’s End Beef).

When I walked in to Wild and Raw, the first thing they did was ask how they could help me.  I asked for advice, explaining that I could not have anything with dairy, gluten, soy, seeds or nuts (I forgot to mention nightshades)…  and they came up with a few recommendations.

They have a pretty extensive menu – lots of juices, lots of smoothies (that they call shakes), their “Euphoric Elixirs” (this category includes Bulletproof Coffee, Bone Broth and Veggie Broth among others), and even Kombucha “on-tap”.

But by this time, I had already decided that I was going to try the bone broth despite the fact that it contained “spices” (which almost certainly included nightshades).  And as I have never reacted to nightshade spices in the past, I decided to heck with it…  even if I am supposed to be doing an AIP-exclusion “reset”, I was still having that broth!

And let me tell you that broth was delicious!  Gingery, spicy, and you could just tell that it was doing you good!

I would recommend it to anyone unless they really do react to nightshade spices…

Wild and Raw is quite a small place – only half a dozen tables or so (I did not count them), and it had only been open less than 30 minutes when I walked in, so it was empty…  but after about 5 minutes Rachel, her husband Tyler, her 2 children and a friend all came in….

It was a really friendly place and I will most definitely be going back!

And I would recommend it to anyone, whether they are Paleo, AIP or whatever they eat.  This is a really nice place that has something for everyone.  (They even do a vegetarian broth for the non-meat-eaters…)

Next time, I want to try their Kombucha…

Paleo TV

The Paleo Mom (Dr Sarah Ballantyne) has just announced that she has been making a piolot for a TV show – Paleo Bites.

She is asking everyone to contact their TV networks with the aim of getting this really exciting show on mainstream TV…

Call To Action: Let’s get Paleo Bites on TV!

I am super excited about this…  Wonder if it will be shown in Canada…

Homemade Paleo/Clean-Eating Marshmallows

Who doesn’t love marshmallows?  Melted into hot chocolate, in smores or even just eaten by themselves, they are delicious.

But have you read the ingredients in the ones you buy in the grocery store?

A simple Google search revealed the following ingredients for Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows:

Corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, modified corn starch, water, gelatin, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, artificial flavours, artificial colours (blue 1).

So nothing really natural about them apart from the gelatin, and you can bet that even that is over-refined and produced from cows reared on GMO grains and soy in a CAFO.

The first ingredient is Corn syrup – AKA High fructose corn syrup, known to be one of the worst sweeteners for your health.  Not only is it almost exclusively made from GMO corn, it is notoriously bad for us.  HFCS is one of the most dangerous food additives there is, contributing to fatty liver disease, weight gain and obesity, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and elevated levels of triglycerides and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.  And the only reason they use it is because it is cheap.

Sugar – most definitely not paleo and is known to cause blood sugar issues, dental caries, spike insulin levels and can lead to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.  And unless it specifies cane sugar (which is GMO free) it is almost certainly made from GMO sugar beets.

Dextrose (aka glucose) is a simple sugar that can spike blood glucose levels leading to an insulin surge.  This insulin surge can cause insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and is a factor in type 2 diabetes.  In addition, it is simply empty calories that can lead to weight gain.  The other concern with dextrose is that most of it is made from GMO corn….

Modified cornstarch is literally what the name says – cornstarch that had been modified chemically to partially degrade the starch molecules.  Because the vast majority of corn grown in the US is genetically modified, this is almost certainly a GMO product.

So in the first 4 ingredients in Kraft Jet-puffed Marshmallows you have 4 GMO ingredients!  No wonder Kraft are fighting so hard to prevent GMO labeling on foods!

Water and gelatin are by themselves not much of a problem, but you can almost certainly guarantee that the gelatin comes from cattle that are reared in a CAFO and fed a diet of GMO corn and soy.  So now we have 5 ingredients out of the total of 9 that are tainted by GMO products….. It is not looking good!

Then we get to tetrasodium pyrophosphate.  I didn’t even know what this was until I typed it into Google.  According to Wikipedia, tetrasodium pyrophosphate is a colourless, transparent crystalline chemical compound with the formula Na4P2O7.  The toxicity of this chemical is twice that of table salt.  Niiiiiice!  They are putting something that is twice as toxic as salt, which they tell us to avoid at all costs, in our candy!

Then we have the artificial flavours (who knows what they are but the vast majority are made from petroleum products).

And the artificial colour (blue 1 ) is another petroleum product.  I don’t know about you, but I prefer to eat foods that do not contain any artificial additives, both flavours or colours, and I certainly don’t like to find refined petroleum (AKA crude oil) products in my food!

Reading the above, there is no way I would want to put any of those ingredients in my body (or into my kids bodies for that matter!)  Out of the total of 9 ingredients, 5 are either genetically modified or reared using genetically modified food-stuffs.  3 are petrochemical products and only 1 (the water) is a truly natural product!

So what are you to do when the kids are begging you for  marshmallows in their hot chocolate or to make smores?

Easy, you make your own using grass-fed gelatin and honey.  This recipe is not only paleo/primal, but it is also AIP friendly as long as you tolerate honey well.  And it will give you (or the kids) some gut-healing gelatin to boot!

These marshmallows do still contain sugars in the form of honey (mostly fructose with some glucose), so if you are wanting to loose weight I advise caution.  And they can still increase weight gain if you were to over-indulge.  But one or two squares a day???  a delicious treat that is actually good for you!  It should be noted that these are much less sweet than store-purchased marshmallows and do not contain the same carb-load.

I should add that this recipe was originally made and devised by my 15 yr old daughter A, who is one of the most talented young cooks that I know!

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Homemade Paleo Friendly Marshmallow

the quantity that this makes depends on how big you cut them.  It will fill a 9″ square silicone baking pan

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  • 1 cup water (split into 2 halves)
  • 3 tbsp gelatin – preferably grass-fed
  • 1 cup honey (no need to use raw honey here as you are boiling it.  But go for local honey – support local bee-keepers and businesses!)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour to coat

Necessary cooking items:

  • Stand mixer (Believe me you do NOT want to whisk these by hand!)
  • candy thermometer
  • 9″ square baking pan

Grease your baking pan – I like to make these in a 9″ silicone baking pan as it makes turning the finished marshmallows out so much easier.  If you don’t have a silicone tray you will need to grease your pan and line it on the base and sides with parchment paper or you will never get these babies out.

Place ½ cup of water in your stand-mixer bowl along with the gelatin and leave to bloom for a while.

While the gelatin is softening, put the remaining ½ cup of water in a pan with the honey, vanilla and salt.  Bring the mixture to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to make sure it does not boil over.  Place your sugar thermometer in the boiling honey mixture taking care that it does not touch the base of the pan but is immersed in the boiling honey.  Continue to boil the mixture until it reaches the soft ball stage ( 115°C/240°F).  Immediately remove the pan from the heat.

Turn the stand mixer on to a low speed and slowly pour the honey mixture into the bowl.  Once all the honey is incorporated, turn the speed up to high and continue to mix until the mixture is thick, smooth and creamy and resembles marshmallow fluff.  This will take approximately 10 minutes but may take longer.   Don’t rush it!

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Turn the marshmallow mixture out into your prepared pan and smooth out the mixture as best as you can.  If you add a little oil to your hands it will stop the mixture sticking to them as you smooth it out.

Allow to chill until firmly set, then cut into cubes.

Toss each cube in tapioca flour to stop it sticking to other cubes.  And that is it…  Homemade marshmallows.

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If you prefer, you can coat your marshmallows in something other than tapioca flour to add variations to the flavour.

Suggested coatings are:

Shredded coconut – toasted or untoasted

crushed nuts – toasted or untoasted (not AIP friendly)

cocoa (not AIP friendly)

If using a coating,  you will not need the tapioca flour in the above recipe.  Place some of the coating of your choice in the pan before pouring in the marshmallow mixture, then top with more of the coating, pressing it lightly into the surface of the marshmallow.  This will make it easier to turn the set marshmallows out.

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Once you have cut the marshmallows into cubes, toss them in yet more of your chosen coating to ensure that all sides are covered.

These ones are tossed in untoasted shredded coconut.

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Not only are these beauties paleo, they are also AIP friendly as honey is allowed on the AIP diet in moderation (so you should be OK as long as you don’t eat the entire pan!).  They are free from all the nasty additives in commercially made marshmallows, and the gelatin

And they are delicious!

Shared at Tuesdays With a Twist #55

Shared at Tasty Tuesday

Shared at the Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable #14

Shared at Gluten-Free Wednesday 4-30-14

Shared at Fat Tuesday April 29 2014

Shared at Mostly Homemade Monday #79

Shared at All Things Thursday, Freedom Fridays

How to cook spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash is almost a staple of the paleo diet and the AIP protocol…  it forms a low-carb, gluten-free, tasty substitute for pasta, and we eat it frequently.  This is a hard-shelled winter squash who’s flesh separates into strands once cooked.

This is how I cook my spaghetti squash:

Take your squash and cut them  in half length-wise.  Scoop out all the seeds (save them to roast as a pumpkin seed substitute if you are not strict AIP – they are a stage 2 reintroduction).  Place the squash, cut-side up on a baking sheet.  I find that 2 large squash will feed the 6 of us, but if they are on the smaller side I need 3 of them…  in this case, these were quite large so I only used 2.

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Some recipes will tell you to put them cut-side down – I prefer to put them cut-side up as I find they stay drier and are less soggy that way.  The cut flesh also tends to caramelize slightly this way as well, which adds more flavour.

Season well with salt and rub with a little coconut oil (or any other fat you prefer) and slide into a pre-heated 190°C/375°F oven and roast for aprox. 1 hour until the flesh is tender and will shred easily with a fork.

Allow the squash to rest for a few minutes until it is a little cooler – this makes it easier to handle.  If you cannot wait, you can hold the squash with a cloth or some oven-mitts however.

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Use the fork to pull the squash flesh into shreds

Place the squash in a bowl and add some extra fat – melted bacon fat or lard tastes wonderful, but you can also use olive oil as it is not being cooked any further.  And if you eat butter, it makes the squash taste wonderful – use it liberally! (Grass-fed butter is an AIP stage 2 reintroduction)

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Season well with salt and serve with the spaghetti sauce of your choice.  If you don’t want to use a sauce, you could simply serve it “as-is” with the fat/butter and seasonings as a side.  Me?  I like to serve it with a sauce….

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In the example above, I served it with a ragu sauce.  Hubby chose to put parmesan over his before taking the picture .

In the picture below, I used 3 small spaghetti squash and I served each of us one half with paleo meatballs in a tomato sauce.  I did not pull the strands of squash out in this case and let everyone shred their own squash as they ate it…  this made life MUCH easier for me as it removed one food-prep stage.

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It made for a very tasty and pretty meal and because it was all contained in the squash shell there was almost no cleanup needed.  EASY PEASY!

Now remember those squash seeds I told you to keep?  What are you going to do with them?

All winter (hard-shell) squash seeds are edible when roasted, so you are going to treat them exactly like you would treat pumpkin seeds.  Roast them in the oven using and you have a tasty, healthy snack.  Just bear in mind that seeds are an AIP stage 2 reintroduction.

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Then again, the ragu sauce and the meatballs in tomato sauce are not 100% AIP either…  Tomatoes and other nightshades are a stage 4 reintroduction.

Charcut Resturant – Calgary

Way back in early December last year I mentioned that Hubby and I visited Charcut for our wedding anniversary.  And I promised to do a post about our meal.

I apologise, but I completely forgot about that until I found the receipt in my bag yesterday!

So here is the post I promised, just a month or so too late…..

The pictures are not of the best quality, partly because they were taken using a cellphone, and partly because it was so dark in there (mood lighting taken to the extreme!).  But what the pictures lack in quality was more than made up for by the food, which was excellent.

Our reservation was not until fairly late – 8pm at night, but that was OK with us as we like to make a night of it when we go out, and if we start eating earlier, we finish early and then start wondering what to do next, which usually means we end up in a bar.  At least this way, we finished eating, came home and cracked open a second bottle of wine to enjoy.

We decided to get the bus downtown because parking is expensive and we intended to have a bottle of wine.  Hubby does not like to drive if he has had even one drink, so this was a good solution.  We arrived a little early, so we visited a bar close by and had a glass of red wine, then we walked to the restaurant.

The staff are always wonderful – Hubby had told them it was our wedding anniversary when he made the reservation, so as soon as we told them our name they wished us a “Happy Anniversary”.  They took our coats and hung them up in a closet, and then we were shown to our table, which was a 2 person one tucked out of the way.  Almost as soon as we had sat down, a server showed up and asked us whether we would like still or sparkling water (both of us opted for sparkling), and they brought us an amuse of “Italian Bar Snacks” (pork jerky that I attempted to recreate here)

We had one bottle of red wine, a red called B de E:

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The appetizers that we ordered were a portion of bone marrow (with added snails) each (I chose the gluten-free toast, hubby went with the regular):

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and a portion of warm olives to share:

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Take my advice, if you ever visit Charcut and have the bone marrow order one each.  One between 2 is really NOT enough!  You will only get a few spoonfuls of marrow and your brain will be saying “Give me MOARRRRR!” and there will be none left.

In fact, forget the “if” you order bone marrow, if you visit Charcut you simply MUST order the bone marrow!  At least one each!  It is delicious. Rich, fatty, savory and oh so satisfying.  Don’t worry if you are on the squeamish side, it isn’t gross at all…  I just tastes a bit like a meaty, fatty spread.  I was tempted to lick the cavity out of mine just so that I could get every last bit out, but I didn’t (manners and all that!)  I actually commented that perhaps next time we visit we should order 2 bone marrow each!  Seriously, it is THAT good….

We went with 2 different main courses:

I ordered a Butchers Steak (as rare as they could make it), which came with a chimichurri sauce, arugula and matchstick potato fries:

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It was absolutely beautifully rare as you can see….

Hubby ordered pork belly which came with aged cheddar grits:

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And we also got a side of red cabbage to share, which came in the most adorable little pot:

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Of course we tasted each others main course (I didn’t try the grits as I am allergic to cows milk cheese – Hubby said that they were really good though), but Hubby’s pork was delicious, and he agreed that my steak was wonderful.

The red cabbage was a bit “Meh” – not bad, just not as wonderful as the meat, but hey, it was very good red cabbage….

Seeing as they had a sheep’s milk cheese (which I can eat) on the menu,

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we then decided that we would go for a cheese course:

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This was served with some Buzz Honey, a relish, some toast (which I avoided) and some seeds.  It was wonderful.

Then we went for a dessert.

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Hubby had a blueberry cheesecake:

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and I chose the chocolate parfait:

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which was so rich that I could not eat more than a spoonful or two of it.

And we rounded the meal out with a coffee each.

Then it was a gentle walk to the bus-stop and we got the bus home, where we shared a second bottle of wine while watching some TV.

It was a wonderful evening, but I think it really should have been seeing that it cost us a whopping $221.55….

Having said that, despite the high price, it is always worth eating at Charcut – the food is always excellent, the service is wonderful, and we always end up enjoying ourselves immensely.

The food was wonderful as was the service.

If you are Paleo and want a good night out, this is the place to visit.  And even if you are not Paleo, but just enjoy eating good food (and don’t mind lots of meat), I would also recommend it.  The only people I would not recommend visiting this restaurant are vegetarians and vegans – seriously, there was only 1 thing on the menu a vegan could eat – the olives!

OK so our meal was not perfectly Paleo – Hubby had toast, we both had some sheep’s cheese, I had potatoes as a side with my main, and Hubby had those cheesy grits.  And the deserts we chose were not really Paleo either… but if you really wanted to make your meal strict Paleo I am sure you could talk to them and they would help you out.

I think if I had to give them a rating out of 10, I would probably say a good 8-9/10.

Happy New Year! And a packed lunch.

Happy New Year everyone!

I took a break from posting over the holiday period so that I could spend time with the family…  but we did have a fantastic time.  Lots of good (paleo) food, and lots of family time.

I will post photos later on once I have had a chance to sort them out.  And I will post about the food as well.

But for today, this is the first packed lunch of 2014 that I made for Hubby to take to work today (I don’t start back until tomorrow and the kids go back to school on Monday).

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Clockwise from the top left-hand corner I packed:

  • Leftover Cranberry sauce in the little dipper with some date bites (essentially chopped up energy bars) below
  • 2 mini mandarin oranges and some red pepper sticks
  • Green leaf lettuce with leftover turkey thigh cut into bite-size pieces
  • leftover roasted roots (rutabaga and sweet potato) and brussels sprouts stirfried with bacon.

A  lot of this (the cranberry sauce, the turkey, the roasted roots and the brussels were leftover from the turkey dinner we ate yesterday.

This roast dinner used a GIANT 20lb organic turkey

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that I bought on special from the grocery-store for just $10 a few days after Christmas (I stashed it in the freezer to keep it fresh)…  I LOVE some of the bargains you can get at this time of year!

There is loads and loads of leftovers from this bird that I will stash in the freezer to be used for packed lunches or other meals, and of course I will make bone broth from the carcass.

All in all, that is a VERY frugal purchase.

Paleo Chicken Fingers

This recipe makes a great lunch, is good as an appetizer and could even be used as a dinner recipe.  They also make a great snack.   And kids LOVE them!

I served these for lunch today…  along with a side of my Thai style almond sate sauce for dipping.

Paleo Chicken Fingers

serves 6

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  • 1½lb (680g) chicken tenders or chicken breast cut into strips
  • 1½ cups almond flour
  • 1½ cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 eggs – beaten
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • coconut oil to fry

If using chicken breasts, cut them into strips.  Season the chicken well with salt and freshly ground blackpepper, paprika, onion and garlic powder.

Whisk the egg in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl mix the almond and coconut flour together.

Take each piece of seasoned chicken and dip it in the egg mix using one hand.  Remove from the egg and place in the bowl of almond and coconut flour.  Using your other hand coat the chicken in the “breading” mix.  Lay the coated chicken on a baking sheet or plate.

Repeat the above with the remaining chicken strips…

By keeping one hand for the egg (wet) and one hand for the dry (flour mixture) you can ensure that you don’t end up in a sticky mess.

Once all the chicken is “breaded”, melt a small amount of coconut oil in a heavy based pan over a medium-high heat.  Add the chicken strips.

Fry the chicken in the coconut oil for 3 minutes each side until the “breading” is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.

You may need to cook these in batches to avoid overcrowding your pan.  For me, it took 3 separate batches to cook all of these.  Keep the first ones you cook warm while cooking the remainder.

Serve with a dipping sauce – I recommend either Paleo Ketchup or my Sate dipping sauce.

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These can be served at once (hot), or they can be chilled in the fridge and served cold for a packed lunch.

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