Archives for category: Snack

A delicious treat! Nuts optional.

This is an amazing recipe for those who want a “sweet” treat without completely derailing their sugar detox/cleanse/general avoidance. The combination of sweet potato or yam, spices, and coconut creates a really savory and finger-licking taste. No guilt involved, I promise. Even more, when you freeze these puppies, it’s almost like a little open faced ice cream sandwich! Say WHAAAT!? yup. Muy delicioso. So have fun with it… play with the spices, and while you’re at it, play with the filling too! It could be garnet yam, sweet potato, kabocha squash, okinowan sweet potato, butternut squash, etc.

In addition to being awesome, these are also NUT-free, SOY-free, GLUTEN-free, DAIRY-free, EGG-free, and SUGAR-free.

Coconut-Crusted Yam Tart

Crust
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 1/2 c. unsweetened dried coconut

Filling
2 c. yams, mashed
1 c. coconut milk (full fat)
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. orange zest
1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. In a food processor, pulse oil and coconut until thoroughly crushed into the consistancy of sand.
  3. Press crust mixture into a tart pan or muffin cups.

    Golden is good.

  4. Bake for 15-20 mins. Check it near the end to make sure it’s not burning.
  5. Make the filling by mixing flaxseed and coconut milk together in the food processor. Don’t process, just let them sit for 5 mins or so.
  6. Add remaining ingredients and process…. and process… and more processing. The longer it goes the better the texture.
  7. Once the crust is done, pour the filling over the crust and chill (or FREEZE!) until firm.
  8. I topped one batch with some sliced almonds, making it not NUT-free. Toppings are optional, feel free to express yourself.
  9. EAT… NOM NOM NOM NOM.

ALTERNATIVE FILLING ALERT! (AFA for short)

Here's what they look like: White on the outside, purple on the inside.

2 c. hawaiian purple potatoes (aka okinowan sweet potato)
1 c. coconut milk
1 tsp. cardamom
1 1/2 tsp. lime zest
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger

  1. Same directions as above. Expect pretty purple tarts.
  2. Add some zest and shredded coconut for garnish.

    Purpley!!

A friendly little recipe from Elana’s Pantry. I loved these dearly, mostly because I’m a breakfast sandwich fanatic. Give me a fried egg with tomato, avocado, and bacon between two slices of gluten-free bread, and I am one happy chef. Since going paleo, I hadn’t really found a good sub for my occasional breakfast sandwich (which, by default, means I had not had a breakfast sandwich in a year and a half).

I was in the mood for a biscuit and stumbled upon this paleo-friendly version. It doesn’t really rise like a regular biscuit and doesn’t have layers or anything. Also, because of the almond flour, has a sweeter taste than traditional biscuits. That being said, this recipe could be used in a savory or sweet context. I did, in fact, make a breakfast sandwich with them (I could slice down the middle without the halves breaking from lack-o-gluten).

Note the cute little leftover dough "leaves" on top!

Almond Flour Biscuits

2 ½ cups blanched almond flour, plus about 1 cup for dusting the dough
½ teaspoon sea salt 
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup grass-fed butter (like Kerrygold)
2 eggs
note: Elana’s recipe calls for a sweetener like agave or honey, I omitted it.

  1. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, salt and baking soda.
  2. In a large bowl, blend together buttery spread, eggs and agave.
  3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until a nice dough forms.
  4. Roll out dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper to 1 ½ inches thick.
  5. Dust dough with extra almond flour if it is sticky and/or misbehaving.
  6. Cut the dough into biscuits using a mason jar with a 3-inch wide mouth.
  7. Using a spatula, transfer biscuits to a parchment lined baking sheet.

    Buns in the Oven.

  8. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, until biscuits are browned on the bottom edges.

Bonus Feature: Nutrition Facts for the Biscuits

Work table, courtesy of Craigslist.

Last week we aquired a big wooden work table through an ad on craigslist. While at the owner’s house to pick up the table, I noticed a wall of trees full of banana bunches! As a kid, my dad grew all kinds of tropical plants and I loved eating the tiny sweet bananas that would pop out every once in a while.  Upon questioning, the homeowner informed me that these bananas are a bit more like plantains, you have to cook them in order to eat them. He gave us a big bunch and I promptly fried them up into chips.

If you have never done this, then you should give it a try. Many times, store-bought plantain chips are cooked in a seed oil (sunflower, safflower, etc.) and are laden with omega 6 fatty acids. By frying them yourself, you can ensure a quality fat is used (and they are more yummy, in my opinion).

Here are the steps.

1. cut the peel off the plantain

 

2. It may help to slice down the middle of the peel and go from there.

3. slice plantain into thin-ish slices of equal width.

 

4. Heat up some coconut oil or palm oil in a skillet. Enough to make a pool that will cover the slices once they are placed into the skillet.

5. Once the oil is sizzling hot, leave the burner on a medium-low heat. Drop in the slices and watch them fry!

6. You must keep an eye on them or they will burn! Flip them when you see the bottom starting to turn golden. With a spatula, spoon, etc. remove the done chips from the skillet and let them drain like you would bacon.

7. Stick them in a bowl and season anyway you like! Some ideas: sea salt, cayenne, paprika or coconut sugar and cinnamon.

These are a delicious and healthy, good for sharing and satisfying the “chip” craving.  This method also works for sweet potato, taro, and cassava slices.

Caution: hot oil is dangerous and can cause severe burns. Be careful when placing the slices in the hot oil. Don’t just drop them in, slide them into the oil. Beware while turning and removing the slices as well.

I recently heard that there is a “cute food” movement brewing right now. Cute food? Well, see picture below.

Aren't they cute?!

So, I decided to put my cute food skills to task and create some animal related tiny foods for us all to OOOOoo and AAAhhh over.

They are bacon and egg cups. While they may not look like animals, they are definitely made out of animals. They are also yummy and a great thing to make in advance if you prefer to run out the door in the morning rather than leisurely chop and sauté omelets and paleo pancakes all morning long.

Nothing much to them, just some bacon and then some egg.

SOAP BOX ALERT:

Okay kids, when purchasing bacon you need to be really sure that it is natural and free from nitrates and nitrites. This is not a difficult thing to determine. Most of the time the package will say NO PRESERVATIVES or ALL NATURAL. But the best way to be sure is to look at the ingredients. SIDE NOTE: While you’re at it, if you are buying any prepackaged food, make sure you read the ingredients. Things (and by “things” I mean “crap that you shouldn’t be eating”) have a way of making their way into any and all packaged food. If the bacon has said preservatives in it, then you must pass on the purchase. Here’s why…

Sodium Nitrate, Potassium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrate all share some common evils:

1. many people have undiscovered sensitivities to these chemicals, symptoms include; migraines, dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing

2. It’s toxic and 1g-2g of sodium nitrate is lethal. It also inhibits your body’s ability to transport oxygen to your bodily tissues.

3. It converts to nitrosamines in the body, which are mutagens that promote cancer growth.

4. Really?! you need 4 reasons. What about 1-3 is not convincing enough?

Seriously guys, this stuff is bad news. So much so that the USDA tried to ban its use in the 1970’s, but (unsurprisingly) this ban met a great amount of opposition by the US meat industry .

Try to find a good local source of uncured natural bacon and pork. Organic… good. preservative-free… good. Trader Joe’s carries some great preservative-free bacon at a great price. Applegate Farms does the same for lots of meat products like bacon, sausages, deli meats (check those labels!)

Final product... unfortunate plates, i know.

Bacon and Egg Cups

bacon, either strips or ends and pieces from Trader Joe’s. enough to cover the bottom and sides of a muffin tin.

eggs, one for each cup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Place bacon in muffin tin so that is creates a “holder” for the egg.

making the cup

3. Crack an egg into each cup.

4 Bake for 8-15 mins depending on how thick your bacon is and how runny/well-done you want your egg. 

Variations include:

  • using Canadian bacon rounds instead of bacon
  • putting some sweet potato on the bottom
  • chopping up the bacon and whipping the eggs so that they are more like crustless-quiche.

I know, I know. Bread? Surely this can’t be right. Because bread is only made from grain, and grains are FORBIDDEN. Well, you’re in luck. This past week I have conjured up some nice Paleo bread recipes. Definitely not for everyday consumption, but a little bread and butter (translation: Paleo bread and Organic grass-fed Goat’s Milk butter) never hurt any one. Now grains… they do some serious damage. Many of you probably have heard the gospel of Paleo; anti-nutrient filled, inflammation linked, and disease fostering grain products should be avoided 90-100 percent of the time.

Even more than just grains in general, Wheat is by far the most suspect (well, not even suspect at this point… more studies come out every day showing the absolute horror that is our beloved “staff of life”). In a recent podcast, Robb Wolf, ie Paleo Baby Jesus, has an on air talk with Dr. William Davis about his new book, Wheat Belly. I highly recommend you listen to this podcast if you want the latest scoop on what researchers are discovering about wheat, gluten, and it’s effects on human vitality and health. Some of it’s more nasty effects include worsening or initiating behavioral and neurological disorders, handicapping the hormonal signaling of satiety, and keeping diabetics well, diabetic. Just click here for the podcast.

This recipe is not for the nut-free folks, and unfortunately I am more and more finding myself in that camp. Nuts are a bit hard on the digestive system and can be allergenic for some. So proceed with caution. You people out there with systemic inflammation, auto immune conditions, or poor digestion should really limit nut consumption. In my early Paleo days I had my fair share of nut binges. I mean heck, what am I supposed to eat when I have no access to animal flesh or fresh produce?! Since then, I have seen the error in my ways. Not only does heavy nut consumption slow down my poor digestion, it can also be a huge wrecker of the weight loss goals.

Golden Beautiful Bread!

 Paleo Bread

1 ½ cups blanched almond flour

2 tablespoons coconut flour

¼ cup golden flaxseed meal

¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

5 eggs

¼ cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon honey (I used date paste)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  1. Place almond flour, coconut flour, flax, salt and baking soda in a food processor
  2. Pulse ingredients together
  3. Pulse in eggs, oil, honey and vinegar
  4. Pour batter into a greased 7.5″ x 3.5″ loaf pan
  5. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes
  6. Cool and serve

 Paleo Banana Bread

2 cups almond flour

¼ c. flaxseed meal

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

2/3 c. chopped nuts (I used sliced almonds)

4 really ripe bananas

2 tbsp. local honey (I used date paste)

4 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, add the mashed bananas, eggs, honey, and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until combined. Normally with breads or muffin recipes, you don’t want to overmix, but since there’s no gluten here, mix to your heart’s content. The muffins won’t get gummy or icky.
  5. Fill greased muffin tins, baking cups, mini-loaf pans or big loaf pans about 3/4 full. Bake muffins for 23-25 minutes and loaves for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool slightly and enjoy with a pat of almond butter, coconut oil or grass-fed butter. Mmmm.

These recipes are courtesy of Robb Wolf, author of  The Paleo Solution and blogger Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry.

Though uncommon, sometimes I am asked to cover a shift at trader joe’s working Demo . Many people know it as the sample place, snack corner… or, if you’re a free-loading pig, it’s lunch.  Either way, I’m never totally stoked about these shifts. Something about the general public, free food, and a predetermined, unhealthy TJ’s concoction just doesn’t suit my particular sensibilities.

Fortunately, my bosses usually cut me some slack and let me experiment in the kitchen as long as I continue to dole out nasty small plates to the customers.

I decided that not only would be wise to introduce my coworkers to a late night snack in the realm of Paleo, but also include some unfamiliar ingredients. While many may think that Trader Joe’s is a healthy establishment full of hippie lettuce munchers and knowledgable vitamin pushers, I regret to inform you that you are sorely mistaken. As a whole (keep in mind, I’ve worked at not one, not two, but FOUR different stores.) most crew members are satisfied on a diet of cigarettes, beer, and frozen pizza.

With that in mind I give you:

Stuffed Dates

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Dates with Lemon Curd

1 case Trader Joe’s Medjool Dates (pitted)

4 oz. plain goat cheese

2 Tbsp. lemon curd

sesame seeds for garnish

1. Slice one side of the date lengthwise to take out the pit and create a space for the goat cheese.

Little Date boats waiting to be filled with goodness.

2. In a bowl, mash together goat cheese and lemon curd and scoop into a pastry bag, or a ziploc.

3. Trim off tip of the bag and squeezing from the top, fill each date with a little bit (…or a lot) of goat cheese.

4. Garnish with some sesame seeds (black, white, or toasted will do fine)

Pistachio Version

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Dates with Pistachios

4 oz. plain goat cheese

1/4 c. roasted and salted pistachios (chopped)

2 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Same process as the first batch, just different ingredients.

2. In a bowl, mash together cheese, most of the chopped pistachios (reserve about a tablespoon of pistachio pieces/dust), vanilla, and honey.

The Pistachio Filling

3. Fill the dates and garnish with the reserved pistachios.

As promised, here is another delicious version of Halva. Feel the freedom to toss in a multitude of different flavors, nuts, etc. It’s foolproof in the sense that you don’t need to heat it correctly to crystallize the sugar. Another feature is that, unlike traditional halva, it’s not super sweet. That’s a bonus in my paleo book altough some may argue the opposite. I personally would like to know that only 1 Tbsp. of honey went into the whole batch rather than 2 c. in a regular batch of halva. Not only is there less honey, but making this recipe raw also means you can use RAW honey.

Raw Honey

Like coconut, raw honey is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal substance. It’s a good energy source that will help replenish liver glycogen stores, post workout. It’s also traditionally been used as an immunity booster, cough suppresant and can be used to treat wounds due to it’s anti-bacterial and healing properties.

Keep in mind, although raw honey is a Paleo-friendly sweet, it should not be used in excess (think like a caveman… would they have daily access to bottles of honey? I think not). You should also consider your needs and goals. People who want to lean out (gain muscle, decrease fat, lose weight) and decrease insulin resistance should limit all sweeteners… fruit, honey, maple syrup, coconut nectar, dates… you get the idea.

That being said, here’s the goods… another delicious culinary adventure in my brand new Kitchen Aid food processor!

Raw Chocolate Halva

1 c. tahini

1 c. coconut shreds (unsweetened)

1/2 c. raw sliced almonds or 1/4 c. almond meal

1/4 c.  cacao (more to taste)

2 Tbsp. maca powder

1 Tbsp. raw honey

1Tbsp. spirulina

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. sea salt (to taste)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. coffee grounds

1. Throw it all in a food processor and press GO.

2. When it’s all mashed up into a moist meal, taste test and add additional ingredients as necessary.

3. If it’s too dry, add more tahini. Too wet, add some coconut or almond meal.

4. Press into a coconut oiled pan and refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares.

I’m HUNGRY! What do I eat? No chips, no bean dip, no sandwiches, no quesadillas, no hummus! Does this sound familiar?

 When starting out a paleo lifestyle, sometimes it seems as though there are very few options in the way of clean, fast, easy snack foods. I mean, who has time to steam a fish and stir fry some perfectly julienned vegetables on your 15 min work break? I mean, really? For those who feel no desire or inclination to imtermittently fast between luxurious time slots of kitchen cooking (riiiight.) you will need some quick and easy Paleo snack suggestions. Keep in mind, some of these snacks can and should be prepared ahead of time (during those kitchen times) and packaged accordingly.

Here are some wonderful suggestions. Some are Nikki originals, other’s not so much, but take note and be filled.

  • Hard Boiled Eggs – Everyone has a method.
  • Guacamole and Salsa with vegetable dippers i.e. cucumber slices, endive spoons, carrot slices, jicama, etc.
  • Turkey, Beef, Bison, Salmon Jerky (see recipe below)
  • Oysters canned in Olive oil with hot sauce and lemon juice
  • Nut butter on fruit
  • Avocado, halve it, spice it, eat it. Alternatives: spoon some canned shrimp in avo and a squeeze some lime, sprinkle some salt. and enjoy.
  • Make your own trail mix, my favorite is cashews, macadamia nuts, goji berries, coconut flakes, cacao nibs. Just mix in a huge bag and portion (think 1/4 -1/2 c.) in baggies or other containers of choice.
  • Blanched broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus holds up well in the fridge and can be dipped or seasoned
  • Make your own olive tapenade
  • Lunch meat wraps (please consider the quality of the lunch meat). Roll with some lettuce, avocado, mustard, tomato, sauerkraut, etc.
  • Sweet Potato Fudge (see last post)
  • Bacon (Did i mention that Trader Joe’s just got in Beef Bacon?)

As you can see, the possibilities are somewhat endless. Enjoy your snack time everyone!

Turkey Jerky

1 organic turkey breast
1/2 c. Gluten – Free Tamari (available at New Leaf/Whole Foods, Staff of Life)
1/4 c. grapeseed or sesame oil
1 Tbsp. crushed garlic
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1-2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  1. Trim off all fat, skin, and ligaments from the turkey and slice into 1/8 inch slices against the grain.
  2. Place turkey in a plastic bag and add the remaining ingredients. Seal the bag and massage the meat with the marinade. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Lay turkey slices on the dehydrator sheets and turn on the dehydrator to 135-140 degrees. Should take 7-10 hours.

Note: Partially freeze turkey breast for easy and even slicing.
Option for tamari-free marinade: use pineapple juice, chili oil, ginger and garlic.

 

I’ve got truffle’s on my mind. Not only are truffles delicious, but I’ve recently discovered that they are also ridiculously easy to make. Check this: equal parts cream and chocolate… heat and mix, cool and roll. It’s just so simple.

Last weekend, an instructor at Bauman College held a truffle making class and I reluctantly attended. Right, reluctant about chocolate? Me? No, never. So I learned the fine art of making gananche and the candy chocolate coating of heaven that decadently enrobes these fine pieces of happiness. Needless to say, all us women were in a full on chocolate coma by the end of the 5 hour long instruction. Fortunately for us “lac-tarded” people (and dairy-free by choice), I made my truffles with full fat, organic coconut milk and 70% Scharffen Berger dark chocolate.
Since that weekend, it has dawned on me that most people appreciate a good truffle. This is my reasoning for engaging in chocolate madness yet again, this time in the spirit of Christmas giving. Yesterday I embarked on a truffle expedition and succeeded in creating varieties such as coffee, peanut butter, and peppermint. Rest assured, I will be sharing the wealth. 

I love chocolate, but my tolerance levels for all things sugar is drastically lower than most folks due to the Paleo lifestyle which I follow (well, on non-truffle making days of course). So what do you do when you have truffles on the brain but you prefer to have a truffle-free digestive system? Well, glad you asked!

Here I present the Breakfast Truffle of December 20th. I wanted truffles, but I also needed breakfast. Here is the marriage of two fine individuals:

Breakfast truffles
Cranberries (I used fresh ones that had been coated in orange juice and then partially dried in a dehydrator)
Raw Coconut flakes
Raw Cashews (or any nut you prefer)
Optional: honey, spices, etc… (make it your own)
Throw it all (carefully) into a food processor and pulse till combined. Roll into a ball and then roll in some unsweetened coconut shreds.

Voila! It’s breakfast in truffle form. Paleo-friendly. Kid-friendly. Christmas-friendly.

Ginger Peach Tea and Coconut Cranberry Truffles