Category Archives: Recipes

Lindsey’s Tummy-Pain Tea

I’ll say it again, just to be loud and clear: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. The herbs I’m about to list may or may not be right for you, and they may interfere or react with other herbs or prescription medications you may be taking. Please be careful when taking any herbal remedy, and consult a professional to make sure it’s safe for you.

tea

That said, this concoction (which I dreamed up on my own based upon what I know about western herbs and their benefits) helps with both my digestion and abdominal pain.

Lindsey’s Tummy-Pain Tea

(For 1 Small Pot)

-3 to 4 tbsp dried peppermint leaf

-1 tsp fennel seed (crush with mortar and pestle)

-2 to 5 cardamom pods (crush with mortar and pestle)

-1 small pinch dried raspberry leaf

-1 generous pinch licorice root (crush with mortar and pestle)

-1 small pinch dried nettle

-1 small pinch dried skullcap

-1 generous pinch marshmallow root

-1 medium pinch cramp bark (crush with  mortar and pestle)

-Optional: 1 to 2 tsp white tea leaves

-Optional: small handful of crushed fresh blackberries (will alter taste)

-Optional: 1/8 tsp dried dill (will alter taste, but helps digestion)

-Optional: 1 pinch dried fireweed blossom (just for colour and to make you feel nice – I gather this myself from local forests)

-Optional: 1/16 to 1/8 tsp white stevia powder concentrate; or a very small amount of dried stevia leaf (to sweeten)

Allow all of these ingredients to steep in 2 to 3 cups of just-boiled water for 5 to 10 min. Pour through a teacup strainer into your teacup to drink, and replace the contents of the strainer back into the teapot to continue steeping. It’ll look like you’ve got the entire forest floor in your teapot, but each ingredient has an effect on the digestive system. The main ingredients (peppermint, fennel, licorice root, and marshmallow root) are all soothing ingredients. The other ingredients draw blood to the digestive system and have anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic effects. You can brew this tea with or without the white tea, depending on your caffeine preferences. Also, you can tweak the recipe to your taste as long as you are aware of what each herb does, and what concentrations are safe. Beware of using clover blossoms to sweeten your tea, as red clover can interfere with birth control in women.

The only drawback to making your own tea this way is that each ingredient must be placed into each pot or cup; if you throw large amounts of the ingredients into a bowl and mix it up like a salad, not every cup of tea will have every ingredient and the potency will change. One option for convenience is to fill your own tea bags, which you can purchase empty for that very purpose. You’ll need very large tea bags, though, to allow all the herbs to expand and steep properly in the water.

Hope you enjoy!

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Mostly-Paleo Chocolate Covered Strawberries

It’s almost Valentine’s Day. As a kid, this meant the appearance of pink-frosted cupcakes, Hershey’s Kisses, Conversation Hearts candy, and Cinnamon Hearts, not to mention red licorice and heart-shaped sugar cookies. Some of these things are still making an appearance lately as other adult family members indulge a sugar cookie craving. For me – a self-described sugar addict – this makes life hard. Confections just look soooo good. And I miss chocolate covered marzipan a lot. So I’ve come up with an idea of how to treat myself.

Most followers of a Paleo lifestyle will tell you they occasionally indulge in things like honey, agave nectar, and very dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao). A little indulgence now and again, and in moderation, does no harm. The difficulty is that I find dark chocolates with very high cacao concentrations very bitter and sour. The solution, I decided, was to make a mostly-paleo version of chocolate-covered strawberries.

Find strawberries that are fresh and not frozen, and which do not need trimming. Wash them and place them on paper towel. Allow them to dry from their little bath.

Melting chocolate can be a hazardous experience. Burning and lumpiness occur with alarming regularity. Thus, the best way to melt chocolate is in a double-boiler. Basically, this is a wide pot with hot or boiled water in the bottom (about an inch of water), and another pot or steel bowl (wider than the first pot) placed over it. Actual double-boilers can be bought, but I have found that a steel bowl slightly wider than the pot works fine too.

Once you have your water warming, place chunks of high-quality dark chocolate into the upper bowl or pot. Using a high-end dark chocolate usually means fewer additives will already be in the chocolate. Add a little butter – this makes the chocolate a little softer. As these melt, mix them together. They should melt slowly, and you should stir often. Beware of the steam from the pot below. Once everything seems melted, sir in a little honey or agave nectar (which, in small amounts, won’t spike your insulin levels like cane sugar does). Then add a tiny splash of heavy cream (about a teaspoon). Whisk this well. This results in a mostly paleo-version of sweet chocolate.

Now remove the bowl from the bottom of the double-boiler. Using your pre-washed fresh strawberries, hold onto the leafy top and dip each one about half-way into the warm chocolate mixture. Set each one on parchment or waxed paper to harden. Once they’ve hardened, arrange them on a plate and cover them with plastic-wrap and keep them in the fridge until you serve them, so the exposed berry doesn’t wither or dry out. While it’ll be pretty unlikely you’ll have leftovers, if you do, eat them the next day. These don’t keep very long without withering.

This can be done with fresh cherries too. Truthfully, I’d rather have these than cupcakes or candy anyway! Enjoy.

Paleo Breakfast Quinoa

Paleo Breakfast Quinoa

Eating meat and eggs in the morning is something I find difficult to do. I have never in my life been a morning person, and the thought of breakfast is not something I typically look forward to. My unhappy stomach is currently making the situation worse. Breakfast, however, is considered to be very important to a paleo lifestyle for reasons that make sense to me. First, it sets the tone for your body: give it lots of good protein and healthful fats in the morning, and it’ll decide to operate off of that for the rest of the day. Also, a good breakfast helps to maintain even insulin levels, gives your body a good fuel source, and causes the body to feel more satiated throughout the day.

Still…I miss my little bowl of steel-cut oatmeal and cinnamon in the morning. Mild, a little sweet, and not resembling an animal’s body part in the remotest sense, oatmeal was really nice.

So I’ve decided to compromise: breakfast quinoa. Quinoa looks like oatmeal, but contains complete proteins and lots of minerals. A little of this grain-and-gluten-free food cuts down on the amount of meat or egg I need to eat at the beginning of the day and makes for a more gentle start for my stomach. And it’s very simple to make. Here’s how I do it:

  •  Take one box/bag of your favourite pre-soaked, pre-rinsed pure quinoa.
  • Follow the directions on the package to cook your quinoa on your stove-top, but substitute 1/2 of the water required with coconut milk.
  • Once you’ve added your quinoa to the pot, add a handful of diced dried fruit (apple, mango, raisins, apricot, cranberries, cherries, blueberries – whatever you like and have on hand).
  • Also add 1 or 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, depending on how much quinoa you are making.
  • Let all that cook as normal, and let your quinoa sit covered for the normal amount of time.
  • Then, serve it hot with a little honey drizzled over the top and an extra dash of coconut milk, or skip the dried fruit during the cooking process and top your little bowl with fresh fruit.
  • Enjoy.

Paleo Curried Quinoa

Curried Quinoa

I admit, when I first encountered those tiny little spheres of quinoa, rolling about a bowl in their uncooked state, I was flummoxed. What to do with this? I had heard it could have a bitter taste; I certainly did not want that. I had a box with basic cooking instructions, so I decided to follow those. But, being me, I also decided to “lovely” it up a bit. I was missing the easy access to ethnic foods I had enjoyed while living in Edmonton, and had a particular little Indian restaurant in mind that night, so I decided to make my quinoa curried.

Before cooking the quinoa, I threw the following into a small skillet and sautéed it until it was cooked through:

  • Diced onion (about 1/2 cup)
  • Finely chopped fresh parsley (just a handful)
  • Cauliflower chopped quite small (about 2/3 cup)
  • Diced mushrooms (about 2/3 cup)
  • Sliced carrots (about 1/2 cup)
  • A dash of olive oil

I let these get a little browning on them. When this was done, I set them aside, away from the heat. Then I added:

  • Diced roasted red peppers (the kind you can buy in a jar) – about 1/4 to 1/3 cup
  • Finely diced sun-dried tomatoes (also the kind you can buy packed in olive or sunflower oil in a jar) – about 1/4 cup

To cook the quinoa, I just followed the instructions on the box, bringing 2 cups of water to boil and then dumping in the quinoa and reducing the heat. I also added the following into the pot of cooking quinoa:

  • 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Hungarian paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
  • About 1 teaspoon of saffron flowers (just to make it pretty)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh butter

I mixed all this about, put a lid on it and simmered it, and when it was done cooking I removed it from the heat and let it sit, covered, for about 5 min.

Before I let it sit, however, I added in all the veggies I had previously sautéed (with the diced peppers and tomatoes), along with a tiny dash of coconut milk (TINY – we don’t want soggy quinoa).

The Result: I have to say, it turned out quite well. It was very tasty, and the quinoa, when cooked, still has a crunchy quality that I found I really liked. I paired it with a little roasted turkey breast.

So there you go: Paleo Curried Quinoa. And since I added in all the extra veggies and ate it as a side-dish, I didn’t feel it was necessary to worry about too much carbohydrate or “glycemic load”.

 

Quinoa: Paleo or Not? The Debate Rages On…

Definitively, quinoa is a seed, not a cereal or grain. Biologically, it’s closely related to beets and spinach. There seems to be much debate about whether or not quinoa is paleo. This is due, mainly, to it’s pseudo-grain reputation: it’s often referred to as a “whole grain” for commercial sale, though it’s actually a seed, and closer to a fruit than a traditional grain. Adding to the debate is it’s position on the glycemic index. But it is also a complete-protien source, high in fibre, and high in iron, B-vitamins, phosphorus and magnesium. It’s also gluten-free and (when the saponins that coat it naturally are removed) easy to digest.

Curious about all this debate, I recently compared a banana with quinoa on the glycemic index, and here’s what I found ( http://www.glycemicindex.com/index.php ):

Quinoa (cooked): 150g serving size. Glycemic Index: 53. Carbohydrate value: 25. Glycemic Load: 13

Banana (raw): 120g serving size. Glycemic Index: 58. Carbohydrate value: 23. Glycemic Load: 13

Just to clarify, the average banana weighs 120 grams. 150 grams of cooked quinoa is about 2/3 of a cup.

To me, this means quinoa is perfectly paleo, in moderate amounts. I mean, not many people would sit down and eat 5 bananas, nor does it make much culinary sense to sit down and eat 3 and 1/3 cups of straight quinoa (which is roughly equivalent to 5 bananas).

In the end, however, what paleo is, is simple, unprocessed foods that are not grains or processed sugars. Beyond that, what counts as paleo seems to be a matter of interpretation and personal experience and preference. To me, quinoa seems simple and unprocessed enough to be healthful (not to mention all that great complete-protein and iron). This is what it looks like in its natural state, growing in South America:

 (Thanks to Wikipedia for this photo)

Lovely, isn’t it? Once the quinoa plant flowers, it forms little fruits about 2 mm in diameter. These are the fruit/seeds that are harvested as quinoa. Once these little gems are harvested, they still have a bitter coating on them called saponin, which has to be removed. The bitter taste prevents the seeds from being completely eaten by birds and wildlife. Usually, unprocessed quinoa is soaked in water for a time and mixed and rinsed well to remove the saponin. Most quinoa you can buy here in North America has been pre-soaked and washed. The package may suggest one further rinse, but often does not even require this.

If you’d like to try quinoa, I suggest buying a boxed variety such as PC Organics Pure Quinoa.  It comes from Bolivia, is pre-soaked and washed, and has easy cooking instructions on the box. I will post two recipes for quinoa dishes, and I can say that I have found quinoa easy to digest and quite delicious, though I have always paired it with spices and other additions.

Paleo Pumpkin Pudding

I’ve seen recipes for paleo pie crusts, delicately made from nuts and coconut. But I have absolutely no patience for pie crusts at the best of times, paleo or not, so I decided to convert pumpkin pie (which I love) into a baked pumpkin pudding. The result was phenomenal – I like the pudding version even better than pumpkin pie! Also, it was pretty quick to make. Here’s the recipe…

Paleo Pumpkin Pudding

  • In a large bowl combine:

-1 large can of pure pumpkin (about 795 mL or 28 oz)

-5 or 6 free-run eggs

-1/2 cup of pure liquid honey or pure maple syrup. If you like your pumpkin pie quite sweet, increase this to 2/3 cup (I prefer the less sweet version)

-1 and 1/2 cups of half-and-half cream (or full-fat coconut milk, if you’d like to avoid dairy)

-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

-1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

-1/4 teaspoon ground clove

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I prefer Mexican vanilla)

  • Whip all of this together with a whisk or electric beaters, until it is very well mixed and is slightly frothy.
  • Spoon this mixture into small ramekins until the ramekin is about 3/4 full. You can also use a large shallow bakeware pan, such as a 9×13, but your servings will look messy as this pudding does not slice nicely.
  • Top each ramekin with crushed nuts (I like pecans, walnuts or macadamia nuts).
  • Put all ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 400° F. Depending on the size of your ramekin or baking container, baking these can take anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes. You can tell when they’re done by inserting a toothpick into the centre of the ramekin. If the toothpick comes out clean (not goopy or wet) then your pumpkin pudding is done. When they’re done, the top will  look browned.
  • Let your puddings cool a bit.
  • Serve your puddings warm in their ramekins, and feel free to top each with one of the following:

-A dollop of unsweetened whipped heavy cream

-A dollop of Greek Yoghurt drizzled lightly with honey

-A dollop of the following mixture: 1 part cream cheese, mashed up well, and 1 part Greek yoghurt. Whip these two together (until very smooth) with a little honey or maple syrup to sweeten to taste, and place a spoonful on top of each ramekin.

  • You’re done!
  • If you have any leftovers, keep them in the fridge. This baked pudding also freezes well, so you can make them up ahead and freeze them for serving at special occasions – just remember to thaw them well before you warm them in the oven again.

You Can’t Fake Coconut Flour

Well, you can’t. I tried, with very little success.

I “Amazoned” myself a new cookbook on how to cook with coconut flour, since coconut bread seemed an attractive prospect. By the time it arrived, I had not yet actually found any coconut flour in my little city. SO, I decided to use my noggin and simply make coconut flour. After all, what was coconut flour but ground up coconut? I had a large bag of natural unsweetened dried coconut, and a food processor – what more could one need? Into the processor went the flaked coconut. Out of the processor came finely chopped flaked coconut, made sort of clumpy by the natural coconut oil it contained. More food-processor magic ensued. I tried a high speed. I tried a low speed. I tried the “pulse” setting. I tried the “ice” setting. After what seemed like ten minuets, what emerged was exactly the same as what had emerged after the first blending.

“Oh well…” I thought – maybe this was just what coconut flour looked like. I proceeded to make a banana nut coconut loaf (with Mexican vanilla, no less – will post the modified recipe later) and the mixture smelled heavenly. It baked in the oven like a dream, poufing up, light and lofty. I had bread! Or so it seemed. In the deep darkness at the bottom of the loaf pan, evil ensued.

You see, all my finely grated coconut, along with banana and nuts, had floated to the top of the pan. What settled underneath was the copious amount of egg the recipe called for. Thus, when I took my beautifully browned loaf out of the oven and cooled it and cut it open, I discovered that exactly half of the loaf was just baked egg, while the top half was grated coconut held together by banana and egg. Nothing had absorbed, or co-mingled, or tango-ed in the way it was supposed to. Well then: there was only one thing to do. I cut the bottom half of the loaf off, gave it to the dogs, and decided the top half was delicious – whatever undistinguishable food category it might fall into.

Today, however, I have real, actual coconut flour (see the picture above). It’s dry, floury, and nut-coloured rather than white, and there do not appear to be any golf-ball sized clumps. I shall attempt the coconut flour loaf again, and post the results. As far as making my own coconut flour goes… I think I’ll leave it to the experts, whom I have deemed to be “Bob’s Red Mill”.