Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Paleo Veggie, Bacon, and Beef Chili

I know what you're thinking.  Another Paleo chili recipe?  The recipe world is inundated with them, so why would I waste my time making another? Ummm...  because this one is the best, that's why!  Don't get me wrong, I've tried quite a few of the chili's out there, and some are really good, but each one I tried seemed to be lacking something.  If it was meaty enough, there weren't enough veggies.  If it had lots of vegetables, it was lacking in flavor.  I wanted create one that had a thick, meaty texture, with lots and lots of veggies, and that had enough spices so that it actually tasted like chili.  Oh, and bacon.  Because, well bacon makes me happy. 
I add a crap load of veggies to my chili because other than a salad, there's not many veggie side dishes that go well with chili, and I love the idea of a one pot meal that contains every component of a healthy, well rounded meal.  Feel free to play around with different veggies and different meats.  I used ground beef because it's the most economical, and it's a staple in most people's fridges.  I've also made this with top sirloin, which was crazy delicious, and you could use ground turkey as well. 
This chili receives the highest praise from the hubby and even my boys and it improves as it sits, which makes it perfect for leftovers.  My boys eat raw dairy and so their bowls are topped with copious amounts of shredded raw cheddar and sour cream, adding to the deliciousness of this dish.  If you don't eat dairy, no worries, this chili is plenty good without it. 

Confession.  I'm starting to get a little bit annoyed concerned.  Once upon a time, in an enchanted land far, far away, I was able to get up at 5:00 a.m., and blog or prep meals without the kids underfoot.  I am not sure what's changed, but the time I have to wake up to have some solitude keeps getting earlier and earlier.  My boys are usually up by 5:30, which means for me to get at least an hour of uninterrupted productivity I have to get up at 4:15!!  As sad as it makes me to think of them getting older, I would be lying if I said I'm not looking forward to the day where I have to wake them up.  All you moms with early risers know what I'm talking about.  Is it too much to ask to have a moment of peace in the morning?  Look outside.  Is it still dark?  Has mom enjoyed a cup of coffee yet?  If you answered no to any of these questions, please, please stay in bed.  This needs to be a law.  I wish I knew how to enforce it.  That should be my next post.  How to successfully keep your kids sleeping in bed until the exact moment you want them to wake up.  I bet it would be my most popular post.

And right on cue, Murphy's Law just reared it's ugly head.  My oldest just walked downstairs and my two year old is screaming, "Mama, meeee, uuuuppp!"  It's 5:32.  Right on schedule.  Looks like I was able to down at least one cup of coffee and manage to write almost all of this post before they got up.  Oh well, there's always tomorrow. 
On a positive note, it's a gorgeous, gloomy, rainy day here in Northern California, which means it's a perfect day to enjoy a big bowl of this warm, comforting chili.  At least my dinner is taken care of.  I prepped everything last night, which means come tonight, all I have to do is throw all my ingredients in my stock pot, let it do it's thing, and I'll have a delicious dinner on the table in no time.  Because this chili is made all in one pot, complete with all the veggies, protein, and healthy fats right inside, it means I only have one dish to wash.  For that I am thankful.  And although it may have seemed like I was complaining, I am extremely grateful for each moment I get to spend with my little monkeys, even if those moments come at the crack of dawn :)
Paleo Veggie, Bacon, and Beef Chili
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced (I used red, but any color will do)
2 zucchini, diced
1 large carrot, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb grass-fed beef, turkey or steak
5 slices of bacon, chopped
1 14 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 14 oz can of tomato sauce*
1 c bone broth or store bought stock
1 T apple cider vinegar
3-5 T chili powder (I used 5, might have even been 6, I like my chili well seasoned.  Start with 3 and add more if desired)
1 T paprika
1 T cumin
2 t red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
avocado, diced
optional but highly recommended: raw cheddar cheese and sour cream
Heat cubed bacon in a large stock pot over medium heat and cook until fully browned.  Remove cooked bacon from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. 
Add onion, bell peppers, zucchini, and carrot into the hot bacon grease and cook for a few minutes until the veggies begin to soften.  Add garlic and cook for another minute.
Add in ground beef, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.  Allow the meat to cook for a 1-2 minutes and then add all your spices, chili powder through salt and pepper.
Pour in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bone broth, and apple cider vinegar and give the mixture a good stir.  Bring it up to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 45 minutes.  Remove lid and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking.  Add diced avocado, cooked bacon, and cheese and sour cream if using. 
 *If you prefer your chili a little thicker, I would opt for a small 8 oz can of tomato sauce instead of the 14 oz.  I use a 14 oz can and it is always perfect for us, but hey, it's your dinner, so do what you like!


Monday, November 18, 2013

All-natural Diaper Cream

My love affair with homemade beauty products goes something like this.  For years, before I was the crazy research nut that I am now, I slathered myself with every fragrance-filled, chemical bomb of a product that littered the shelves of the beauty aisles.  Then my first son was born, and my world was turned upside down.  I began scrutinizing not only everything we put in our bodies, but everything we put on them as well.

I was horrified when I learned of all crap I had been putting on my body.  And if you think the stuff you apply on yourself isn't as important as the things you put in it, think again.  Skin is our largest organ, and every single product you use gets absorbs into your bloodstream.  This is the very reason applying antiperspirant to the sensitive, thin skin of the underarm has been linked to breast cancer.  What we put on us, we are putting in us.

To be honest, before I became the crazy, witch doctor that I am today, (as my husband so lovingly refers to me as) I don't think I ever even bothered to read the ingredient list on any of my personal care items.  Sure, I was eating healthy, but I was spreading garbage all over myself. 

This immediately changed when my son was born.  Carefully reading the ingredient list of any and everything that I bought became the very first thing I did before I even considered purchasing it.  The Environmental Working Group, or EWG, became an invaluable resource for me as I began to delve into the scary world of cosmetic ingredients.  They have an amazing database, where they rate beauty products according to their toxicity and give them a rating from low to high hazard.  All you have to do is enter the product name, from Burt's Bees to Pantene, and you can see where your favorite products rank.

Armed with my new found beauty product knowledge, I ditched all our chemical laden junk and replaced my family's products with natural ones.  Everything from lotion to shampoo to diaper cream got an overhaul.  I was fairly happy with this situation until one day it finally dawned on me that I could produce the same results, perhaps even create a better product than anything I could find on the shelf of my neighborhood drugstore, by making it myself.  Not to mention, most homemade products cost a fraction of the big name guys and they are so easy to make. But the best thing about making homemade beauty products?  You decide what ingredients go into it, and which ones don't.  You can provide your family a product made with only the purest, highest quality ingredients nature has to offer.

My family's motto when it comes to diet and personal care products is simple.  The fewer the ingredients, the better it is.  We choose products and foods that are still in their natural state, just the way Mother Nature made them.  This diaper cream meets those requirements.  It is made of only four ingredients, five if you include the essential oils in your recipe.  Each of the ingredients are unaltered, straight from nature to you.

What makes this cream so great?
Shea butter- a rich, creamy, emollient, vegetable fat derived from the nuts of the Karite tree in Central and West Africa.  It is rich is vitamins A, E, and K and is extremely soothing for the skin.  When used in it's raw state, it also has anti-fungal properties and is effective in killing yeast.  I have yet to find another skin salve as moisturizing and soothing as raw shea butter.

Bentonite Clay- one of the most powerful healing clays known to man.  It is made of aged volcanic ash and is prized for it's ability to remove toxins, chemicals, heavy metals and impurities.  It can be taken both internally and externally and is extremely effective at treating various skin ailments. Due to it's anti-bacterial properties, bentonite clay has been shown to be an effective candida killer, which is the cause of most yeast rashes. Bentonite clay is rich in minerals, including, calcium, magnesium, silica, iron, and potassium.

Coconut oil- probably the most amazing oil on the planet, coconut oil has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties, while also being a highly effective moisturizer and wetness barrier.  The benefits of taking coconut oil internally are just as impressive as it's topical uses, and range from promoting healthy brain function (which is why it is been found very effective in preventing and reversing Alzheimer's) to strengthening the immune system, and increasing metabolism.  As a family, we strive to take at least 3 T of coconut oil daily.

Beeswax- recognized for it's conditioning properties, beeswax has a array of benefits for the skin.  It has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and protects the skin by creating a protective barrier that keeps environmental assaults at bay, all while trapping moisture in and preventing dryness.  It is rich is vitamin A, and is a very effective wound healer.  One of the great things about beeswax is it is a natural thickening agent, which gives this diaper cream a great texture and prevents it from turning into soup in hot weather!

Homemade Diaper Cream


1/2 c raw shea butter (available online or at most health food stores
1/4 c extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 c bentonite clay
2 T grated beeswax
essential oils such as tea tree, lavender, chamomile, or calendula 


Place beeswax and shea butter in a double boiler, or a glass bowl over lightly simmering water, and gently melt while stirring occasionally. 

When almost melted, add coconut oil and continue to stir until fully melted.

Remove from heat and allow to cool to a semi-solid state, somewhat like pudding consistency.  You can place it in the fridge to expedite this process.  

Add bentonite clay and essential oils, if using, and mix thoroughly. 

Place in a glass container where it will keep for up to a year.

Spread on baby's bottom with every diaper change to repel moisture or at the first sign of a rash to quickly heal it! 

*Please note, due to the use of natural oils and butters in this recipe, it may change texture depending on the ambient temperature.  The beeswax does help immensely with this, but in very warm climates (or homes) you may end up with a much softer, thinner cream.  While this doesn't affect the effectiveness of the cream, it is wise to store in a jar with a tight fitting lid so you don't end up with a big oily mess!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pumpkin Crepes

Oh boy.  I really did it this time.  You are either going to love me or hate me for this recipe.  You'll love me because these crepes are sinfully delicious.  You're going to hate me, or at the very least, harbor some resentment towards me because these are so delicious that once you try them you won't want to live without them ever again.  You're going to have to stop clothing your kids to hire a crepe maker so you can have these crepes at your every beckon call.  In all seriousness, these pumpkin crepes are so good you will want to add them to your breakfast rotation asap.  One taste and my kids declared they were the "best breakfast EVER", and all you mom's can attest to the fact that kids are the ultimate taste testers.  Approval from them, and you know it's good!

Before going Paleo, I enjoyed eating crepes but hardly ever made them.  Since adopting our Paleo lifestyle though, I find myself searching for new, flavorful dishes to make for breakfast.  When I decided to perfect a crepe recipe, I chose to make a pumpkin variation because, well, they sounded delicious, and frankly, it's the time of year for pumpkin dishes.  Pumpkin is all the rage this time of year, showing up in all kinds of scrumptious recipes all over the web.  And for good reason.  It's nutritious, in season, and usually made even more delectable when paired with those famous pumpkin pie spices, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. 

When I was developing this recipe, I originally was thinking of using coconut flour.  It is my go-to flour for baked goods and lots of breakfast items like pancakes and waffles.  Instead, I opted for tapioca flour in lieu of coconut for a number of reasons.  The biggest being, I strive to get as many starchy, high density carbohydrates into my boys as possible.  Although they get a bad rap, carbs are essential to our bodies.  Sure, if you live a completely sedentary life, (I'm talking sloth-like) you could get by with a minimal amount of carbohydrates, but if you're active, you require a lot more.  Carbs are even more essential for two groups of people: kids and athletes.  Since my family doesn't eat grains, beans, or legumes, we must find other sources of starches in our diets.  I make sure I serve my boys a high density carb at every meal.  We are big fans of tubers, squashes, and the like, but tapioca flour is another way to provide their growing brains and bodies the carbs they desperately need.  For me, these are perfect for refueling after a workout.

The great thing about tapioca flour is it can be used in all sorts of delicious ways, from brownies to pizza, and these delightful little crepes.  Adding pumpkin, banana, and the warm spices of fall to these crepes makes them delicious on their own, but I wanted to create something special.  When I do make crepes, we usually eat them slathered with butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, and while this combination is super tasty, I knew it could be better.  I started playing around with the syrup and butter and the creation that ensued was downright heavenly.  You must try these crepes with my maple butter sauce.  It's rich, thick, and caramel-ly.  And seriously irresistible.  The addition of this sinful sauce takes these crepes to a whole new level.  I finally had to bury them in the back of the fridge to keep myself from devouring the entire batch.

This next confession will probably have the Paleo police knocking down my door but I was about to up the flavor ante even more by adding... wait for it, a divine pumpkin cream cheese filling to my crepes.  Gasp!  Did she just mention dairy?  Yes, I am aware dairy is one of those questionable, often taboo, gray areas in the Paleo community.  Some say you're Primal if you have dairy, blah, blah, blah.  I don't have time to keep track of the labels, or concern myself with Paleo perfectionism.  My family consumes raw dairy products because they are insanely nutritious and taste great!  The cream cheese I used is raw, as I always have a ton left over from extracting whey, but store-bought cream cheese works beautifully here too.  I, myself don't eat much dairy, but my boys and husband love their raw milk, kefir, and cheeses, and I believe they're better off for it.  If you don't or can't eat dairy, no need to fret, you can simply eat your crepes drizzled with the maple butter sauce and call it a day.  Believe me, they are perfect this way.

If you do however, like to indulge in the dark side of Paleo, and drink from the teet of the bovine, then adding this pumpkin cream cheese to these crepes makes them abso-freaking-lutely delicious.   This pumpkin pie cream cheese would also be heavenly adorning the top or squashed in the middle of pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin bread, apple slices, heck, it would even make the bumper of your car taste good. 

Now that I've undoubtedly subjected myself to the unavoidable onslaught of criticism regarding my reckless choice of utilizing dairy, let it be known I did it all in the name of flavor.  I'll gladly take on the haters and the critics as long as I can leave a smile on your face.  And there's no denying it, you will have a smile on your face as soon as you stuff it full of these.  Pumpkin banana crepes filled with pumpkin pie cream cheese and slathered in maple butter sauce...  stuff away my friends, stuff away.

This recipe makes quite a few crepes.  I like to make them all up at once, and keep the leftovers in the fridge.  This way, you can just pull a few out, and voila, breakfast or snack is ready!  If you don't feel like making all the crepes at once, you can put the batter in the fridge for up to two days and make the rest at your leisure.

Pumpkin- Banana Crepes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese


For the crepes:

3 eggs, room temperature
1 ripe banana
3/4 c full fat coconut milk
1/3 c canned pumpkin puree
1 c tapioca flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt

For the pumpkin cream cheese:

8 oz softened cream cheese, preferably raw
1/2 c canned pumpkin puree
3 T coconut sugar or maple syrup
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
1/2 tsp vanilla

You can get the recipe for my maple butter sauce here.

*If you don't have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can simply make your own, which is what I do.  I use it quite often, so I make up a big batch and just store it along with my other spices.  Here's the pumpkin pie spice recipe I always use:

Pumpkin Pie Spice:

4 Tbs cinnamon
4 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp ginger
2 1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves

Mix spices together and store in old spice jar or small mason jar.


Place all cream cheese ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer (a hand held mixer works fine too!) and process until well combined and smooth.  Place in refrigerator until ready to use. 

Mash banana in a small bowl until very smooth.  Add mashed banana, along with the rest of the crepe ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix well using a stand or hand held mixer, or throw everything in the blender until well combined.  You should end up with a "soupy" looking batter.

Heat a small non-stick pan over low heat.*

Add a small amount of butter to the pan and sop up any extra with a paper towel. 

Pour about 1/4 c batter to the pan, then lift and swirl the pan so the batter forms a thin, even layer.  Don't worry if your first crepe doesn't turn out perfect, they get better as you go, I promise :)

Cook crepe until bottom is golden, then flip and cook until both sides are lightly browned. 

Take care when flipping, because crepes are thin, they are also fragile!

Remove crepe to a plate lined with wax paper and continue to make crepes until batter is gone, buttering and swirling pan with each new crepe.

Once all the crepes have been made, it's time to assemble these puppies.

Spoon a dollop of pumpkin cream cheese in the middle of a crepe, spread into a thin layer and then roll crepe up like a burrito.  Top with maple butter sauce and dig in! 

*Ordinarily, I am a huge advocate against  the use of non-stick pans, due to the nasty chemical coating they contain.  However, crepes require a non-stick surface and therefore this is one of the only times I recommend using one.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Vanilla Ice Cream with Maple Butter Sauce

I have been on a major sweet kick lately.  Not that this is out of the norm, my sweet tooth is freakishly fierce, but lately is has been kicked into overdrive.  Maybe it's the change of seasons, my body intuitively craving comforting, satiating foods.  Or maybe I just really dig sweet stuff.  Most likely, it's the latter. Whatever the reason, I've been creating scrumptious, sweet treats with vicious fervor all month long.

Not that anyone really cares about the reason I'm making them, because, well, sweet stuff is good.  That's why it's called a treat.  My boys inherited my love of all things sweet, which is another reason I am constantly on the hunt for yummy treats that actually possess nutritional value.  I don't believe in denying my kids, nor would I want to.  My oldest son is constantly telling me about the "special treats" his friends get in their lunchboxes.  Granted, it is a wonderful thing he's not inhaling Nestle Crunch bars and fruit snacks loaded with high fructose corn syrup and a huge heaping of red dye #40, but he's five, and at this age, sweet treats feel special.  So while I don't advocate filling his lunchbox with processed foods loaded with sugar, I do want to reward him with something at the end of his day and there's no better way to do that than with ice cream. 

My boys are not the only ones who get excited about creamy, dreamy frozen delights.  It's no secret that I absolutely love ice cream and the fact that this one is full of nourishing fats, raw honey, and sweet vanilla, just makes there that much more to love.  Living a Paleo lifestyle doesn't mean having to give up your beloved ice cream, but it does mean you will have to make it yourself.  I personally love making ice cream because the ingredients are completely at my mercy.  Feel like chocolate?  How about mint chip, or cookie dough?  The variations are endless, and like with anything made from scratch, you decide exactly what goes into it, and what doesn't.  This dairy-free, dare I say nutrient dense, vanilla ice cream won't leave you with that heavy feeling in the pit of your stomach or the least bit of guilt.  I adore treats made with wholesome ingredients, it means I can indulge without insult or injury.


This creamy vanilla ice cream is brought to a whole other level with the addition of my heavenly maple butter sauce.  Oh ya people, you heard that right.  Maple.  Butter.  Sauce.  It's slightly reminiscent of butter toffee. And a tad bit caramel-ly.  And just downright delicious.  This sauce would also be divine poured over pound cake, drizzled on waffles, and I'm guessing it would be simply sinful paired with a few slices of bacon. One bite of this cool, velvety ice cream swimming in warm, smooth maple butter sauce and all will be right with the world. 

This really is a treat you can feel good about indulging in.  It feels naughty, but it's oh so nice.  Nothing but healthy fats, antioxidant-rich natural sugars, pastured eggs, and grass-fed butter.  Nothing on that list to feel the least bit bad about.  So have an extra scoop, and let the kids lick the bowl, you'll be nourishing your body all while tantalizing your taste buds. 

I derive a ton of pleasure and satisfaction from being able to serve my family nutrient dense foods in the form of delicious treats.  That's what's so amazing about eating real food, you don't have to restrict or deny yourself the foods and flavors you love.  Eating real food means you can indulge without sabotaging your health.  Now that's what I call being able to have your cake and eat it too.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Maple Butter Sauce
For the ice cream:
1 can full fat coconut milk
2 egg yolks, from pastured eggs 
3 Tbs raw honey
1 1/2 Tbs vanilla or the seeds from 2 vanilla beans
For the maple butter sauce:
1/3 c Grade B maple syrup
6 Tbs butter
2 Tbs coconut sugar
1/4 c full fat coconut milk
chopped walnuts or pecans, candied or plain (optional)
Whisk egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat coconut milk, honey, and vanilla in a small saucepan over med-low heat.  Do not let it come to a boil.
Stir to combine and remove from heat. 
Pour a small ladle full of the hot coconut milk mixture into the eggs yolks while whisking continuously to temper the eggs. Add another ladle full and then pour egg mixture into coconut milk and whisk to combine. 
Pour into a glass or ceramic bowl and place in refrigerator until fully cooled.  (You can also place a layer of saran wrap directly on top of the ice cream mixture to prevent a "skin" from forming.) 
Once the mixture is completely cool, pour into your ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions.
In my ice cream machine, this takes about 20 minutes.
Once finished, remove ice cream from machine and scoop into a freezer safe container and place in freezer to set completely.  You will want to take out your ice cream at least 10 minutes before serving to let it soften up a bit.
While your ice cream is churning, it's time to make the maple butter sauce.
Place syrup, butter, and coconut sugar in a small saucepan over med-low heat.
Whisk continuously for 3 minutes, until the mixture bubbles and thickens, taking care not to let the mixture burn.
Continue to whisk, add the coconut milk and allow to cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to sit at room temperature or place in refrigerator until you are ready to use it.  It will thicken significantly as it cools, which I love.  It is however, equally delicious served piping hot straight out of the pan.

 Once your ice cream is ready, scoop yourself a big 'ol bowl, ladle on some delicious sauce, and adorn with some candied walnuts or pecans if desired. 





Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Guide to Soaking Nuts and Seeds


I, like most people, enjoy eating nuts and seeds.  They make a great, portable snack and play a big role in Paleo treats and baked goods.  What you may not be aware of, however, is that seeds and nuts contain antinutrients that wreak havoc in our intestines and digestive systems.  Grains, beans, and legumes also contain these antinutrients and are one of the reasons they are not included in the Paleo lifestyle.

I first learned about the benefits of soaking nuts and seeds from Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions.  She explains in the book how soaking nuts and seeds in a saltwater solution is crucial in removing the antinutrients present in them, particularly the phytates and enzyme inhibitors.  Both of these things greatly take away from the nutritional value of these foods. 

Soaking nuts and seeds removes and/or reduces the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, making them more nutritious and easier to digest.  Specifically, soaking initiates the sprouting process, which in turn, neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and removes phytates that are found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes. Before my family and I adopted the Paleo lifestyle, we soaked and sprouted all of our grains and beans as well.  If you do eat grains, I strongly urge you to soak and sprout them before consuming. 

But why do we want to get rid of phytates and enzyme inhibitors?  Let's start with phytates first.  Phytates do our bodies harm by blocking the absorption of minerals, like magnesium, calcium, iron, and most of all, zinc.  Phytic acid binds to these minerals, therefore preventing them from being absorbed in the intestine.  I think it goes without saying that these minerals are essential not only for strong bones and teeth, but for overall health as well.  A deficiency in any of these minerals causes a myriad of health problems, making the removal of phytic acid a necessary and critical step.

Now on to the enzyme inhibitors.  Nuts and seeds all contain enzyme inhibitors.  Nature made them this way for a reason.  Enzymes are unstable and therefore need to be kept in the seed until conditions are right, to prevent the seed from germinating prematurely.  Soaking in water sends a signal to the seed that it is time to sprout and grow into a plant.  When this happens, the enzyme inhibitors are neutralized and the beneficial enzymes, ones that are bioavailable to us, are produced.

When we eat nuts and seeds that have not been properly soaked, we are ingesting these enzyme inhibitors which then interfere with the absorption of proteins.  This leads to gastric distress and a deficiency in amino acids.  That's bad news.  It is for these reasons that properly soaked nuts and seeds are so much easier for our bodies to digest. 

Now that you know why you should soak your nuts and seeds, your next thought is probably, "But I don't have time to be soaking my nuts and seeds before eating them."  Let me tell you from personal experience, soaking nuts and seeds won't take but a moment of your time.  The actual soaking and dehydrating times, are both inactive preparations, meaning you won't have to lift a finger, in fact, you don't even have to be home while these take place! 

I know your days are busy enough as they are, and thankfully, properly soaking your nuts and seeds requires little else than a bit of forethought.  I will cover the various soaking times below, but basically all soaking entails is placing your seeds and nuts in a bowl covered with warm, filtered saltwater, and then allowing them to soak.  That's it.  Easy peasy. 

Dehydrating your soaked nuts is optional but I highly recommend it for a number of reasons.  One, as long as you dehydrate below 125 degrees, your nuts will remain raw and all their beneficial enzymes and minerals will be preserved.  Second, dehydrating the nuts returns them to their crispy state which is required for many recipes.  And last, but definitely not least, making "crispy nuts", as Sally Fallon calls them, (and how I refer to them in my recipes) taste delicious!  I think the flavor and texture are both greatly improved after soaking and dehydrating.  Besides, not many of us prefer to eat soft, wet, soggy nuts (wow, just read that back, I promise you this blog is G-rated).  Nuts and seeds are meant to be crunchy, it's part of their appeal, and dehydrating them returns them to this desired state while preserving the nutrients present in them. 

Soaking Times

Pecans & Walnuts  

  • 4 cups raw pecans or walnuts
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • warm, filtered water (enough to cover)

Soak overnight, or a minimum of 7 hours, and up to 24.
Rinse and dehydrate at 105-125 degrees for 12-24 hours or until crisp, turning occasionally.
  • 4 cups almonds
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • warm, filtered water (enough to cover)
Soak overnight or a minimum of 7 hours, and up to 24.  Rinse and sprinkle with salt/chili powder/honey/or other flavorings if desired and dehydrate at 105-125 degrees for 12-24 hours or until crisp, turning occasionally.
Macadamia Nuts
  • 4 cups raw macadamia nuts
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • warm, filtered water (enough to cover)
Soak overnight or a minimum of 7 hours, and up to 24. 
Rinse and dehydrate at 105-125 for 12-24 hours or until crisp, turning occasionally.
Pine Nuts & Hazelnuts
  • 4 cups pine nuts or hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • warm, filtered water (enough to cover)
Soak overnight or a minimum of 7 hours and up to 24.
Rinse and dehydrate at 105-125 degrees for 12-24 hours or until crisp, turning occasionally.
Pumpkin seeds
  • 4 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • warm, filtered water (enough to cover)
Soak overnight or a minimum of 7 hours, and up to 24.
Rinse (or not, they're good salty) and dehydrate for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.  If desired, sprinkle with salt or cayenne pepper before placing in dehydrator.

Sunflower Seeds
  •  4 cups sunflower seeds
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • warm, filtered water (enough to cover)
Soak for 7 hours.  Rinse and sprinkle with salt if desired and dehydrate at 105-125 degrees for 12-24 hours, or until crisp, turning occasionally.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Plantain Pie Pancakes

 I love using plantains.  They are incredibly versatile, lending themselves beautifully to crackers, waffles, and yes, pancakes.  I also love that they provide my boys with the starchy, complex carbs their growing bodies need, and they're perfect as a post workout snack for me. 
I am fortunate that my boys are great eaters.  Transitioning to the Paleo lifestyle wasn't an issue for them at all.  But let's be real, they're not begging for liver and onions for breakfast.  They're kids for crying out loud, a Kindergartener and a toddler to be exact, and they love pancakes!  I appreciate something other than eggs, meat, and veggies for breakfast every once in awhile as well.  I feel confident serving these pancakes for breakfast because they possess all the nutritional qualities I'm looking for in a meal.  Quality protein, healthy fats, complex carbs, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich spices, and delicious flavor.  Yep, these puppies have it all. 
Judging by the lovely orange hue, it looks like the chicken on the right ate a few more bugs than his friend on the left :)
 These are one of my go-to staples for breakfast.  They come together in a flash, and I always have the ingredients on hand, plus my boys are crazy for them.  There are a few Paleo pancake recipes that we enjoy, but I especially like these because they utilize a starchy fruit as their main ingredient, and not a nut flour.  It's not that I'm against using nut flours, in fact, I cook with them all the time.  But when I find a healthier alternative for a dish that we regularly eat, I'm definitely partial to it.
The addition of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg make these pancakes even more delectable.  These warm, festive spices come together to give you that unmistakable autumnal flavor. Nothing says fall more than these comforting spices.  Hence the name, Plantain Pie Pancakes.  These pancakes are divine smothered in butter and maple syrup, and they cook up super fluffy too.  After tasting these, you won't miss their gluten laden counterparts one bit.
These pancakes freeze well so I love making a big batch and storing the leftovers in the freezer.  They are perfect for those rushed mornings we have all too often in this house.  Just pop them straight from the freezer into the toaster and you'll have a great breakfast on the table in no time!



Plantain Pie Pancakes
1 ripe plantain, fully yellowed
2 eggs, preferably pastured
2-4 Tbs coconut flour*
1 Tbs coconut oil, plus more for the pan
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
pinch of sea salt
Score plantain lengthwise on all sides and then cut off both ends.  Peel off skin and slice plantain into rounds. 
Place cut plantains along with the rest of the ingredients into a food processor, and blend until fully combined and smooth.
Let batter sit for 2-3 minutes, allowing the coconut flour to soak up some of the liquid.  At this point, you will be able to determine if you need to add more flour or not.
Heat griddle over low heat.  Melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil on the griddle and using a measuring cup, pour a scant 1/4 c of pancake mixture onto hot griddle.  I like to make my pancakes small,  silver dollar size.  They are easier to flip this way and just look so darn cute! 
Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown on one side.  Flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, or until golden on both sides. 
Serve immediately with copious amounts of grass fed butter and pure maple syrup and enjoy!
*The amount of coconut flour you use will vary, depending on the size and ripeness of your plantain.  I always start with two heaping tablespoons, and add more as needed.  You are looking for a semi-thick pancake batter, similar to the consistency of brownie batter.  Not enough coconut flour, and your mixture will be too thin, leaving you pancakes that taste great, but are missing their fluffiness.  Too much coconut flour on the other hand, they will be too thick, and will take forever to cook through. If you do happen to add too much flour, fear not, this can be easily rectified by adding some more coconut oil, or even some coconut milk.