Thursday, February 28, 2013

Paleo Banana Chocolate Chip Bread


One of my favorite treats growing up was banana chocolate chip bread. My mom had a special way of making a 'healthy treat' then adding chocolate and making it something I actually wanted to consume. Brilliant. In my apartment we always have bananas, and sometimes they all get ripe at the same time. So when this happens, I pop them in the freezer and save them for a rainy banana bread day. Today is such a day. (except that it's snowing not raining)

I've been making a lot of cashew butter from scratch lately, mostly to see if I can do it and if it's worth it. I'm still working on the cost benefits analysis (expect a post on whether it's monetarily worth it some time soon) but for this recipe I used my own cashew butter which was pretty cool, and it turned out delicious.


Ingredients
4-5 medium very ripe bananas (I use frozen)
1 cup cashew butter
2 eggs
1 cup almond meal
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate cut into chunks (optional)

Steps
Preheat oven to 375F, find glass loaf pan (or nonstick) and line with parchment paper- I just fold it over the edges and let the mixture hold it down once poured in)
Place cashew butter and eggs in bowl and mix together. Next peal bananas and mash them into the mixture.
Add almond flour, honey, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and mix until well combined. Next hand mix the dark chocolate into your batter.
Pour mixture into glass loaf pan with parchment paper. Place in oven to bake for 25-30 minutes. Check to see if knife/toothpick will come out clean, mine needed some extra time.

The result is a delicious bread for breakfast or a treat through the day. I find it very filling because of the cashew butter in it. Also it would be easy to add different ingrediens such as nuts or seeds to make it even more filling. The original recipe called for only 3 bananas- since I use frozen I upped the number because 3 really wasn't making a 'banana-y' enough bread. If you want a less banana flavored bread go back down to 3.




Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Paleo Oatmeal, "Fauxtmeal"


Oatmeal's a funny thing. I really don't think I even LIKED it before going paleo, it was just something you ate some mornings when it was cold. If you were out of eggs. Or you were on some diet that was like, dude oatmeal is going to save your life. (we've all been there). But on a cold morning when the sun has decided to not come up in Pittsburgh despite it being 9am (silly town) some times you just need a bit of warm mush to start your day. (Yum).

So Oats are out on this diet, and what's a girl to do? but luckily the internet is there with a bunch of different variants on Paleo "faux" oatmeal, or as I like to call it, "Fauxtmeal" 

Ingredients: 
1 ripe banana
3-4 egg whites (or 3 eggs)
2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup almond milk (you could use coconut if you want)
some vanilla extract
some cinnamon
(I say some because when I'm barely awake in the morning there is little chance I'm breaking out the measuring spoons)
optional toppings: fruit, more almond milk, more cinnamon, maple syrup, honey, nuts


Steps:
Mash a banana with a fork in a bowl.
Add milk and egg whites to bowl with cinnamon and vanilla. Mix with fork.
Pour bowl mixture into saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add almond flour. and mix in absorbing the liquid into a delightful mush (this is not a pretty dish, but it is delicious) make sure it is combined.
At this point you want to get a spatula and lift the mixture from the bottom, since the egg whites in the mix will start to cook and stick. Make sure it cooked through because we do not eat raw eggs- deal? Give it 5-10 minutes so it has a change to sort of 'bake' Mine gets granular because I don't use blanched almond flour. 
When it's done scoop into bowls (there is enough for 2 services). I like to add almond butter and heated up fruit on top and eat.


Monday, February 25, 2013

How to eat Paleo on a mostly french island (aka hahaha, ha ha, ha ha)

So I spent the last ten days in St Martin with my family. If you don't know the whats and wheres of St. Martin it's a small island that is half French and half dutch in the Caribbean sea. It's a lovely little place and I am fortunate enough to have been there with my family like 9 times. (my family is pretty cool). The trouble with going is the food scene. Being paleo (after this week I feel the statement, 'trying to be paleo' is far more accurate) is wicked hard.

Par exemple:
Typical breakfast: some baguette, a croissant (qwa-san), a thing like a croissant but with raisins
Snack/desert? Cheese, chocolate (ok), fruit
dinners: meat/fish and veggie options were fine, but what were they cooked in, probs butter, delicious delicious butter
Oh! and there is a local ice cream company called Mt. Etna that makes better ice cream than haagen daz and it's not even expensive.

So a week+ there can wear a girl down. You start off being oh so good. Making eggs for breakfast. Ordering seafood and meats and veggies. But with goat cheese and roasted Camembert at the ready 24/7 your plain eggs start to look lonely, and you find yourself sticking your broccoli into the camembert!!! I tried to maintain control of this divergence from the plan, and overall it wasn't like I was eating a baguette + cheese with every meal, but I had significantly more dairy and gluten than I have been and I don't regret it at all.


Did my tummy feel awesome from these choices, well no, but it didn't kill me, and I firmly believe that a good shock to the system helps you get back on track. So if this were an analogy to my falling off the wagon, pretend I just had a 10 day food bender (I shall miss you dear friend, cheese).

So how do the french people stay so thin? because seriously folks, there is no thin, like a french people thin. I think it has something to do with drinking wine, smoking, and looking at your food but not really consuming it. That's my theory at least. Because seriously the amount of escargot and cheese and bread and butter and oil ingrained in their meal plans is a bit crazy. And delicious. cralicious? deliczy something.




*sidenote* Here is one of the many island cats I met while there. Cats/dogs roam free around the island and I choose to name them all, this one I named Martha. She's sitting on a barstool at Bikini beach. Go home cat, you're drunk.







My favorite thing I had there was seared scallops with roasted asparagus in a truffle oil. And there was a tiramisu that was served in a jar that was life changing. Completely.

My favorite thing I made was when my sister and I tried to roast Camembert in the french oven... Celsius is a funny funny thing, it was still cheese, it just wasn't melty as we expected, ya dig? (this may explain it)


But I took a pretty picture by the pool anyway, so there.

Anyhow I'm back, and ready to get back on track, and while I will miss my friend cheese, it's probably for the best that we go our separate ways, I will remember all the good times we had.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Paleo Donut Day!

Happy Mardi Gras everybody. In honor of Donut Day, Fat Tuesday, Fasnacht Day, Pączki Day etc, I decided to whip up some quick paleo donuts this morning. And since there's still many hours in the day I've decided to share the recipe in case you fancy making some yourself. Clearly these are not nearly as cool as having a Paczki, but if you're interested in a donut shaped treat and not feeling super guilty about it- look no further.


As always I started with a recipe for some guidelines and then I hunted through my kitchen to see how many things I was going to have to substitute since I don't always have the right ingredients. Right out the gate I knew I had run out of cocoa powder, and was going to have to sub unsweetened chocolate squares which I'll talk about in a bit. I knew I was hunting for chocolate donuts since last time I made apple cider donuts and they rocked (but I didn't have apple cider on hand).

So I started with a recipe over at running to to the kitchen. I don't keep coconut butter in the house so I knew the icing wasn't going to work out, so instead I hunted down a simple paleo vanilla icing and found one I had ingredients for at Lost in a Kitchen in Maine.

Donut Ingredients
3/4 c almond flour
1/4 c melted unsweetened chocolate (what I had on hand -> or use 1/4 cocoa powder and add 1 Tbsp coconut oil)
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch sea salt
3 eggs (separated)
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract


Vanilla Frosting Ingredients
1/2 c palm shortening
1/3 c maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp arrowroot starch
2 tsp coconut flour, sifted
pinch sea salt
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
unsweetened shredded coconut- optional

Steps:
0. Preheat oven to 350F, grease donut pan with coconut oil.
1. Over a double boiler melt chocolate and coconut oil together- if your honey is raw and really dense, throw that in too so it will combine easier.
2. In medium bowl place flour, baking soda, salt, vanilla and egg yolks. Add melted chocolate mixture, mix until combined.
3. In separate bowl with hand mixer, whisk egg whites until fluffy/soft peaks.
4. Add egg whites to chocolate mixture and mix until combined, don't over mix.
5. Spoon batter into donut pan, place in oven 10-13 minutes until you can put a fork in it and it comes out clean. Mine released from the donut pan easily, but you can also use a fork to yank them out if you have any trouble. Place on cooling rack and eat, or make frosting and frost.

Frosting Steps:
I should first mention that this recipe makes way too much frosting, so maybe you'd like to half it. I made the whole thing and am going to put the extra to another project. but just a heads up.
1. Put all ingredients in bowl, mix with hand mixer until smooth
2. Frost donuts.

I frosted a few and sprinkled unsweetened coconut on some, and left others plain, any way you do it, they turned out well. I might cut some more of the coconut oil in the future. 











Notes on subbing unsweetened chocolate for cocoa powder. So unsweetened chocolate is built from cocoa and cocoa butter. So when you sub for cocoa powder you need to reduce the amount of fat in the rest of the recipe. In the original recipe it called for 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 3 Tbsp of coconut oil. I reduced by one when I added the unsweetened chocolate, but the end result was still a little oily so I might try to go down to 1 Tbsp instead. It's not an exact science, so it's definitely something you want to experiment with until you get it right. I'm still pretty content with my end result and I think you will be too.