Saturday, 24 September 2011

The Breakfast Baffle

From my experience, when trying to convince friends and families of the merits of the Paleo Lifestyle, the one area many struggle with is breakfast.

Breakfast to most non Paleo people is made up of oats, processed, sugary cereal, toast and juice. Sounds healthy right? WRONG! Unfortunately all of these foods are a recipe for raised blood sugar as they convert to sugar, and quickly. Long term this can lead to insulin resistance and fat storage.

I understand this is quite hard to swallow, mainly because we have been taught that cereals like Special K are power food and the best thing you can eat for breakfast. But its true, we have been lied to!

Instead of eating this processed crap, you need to change your attitude to breakfasting and think differently about your first meal of the day. Most people choose to break their fast immediately on waking, while others decide to wait until later on to do so. Either is fine, unless you have endocrine issues and you should avoid skipping breakfast in order to help balance blood sugar levels. Don't just skip breakfast to save time. If you are not hungry on waking that is fine, wait up to an hour, but do not allow yourself to get ravenous.

Now its time to speak FOOD! There are a number of options open to you. Many people love to have eggs and bacon, in their many forms, and I admit, on more chilled out mornings when I have time, I love to cook up a storm for breakfast. Eggs - fried, boiled, poached or an omelette are so convenient and delicious! And don't forget the bacon as a treat! I usually add an avocado and some veg like tomatoes, asparagus or mushrooms. Fried breakfasts without the guilt?! Where could you go wrong?! Add a grain free sausage for a treat or a slice of Paleo Bread!

But what about the days when you are fed up of eggs and bacon?! (Yes it does and will happen!) Dont despair, there are other options! How about making a batch of Paleo muffins like these ones for days you are rushing or wanting something sweet? They freeze very well and can be thawed as needed. Or how about cooking up some "egg muffins" - mix together 6 eggs, red pepper, spring onions, salt, pepper and chopped bacon and pouring into muffin tins? Cook until set and you have handy egg breakfasts in a jiffy with just the need to reheat.

Still miss your oats? Mark's Daily Apple has a now infamous No Oats Oatmeal which might just hit the spot! I have never tried it but it appears to be very popular! If you try it let me know what you think!

Of course if you think of breakfast in the same way a Caveman would, you wouldn't have any hangups about the type of food you ate! Cavemen by their very nature ate what was available to them. This meant eating meat, fruit, root vegetables or whatever they had leftover from their latest kill. To replicate this you could eat whatever you have leftover from dinner the night before. Leftover salmon, steak or chicken with leftover veggies is as Paleo as you get and pretty delicious! The protein and nutrients will more than keep you feeling full and ready for the day!

Smoothies are another great way to eat on the go while filling up on nutrients! Make a smoothie from fruit, berries, banana, almond or coconut milk and veggies such as spinach. Add fats/ protein like flaxseed, avocado or nuts to slow down absorption of those fruit sugars.

I hope I have given you some ideas on what to eat for the most important meal of the day. Breakfast should be delicious, nutritious and easy. But don't forget it doesnt have to take on the usual form! Be imaginative and creative and enjoy!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These are divine! I found a recipe on Paleo Parents for Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies but on reflection they had Cherry Preserve in it (and it had quite a bit of sugar in it so I refrained, and anyway I don't really like Cherries so doh, it wasn't a great choice!) So I decided to wing it and try my own concoction. These were the result, and damn yummy!

This recipe made 8 large cookies, but you could of course make 16 smaller ones!

1 cup of Almond Flour
1/4 cup of Coconut Oil (Liquid)
1/4 cup of apple sauce (3 x eating apples cooked in a little water until soft and pureed. Unsweetened)
1/4 cup of cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp of baking powder
4 tbsp of honey
1 tbsp of flax seed
100g of  Good Quality 75% Cocoa Chocolate cut into chunks

Place all the ingredients in a bowl except the chocolate and blend well using a hand blender.
The mixture should be quite thick. Add a little more almond flour if needed.
Form into cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Push a chunk of the chocolate into each cookie and cover over gently with mixture to hide.
Place in an oven at 180C for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove gently from tray and place on a wire tray to cool, they will crunch up slightly.
Store in an airtight container and ENJOY!!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Coconut, Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup

This is a perfect warmer for the upcoming Autumn. I really love soup during the chilly weather and this will definitely be on my favourites list. Its got a distinctive coconut flavour, so if you like coconut you will love this I think. The coconut comes through and then the hint of roasted garlic. Really filling and satisfying!

Serves 4

1 large sweet potato
1 medium Butternut squash
5 x cloves of garlic
4 tbsp coconut oil
Litre of chicken stock
2 tbsp Italian Herbs
1/2 tin of coconut milk

Preheat oven to 200C
Chop the sweet potato and butternut squash into cubes and place on a baking sheet with the garlic cloves
Coat with the coconut oil and herbs and mix well.
Place in the oven until almost tender, remove and place them in a saucepan, removing the garlic cloves.
Squeeze the garlic from the cloves into the saucepan too and add the chicken stock.
Simmer the soup for about 15 minutes and blend using a hand blender.
Add the coconut milk and check for seasoning. Simmer until heated through
Serve in heated bowls with bacon croutons and paleo bread (optional)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Pork Cutlet in a Almond Meal and Wholegrain Mustard Coating

I created these pork cutlets because pork chops are probably my least favourite cut of meat and I struggle to make them interesting. I actually pan fried these but the almond meal is quite delicate on them and can pull away. So I put one in the oven instead with olive oil and it browned nicely too. Just be careful handling them.
It is extremely easy to make and a quick family dinner for those rush days! Sweet potatoes go very well with pork and we had ours with some mashed.

Serves 4

4 x Pork Chops
1 cup of Almond Flour
2 tbsp of Whole Grain Mustard
1/2 tbsp Garlic Salt
2 tbsp Parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg (beaten)

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Wrap each chop in cling film and bash with a heavy object until flattened. This will tenderise the meat and make it thinner so it cooks quicker.
Unwrap the pork and spread the wholegrain mustard on one side of the chop. Add to both sides if you like loads of mustard!
Place beaten egg on a plate.
Place almond flour on a plate and add garlic powder, pepper, and parsley.
Dip the chop carefully into the egg mixture and then into the almond mixture to coat well.
Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and put in the oven for 25 minutes or until cooked through and browning on the outside.
They wont become overly crispy but they will still be yummy! :)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Paleo Bread

I am one happy bunny after successfully making this bread! I am definitely going to treat myself to a loaf of this every now and then.

I got inspiration from Elana's Pantry and decided to make my own changes and here is the result!

I am super chuffed and its delicious with melted butter. Food heaven!

1 1/2 cups of almond flour
1/4 cup milled organic flax seed
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds (hold some back for the top)
1 tbsp of honey
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
5 eggs beaten

Add flour, baking soda, salt and flax seed to a bowl and mix well
Slowly add the eggs to the mixture stirring well.
Add olive oil (you could use coconut oil either)
Add honey and mix.
Add the pumpkin seeds
Pour mixture into a bread tin and sprinkle with the seeds.
Place in a preheated oven at 175C for 30 - 35 minutes until cooked through.
Cool in the tin and serve with butter and fruit preserve.

Thanks Elana for the inspiration :)

Slow Roast Italian Chicken

I fancied Italian for lunch so I whipped together this dish. I made it using Chicken Drumsticks so it is a really cheap and easy meal. You can use any cut you have though.

Serves 4

4 x Chicken Drumsticks, with skins on.
3 x tbsp olive oil
4 x garlic cloves
2 x tins of plum tomatoes
2 tbsp of Italian Herbs
Glass of white wine (optional)
1 x onion, chopped
Handful of fresh basil, torn

Heat oil in bottom of Crock pot (I use a ceramic one in the oven)
Fry the chicken until skin is browned (do in batches if necessary) and set aside
Fry off garlic and onion until soft.
Add herbs and wine and fry off until the alcohol has burned off (about 3/4 mins)
Add tinned tomatoes, return the onion, basil and garlic and bring to simmer.
Add chicken and cover with lid.
Place in the oven at 160C for at least 2 hours, until the chicken is falling off the bone.

Serve with spinach or other green veg and garnish with basil.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Carbohydrates - The non essential nutrients

Carbohydrates are a complex set of foods that come in three forms:

Monosaccharides (Glucose), Disaccharides (Cane Sugar) and Polysaccharides (breads). All carbohydrates can be broken down in the body into sugars.

It doesn't make a lot of difference to your body in which form you consume these carbohydrates. 

The total calorific value is the same and all carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels in a negative way.

Therefore the "healthy" grains like bread, pasta and rice we are all encouraged to eat actually eventually affect our blood sugars in a similar way to sweets and sugar - all the time contributing to diabetes, obesity and possibly even cancer. 

Contrary to what we are taught in nutrition or by our doctors, refined carbohydrates are not an essential part of our nutrition. The only carbs we need to eat are vegetables and fruit. 
They are not necessary "building blocks" and the body can survive very well on just protein and fats and these types of carbohydrates - even athletes! 

By limiting your carb intake to your fruit and vegetables means you get the minimum carbohydrate intake but with the maximum input of the important minerals and nutrients. 

Pork Tenderloin with Roast Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato.

Serves 2 - 3 people 

For Pork Marinade:
4 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp of Herbs De Province
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tbs Whole Grain Mustard
For Roasted Squash & Sweet Potato:
1 x medium squash
1 x medium sweet potato

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Cut shallow cuts in pork loin and pour marinade over. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight if possible.
Heat crockpot and add pork loin. Fry all sides.
Place in the oven at 180C for approx 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Rest for 10 minutes before serving.

For Vegetables:
Peel and chop both veg into bite size cubes
Place in a dish and coat with coconut oil
Roast for 30 - 40 minutes until cooked through.

I served these with wilted spinach

Banana, Berry and Walnut Muffins

My son and I had a busy day today! He loves baking so, as the rain continues to fall (you have got to love Ireland!) we decided to bake these muffins.

They are a good source of Omega 3 with the walnuts and the flax seed and make a good snack of breakfast alternative.

Makes 24

325 g Almond flour
100 g Chopped Walnuts
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of milled flax seed
1 tsp of cinnamon (add more if you like it, I am not a huge fan)

5 ripe bananas
1 cup of strawberries or other seasonal berry, chopped
2 tbsp honey (less if your fruit is very ripe)
4 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 190C
Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl
Mash the banana well, use the most ripe bananas you have as they will help sweeten the overall mix.
Place all the remaining wet ingredients in with the bananas and mix well.
Next combine in the dry ingredients. Use a processer if you wish but ensure it is well mixed.
Pour into muffin moulds and bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Flourless Chocolate Brownies

So it has been a fairly hectic week around here as I was preparing to finish up my last job.

I had my first day at home and I am no trying to embrace domestic bliss!

It is different than I am used to but it will be nice for a while.

My Paleo lifestyle will have to be tweaked to suit my unemployment status, so I am a long way of being able to afford organic. Maybe some day.

Anyway myself and my son are bored this evening as its been raining ALL day so we decided to get in some baking. As my son is Diabetic Paleo friendly treats also suit him which is great. It is great but very rich recipe for brownies so we served Avocado Chocolate Mousse with ours to make it seem lighter. You need to be a true chocoholic (and not sweet made) for this one.

For the Brownies we used:

170grams of 70 % Cocoa Chocolate
220 grams Kerrygold Butter
1/2 cup of honey
5 egg yokes
1/2 cup of cocoa
2 tbs Vanilla extract (or mint)

Preheat the oven to 190C
Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over hot water until smooth
Add the honey and vanilla and stir.

Add beaten eggs yokes to the mixture gradually and whisk until well mixed
Add the cocoa powder gradually until well mixed
Stir batter into a greased tin and bake for about 25 - 30 minutes until cooked through
Cool in tin for a few minutes and then remove and serve arm with Avocado mousse

1 x Avocado
1 tbs cocoa powder
1 tbs honey

Blend with a handheld blender until smooth.
Check taste and add more honey or cocoa if required.
This tastes lovely and doesnt taste at all like avocado!