Thursday, 22 December 2011

Its Beginning To Look Alot Like Christmas......

Its that time of year again!

The log fire spits soothingly, the smell of cinnamon infused baked goods fill the air, and children no longer speak in terms of days but how many sleeps there are left until the man himself arrives. Its CHRISTMAS!!!

Christmas always conjures up strong emotions and brings the inner child out in all of us. I don't know who is more excited preparing Santa's snack on Christmas eve - me or my son!  But there is one thing for sure - Christmas is a time for spending time together, eating delicious food and having a few sneaky glasses of wine!

But where does this leave our Paleo lifestyle? One thing our Paleo ancestors certainly didnt do was celebrate Christmas!! So they would not have had a yearly binge session. However they more than likely did celebrate special occasions or a large hunt etc. So food festivals were almost certainly a part of their culture.

However you decide to eat this Christmas make the decision and stick with it. Many of you may decide to stick to 100% paleo, others may decide to include dairy/sugar/alcohol for the day. All is perfectly acceptable for your own goals. If something makes you physically sick and you eat it anyway, this may not be a good idea, but if you decide to include dairy etc, leave the guilt at the door and enjoy it! Christmas should not be a time for stressing about food so just eat as well as you can and enjoy your food.

I haven't fully decided what I will do, but I will more than likely avoid grains and include some dairy and sugars. I plan on going Whole30 in January again, just to reset my gut and start 2012 on a good note. I will be entertaining on the 26th Dec and have decided not to keep the menu Paleo, as I would rather my guests be happy. I will not eat the planned bruchetta!

On another note, I applied for and sent my cheque off for a Naturopatic Nutrition course today - which I will be starting in Jan! It is a three year course but starting in Jan means I can fast track first year and start my second year in September. Exciting times and new ventures await me in 2012 and I am both nervous and apprehensive. 2011 has not been the best year for me personally (I am unemployed since Sept) but here is to new beginnings!

I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and all the best in your 2012. Thank you for reading my blog over the past few months, and thank you for motivating me to keep writing, trying new recipes and Keeping It Paleo!!


Thursday, 15 December 2011

"Keeping it Paleo" This Christmas and Recipe - Party Dips

Well as we all know, Christmas is upon us and this can mean challenges face those of us in the Paleo community, especially those of you going through your first Christmas without grains, sugar, processed foods and dairy.

But Keeping It Paleo doesn't have to be daunting. Take it every day as it comes, limit the intake of crap foods and eat real foods instead. Of course there is going to be booze at every turn, mince pies at all angles - but you don't have to fall of the wagon.

Over the next few days I will give you random tips on how you can help limit your sinful eating and incorporate your angelic Paleo eating into every situation.

My 1st Tip today was to PREPARE for that party or house visit before you go! You need to make sure there will be something available for you to eat as otherwise you will likely panic, go over hungry and eat a shit load of crap throwing caution to the wind. You will regret this! Bring something with you - or if possible ask the host what they are cooking. A standard dinner is likely fine for you - meat and veg etc but if it isn't suitable bring your own meat.

One feature of every party is the party dips and chips - which usually means corn tortilla chips with additive filled shop bought dips. Eugh.

Prepare your own dips and bring fresh veggie crudities instead. Easy, fresh and healthy. And you wont overeat. Throw in some whole almonds too if drink is involved. This will limit your consumption of the roasted salted kind when the beers kick in later! AND I bet you'll have more people eating yours than you think!

Here is a few healthy dips you can prepare in advance, arrange on a plate, cover with cling film and off you go!

Roasted Aubergine and Garlic Dip: 
1 Large Aubergine
4 Tbsp of Good Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 Cloves of Garlic

Easy Smoked Paprika Mayo Dip:
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp of Lemon Juice
1 tsp of dijon mustard
3/4 cup of mild olive oil
Salt& Pepper
1/2 tbsp of Smoked Paprika

Homemade Guacamole:
2 ripe avocados
1 red onion diced finely
1 red chilli finely diced with seeds removed
1 ripe tomato diced with seeds removed
Lime/lemon juice
Salt & pepper

For Roasted Aubergine and Garlic Dip: 
Cut the aubergine in half lengthways and cover with about a tbsp of the oil. Season and place in a 200C oven with the garlic for 15- 20 minutes or until soft and tender.
Place in a bowl and cover with cling film for a few minutes until cool enough to handle.
The clingfilm should have made the skin easy to remove - remove it all.
Place the aubergine, garlic and remaining oil in a processor and blend until almost smooth.
Check for seasoning, cool and serve.
For Roasted Aubergine and Red Pepper Dip (Pictured) 
This is a variation on the above recipe and is my favourite of the two. Make as above but add one roasted red pepper to the mixture when blending. (Use jarred)
For Easy Smoked Paprika Mayo Dip:
Place egg yolk in a bowl with lemon juice and mustard
Mix until smooth and the slowly start adding the oil in a fine stream until it emulsifies to a smooth sauce.
Add the smoked paprika, mix, cool and serve.
For Homemade Avocado: 
Peel and de-stone your avocados and add to a bowl.
Mash with a fork and add all the ingredients except the tomatoes which should be added before serving. Check seasoning. Mix well.

Cover with clingfilm and keep the avocado seed/stone in the bowl too. This helps prevent oxidation.
Add tomatoes before serving.

All the above can be served with veg cruditĂ©s or veg crisps

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Chrimbo Baking Bonanza: Part 2 Mince Pies

So as you may know, yesterday was all about baking for me and I thoroughly enjoyed cooking a Traditional Christmas Fruit Cake, as well as Mince Pies.

Like many things which we attempt to Paleo-fy, these mince pies are a substitute for the real thing, but of course are difficult to match as they don't contain all the sugar required to make them so tempting. In saying that, these are nice as a reminiscent replacement for a Christmas staple.

(Fills 12 pies)
1/2 cup of sweet apple, diced
1/4 cup of shredded suet
3/4 cup of dried mixed fruit (sultanas, currants, raisins)
Zest & Juice of 1 Lemon
Zest & Juice of 1 Orange
1tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
A few grates of nutmeg
3 tbsp honey
1tbsp brandy (optional)

1. Mix everything together in a oven proof dish, leave in a cool place for 24hrs,
2. Place in a preheated 120C oven for 1 hour, covered loosely.
3. Stir occasionally as it cools.

(Makes 12 pies)
2 cups ground almonds
2 egg whites
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon

1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until it begins to come together.
2. Mix with hands and form a ball.
3. Place on a board lined with parchment paper and covered with more paper. This is essential as the mixture is very sticky.
4. Roll with a pin until it is about 1/2 cm thick. Cut disks out with a cutter and place gently in cupcake papers. (Do not skip this stage, otherwise you wont get them out of the tin)
5. Top the "pastry" with the mincemeat and stars for lids and brush with beaten egg. You can also just add almonds as a topper.
6. Bake in a 160C oven for 15 minutes, checking at 10 minutes to prevent burning.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Paleo Traditional Christmas Fruit Cake

Hey Paleo Peeps!

Whatever the reasons it made me think of old memories - my Mum cooking the Christmas cake every year and watching the mixing together of what seemed like hundreds of ingredients. The smell of the zested fruits, the alcohol, the bags of dried fruits and the sticky glacĂ© cherries. The overnight steeping of the ingredients and us children being warned not to make noise for fear the cake would collapse in the middle.The inevitable rows when we couldn't be quiet, and the mad shoving to the car to visit our Grandmother until the cake had finished its 6 hour cooking marathon.

This cake is rich and morish and has strong flavours of brandy. But most importantly it tastes like Christmas and memories.

Traditionally an Irish Christmas cake is made with the fruits outlined, but you can use a combination of any dried fruits - dates, apricots etc)

Try it! It is great immediately and gets even better with age, so bake now for your Christmas guests or as a festive gift for a gluten free or Paleo friend. (That's if you can resist it until then!!)

1.25 cups Sultanas
1.25 cups Raisins
1.25 cups Currants
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 of a fresh nutmeg or 1/4 tsp
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
2.5 tbsp brandy (optional, but hey it is Christmas!! Use 1 tbsp of vanilla extract in it's place)
2 cups ground almonds/almond meal
Handful chopped almonds
3 eggs
3 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 150C. Line a 20 cm round tin on sides and bottom with parchment paper.

2. Add fruit, juice and grated zests, spice and 1.5 tbsp of the brandy and stir well. If you have the time you can let this sit overnight in a cool dry place, but it is not necessary.
3. Add the eggs, olive oil, ground almonds and chopped almonds and mix well to combine.
4. Pour into the prepared tin and level the top with a spatula.
5. Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour 15 to 1 hour 45 checking with a skewer. If it comes out clean it is done.
6. Make several holes in the top of the cake with a skewer and pour the remaining brandy (if using) on top of the warm cake and leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes.
7. Remove gently from tin, remove parchment and leave to cool on a rack.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Post Whole30 Thoughts, A Paleo Christmas and New Beginnings

Hi Paleo Peeps

Hope you are all well! I have been busy over the past few days. Getting into the Christmas spirit so to speak! A little too much alcohol was consumed, but the food was kept within the Paleo framework.

I was so ready for partying after my Whole30 ended last week. I have enjoyed some Paleo cookies and other non Whole30 treats, but all within the Paleo framework.

The Whole30 was a major challenge for me. One I completed and was proud of myself for, but it made me a little unhappy towards the end. I guess I have a few more food issues to address than I thought! I haven't gone completely crazy eating but I have definitely loosening the resigns.

Over the 30 days I lost 2 inches off my waist and a further 3 lbs of weight. This has brought me down by a total of 15 lbs since July to 126lbs ( I am 5ft 7.5") and I actually think I look too thin now. (My friends think so too) So I have some room to play with so to speak!

Over Christmas I plan to keep it Paleo as much as possible. I really do not want grains so I will be avoiding these where at all possible. Ditto for sugar. They just make me feel shite and are not worth it. But I will be drinking, and I will be eating when I want! No limits! I am hoping to make Paleo versions of my favourite foods so I don't feel deprived.

Look out for versions of Paleo Tortillas and Dips, Paleo Minced Pies and Paleo Christmas Puddings which I will be busy working on in my Paleo Kitchen!!

By New Year I am hoping to have maintained but hopefully not gained. That is the plan at present!

The weekend also included late nights and ALOT of driving, so I was exhausted by the time I got home Sunday night.

Yesterday was spent detoxing from the booze and then yesterday evening I went to an open evening for a Naturopathy Nutrition Course, which I plan to begin in February!

This is an exciting new project for me, as it is completely different from my background. But I have been unemployed for three months and have been considering new options. With my interest in diet, nutrition and well being, my new interest in Paleo and the interest I have had in my blog and facebook pages, it just made sense for me to look at this is a career option for me.

I am excited for this new beginning and I am really looking forward to helping people tackle their problems and issues with their diets and lifestyles and being JUSTIFIED in giving advice. For me, although I am happy to help people from my own experience, I could not be confident giving advice at present. It kind of bugs me when I see some people on Facebook give advice (sometimes incorrect and inconsistently!) who have no real right to do so. I could name one or two I wont! I have been surprised at the number of people who are desperate for support and information on healthy living and lifestyle, and I want to help people find the best way for them! I think Naturopathy and Holistic medicine is truly the way forward and I want to be a part of that movement in Ireland!

So learning about nutrition properly will be so interesting and a new beginning for me. It is a big step, and I am anxious to get a career for myself that I can enjoy. And I think this is the one for me!

Who knows, I might even have my own clinic in years to come!!

To the New Year and New Beginnings for Me!