Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easy Meal - Beef with Tomatoes {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}

I am posting this mainly for my sister who keeps asking me for it.  :-)  I have also been thinking a lot lately about easy meals - simple prep work, easy cooking, not a lot of time, and good outcome.  So, I thought I'd go ahead and share this to hopefully help if someone needs any ideas for super easy meals that are GAPS friendly.

This really isn't anything special, so I almost feel a little odd labeling it as a recipe, but oh well!  It's a great base that you could add different herbs or spices to - Italian or Mexican would be so easy.

Oh, and sorry about the super boring and lame cell phone pictures of our leftovers.  I didn't take a picture before we almost ate all of it.  So this is what I have :-).  I just roasted some butternut squash as our side.  Simple but satisfying meal that our little boys ate up, too!  This is also an easy way to get more healing and nourishing animal fats into your diet - just use a generous amount of fat to cook your onion and meat in!


Beef with Tomatoes {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}
GAPS note: early stages, you could use some chicken or beef broth to cook your onion and meat in if needed, and at any stage, you could easily add a cup or so of broth and let it simmer to reduce it down to get more broth in your diet. 

Ingredients:
  • 2-4 Tbsp of fat - butter, ghee, coconut oil, tallow, or lard (I used lard this time)
  • 1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp garlic powder, or 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • Salt, 1 tsp+ to taste
  • 1 lb ground beef (grass fed)
  • 1 carton of Pomi diced tomatoes or 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • optional: 1 cup of broth (beef or chicken)
Process: 
  • Melt fat of choice in a large skillet, and then saute onion and garlic/garlic powder until onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add ground beef and salt and cook, breaking up the meat until browned.
  • Add tomatoes (you can drain the juice if you prefer), mix, and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes.
  • If you are adding broth, add at the same time as tomatoes (unless you use the broth at the beginning to cook the onion and meat in if you are in the early stages of GAPS intro) and simmer until the liquid is reduced to your liking.  
  •  Salt to taste, if needed.  Enjoy! 
 Serving Ideas: 
  • top with sour cream or yogurt
  • top with raw cheddar cheese
  • use in lettuce as filling for lettuce wraps
  • add Italian herbs
  • add taco seasoning 
  • use as a casserole base (on top of sliced zucchini or butternut squash and topped with cheese)
  • easily double or triple the recipe and make several different meals out of it!  Freeze portions to pull out for easy meals or to add to a soup!  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Why, What, When, and Who - Take 1

People often ask me why we eat the way we do.  That question is hard to answer in a simple and concise way.  I am not good with being 'to the point' in general, so articulating something that has been such a long journey can be difficult.  I am also asked what we eat if we don't eat grains (that's a big adjustment!).  Frequently throughout my days, I think about why we do this and who we do it for.

Eating this way takes work, especially living in a society that eats far from this way.  Although, little things encourage me in that area - like that my husband recently saw a sign up for a building near his work that said a new restaurant will be coming soon - that serves grass fed organic burgers.  How awesome is that?!

Back to the point.  See, I can't be concise.  A dear friend of mine in college deemed my new middle name to be 'random' because I am completely random and all over the place in my thoughts and the way I talk.

Again, back to the point.  Eating this way takes work.  Work in the home to plan and prepare the food, work out of the home at stores and markets to avoid buying things that aren't good for us and to buy the things we need without spending all our income on food, and work in relationships with others - because the way we eat does affect relationships.  It is hard for us to eat out - and this can be made harder because we can't go to many many restaurants because of anaphylactic food allergies in the family.  It can be difficult to navigate the waters around relationships that are obviously way more important than the way we eat.  However, the way we eat isn't something we decided on a whim, and it's not just to be 'organic' or 'natural' or lose weight.  It is so very much deeper than that.

Like I said before, there are many reasons why we eat the way we do.  I have friends and family who wonder why we are so weird (my words, not theirs!).  :-)  I have always wanted to share our hearts and convictions behind this.  I often don't know where to begin, so I simply avoid tackling the overwhelming (to me) idea of articulating all of this.

We have been on a food and health journey now for about 2+ years.  Before about 2 years ago, we were doing changes like buying organic milk at the store and getting 100% whole wheat pasta, cereals, and breads.  Our health journey really started about 3 1/2 years ago as we prepared for the birth of our first son.  But in regards to food, it has been a little over 2 years.

I want to write about our journey in 4 ways - the why, the what, the when, and the who.  They will probably all relate to each other, because it is all so connected.  My heart behind even beginning a blog when we started GAPS was to document what we learned and experienced as we ate so differently, to encourage others who are also on this journey, to provide any sort of help from our experiences with recipes and ideas, and more than anything, to share the heart in all this - that no matter what we do in life, we do it to the glory of the Lord - and yes, food and its impacts on us can be for His glory.  Because what is the point of all this if our Creator and Savior is not the driving force?  I am not saying that all people or Christians should eat this way - these are our convictions, our experiences, and how God has specifically taught our hearts through this.  So I hope nothing I say is taken in a wrong way. 

In sharing my heart on this topic, I might only share about 1 thing in a post, maybe many things in another post - it is just what is on my heart.  Some reasons are simple and short to explain and easy to understand.  There are others that are deep in my heart and therefore are a little more complex or lengthy to share about.

I have felt like something is missing from what I have shared so far on this blog because I have not taken the time to document our journey and the motives and heart behind it all.  So, if you are interested in knowing why we do this and the practical things involved in it (like what we eat and buy and stock our pantry and freezer with), I hope these posts help explain.  If you are interested in learning and beginning or continuing to make changes in your own eating lifestyle, I will share the changes we made over the past couple of years and why.  If you just really like having GAPS/Paleo recipes, I will still be sharing those and also will be working on updating my recipe tab and organizing them better.

And I would love to hear any comments others have about why you do things, how you to them, etc, as is stirred in your heart if you read these posts.  I hope this is encouraging and also enlightening to friends and family who wonder if we are crazy sometimes.  :-)  

Kombucha Update #2

Over the past few months, I have learned a few things about making Kombucha that I thought I would share in case it can help anyone else - either those of you trying to make Kombucha or those of you who want to, but are a little intimidated. 

So here's a little update on my constant kombucha experiment - what I like, what I do, and what I've learned. If you want to learn or be refreshed on how to grow your own SCOBY and how to make kombucha, see my original SCOBY post here and my first Kombucha update here

What I like: 
  • I have experimented a little with adding fruit - just frozen organic raspberries so far - and I like it!  Although I love plain.  I think I like plain so much that I will drink that more often than flavored.  BUT I want to experiment with adding a cut up strawberry or mix of berries as well.  The raspberry was pretty tart!  
  • I have learned that I like my kombucha after it has sat in the fridge for at least a few days (I think the longer the better!).  The flavor is just so good!  I drink it right after bottling it, but it is soooo good after a few days.  I think it is because it continues fermenting at a slow rate in the fridge.  For whatever reason, I like it! So, if you don't like yours very much right after putting it in jars or bottles, let it sit in your fridge a while and try it then.
What I do: 
  • SCOBYs: I sometimes leave my SCOBYs sitting in 1-2 cups of the old batch for anywhere from 1 day to a week before adding new sweet tea.  This isn't by design - it's just because sometimes so much life is going on that I just never get around to making and adding the sweet tea!  Although really, it doesn't take much time at all.  I've never had a problem with just letting it sit a while. Notice how thick they are! 
  • If you add fruit, just treat it like an experiment!  Add a little but of frozen or fresh fruit to the bottle or jar, pour in your kombucha, cap it, and let it sit out on the counter again for 1-2 days for its second fermentation.  Then stick it in the fridge.  This makes it taste a little fruity and it gets very fizzy!  (those are frozen raspberry bits in those bottles)
  • Straining: I never strain mine through cheesecloth anymore.  It's another thing to deal with and prepare, and yes, it doesn't take long to boil the cheesecloth, but if I can skip a step, I do!  I just pour mine through a strainer to get rid of any strings or clumps.  The bottles I drink are always smooth and don't have any clumps in them.  
  • To process a batch, I simply take my giant gallon jar, remove the SCOBY onto a plate, and then pour the entire contents into a large glass pitcher.  Then I pour into bottles.  Easy.  Love it.  
  • Making new sweet tea: When I brew my sweet tea now, I don't seep the entire gallon like in my first update.  I use my kettle and bring 1 quart of water to a boil in it.  Then I steep 4 family size tea bags in that quart of water for 3-5 minutes.  Remove tea bags, add 1 cup sugar.  Then I add 3 more quarts of cool or room temperature water.  This quickly makes the tea ready to be be added to the jar with the SCOBY and previous batch liquid because it isn't scalding hot.  You can obviously adjust the amount - I also brew 3 tea bags in a quart and then add 3/4 cup sugar and 2 more quarts of water for a jar I have that is not quite a gallon (make 3 quarts of sweet tea).  This means less water to bring to a boil and a faster turnaround time for a new batch (even if only by a couple of hours). 
What I've learned: 
  • Fizz: If it doesn't fizz when poured, it's probably not done yet!  I had one batch I bottled too soon.  It was very flat and didn't taste as tart as normal.  When I pour my jars into my pitcher to bottle, it gets crazy foamy and bubbly when it is done...
  • Then when you bottle, it gets fizzied up all over again :-).
  • SCOBYs really are crazy and take on a life of their own.  This is an example of one I pulled out with my finger next to it so you can see how thick it is.  And this is after already peeling off 1 or 2 thick layers.  I usually discard the bottom part (the oldest SCOBY portion) every other batch - so about every 3 weeks.  You could also see how large they get in a picture earlier in this post of them just sitting in my large jars with a little kombucha.  Also, don't be worried if your SCOBY sinks.  That happens to me every now and then.  A new one will grow on top, and sometimes the SCOBY will rise to the surface again. 
  • Time: I have seen just how much temperature affects how long it takes the kombucha to get 'done'.  I am waiting longer than the first time, as the first time I did it, my house was much warmer.  So now I am going about 9-10 days before I bottle it, and I think I could even go longer.  I am sure this will change as the days get warmer and my kitchen gets as crazy warm as it does. 
  • Don't be scared! This really is like an ongoing science experiment!  That makes it fun, too.  This stuff is not expensive to make, so if one batch doesn't turn out well, don't feel bad about throwing it out and just waiting on your next batch.  Try different lengths of time, don't be scared to taste test it, and experiment with adding fruit to change flavors and provide sugars for a second fermentation in a capped bottle.  And don't be scared of the SCOBY.  I know it's creepy and slimy, but it is so cool to see it grow and make sweet tea go to an amazing fizzy tart beverage!  Let it get nice and thick and peel off the oldest layer on the bottom every now and then.  I let mine stay anywhere from 1-2 inches thick.  
I love this stuff!  I hope you try making it!  It helps digestion, cleansing of the liver, and yeast/bacteria balances in the body. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rendering Lard and why it might now be one of my most favorite things to make...

Lard.  A few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of eating/using lard.  Lard?! FAT?! 

I am so glad God has led us to change our eating ways.  Isn't it beautiful?  (this is the lard after rendering and straining - it is solid and white/creamy colored once it cools)
Run down on lard: great for you, great vitamins, healing to your gut, tasty...all that good stuff.

Oh, and it's a great source of Vitamin D.  Get it from foraging pastured pork from a farm like this.  

Rendering lard is incredibly easy peasy.  You can do it in the oven, on the stove, or in a crock pot.  I highly recommend doing it in the crock pot.  I doubt I will do any other way ever again!  

This is one of the EASIEST things you could do to change your eating and help nourish your body.  Do this and use as one of your fats in cooking.  This is one of the things you need to do when beginning and staying on the GAPS diet or if you are eating Paleo/Primal. 

We use it for scrambling eggs, greasing pans for egg casseroles, sauteing vegetables, roasting vegetables, frying eggs or meat patties, and we add extra in when we fry bacon. 

Here's where I first read about rendering lard and how to do it.  I followed these steps to render beef tallow my first time.  When I decided to render some lard, I decided to give it a try in the good old crock pot.  Less heat, less work, no need to check on it...yay.

Below the method instructions you'll find why rendering lard is one of my most favorite things to do...

Steps to render lard (or tallow) - {Method}
Instructions: 
  • You need the fat to be chopped into tiny tiny pieces to render best.  Mine comes pre-chopped (thank you, amazing farm!) If your fat is not cut up, you will want to thaw it enough to cut and cut into smaller pieces.  I have read that others will cut into chunks and then pulse in the food processor in batches to cut it into small pieces.  
  • If your pork fat is already all cut up, just thaw it!
  • In your crock pot, you can put about 1/4 cup of water (this is optional and cooks away during rendering - I have read it helps prevent burning of the fat.  It is not necessary).  Then place your thawed fat in the crock pot and turn it on low.  
  • Try and mash it around to be an even thickness rather than a pile in the middle. 
  • Let it cook on low all day!  I usually stir a couple of times during the day.  You will see it begin to melt and then eventually, it will be almost all liquid with 'cracklings' left.  Little brown bits of fat.  
  • Strain the lard with a strainer lined with cheesecloth.  (I highly recommend straining it into a bowl or large measuring cup with a pour spout.)
  • Pour into jars.  Let cool on counter.  Then store in fridge.  It keeps for months.  
  • BUT WAIT!!!  All those bits of fat left in the cheesecloth from straining?  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT throw them away.  SAVE THEM.  
This is why rendering lard is one of my most favorite things ever.  The cracklings.  Is that what you call them? I am so new to this.  We saved them and divided them up into a few portions.  Then I would bring them out, fry them up in a pan and mix with eggs or green beans (or any other green like collards or mustard greens would be great).  Actually, I have even eaten them plain. Just add some good salt.  Oh.my.Goodness.  I love eating this way...
Mmmm....

Now go get some pork fat and render some lard and EAT THE CRACKLINGS.  Someone correct me if I am not calling them the right thing...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Baked Custard {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo} Take 2 - Even Easier!

Mmmmm....look at all that custard...I love making custard like I shared about here.  I make it WAY too often now that I have discovered it is a great use for coconut milk and a great way to get more of the wonderful coconut into our diet.

However, I have a couple little problems.  One is that I always look for the easiest way to cook something because, really, I spend so much time in the kitchen that anything that makes something easier (less time, less clean up, less effort) makes me cheer.  The other problem is that we eat SO many eggs that I have issues using as many eggs as I do to make custard.  I save the egg whites, but most of the time they just get thrown out.  I know, I should use them, but it's one of the things that gets forgotten about.

So the other day, I experimented with the custard...and it worked!  (Cheering in my kitchen)

Naturally, I had to share...the simple change makes the custard faster and easier to make and also a little more frugal because you use less eggs.  I do think it is a tiny bit less rich than when you use 5 egg yolks like in the first recipe, but it is still deeeeelicious.

Note: for some reason, the top of the custard did not brown as much as when I make it with 5 egg yolks.  I don't know if this is because of the ingredient change, but just simply do the knife in the center test to see when it is done.

Enjoy!  I'm about to go make some...

Baked Custard {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo} Take 2
Ingredients: (I often double this to have more!)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (you can also use milk or a mixture of milk and cream)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey (I often just use 2-3 Tbsp and love it)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • Optional: ground nutmeg or cinnamon
Process: (check out the original recipe if you want pictures and more detailed 'how to' instructions)
  • Preheat oven to 350* and fill a kettle with water and get it hot while you are preparing the custard.  If you don't have a kettle, heat some in a pot or use the hottest water from your faucet.
  • Warm the coconut milk up on the stove.  You can add up to 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of water to make the coconut milk be a full 2 cups.  I usually do this just to have a little bit more of the finished custard. 
  • Meanwhile, mix eggs, honey, and vanilla together in a mixing bowl (preferably with a pour spout) or large glass measuring cup (4 cups) until smooth and mixed well.  Also place custard dishes into a large baking dish that can hold them all. 
  • Once the coconut milk is warm, slowly pour into egg mixture while whisking.  Mix well.  
  • Pour into custard dishes.  Fill baking dish with hot water, about 1 inch deep or so.  
  • Bake at 350* for 50 min - 1 hour (length of time will depend on size of custard dishes and how deep the custard is.  I have made it in cups before that were much deeper than a ramekin, and it took much longer than 1 hour for it to cook through all the way).  A knife inserted in the middle will come out clean when it is finished. 
  • Optional: sprinkle ground nutmeg or cinnamon on top either before or after baking.  
  • We like it best cold.  We place the custard dishes in the fridge to cool before eating.  But we often eat it warm because we just can't wait!  


This is part of Monday Mania.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Easy Brisket or Ribs with GAPS/Paleo Barbeque Sauce {Recipe}


This is so very easy and simple! I love easy meals, especially when they turn out as yummy and crowd pleasing as this did. My husband loved this (as did I) and our two little boys ate it up so quickly we couldn't keep enough meat on their plates.

I made this on Valentine's day. We are in the middle of doing a huge cleaning out of our house, so I didn't do much to celebrate the day, but I made a good meal with brisket, green beans with bacon and smothered in bacon grease, and some homemade pink jello. It made everyone happy and full. :-)

So back to how easy this meal is. It's almost as easy as a roasted chicken, but there is a little measuring and mixing for the sauce. However, you don't have to de-bone the meat at the end, so that makes up for it.

This sauce is super yummy...and you can vary the amount of honey in it if you want it less or more sweet. Also, you can opt to leave the honey out for the cooking portion and then just drizzle it over the meat on plates. That way your raw honey can retain it's wonderful raw properties instead of being cooked away. I put a little in the sauce and then drizzled more over our portions at the table.

This is great to use on brisket or short ribs, and I think it would be great with a pork roast or ribs as well, but I haven't tried that yet. I do think the sauce would be fantastic with a little blackstrap molasses in it, but as that is not GAPS friendly, I decided to make a sauce without it.  Let me know how it is if you add some!

Enjoy! I can't wait to make this again...

Brisket or Ribs with GAPS/Paleo Barbeque Sauce {Recipe}
Ingredients: 
  • 1 jar (7oz) tomato paste 
  • 1 tbsp mustard (I buy a brand made with ACV)
  • 1/2 cup ACV (Bragg's Raw apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp - 1/2 cup raw honey (can be put in sauce to your sweetness liking or drizzled over meat after cooking to retain raw properties. I put 2 tbsp in the sauce then drizzled some on plates at the table.)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves and allspice
  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder (or more if you like spice - remember, I can't handle spice :-) )
  • 1 brisket OR some short ribs, grass fed
Process: 
  • Place brisket (fat side up) or ribs in dutch oven (or crock pot!).  
  •  Mix all ingredients for sauce together, spread over brisket or ribs.
  •  Cover and cook: 
    • In oven, if pressed for time (I put this in the oven around 2 pm), cook at 350* until sauce/liquid begins bubbling (I began to smell it in the house and checked on it and it was bubbling).  Then reduce oven temperature to 225* or 250* and cook for about 3-4 hours. 
    • In oven, if you begin it before lunchtime, simply cook at 225*-250* for 6-7 hours. 
    • In crock pot, just put on low and cook 6-8 hours. 
  • This is what it looks like after cooking...
  •  Then, I flipped the brisket over to get all the sauce on top off the brisket into the juices in the pot.  Remove the entire brisket (but not the sauce/juices) to a plate or platter and slice against the grain.  Stir the sauce to combine it with the meat juices, and then add the sliced brisket back into the yummy sauce in the dutch oven or crock pot.  Get the meat all surrounded and covered with the sauce.  Mmmm...
  •   Pin It
  •  At this point, you can serve OR you can do what I did - place it back in the oven with the lid OFF at about 350* for 10-20 minutes before serving.  It is a step you can totally skip.  
  • Now, go eat it!  Wasn't that so easy? 
We ate this with some green beans cooked in lard and bacon grease with broken up pastured bacon.  Drool.  I love my Le Creuset casserole dish for this kind of dish. 
 Finished dinner off with homemade jello.  Mmm....made with fresh juice and grass fed beef gelatin.  Served on nice paper plates.  :-)   I might have not wanted to do any more dishes at this point...


Hope you enjoy this!  Nothing says love like brisket and green beans with lard and bacon grease, right? :-)

This is part of Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday and Fat Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Recipe Updates

Here are some updates I needed to post to certain recipes.  I have updated the original pages with the changes and notes as well.  These are all some of our favorite things to eat around here!

Homemade Larabars 
I love these chocolate larabars.  The first time I made them, I used only walnuts (and they were soaked and dehydrated).  I recently made them again, trying them only with almonds.  Almonds are much more dry than walnuts, so I had to use significantly more dates to make the mixture stick together.  I ended up using probably 2 1/2 cups of dates, and they were still a little crumbly.  So here's what I think you would start with when making them only with almonds.
  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups almonds (raw, soaked, dehydrated)
  • 2 1/2 cups dates (might need to add more)
  • 2 oz 100% chocolate (you can adjust this amount if you want less or more chocolate taste)
  • Process chocolate in food processor until finely chopped, add almonds and dates.  Process until desired consistency, adding more dates if necessary.  Press into glass dish and refrigerate. Enjoy! 


Baked Salmon
The original recipe for this only provided enough topping for maybe 2 servings of fish.  Recently I made it with enough sauce for an entire huge fillet. 

Ingredients: 
  • 1 large purple onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 - 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp butter, pastured
  • Salt, to taste
Process: 
  • In a skillet, melt butter (or ghee or coconut oil) and saute onion until soft. 
  • Add lemon juice, zest, and cilantro.  Saute until cilantro is wilted and onions are to your desired consistency.  Let sauce simmer until it is as thick as you would like.  Add more butter if you would like, and salt to taste.  
  • Spoon over baked salmon. 
Baked Custard
  • You can also sprinkle nutmeg or cinnamon on top after you have baked it.  I actually now prefer it this way.
  • We have made it twice using less honey - one time using about 2 Tbsp, one time using about 3 Tbsp.  We loved it both times (although I do love it most with all of the honey...).  So if you want to lessen the honey for less sugar in it, don't be scared to!  Of course, we are used to things not being super sweet around here, so if you are used to really sweet things, use the full 1/4 cup.

    Chicken Cilantro Soup
    • I finally took a picture last time I made the soup! The picture is of the soup made with some chopped tomatoes in it (I rinsed the chopped tomatoes to get all the juice off because I didn't want tomato juice in my broth.  However, I also made it recently just straining the tomatoes, so there was some of the juice in the broth, and it was still really great!) and some yogurt stirred in, which is why it looks creamy colored.


    Breakfast Casseroles
    • Coconut milk works surprisingly well in place of yogurt or kefir.  I wanted to try it for those who can't use even cultured milk, and it worked very well!  You do not taste coconut at all - just use the same amounts as you would in the recipes for yogurt/kefir.
    • Also, I tried using a calculated proportion of eggs for the 9x13 pan to get the same thickness as when using 10-12 eggs in a square dish.  I calculated out that I needed to use 22 eggs (wow, I know).  I tried it, and it was fantastic!  Nice and thick and amazing!  So really, you could probably just use 24 if you like using an even 2 dozen.  This will help those with more mouths to feed as well.  It still works well with the 18 eggs, but it is much thicker with 22-24.  Use between 3/4-1 cup of yogurt/kefir/coconut milk with this amount of eggs. 
    • If you use a different size dish than normal (like I did a few times with a round stone dish) and you fill it too full with egg mixture, be careful because if it is too full, you might end up with bacon grease spilling into your oven, burning, and setting your smoke alarm off and making your house hazy and smelly.  Ask me how I know.  ;-)  So if you use a ton of bacon or a less deep dish, just be careful!  :-) 

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    My go-to Roasted Chicken Recipe

    I make a roasted chicken 2-3 times a month.  There is not much easier or tastier than a great roasted chicken.  Especially if you add in some extra hindquarters for extra dark meat. mmmm.... I am so glad we know dark meat is good for us now!  I always get whole chickens for roasting from the amazing farm we use, but I also get lots of hindquarters - kids eat them better, and really, adults eat them better, too. 

    I am drooling thinking of that dark meat dripping in roasting juices...

    Okay, back to the point of this.  

    I pretty much always use the same approach to making a roasted chicken.  Why?  Because it's easy, I'm busy around the house, and I just about jump up and down and yell out of excitement when making the main part of a meal is this easy and fool proof.  I know there are countless ways to roast a chicken, but this is what I do, and my boys and my love always eat this really well.  In fact, I pretty much am always stealing meat before dinner...

    I also highly recommend doing this to provide food for a weekend, or on a Sunday so you don't have to do as much food prep work as normal.  Cook as much as you can at once - if you have a crock pot or roasting dish with lid large enough for more than just 1 chicken, do as much as will fit!  Save it for another meal - leftovers or freeze the meat swimming in all the amazing juices.  You'll be so excited to simply pull it out for a meal.

    Okay, back to the point of this...again...

    This is not an exact recipe, because really, if I don't have to measure anything out, I'm not going to.  I've never measured, and I've always had it turn out so super yummy.  Isn't that the best?  Oh, and the instructions on this might seem long, but it is just because I am sharing how I do things.  I appreciate when others share the process so I can learn from them, so I am just doing that. :-)

    This really is simple and easy, and it is a GREAT and easy step to take towards eating more whole foods if you are working on that transition.  I know making the transition from boneless, skinless chicken breasts was a little unnerving for me - making a whole roasted chicken is easy and you don't have to handle the chicken much :-).  

    Roasted Chicken {Recipe - GAPS, Paleo}
    Ingredients: 
    • Whole Chicken and/or cut up parts/hindquarters
    • Montreal Steak Seasoning (make your own! Recipe below)
    • Poultry Seasoning
    • Good Salt - Celtic, Himalayan - and Pepper
    • Butter or Ghee, or an alternative fat if you can't use ghee or butter yet - like lard
    • Any Vegetables you want to add - onions, carrots, etc - roughly chopped
    Process:
    • Prepare your chicken as needed (rinse, clean out insides).  (ours is just the chicken - nothing inside to clean out, so I simply thaw mine - often in a clean sink with warm water because I don't think ahead enough to thaw a whole chicken ahead of time and our fridge is usually so full I don't have room to thaw it in the fridge)
    • Put your chicken/cut up chicken/hindquarters in a crock pot or dutch oven or larger roasting pan. (I have a cast iron turkey roaster - like a dutch oven but giant and oval shaped, so I can fit 2 chickens in or a chicken and about 4 hindquarters.  But I often just do 1 chicken in my crock pot or dutch oven.)  I always do mine breast up, but I know many people like to do chickens breast down to let the white meat cook in all the liquid.  See, you can do whatever you want.  
    • Put some slices of butter (or other fat/oil) all over your chicken.  I don't even bother to melt the butter.  I just kind of evenly space out butter on each piece of chicken and a few pieces on the top of the whole chicken.  I use about 2-3 tbsp of butter on a whole chicken on average, and I probably put about 1/2 tbsp on each hindquarter.  In the picture below, you can see the pieces of butter just randomly placed :-).  You can totally use less - butter can be expensive, so I often vary my amounts based on how much I have in my fridge at the time.  
    • Now go to town sprinkling the montreal seasoning, poultry seasoning, pepper, and much salt all over the chicken.  Don't be shy.   Seriously.  Go for it.  I would estimate that I use about 1-2 Tbsp of montreal seasoning and 1/2-1 Tbsp poultry seasoning, depending on the amount of chicken I am making.  And then lots of salt.  Probably 1-2 Tbsp.  But again, I've never measured.  I just sprinkle it heavily all over.  A lot of help I am if you like to follow exact instructions, huh?  :-)
    • Cook in your crock pot all day on low or covered in oven at 225*-250* until the meat is falling off the leg bones.  You will know it's amazingly wonderful if you try and pick up the leg or thigh piece with tongs or a couple forks and it falls apart or pulls off the rest of the chicken incredibly easy.  I usually cook it for about 6-7 hours in the crock pot on low or 4-5 hours in the oven.  Really, it ends up just being whenever I can get it going at some point in the morning before lunchtime, and I just check on it late in the afternoon to see when it's done.  I never use a meat thermometer - when the meat is separating from the leg bones at the end, it should be nice and done.  
    • Every couple of hours (or at least once about halfway through cooking), baste the chicken with the juices at the bottom.  I usually only remember/take the time to do this once to try and cover all the chicken with the juices and run much of the spices/herbs down into the juices since pouring the juices over the chicken on our plates is our favorite part.  Wow, that was a long run-on sentence.
    • If using vegetables: if you will be gone and are doing it in the crock pot, just add veggies at the beginning around or under the chicken.  If you will be home, you can add veggies a couple hours before it is done if you want.  I prefer to add the veggies at the beginning so I don't have to do anything else :-). 
    • Optional: If you are cooking it in the oven, take the lid off and turn your oven up to 350* or 375*, keeping a close eye on it.  Keep it cooking in there until the skin gets golden and crispy to your liking.  This will also cook the juices down some.  
    • Serve either right off the chicken or, if you have time before dinner, take all the meat off the bones, put in a dish, then pour the juices from the crock pot or dutch oven/roaster over all the meat (strain as you pour).  If I don't have time to take all the meat off before dinner, we just eat it off the bone at the table and use a small ladle or spoon to ladle juices from the pot over our meat on our plates.  Or, if it would make it fun for your kids, put juices in a small bowl or cup and let them dip their meat in it.  
    • Salt is the key to great taste - so don't be afraid to add more salt if you feel it needs more when tasting the juices!   
    Montreal Steak Seasoning {Recipe} (um...that I always use on roasted chicken...)

    Ingredients: 
    • 4 Tbsp Celtic or Himalayan or Real Salt
    • 1 Tbsp black pepper
    • 1 Tbsp onion powder
    • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
    • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
    • 1 Tbsp dried rosemary
    • 2 tsp fennel seed (1/2 Tbsp if you like less fennel)
    • Optional: 1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes (um, we never use because we can't handle spice and neither can our 3 year old)
    Combine all ingredients in a jar (I use a leftover glass tomato paste jar) and shake (you can also blend them together in a blender if you have one that will grind it up to a finer consistency). 

    Enjoy! This is part of Real Food Wednesday and Traditional Tuesday at cooking traditional foods and whole new mom and Fight Back Friday.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Baked Custard {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}

    Update: Find a slightly more simple recipe here in my Baked Custard - Take 2 Post.  I still prefer the custard recipe below as it is richer in taste, but I also love the 'take 2' version! 

    We like custard.  I grew up getting a mug of baked custard at Luby's every time we went.  There is a great recipe in Nourishing Traditions for custard that we love.  I don't make it very often because it is rare to get raw cream and I refuse to use UHT cream from the store. 

    So yesterday my sweet 3 1/2 year old received a box 'from the man in the big truck' that he had REALLY wanted to give to his daddy for his birthday (it was a yoyo :-) ).  So I decided to make custard for an extra little celebration treat.  But I decided to embrace my fears and use....coconut milk. 

    The fantastic thing about custard is that it is a dessert that is full of great things.  Good fats, good egg yolks, and good taste.  I would seriously let us all eat this for breakfast (after eating some other protein and fat) it is so nourishing.  It has honey in it, yes, but it's not much by dessert standard.  And we think it would be great with less honey than the recipe calls for (but we haven't tried it yet).

    So back to coconut milk.  I want to get more coconut in our diet, and we are not using raw milk for a while right now.  I am very sensitive to coconut taste, so I was extremely excited when I tasted the finished product and couldn't taste coconut!  Yay :-)

    Enjoy!

    Baked Custard {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}
    Ingredients: 
    • 1 can full fat coconut milk (Native Forest is organic and does not have BPA in the lining of their cans)
    • 5 egg yolks
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract (I used 2 and loved it, but you can also just use 1 and it's still great)
    • Optional: Nutmeg or cinnamon or whatever spice you like
    Process: 
    • Preheat oven to 350* and fill a kettle with water and get it hot while you are preparing the custard.  If you don't have a kettle, heat some in a pot or use the hottest water from your faucet.
    • Warm the coconut milk up on the stove.  You can add 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of water to make the coconut milk be a full 2 cups.  Or you don't.  Whatever you're in the mood for.  :-)
    • While the coconut milk is heating, whisk the 5 egg yolks with the honey and vanilla until smooth.  Prepare your custard dishes by placing them in a baking dish large enough to hold them.  (I don't have custard ramekins so I just use what I can find...you can also make this in one larger dish like a loaf pan or small baking dish...it will just impact baking time.)
    •  When the coconut milk is warm/hot but definitely not close to boiling (I could still put my finger in it and it didn't hurt...so scientific, I know) slowly pour it into the egg/honey mixture while whisking.  Mix well. 
    •  Pour into your custard dishes, and fill the baking dish with hot water (I usually do about halfway).
    •  At this point, I sprinkle mine pretty heavily with ground nutmeg because that's what I love.  Alternatively, you can wait until after it bakes and sprinkle a spice on top.  It's just what you prefer - try it different ways and see which way you like best.  You could use nutmeg, cinnamon, or some other spice, or you could leave it plain - it's great that way, too!  
    • Bake at 350* for about 50min - 1 hr until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  The custard will still jiggle a little when moved.  This will take longer if you use dishes that make the custard much thicker. 
    • Remove and let cool - We prefer to put ours in the fridge and eat it cold. 

    Again, I was so pleasantly surprised that I couldn't taste coconut.  If you drink milk, just substitute the coconut milk for 2 cups of whole raw milk or 1 cup raw cream and 1 cup raw milk.  Or all cream. :-)

    Enjoy!  This is part of Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday and Superfood Sunday Food Carnival.

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    Amazing Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Orange Ganache and Chocolate Buttercream Icing {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}

    That's just about the longest blog post title for food I've ever done.  :-)  Okay, on to the good stuff...

    So I forgot to take a picture before this cake had candles stuck all in it and before we ate more than half of it...oops...

    We celebrated my husband's birthday this past 2 weekends ago, and we enjoyed a rich chocolate cake that was entirely grain free and GAPS/Paleo friendly.  All of my family said it was really good (with surprise probably).  I totally just used other people's recipes and paired them together in 1 cake.  Cocoa powder is okay for advanced GAPSters.  We have never noticed problems with it, so we use it for special occasions.

    I have made this cake before and used the ganache icing recipe on the entire cake without the orange zest.  I also did not use the orange zest in the cake that time.  It was super good!  BUT I love this one even more.  I also used a buttercream icing on the outside of the cake this time.  I loved the different textures and flavors.  So, you could use just one of these frostings on the entire cake or use both like I did.  Either way, you will love it!

    If you want just a chocolate cake and icings, just leave the orange zest out of the cake and ganache.  It will still be amazingly good.

    One important thing I want to share - my husband and I both enjoyed multiple slices of this cake (um, even with breakfast...), and we didn't notice any bad blood sugar effects.  Usually when we eat cake (the flour-y, sugar filled kind), we feel awful afterwards, get tired, and have sugar crashes where we don't feel like doing anything and we just want to sit and then just go to sleep.  This cake did not make us feel this way at all!  I love being able to enjoy good food like this without it harming how I feel.  This is a beautiful thing. :-) 

     sorry for the bad picture, but I wanted you to see the texture of the cake and icings


    Chocolate Cake {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}
    Original Recipe from Elana's Pantry.  I am posting the recipe here with the modifications I made.
    Ingredients: 
    • 3/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
    • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon celtic sea salt (or other good salt)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 10 eggs
    • 1 cup melted butter, preferably grassfed (can use coconut oil instead)
    • 1 1/2 cups honey, preferably raw
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest (cake is still great without this)
     Process: 
    1. In a small bowl combine flour, cacao, salt and baking soda
    2. In a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, blend eggs, butter, honey, vanilla and orange zest
    3. Add dry ingredients into large bowl and continue to blend
    4. Oil (2) 9-inch cake pans and dust with coconut flour (for ease of removal, I cut parchment paper to put in cake pans and then simply use butter or coconut oil to grease the paper and sides of the pan)
    5. Pour batter into pans and bake at 325° for 35-40 minutes
    6. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely then remove from pans
    7. Frost and serve

    Choclate Orange (or not!) Ganache Icing {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}
    Recipe from Nourishing Gourmet
    Ingredients: 
    • 1 cup of cocoa powder
    • 3/4 cup of virgin coconut oil
    • 1/2 cup of honey
    • dash or two of sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
    • for chocolate orange ganache: 1 Tbsp orange zest
    Process: 
    1. Gently melt the coconut oil in a saucepan (you don’t want to heat it, just melt it)
    2. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and pulse until well combined. (I have also just whisked this by hand)
    3. Scrape into a small bowl and place in the freezer or refrigerator until it has hardened to desired consistency. It took about 15 minutes in my freezer.  (I check on it every 5-10 minutes and stir/whisk it)
    4. You can use a hand mixer to fluff the frosting up (you may need to do this if the frosting has become too stiff as well).
    5. Spread on desired baked good and enjoy!
    Chocolate Orange Ganache Variation: Add 1 tablespoon orange zest with the rest of the ingredients. Continue on with the rest of the directions.

    Notes: I used much more honey the last time I made it - I was using a thick honey I recently got and it is not as strong or sweet as honey I normally have.  So, you might need to add honey to taste, especially if you are trying to please a crowd that is used to super sweet sugar-laden desserts.  I probably used about 3/4-1 cup of honey total.  But again, I have made this before with store bought honey that is pourable, and I only needed the 1/2 cup in the recipe.   I also think these would make great truffles rolled into balls and dusted with cocoa powder or shredded coconut...mmmm....

    Chocolate Buttercream Icing {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}
    Recipe from Our Nourishing Roots - makes enough for one double layer cake
    Ingredients: 
    • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup raw honey (thick, unfiltered, unpourable honey makes the best icing!)
    • 2/3 cup cocoa powder (raw)
    • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee, cooled (I did not use this, I simply added a couple grinds of himalayan salt to enhance the chocolate taste.  The link above to the recipe at 'Our Nourishing Roots' has a couple different things you could use besides coffee.  I thought it was great without it with a tiny bit of salt added - but be careful and don't add too much!  It is easy to add the salt to taste after it is all whipped together before you put it in the fridge.)
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    Process: .
    1. Put butter and honey into a bowl on your stand mixer (or hand mixer) fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk at a high speed for 3-5 minutes until well-combined and light colored.  Turn mixer off and add cocoa powder and vanilla.  Start mixer slow until combined, then whisk on high for another 3 minutes.  Turn off, scrape down the sides of the bowl, unhook the whisk attachment and use to combine by hand.
    2. Chill entire bowl and detached whisk attachment in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Remove and whisk once more for 3 minutes.  Use to frost immediately.  Store leftover frosting in the fridge.
    Notes: If you make this ahead of time and refrigerate it, allow for time to sit on the counter to soften before needing to use.  Once soft enough, whisk again to fluff the frosting.  If needed (if it got too soft), repeat step 2 above before using on the cake.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Brownies and Chocolate Frosting

    I can't take credit for these wonderful recipes, but I have to share them because they are so good!

    Dense, moist, rich grain-free brownies.  These are the best I've made since going grain-free.

    I shared this link yesterday in a recipe sharing post, but I wanted to put it here again because I am thinking about this frosting AGAIN and if you are in a particularly chocolatey mood and love insanely rich things, I bet this frosting would be so good on top of those brownies.  It would be so rich I bet just a few bites would be enough to satisfy any chocolate craving.

    Chocolate Butter cream Frosting (scroll down some in the post).  By the way, I could totally eat this frosting all by itself. Honey that is super thick (unable to be poured) makes the best frosting because it makes it very stable and not runny. 

    One of the countless reasons we eat like we do is to heal our bodies and restore them to the way they were meant to function, which means living without cravings.  But sometimes I just want a little chocolate, you know?  It's a process... :-)

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Recipes to Share, including Christmas Recipes we loved

    Just random recipes I thought I would share!  This is a completely random collection of recipes. 

    I want to try this.  I'll let you know if I love it... Salmon Chowder.


    Things I've tried and love:
    • Bacon Candy (GAPS/Paleo)
    • Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Bites (Paleo since sweet potatoes aren't GAPS legal)
    • Salisbury Steak (GAPS/Paleo) (I didn't use the coconut milk in the gravy and it was delicious.)
    • Salmon with chimichurri sauce (used leftovers of this sauce on salad with yogurt drizzled over it as well and loved it!).  
    • Ultimate Beef and Liver Chili  (We loved this.  It really is delicious and a great way to get liver into your diet.  I can't stand liver, but I loved this.  Note: After eating it the first night, I added tomato puree (bionaturae brand in glass jars - 24oz) and I thought this made it even more delicious and closer tasting to chili we used to make.  So, from now on, I will make it following her recipe, but add 1 bottle of this!)
    • Grain Free Mini Pizzas (Love these and our boys love them!  Quick and easy snack or meal.  If you can't or don't use cheese, I think these are great without cheese - just sauce and some meat on top.  Not exactly like a pizza without cheese, but still fun and tasty!  Pardon the messy example here - I just had raw cheese curds, not shredded cheese, so they look a little crazy!)
    • Marshmallows (original) (In case my last chocolate marshmallow crazed post didn't communicate enough how much I love these.)
    •  Yellow Coconut Cake with Chocolate butter cream frosting  (the cake is good! it doesn't taste like coconut, and I even used coconut milk.  But what's amazing is the frosting!  I didn't have coffee on hand and so I added a little bit of salt to the frosting to enhance the chocolate flavor and it is AMAZING.  I just got new raw honey in that has to be scooped it is so thick, and it makes the frosting thick and stable almost like frosting out of a can that I used to eat with a spoon.)
    • Leftover Turkey Stew (I know it might be a little late on this, but we still have some turkey meat and broth in our freezer we could use this for.  We made it once already and like it a lot!  The picture below is before it cooked, hence the lack of turkey :-). )

    Successful things from Christmas Dinner: 
    • Stuffing (We LOVED this and I will probably be making this every now and then throughout the year because it is that good!  It is also great for a good and easy breakfast - use leftovers and scramble with some eggs.  Mmmm... I did not use any of the spicy spices :-).  Seriously, though, this was amazing.)
    • Sweet Potato Casserole (Paleo but not GAPS friendly.  To make it GAPS friendly, you could use butternut squash instead of sweet potato and honey in the candied pecans.  I would share substitutions, but I haven't tried it :-). )
      •  Sweet Potato Casserole {Recipe - Paleo}
        • Ingredients: 
          • 4-5 medium/large sweet potatoes
          • 1/2 - 1 tsp fresh grated ginger (peel and freeze, then grate!)
          • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
          • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
          • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
          • 1 tsp vanilla
          • 4 Tbsp organic grassfed butter
          • 1/2 cup raw cream or coconut milk (you really can't taste coconut!)
          • 2 eggs
          • 1 cup chopped candied pecans (these are so good!)
        • Process: 
          • Bake the sweet potatoes in the oven until nice and soft, take out and remove skin
          • In a large mixing bowl, mix sweet potatoes with all other ingredients except pecans.  You can either mix simply by using a potato masher if you want a finished casserole that has a little more texture, or you can use a mixer or stick blender to make a less textured, softer casserole.  I have done it both ways and loved it both times!
          • Place in a baking dish of your choice (pie dish or square dish works well) and top with chopped candied pecans.  Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes at 350*. 
      • Cranberry Sauces (Chunky) (Blended and Gelatin-y)  (We love both of these and if I can find frozen cranberries, I will make this again before Thanksgiving/Christmas!  We doubled both recipes and froze in small glass containers.  It freezes well and our little boys loved it mixed with leftover turkey.  Therefore, I think they'd easily eat chicken mixed with this.  Easy lunch for littles? YAY!)
      Hope you enjoy!

        Sunday, January 15, 2012

        Omelet Soup {Recipe - GAPS, Paleo}

         This is part of Fight Back Friday and  Sunday Night Soup Night !

        Omelet Soup.  Does that sound weird?  Well, welcome to my soup world.  Whether you are on GAPS, eating Paleo, or just trying to eat a traditional whole foods diet, soup is a fantastic way to increase the nutrition and healing properties of any meal as well as make it much more easily digested.  I love eating eggs for breakfast, and lately I have been trying to eat as big of a breakfast as possible.  It sustains me through the day with much energy - especially through that late morning craze that seems to take over little children before they eat lunch ;-).

        However, I notice that at a certain point, I cannot eat much more although I know I need to.  I feel a little nauseous and heavy and I just can't stomach eating as much as I know is good for me.  Enter soup.  Broth enables me to eat more and not feel sick AT ALL.  It helps with digestion and provides tons of great things like amino acids and minerals and gelatin and all that good stuff.

        Also, since I love GAPS and am focusing on getting more broth into our diets, hopefully with at least 2 meals per day, I need a way to incorporate broth into another meal.  I'm not the hugest fan of drinking plain broth.  So I thought I would figure out a way to combine a favorite - an omelet - with something that is tasty, healing, and needed - broth. 

        This was inspired by our immense love for egg drop soup.  We eat it for breakfast often, but I wanted to provide us a little more variety.  So, although I know it sounds weird, don't write it off until you try it! :-) It's super yummy and fun!

        Omelet Soup  {Recipe - GAPS, Paleo}
        GAPS Notes: This is appropriate for Stage 2 once you have had cooked eggs in broth.  You would probably need to omit the bacon (maybe use some other meat like ground beef or chopped ham steaks boiled in the broth instead of bacon) until roasted and pan cooked meats are allowed.  But you can easily adapt this to stage 2!

        Ingredients: 
        • 8 oz uncured bacon
        • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
        • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, chopped
        • 1 quart chicken broth (meat or bone)
        • 1 cup chopped tomatoes - fresh or canned with juices drained
        • 6-12 eggs, pastured
        • Salt and Pepper to taste
        • Optional: spinach or kale (2-4 cups depending on how much you want)
        • Optional: Parmesan or Raw Cheddar Cheese
        Instructions: 
        • Two options for beginning: 
          • Some prep the night before:
            • You can either prepare your bacon and onions in the oven (little oversight and easy clean up) or you can fry the bacon on the stove top and then saute the onions in the bacon grease in the same pan.  So, either bake the bacon in the oven around 350-375*, turning every 10-15 minutes until crispy, or fry the bacon in a pan until crispy. 
            • Remove the bacon from the baking dish or frying pan.  If preparing in the oven, simply add the onion into the pan, stir to get it all gloriously mixed in with all the amazing bacon grease and roast for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway, until they look all soft and yummy.  If preparing on the stove top, just saute in the bacon grease until soft.  I simply prefer doing it in the oven because it is less work. :-)
            • Save your bacon and onions separately for the morning. 

          Bacon baked in the oven.

         Onions added to the baking dish.
         Onions roasted in the oven, all soft and yummy.
          • No Prep the night before: Simply follow the above steps of your choice (oven or stove top) the morning of.  If I do it the morning of, I simply would fry the bacon and then saute the onions in the pot I am going to make the soup in. 
        • With the onions in your soup pot, add chopped mushrooms and saute together until mushrooms are browned. 
        •  Add bacon, crumbling into bite size pieces.
        •  Add your broth, tomatoes, and about 1 tsp celtic sea salt.  Bring to a boil.  (Add kale or spinach here if using for the whole pot of soup)
        • While the soup is coming to a boil, whisk all eggs together in a large measuring cup or mixing bowl (easiest if it has a pour spout).  I put a large range of the number of eggs because it really simply depends on how thick and egg-y you want your soup.  We wanted a very hearty thick soup with many eggs per person, so I used 12.  You really can't mess this up!
        • Once the soup is at a boil, stir the soup gently in a circle while slowly pouring the whisked eggs into the soup.  Once all the eggs are poured in, I always bring the soup back to a boil and then turn the heat off as soon as it starts bubbling.  I don't want rubbery overcooked eggs :-). 
        •  Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy! 
        • Our little boys won't eat spinach in soup, so we simply put about 1/2 -1 cup chopped spinach in our bowls of soup because the soup was hot enough to wilt the spinach. 
        •  Optional: top with cheese of your choice!

        Enjoy!  It really is delicious! This is such a fantastic way to get broth in with breakfast!  Or even to have a breakfast for dinner soup.  And I think it could easily be modified with what you have on hand and what you like for breakfast.  Just imagine what you would like in an omelet, and put it in there!  Also, try using chopped ham steaks instead of bacon, or even ground beef or breakfast sausage!

        It's funny how I get so excited about a new and easy soup option for us... :-)

        Tuesday, January 10, 2012

        Chocolate Marshmallows {Recipe - Delicious and GAPS/Paleo!}

        Oh. Goodness. Ilovechocolate.

        And Oh. Goodness.  Ilovemarshmallows.

        I must admit I totally ate some horrible deadly ones around Christmas.  Pretend I didn't say that.

        But really, I was SO excited to find this.

        And I just recently made them and ate the whole batch in a matter of 2 days.  YEP.

        Pretend I didn't say that either.

        So on another note, I have been 10 whole days without coffee.  BIG.DEAL.

        That also means 10 days without insane doses of honey in my coffee.

        Bring on the cravings for chocolate and sweet things after I got through the first 2 days of headaches, nausea, and naps.

        So I decided after making some crumbly dry chocolate almond flour cookies that I would try making chocolate marshmallows.  ohJOYJOY.  Yep.  Thankfully, I only made a 1/2 batch, because 24 hours later, they're all gone.  But my little boys did eat their fair share.  I think I have a problem...

        Anyway, they are awesome and marshmallowy and almost fudgy.  Can I go make another batch now?  Oh, wait, I should make dinner...

        MAKE THESE (plain and chocolate) TODAY.  You won't be disappointed.

        The plain ones are amazing...go here to get that recipe and the instructions.

        Here is how I adapted it to make chocolate marshmallows.

        Chocolate Marshmallows {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}
        Ingredients: (this is for a half batch as compared to the linked original recipe above.  My thought is, make a whole batch and once it gets all fluffy and creamy, pour half into a pan to have as regular and then add the cocoa paste as below to have chocolate ones as well!!!  So, if you want to do that, just double all ingredients except the chocolate. )
        • 1/2 cup  filtered water (split into quarter cups)
        • 1 1/2 Tbls Grass fed beef gelatin
        • 1/2 cup organic honey
        • 1/2 tsp vanilla gluten free organic extract
        • 1/8 tsp salt
        • 2-4 Tbsp raw organic cocoa powder*
        • 1-2 Tbsp of warm water
        Process: 
        • In a medium-large mixing bowl, mix half of the water (1/4 cup) and the gelatin together.  Let it sit while you do the next step. 
        • In a saucepan, mix the honey, the remaining water (1/4 cup), vanilla, and salt together and bring to a boil. 
        • Simmer for about 7-8 minutes (it is helpful to use a candy thermometer) until it reaches 240*.  I have done this a few times and I have never gotten it to reach 240*, only about 220* or so.  Mine have always turned out great.  
        • While the honey mixture is boiling, mix your cocoa powder and warm water together in a small bowl to make a paste (only use enough water to be able to mix the cocoa powder into a paste). 
        • Turn on your mixer (I use a handheld mixer) and pour honey mixture into bowl to combine with gelatin.  I have used regular beaters and the whisk attachment.  Use the whisk attachment.  They both work, but it is much less insanely loud to use the whisk :-).  Mix at your highest speed (I usually only do speed 5 out of 6 because I can't handle the noise of speed 6 for 10 minutes...but I have oddly sensitive ears sometimes) for about 10 minutes until it is thick and like a marshmallow cream.  
        • If you are doing a full batch (double all ingredients), pour about half into an 8x8 or really any size pan (the size only impacts how thick they are) that is lined with parchment paper.  If you are only doing the half batch, proceed with next step.  
        • Add the cocoa powder paste and mix well with your mixer - you can add little by little if needed until it suits your chocolate taste buds.*  :-)  I used at least 4 tbsp when I made mine, and they were pretty dark and rich in their chocolate taste, which I loved.  Use less if you like mild chocolate flavor.  
        • Pour into a pan (I used 8x8) lined with parchment paper sticking up all the sides (picture below).  
        • Let it set!  It doesn't take too long to set, but the time depends on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen as well.  Also, I think the texture the next day is the best, but you can be sure I never wait until the next day to eat them! :-)
        • You can do coatings as described in the original recipe linked above this recipe, or you can coat it in cocoa powder afterwards.  I think coating these with some chopped nuts would be amazing.  
        *NOTE: the chocolate taste is significantly stronger after marshmallows have set!  When I was tasting mine while mixing it all together, I could not taste the cocoa very well - but once I poured them out and they sat for a bit, the chocolate was pretty strong!  thankfully, I like strong, but keep that in mind when making them!  It might be something you figure out over time - just keep notes as to how much cocoa powder you used so you know what amount you like best! 
         
        (this picture is after I had poured it out and I was making dinner and I couldn't stop myself from scraping some out to try before they had fully set!!  I am crazy!)
          The next day, or even later the same day you make them, they are much easier to cut into squares.  Don't leave the plate in sight of littles, because they will push stools and chairs over and eat them all.  Ask me how I know :-).

          Enjoy! 

          Sunday, January 8, 2012

          Chicken Cilantro Soup {A Favorite Recipe - GAPS, Paleo}

          Update: I finally took a picture last time I made the soup (see below)! The picture is of the soup made with some chopped tomatoes in it (I rinsed the chopped tomatoes to get all the juice off because I didn't want tomato juice in my broth). I also made it recently just straining but not rinsing the tomatoes, so there was some of the juice in the broth, and it was still really great!)  There is also some yogurt stirred in to the soup in the picture, which is why it looks creamy colored.

          Have I ever mentioned I adore cilantro?  I think it is a miracle herb.  When it's time to plant it this spring, I would love to devote about half our garden just to cilantro.  I don't think my desire for an abundance of tomatoes will agree with that, though...oh well...I love cilantro, on salmon, in salmon patties, on taco salads, and in soups...

          I don't have a picture for this soup, although it is easily the most consistently loved soup in this house.  Maybe I never take a picture because we just eat it all so fast.  Well, except maybe for chili.  But in the world of chicken soups, this is our most favorite!  We eat this on a regular basis, and even when I think I am going to tire of it, I take one bite and am simply in love again.

          This soup began as one of our favorites before we began GAPS eating, but we included corn and black beans in it.  So, if you eat grains and beans, I can say it is wonderful with those things added in.  I will include that in notes below in the recipe.

          This is a fantastic soup for spring and summer, as it is fresh and light tasting, but it is also superb for the fall and winter because of it's warm richness.  Being a GAPS, bone broth loving lady, I have to enjoy my soups year round!  This is also incredibly easy to adapt to seasonal ingredients, and I will share those notes below as well.  In my recipes, I always put a range on each vegetable, and those are so you can take in to consideration how much you love that particular vegetable and the size.  Sometimes I get freakishly large carrots and sometimes they are skinny, so just adapt as to what you have on hand!

          Enjoy!

          Chicken Cilantro Soup  {A Favorite Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}
          Ingredients:
          • 2-4 tbsp butter (or ghee, coconut oil, tallow, or lard)
          • 1 medium - large onion, chopped
          • 3-4 carrots, chopped
          • 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
          • 4-6 cups of chicken broth (meat or bone)
          • 2-4 zucchini, chopped (yellow summer squash also works well)
          • 1 large bunch of cilantro, rinsed well
          • 4 garlic cloves, minced (I just put mine through a press)
          • 2-3 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded to your preference
          • Salt (I usually use about 1 Tbsp because my broth is unsalted) and Pepper, to taste
          • Optional: 2-3 cups chopped tomatoes or a large can or package (24-26 oz) of chopped tomatoes
          • Optional (for non GAPSters and non-Paleo): 1-2 cups organic frozen corn, 2 cups black beans
          • Great Additions at the table: a squeeze of lemon in each bowl, grated raw cheddar cheese, sour cream, cultured cream, or plain yogurt is wonderful added at the table after the soup is not scalding hot. 
          Process: 
          • In a soup pot or dutch oven, heat butter over medium heat.  Add chopped onion, carrots, and celery.  Saute until onions begin turning translucent.   
          • Add chicken broth (and tomatoes if using), and bring to a boil.  Simmer until vegetables are almost desired tenderness.  I usually add a couple teaspoons of salt at this point. 
          • If using zucchini (we only use when in season here), add and simmer until almost tender. (If using corn and black beans, add here as well.)
          • Take your washed cilantro and either chop it and add to the pot or just use kitchen scissors and cut it straight into the pot.  I don't bother to chop or cut it really small, and my little ones still eat it! Also, I use all of the cilantro bunch.  Not just the leaves.  I tear off the part of the bunch that is just all stems and put the rest in the soup.  The stems cook down and are very soft in the soup and add great flavor. 
          • Add garlic and chicken, stir it all together well, and bring back to a boil. 
          • Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.  
          • Salt to taste, add pepper if desired. 
          • Serve with desired toppings - raw cheddar cheese, sour cream or yogurt, lemon juice...
          Notes: 
          • GAPS intro:  this is appropriate as soon as you can use fresh herbs, just omit celery until you can tolerate that well! 
          • Tomatoes:  If not using fresh, know that certain cans are BPA free like Muir Glen.  I buy Pomi if I need chopped tomatoes.  Read facts about Pomi in this post.  I find adding tomatoes changes to overall taste of the soup and causes the cilantro to be less dominant, but it is good, just in a different way than without it!  
          • Corn and Beans: Use organic corn to avoid the extreme pesticides of non-organic and the genetically modified state of more than 90% of non-organic corn!  For Black beans - soak them in filtered water and the juice of 1 lemon overnight and then drain them and cooked in fresh water before adding to soup.  If you eat beans, simply make a large batch of these and cook them in your crock pot!  Easy and you can freeze 1 and 2 cup portions to be able to pull out and add to recipes easily.  
          • Vegetables: I only use zucchini and yellow squash when they are in season at the market, which is much of the year here.  The soup is still fantastic without it, and I still make it all the time without zucchini.  I usually add another stalk of celery and another carrot if I am not using zucchini.  
          Hope your family enjoys this!  We love it!  Part of Sunday Night Soup Night!

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