Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pork with cider spices and mixed green/celery root salad

Yes, this is an adventurous dinner.  I saw the mulling spices in the store the other day and NEEDED to figure out how to use them other than in apple cider.  If you have a coffee grinder I think grinding them up a bit would be a good idea, otherwise you can do what I did and just scrape most of them off the pork after it's cooked.  The pork will soak up the spice flavor while cooking and you won't get the surprise of crunching down on a whole clove or piece of orange rind.  And on the salad front, I am a fan of the celery root. It's ugly, but it has a great subtle celery flavor without being too strong.

Oh, and please forgive the photo quality this time.  I misplaced my camera so these are taken with my phone.

Spinach/Celery Root Salad

1 bulb celery root, peeled
1/2 white onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 cups fresh mixed greens, washed
1 avocado
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

To peel the celery root I just attacked the top portion of it with a regular vegetable peeler, and then cut off the skin from the bottom portion. They tend to have a lot of knobby ends and veins of what look like the outside skin; folding inside. Just cut these off and out to leave you with the white celery root.  Discard the green tops or use to flavor a soup or stock.

Once peeled, cut the celery root into matchstick pieces, or julienned. I cut the root into 8 pieces, then cut these into flat disk and then into matchsticks. Once it is all cut, add to a small saute pan along with the coconut oil. Heat over medium and cook 2 minutes. Add in the onion and cook until both are soft, another 5-7 minutes. The onion will get soft and the celery root will soften, but will still have a bit of a bite to it. This is ok.

Remove from the heat and place on a plate in your fridge to cool. Then cut the avocado into chunks and then toss into the mixed greens along with the almonds and cooled celery root mixture.

2 lbs pork loin
2 tablespoons mulling spices (if grinding them I'd reduce this to 1.5)
sea salt and cracked pepper
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided

Cut the pork into managle pieces.  I cut mine into roughly 2x4 or 2x6 inches so they'd all fit in the pan.  Season both sides of the pork with salt and pepper, and then coat both sides with the mulling spices.

Then heat a large saute pan over medium and add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.  Evenly space the pork around the pan so they aren't touching.  If they're too squished, then cook the meat in 2 stages, adding half the onion at a time.  Cook the pork on the first side for 2 minutes before flipping (you want it to get brown).  Flip over and continue to cook another 2 minutes for the other side to brown.  Then add in the sliced onions and another 1 tablespoon coconut oil.  Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Continue cooking until the pork is cooked through, about another 6-8 minutes depending on the thickness of your meat.  Remove from heat and serve with salad.
I just used an oil and vinegar to dress this salad.  Simple and delicious.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beef & Sausage Hash w/ apple and yams

(A.K.A. what I'm eating for breakfast this week).  A Paleo breakfast is probably not like the sugar-laden-food-stuff-flakes your neighbors are slurping out of a cold bowl every morning.  Rather than be put off by it being different, embrace it!  No, you can't pour this out of a cardboard box that's been sitting in your pantry for the last 4 months, but I'm thinking that's why it's awesome.

1 lb. grass fed ground beef (I use 85/15 but use whatever you prefer)
3 organic chicken/apple sausages (pick ones without sugar added and are preservative-free)*
1/2 -1 whole apple, diced small (use whatever you got, braeburn, granny smith, fuji...)
sea salt & pepper
**(Extras: diced onion, garlic)

2 small yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds

Put the yams in a medium saucepan and cover with water.  Put on the stove-top on high heat until the water boils, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender - about 10 minutes.

While the yams are boiling, place the ground beef in a large saute pan and heat over medium heat.  Break the beef up a bit with a spoon or spatula.  While that's cooking, dice up the chicken/apple sausages and add them to the ground beef mixture.  Continue breaking up the meat and stirring while it all cooks together.  When there is almost no pink left to the ground beef, add in the diced apple, salt and pepper.  Cook an additional 2 minutes to soften the apple and then take off the heat.

By this time the yams should be tender.  Drain and let cool a few minutes.  You can either serve them whole along side the ground beef mixture, or cut them into small pieces and stir them into the ground beef, whichever you choose.  Lately I've been mashing them up into the ground beef when I eat it every morning.  It's just easier to eat that way.

* If using pre-cooked sausages just dice and go.  If your sausages are fresh (sweet!) then you can either cook them whole and then dice, or just open them up and add the sausage meat to the ground beef at the beginning (you will essentially just be adding "bulk" sausage then).

**This would certainly be tasty if you added some diced onion or garlic to the mixture.  I tend to go basic for breakfast because it's usually post-workout and I stomach the more basic foods better then.  Also, it's faster this way.

Sidenote: This will suffice for 5 days' breakfast.  I eat the same thing M-F for breakfast.  It doesn't bother me.  One the weekends I go crazy with some eggs or leftover steak!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Baked Apples

Apple pie is the quintessential fall dessert.  Growing up we would have apple pie with Thanksgiving dinner and we would all eat it for breakfast the following day...(that's normal, right?).  Fruit baked with sweet spices until soft and the juices ooze joy.  I always was the culprit who ate the filling out of the apple pie, so making baked apples seemed like a happy compromise...

2 apples of your choice (I used some from a local organic farm sans wax)
3 medjool dates
2 tablespoons raw, unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons creamed coconut (see bottom)*
3 tablespoons chopped pecans, plus a few extra for topping
1 scant tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Few shakes of nutmeg and ginger
Pinch of salt
coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the core of the apples with an apple corer.  I used mine to remove a little extra from the core of the apple to make room for more filling.  I pretty much doubled the amount of space.  If you feel the need, peel a strip from the apples at this point (I read this was so the apples don't burst in the oven, but I did one with/one without and they both broke a little at the bottom, choose).

Chop the dates into small pieces and place in a small mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mash together with a fork until mixed well.  Then fill the apples with the mixture, packing it in well.  Coat the bottom of a small baking pan or pie plate with a little coconut oil, and place the filled apples inside.  Top the filled portion with a few more chopped pecans.

Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, cover the apples with aluminum foil and continue baking another 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving.  This recipe can be easily doubled.

**Creamed coconut is basically just the flesh of the coconut.  I found it in a health food store and it comes in small packages like this:

If you can't find it near you, just use equal amounts of unsweetened coconut flakes, though you may need to add a bit more dates or honey to give the mixture just a little more moisture.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gingered Butternut Squash Soup

Even though the weather in California lately hasn't been very Fall-like, I am still readying myself for the beautiful Fall weather, with soups.  Butternut squash is something I don't buy very often, but definately is a great choice for a bowl of creamy deliciousness.

1 butternut squash
1 can coconut milk (amount used may vary)
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (or use dried ginger)
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
Chopped walnuts to top (optional)

Cut the length of the squash into three pieces, then cut these pieces in half.  Scrape out the seeds (I use a grapefruit spoon) and then place all pieces into a large stock pot.  Cover with water and bring to a boil on your stovetop.  Turn the heat down and let simmer for 20-25 minutes.  At this point the squash should be very tender.  Drain the squash and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Once cooled, remove the skin from the squash.  I find it easiest to just cut them off since they tend to break off in pieces when you try to "peel" it off.  Then place the squash in your food processor (if using a 7-cup do half at a time.  If using a larger you could probably throw it all in at once).  Pulse a few times to break up the pieces, then add in the ginger, chicken broth and half of the coconut milk.  From here you can guage how much coconut milk you want to use, depending on the size of your squash.  Obviously a bigger squash would necessitate more liquid added.  Blend the contents until very smooth, and pour back into the soup pot.  Turn the heat to low to keep the soup warm and add in sea salt and pepper to taste.  When serving, add more cracked pepper and top with the walnuts.

**I added the walnuts because I thought it sounded yummy, but you really can't taste them because of the ginger.  But since it was in my picture I had to add it to the, I make no promises that using the walnuts will bring this soup to the next level.

I served this soup along with a green salad and chicken drumsticks (pictured).  The drumsticks were easy.  I just heated up a tablespoon of coconut oil in a saute pan, sliced up an onion and let it cook 2 minutes.  Then added my salted and peppered drumsticks on top.  Covered the pan and let cook, turning the chicken every 4-5 minutes or so and moving the onion around so it wouldn't burn *too* much.  But the onion is fantastic when it gets brown and carmelized like that.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Zucchini Pesto Veggie Dip

It seems that an easy item to bring to parties when you're eating Paleo, would be a veggie platter.  Tasty, crisp, fresh veggies all arranged prettily on a platter.  But then...what do you dip them in?  Most dressings people use are full of dairy or highly processed things I can't pronounce.  Regular Pesto sauce is tasty, to be sure, but isn't quite the right consistency for me.  An easy remedy, I found, was adding zucchini, and you've got a thicker dip that tastes good with any veggie you attack it with!

4 oz fresh basil - leaves torn off
6 sundried tomato halves (use the ones packed in olive oil)
3 large cloves of garlic
1/2 cup unsalted macadamia nuts
 1/4 tsp sea salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
2 zucchinis (about 6 inches each), ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch rounds
1/2 cup olive oil (give or take...add to the consistency you prefer)
**Optional - add different spices of choice - I added sage to mine
Raw veggies for dipping (carrots, snap peas, broccoli, celery, jicama, bell pepper, zucchini-double dose!, cucumber)

In a food processor, drop in all the basil leaves and pulse a few times to chop them up.  Then add the sundried tomatoes and garlic, pulse a few times.  Add in the macadamia nuts and turn on for about 10 seconds or until the nuts are chopped up small.  Add the salt, pepper and zucchinis (yes, add them raw) and turn on until the zucchinis begin to blend up.  Then pour in the olive oil in a small stream to combine (add in desired spices here too, if desired).  If some of the zucchini pieces don't all blend up, change to pulse for a few times and then switch back.  (makes about 2 cups)

Serve in a bowl with lots of veggies for dipping.

This recipe is versatile.  I also ate a dollop of it on top of my steak for dinner.  If two cups of pesto dip seems like it will be a lot to plow through, you could stick half of it in a jar and freeze for later enjoyment!!