Cauliflower and Spinach Soup

I used the last of the ham stock I had that was leftover from the boiled ham that I cooked the other week to make a wonderful soup for lunch.

Cauliflower and Spinach Soup

serves 6

caulispinachsoup

1 tbsp fat of your choice – I used some bacon fat that I had saved

1 onion – chopped

2 sticks celery – chopped

3 cloves garlic – crushed

1 head of cauliflower – broken into florets

1 1/2 mason jars ham stock (you can use any stock you happen to have – chicken would be good)

2-3 cups spinach leaves

1/2 can coconut milk

1/4 tsp nutmeg (the secret ingredient)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

Melt the fat in a large pan and add the chopped onion and celery.  Cook slowly until the onion has softened.

Toss in the garlic and cook for a few seconds, then add the cauliflower and stock.

Simmer gently for around half and hour until the cauliflower is very tender.

Toss in the spinach and allow to wilt.  Then add the coconut milk, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

Blend until smooth using a stick blender.

This is very good hot, but is also good cold, which makes it a good soup for me to take to work – I have access to a fridge but not to a microwave or any other means of heating it up.  When I take soups to work for my lunch I usually take them in a wide-mouthed mason jar.  That means I can eat them right out of the jar.

Homemade Energy Bars

These energy bars are Paleo/Primal, but while they contain no added sugar they are very sweet and high in carbs…. that is what makes them great at providing a huge amount of energy.  They would make a fantastic post-workout snack when you want to replenish your glycogen stores.  They also make a great grab-and-go breakfast for those days when you are running late and need to eat on your way to work.

They also make a great sweet treat for the kids, and are perfect to put in a lunch box.

For these I added some of Buzz Honey‘s bee pollen which is supposed to be very good for you.  That is a totally optional ingredient that can be left out if you don’t have any bee pollen.  Don’t use it if you are allergic to bees or pollen though…  I would hate for you to have an allergic reaction to it!

Because these contain nuts and chia seeds, they are an AIP stage 2 reintroduction.

Homemade Energy Bars

makes approx 16-18

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2 cups date puree or pitted whole dates

1 cup pitted prunes

1 cup dried apricots

1 cup almonds

1/2 cup almond butter

1 cup unsweetened coconut

2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

2 tbsp bee pollen (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

I used a pitted date puree, but whole dates would work just fine.  This is the brand of dates that I use, which I buy from Basha Foods.

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Just read the ingredients to make sure that there is no extra sugar squeezed in there – dates are sweet enough as it is!

All you do is pile all your ingredients into a food processor and pulse it until everything is finely chopped and evenly mixed.  By the time it is chopped enough, it should come together as a kind of paste.

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It won’t be perfectly smooth.  A few chunks of nuts are OK.

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Press it into a 9×9″ pan (I am using a silicone one here because it makes it easier to turn out at the end.  if you use a metal pan line it with foil to allow for easy removal.)

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Chill overnight in the fridge before cutting into bars.  I cut it in half and then into approximately 1″ thick bars, giving me between 16 and 18 in total.

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Store in the fridge as they tend to soften at room temperature and become very sticky.

You could make any number of variations of these bars…  adding cocoa nibs or cocoa powder (or even chocolate chips!) would give them a chocolatey taste.

I have added ground coffee (1-2 tbsp seems right) in the past, which gives it a subtle coffee flavour not to mention the caffeine hit.

You could use other seeds in place of the chia seeds – sesame or flax seeds would work well as would pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Other nuts can be substituted for the almonds and other nut butters for the almond butter.

And of course any dried fruit could be used.  I would keep the dates to about 50% of the total dried fruit though as they provide the necessary texture to hold it all together.

Stuffed Pork Chops and Roasted Onions

This particular recipe was cooked by A….

Proof that teens can cook....

Proof that teens can cook….

It is another one from the book I mentioned in a previous post – BBQ Food For Friends.

When we ordered our pig from Sprags Meat Shop, I requested that the pork chops be packed in packages of 6.  And this seemed like a good recipe to use them, especially as I had managed to buy some wonderful HUGE green onions at the Calgary Farmers Market a couple of days before.

Like most of our recipes, we tweaked it – I didn’t use the sherry the original recipe called for, and I didn’t have a fresh apple so I used dried and soaked them in a little water.  I also left the green part on the onions whereas the original recipe calls for them to be removed (I didn’t want to waste them!)  and I only used 6 onions because that was all I had.

This recipe is 100% AIP compliant.

Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Onions

chopgreensonion

serves 6

(Based on a recipe on page 33 of BBQ food for friends by Jane Lawson and Vanessa Broadfoot)

4 tbsp hot water (the original recipe called for 2 tbsp sherry)

4 dried figs

8 slices of dried apple

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion –  finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

1 tbsp finely chopped sage leaves

6 large, bone in pork chops

Salt to taste

6 very large green onions – trimmed but with the green parts still on (the original recipe calls for 16 large green onions, green parts trimmed off and the bulbs cut in half).

Instructions

Put the figs and dried apple in a small bowl and pour the hot water over them.  Leave them to soak for 20 minutes to rehydrate them.  Drain, keeping the soaking liquid.

Chop roughly in a food processor.  Heat the coconut oil and add the onion and garlic – cook over a low heat for 5 minutes until softened.  Add the figs and apples and the soaking liquid and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the sage and mix well.  Allow to cool.

Take the pork chops and make a cut into the middle of the pork chop from the side.  You are basically making a pocket in which you can stuff the filling you have just made.  Don’t cut right through – you don’t want a hole.  Fill the pocket with the stuffing packing it in well.  Brush the chops with 1 tbsp olive oil and season well with salt.

Use the remaining tbsp of oil to toss with the onions.

The original recipe calls for the onions and chops to be cooked on a chargrill plate, either flat or ridged.  But I don’t have one so I pulled out the faithful roasting pan again….

Heat the pan to medium and place the chops and onions on it.  Cook the chops for 10 minutes per side until the outside is charred and the meat is cooked through.  The onions will take about 10 minutes and will need turning halfway.  Cook them until they are a little caremelized and softened.

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We served the whole thing with some stirfried greens.  I used chinese broccoli that was stirfried in a little coconut oil with some garlic.

J likes the look of her dinner!

J likes the look of her dinner!

Tasty Intercostals (aka Ribs), BBQ Sauce, Coleslaw and Greens

Tasty intercostals…  that is what our family calls ribs.  Mostly because the meat you are eating when you eat ribs is the intercostal muscles – one of the muscles of respiration that lie between the rib bones.

Tonight’s dinner was Ribs, cooked very slowly until they were tender.  I used some of the wonderful pastured pork that I got from Spraggs Meat Shop – we picked up half a pig that we had ordered from the Calgary Farmers Market yesterday, and I cooked the 2 packets of ribs that was included in our order.

I did a relatively simple spice rub, roughly based on this recipe for Paleo Oven Baked Pork Ribs from Paleo Cupboard, but with a few changes to make it my own.  I simmered them in water for an hour because experience has taught me that the ribs from this pork can be a little tough unless they get some moist heat during the cooking process.  They were then allowed to cool, rubbed with the spice rub and baked  in the oven for 3 hours.  Then to give them a nice crust, I finished them on the grill for a few minutes.  Then I made a BBQ sauce to dip the ribs in and served the whole lot with coleslaw and sauteed chard that had some bacon and garlic added.

Because of the nightshades that these recipes contain, they are AIP stage 4 reintroductions.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Tasty Intercostals (Pork Ribs)

serves 6

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4lb pastured pork ribs (this was both packets of pork ribs that came from our half pig)

1 tbsp unrefined sea salt

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp chilli powder

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Take your ribs and cut each piece in half so that they will fit in a large pot of gently simmering hot water.  I had 4 pieces of rib, so I ended up with 8 pieces in all.  I simmered them for 1 hour, skimming off any foam and sediment that was produced.  Because I didn’t want to waste this, I gave it to the dog.

After an hours simmering, I removed the ribs and transferred them to the fridge so that they could cool enough for me to handle.  Meanwhile I kept the cooking liquid simmering for another couple of hours to reduce it to about 1/3 of it’s original volume.  That was then transferred to a jar in the fridge to be used in the future as part of a tasty pork broth/stock. (And actually I did use a little of this in the BBQ sauce that I made later on and also as a little extra liquid for cooking the greens).

Once the ribs are cool enough to handle, remove them from the fridge, mix all the spices and the thyme together and rub it in to all sides of the rib pieces so that they are evenly covered.

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Preheat the oven to 121C/250F and cook the ribs in this relatively cool oven for 3 hours until tender turning them every half hour or so.

Finish the ribs on a hot grill for a few minutes on each side to brown and get a nice crust.

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Cut the ribs between the bones to serve.

Serve with a BBQ sauce, coleslaw and greens cooked with bacon and garlic.

Paleo BBQ Sauce

makes about 1 1/2 cups

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2 tbsp coconut oil – melted

1 156ml/5oz  can tomato paste

1/2 tsp Sriracha/hot sauce

1 tbsp raw honey

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp soy sauce (I know soy sauce is not strictly Paleo, but I figure that because it is fermented the little amount I use won’t matter.  I do make sure to buy a wheat-free soy sauce.  If you prefer it, use Coconut Aminos)

1 tbsp ready made mustard

1/4 cup red wine (I was going to add water, then I saw some leftover red wine and used that instead.  You could add water or broth if you prefer)

1/4 tsp ground all spice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup pork broth (leftover from cooking the pork ribs) – optional

Mix all the ingredients together in a pan and simmer gently for a few minutes to combine all the flavours.  Use the pork broth the achieve the consistency that you like – you may not need it all.

This sauce can be used to baste the ribs while cooking them or as a dip for the ready cooked meat.

Coleslaw

serves 6

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3-4 cups shredded cabbage (I used a mix of red and white cabbage for this)

2 carrots – grated

1 bunch green onions – chopped

1/4 cup homemade mayonnaise

1/4 cup Greek yoghurt (if you don’t do dairy, you could use the thick cream from the top of a can of coconut milk)

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp flax seed oil

unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Doesn't this mixture look pretty?

Doesn’t this mixture look pretty?

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and serve.

Greens Cooked with Bacon and Garlic

Serves 6

A big mess of goodness - rainbow chard, bacon and garlic.

A big mess of goodness – rainbow chard, bacon and garlic.

1 big bunch of Chard – chopped (Keep the stems separate from the greens but chop them too)

3 cloves garlic – crushed

6 rashers pastured bacon

a little pork or bone broth – optional

This recipe uses some of the awesome pastured bacon we get as part of our half pig.  I used some wonderful rainbow chard that I bought at the farmers market, but any greens would work well.  Just use what you have.

Chop the bacon finely and place in a heavy skillet.  I have a cast iron one that I love.  Allow to cook slowly over a very low heat so that the awesome baconny goodness (AKA bacon fat) renders out without the bacon burning.  The aim is to have crisp bacon and a fair amount of bacon fat to cook the greens in.  It will take time.  Don’t rush it or you will burn your bacon.  Toss in the garlic, turn up the heat a little and allow the garlic to cook for a minute or two.  Again, don’t have the heat too high – you don’t want your garlic to burn.  Burned garlic tastes horrible!  Then add the chard stems and toss about in the garlicly bacon fat until slightly tender.  This may take around 5 minutes.  After this add the greens and toss in the fat until wilted.  You may need to add a little liquid – I did, so I added some more of the pork broth.  But you could use bone broth, water or anything else you fancy.

Serve it all together and nom those Ribs.  Mmmmmmmmm  Tasty Intercostals!

And this is what Hubby did with it all:

I obviously likes slaw with his BBQ sauce!

I obviously likes slaw with his BBQ sauce!

Paleo Meatballs – My Way

I still can’t get the pictures I took to work, so I am going to just go ahead and post this without any pics.  It won’t look quite as pretty, and I apologize for that, but at least I have it out there.

A few days ago I was looking for paleo pasta substitutes and I came across someone saying to try finely shredded white cabbage that has been sauteed.  That sounded good, especially as I had half a white cabbage that badly needed using up.  And what goes well with cabbage?  Bacon…  lets face it, bacon goes well with EVERYTHING!

So now I had a pasta substitute but I needed to work out what would go well with the bacony cabbage.  I had a pot of leftover tomato sauce, some ground bison and some pastured pork sausage.

So for dinner tonight, I decided we were having meatballs.

And this is my version.

Paleo Meatballs – my way

500g ground bison

500g bulk pastured pork sausage

1 onion

1 tsp ground garlic

1 tsp paprika

1 handful chopped fresh parsley

1 egg

salt and pepper to taste.

Pulse the onion in the food processor until it is finely chopped, but don’t let it get too liquidy or the meatballs will not hold together.  you want small pieces and no liquid.  Mix all the ingredients together until it is all well blended.  Don’t try this in the food processor – it goes to a nasty uniform mush that makes tough dry meatballs (trust me, I know, I did it once!).  Meatballs should have just a little texture they should not be tough uniform cannonballs (That is what Ikea sell, and we don’t want Ikea meatballs do we?).

Next step is making these babies…  Wet your hands because it stops the mixture sticking and roll them out into itty-bitty little balls no bigger than a walnut.  Arrange these on a rimmed baking sheet that you have lined to make cleanup easier (Actually I don’t care if you don’t line it – it is no biggie to me if you have to scrub the baking sheet!  But I lined mine because I am lazy).  I found that this mix made 54 of the little darlings…  what a pity I couldn’t squeeze one more out to take up that last space on the baking sheet!

(There should have been a picture of the tray of meatballs with one space empty in the top left hand corner inserted here)

Bake in a 190C/375F oven until cooked.  I found that about 25-30 minutes was about right.

While they are baking prepare what is to go with them.

(I had 3 pictures of the cooked meatballs to insert here – one as soon as I took them out of the oven, one after I had nommed one of them and one after A had nommed one).

Tomato Sauce

You need 2-3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce.  You could make your own but I was lazy and used one out of the freezer so I can’t tell you what is in it.   Use a store bought one if you like, I won’t mind.

Cabbage Noodles with Bacon

6 slices of amazing pastured bacon – thinly sliced

1/2 head of white cabbage – sliced thinly

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

(I had a picture of my amazing pastured bacon to insert here)

Put the bacon in a skillet over a medium heat to allow it to crisp up and the fat to render out.  The idea here is to produce as much bacony goodness (AKA bacon fat) as possible, so don’t have that heat too high – keep is low enough that you can render out most of the fat before it starts to burn.  Scoop the bacon out of the fat before it burns and toss in the garlic.  Allow to sizzle for a minute or two but don’t let it burn (burned garlic tastes horrid!) and then dump in the cabbage noodles.   Toss well and add the bacon back in.  Keep tossing until the cabbage is slightly tender but still has some bite.

Serve a big pile of cabbage noodles with the meatballs on top and then  top with the tomato sauce.

(The final picture was a plated version – the cabbage noodles with all their bacony goodness.  A pile of beautiful baby meat balls and all topped with tomato sauce)

And finally call the ravening hoards (AKA the kids) to the table.  OMMM NOMMMM NOMMMM

Italian Bar Snacks

Earlier this year, Hubby and I visited Charcut, a restaurant here in Calgary which is partially owned and run by Connie DeSousa, who was a finalist on season 1 of Top Chef Canada a couple of years ago.  I had wanted to eat there ever since I saw her on that show (did I mention that I am an avid Food Network viewer even if most of the food is not paleo?).  Anyway, since my birthday is in May, I decided that he was going to take me out to dinner there.  Since then, we have eaten there several times.

The food is incredible!  We had bone marrow with toast (I know the toast is not technically paleo, but it does help transfer the bone marrow to your mouth).  A hint here, order more than one bone marrow – one between 2 is not enough.  I am not sure even one per person is really enough!  We also ordered the Charcut board – a board filled with all different types of charcuterie, made to share.  And we had sousvide pork belly.  And cheesecake in a jar for desert (Again, non-paleo but totally delicious).

And as an amuse-bouche when we first sat down, they brought us “Italian Bar Snacks” – which they described to us as pork jerkey.

It was porky, salty, and tasted of garlic, citrus and fennel.  Delicious!  And since then I have been trying to recreate it using some of the side of pork we buy from Spragg’s Meat Shop.  I feel confident that it is safe to eat this pork dehydrated and not cooked, not only because it is the same meat that Connie deSousa uses at Charcut, but also because it is incredible quality, pasture raised meat.

Anyway, this is the recipe for the latest attempt.

Italian Bar Snacks (aka Pork Jerkey)

Makes 65-75 pieces

*Please note, this recipe uses raw, uncooked and dehydrated pork – I am happy making and consuming it because I am confident about the quality of the pork I buy.  I would only recommend you make this if you can source some really good quality, free-range, pastured pork.  Definitely not one to make with grocery store pork!

1 1/2lb thin cut pork (I used the pork schnitzel that came with our side of pork)

1 tbsp whole fennel seed

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

a good grating of black pepper

zest and juice of 2 lemons

Take the pork and cut it into long thin strips.  The ones we ate at Charcut were very much thinner than normal jerkey almost as wide as they were thick and very long a good 6-8″ long.  The ones I cut today were about half an inch thick but not as long, only about 3-4 inches long as I was limited by the size of the pieces of meat.

Put the fennel, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt, black pepper and lemon zest in a food processor and whizz it up to break up the seeds.  It is OK if it is a little bit coarse still.  Pour this mixture over the pork, add the lemon juice and mix well with your hands.

Put in the fridge to marinate for a while to allow the pork to absorb all the flavours.  The lemon juice will also “cook” the pork a little – kind of like pork ceviche.

After a couple of hours, place the pork in a dehydrator (I guess you could possible dry this out in an oven set at the lowest possible temperature as well, but I use my Excalibur Food Dehydrator that I bought me for my birthday).  I set the dehydrator at 68C/155F for making jerkey and it will dehydrate fairly quickly – a few hours is all it needs as the slices are so thin.

Nom with a cold drink….