Rosemary Roasted Roots

This is another great side-dish that is perfect to make when you are roasting something in the oven.

You can use any cooking fat that you have – I happened to use lard in this, but beef tallow, coconut oil or even olive oil would work perfectly well.

This recipe is 100% AIP compliant.

Rosemary Roasted Roots

serves 2-3

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  • 4 small beets – peeled and cut into quarters
  • 3 small parsnips – peeled and cut into sticks
  • 3 large carrots – peeled and cut into sticks
  • 3 tbsp lard (or other cooking fat of choice) – melted
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary – chopped
  • sea salt to taste

Peel and cut the vegetables so that they are all approximately the same size.

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Place the veggies on a roasting tray and drizzle over the melted lard.  Sprinkle over the rosemary and season with salt.

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Toss the veggies, then roast them in a 350°F oven for 50 minutes until browned and tender.

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I served these along side my Moroccan Lemon and Herb Roasted Chicken, Lemon and Thyme Braised Leeks and some steamed broccoli.

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Roasted Beets and Sweet Potatoes

I love the combination of beets and sweet potatoes.  The flavours work so well together – the earthiness of the beets along side the sweetness of the sweet potatoes.  And they look so beautiful together – that combination of purple and orange.  And then, when you consider the nutritional qualities of both beets and sweet potatoes – this makes for a very nutrient dense side.  And we are often told to eat the rainbow, so this side-dish will help you do that.  Add in some greens (sauteed kale maybe?) and you are well on your way to achieving that.

This recipe is not only Paleo/Primal, it is also AIP friendly.

If you don’t need to make enough to serve 4-6 people, this recipe is easy to cut down, but you could always make the full amount and store the leftovers in the fridge for meals later in the week.  They are also delicious cold as a snack, or for breakfast.

Roasted Beets and Sweet Potatoes

serves 4-6

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  • 4 large beets – peeled
  • 1 large sweet potato – peeled
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • sea salt
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil – melted

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Cut the beets and sweet potatoes in to similar sized chunks – I like to make them about 1-2″ in size.

Place the beets and sweet potatoes in a large bowl and add the thyme and salt, and drizzle over the melted coconut oil.  Toss well until evenly coated.

Tip the beets and sweet potatoes onto a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour until tender and slightly browned on the outside.

Serve at once.

Creamy Spinach Dip

This wonderful dip is 100% paleo despite the creaminess.  It is also dairy and gluten-free, raw and vegan to boot.  And it tastes incredibly delicious!

This is what I served the other day in the packed lunches…  I love serving dips in the kids lunches because research has shown that it is a good way of getting your kids to eat more veggies…  all I can say is that having seen what they bring back from school, it WORKS!  They will eat far more veggies (and everything else too) on the days I serve a dip…

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And with this dip, not only are they dipping and eating the veggies, there are veggies IN the dip as well….

It is great in packed lunches because it will not spoil if kept at room temperature for a few hours (the only issue is the presence of the nuts as some schools ban them), but it would also make a great appetizer or snack…  heck, I suspect it would be fab piled on top of a burger as well!

This recipe contains nuts and tahini, both of which are AIP stage 2 reintroductions.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Creamy Spinach Dip

serves 6-8

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  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 green onions – chopped
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Put the cashews and almonds in a bowl and cover with cold water.  Leave to soak for several hours.  This not only deactivates some of the anti-nutrients in the nuts, but it also is what makes the dip creamy… the nuts will absorb the water and plump up.  Don’t stint on the soaking time!  Having said that, you don’t want to go mad – you don’t want those nuts starting to sprout or go bad on you…  3-4 hours is plenty.

Drain the nuts and put in a food processor.  Dump in all the rest of the ingredients and process until thick and creamy.  If it is too thick, add a little water (you could reserve some of the nut-soaking water for this).

Transfer to a serving dish and chill until needed.

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This is great served with all kinds of veggies, veggie chips or homemade crackers.

Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip)

I often use dips as the basis of packed lunches – research has shown that children are more likely to eat veggies if they have something to dip them in, and I have certainly found it true with my kids.

The dip that I served today is a middle-eastern one based on roasted eggplants.  Roasting the eggplant makes them soft and concentrates the flavour.  And when pureed with a few other ingredients this results in a smooth, creamy but mild tasting dip.

This recipe is great for dipping veggies in for quick lunches.  It would also make a tasty appetizer and could also be used as a spread for sandwiches and roll-ups.

Because eggplant is a nightshade, this is an AIP stage 4 reintroduction.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip)

makes aprox 3 cups

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  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 cloves garlic – peeled
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.  Take your eggplants and rub them with a little oil, then place them in the oven.  Roast for 45 minutes until they are soft and squishy.  They will look wrinkled and quite unappetizing at this point.

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Next you cut them in half and scoop out all the soft flesh, leaving the skin behind.  Put all the flesh, seeds included, in a food processor.

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You can see why roasted eggplant is sometimes referred to as “eggplant caviar”.

Now add all the remaining ingredients to the food processor and pulse until it is all chopped and the resulting dip is smooth and creamy.

Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Transfer to a dish and store in the fridge until required.  Serve as a dip for veggies or paleo-crackers, as a spread in a sandwich or roll-up, or even as a sauce to top burgers.

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I served 1/2 a cup of this in the big dipper for everyone’s packed lunch along with baby carrots, sliced yellow pepper and baby cucumber for dipping.

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A Simple Chicken Dinner

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This was our dinner last night – simple, tasty and quick to cook.

And all of it came from the new farmers market that we have found at Symons Valley Ranch.

The chicken was a free-range organic one that we bought from Sunworks Farm.  It wasn’t enormous, just big enough for the 6 of us with very little leftovers.  And that meant it was very quick to cook – approximately an hour and a half in the oven.

The rest of the meal came from the produce stands at the market – roasted carrots, beets and parsnips, some braised celery (I used it to make a rack under the chicken and it cooked slowly in the chicken juices), some simply boiled purple potatoes for the kids and a big green salad dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette.  I also served the chicken cooking juices as an au jus in the gravy-boat to moisten the chicken if needed, although it was very moist and tender.

BBQ Roasted Chicken with Roasted Veg

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I don’t often cook chicken on the BBQ/grill, but when I do it always makes it taste delicious.

As it has been so hot lately, I am trying to avoid using the oven.  So how best to cook my beautiful organic chicken that I bought from the Calgary Farmers Market?  On the BBQ of course!

And while I had that grill good and hot, it seemed an obvious solution to cook a bunch of veggies on there to serve along side it.

So what did I do?

Well I based the recipe on one in yet another cookbook that I had bought from that second hand bookshop I frequent…. (This is the most awesome bookshop ever – not only are the books cheap, EVERY SINGLE PENNY goes to charity…  we shop there lots but I also donate books – every one of my non-paleo/non-paleo adaptable cookbooks got donated).  This particular book was called BBQ Food For Friends.  I have based several recipes on this one lately and some were great, some were not so great – not bad, just not worth the effort…

When I make a recipe from a book, I don’t try to do it exactly, I tweak things.  I sub ingredients I don’t have for those I do.  I change seasonings.  And because Calgary is at a fairly high altitude (the airport, which is not far from where I live is 1139 meters or 3740 feet above sea level) it means that sometimes things take longer to cook – especially when baking.  I always figure an extra 10 minutes to most cooking times…  either that or you have to up the temperature settings.  But even when BBQing, you can’t rely on the cooking times for recipes so I always tweak those too .  And I rely on my judgement – is it cooked or does it need a bit longer.

In the case of this recipe, I made the chicken pretty much as described but I didn’t put it directly on the grill – because I was worried about flare ups, I put it in a small roasting tin.  And I didn’t do the grilled zucchini that the recipe called for.  Instead I did some mixed roasted veg on the grill.

Anyhow, now to what I did…

Because this recipe contains black pepper, it is classed as an AIP stage 1 reintroduction.  If you want to make it 100% AIP compliant for the elimination phase, all you have to do is omit the black pepper.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

BBQ Roasted Chicken with Thyme and Lemon

Serves 6 (the original recipe served 4, but 1 small roaster served all 6 of us adequately)

Based on a recipe from page 18 of BBQ Food For Friends by Jane Lawson and Vanessa Broadfoot

1 4lb free-range chicken

1 bulb garlic – separated and peeled (I think my bulb had around 9 cloves in it – the original recipe calls for 10 cloves.  I couldn’t be bothered to peel that extra one!)

a bunch of thyme (the original recipe calls for lemon thyme, I just used the ordinary type)

1 lemon – halved . squeezed (reserve juice and outside, and zested)

1 tbsp coconut oil (original recipe calls for olive oil)

2 bay leaves (not in the original recipe)

1 bunch parsley with stems (not in original recipe)

unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (omit the black pepper if sensitive or strict AIP)

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So you grab hold of your chicken, and you season the cavity well with salt and pepper (omit the pepper if sensitive or strict AIP).  Then you stuff the garlic, the thyme, the lemon, the bay leaves and the parsley up it’s butt.  Just shove it all in there,   But before you push the lemon halves inside, you need to zest and then squeeze the juice out of them.  Then shove them up as well.

I bet you thought you would never be stuffing things inside the but of a chicken!   But believe me, it works…  it gives it incredible flavour.

Pour the lemon juice over the skin of the outside of the chicken, then drizzle over the coconut oil (it was hot enough here that our coconut oil was liquid…  if it is cooler where you are you may need to melt it first.  Rub that well in…  Go on, massage that bird!

Sprinkle over a little salt and pepper and some more thyme leaves and place the chicken in a small roasting tin.  If you are not worried about flareups, you could probably cook the chicken directly on the grill instead.

This chicken was cooked over an indirect heat in a grill with a lid.  Because I have a gas grill with 3 burners, I just used the outside 2 and left the middle one turned off.  And then I put the tin with the chicken in it over the middle one.  Thinking about it, because it was sitting directly over a burner that was turned off I probably didn’t need to worry about it flaring up at all…

So you preheat your grill to medium  and then put the chicken in the center of the grill, close the lid and roast for an hour to an hour and a half until the chicken is cooked and the juices are running clear.  I used a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the meat in the thickest part of the thigh just to be sure as I always get a little paranoid about undercooked chicken.  You need to cook the chicken until the internal temperature is 165F (that is around 74C).

Once the chicken was cooked, I removed it and let it sit on the side to rest while I cooked the roasted veggies.

BBQ Roasted Veggies

serves 6

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2 heads of broccoli – broken in florets

4 carrots – cut in slices

6 pattypan squash – quartered

1 red pepper cut into chunks

2 tbsp coconut oil

Thyme

sea salt

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Take all the veggies and toss them with coconut oil, thyme, and salt.  Find a roasting tin that is big enough for them to be in a single layer and dump them in.  Put the tin on the preheated grill (it should still be hot after cooking the chicken) and roast them for 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.  They are done when the carrots are tender and they have a little caremelization on them.

Serve the veggies with the chicken.

YUM!

How to get kids to eat more veggies – and a homemade mayo recipe

There has been some research that shows that kids will eat more veggies when they are paired with a dip.  Now personally I have never had a problem getting my kids to eat veggies – heck B will even eat raw brussels sprouts (Blech).  But I do know that a lot of people do struggle to get their kids to eat enough veggies.  So I thought that this piece of research was interesting.

OK so the dips used in this experiment were Miracle Whip based, which is over processed and uses questionable ingredients.  But what about a homemade dip…  Maybe one based on a homemade mayonnaise.

Homemade mayonnaise

I know making mayonnaise seems a little scary to a lot of people – they have heard stories about how it is very difficult, how it curdles easily, how it is time consuming to make, how the eggs have to be at room temperature, how they should be straight out of the fridge…  you name it.  Those stories are out there.

But really, it is easy…  I have been making mayonnaise since I learned how in Home Ec class when I was 13…  And while it has curdled on me once in a while, for the most part it works just beautifully.  And if it does curdle, it is no biggie.  You just start again with an extra egg, add the curdled mixture, followed by the rest of the oil and the only outcome is that you end up with more mayo than you planned on having in the first place.  And seeing that it keeps in the fridge for at least a week that is not a problem in my book!  But if you add the oil drop by drop it is unlikely that you will have a problem as this recipe contains mustard which is an emulsifier and helps to stop it splitting and curdling.

Ingredients

2 egg yolks

1 tsp Dijon mustard (I usually use a grainy one, but smooth works well too)

1 tsp lemon juice

300ml/1.25 cups of olive oil (If you don’t like a strong olive oil taste, you may want to use a mild tasting olive oil rather than extra virgin, or even a mix of olive oil and almond oil)

2 tbsp whey (optional) – it adds some friendly bacteria.  if you don’t do dairy you could use an acidophilus/probiotic capsule instead

2 tbsp flax oil (optional) – mitigates the effects of using almond oil somewhat.

unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

Put the egg yolks, mustard and lemon juice in a blender (you can also do this long-hand using a balloon whisk and a mixing bowl if you don’t have  blender.  It will just take longer.  Put a damp cloth under the bowl and it will stop it moving around).

Very slowly add the oil drop by drop, blending the mixture the whole time (if making this by hand it is even more vital that you really do add the oil drop by drop – adding the oil too fast is the primary reason that mayo curdles…)

As the mixture starts to thicken, you can add the oil a little faster, in a steady stream.  Don’t stop mixing (even if you are making it by hand and your arm aches… you develop good arm muscles that way!)

Taste and seasaon.

As I mentioned earlier, if it does curdle, just tip the curdled mixture back into the oil mixture, add another egg yolk  and start adding drop by drop again… don’t rush it, or it will curdle again and you will end up with a ton of mayo by the time you are done!

This recipe can be stored in a sealed jar in the fridge for at least week….  I don’t know what the upper time-limit for keeping this is because my mayo never lasts a week!  But seeing as it contains raw egg I would not be comfortable keeping it any longer.

And just to allay peoples fears of eating raw egg, yes there is a slim (very slim) chance of getting sick.  But really, unless you are already sick, immune-compromised, pregnant, very young or very old, you are going to be fine.  If you are in one of those groups I mentioned, I would not recommend that you make this mayo…  go and buy some that is made with pasteurized eggs instead.  Just read the ingredients first OK?  Back when the whole salmonella-in-eggs things blew up, some 20 years ago, my microbiology professor (I was still at university at that point) calculated that you could eat a raw egg every day and still not get sick.  And the site I linked to above says that the chance of encountering an egg contaminated with salmonella is 0.005%.  That means that the average egg consumer will only eat a contaminated egg once every 84 years.  And if you are using good eggs – organic, pastured, from a reputable source, the chance is probably even smaller than that.  And seriously, I have been making this mayo almost weekly for the past 30 years (now I have just let on how old I am!), and I have never had a problem.   Plus I add raw eggs to the smoothies that I eat for breakfast (to provide extra protein) and again, I never get sick.

Now you have your mayo base, go and make some awesome dips for the veggies.  You can flavour this base in any number of ways…  add a garlic clove with the mustard/egg-yolks/lemon and you have aioli – but your kids might not like that (it is yummy though!).  Add chopped herbs to the ready made mayo – parsley, basil, tarragon, thyme are all good.  Add chopped capers.  Add finely diced tomatoes and roasted pepper.  Add a pinch of chilli and use lime juice in place of lemon juice to make a chilli-lime mayo.  And if you add the garlic clove, and then use the chilli and lime you get an awesome chilli-lime aioli that works amazingly with oven baked sweet potato fries…..