Month: July 2014

The ultimate paleo banana bread

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Ok now, listen up, because on August 2nd I’ve decided that I’m going to start a Whole30. That means no processed foods of any kind, no sugars or honey, no dairy, and absolutely no more bastardised paleo foods (such as banana bread). For 30 whole days I’m just going to eat meat, fish, vegetables and small amounts of fruit and nuts. And no booze.

NO BOOZE?!

No booze.

So before I dive into that, I need to give you my recipe for banana bread, because a) it’s definitely not Whole30 approved, and b) I have tried them ALL, with varying results, and this is the one that makes my heart sing. The thing with paleo banana breads is that when they’re bad, they’re so dry they suck the spit right out of your mouth, but when they’re good, they’re moist and delicious and ah-mazing. This one is almost more chocolate than banana, but you can still kid yourself that you’re eating a healthy fruit thing, right? Who cares anyway, it’s a treat that’s sweet but is grain- and dairy-free. I have fed this to non-paleo people at 3am when they’re angry and drunk and they have practically wept with the deliciousness.

By the way, all the recipes that I tried used American measurements so that’s what I’m working with here. You’re just going to have to go with the cups thing – yes I know it’s annoying – or use an online converter.

Ingredients
Dry ingredients
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
Optional: 1 tbsp of chia seeds (because I put them in everything)

Wet ingredients
3 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup melted ghee (or butter)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 160°C, grease a loaf tin with butter and line with baking parchment.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients (coconut flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, bicarb of soda, salt, chia seeds (if using) in a large bowl and remove any lumps with a fork.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, honey and vanilla. Add the mashed bananas and mix well. Then add the melted butter and stir.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
5. Pour into loaf tin and bake for 45 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Banana chia pancakes

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I’ve been flirting with the overpriced packet of chia seeds in the supermarket for months, but I’d always stopped myself from buying them because of the extortionate price tag. And it is, undoubtedly, expensive stuff, probably because it’s so trendy at the moment. Chia seeds are high in fibre, high in omega 3s, high in protein, as well as being low carb, so I guess they’ve earned their title of superfood. In any case, I kept reading about them and finally got so curious that I had to try them out for myself, so I stumped the €8 for a pack and then got home to face the conundrum of what the hell to do with them.

I started by throwing spoonfuls of them into dinners at random. They’re fairly tasteless so easy enough to disguise. But then I had a bit of an epiphany and decided to add them into my toddler’s paleo pancakes and it worked a treat. She gobbles them up like a starving orphan and I get to feel intensely smug about myself for 20 minutes before she resumes her task of pushing my buttons and wrecking my house.

So here’s the recipe. You can play with the quantities yourself until you get a consistency you like. I don’t always add the ground almonds and it still works well, but it gives them a more pancakey texture if you use it.

Makes 3-4 pancakes
Ingredients
1/2 ripe banana
1 egg
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsps ground almonds

Method
1. Mash the banana, then beat in the egg and chia seeds.
2. Melt some ghee (or butter) in a frying pan on a medium heat.
3. Ladle in some mixture and cook on both sides.

Stuff I eat – in pictures

Ever wondered what us paleo cave-lurkers actually eat on a daily basis? Fear not, I have it in picture form, so, you know, not too much reading. You’re welcome.

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Lunch: Chicken salad with broccoli and Newman’s Own Italian dressing. I used to banjax myself trying (and failing) to make decent dressings but I just don’t seem to possess the skill, so why make when you can buy? This one has no hidden nasties and you know, charity and stuff.

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Lunch: Panfried salmon with zoodles, red pepper, chilli and garlic. Zoodles are awesome. If you’re Irish and balk at Americanisms, then please, feel free to call them coodles (courgette noodles). But whatever. They’re basically just grated courgettes that are stir fried for a minute or two. They’re super quick, delicious, and my toddler can’t tell the difference between them and the ones made from wheat. Then again, she’s only two. Here’s a recipe from one of my favourite paleo food sites.

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Lunch: Chicken soup made from bone broth. I added leftover roast chicken, red pepper, carrots, celery, onion and a sprinkling of chilli flakes. Yum.

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Dinner: Stuffed aubergine with pork mince, garlic, chilli, tomato and spices, served with rocket salad. I made this up as I went along and it was astoundingly tasty. If only I’d written down the recipe. Ho hum.

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Dinner: Homemade bolognese on cabbage “pasta”, which is thinly sliced white cabbage, boiled for about 5 minutes and then seasoned. It’s great for bulking out saucy (oooh, saucy) dishes without adding any weird flavours. I first came across it on this site

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Dinner: Slow cooked beef rogan josh served with pak choi and cauliflower rice. Cauliflower rice is so easy to make – just finely grate some cauliflower, fry it in ghee for a few minutes and then add seasoning. Simples. 

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Dinner: Thai green chicken curry with red pepper, green beans and cabbage pasta.

So there you have it. If you think you might require a near-ish daily visual of the food going into my belly, be sure to follow me on Instagram. It’s food for the eyes and eyes for the food. Wow, that was almost profound without being remotely profound. If only it was profane.

Bone broth

Bone broth. Sounds gross, doesn’t it? It’s one of those weird paleo things that I read about a year ago, but instead of exploring it I just made a face and got back to my ironing. That’s a joke, I never iron.

Anyway, since I’m at the height of my paleo smugness at the moment, I thought I’d save up some chicken carcasses and make a batch. I’m not going to drone on about the health benefits here. There are plenty of good articles that will tell you why it’s so awesome, and I’d only be plagarising anyway, so I’ll just say this: it’s really, really good for you. Need a little more? Ok, off the top of my head, it’s supposed to heal your gut, it’s great for joints, and it contains all sorts of minerals and amino acids that you wouldn’t otherwise get.

So I made some. I dutifully shoved the remnants of several chicken dinners into the slow cooker, covered them in water, plus a random selection of dying veg and herbs, and then left it for 20 hours. I’m not sure I’ll get the smell of not-quite chicken soup out of my soft furnishings ever again, but so be it.

Anyway, I gave a bowl of it to my hungover husband today and he loved it. I tried some myself and was surprised by its rich, almost syrupy texture. But it’s still a broth, so it’s light. It kind of tastes like stock (as you’d expect), but it has a much meatier flavour. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t be rushing to down pints of it. But then again, this is a health thing, not a taste thing, so I’ve decided I’ll use it as a base for some really awesome chicken soup. If it comes out well I’ll probably blog about it. If not, well, go on about your business, nothing to see here.

Paleo Chocolate Cake

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My husband has a thing about chocolate desserts. He considers anything that’s not chocolate strange and unnecessary. So when he turned 33 during the week I knew I had to make him a cake. A chocolate cake. And because we’re deep in paleo mode at the moment, well, you get the idea.

The only other paleo dessert I’ve ever dabbled in is chocolate brownies. They’re good, but they use up an entire jar of almond butter which, at almost €4 a jar, is pretty expensive. Plus, you know, it’s not cake. So, being the dutiful wife that I am, I searched the interweb and found this recipe and decided to give it a shot. I had to source a few weird ingredients (coconut palm sugar, I’m looking at you), but I eventually managed to scrounge everything together from a few different health food shops.

It took three hours of hardcore baking, but I’ve got to tell you, it was completely worth it. This is a rich, chocolatey, decadent cake. It is moist and delicious and I can honestly say that it’s one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever eaten. And I’m not just saying that because it’s relatively healthy. Yes, it’s gluten free, dairy free and uses naturally-derived sugars, but it is goddamn tasty and I’d definitely recommend giving it a go. So do it and eat it and delight in your own amazingness. You’ll find the recipe here.

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