February 15, 2012

Dark Days Soup with Sprouts

In February my fancy turns to sprouts.  The seed catalogs are busy teasing us with their endless varieties of tomatoes and basil and I'm itching to grow something---anything!  So I sprout, usually mung beans and alfalfa though I keep meaning to branch out with radish or broccoli seeds.  I do not recommend the mixed bag of sprout seeds, they always turn out yucky.  Last year I made a lot of egg foo young omelets with my mung bean sprouts but yesterday Penny's stomach was bothering her and so I decided to make a small pot of soup instead.

This is my Dark Days meal for the week and includes home grown mung bean sprouts, 9 Bean Rows pac choi and onion, garlic from The Saturday Farmers Market at the Village and beef bone broth made from Gallagher's Centennial Farm.  The process was nothing fancy: melt frozen broth, add sliced onion and garlic along with salt to taste and ginger, bring to a simmer, add chopped pac choi and return to a simmer, remove from heat, pour into bowls and top with mung bean sprouts and if desired a squeeze of lime, a splash of fish sauce and maybe some chili oil.

P.S.  Check out this nice article on Gallagher's Centennial Farm.
Visit Not Dabbling In Normal on Sundays for the round up of Dark Days meals.

February 14, 2012

Chocolate Pots de Creme (dairy free and date sweetened)

My foray into non-Whole 30 foods didn't go quite as well as I previously reported.  A few days after my "cheating" I had a few break outs and gained back a little weight.  I felt even worse after tasting frosting (very little) I made for potluck cupcakes, obviously a dumb idea.  Feeling fuzzy-headed and sluggish were my main complaints. I detoxed by eating tons of raw vegetables for a few days and that has made me feel much better. I just need to figure out what starchy/sweet foods agree with me and which ones don't.  It's all a big crazy experiment anyway since I really don't have any confidence that anyone knows what we should eat.  Sometimes I think about all the people that seem to be thriving on fast food and vending machine fodder and wonder what in the world is the difference between me and them.  Is body chemistry, self control, portion sizes, nurture, nature...?

Anyway, it's Valentine's Day and I knew I would never get through the whole day without something chocolate.  I let Alex stay up late last night because he was thoroughly engrossed in a book, Mousenet, and Penny had fallen asleep super early so I was wasting time reading blogs.  I came across a recipe for Pots de Creme on Pioneer Woman. I usually read her blog only for the photography and homeschooling ideas because the delicious-looking real butter and cheese in her food torture me; but something made me check out this recipe.  I was thrilled to find out that it was already dairy free and so simple!

The amount of sugar in the original recipe is relatively low, coming only from the semi-sweet chocolate, but I wanted to try and make these a little more nutritionally dense.  I took inspiration from the white chocolate both my children love from Organic Nectars.  They use cashews in place of milk powder so I used some cashews to lighten my unsweetened chocolate.  I added my favorite natural sweetener, dates, and changed the flavorings to suit my mood.  Probably these should now have a different name but I have had the real thing and these are better than quite a few that bore that name honestly with real cream.  Be sure to take your time and fully blend the mixture so you get the creamiest texture possible with your blender.  And don't be surprised if you want to eat them all at room temperature once you take a taste.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Pots de Creme
Based on Pioneer Woman's Pots de Creme a L'orange recipe
Makes 6-8 servings, halves easily but requires more scraping while blending

6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
3 oz (1/2 cup) raw cashews
6 oz dates or date paste, (~1 cup packed, pitted dates)
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup very hot water

-Add the chocolate, cashews, dates, eggs, salt and vanilla to a blender and blend until everything is combined and the cashews and dates are mostly smooth.  You may need to stop and scrape down the sides a few times to get everything together.
-With the blender running, slowly add the hot water through the hole in the lid.  After all the water is added, stop the blender and scrape down the sides.  Blend again until very smooth, scraping more as needed.
-Spoon into cups or jars.  Serve either right away because it is pudding-like warm from the blender or chill and eat cold, chilled it is very rich and almost like frosting.

You could replace the hot water with hot coffee and/or replace the vanilla extract with Grand Marnier, Chambord or other liquor

After nearly 10 years of product loyalty, I gave up using Paint Shop Pro last fall and have been slowly learning my way around Adobe Photo Shop.  I figured I was finally ready to try using some actions.  Here is Penny with PW's Old West action.  You can download her action sets here.  

February 7, 2012

Dark Days Frittata

For this week's Dark Days of Winter Challenge I give you a cell phone photo of a potluck dish-- not my best entry but at least it's something.  To the potluck today, I brought a frittata made with 9 Bean Rows turnip greens and red onions, eggs from The Saturday Farmers Market at the Village and my home-smoked ham I made with the half hog from Bare Knuckle Farm.  I can't vouch for the salad and apple I had with it but given the company it was quite possible they were local and/or organic.
Visit Not Dabbling In Normal on Sundays for the round up of Dark Days meals. You can also visit our coordinator at Unearthing this Life to see some of our Midwest group entres.  

February 5, 2012

Whole 30 Wrap-up

I completed my Whole 30!!  It was a very positive experience and I have been feeling pretty great.  I lost 9 pounds which broke through my weight plateau, I feel more energetic overall and I've had better sleep.  Take that last one in context, I do have a co-sleeping toddler.   I found that eating full paleo really seems to have much more of an impact compared to when I gave up wheat last year, where I saw little to no changes.  I notice a difference with no honey or maple syrup and limiting the amount of fruit I eat, especially dried.  Even with those restrictions I don't think I'm eating anywhere near low-carb but I wonder how sustainable it will be in the long run.  Sweet things tend to be a slippery slope for me even when I avoid all refined sugar.  I also think there is a significant benefit to making sure I get raw, dark green leafy vegetables every day.  I only had one or two days without a big salad, usually with at least some raw kale.  The salads gave me a chance to be more creative so they didn't all taste the same, and really helped cravings.  I do look forward to allowing myself to "cheat" occasionally, especially in social situations.  So far I've let myself have a "carb up" day this past Friday.  I had almond flour pancakes (with a tiny amount of maple syrup), bacon (which I had been avoiding because of the sugar), roasted white potatoes and some coconut milk ice cream.  Of course I also ate salads, other vegetables and some meat that day too.  Only the bacon seemed to give my stomach trouble.  Maybe it was just too much of a sugar/salt/fat punch and I need to take it slower?  For my current plan I would like to keep eating clean paleo but allow myself 3-4 small indiscretions a week, IE something sweet or starchy.   I can't decide if it's better to keep them all in one day or spread them out.  I'll just have to wait and work it out as I go.

February 1, 2012

Dark Days Smoked Paprika Turnips and Kale

To complete this week's Dark Days challenge I made lunch today using turnips, kale and onions from my 9 Bean Rows winter CSA share.  I saw this recipe for Smoky Roasted Turnips on The Food Lover's Primal Palate but didn't feel like waiting for the oven to heat up. I then started thinking about bubble and squeak and so added kale.  A fried egg from our ducks seemed like a good bump of protein.  I had bacon fat on hand but thought the flavor of olive oil would be good with the pimenton and so I used oil from Higher Grounds.  It was delicious and when Penny noticed me eating she ran over and stole a bunch even though there was enough hot pimenton to give a little burn.  She's my little firecracker!
Smoked Paprika Turnips and Kale (with an egg)
Add peeled and cubed turnips to salted boiling water and cook just until tender.  Drain immediately and allow the extra steam to evaporate off.  Soften some sliced onion in olive oil in a cast iron pan.  Add the turnips and sprinkle hot pimenton (smoked paprika) and cracked black pepper to taste.  Cook over medium/high until the turnips and onions are caramelized.  Add in chopped kale and toss to wilt.  Push the vegetables over to one side and add a little more olive oil to the empty side.  Crack in an egg and cook to your taste, I love crispy edges!  Serve with the egg on top for runny yolk awesomeness.
Visit Not Dabbling In Normal on Sundays for the round up of Dark Days meals. You can also visit our coordinator at Unearthing this Life to see some of our Midwest group entres.  

Penny's rainbow nose
Paint covered hands!
I may regret reading this book to her a few days ago.