Monday, January 19, 2015

Skillets and Plantain Pancakes

During the summer of 2013 I bought a new non-toxic, non-stick skillet by Green Pan.  This pan was pretty remarkable, and very non-stick for at least the first 8 months.  But with daily use it started to deteriorate.  Add to that a trip to the North Shore where I cooked with it over an open fire, it's really started to lose it's slickness. With a Christmas Amazon gift card I set my sights on a new skillet.  I didn't want to purchase another Green Pan knowing how much we use it, I wanted something that would last longer than 8 months.  This is a mindset that continues to pop up for me a lot recently; the desire to spend more on a high quality product, but have it for a really long time.  After bouncing back and forth between cast iron, some other brands of ceramic coated pans, and stainless steel, I settled on a hard-anodized aluminum 9.5" fry pan by Le-Creuset.  Some people will be aghast at the fact that I'm cooking on aluminum since studies have shown that people with Alzheimer's disease sometimes have plaques in their brain containing aluminum.  I'm not worried.  hard-anodized aluminum does not chip and flake, or give off toxic fumes like teflon.  As long as you follow the cooking and washing guidelines, this type of cook wear will last almost a lifetime, and will not leach aluminum into your food.  So far we've cooked mostly eggs in it, and just as we had hoped...THEY DON'T STICK!  Even though it's non-stick you can get a little browning on vegetables and meats as long as you don't put too much oil in it.  Not that you need to.  My over-easy eggs are so easy to flip, no more ripping the bottom and having my luscious yolk spill onto the hot surface.

Eggs over sauteed kale + Pumpkin Pancakes
I've been making lots of Paleo Plantain Pancakes for Ryan and I since discovering Sara Ballantyne's recipe.  So many gluten free/paleo recipes can be disappointing, but this one tastes almost exactly like a real pancake, and has the right texture too.  They have replaced my highly processed GF toast, and are my new favorite afterwork snack.  Coming home at 8:30pm with dinner at 4pm, can lead to some seriously weird and not always healthy late night snacking habits.  Chocolate and Almond Butter by the spoon-full anyone?  Keeping these pancakes in the freezer means I can easily come home, heat up a couple, top with coconut butter or almond butter and then get myself ready for bed.  If you cant find any plantains, they can be easily replace with pumpkin or banana.  *Note, that for people following a low carb diet, pumpkin would be a more appropriate choice.

1/6 of the recipe
11g fat, 9g saturated
23g carb *(6g if made with pumpkin)
2g fiber
3g protein

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Art of Healthy Eating-Slow Cooker Review

I've been reading Maria Emmerich's blog MariaMindBodyHealth for a couple years now.  She leans more towards the Ketogenic school of thought which I think is great for some people, but not necessary for everyone.  She has written several nutrition information (diet) books and cook books.  They seem to get mixed reviews on Amazon, people complain that all the information/recipes can be found on her website or is already in every other paleo/low carb book.  I can honestly say, there are loads of recipes in this book that are not on her website.  I love that many of the recipes are very simple, and many do not require you to brown meat before adding it to the slow-cooker.

My negative critiques about this book repeats what many other people have said, there are several grammatical errors.  In the beginning of the book, her description of several "healthy" ingredients is written in a choppy manner, I think she was trying to be brief and save room for more recipes.  A few recipes seem to have vague instructions.  For people without much cooking background this could cause a little confusion.

For people with a major dairy sensitivity, this book may not be for them.  Many recipes contain cream cheese, sour cream, or cheese.  Coconut milk could replace them in some places, but in others it simply won't work.

Some people will not agree with, or will be turned off by Maria's judicious use of stevia and xylitol.  I found it interesting that she even uses them in her savory dishes, however when I think about it, many traditional recipes do add a touch of sugar in some form to balance any bitterness or tartness from the vegetables and spices.  I have Pyure baking stevia, and have used it in a couple of the recipe and on my own a few times.  In the savory recipes such as the Chicken mole, you don't get any of the weird stevia licorice aftertaste, but I haven't made any of the desert items which use more of it.  Partially because I don't feel the need to have any desert items in the house right now just after the holidays.

So far Ryan and I have made:

Chicken Mole with cauliflower rice.  It was sooooo good!  And Ryan is now a cauliflower rice convert, mostly because he can eat it and not need to add another vegetable to the meal.

Reuben Chicken.  Another delicious and very easy recipe.  I whipped it together in about 5 minutes.  Of course anything that starts off with a jar of Bubbie's Sauerkraut is probably going to taste pretty good.

Shredded Beef.  I was actually surprised at how good this one was.  The combination of tomato and balsamic vinegar was delicious!  Confession...the recipe calls for red-wine vinegar and we didn't have any so I used balsamic and a little soy sauce.  Instead of serving it over mashed cauliflower we ate ours with baked sweet potatoes and sauteed broccoli.

Turkey (Chicken Tetrazzini).  Ryan doesn't typically like really creamy dishes such as fettucchini or chowders, so I made this one for myself while he was traveling. I'm really trying to avoid/limit dairy right now, so I left out the cream cheese and parm; instead I cubed 1/2 an avocado and threw that on top of my bowl.  It definitely would have been better with the cream cheese, but it was filling.  Drizzling some balsamic vinegar over the top also enhanced the flavor later in the week when I was out of avocados.

If you are looking for a real food slow cooker (crockpot) cookbook, I highly recommend Maria's The Art of Healthy Eating-Slow Cooker.   Even if you are not following a Primal or Low Carb diet, you won't be disappointed.