"I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand." -Ben Franklin

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Paleo Baked Goods/Desserts

I've recently become hooked on making Paleo-friendly baked goods. After going more than a year without any cookies, brownies, or bread (and I was a complete grain-addict pre-Paleo), I realized that there are plenty of ways to Paleo-ify your desserts so you can avoid the grains and other processed garbage used in baking.

Here are some tips on how to do it:
-Instead of regular flour, use almond or coconut flour. Flax meal is also great!
-Instead of sugar, use stevia. Agave and honey can also be used in some recipes, but they're high in sugar, so beware of that. (If you need either one to gel other ingredients together, try coconut oil instead.)
-Instead of milk chocolate, use unsweetened dark chocolate.
-Coconut oil and almond butter are your new best friends.
-Instead of regular milk, use coconut or almond milk.
-If you need to make a crust for a pie, use crushed nuts, seeds, or flax.

There are plenty of resources online for Paleo-friendly baking. Here are a few of my favorites:
-Elana's Pantry. Though not a Paleo site, Elana's baking is gluten-free, and many of her dessert recipes are completely Paleokay! Her brownies are fantastic-- you'd never be able to tell that all of the ingredients are real food.
-White Lion Baking Company. If you're not a baker but want to try Paleo baked goods anyway, this is the place for you! With the slogan "We make 'healthy' taste great," this online company makes everything from cupcakes to muffins to celebration cakes, and everything is low-carb, grain-free, and gluten-free-- and they even cite Cordain, Wolf, and Taubes in the "Why Grain-Free?" section! I just received my order from them today, and their food is really delicious! (And I decided that I'm ordering my wedding cake from them if/when I get married.)
-Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations. This is a great recipe site in general, but the desserts look amazing. You can find recipes for baked goods like blueberry coconut chocolate chip scones, strawberry almond brownies, and blackberry banana muffins. Yum!
-Fast Paleo. Like CCCC, it's a recipe site with an awesome baked goods section, submitted by people from all over the internet.
-The Food Lovers' Primal Palate. This is one of my absolute favorite sites-- the recipes are amazing, and the pictures of the food are spectacular. Their dessert recipes include things like chiffon pumpkin pie, carrot cake, and even gingerbread men!
-The various Paleo and Primal cookbooks. Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint: Quick & Easy Meals (and the free reader-created cookbooks you get from joining his e-mail list), Sarah Fragoso's Everyday Paleo, Sebastien Noel's The Paleo Recipe Book, and all of the others have Paleo/Primal dessert recipes that are simple, delicious, and nutritious. They're all worth checking out!

Paleo baked goods/desserts are a blessing and a curse, however. On one hand, they're the healthy versions of unhealthy foods, and we can enjoy some of our favorite treats from our pre-Paleo days without the health problems involved. On the other hand, they might reawaken your sweet tooth or cause some major carb cravings or binging. I didn't indulge in them until after more than a year of Paleo, so I knew I wouldn't end up eating a box of oreos or a pint of ice cream if I had something chocolatey... however, I couldn't stop eating my first tray of Paleo brownies, and they just made me crave-- and eat-- more dark chocolate. My advice to you is to be very careful to have these in moderation, and avoid them completely if you're new to Paleo/just getting over carb cravings. Adjust to the Paleo lifestyle first, then slowly add these back in-- they can be addicting!

New to Paleo? Check this out:

Do you watch Expedition Impossible?:
This show (Thursdays at 9-EST on ABC) is awesome. Teams of three have to race across the deserts, mountains, and rivers of Morocco while solving puzzles in order to stay on the show-- I don't watch much TV, but this show is so cool. So why am I talking about it here? One of the teams, the Modern Gypsies, is Paleo... and has consistently been one of the best teams! Check out these interviews with them with Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson.

Quote of the Day:
"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie." -Jim Davis

Monday, July 18, 2011

Recipe: CocoNUT-Flax Chicken

If you miss breaded chicken, then this is the recipe for you! Instead of using bread crumbs or cornflakes (or any other gluten-heavy grain), try grinding up nuts and mixing them with ground flax and shredded coconut for a delicious Paleo "breading."

-flax seed, ground
-unsweetened shredded coconut
-4 chicken cutlets
-2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Grind nuts until a thin flour is formed, then combine on a plate (or in a bowl) with flax and shredded coconut and mix well.

2. Crack two eggs on a plate and add water to make an egg wash. Dip the chicken breast into the egg wash, then place it in the nut/flax/coconut flour and coat well. Place on greased pan.

3. Cook for 20 minutes (10 on each side) until slightly brown. Serve alone or with greens and enjoy!

Quote of the Day:
"Good health and good sense are two of life's greatest blessings." -Publilius Syrus

(This post is featured in Primal Cave #12.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Recipe: No-Bake CocoNUT Cookies

Ingredients (makes 12)
-1/2 cup walnuts
-1/2 cup pecans
-1/2 cup almonds
-1/2 cup flax seeds
-1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
-1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
-1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
-8 oz raw almond butter
-4 tablespoons coconut oil

1. Grind the nuts, seeds, and coconut flakes in a food processor (or by hand) until a thin flour is formed.

2. In a large bowl, combined the nuts/seeds/flakes with the cocoa powder, almond butter, and coconut oil. Mix well.

3. Scoop out about a tablespoon of mixture and set on tray. (Optional: sprinkle coconut flakes or cocoa powder over each "cookie".) Refrigerate until firm.

Quote of the Day:
"Watch what you eat, get off the couch and start being inconvenient. Eat real food, practice functional movement and stand up for environmental preservation, sustainable agriculture, peace and social justice." -Frank Forencich, Change Your Body, Change the World

(This blog is featured in Primal Cave #11.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Chia Mousse Cake

Many people have probably only heard of chia seeds in the context of those Chia Pet commercials; however, these seeds had been eaten by the Mayan and Aztec civilizations for thousands of years! While there has been some debate about whether they're considered Paleo or not (Cordain says "further human trials" should be done, Sisson says "you can certainly give chia a shot," and Gedgaudas calls them a "great source of mucilaginous fiber" and recommends them in one of her recipes), I figured I'd "give them a shot" with a recipe I modified and Paleo-ified from The Chia Company. The chia seeds give the cake a very interesting texture, and it's definitely worth trying. Enjoy!

-7 oz. unsweetened 100% dark chocolate
-1/2 cup butter
-5 large eggs, separated
-2 cups assorted nuts and/or seeds (I used almonds, walnuts, pecans, and sunflower seeds)
-1 cup and 2 tbsp. Stevia
-1/2 cup and 1 tbsp chia seeds
-coconut flakes or other toppings (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with coconut oil, then line it with a sheet of wax paper. Soak chia seeds in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes. Grind nuts well.

2. Melt butter and dark chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water and let cool.

3. Beat egg whites and 1/3 cup of Stevia until soft peaks form. Beat the remaining Stevia and egg yolks in a large bowl.

4. Pour melted chocolate over egg yolks and fold. Next, fold in the chia seeds and ground nuts. Finally, fold in the egg whites.

5. Pour mixture into pan and bake for 50 minutes. Let cool, then top it with unsweetened coconut flakes, melted dark chocolate, homemade whipped cream, or anything else... get creative and enjoy!

Quote of the Day:
"A healthy body is a guest chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison." -Sir Francis Bacon

Friday, July 1, 2011

Processed Foods and Words of Wisdom from 'Primal Body, Primal Mind'

My summer job is as a camp counselor; I work with first- and second-grade girls outdoors all day, doing things like swimming, playing sports, looking at nature, and just hanging out in the sun. I'd say it's one of the most Paleo-friendly jobs out there: playing, soaking up Vitamin D, socializing, staying active.

It saddens me so much, however, when it comes time for lunch and these girls' parents send them with complete and total crap. Their lunches are all loaded with white bread, sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), processed snack foods, bagels, juice boxes, Lunchables, soda... The list goes on. I just finished reading Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora T. Gedgaudas*, and there's an entire chapter devoted to HFCS alone: it has been linked to "diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, gout, weakened immune system, cirrhosis of the liver, osteoporosis, elevated cholesterol levels, anemia, mineral deficiency." It's no wonder that little kids are sick all the time--ingesting chemicals like this one (which is in pretty much every processed food) will make you sick. As Gedgaudas recommends, "Avoid high fructose corn syrup like the plague that it is, and beware of cheap processed, foods" because "it is among the most dangerous and damaging food additives ever created."
Further, "the consumption of high-glycemic foods, which cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, can trigger many behavioral, learning, and mood problems," with gluten being one of the biggest culprits. My girls are generally pretty good, but I notice that some kids in other groups act up a lot, and I can't help but wonder if their behaviors would change if their parents stopped sending them to camp with PB&J on white bread, a CapriSun, and a bag of chips** (plus money to buy candy or slushies at the camp's snack bar... UGH).
(So funny story: I take fish oil pills at lunch, and the girls ask me every day what they are. Yesterday, one of my campers asked, "Are those jelly beans?" and I just laughed. They're pretty much the farthest things from jelly beans out there!)
*Note: Buy this book. It was absolutely fascinating and provided so much interesting (and sometimes scary) information that everyone should know about-- it'll be one of the best $11.46 you've ever spent.
**Note 2: A study recently said that potato chips are the worst culprit for weight gain. Don't eat them... and don't let your kids eat them either!

Speaking of HFCS and disgusting processed foods, check out Slate's Ingredients Quiz, in which you match the ingredient list given with the processed food. I only got TWO out of eleven correct-- the lists were so long and contained so many things/chemicals I'd never heard of that it was nearly impossible to guess correctly! I was actually horrified after taking this quiz, and I can't believe that I used to eat some of these foods-- disgusting! Don't put that harmful stuff in your body!
Here's another (frightening) tidbit from Gedgaudas's book on this subject: "The researchers who developed sucralose, also known as Splenda, originally started out in an attempt to create an insecticide." Moral of the story: read all of your labels carefully, be wary of artificial sweeteners and ALL chemicals (especially HFCS), and "Remember: If it comes out of a test tube, it's not food." And in the words of health/fitness guru Jack LaLanne, "If man made it, hate it."

In more disgusting food news, the fast food chains Sonic and Burger King will now be offering beer and wine. Just great: so now customers can wash down crap with high-calorie beers (made from gluten-containing grains) and wine. How wonderful.

It's July 4th weekend, which means barbecues and parties for most people, so please try and make good food decisions-- eat your hamburger without the bun (nothing wrong with grabbing the lettuce and making yourself a nice hamburger salad!), avoid the chips and desserts, and drink lots of water! While temptation will most likely be lurking around every corner, don't put crap into your body! Your body deserves real food; your health relies on it!

Paleo at Penn now has a Facebook page! A big thank you to all of you who have "liked" it already-- you guys grok!

Happy Canada Day to my Canadian readers, happy 4th of July to all of you here in the U.S., and happy any other holiday/have a good weekend to everyone else! Grok on!

I love cavemen comics:

Quote of the Day:
"Taking control of your health is the single most foundational means of taking control of your own future. Without our health and clarity of mind, we have nothing." -Nora T. Gedgaudas, Primal Body, Primal Mind