Monday, October 27, 2014

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: A Review (& Recipe!)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: A Review (& Recipe!)
Some of the latest buzz on the Paleo streets is the newest cookbook from Grass Fed Girl's Caitlin Weeks, Chef Nabil Boumrar, and Balanced Bites's Diane Sanfilippo: Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. If you've been outside the loop, then I'm here to give you a quick last minute preview before it launches TOMORROW, October 28! I have to admit that I was super excited to get my hands on a preview copy for two major reasons: 1) Um, Mediterranean ethnic food? Can we say, "Hello, flavor??!" and 2) There's AIP-friendly options in the cookbook! Whaaat?! Yep! And I'm going to give you the run-down on what that means for all of you, my fabulous AIP readers! So keep reading.

When I finally had the cookbook in my hands, I was instantly impressed with the size. There's a lot of pages and the recipes are easy to read. Of course, the photographer in me is also in love with all the drool-worthy photos—so much color and tantalizingly teasing meals photographed on almost every other page. I'm not really nervous when it comes to trying ethnic foods, and with this cookbook, there's no reservations at all! The pictures will make you ready to dig in, even if you're not so sure of the ingredients. And don't really worry about those either, because the authors have given you an easy and quick little breakdown about Mediterranean dishes, origins, regions, health and lifestyle, and how to stock your Mediterranean pantry/kitchen.

If you've been reading my blog, then you already know that I have a Portuguese and Italian heritage, and I embrace ethnic foods with gusto. And eating ethnic foods while AIP can sometimes be a struggle. Mediterranean Paleo Cooking has over 150 recipes and over 100 of them are AIP-friendly! Yes, over 100. I counted them myself! And I have to admit that I'm sure impressed with the effort the authors took to modify the recipes to AIP. A lot of times, I have seen non-AIP recipes made AIP just by stating to "omit for AIP" next to inflammatory ingredients. And while this does adapt the recipe for us, that doesn't mean the recipe is going to have much flavor. Caitlin and her contributors actually created feasible substitutions that take out the inflammatory ingredients and replaced them with other equally-flavorful options. And that kind of time and effort has to be applauded.

Now keep in mind that in the introduction, the authors/contributors clarified about the AIP-friendly options. They decided to include berry- and fruit-based spices (like black pepper and cardamom) and fresh legumes (like green beans and peas) in their AIP-friendly recipes. While originally these were considered grey area foods, Sarah Ballantyne of The Paleo Mom has since clarified in her book The Paleo Approach that these are reintroduction foods and should be avoided during the elimination phase of the protocol. Based on this, I would recommend that anyone who has not reintroduced anything yet should use caution and use their best judgment for these recipes. They are still very adaptable (simply omit the spices in question) to the elimination phase of the protocol. For someone who has successfully reintroduced these spices and foods, the recipes are perfect and are a great addition to a healing diet. I also appreciate that the authors chose to label the recipes "AIP-friendly" versus "AIP-approved". In my opinion, this wording encourages the reader to adapt the recipes accordingly without claiming them to be fully compliant.

And now for the recipes themselves. I didn't get to try as many as I wanted to, but you can be sure that I'll be reaching for this cookbook often to try lots more of them in the future.

Nacera's Lemon Ginger Chicken Tajine

This chicken dish has some great flavor, and is fairly easy to throw together. Also has a crockpot option!

Savory Chicken Kebabs

 Marinate these tasty kebab the night before, and you come home to a quick dinner that's in and out of the oven or off the grill in a flash. I don't have a grill, and the broiler worked great.
Cabbage Dolmas (Stuffed Cabbage)

This recipe looks somewhat fancy, but it turned out very easy with simple and clear directions. Give it time to simmer on the stove for a nice, rich sauce that's tomato-free.
And last but not least! I tried the Autoimmune-Friendly Banana Pancakes. Yum! Such a nice breakfast. And because these are baked, you can cook them all up at once. I even received permission to share the recipe with all of you before the cookbook launches. So make these for breakfast tomorrow and grab a copy of the cookbook!

Autoimmune-Friendly Banana Pancakes*
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Serves: 3 | Yield: 6 (3-inch) pancakes

3 medium bananas
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp arrowroot flour
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
maple syrup or honey, for serving (optional)
melted butter, ghee, or coconut oil, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
3. Spoon a few tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a pancake about 3 inches in diameter and ⅓ inch think. Repeat until all the batter is used. For a perfectly shaped pancake, use a ring mold.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the pancakes and bake for 10 more minutes.
5. Let the pancakes cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving. Top with maple syrup, honey, or melted fat of choice. Serve and enjoy.

*Shared with permission from the authors.

Be sure to grab your copy off Amazon! The book comes out tomorrow, so snag the preorder price while you can!

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking
by Caitlin Weeks, Chef Nabil Boumrar, & Diane Sanfilippo

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (AIP)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

Guess what guys?! It's day 12 of my AIP restart! If you're following along, then we're almost to the halfway point! I did experience a major flare during the first week that I'm slowly recovering from. My lesson learned? Always check your supplements and research any ingredients to source for cross-contamination or additives! This one might seem a little (ok, a lot!) obvious, but sometimes we get comfortable or busy and forget to check or think it through. So double-check everything!! Better safe than sorry!

The one thing that really helped me through my flare was consuming lots of healthy and healing bone broths. Not only is the bone broth super helpful in healing your gut, but soups are super quick and convenient when you're tired and not feeling up to par. I create some of my best dishes by throwing together a protein like chicken or beef with different veggies and adding broth and a variety of herbs. The possibilities are endless.

Even though my broths are homemade and tend to gel up beautifully (this means they are full of lots of healthy nutrients, collagen, gelatin, etc), I still like to add extra gelatin and collagen to my food and drinks as an additional supplement. Last month, I purchased a new brand of pasture-raised gelatin and collagen called Vital Proteins! So far I am super impressed with the quality. I purchased both the Collagen Peptides and the Collagen Proteins so that I could test them out for myself. I'm definitely recommending them. So what's the difference?

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
The blue and white jar is called Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. It's useful for cold or hot items because it dissolves super smooth into your drinks, smoothies, and soups. I love it as a quick extra source of collagen supplementation. I've tried it in both hot and cold liquids and so far, I haven't noticed clumps at all! Collagen Peptides comes in a nice sturdy container with a screw-tight lid and a scoop for portioning out the powder. For the most part, it's tasteless and odorless and doesn't affect the consistency much so I love putting it in my teas! I call it #collageninmycuppa (make sure to tag me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!)

Vital Proteins Collagen Protein

The green and white jar is called Vital Proteins Collagen Protein. You would use it in hot liquids like soup where it will dissolve easily, as a Gelatin Egg Replacer like He Won't Know It's Paleo recommends, and for any recipe where you want the final product to gel like gummies or puddings. The canister also is screw-tight with a scoop for easy measuring, and the gelatin doesn't clump very much at all as long as you stir consistently. I'm also impressed with the texture and taste as well.

So what does all this have to do with a smoothie?! I love putting the Collagen Peptides in my smoothies!! And I've created this delicious pumpkin pie smoothie as a nice fall treat that's super healthy with pretty much guilt-free ingredients! Just don't go overboard and eat a whole pie's worth!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
¾ cup pumpkin
1 cup fresh spinach
⅔ cup ice cubes
3 dates, pitted
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
⅛ tsp cloves
6 oz coconut milk
4 oz water
1 tbsp collagen powder

Pour all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Serve.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook: A Review (& Giveaway!)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook: A Review (& Giveaway!)
So Mickey Trescott, the blogger at Autoimmune Paleo, was gracious enough to send me a review copy of her cookbook The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook. I was beyond excited at the opportunity and jumped to say yes! I've been hearing rave reviews about the cookbook and all it's recipes. I had already tried some of the recipes from her blog and liked them all so far. One of my favorites: Sweet Potato Fries with Garlic "Mayo". We have very different styles, and I love that! I like her clean, simple, no-fuss approach to food.

At first glance, I was already digging it right out of the box. The square format is comfortable in the hand and sits open perfectly on the counter to your favorite recipe while you're cooking. The pictures are drool-worthy. Every single last one of them! I couldn't find a single picture that didn't make me want to check out the recipe and then dig right in. I also love the formatting of the recipes themselves. Each recipe shows your critical kitchen tools, the time involved, how much it makes, and how difficult the recipe is on a scale of 1-4. That takes a lot of guesswork out of it. The instructions are super easy to read and the ingredient lists are easy to scan. And the best part: each recipe has recommend storage information right at the bottom of the recipe! 

The whole cookbook is perfect for beginners (whether new to cooking in general or just new to AIP) and veterans alike. The front has tons of information from the basics of the Autoimmune Protocol to Tips & Tricks and even Meal Plans! The categories also covered the essentials, from Appetizers & Snacks all the way to Sweet Treats.

Now I'm already falling in love with the cookbook (can't you tell?), but it was time to really get cracking. I'm a foodie at heart, and I'm running a food blog so let's get serious here. The cookbook is really ALL about the food. I cooked one recipe out of each category. Here's how it went:

The Appetizer: Bacon-Wrapped Pears
These babies were simple and delicious. Perfect as an appetizer like she recommends, but I'm also seeing these guys as the main stars for breakfast or even dessert. Yes, I went there!

The Beverage: Infused Water
Refreshing and crisp. Quick and simple. Super versatile. You can't go wrong.

The Sauce: Cherry BBQ Sauce
This one is a winner. The color is gorgeous. The recipe is super easy to follow, too. And while it's super delicious as is, if you have picky eaters, it's super easy to adjust the ingredients to get a tangier or sweet sauce, depending on what you like.
Um, sauce much? Yes! I made it with Black Angus Beef ribs just to make sure it paired perfectly with chicken OR beef. It does! Also checked out her sweet potato fries, again. Just to make sure they were tasty too.

The Soup: Creamy Celeriac and Leek Soup
So I'd never had celeriac before, but I'd been wanting to try it. That's a lot of pressure for a recipe, but it didn't matter because the flavor combo was perfect. This soup is a great summer or fall dish. I'd make it again any time!

The Vegetable: Curried Cauliflower
Now cauliflower happens to be a vegetable that normally I could take it or leave it. I don't not like it, but I don't love it either. But I was definitely intrigued by this recipe. I'm so glad I gave it a shot. Not only is the coloring and display superb, but I actually enjoyed the taste of the cauliflower itself with the seasonings. I was super impressed!

The Seafood: Coconut-Crusted Cod
I was raised on lots of New England food growing up so cod is a fish I genuinely enjoy. Add in the coconut, and you don't have to ask me twice what I'm cooking for dinner. This one will be on repeat in my household as well. Next time, I will definitely make it with the suggested Mango Salsa so I can really experience the tropical flavors of the dish.

I have to admit that this cookbook is an overall winner. I felt that I could easily recreate all the recipes from start to finish, and prepare them for either myself, a family get together, or even host a dinner party. I was pleased to note that there was lots of variety, so I would find it hard to imagine that anyone wouldn't be able to find multiple recipes that they would love. If I had to find something to complain about, then I would say that I would love to see even more recipes. Hopefully, this means that we can talk her into cookbook #2!

If you'd love to get yours hands on a copy, I have great news! Mickey is providing me with a second copy to offer to one lucky winner!! Just follow the Rafflecopter rules below. If you're impatient (like me), then click the link below and order your copy now!

The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook 
by Mickey Trescott

The giveaway ends Oct. 10, 2014 so don't wait!
(Only open to US residents. Sorry to my lovely international readers.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway