Sunday, 27 January 2013

Berry-Balsamic Salad Dressing

This one isn't rocket-science.  But its amazing how long I fretted about salad dressing when I first started eating this way.  In fact, I avoided salads for a very long time because I simply could not reproduce the commercial-tasting salad dressings I grew up with.

Then I tried this recipe and it all changed.  Sure, roasted strawberries are freaking awesome in salad dressing.  But you know what?  ANY berry would work in this adapted basic recipe.

Everyone needs a few fast and flexible salad dressing recipes.  I'm crazy about mixed greens salads with fruit and grilled meat together, or nuts, or cheese and fruit.  Ever grill peaches on the bbq?  Or mango?  Try chicken and peaches with this salad dressing using blueberries in it.    Best of all, this recipe can help you clean out the freezer a bit.  Dig deep people.  Find those berries you hand-picked last year, or the year before, and experiment!!

1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c balsamic vinegar
1 c fresh or frozen berries, your choice
1 Tbs dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
salt and pepper

Puree all in blender or magic bullet and store 1-2 weeks in a re-purposed salad dressing bottle.

So far I've tried this with strawberries, roasted strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.  I bet mixed berries or even peaches would be awesome.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Lacto-Fermented Stewed Rhubarb

The fantasy....
You know, I have to admit, this one took me a while to figure out.

I love rhubarb.  I am crazy about it.  In previous years, I have made rhubarb pies, rhubarb crisps, stewed rhubarb with custard, rhubarb chutneys, rhubarb beverages and even rhubar-be-que sauce.

Yes, I have.

I love rhubarb so much that I actually hoard it in my freezer.  People give it to me, and I hide it away and proceed to not use it, to save it for some "special" enough event that never seems to happen.  So it was that I came upon some frozen rhubarb my mom gave me dated 2010 while I was cleaning out my freezer.  And in my current fermentation-mad state of mind, I thought---ooooh, I could ferment me some of that!  So I tried to make rhubarb chutney.  Ewwwww.  Seriously.  And I tried to adapt a fruit kimchi recipe I saw, substituting rhubarb.  Ewwwww.  It just wasn't working out.  What I really loved most of all was stewed rhubarb and none of these were anything like that.  How could something so delicious go so wrong?  I mean, rhubarb was one of those magical foods that spans both sweet and savoury.  How could it suck so much??

Eventually, it dawned on me.

Rhubarb, unlike pretty much every other fruit and most veggies, was not meant to be eaten raw.  There was no amount of sweetener, no amount of time spent fermenting, no amount of freezer burn, that could overcome the woody stringy texture of raw rhubarb.

The reality
So why not cook it?

I know, I know.  It seems so obvious now.  Why NOT cook it?  Because we think that heat kills the bacteria we want to colonate in fermented foods?  It does.  But let's be honest, the level of freezer burn on this rhubarb probably killed the bacteria first.  So we need to add bacteria back into it to make this work.  It's not such a huge deal.  We do the same thing when we make fermented sauces, when we add acids like lemon juices and vinegars, and at other times, too.

Whaaaat--stewed rhubarb needs sugar, too?  Also no big deal.  We add sugar when making kombucha, too, in fact, sugar feeds the bacteria which makes them happy and so they populate faster.  Sounds win-win to me.

So if you, like me, love stewed rhubarb, but were avoiding it because of the sugar content, try making it this way instead.  Don't feel guilty.  Your belly will thank you.

Not much sugar is used in this recipe, but it is sugar and not honey.  Some say that honey has antibacterial properties, so I steer away from it with most of my ferments.  But any other real, raw, natural sugar would do--maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc.  I like my stewed rhubarb a little tart, so I just didn't put much in.  Mashing up strawberries not only sweetens it without added sugar, it also adds bacteria back into it, increasing the fermentation.

If you can't tolerate even the slightest dairy (whey does come from strained yogurt or kefir, after all, be it cow, sheep, or goat) then you could try a culture starter packet.  I haven't used these myself since I find whey pretty safe for my stomach.  Let me know if you do!  You could also use the liquid from a previous ferment--but who wants their rhubarb to taste like sauerkraut or pickles???  Not me.


2 c rhubarb, previously frozen or fresh
2 Tbs raw sugar (I used cane sugar)
1/2 c strawberries
1/4 c whey (or starter of choice)


In medium saucepan on medium heat, simmer rhubarb until it is cooked soft and sauce-like in consistency.  If you're using fresh rhubarb, you may need to add some filtered water.  Once it cooks down, add sugar.

Remove from heat and let cool.  This is important.  Heat will kill the bacteria in your whey or starter culture.  Let it go cold.

Mash your strawberries, or puree them with a magic bullet.  Stir them into the cooled rhubarb.  Stir in your whey.  Pour it into a glass jar and cover it loosely with the lid.  Leave it out on the counter for 2 days.  Taste, stir, close tightly, and move to fridge.  You're done.

Serve as-is, or over plain yogurt, or in a smoothie, or over coconut milk ice cream.  Or let me know what wild and crazy way you choose to eat this awesome stuff!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Paleo Life presents.... Fats; the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Finally, the next instructional video from Paleo Life.  A 2-parter on Fats; the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  Letting go of the phobia of fat.  Understanding all the kinds of fats we eat, why we eat certain fats in abundance, and why we want to avoid other fats.  A special presentation by Summer Innanen.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Raspberries & Cream

Get some gelatin into you!!  Seriously, you can still eat jello--at least, the home made kind.

Here's a fun food to amuse your kids with (or the kid inside of you).  Always have fun with your food, I say! Don't get all "food is just sustenance" on me.  Enjoy it--life is short.  The kids don't need to know that this is GOOD for them.  It'll be our little secret.

Gelatin is one of those things that we just can't get enough of in our diet.  Our ancestors would have eaten a lot more bone-broths than we do, and more organs, and skin, and everything else in between.  Even though I love cooking bone-in meats, and making bone broths and soups, I still very much doubt I'm getting anything near an optimal level.

Isn't that alone a good enough reason to still eat jello??

Ok, if you need more reasons to love gelatin, read this and this.  Do TRY to find a good/healthy source of gelatin powder, though, if you can.

Did you ever make jello with milk or cream as a kid?  You got this lighter, mellower fluffy stuff kind-of like a mousse.  That stuff was even better than the real deal.  And this is a spin on that idea.

Next time, I'm adding more liquid.  My gelatin cubes were sweet and delicious, but a bit...dense.  Next time, light and fluffy!!

This recipe was adapted from a Keto Cook recipe here

Do TRY to find a good/healthy source of gelatin powder, though, if you can.


3/4 c heavy cream or coconut milk--up to 2 cups worth
1 c frozen berries
1 pkt gelatin--or 1 Tbs if loose measure
scoop stevia, optional and not necessary


Thaw and mash berries, mix berries, sweetener, gelatin and cream in microwave-safe dish and heat, stirring frequently, 30 seconds at a time, until boiling.  Pour into a mold or loaf pan and refrigerate until set. Cube and serve as you wish.  How about whipping some coconut whipped cream with that?  You'll be a hero in your family.

Sunday, 13 January 2013


I'm a little embarrassed to admit it--this one flew completely under my radar for far too long.  While I am constantly reading the latest buzz in the paleo-bloggo-sphere, I paid little heed to any discussions on GMOs.  I figured, let the USA sort it out, and we'll soon follow.

Because we Canadians do that.

I know, eh, how could I be so ignorant?  Well, at a recent Toronto Paleo Meetup (our End Of Year Holiday Meetup), in the middle of an unrelated discussion, I had asked why organic produce really meant so much to so many, when nutritionally-speaking, locally bought was far more important?  And the answer was....GMOs.

Which made me wonder; why did I have such a blind spot for GMOs?  And what the heck are GMOs anyways?

Wow, did that ever open a can of worms.  And a lot of reading.  Followed by more reading.

Don't confuse GMOs with plant hybridization or selective breeding.  Creating a new hybrid plant or plant food involves cross-pollinating or cross-breeding similar plants/species and this has been done for thousands of years (really!)  Genetic modification, on the other hand, means altering the thing in question on a molecular level.  Someone somewhere has taken a splice of this thing in a petri dish and added or removed genes to create a whole new thing.  They are adding foreign objects to our foods on a molecular level, making them...well...foreign objects, which are no longer food, as far as our bodies are concerned.  It is possible that our bodies can no longer identify this new object as a food source at all.  It is also possible that this new thing ISN'T a food source at all.  It is simply a thing.  Not a food, but a filler item just like the "cellulose" they put in bread (which is actually wood shavings--generally harmless but indigestible fibers that add bulk very cheaply, but also reduce the nutritional breakdown of the food even further than the grains themselves, if you can get past the fact that its a grain-based product to begin with, and therefore "crap" as far as we paleo advocates are already concerned).

In some cases, these GMOs are very harmful things.  Like how they insert pesticides (the Bt toxin) into corn, on that molecular level, so the pesticide exists all through the grain rather than just on the surface.  This pesticide-saturated corn causes insects stomachs to explode, as it is actually MEANT to do to repel them from eating it.  If it does that to tiny little insect stomachs, how can it not cause damage to our stomachs when we eat vastly larger quantities of it than the insects do?  Are we really so incredibly genetically different from insects that we think this poison won't affect us?

Has that got you thinking?  Well, if it did that to insects, look at what it's doing to lab rats on this YouTube video, below....

GMO, Global Alert

Now, don't get me wrong.  In the medical field, genetic modification has done good things so I'm not going to take my stand on all GMOs across the board.  Insulin is produced from genetic modification.  So is human growth hormone.  GMOs allowed us to produce a "blue" rose, and blue carnations--certainly nothing the world really needed, but something of beauty to look at, still.

Did you know that Canada is the 3rd largest producer of GMOs?  This, according to Environment Canada, in reference to crops and fish (here).  It is not something we should be proud of.

These things always start out with all the right intentions.  Take Enviropig for example.  Created by the University of Guelph, Eviropig was created to need less feed, particularly phosphorus supplementation.  The desire was to have them absorb the phosphorus better from the grains they eat (and therefore poop less of it out) because pigs produce high-phosphorus-content poop which runs off into the watershed, which causes duckweed overgrowth in our waters, which chokes out the fish in the rivers and lakes.   The pigs were meant to be an environmentally-friendly foodstuff and to solve a worldwide farm-related pollution problem.  But the patent for the pigs is owned by Ontario Pork and they recently pulled the plug on the project.  As far back as April, 2012, the University was looking for new funding for their project after Ontario Pork turned their back on them (article here), but according to a Huffington Post article on Dec. 11, (here), those pigs were quietly euthanized, ending any possibility of later discovering what that level of genetic tampering actually did to the quality of the meat they produced.  Ontario Pork is claiming that now that the ability to do this has been proven, it's job is done and any continued research should be taken over by private organizations from this point.  But is that really what happened?  Or did GMOs suddenly become too hot a topic for Ontario Pork to want their name attached to it?

Who knows what eating high-phosporus-content pork does to us?  Some things are better off just left alone, I say.  There must be a better way to solve the problem.  I'm curious what the phosphorus content of a grassfed, pastured pig looks like when compared alongside a grain-fed pig.  Would a pig not be able to absorb the phosporus better from grass, a natural food source, than grain?  Who knows.  I'm not a scientist. I'm just sayin'.  And by the way, they're also experimenting with cows that produce milk that is bio-identical to human breast milk, for women who cannot breastfeed.  But that totally overlooks all the other benefits of breastfeeding, like colustrum, the boost infants get from their mother's immune system, and the mother's gut bacteria, both of which are critical to long-term good health in infants.  Hmmm.  Kind-of like trying to treat hemophilia with a band-aid, isn't it?

Certainly, there is a place for GMOs.  It's called gene therapy, and it has huge implications in stem cell therapy, cancer research, cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy.

...but sometimes we do stuff just to prove we can.  Like GloFish.  Yes, we made glow-in-the-dark fish to keep as pets just because.  There was no need.  I guess somewhere they figured there was a want, though.

I think that the issue that bothers me most is not the crossing of things like tomatoes and shellfish (though for those with allergies it might definitely be)--its the crossing of food things with non-food things like pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics inserted into the plants.  I may not always support organic produce or worry about my pesticide exposure from the foods I eat, but this kind of tampering brings it to a new level of awareness and concern for me.

The initial idea behind each and every GMO is an altruistic one, I know.  Mosquitoes unleashed into the population with a lethal gene that kills any mosquitoes with malaria might help avoid the 1M deaths/year from malaria, but what will a severely reduced mosquito population do to the bird population?  What will ingesting thousands of mosquitoes with a lethal gene in them do to those birds?  What will happen to the tens of thousands of acres of farmland where BT toxin-corn is being grown, as year after year bits of the plants fall off and decompose into the earth and the toxin becomes completely saturated into the soil?  What strange chemical will we THEN have to add to the soil to negate the effects of the decomposed BT toxin?  Where does it end?

A shortage of proof that something is harmful does not mean it is good for us.  It means that we need to slow down and study things further, and we need to regulate what we can and cannot be allowed to do with everything around us.  I'm not talking about how we don't have the right to play God--that's a whole discussion unto itself.  And I don't think anyone would try to prevent using GMOs for cancer research, treating Parkinson's, ALS or other medical studies.  I'm talking about glow in the dark catsscorpion-toxic cabbagesilk-milk goatslow-flatulence cows and so many other idiotic strangeness.  Surely, our resources are better spent elsewhere.

Seeing as how I'm no scientist and I barely scratched the surface on this whole GMO thing,  here are a few more good site links on GMOs to keep you reading.....

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Oh-My Caramel Sauce

Oh, how I love butter.  If I could, I would marry you, butter.  I put butter on everything.  Butter makes it better.  Never were more true words spoken.

There is something innately satisfying about eating fat, isn't there?  I mean, not just eating fat alone--no matter how many olives I eat, I am not full--grossed-out eventually, yes, but not actually full.  But fat added to foods just enhances every flavour; it gives any food a certain rich, toothy, satisfying feeling.  It adds a layer of flavour that allows you to push away from the table totally happy and sated.  Like gravy made with all the drippings.  Don't de-fat that sauce, silly!  Get it into you!  Chicken with the skin on is always tastier than skinless, no matter how you prepare it.  And you don't have to do anything fancy when you add fat to foods; the fat makes things taste better in the most SIMPLE of ways.  Nothing complicated, nothing weird.

Its hard to believe that you can make a silky sweet caramel sauce without a crap-tonne of sugar--or at least a whole bunch of really weird ingredients--but it turns out that it's one of the most simple, basic recipes out there--just fat with fat, really.  On a Whole-30 or 21-DSD, you could even just omit any sweetener at all--if you're dipping apples, there will be enough sweetness in the apples alone.  The real trick here is in letting the butter brown--but stopping before it burns.  If you like a salt-caramel flavour, go with salted butter.  It you're a purist, go with unsalted butter.  Either way, this snack food is so rich and fatty, it will keep you feeling satisfied for HOURS.  Seriously.  And happy.  Because it's freakin' delicious.

This recipe is super-rich so make sure you divide it into at least 3 servings!  (And if you have trouble digesting fats, go easy on it at first, ok?)  Remember, even though its really low in carbs, that doesn't mean you can eat a cup of it.  All things in moderation.

I could have browned the butter a little more, even.  It is a little light in colour.  I was afraid of burning it.  And it STILL tasted awesome!

This recipe idea came from Keto Cook here (with a couple of modifications).  You might be able to try this with full-fat coconut milk.  I haven't tried it with coconut milk yet.  Maybe next time....


  • 1/4 c butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 1/4 c full-fat (whipping) cream
  • 1/4 tsp maple sugar
  • 2 scoops stevia (equal to flavour of 2 tsp sugar)
  • splash vanilla

In a non-stick pan, melt butter over med-low heat and stir occasionally until it begins to turn light brown.  Th butter will boil a bit, the milk solids will separate and then the bubbling will settle down and it's ready at this point. Remove from heat, stir in cream and sweeteners, return to heat and stir as it bubbles until it becomes sticky and it all mixes together properly and it thickens slightly (this second part goes really fast--it only takes about a minute).  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Let it cool.

Serve for dipping apple slices.

I bet this stuff tastes just awesome as a butterscotch ripple through some coconut milk ice cream...maybe even with pecans.  Hmmm....

It sets pretty firm, too, in the fridge.  Might be able to turn it into fudge with a little experimentation, too.  I wonder if I could keep the ingredients sugar-and-sweetener-free doing it??

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Chicken Curry

Like the new counter-top?  This is what we did on New Year's Eve.  I know, I'm such a party animal.  Just wait until you see the back-splash, then you'll know I'm a party animal!!

Oh, waaay off-topic, Cindi.

So, I never grew up with curry.  I did not have some distant grandparent who cooked anything like this.  And despite common belief, I was not fed any kind of curry while I was in Ireland, either time that I was there (isn't everyone in the UK crazy about curry??).  My family members all swore they hated curry.  But I gotta be honest; cooking chicken in a can of coconut milk with some spices is awfully simple and therefore appealing to me.  I tried a few different versions of other people's chicken curry recipes, tried blending my own spices, tried dried curry powder vs. curry paste.  This recipe went over especially well with my family.  But it was a bit fussy with all those spices in it.  And what if you had bone-in chicken in your freezer?  Because I've been buying mine from a free-range chicken source, and it always comes bone-in and skin-on...

Then, I found a curry paste that seemed to go with everything, and started making my tandoori fish recipe with it (which I am especially fond of) and making a curried-mayo dip for myself every time I eat carrot fries or sweet potato fries, and this dead-simple recipe made my family pretty much forget that they didn't like curry.

So I wrote this recipe to work with chicken both ways--either bone-in or boneless.  You can add root vegetables and make it stew-like or just chicken in sauce--and serve it over any greens you happen to like.  Just don't serve it over mashed cauli.  Because we already all eat enough of that.  I hear there are other vegetables out there...  Nuff said.


  • 2 lbs bone-in chicken pieces, OR 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken, cubed
  • fat of choice
  • 1/2 large spanish onion or 1 small cooking onion
  • couple of veggies of choice--carrots, turnips (optional), peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • greens (kale, spinach, chard, or cabbage--whatever you like, I used bok choy)
  • 1 Tbs curry paste, whatever kind you like (I like Patak's Mild Curry Paste)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • cilantro (optional)


Heat skillet over med-hi heat.  If using bone-in chicken, fry chicken pieces in fat of choice, just to brown on all sides.  If using boneless, skip this step--you can poach the chicken in the sauce if it is boneless.

Remove bone-in chicken to a plate, and saute chopped onion in the fat and chicken drippings.  If using boneless chicken, start here by frying onions in fat of choice.

Lower heat and add bone-in chicken back into the pan.  If using boneless, add chicken here, along with your root veggies, curry paste, lemon juice, and coconut milk.  Cover pan and allow to simmer until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender.  Add cilantro just before serving.

Meantime, heat a separate pan over medium heat.  Chop/shred greens, rinse them to wet them down, and simmer in pan until cooked down and soft.  If you are using cabbage, this will take a bit longer and you may need to add more water to keep it from scorching.

Serve greens onto plates, then serve chicken curry ontop of it.