Thursday, August 21, 2014

A New Home!

I've moved my blog over to simplepaleocook.com and switched to using WordPress! Everything seems to be working already; I'll be making some adjustments over the next couple of weeks to tweak things but so far so good!

Come visit my new home @ http://www.simplepaleocook.com =).

Thanks for reading!!! =)

Perry
-The Simple Paleo Cook

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Best Paleo Granola Ever

On Saturday I found myself sitting at a table full of theater folks after watching a great local play (link here) presented by The Bathhouse Ensemble and Seattle Public Theater. The thought, "How did I get here?" crossed my mind. Funny enough, the play was about love, not being perfect, and the awkward and beautiful journey we all go on in this short, delicate, and wonderful life. I couldn't help but relate as I've had my fair share of awkward, painful, and joyous relationships in my thus short twenty-seven years on this planet.

Today I found myself in an ice cave. It was a great day. Swimming in a glacial lake fresh from an ice cave in the middle of a Seattle summer, some minor climbing, and of course, the best Paleo granola ever alongside some delicious homemade maple-sage elk and beef jerky (using local meats). There is something about climbing up high enough to be in a dripping, cold, unexpected ice cave with friends that just sits right with me (it honestly wasn't the best idea in the world -- melting ice caves are dangerous). Fueled by a huge Paleo breakfast and a bunch of good snacks (chipmunk approved!), Lake 22 was an awesome hike.

Lake 22 was my second hike in recent months. I want more. Something about nature is powerful. You can just be present and let everything else go. I'll admit the past three or four months haven't been easy for me. It's hard when you make some of life's bigger mistakes and find yourself on your own, alone, and frankly sad. Then life happens. I was lucky. I stumbled across eating Paleo in an effort to take better care of my body without denying myself. I stumbled across yoga from a colleague and have been hooked ever since. I stumbled across some good friends just by being my loving self. I stumbled across Radical Acceptance with a simple Google search. It guided me to mindful meditation. I came to realize how much yoga is about being mindful. Being present. Being right here right now. Accepting yourself just as you are. Life is powerful. Don't ever give up hope.

I won't.

Hiking =).
Ice cave!
The Best Paleo Granola Ever
Granola can be healthy. Mostly. The granola I made and am posting about here falls somewhere in between healthy and dessert-like. I wouldn't eat it every day, but in moderation I think it's fine. Or when you're hiking. Then I just say go all out and enjoy it. I know I did. I also enjoyed sharing it with everybody else I was hiking with. Sharing food is one of my favorite things, even if I can barley afford to feed myself. Non-hoarding and sharing the love are part of who I am.

This granola came in two parts. The first batch I made according to a wonderful recipe from Nom Nom Paleo, you can find it here. Michelle Tam rocks some seriously good food. I use her cookbook and website regularly and highly recommend it. I haven't yet asked Michelle for permission to re-post her recipe; So for now, follow the link to her site and make that Tropical Paleo Granola. It rocks. I didn't have any macadamia nuts and so I ended up using the same volume or so of any mix of what I had on hand: (soaked/dehydrated) almonds, cashews, walnuts, hulled sunflower seeds, and pecans.

Make Nom Nom Paleo's Tropical Paleo Granola. If you want to make it just like I did, make sure you soak/dehydrate your nuts/seeds overnight (7-10 hours) and then dehydrate them for 10-14 hours or so. I could get more advanced but usually don't. Different nuts probably want to soak for different times, and one day I'll hopefully have a dehydrator that has settings. Mine has two settings: blowing hot air, and not blowing hot air. I think it runs around 150 degrees F (not ideal, but it works).
Nuts/seeds ready to soak overnight. I use 1-2 tbsp of sea salt and cover the nuts with filtered water. I usually let them soak overnight and then rinse them well and put them in the dehydrator in the morning. When I come home from my day in the evening I'm always happy to have a warm bowl of nuts/honey before I jar up my nuts and put them in the fridge.
Prepping for Nom Nom Paleo's Tropical Paleo Granola =).
The wet ingredients ready to process. This mix smelled and tasted delicious.
Nice and processed =). Thank you Michelle Tam and Nom Nom Paleo! This stuff rocks...
My dry ingredient mix. A bit different than Michelle's. Also, I unintentionally used a lot of whole nuts in this mix. It ended up working well because I mixed this granola with another batch I made of my own granola; If you are just making Nom Nom Paleo's, I would chop up the nuts a bit more.
Adding the wet mix onto the dry mix. The union of awesomeness!
Baking at 250 degrees F, turning/mixing every 20 minutes for almost 2 hours.
The final product of Nom Nom Paleo's Tropical Granola. I vote yes please =). The unlisted next step is to not eat all of it before you make the next part. This won't be easy.
Now that the first batch is done, get ready for round two. I decided to wing this one with my remaining ingredients and it worked wonderfully. My granola was on the sweeter side and thus complimented Nom Nom Paleo's well.

Ingredients
Note: Some ingredients aren't measured here. Use as much/little as you feel fit for these ingredients.
-Organic Heirloom Pumpkin Seeds
-Organic Raisins
-Soaked/Dehydrated Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Pecans, and Hulled Sunflower Seeds
-5 Pitted Medjool Dates, Chopped
-2-3 Tbsp Raw Honey
-1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
-1 Tbsp Orange Juice (as pure as possible)
-Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
-1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
-1 Tsp Cinnamon
-1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
-A Pinch of Salt

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
2. Chop all the nuts/seeds and dates roughly using a food processor. You don't want to totally decimate them, but you don't want them whole either.
3. Pour the (mostly) dry mix into a large bowl.
4. Add everything else. Mix very well. You can use your hands if you feel like getting finger-lickin' tasty fingers ;).
5. On a large baking sheet, lay out some parchment paper and then evenly spread your granola onto the sheet.
My granola before baking.
6. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes turning the granola every twenty minutes. The only important note here is to try not to burn anything. If you think it's burning, it's done; Stop! =).
My granola done. Yum!
7. Mix the final product with Michelle's Tropical Granola from Nom Nom Paleo, let it all cool to room temperature, transfer it into a large glass tupperware container and refrigerate it. If you don't eat it all immediately it will last for a week or two in the fridge.

I want to hear from you! Really! If you have any suggestions, comments, questions please feel free to comment here or find me on Facebook (simplepaleocook@gmail.com), Twitter, or by email.
Thanks for reading!
-Perry, The Simple Paleo Cook

Friday, August 15, 2014

More Raw Milk Kefir and Sprouted Sunflower Seeds

I've been talking about kefir, a probiotic yogurt made from milk, in a couple of my previous posts (first kefir post, second kefir post). Having been eating it now daily for a couple of weeks I've fallen in love. I feel great, it tastes great, and it's fun making it. My kefir grains are growing; I'm offering them to friends for free because soon I'll have more than I can use and I want to share the kefir love.

I've been mixing my kefir with fresh fruit, soaked/dehydrated nuts, almond butter, raw honey, and sprouted seeds. I've used it to make smoothies, and will be incorporating it into my daily diet with no end in sight. The health benefits are enormous. The taste is unique. The process is rewarding. This is a product you can't buy in stores. The kefir you may find in your local supermarket isn't even 1/6th the strength of the kefir I make at home, and it's not hard to make your own.

I started my kefir journey using one 3-cup ball jar. I now have two going every day and my only problem is becoming that I'm making too much kefir too fast. My kefir grains are growing and working hard for me every day. I'm learning to refine my kefir making skills. It's easy to do, but can get complicated as well if you want to get advanced. Temperature, time, the amount of milk, the amount of kefir grains...it all matters. I've been starting a spreadsheet to keep track of my data. Over the next month or so I hope to have enough data to start gathering some tangible results to share with you.

In the mean time, I'll share what I've been up to right now, how it's going, where I've succeeded, what my difficulties have been, and what I'm doing with my kefir. I want to share this information to help you succeed should you try making your own kefir at home (which I highly recommend doing).

I would like to note that I do use primarily raw milk from grass fed cows. I'm lucky enough to have access to this product from Pure Eire Dairy. I'm currently using a 2/3 raw milk, 1/3 whole non-homogenized mix to make my kefir. I'll be making a post on the benefits/dangers of raw milk soon.

I would also like to note that this recipe calls for sprouted hulled sunflower seeds. I have only just started sprouting things at home. I'll share my limited experience thus far and will be working on a much more detailed post focused on sprouting seeds/nuts in the future after gathering more experience in the matter.

Without further ado...

Raw Milk Kefir w/ Sprouted Hulled Sunflower Seeds
One great thing about kefir is that it goes well with so many things. This is just one of many mixes. Feel free to add/remove/modify any part of this recipe. I'm sure it will still be delicious!

Ingredients:
-Sprouted Hulled Sunflower Seeds (mini sprouting guide below this recipe)
-Chilled Kefir
-Blueberries
-Raw Honey
-Cinnamon/Nutmeg

Instructions (and a mini sprouting guide):
1. Buy some raw hulled sunflower seeds.
2. Soak the seeds for 8 hours in a jar.
3. Drain/rinse the seeds and return them to a clean jar.
Rinse the hulled sunflower seeds. I like to use a nylon mesh strainer.
Clean jar of rinsed/soaked seeds.
4. Let them sit in the jar on your countertop for 24 hours, rinsing them once or twice during this stage.
5. Enjoy your little sprouts! From what I've read, you should enjoy them quickly or keep them in a dry environment in your fridge (maybe a plastic bag lined with a paper towel). I ate all of my little sprouted sunflower seeds right away.
Yay! My first sprouts =).
6. Mix all the ingredients together. Not really a cooking step, but it's just that easy =).
The current recipe in picture form. Breakfast =).

A variation using bananas. Get creative! I love adding nuts, honey, maple syrup, fruit...you name it =).
Kefir Adventures: Part #3
I've been learning more and more about kefir and how to make it happy through experimenting. My basic process is to let my kefir ferment for 24 hours, shaking the jars every so often to mix things up, and then finally giving them a good hard shake right before straining out the grains, transferring the grains to new clean jars, adding milk and starting the process over again.

Sometimes I'm not home at the 24 hour mark. Not good. I try to plan ahead for this, and if I know I'm not going to be home, I'll put the kefir/milk into the fridge. Putting your kefir grains and milk in the fridge seriously slows the fermenting process. I haven't perfected the timing when I refrigerate kefir quite yet. In other words, I'm a bit unsure how much time it takes to ferment while leaving the grains in the fridge. I usually end up taking them out of the fridge and letting them sit again on my counter (again, I'm unsure of optimal time frames at this point).

Kefir really is plain simple to make...but you can definitely get a bit lost in perfecting your ratios/timings/temperatures. I'm getting there. Did I mention that I'm okay with not being perfect ;)? The biggest risk is not taking one at all.

Note: Never tighten the lids of fermenting jars. Ever.

Taking a break in the fridge.
On the left, just about perfect. Ready to be shaken up and strained. On the right, a bit too long or maybe a bit too many grains. That separation isn't the end of the world. I just shook it up and strained it like normal. It still tasted great.
Two fresh jars with grains at the bottom, ready for some milk. Finished kefir on the right.

I want to hear from you! Really! If you have any suggestions, comments, questions please feel free to comment here or find me on Facebook (simplepaleocook@gmail.com), Twitter, or by email.

Thanks for reading!
-Perry, The Simple Paleo Cook

Easy Paleo Cast Iron Seared/Oven Baked Chicken Breast

I'm a senior Computer Science student at the University of Washington: Bothell. I love my school, don't get me wrong. We have a good community here. That said, the food options are beyond terrible. While on campus my options are limited to hard boiled eggs (if they're not sold out), coffee, water, and (if they're open and I feel like paying a ridiculous amount of money for them) baby carrots or sugar snap peas at the Cascadia Coffee Shop. It's bad. UWB tries things like catering, but the food is *not* healthy. They're having a Paleo food truck come to campus on the 22nd. That's great....but again way overpriced, and frankly speaking I can cook the same food if not better at home for much less. So - in a nutshell, I'm on my own for food.

I'm not surprised to be left to my own cooking skills to eat healthy. Our culture is not one that embraces health. It seems to fight it on every corner and down every grocery store aisle. Pardon my terminology here, but crap found abounds everywhere you look. It's marketed to you heavily. It's cheaper (not really -- you can eat Paleo on a budget); Fast food costs less than $1 for a cheeseburger. Subway will give you a whopping sub for $5.99. Grocery store aisles are chock full of things that you should genuinely never put in your body. You have to work to eat healthy and people will judge you for it. Let them. Bring it on.

Be a food warrior. Fight for your health. Your body is your temple. Take care of it. Don't let others sway you. When people tell you to, "Live a little..have some of x or y "normal" food item", smile and chuckle while thinking to yourself, "I live a lot!". Be kind, be loving, even to those who will judge your habits shopping and eating as crazy, unrealistic, or too much work. It's not crazy. It's not unrealistic. It's not too much work. It's actually easy. It's fun. And it is great for your body. I've lost 80lbs in three months, gained an 8-pack of abs, and feel amazing. Every. Day.

This morning, after waking up at 5am (sleeping in!), I decided to cook some chicken breasts I had in my defrost bowl a new way that I've never tried before. I broke out my cast iron skillet, preheated my oven, seasoned up the bird, and went to town. It turned out great and I want to share it with you now.

Easy Cast Iron Seared and Oven Baked Chicken Breast
This is a great way to prepare chicken. It took me a total of 30 minutes including prep time to make two delicious chicken breasts to bring as an easy lunch/dinner for later. I used a cast iron skillet. You can put your cast iron skillet right in the oven or use it on the stove-top; One of many reasons I love cast iron. If you don't have a cast iron skillet on hand, look into getting one, but you can use anything oven-safe. Maybe you just start in a regular non-oven-safe pan and finish this in an oven-safe baking dish.

Ingredients
-Free range chicken breast(s)
-Olive or coconut oil
-Pepper, thyme, rosemary, basil, and sage (feel free to use whatever spices you want -- have fun with it!)

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Pre-heat your cast iron skillet on medium heat.
3. Season your chicken breasts with a generous portion of cooking oil and all the spices on both sides. Rub 'em down good.
Season the bird. Rub it down good ;).
4. Pour a tablespoon or two of oil into your skillet so the breasts don't stick. You don't need much because you already rubbed down your bird ;).
5. Place your chicken into the cast iron skillet and sear it for 3-4 minutes a side over medium heat.
Place 'em in the skillet. Wait 3-4 minutes.
Flip 'em. Tongs help.
After another 4 minutes, they are ready for the oven. I flipped them back first.
6. Place your entire cast iron skillet in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees F.
Put the whole skillet right in the oven.
7. Take the skillet out of the oven, the breasts out of the skillet, and let them rest for 5-10 minutes or so on a cold plate/cutting board.
Let 'em rest. Be proud that you just cooked a great, healthy, easy Paleo meal.
8. Enjoy!
I brought one breast to work/school for lunch. I just added some carrots, grass fed sharp cheddar, baby kale, baby spinach, and arugula =).

I want to hear from you! Really! If you have any suggestions, comments, questions please feel free to comment here or find me on Facebook (simplepaleocook@gmail.com), Twitter, or by email.

Thanks for reading!
-Perry, The Simple Paleo Cook

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sunnyside Up Eggs and Pork Sausage

I love waking up early and cooking a solid breakfast. Some days I like to keep in simple, other days I'll try to get fancy (if that's even possible for me), and other days it's time for leftovers. Today was a simple day. Let's get right to it and cook some sunnyside up eggs and pork sausage.

I try my best to get everything local. The eggs I used were from a local farm, I got them at Bill The Butcher; The hens are pastured and fed an organic diet. The pork sausage is also local from Blue Valley Meats. Here is a description of the sausage from Blue Valley Meats: A classic breakfast sausage using our naturally raised pork and our special blend of paprika, salt, cayenne, sage, thyme, parsley, black pepper, lemon pepper, and coriander in slender, 1 1/2 oz links or bulk. Ingredients: Pork, paprika, salt, cayenne, sage, thyme, parsley, black pepper, lemon pepper, and coriander (Nitrite and gluten free.)

Sunnyside Up Eggs and Pork Sausage
I just recently learned how to cook sunnyside up eggs. I know, I know...It's not rocket science. Actually, cooking sunnyside up eggs ended up being easier than cooking scrambled eggs. Even the clean up has been easier. The basic golden rule is...wait for it...butter. Lots of grass fed butter. Or ghee. I like using ghee when I can (ghee is clarified grass fed butter). Using lots of butter makes for super easy cleanup because the eggs slide right out of the skillet and onto whatever delicious food you may (or may not -- who needs anything else!) have on your plate.

Ingredients:
2-4 Pastured Eggs
2-3 Tablespoons of Grass Fed Butter or Ghee
1lb of Pork Sausage
Salt/Pepper to taste
2-3 Handfuls of Baby Kale

Instructions:
1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium/high heat and drop in your pork sausage. Stir it occasionally so it doesn't burn while you're cooking the eggs.
My pork sausage from Blue Valley Meats. Nice and local.
2. Heat another small/medium cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the grass fed butter/ghee.
Lots. Of. Butter.
3. Once the butter is shimmery and melted (but not burning), crack your eggs gently into the skillet.
Eggs in the skillet, ready to be covered.
4. Cover the eggs and let them cook for 2-5 minutes depending on how well you like everything cooked (and how solid you want the yokes to be).
Cover the eggies ;).
5. Plate some baby kale and pork sausage for a bed and then add your sunnyside up eggs on top! They should slide easily out of the skillet if you used enough butter.
Breakfast is served.
6. Enjoy!

I want to hear from you! Really! If you have any suggestions, comments, questions please feel free to comment here or find me on Facebook (simplepaleocook@gmail.com), Twitter, or by email.

Thanks for reading!
-Perry, The Simple Paleo Cook

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sweet Potato Hash, a Story, Bacon and Paleo Blueberry Pancakes

The biggest risk is not taking one at all.

I'm always learning in life. Sometimes the lessons are harder than others. Some are much more embarrassing than others.

I was stripping paint in Chicago one summer around ten years ago. I was sixteen, mostly immature, a high school dropout, and an abuser of my body. I made poor choices. In an attempt to be responsible, I took on some work painting and doing general labor with a small company that I honestly can't remember the name of. One of my co-workers was covered in racist tattoos and carried the same mentality. Le sigh. It's harder to love some people than others. My coworker was hard to love. He....wasn't a good person.

We were working on a large old wooden house near the Brookfield Zoo stripping paint/repainting the house. I would spend most days minding my own business high up on a ladder with a scraper and a blow torch. Blow torches were illegal to use. They worked much faster than the glorified hair dryers when it came to stripping paint but carried obvious risks. Halfway through stripping a clapboard I smelled smoke. Jerking my head over to the source of the smell I saw smoke. Crap. Run and grab the fire extinguisher. It doesn't work. Eep. Grab the hose. Grab a crowbar. Rip off the clapboard and soak the house.

I almost set a house on fire. I was working with an unkind, unloving person. I didn't love myself. Somewhere around 11 years later here I am; A changed person. Looking back, I can't recognize the person I was. Things can always be different. Have faith in the power of love. 

Eating a Paleo diet, riding my bike everywhere, practicing yoga, practicing martial arts, and practicing being a loving soul has transformed my life. In every aspect I am a stronger person. No one can make changes in your life for you. You have the power to introduce love and kindness into your soul and embrace it. Change your life today. Love somebody. Love yourself. The power of love abounds.

The divine light in me sees and honors the light in you. Namaste. Now let's make some sweet potato hash =).

Sweet Potato Hash
Yet another wonderful way to use a sweet potato. I made my first sweet potato hash this morning. At 4am. I woke up ready to cook and head off to yoga. This is a new favorite of mine and I'm sure I'll post about it again. A new staple indeed. And it was easy! I used my Cuisinart and it's shredding disc to shred up the sweet potato and then basically fried it up in some grass fed butter and a couple spices.

Ingredients/Tools:
-As many sweet potatoes as you wish. I only had one to use this morning.
-2-3 Tbsp. Grass Fed Butter / Ghee
-1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
-1/2 Tsp. Onion Powder
-1/2 Tsp. Dried Rosemary
-1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
-Food processor with a shredding disc

Instructions:
1. Cut your sweet potato(es) the long way (think hot dog, not hamburger).
2. Shred the "hot dog" slices of sweet potato using a food processor.
3. Add the seasonings to the shredded potato(es) and mix well.
Sweet potatoes shredded and spiced. Ready to fry 'em up.
4. Melt your butter in a cast iron skillet (or in my case, because all my cast iron was in use for the pancakes and bacon -- a large pan/skillet).
Grass fed butter! This is some Kerrygold (even available at stores like Safeway!).
5. Once the butter is...glistening (shimmering -- warmed up but not burning), add your shredded sweet potato.
6. Mix it around for about 2 minutes on medium/high heat.
I was so excited as this point I can't even tell you. I love sweet potatoes. So. Much!
7. Cover and let steam for about 3-5 minutes.
8. Uncover and flip it around. You want to cook it until there are some brown bits and your hash
approaches crispy but not burnt. I didn't quite find the optimal balance this morning (it was my first time). I only used medium heat. Next time I'm going to use medium/high heat while watching it closely. 
9. Enjoy! I cooked some bacon as well as some paleo blueberry pancakes. The bacon was from Blue Valley Meats. It was (considering I ate all of it with a friend) from Blue Valley Meats in Walla Walla Washington.

The bacon notes: I used a package of Bacon Ends and Pieces. At $5.59/lb it was a bargain for such high quality local bacon.
Mmm...bacon...
Cooked bacon placed on a plate lined with some paper towels. Note the saved bacon grease in the top left corner. Save that bacon fat! It's great for so many things...
I also cooked some bacon and paleo blueberry pancakes. Yum. Full on delicious breakfast.
I want to hear from you! Really! If you have any suggestions, comments, questions please feel free to comment here or find me on Facebook (simplepaleocook@gmail.com), Twitter, or by email.

Thanks for reading!
-Perry

Friday, August 8, 2014

Green Smoothie w/ Kefir, Baby Kale...

After making a post about banana bread coffee cake I figured it would balance things out to talk about green smoothies. I love a good green smoothie. You can put basically whatever you want in it. The theory is to use lots of green stuff =). It's amazing how little you can actually taste of the green stuff. Personally, I like green things. Kale, spinach, chard, celery, you name it, I like it. A lot of people don't; I get that. Throw in a banana and some coconut water, maybe some berries, and wham. You just ate a giant portion of green goodness and you won't even flinch.

For this smoothie I used:
Rainbow Chard (2-3 leaves)
Giant handful (or two) of Baby Kale
Organic Strawberries (Leave the tops on! Just wash 'em well.)
Coconut Water (about 1 cup)
Kefir (Optional...I've been making my own!)
Ice Cubes (I used about 5)

Instructions: Blend into submission.

In hindsight, I would make this smoothie a bit thicker. Maybe a little less coconut water. Maybe add a banana. In any case; It was delicious.

Get ready =).
Enjoy!
Thanks for reading =). Comments? Questions? Suggestions? I want to hear from you!
Twitter (@SimplePaleoCook) | Email | Pinterest

Chocolate and Honey Banana Bread Coffee Cake Muffins

I've been experimenting with making Banana Bread Coffee Cake with various mediums/additions. One way was with a little honey and 100% cacao chocolate in the already delicious grass fed butter topping. I tweaked a few other things as well.

The only real problem I had with the muffins was that I ate....7? of these darn things one night along with some nuts...and additional honey. Big oops. Felt bad about it afterwards. Then I forgave myself and moved on. I usually have fairly solid will power with eating. Mostly because I genuinely want to be healthy. Every now and then though...I oops and 7 banana bread coffee cake muffins disappear. These are some oops worthy muffins. Trust me; Beware ;).

Chocolate and Honey Banana Bread Coffee Cake Muffins
Ingredients
-3 Large Brown Bananas
-1/4 Cup Grade B Maple Syrup
-1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
-3 Eggs (Pastured is ideal, free-range is okay too)
-1/2 Cup Almond Butter
-1/4 Cup Coconut Flour
-1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
-1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
-1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
-1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
-Pinch of Salt

Topping Ingredients
-4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) grass fed butter, ideally slighly warm, but it's not a neccesity
-2 Tbsp Coconut Sugar
-2 Tbsp Almond Flour
-1 Tbsp Organic Raw Honey
-1 Bar 100% Cacao Baking Chocolate (sub some Life's Good GF/DF chocolate if you want to keep this recipe GF)
-1 Tsp Cinnamon

-1/4 Cup Pecans/Almonds/Walnuts, whatever you have around works

Instructions:
1. I start by mashing up some bananas in a large bowl. Then add the maple syrup, vanilla extract, eggs, and almond butter and mix it all up well.
2. Add the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to the mix and again mix everything up well.
Batter and topping all set and ready to go. Chocolate on the side for chunkyness.
3. Pour the batter into your muffin tins, leaving some room on top for each muffin to expand. They will expand. I learned this the hard way ;).
Some of these tins are probably a bit over-filled. It worked out.
4. Once you have your batter in the tins mix up the topping. Just get everything in a bowl, wash your hands, and go to town. I like to mix everything up and squeeze it together over and over to get all the goodies evenly distributed. You could add the chocolate in tiny pieces here or leave it in chunks and place them in the center of each muffin.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them and do the fork test, if the fork comes out clean after sticking it in a muffin, they're done =).
Keep an eye on them. Do some yoga while you wait =).
Done. Yay =).
6. Don't eat 7 of them. Or at least try not to. If you do (like I did), don't do it again, and forgive yourself. Give them away to friends/family or freeze 'em/put 'em in the fridge for enjoyment in moderation.

Until next episode...
Yours truly,
Perry - The Simple Paleo Cook

Thanks for reading =). Comments? Questions? Suggestions? I want to hear from you!
Twitter (@SimplePaleoCook) | Email | Pinterest

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Kefir, Episode Two: My First Batch

Hey y'all! I've been super excited to try my first batch of kefir and last night I had the pleasure. I only made about a cup and a half seeing as my kefir grains are still regaining their strength. It came out beautifully. If you didn't read my last post on kefir, feel free to check it out here, or just read the quick recap below. Other than kefir, I'm looking forward to my 30lb meat delivery this weekend from Blue Valley Meats in Walla Walla, WA. Nice and local, nice and grass-fed, and nice and friendly staff from my email and phone conversations!

This weekend I'm going to Shakespeare in the park (and of course packing a Paleo picnic), and next weekend I'm going hiking in the North Cascades. Just a 5.2 mile hike with a 1350 ft elevation gain, but I'm looking forward to having a good time with friends. Without question, I'll be making some Paleo snacks/granola to bring along for everyone =). Now back to the kefir...

Quick Kefir Recap
To quote kefir.net, "Kefir’s tart and refreshing flavor is similar to a drinking-style yogurt, but it contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt. The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically to give superior health benefits when consumed regularly. It is loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals and contains easily digestible complete proteins."

Kefir is a fermented milk product. It's a strong natural remedy against any allergy, it helps control acid reflex and heartburn, reduces sugar cravings, can correct high blood pressure, promote faster wound healing, help sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD, it's easily digestible, rich in B12, B1, vitamin K, and biotin. (Source: Milk Kefir Unleashed | Fusion Teas).

It's good stuff. It's also not Paleo as dairy isn't Paleo. I do eat mostly a Paleo diet (95% or so..). Recently I have been experimenting with reintroducing some dairy into my diet. I haven't had any dairy in my diet for a couple months. I felt fine. I also feel no need to deny myself something that my body can handle well and that has major health benefits. Kefir seems up there on the list of great-for-you dairy. The kefir grains also eat the vast majority of the milk-sugars and lactose during the fermentation process.

Paleo is different for everyone; For me it mostly means just eating "healthy" whole foods. There is a lot of conflicting opinions out there on eating dairy, not eating dairy, etc. while on a Paleo diet. I'm seeing what works with my body and my health. Thus far I feel great.

My Journey Thus Far Into Kefir Land
-I received my first kefir grains about a week ago. I ordered 2 tablespoons of kefir grains from Fusion Teas on Amazon.
-For my first batch I used 1 cup of store bought, homogenized, pasteurized (NOT ultra pasteurized) whole milk.
-I simply put the kefir grains in a quart sized, wide-mouthed ball jar, added the cup of whole milk, and placed (without tightening at all) a plastic lid on top of the jar.
Quart-sized ball jar w/ 2 tbsp of kefir grains, a plastic lid, and some whole milk.
-I left the jar out on my kitchen countertop out of direct sunlight for about 12 hours. I stirred it up once during the 12 hours by swirling the contents of the jar around.
-After 12 hours, I poured out the contents of the jar through a clean, nylon-mesh strainer. I discarded the first batch as per instructions (the kefir is still rebuilding strength from shipment, thus the first batch probably wouldn't be the best).
-I broke out a clean quart ball jar, a clean lid, and repeated the process. I poured the grains from the strainer into the new jar. This time I used 1 and 1/2 cups of whole milk. Again, I put a plastic lid on top, without tightening it at all.
-I let this jar ferment for about 18-19 hours or so. I then strained it into a large, pourable, glass-container w/ a lid. I ate half mixed with a tbsp of organic raw honey =). Yum! Welcome bacteria...
Basic kefir setup.
Running the jar through the strainer.
My first batch of kefir, ready to consume =). Oh yeah!
-I poured the kefir grains into another clean quart ball jar, and this time added two cups of store-bought whole milk. I placed a plastic lid on top, again not tightening it.
-I put the remaining kefir in my fridge with a lid on the glass container. I ate the rest this morning with a tbsp of maple syrup. Mmmm...probiotic bacteria round two. I feel great thus far. At 10pm tonight I will restart the process once again.

From what I can gather thus far about Kefir, there are several variables. The biggest ones seem to be the ratio of grains to milk, temperature, and time. I've started keeping track of all of these variables in a spreadsheet. Once I get enough useful data I will share my findings. In the mean-time, I'll keep experimenting with kefir, blogging about my experience, and sharing kefir recipes. Of course I'll still share my Paleo journey as my primary focus. I do have 30lbs of various meats coming in including bison, elk, pork, and beef. I see jerky in the near future ;).

Thanks for reading =). Comments? Questions? Suggestions? I want to hear from you!
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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Bread Muffins

Hey y'all! It's Sunday night, and of course, I'm still cooking and keeping busy with other things. I just put a ton of Zucchini in the dehydrator, I've got some ground beef going w/ lots of extra goodies (garlic, onion, tomato paste, roma tomatoes, and spices -- oregano, basil, thyme, sage, salt, pepper), I have some paleo chocolate zucchini bread muffins in the oven, and if I feel up to it I might make some chicken as well. On the other hand, I might just freeze the chicken for now. I'm starting to wind down and sleep is important. Especially considering I'll be up at 4am to be ready to leave by 5:30 via my bicycle for a morning yoga class at Bala Yoga in Kirkland.

After these Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Bread Muffins come out of the oven I'll be organizing my kitchen and myself for the week. I plan on studying Japanese for an hour and also spending an hour studying MySQL, PHP, CSS, and JavaScript (did I mention I'm a senior computer science student?). I feel like taking a little bit of time to get things in order ahead of time really saves a bunch of time later, and it just feels good. Whew!

Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Bread Muffins
I just finished baking some Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Bread Muffins. I made some simple modifications to a recipe I found from Small Footprint Family here to add some chocolate to the mix. Here is how I made my version of their recipe.

Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Coconut Flour
3/4 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. Nutmeg
1 Heaping Tsp. 100% Cacao Chocolate Baking Powder
1/4 Cup Enjoy Life GF/DF Chocolate Chips
4 Pastured Eggs (Free Range would work as well)
3-4 Tbsp. Y.S. Raw Organic Honey
1 Cup Shredded Zucchini (squeezed to remove liquid)
1 Ripe Banana, Mashed
1/2 Cup Partially Crushed Pecan Halves
Most of the ingredients out and ready to use. I had some left-over shredded zucchini from my last zucchini bread experiment.
Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Shred your zucchini. I like to use a Cusinart with a shredding disc. It makes it easy and consistent =). After you shred your zucchini squeeze out all the moisture and set it aside.
3. Mix the eggs, honey, and banana together.
4. Add the coconut flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate powder, chocolate chips, and pecans and mix well.
5. Using a muffin pan and some non-stick muffin liners, fill each cup about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full.
Batter in muffin tins; Ready to go into the oven.
6. Bake for about 25-35 minutes. They are done when a fork stuck in the middle of one comes out clean =).
7. Quickly give them away to friends/coworkers so you don't eat them all. Quickly! ;).
The end result. Can you guess which muffin got the fork test? ;).
Thanks for reading =). I want to hear from you! Comments? Questions? Suggestions? 
Twitter (@SimplePaleoCook) | Email | Pinterest