Thursday, November 20, 2014

Traveling Essentials (Paleo & AIP)


I spent a good chunk of October & the beginning of November away from home. For the October portion, I was in Atlanta working on a cookbook photoshoot with some pretty amazing people, like photographer Greg Dupree, food stylist Tami Hardeman Boutte, prop stylist Ginny Branch, and photo assistant JR Ward. While I’m not yet allowed to give many details about the book, I can tell you it was all about baking, and that my role as baker/assistant food stylist involved me physically making & baking all the items to be photographed. The days were long, but so rewarding. This book is going to be absolutely beautiful!

Instagram images from the shoot. 

To be honest, before starting all my treatments & making the switch to AIP, I never would have had the strength nor stamina to participate in a project such as this one.... Though I did also learn that even while following AIP, I still have limits.... One of the most humbling experiences was having to call in a replacement for me one day when I hit a proverbial wall... Having that breakdown was my body reminding me that I needed to be more vigilant about my water intake (I hadn’t had enough the day before), and that even if my prep schedule was busy, I still needed to take time to eat whether I was hungry or not. It’s funny how working around food all day will curb your appetite--this use to happen to me all the time when I was working as a pastry chef instructor.

I wanted to share some of my traveling essentials, in hopes that perhaps my experiences may help fellow AIP people. Traveling while following AIP isn’t always easy, especially since I had recently been accidentally glutened and was still very leery of restaurants. Also, I traveled to Atlanta via airplane and all my food items either had to be TSA compliant to go in my carry-on, or they needed to be put into my checked suitcases.

Here are some of the staple, not-as-perishable staple items I brought along in either my carry-on or checked luggage. I have had successful reintroductions of a few things, so there are a few non-AIP items, which I will note.  Also, many of these links are affiliate links, so if you purchase any of the items through the links I provide, I receive a small commission. Thanks for supporting Sweet Treats.


Just to be safe, I did put the packets I brought along in my checked luggage. I love these because they make for an easy, nutrient dense protein option. They are completely shelf-stable until opened & don’t require a can opener. I dressed them with olive oil & a little vinegar or lemon juice + salt & pepper. 


Proscuitto (AIP--check ingredients) 
Proscuitto is one of my main go-to snacks these days. I was a big fan of cured meats in my pre AIP days (especially after going gluten-free), but since I’ve discovered that nightshades & nightshade-derived spices don’t agree with me (paprika, I’m looking at you!), I stick mostly with proscuitto. To transport several packs of proscuitto for this trip, I previously froze the packages solid, then put them into a thermal container with a couple of frozen solid ice packs (if they’ve melted at all, chances are TSA won’t let them through security).

Chicken Breakfast Sausages (AIP--check ingredients; not pictured)
Chicken Breakfast Sausages are my favorite breakfast protein. I still have a hard time eating savory things for breakfast, but I have trained myself to eat these. I brought multiple packages of sausages in my cary-on, also by freezing them solid prior to the trip & packing them in a thermal container with frozen solid ice packs. Then, throughout the food shoot, I would defrost a package of sausages overnight in the fridge & cook them in the morning (saving any leftovers for future days). Especially on such a rigorous work schedule, getting adequate protein first thing in the morning was key for me.


Plantain Chips (AIP)
I’m not a person who does well on an extremely low carb diet. These plantain chips help with my carb intake and are a great snack option, either on their own or dipped in something (like simple guacamole). They taste a bit like potato sticks (those tiny french-fry things) & I just love them! We buy them buy the case these days, if that gives you an idea how high of a volume I consume. Ironically, these eating these chips while flying helps keep me from getting as motion sick? I’m not sure the science behind that fact, but it works for me :)


Apples (AIP)
Apples are one of my easiest snacks. They don’t require any utensils nor refrigeration nor special equipment to make them portable. And they’re easy to eat on the go. In addition to snacking on them, I also could turn them into a quick stovetop applesauce “dessert” option for me. To make the applesauce, just core, slice, & cook the apples with a little water until soft, then sweeten with a little honey to taste.


Clementines (AIP)
Last year, I had to adhere to a low acid diet & thus couldn’t eat citrus. This year, after experiencing so much improvement following treatments at my doctors office & by following AIP, I am able to eat citrus again! And I’m eating enough clementines to make up for not eating any last year. Clementines were not originally among my packed food, but I blame Ginny Branch for bringing a bag of them to the set & getting me re-hooked on them.


Dried Plums (AIP--check ingredients) 
Dried plums, er prunes, serve a couple different purposes in my diet. As a dried fruit, they have a bit more concentrated sweetness & can really help when I’m experiencing a dessert craving (or everyone else is having dessert at the end of a meal & I don’t want to feel as left out). They also help keep my digestion going (sorry if that’s TMI). And I find them delicious! Just make sure to find ones that don’t contain added sugar, nor any vegetable oils. (p.s. they are a little more expensive on amazon than I usually find in stores…)


Smoked Sea Salt, or other finishing salt (AIP)
One of the biggest bummer things about AIP is the number of spices that are off limits. I have to be vigilant in reading labels on foods & also in grilling restaurant servers about the spices used in dishes. Most often, I have to find things that are as plain as possible, just to be safe. Nightshade spices (i.e. paprika, red pepper, etc....) and I really are not friends. So, to take certain foods from a little boring to more exciting, I’ve started carrying my own salt with me in a little container. My current favorite is smoked salt, which is delicious sprinkled on most everything, but especially meats. 


Tea: Earl Grey, Raspberry Leaf Tea , Throat Coat (AIP--check ingredients)
While I have been able to successfully reintroduce coffee, that reintroduction does not mean that I can drink copious amounts of coffee. Coffee does come from a bean/seed & so there are times (especially during stress) that my body still does not tolerate it well. So, for most of the shoot, I drank tea instead of coffee--Earl Grey with coconut milk was my daily go-to.  I also have had very good success with raspberry leaf tea making my monthly “shark week” (as I affectionately refer to it, ha!) much more manageable. Drinking a couple cups of it a day during that time really lessens my horrendous cramps. Sorry if that’s more TMI ;) Lastly, I brought along Throat Coat tea, just in case any sickness or colds arose. But I am pleased to say that I didn’t need to use it! Note: if you suffer from an autoimmune condition, do be careful around the Throat Coat + Echinacea variation, as echinacea can cause flares of autoimmunity! I use the variation without the echinacea.



Fruit & Nut Bars: Berry Almond Kit's Organic Bars & select Larabars (Paleo, not AIP)
I’ve also successfully reintroduced certain nuts, like almonds, walnuts, pecans & hazelnuts, which opened up the world of fruit and nut bars. However, my attempted reintroduction of cashews did NOT go well (hello increased widespread body pain), so the varieties of fruit & nut bars that I can safely consume is slightly limited. Like the coffee, I do try to monitor the amount of nuts, even “safe” ones, that I consume in a day. If given the option, I prefer the Kit’s Organic berry almond bars (I’ve only seen them at Whole Foods & on Amazon), just because they’re a little less sweet & feel a bit more substantial. As far as Larabars go, my favorite flavors are Pecan Pie, Apple Pie & Carrot Cake. Any of these also make a pretty good dessert, if you’re feeling left out of the dessert loop.


Justin's Almond Butter Squeeze Packets (Paleo, not AIP) 
Since I can tolerate some almonds, these almond butter packets work well as an on-the-go snack item (though, I do limit myself to one packet a day, especially if I've also had a fruit & nut bar that day too). I even carried a few packets in my quart sized bag as I went through security at the airport. Sometimes I eat the almond butter by itself, but often my preference is to have it with an apple. Buying the larger containers of Justin’s Almond Butter is more cost effective than the packets are, but I like the convenience factor of the packets (and my checked luggage was dangerously close to being overweight).


A Good Glass Water bottle (mine came from here
A water bottle isn’t exactly a food item, but I think having one is just as important as having good food. I’m preferring glass to plastic more and more these days, but I also worried about breaking a glass water bottle. So far, so good with this one! The silicone cover helps make it extra resilient (and pretty). A lot of my supplements these days need to be mixed in water & consumed over time throughout the day--this bottle is perfect for that! And staying hydrated is very important. My body can tell me very quickly if I have not consumed adequate amounts of water.

These are a few of my favorite traveling essentials. If you’re interested, Grazed & Enthused (another AIP blog) has also just posted a list of 10 AIP travel snacks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Swedish Meatballs & Gravy with Cranberry Jam (Paleo with AIP adaptation)

NOTE OF SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION: I have an Instagram picture in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living. It’s on page 4 & features one of the gluten-free pumpkin pies I made last Thanksgiving. If you’re interested in the recipe, the GF crust can be found here, and the recipe for my great-grandma Irene’s pumpkin pie filling can be found here. Just wanted to let you know while the issue is still on newsstands.


As someone who grew up in the Midwest & is of Scandinavian descent (well, technically I’ve got more than 10 different nationalities in my heritage), I did not grow up eating Swedish meatballs. Instead, my memories of Swedish meatballs (and gravy & mashed potatoes & lingonberry jam) all stem from the cafe at IKEA. 



These days, we end up eating quite a bit of grassfed ground beef. I can find it in our local grocery store (most of the rest of the meat I have to get several hours away or I have to order online). And grassfed ground beef is a much more budget-friendly protein, especially when compared with other pastured & grassfed options.




This summer we grilled a lot of burgers, but now, as we move into fall and winter, I’ve been trying to expand my ground beef recipe repertoire & cook some new things. Case in point, these meatballs, which are my Paleo (and AIP, if you omit the egg) version of the meatballs I remember from IKEA. Instead of serving them with the traditional mashed white potatoes & lingonberry jam, I serve them with either white sweet potatoes mashed with a little coconut oil, or with a cauliflower puree, AIP-friendly cranberry “jam” (which also might be a recipe to file away for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday), and, of course, gravy.


Swedish Meatballs 
1lb Grassfed Ground Beef (I used 85% lean)
65 g Shallot, finely chopped 
1 large Pastured Egg (omit if AIP)
10 g / 1 Tbl Organic Coconut Flour
3/4 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp Mace
3/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper (omit if AIP) 
Solid Fat, for greasing the pan 
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.  
  2. In a medium bowl, use your hands to mix all the ingredients (minus the fat for greasing the pan) until well combined. 
  3. Lightly grease a large cast iron skillet (or other large stainless skillet). Use a 1 Tbl scoop to portion the meat mixture into individual meatballs. Roll the mixture into balls & place into the greased pan. 
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden & cooked through--they should reach an internal temp of 160 F. Start cooking the jam, if desired, while the meatballs are baking. Follow by making the gravy after the meatballs have baked.

Gravy
Meatball Pan with drippings from the baking process
1 Tbl solid fat of choice (I used bacon grease)
8 fl oz / 1 cup Stock, (homemade if possible) 
2 Tbl Arrowroot powder 
2 Tbl filtered water 
  1. Once the meatballs are baked, remove the pan from the oven. Don't forget the pan is hot! I speak from experience… Use a pair of tongs or a spatula to transfer the meatballs to separate plate or bowl. 
  2. Melt the additional fat in the skillet over medium heat. Add the stock & whisk well to incorporate the two & to loosen any browned bits from the pan. Heat until simmering then reduce the heat to low.  
  3. Make a slurry with arrowroot powder and a little filtered water.  Whisk the slurry into the skillet. Continue to cook, on low heat, until thickened. 
  4. Add the meatballs into the gravy & cook for a minute or two, making sure the gravy coats the meatballs. 
  5. Serve with cranberry “jam” and mashed sweet potatoes.  

Cranberry “Jam” 
130 g (1 c) Frozen Cranberries (sub fresh, if available) 
2 Tbl Water
2 Tbl Pure Maple Syrup (organic Grade B, if possible) 
Pinch of Mace or Cinnamon, optional 
  1. Simmer the cranberries, water & maple syrup in a small skillet over medium heat until the cranberries “pop” 8 to 10 minutes. Mash with a fork. Add optional mace or cinnamon. 
  2. Transfer to a jar or small bowl & serve alongside the meatballs. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. 

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Tapioca Pudding Porridge with Roasted Apples (AIP & Vegan)


Hot cereal is one of my comfort foods. Stovetop oatmeal, baked oatmeal, cream of wheat/cream of rice, rice pudding--they’re all things I’d love to eat for breakfast in my pre-AIP days. Even though I’ve finally trained myself to eat savory things for breakfast, there still are some days when I want to revert to the comfort that comes from hot cereal for breakfast.


This tapioca pudding porridge can do double duty: it works both as a dessert AND as an occasional breakfast treat.  Of course, it’s totally AIP and paleo (but still delicious, for those non-AIP/paleo readers). And please banish any thoughts of ready-made tapioca pudding snackpacks (like the ones you perhaps had in childhood)--this pudding is not remotely similar :)



It takes a little planning to make--the tapioca pearls require soaking--so I prefer to make it in the evening (soaking the pearls while we’re eating dinner & simmering the pudding afterwards) & then sometimes I eat a little of the leftovers for a breakfast treat (along with some protein).



Since it’s fall right now, and apples are in season, I roasted some to serve on top of the pudding porridge.  Other fruit could be substituted, or the pudding can be consumed all on it’s own.



Tapioca Pudding Porridge 
yields 3 to 4 small servings 

44 g / 1/4 c Small Pearl Tapioca
6 fl oz (3/4 c) Filtered Water
1-13.5 oz can Organic Coconut Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (make sure it’s AIP compliant!) 
20 g / 1 Tbl Real Maple Syrup 
  1. Combine the tapioca pearls & filtered water in a small sauce pan. Allow the pearls to soften for at least an hour. 
  2. Once the pearls have softened, add the coconut milk, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring often. When the mixture simmers, reduce the heat to medium low & continue cooking, still stirring, until the pudding thickens & the pearls begin turning translucent, approximately 15 minutes total. 
  3. Cool the slightly. Serve either warm (my preference) or refrigerate until cold. Top with roasted apples (recipe follows). 

Roasted Apples
1 large organic Apple, peeled & diced
1-2 tsp local Honey (not vegan) or Maple Syrup, depending on sweetness of the apples  
1/2 tsp Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice (AIP)  (or substitute regular pumpkin pie spice, if not AIP) 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  2. In a small baking dish, mix together the apple, coconut oil, sweetener & spices. 
  3. Roast in the preheated oven until the apples are soft, approximately 45 minutes.
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Nomato Bolognese (AIP)


When one of your favorite comfort foods is big bowl of spaghetti with tomato sauce, what’s a person to do after finding out that their body no longer will tolerate tomatoes (or any other things from the “nightshade” family)? Why, perfect their own tomato-less “Nomato” sauce!


Before my detox diet/starting the autoimmune protocol, I’d never even heard of “nightshades” before. The nightshade family includes things like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and white potatoes, plus a lot more. I stopped consuming them entirely, even the nightshade seed spices which are in *everything*. Though it has made a world of difference with my pain & inflammation, I still miss eating them.



I saw a recipe for a tomato-less “nomato” sauce a couple months ago and it really piqued my interest. I searched for a couple more sauce & started experimenting with my own variation. It’s taken several tweaks, but I finally feel it is near perfection for my palate.



While the base flavor of this nomato sauce great, I still find it is best when ground meat is added to it & it is simmered into a sort of “bolognese” sauce. I know the purists will say this is not remotely a bolognese sauce--yes, it is missing most of the main components of a “true” bolognese--but that’s the closest flavor profile I can think to describe it. During the summer, we served the nomato bolognese over sauteed cabbage or zucchini noodles (“zoodles”), but now that fall is here, I’m all about spaghetti squash.



Yes, I still miss my childhood favorite spaghetti, but I do not feel at all deprived by this version. It might require a little more work, but it’s totally worth it to eat something that is good for me & won’t make me feel worse.



Nomato Sauce Base (AIP) 

This sauce also freezes beautifully, so if you have the freezer space, I’d suggest making a big batch & keep it on hand for quick meal prep. I put extra bolognese sauce into freezer safe canning jars before freezing. 

2 Tbl Bacon grease, plus more, if needed 
1 med (1 1/2 c or approximately 190 g) Onion, diced
4 small ribs (1 1/2 c or approximately 190 g) Celery, chopped
3 cloves (approximately 38 g) Garlic, chopped
6 ea (3 c or approximately 420 g) Carrots, chopped
1 medium (1 1/2 c or approximately 180 g)  beet, diced 
1.5 c (approximately 350 g) Stock (homemade, if possible; I used chicken) 
2 Bay leaves 
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
2 Tbl Red Wine Vinegar
Salt/pepper (optional) 
  1. Melt the bacon grease in a medium stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion & sweat for 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the celery, garlic, carrots, beats, stock, bay leaves, and italian seasoning. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium/low & simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. 
  3. Remove the bay leaves (reserve for the bolognese) & puree the soup using an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender). After blending, add the red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust the salt & pepper as needed (this will depend on how seasoned the bacon grease & stock were). 
  4. Use in the Nomato Bolognese, or on its own. Cool completely before refrigerating or freezing. 

Nomato Bolognese (AIP) 

1 lb grassfed ground beef (85/15), browned in more bacon grease (or substitute other grassfed/pastured ground meats) 
1 batch sauce from above, including the reserved bay leaves 
  1. Brown the beef in some additional bacon grease until cooked through
  2. Add nomato sauce & reserved bay leaves. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.  

Roasted Spaghetti Squash
adapted from Simply Recipes 

1 large Spaghetti Squash
Avocado Oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & grease it with a tablespoon (or so) of Avocado Oil. 
  2. Cut off the ends of the spaghetti squash, then stand up the squash on one of the cut ends & cut down the center of the squash, length-wise. Use a large, sturdy spoon to scoop out the seeds in the center. 
  3. Place the squash halves on the oiled pan cut side down. Prick the tops of the squash with a sharp knife or the tines of a fork. 
  4. Roast the squash halves until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork or knife, approximately 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. 
  5. Remove from the oven until cool enough to handle. Use a fork to scrape the squash strands (aka “spaghetti”) into a bowl. Reheat slightly, if necessary, before serving with the nomato bolognese.
  6. Reheat slightly, if necessary, before serving with the nomato bolognese. Store any cooled leftovers in the refrigerator.