January 31, 2012

Pumpkin-avocado salad

It's salad time! Since I'm having 1 vegan meal a day these days (to give my liver a rest..) and those meals need to be paleo as well, however without adding too many nuts, that can be a hassle sometimes. I usually end up having avocado + veggies or a vegetable curry (with coconut!). There's less room for variation, after all, I have to exclude animal protein, yet it also means a new and fun challenge to prepare a good meal despite the restrictions.
A salad is a good options when it comes to a meal like this, and it usually is the easiest one too. A salad however, should be a little filling, so I came up with the idea for this avocado and pumpkin salad.
Pumpkin-avocado salad (serves 2)
- 1 medium pumpkin
- 2 avocado's
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with aluminium foil.
2. Rinse the pumpkin, pat it dry and put it on the baking tray. Bake for 1 hour until done. Allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Put one half in your fridge to use in another meal.
4. Dice the remaining pumpkin half and put it in a bowl, it's ok to leave the skin on, it's edible.
5. Cut the avocado's in half, discard the pits and dice the flesh. Add to the pumpkin in the bowl.
6. Top the vegetables with the cinnamon, lemon juice and -zest and olive oil and mix carefully.
7. Divide the salad over 2 plates and garnish with the pumpkin seeds and cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

January 26, 2012

Roast shoulder of lamb

It's been a while since my last post; due to some health problems I simply didn't feel like it. By now, I'm on my way to recovery and I started cooking enthusiastically again. So, to make up for the recent lack of posts, I'm posting a recipe for a tasty piece of meat today.
Roast shoulder of lamb, it looks impressive and is really easy to make. A few weeks ago I got this cut from my parents and up until a few days ago it was waiting in my freezer to be prepared. Today was the day. Partially because I picked up an 8kg pack of grassfed beef yesterday and had to make room in my freezer.
As far as lamb goes, I hadn't tried that much yet; I liked ground lamb and lamb steak, but that was about it. Starting today, I have a new favourite! Shoulder of lamb. The meat tastes great and after slow roasting it like I did, it's really tender and falls apart while not being dry at all. I'm definitely going to make this more often!
Roast shoulder of lamb (serves 4-6)
- 1 shoulder of lamb (approx. 1,5 - 2 kg)
- 1 bulb garlic
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- freshly ground black pepper
- 15g fresh rosemary sprigs
- 2 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to maximum temperature.
2. Break the garlic bulb into cloves and peel them. Put them, along with half of the rosemary, in a roasting pan.
3. Put the shoulder of lamb on top of the garlic and rosemary and rub it with cumin and pepper.
4. Drizzle with olive oil and put the remaining rosemary on top.
5. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and transfer to the oven. Immediately lower the temperature to 170 degrees Celsius.
6. Roast the lamb for approx. 3,5 to 4 hours, until you can pull the meat apart with a fork.
7. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the lamb to a plate and cover tightly with aluminium foil. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before shredding and serving the meat.
8. Serve with vegetables of your choice and enjoy!

January 11, 2012

Coconut crusted chicken

Sometimes you feel like having some comfort food. A tasty meal that'll provide you with energy, not just physically, but mentally as well. Sounds like take-out pizza? No.. Comfort food can be healthy, and paleo. There even is a whole cookbook dedicated to paleo comfort food: http://paleocomfortfoods.com/ 
By the way, I own this book and I can recommend it to anyone! There are some really tasty recipes in there.

Last weekend I was visiting my parents, who by the way also eat (mostly) paleo (and I'm so proud of them for doing so!), and my mom served me breaded chicken. Breaded sounds like it's far from paleo, but this version was. She 'breaded' the chicken with coconut flour, desiccated coconut, egg and some spices. Delicious!
What logically followed was me asking her how she did that and asking her for (demanding) the recipe.

I made my own version today. I didn't use any desiccated coconut, not exactly by choice, but because I used too much coconut flour and spices and didn't want to throw that away. So I decided to dip the fillets in there again instead of desiccated coconut. It tasted different from my mom's version, but was really tasty nontheless. If you decide to use desiccated coconut, it'll sweeten the dish, which tastes good by the way. You can get creative with the spices, feel free to add whatever you think would taste good.

Oh and just so you know, it's a lot of fun to flatten a chicken with a frying pan! So helpful to relieve your frustrations.. (make sure you don't damage your pan though, don't smack it onto the chicken too hard!)
Here's my version of coconut crusted chicken:

Coconut crusted chicken (serves 2)

- 2 chicken breasts (approx. 200g each)
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp ground paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground chili flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp coconut oil

1. Put both chicken breasts next to eachother on a chopping board and cover them with plastic wrap. Make sure the breasts are approx. 2 inches (5cm) apart.
2. Take a heavy skillet of frying pan and carefully slam the chicken with it to flatten. (this doesn't take too much force)
3. Beat the egg and pour onto a plate.
4. Mix the coconut flour with the spices on a plate and cover the chicken with it on all sides.
5. Dip the chicken into the egg and coat on all sides, then dip in coconut mixture again until well covered.
6. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet or frying pan and fry the chicken over medium heat for approx. 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked.
7. Serve immediately and enjoy!

January 9, 2012

Liver; tasty and healthy

You probably know liver from when you were a kid and ate 'liver sausage' or pate. I used to love liver sausage.. These days I won't eat stuff like that anymore, after all, it's made to go on a sandwich and usually contains much, much more than just liver; stuff we don't want to eat. However, I did read that liver actually is very healthy to eat every now and then, as it contains a whole lot of vitamins; more than a steak, just to name something. And we're talking about the kind of vitamins you can't easily get from plants.

Still, something was stopping me; the thought. I didn't see myself frying some liver in a skillet just yet. I still can't believe that just a few years ago, I'd be digusted by the touch of raw meat and wouldn't eat anything that contained bones. I was fine with it as long as it didn't resemble an animal in any kind of way. And then I went paleo.

These days I roast whole chickens and large pieces of meat, I love bacon and my meals aren't complete without a piece of something that used to roam around freely on grassland. Why wouldn't I eat liver? While I was on the train this morning and checking facebook updates, I found this recipe: http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2012/01/08/crispy-spiced-chicken-livers/

Crispy chicken livers, somehow it appealed to me. I did have to do some grocery shopping after all, so I looked out for chicken livers. For just under 2 euros ($2,50), I got my hands on 400g chicken livers; that's insanely cheap! And in the back of my head I stll had the thought that, for that price, it wouldn't be that much of a shame if I really didn't like it and had to throw it away.

About an hour later, I was frying my livers in some coconut oil. They tasted great! Delicious! I can definitely recommend them to anyone.

So, if you still need some more information before you decide to start eating liver? Here are some facts:

- It's a good protein source.
- It's the concentrated source of vitamin A, which is beneficial for good eyesight.
- It contains a lot of B vitamins, especially vitamin B12 which plays an important role in preventing anaemia. A lack of B12 is often found in people with chronic fatigue.
- It contains a lot of folic acid; important for fertility.
- It contains iron in an easily available form; it's easily absorbed into your body to use.
- It contains copper, zinc and chromium.
- It contains a certain 'anti fatigue factor'; scientists found out that rats are able to swim much longer after eating liver than rats who got something else to eat, no matter how much nutrients were in there.
- It contains co-enzyme Q10; which is anti-aging and important for heart health.
- It contains purines; something DNA and RNA are made of.
- It contains panthotenic acid; this supports the adrenal glands and helps the body fight stress.

Many people still think it's unhealthy to eat liver because of the high amount of toxins in there. This is a misunderstanding: while the lever does neutralize toxins, it doesn't store them. Toxins are stored in fat tissue.

Here's a table where nutrients found in apples, carrots, red meat and beef liver are compared:

APPLE (100 g)CARROTS (100 g)RED MEAT (100 g)BEEF LIVER (100 g)
Calcium3.0 mg3.3 mg11.0 mg11.0 mg
Phosphorus6.0 mg31.0 mg140.0 mg476.0 mg
Magnesium4.8 mg6.2 mg15.0 mg18.0 mg
Potassium139.0 mg222.0 mg370.0 mg380.0 mg
Iron.1 mg.6 mg3.3 mg8.8 mg
Zinc.05 mg.3 mg4.4 mg4.0 mg
Copper.04 mg.08 mg.18 mg12.0 mg
Vitamin ANoneNone40 IU53,400 IU
Vitamin DNoneNoneTrace19 IU
Vitamin E.37 mg.11 mg1.7 mg.63 mg
Vitamin C7.0 mg6.0 mgNone27.0 mg
Thiamin.03 mg.05 mg.05 mg.26 mg
Riboflavin.02 mg.05 mg.20 mg4.19 mg
Niacin.10 mg.60 mg4.0 mg16.5 mg
Panthothenic Acid.11 mg.19 mg.42 mg8.8 mg
Vitamin B6.03 mg.10 mg.07 mg.73 mg
Folic Acid8.0 mcg24.0 mcg4.0 mcg145.0 mcg
BiotinNone.42 mcg2.08 mcg96.0 mcg
Vitamin B12NoneNone1.84 mcg111.3 mcg

All in all, there are more than enough reasons to eat liver every now and then. I, for one, am certain I'll make this again.
Also make sure to check out this liver pate recipe: http://balancedbites.com/2011/05/easy-recipe-chicken-liver-pate.html