AIP Birthday Cupcakes – Fresh Fruit Sweetened! – Paleo

 When I was a little girl, birthdays always went one of two ways. Either my family played “Happy Birthday To You” by New Kids On The Block or we cried because someone couldn’t find the NKOTB CD.  Listening to this song on YouTube brings back a flood of childhood memories, gathering around our table as my mother cut the cake, and my twin sister and I danced around the living room. We always got a Publix cake… usually a chocolate one and a vanilla one with buttercream frosting. I wanted to make a birthday cupcake that AIPers or those on sugar-free diets could enjoy. The texture is very close to the birthday cake we’re all used to – dense, moist, and chewy. The frosting takes on an almost mocha flavor from the carob powder and I really could just eat a bowl of Birthday Frosting and never turn on my oven, but I wasn’t going to half-ass birthday cake recipe. 

Head over to The Paleo Mom for my recipe for AIP Birthday Cupcakes – hey it’s somebody’s birthday somewhere. Eat up.

Coconut-Poached Mahi and Plantain

I get really freaked out/pumped when I throw seemingly random ingredients in a pot and out *POOFS* a magical meal. Poaching fish in coconut cream and bone broth is a genius, fool-proof method for flaky, tender, and lightly seasoned filets. Cooking finely diced plantain in the leftover coconut-cream and broth = FOOD HEAVEN. The plantain hash is a creamy and deliciously flavored starchy satisfaction. The recipe probably looks like such an odd food combo but trust me, it works! I love starch – it makes me happy. I tried a low carb AIP diet when I first started plus an intense workout regimen (I used to listen to way too many podcasts back in 2013/early 2014 that advocated a low carb diet and high intensity interval training for everyone) and I know that it was one of the reasons I dove head first instead late stage adrenal fatigue. Bad decisions lead to information seeking lead to good decisions. 

Ugh my dog Rafael is alternating between violent hiccuping, barking at everyone that walks by our apartment, and getting up to turn around exactly 360 degrees and laying back down in the same spot he already was laying in. He can be really annoying and cute at the same. We often joke he’s so adorable that we want to punt him/punch him/squeeze him until his eyeballs pop out of his head. We’re married because our sense of humor is equally screwed up. No one else gets us. Oh he really makes my heart flutter. I just pinned him on his back, kissed him 5 times between his eyeballs, and rubbed his white belly. I probably shouldn’t have children for fear of smothering them to pieces. 

Coconut-Poached Mahi-Mahi & Plantain

Serves 2 |Prep Time 5 minutes | Cook Time 15 minutes

2 6-oz mahi-mahi filets

1/3 cup bone broth

1/3 cup coconut cream

3 cups plantain, peeled and diced

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

1 tsp lime juice

Sea salt

1. In a sauté pan large enough to fit both pieces of fish, whisk together bone broth and coconut cream. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. 

2. Add fish to pan and let cook, uncovered, for 4 minutes. Flip fish gently, cover pan, and cook for 3-4 more minutes on opposite side until opaque throughout. Remove fish and keep warm. 

3. Add diced plantain to pan and return liquid to a low boil. Cover and let plantain cook for 3 minutes until tender and the liquid has thickened to a sauce. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice, cilantro and a large pinch of sea salt. 

4. Serve mahi-mahi over the plantain. 

AIP Salted "Chocolate" Cream Pie & Otto’s Cassava Flour Giveaway!

Yum. This blog post could end here, but I’ll put in more effort than that. I’ve been playing around with Otto’s Cassava Flour – a Paleo and AIP-friendly flour that has been blowing up all over the Paleo Instagram blogging scene. Our other AIP flour friend, Tapioca, is also made from the same root vegetable but processed in a different way. And they behave and taste in completely different ways too. I find that my body tolerates the cassava flour much better than tapioca starch for some reason. Tapioca usually leaves me feeling bloated and a little groggy, but I haven’t experienced that with Otto’s at all!

Otto’s Cassava Flour can be used 1:1 as a wheat flour replacement, which is fantastic if you’ve been wanting to Paleo-ify some traditional family recipes. It absorbs more moisture than wheat or nut/seed flours I noticed, but that can be easily managed by adding more liquid to the recipe. I cannot wait to keep experimenting with it – it is SO much easier to bake with than any other AIP or Paleo flour that I’ve tried!

This AIP-friendly no-sugar pie crust is made entirely with the cassava flour. It’s light and delicate but sturdy too – almost like a pie crust-shortbread hybrid. You may be able to achieve a flakier crust with coconut oil, but I used palm shortening. I included an option for coconut oil and a coconut-free version in the instructions below. The crust contrasts beautifully with a silky smooth and fluffy “chocolate” cream filling made out of pureed white sweet potatoes, which was inspired by my Silky Sweet Potato Puree. The pie is not overly sweet by any means – less than 1/2 T of honey per serving – and would make for an impressive Easter brunch treat! I served it with a Smoked Sea Salt & Vanilla Whipped Cream (recipe below!)

GIVEAWAY: I will be giving away (1) bag of Otto’s Cassava Flour! Head to my Facebook page to enter by Friday, 3/13/15!

AIP Salted “Chocolate” Cream Pie

Serves 6-8 | Cook Time 40 minutes | Sets in fridge 3 hours

1 lb Japanese yam, peeled and chopped into ½ inch cubes*

15 oz Coconut milk (full-fat)

3  T Honey

1 cup Otto’s cassava flour

¼ tsp Sea salt

½ tsp Cinnamon

½ cup Spectrum all-vegetable shortening or coconut oil

8 T Ice water

½ cup Carob powder

1 T Coconut oil

½ tsp Sea salt

1 tsp Gelatin

For Serving: 1/2 tsp Flaked sea salt and Smoked Sea Salt & Vanilla Whipped Cream (Vanila reintroduction required)

*Japanese yam is a white flesh sweet potato with purple skin. It has a mild taste and starchier texture than regular yams, which cannot be substitued here. You can try other varieties of white sweet potato, but they may not be as creamy.

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Combine the sweet potatoes and coconut milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a low boil over medium heat and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the honey and continue cooking for 8 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Cut palm shortening or coconut oil into small chunks and freeze on a large plate for 15 minutes while sweet potatoes cook.

4. Place cassava flour, ¼ tsp sea salt, cinnamon, and cold palm shortening or coconut oil in food processor. Pulse 20-30 times until the mixture looks crumbly. Add ice water in 2 T at a time, pulsing 10 times in between each addition, until a moist and crumbly dough forms.

5. Spoon dough into a glass pie dish. Press the dough firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Poke 10-15 holes into the bottom of the crust with a fork. Bake for 16 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 7 minutes. The pie crust will rise slightly and be a light golden brown when finished.

6. Clean food processor and add all of the sweet potatoes and coconut milk from the saucepan along with the carob, coconut oil, ½ tsp sea salt, and gelatin. Process for at least 30-45 seconds until pureed and silky smooth.

7. Pour carob cream filling into baked pie crust and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place in refrigerator at least 3 hours to set.

8. Serve sprinkled with flaked sea salt and dollop of Smoked Vanilla Whipped Cream (or your preferred whipped cream recipe).

Smoked Sea Salt & Vanilla Whipped Cream

7 oz Cocont cream, cold

1 tsp Gelatin

1/4 tsp Smoked sea salt

1/2 tsp Vanilla bean powder (for AIP use vanilla powder)

1. Using a hand mixer, whip coconut cream for 3-4 minutes. Stir in gelatin, smoked sea salt and vanilla, and whip for another 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Coconut-Free Paleo Version

I promised a reader that I would provide suggestions for a coconut-free version of this pie!  I do not know of a Paleo coconut-free whipped cream though! I have not made this version of the pie, but from my experience with Paleo baking, I believe these suggestions will yield a similar result – possibly even tastier with the use of ghee!

– Replace palm shortening/coconut oil 1:1 with ghee

– Steam sweet potatoes for 15 minutes. Remove water from the pan and toss the cooked sweet potatoes, honey, and 1/4 cup ghee or lard in saucepan until it comes to a low boil. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Proceed with step 8.

This little guy got to lick my plate … Dude needs a hair brush.

Silky Sweet Potato Puree [AIP/Whole30]

 I cannot take full credit for this recipe because it was 100% inspired by an insane 3-course meal cooked by The Paleo Mom this weekend. It was a belated Valentine’s dinner party that had been postponed a few weeks. We joked it was Ballantyne’s Day after being served the schmanciest home-cooked meal I’ve ever had! Sarah is SO talented and any home cook could learn a ton from watching her for just one evening. 

On the menu was… 

Asparagus | Seared Scallops | Sturgeon Caviar (told you she fancy!)

Lamb | Blood Orange-Red Wine Reduction | Wilted Greens, Pork Belly & Pomegranate Salad | Celeriac Puree (the inspiration)

Plantain Pancake Stack | Honey-Sweetened Chocolate Ganache | Coconut Whip | Organic Strawberries

Sarah should obviously be telling chefs across America, “Paleo, what up!” and consulting with Jean Georges. In between books, podcasts, business meetings, seminars, mom duties, wifely thangs, and running multiple companies. 

For this recipe, I suggest using an Instant Pot if you have one to get the silkiest puree, but what is even more important is a properly flavored bone broth. I used a beef broth cooked from large grassfed marrow bones in my Instant Pot for 90 minutes with a big handful of elephant garlic. A high-powered blender like a Blendtec or a Vitamix is going to yield the best result but a good food processor can work just fine if you do not have either of those products!

Silky Sweet Potato Puree [AIP-Friendly/Whole30]

Serves 6 | Ready in 15-20 minutes

2 lbs white sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes

1 1/2 cups beef or pork bone broth

1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Place sweet potatoes and bone broth in your Instant Pot. Set timer to 10 minutes and let pressure cook until potatoes easily break apart with a fork. Alternatively, you can steam the sweet potatoes by placing them in a steamer basket fitted in a pot with the bone broth. Bring to a low boil, cover with a lid, and let the sweet potatoes steam cook for 15 minutes. 

2. Pour sweet potatoes, broth, and sea salt into Vitamix, Blendtec, or food processor. Blend on medium speed for at least 30 seconds until a very silky puree has formed. 

3. Serve with your favorite prepared meat or seafood dish!

An AIP Guide to Atlanta

Moving to a new city is always tough, especially if you’re wishing it feels like home from Day One. I’ve moved around a good bit the last few years, and my top priority is to always figure out how to feel fulfilled with my daily routine. I like walking – so my grocery store, coffee shop, or gym, needs to be in walking or biking distance. I love a good trendy restaurant focused on locally-sourced foods made in a kitchen I can trust to always take my food allergies seriously. What is date night without a good date night spot?

And then there’s the shopping. I’m not a big shopper – I tend to get anxiety over high price tags. But I love to browse unique stores – mostly home decor, stationary, grocers, and bookstores. I’ve been in Atlanta a couple months to get the lay of the land, so I thought I would share some of my favorite picks from The Big Peach. 

FOOD/DRINK

Yeah! Burger: Grass-fed beef burgers served up as two thin griddled patties over a salad of local greens, sunflower sprouts, and avocado make a tasty fast food meal out. We hit this place up almost every weekend. Gluten free buns and sweet potato fries are available too! The fries are cooked in non-GMO canola oil, and I have found that splitting an order with my husband doesn’t cause my any issues surprisingly, but of course canola is not AIP. Cool California vibe and a great selection of beers & ciders too (for your friends)!

Octane: This coffee joint offers a comfortable, underground-feeling vibe. Decent loose-leaf tea selection – I especially enjoy their earthy and vibrant rooibos tea. My husband gets the Chai Latte, which he says is the best he’s ever had, but the only non-dairy option is soy milk. Boo! Because every time he gets it, I really want to sneak a sip! Located in a trendy neighborhood off Howel Mills – it’s walking distance to some great restaurants and stores like Bar Taco, Crafted Westside, Yeah! Burger, and Anthropologie. 

Atlanta Fish Market: A well-known hot spot for local celebrity sightings offering a huge selection of fresh catches paired with perfectly cooked vegetables and an impressive sushi and sashimi selection. I got a selection of oysters from both coasts, none of which disappointed, and a tuna/avocado/crab roll wrapped in thinly sliced cucumber. They were super accommodating with my allergies too – our waiter even told us to ask for him next time since he’s familiar with them now! The interior design leaves a lot to be desired – it’s sort of 70’s Gulf Coast of Florida retro, which is never a good look, but the quality and freshness of the seafood and the attentive services makes up for it!

SHOPPING

Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market: Over 400 varieties of produce from around that world at incredibly affordable prices | I do a weekly or every-other-week shopping trip here, stocking up on all types of produce like 5 lb bags of organic apples ($5), bunches of herbs ($2), fresh coconuts ($2), organic greens (varieties of kale, mustard, and chard from all over the glove). This is also where I find my favorite carob powder, guar-gum free coconut milk (Savoy brand), shredded coconut, and gluten free cereal for my husband! Be forewarned if you do not like crowds, it’s best to go during the weekday, or be engulfed by throngs of people asking you what you cook with that odd shaped hairy tuber from Costa Rica in your cart.P.S. They don’t let you take photos in there (???) so I cannot convey to you how insane this place is…

Crafted Westside: Should be renamed The Best of Etsy! Live! This store offers an eclectic mix of handmade jewlery and clothing and the kind of stationary you hate to give away. Almost every item in the store was crafted by a local artist – and it’s admirable that Crafted’s mission is to gain visibility for these talented folks. Beautiful home decor items like pillows and trinkets are uniquely displayed on gorgeous mounted shelving and rustic rolling carts. You’ll leave with a lighter wallet, but also a smile!

Sevananda Market: A small neighborhood organic co-op in Little Five Points, Sevananda offers all your favorite nutrient-dense convenience foods (kombucha, coconut oil, kraut, sushi, green juice, etc) plus an incredible selection of organic culinary and medicinal herbs and spices. The prices are competivie with Whole Foods, but Sevananda has more sale items. I was able to snag my Jason brand tea tree oil toothpaste for $3 less than the Whole Foods price! If you need a treat, their dried papaya is going to be right up your alley. 

Whole Foods Buckhead: This flagship WF store will definitely have what you’re looking for – large selections of organic produce, a juice bar, and one of the best hot bar/salad bars that I have come across. We eat here at least once a week and I’m always impressed with the variety and nutrient density of my meals here. They usually have 5-6 Paleo-labeled options at the hot bar (the rosemary roasted butternut squash is my fave), and I’ll get that with a big raw veggie salad and a piece of grilled salmon. 

Star Provisions: A food blogger’s dream… a goods and grocer focused on local, handmade and high quality products that also make great photo props and gifts! You can find unique cuts of meat here, fresh seafood, cheese (for your dairy-eating boyfriend), and beautiful handmade kitchen items. A fun place to browse even if you don’t have the money to spend. Be careful… it’s right next to a Jeni’s Splendid ice cream (the BEST ice cream you will ever try. not worth the flare though, I’ll be honest! I’ve done you the favor of testing it out.)

PARKS/RECREATION

Piedmont Park: The city’s most famous park by far… Piedmont is the place to go during nice days for long strolls, jogs, bike rides, and doggy play dates. You’ll find people playing all types of sports across the expansive park, sitting by the lakes chatting with that special someone, or strolling through the Saturday Farmer’s Market. It’s centrally located, and there is free street parking too! The park connects to the Belt Line, a bike & walker friendly path that connects the city via pedway. 

Chattahoochee River Trails: A series of trails located throughout the city center along the river that offer a variety of REAL hiking and biking for outdoor enthusiasts. These are my favorite trails around the city, and we often go on weekend morning for a 90 minute hike with our dog. Parking is $3 and monitored by the troopers, so bring cash! There’s some beautiful bamboo, steep hills for a butt burn, and plenty of friendly nature groups to chat with along the way. 

Amicolala State Park: Located about 90 minutes north of city center, this rural hiking spot can get pretty crowded but for good reason. A real, live, and very wet waterfall just outside a major U.S. city! It’s a fun hike up the 600 ft stair case and definitely a good workout. I suggest going either early in the morning or during the work week to avoid crowds of families and whiny children wanting to be carried up the stairs. There’s tons of different activities to do at the state park besides hiking, especially for kids (a big playground), and if you’ve always wanted to see the Appalachian Trail… you can access the beginning of it 8.5 miles from the park itself (trailhead starts near parking lot). 

Prosciutto Meatloaf Muffins with Fig Jam

 These mini prosciutto-wrapped meatloaves are so dang good, that they made my pescatarian sister wiggle her nose and my Jewish aunt asked for seconds and thirds. They’re a great make-ahead, full of flavor AIP entree that’s like a whole meal in one! Meat, veggies, and healthy fats combined into a hand-held meat treat. Head over to Autoimmune Paleo, where I guest post as a recipe contributor, for THE RECIPE. 

Honey-Lime Chicken & Strawberry Salad (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)

 

 

Spring has sprung and so have my cravings for light and refreshing meals. This salad is satisyfing combination of honey-sweetened chicken, tart, juicy strawberries, creamy avocado, and a flavorful Strawberry-Lime Dressing. I’ve never understood the people who say they don’t like salads… Get the recipe for Honey-Lime Chicken & Strawberry Salad over at Autoimmune Paleo where I guest as a recipe contributor each month!

 

He Won’t Know It’s Paleo Cookbook Review & Preview Recipe… and even if he does, he won’t care.

 

 

If you’ve spent at least one hour perusing AIP recipes online, then you have come across Bre’anna’s blog He Won’t Know It’s Paleo. Why? Because she knows how to tap into our nostalgic desires,  foodie yearnings, and (at least my) love of brownies. When Bre’anna told our crew of AIP bloggers that she would be releasing her own cookbook on Amazon within her first year of blogging, I was like “Well, duh, her recipes are always hits!” and “Dang, this chick has guts! Three kids, one on the way, and a husband, and she still somehow found a way to create 100+ AIP recipes so all you lovely people never feel deprived! Pretty selfless, if you ask me!

 

In my cookbook reviews, I always like to give you guys a better idea of the types of recipes offered. Each cookbook author has their preferred flavor profiles and cooking methods, some of which we really can identify and appreciate based on our own experiences. Bre’anna’s recipes are very family-friendly, using affordable and easy to find ingredients, and clearly inspired by her Texas roots. Meals can be batch-cooked and served as leftovers, brought to pot lucks or social gatherings, and don’t require complicated kitchen equipment.

 

[Honey Seared Pork Tenderloin- made with pork roast here]

 

One of the many recipes that speaks to me is the Nightshade-Free Red Salsa which looks just like the stuff I used to share with friends during late night Tex Mex, and the recipe only has one step! Served with her Queso and Plantain Chips for a Southwest-inspired gathering, you will be guaranteed “Best AIP Hostess of the Year” award by even your non-AIP pals.

 

If you’re missing sauciness in your life – you will get a kick out of the Condiments chapter full of your traditional American favorites like ketchup, mustard, butter, and BBQ sauce made creatively without any nightshades or dairy! And if you’re more into baking, you’ll enjoy tons of AIP renditions of pumpkin, banana, lemon, chocolate, blueberry treats and more.

 

[Breakfast Sausage on one of the AIP biscuits I’ve been testing]

 

I’m more of a main dish type of gal, so I couldn’t wait to dive into the pork recipes. I chose to try the Breakfast Sausage which couldn’t be easier to prepare and is made with AIP-compliant herbs and spices to add as much flavor to your morning meal as possible! I ate mine with my own recipe for biscuits, but will definitely be trying her biscuit recipe soon too. I next made the Honey Seared Pork Tenderloin.

 

My butcher didn’t have pork tenderloin, so I used a pork loin roast and increased the cooking time by 30 minutes to make sure it was cooked through. The exterior of the meat was full of caramelized bits of honey and pork fat, and the inside meat was tender and juicy from using a 2-step cooking method.

 

I will also be trying some of my pre-Paleo restaurant faves like the Bacon Wedge Salad with Ranch Dressing, Stacked Enchilada Chicken Verde, and Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs. I don’t want to give away anymore though – it’s your turn to find out what else Bre’anna AIP-ified now!

You can buy He Won’t Know It’s Paleo: 100+ Autoimmune Protocol Recipes to Create with Love and Share with Pride on Amazon now ! 

 

Did that photo of her Chocolate Mousse Stuffed Strawberries get you licking your lips? Get the full recipe here!

Mint "Chocolate" Truffles (Paleo, AIP, Vegan)

 

It took me 3 tries to get the proportions of this easy to throw together AIP treat recipe correct! I kept adding too much peppermint oil, which actually turns bitter in strong amounts! I love how these truffles are made with avocado, a whole food, so even if “indulging” in these treats, you’re still getting some real food in ya! If you tolerate alcohol extractives like peppermint extract, you can that in this recipe, but be forewarned that it won’t be AIP-compliant. Since this is a no-bake treat, the alcohol in the extract does not “cook off” during the baking process.

 

This weekend was really fun – I got to spend lots of quality time with my husband and dog, hiking some really beautiful trails that are within city center limits! Atlanta has been a pleasant surprise so far… notably all the preserved natural areas and of course the DeKalb Farmer’s Market. I didn’t have a chance to go this weekend, and I was sharply reminded why I need to stop shopping at Whole Foods for all my groceries. Kills me how much I paid for 3.5 lbs of grass fed beef bones … $17!!! People get those for free from their farmers all the time. It’s just Luda. Yes that was a Ludicras reference… been listening to this old school 90’s hip-hop station since we moved here. I hate the radio but I never get sick of Biggie.

 

So these truffles are really addicting if used to be a mistress with Mint-Chocolate in your previous non-Paleo life like me. I especially love them the next day after they have been hardening in the freezer overnight! 1 or 2 is really satisfying. I will admit to emotionally eating 2 on my lunch break today after being a wee stressed at work, and I was able to return for an afternoon of smiles and cheery “How’d your weekend go!?!? Mine was SO MUCH FUN!” without having to fake it. Just some AIP Prozac getting me through the day, nothing wrong with that 😉

 

AIP Mint Chocolate Truffles

Makes 8-10 truffles | Prep Time 5 minutes | Freeze Time 45 minutes

¾ cup unsweetened medium shredded coconut

½ cup well-mashed avocado

¼ cup melted coconut oil

1 T honey (melted if solid)

6-7 drops peppermint essential oil

3 T coconut flour

¼ cup carob powder

Pinch sea salt

Extra carob powder for dusting

1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl until combined. Roll 8-10  even-sized balls and place on a plate in the freezer to harden for at least 45 minutes. If you would like to dust the truffles in carob (shown left in picture), simply pour a few tablespoons in a small bowl and roll the truffles in the coating prior to freezing.

2. Store covered in freezer for a quick grab-and-go treat!