Ultimate Keto Bread Rolls

by Susan Smith in


What’s more wonderful than lovingly home-baked bread made from the best organic ingredients? I’ll tell you what. It’s these golden-crusted, soft-crumbed, whole-mealy, Ultimate Keto Bread Rolls that are impossible to distinguish from traditional bread rolls made from wheat flour.

I don’t wish to brag, but out of the many recipes for low-carb breads that I’ve trialled and/or ‘errored' courtesy of other food bloggers online, this brilliant Primal Plate recipe is the definitive guide for making the best Ultimate Keto Bread Rolls in the world! Actually, amend that to simply “the best bread rolls in the world” - whether they’re made with digestively challenging high-carb grain flour or not!

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Seriously, I’m not kidding. No one, and I mean no one, could tell the difference between these bread rolls and the ones “Chef baked fresh today” oft served up in fine dining restaurants. When you tear open and eat one of these quickly-made delicious bread rolls you won’t believe they’re low-carb, gluten and grain free. Furthermore, they don’t rely on yeast to make them rise, which means they don’t require kneading or waiting around for them to ‘prove’.

This simple, batter bread recipe calls for organic, whole, golden flaxseeds and psyllium husks that you grind yourself into the consistency of flour in a small coffee grinder, just before use. Sorry about that, but it’s vitally important that flaxseeds are freshly ground because, if you buy them ready-ground, they quickly turn rancid.

Fresh flaxseed flour is a nutritional powerhouse packed with fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, antioxidants, and cancer-fighting lignans. According to Dr Mercola, animal research shows people who eat a high-fat diet with flaxseed have more beneficial bacteria in their gut and better glucose control than those eating just high fat (without flaxseed) or a standard diet. The health of your gut is key to attaining optimal health. If you've been trying to lose weight but have seen little progress, the challenge may be helped by feeding your beneficial bacteria.

With such remarkably healthy and obesity fighting credentials and just 4 grams of carbohydrate per bread roll, you’re all good to go low-carb and eat what you love and what loves you.

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Ultimate Keto Bread Rolls (makes 6)

Ingredients

150g organic golden flaxseed, freshly ground

20g organic whole psyllium husk, freshly ground

60g organic ground almonds

¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt 

½ tsp aluminium-free baking soda 

2 large organic egg whites (approx. 85g)

1 tsp cream of tartar 

2 tbsp organic olive oil

200ml freshly filtered cold water

25g organic shelled hemp seeds - to finish tops of rolls


Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4

Line a large flat baking tray with non-stick paper.

Tip the hemp seeds onto a small plate, set aside.

In a coffee mill, grind the flaxseed and psyllium husk in to a flour-like consistency.

Place the ground flaxseed and psyllium into a large bowl with the ground almonds, baking soda and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients together until well mixed.

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In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy then add the cream of tartar and continue to whisk until they form soft peaks (best done with an electric beater)

In another bowl, briefly beat the olive oil and water together.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the olive oil and water and whisk with an electric beater until it just forms in to a batter, then quickly whisk-in the egg whites - only briefly - just enough to incorporate them without knocking all the air out!

Wait a couple of minutes for the batter to thicken into a soft, pliable dough, then tip the whole batch of mixture out on to weighing scales (I lay a piece of cling-film on the surface of the scales first).

Once you know the total weight of your dough, divide it into six even pieces (approx 90 grams per roll but use your weigh scales!) and form each piece in to a ball in the palms of your hands - I wear food-grade disposable gloves to save my hands getting messy.

Dunk the top surface of each ball of dough into the hemp seeds before placing it down on to the baking sheet.

Make the rest of the dough balls in the same way, allowing enough space between the bread rolls on the baking tray for them to rise during cooking.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Transfer the rolls from the baking tray on to a wire rack to cool down.

Serve warm or at room temperature with lashings of organic, grass-fed butter. 

Alternatively cut into halves and toast.

Notes

Beaten egg whites contain many air bubbles which expand in the oven’s heat to help leaven and lighten the loaves.

Fat 18g Protein 9g Carbohydrate 4g - per roll

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Roast Loin of Venison with Cauliflower Cream & Red Wine Sauce

by Susan Smith in


Today’s recipe is setting a new precedent for Easter Sunday lunch this year because instead of the time-honoured roast lamb, a loin of venison is the easiest roast in the world to cook and serve to your guests when you want to conjure up a no-fuss special occasion meal. Anything that takes the heat off the cook, especially when she’s already committed to drinking her fair share of Champagne aperitif(s) gets my vote.

This Loin of Venison with Cauliflower Cream & Red Wine Sauce not only looks and tastes amazing, most of the individual components can be made in advance and the final roasting and resting of the venison takes minutes, not hours.

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As I write this blog post, I am looking at Mirror Imaging’s photos of my finished plate of food and have concluded that I’ve been watching too many episodes of Masterchef! There’s really no need to ponce about with the Cauliflower Cream as I did. Indeed, it’s such a delicious, moreish accompaniment that a generous dollop on the plate will serve you so much better than any attempt to replicate a cheffy-style splat!

I was able to get my hands on a superb selection of exotic mushrooms from Maxey’s, a farm shop close to me that supplies the local restaurant industry. However, most supermarkets, including Marks & Spencer, sell mixed or single varieties of fresh, exotic mushrooms. Any fresh fungi that takes your fancy, perhaps enhanced by some reconstituted dried wild ones for more flavour, will work their earthy mushroom-magic in this dish.

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The canon of wild venison (canon is another name for loin) was a meaty treat we purchased from Gazegill Organics farm shop - you can also try Eversfield Organics or Primal Meats. After a joyful day recently spent at Gazegill farm, where we were able to interact with some of the most contented and cared for animals I’ve ever met - amongst them adorable, free-roaming, inquisitive, newborn piglets - we were left with no appetite for pork or lamb!

Although these precious, sentient beings ultimately provide healthy, organic meat, eggs and dairy from happy animals that have been allowed to grow up as naturally as possible - grazing, foraging in the fresh air and interacting with each other - so too does wild venison. Wild venison is naturally free from antibiotics and hormones (I think intensively farmed meat and dairy sucks!) and is a lean, high-protein, nutrient-rich red meat that perfectly fuels your body. It also has the meltingly tender eating quality of organic, grass-fed fillet of beef, which costs twice as much. Back in the 1960’s I vowed that when beef fillet cost £1 per pound I’d never buy it again. Today, organic fillet of beef can set you back nearly thirty times that amount, which to my mind makes a joint of wild venison loin a very good choice indeed.  

Once purchased, it was Great British Chef, Josh Eggleton’s venison recipe that inspired this recipe for Roast Loin of Venison with Cauliflower Cream & Red Wine Sauce. It’s an invitation to lunch that your friends and family won’t forget. A perfect crowd pleaser, this luxurious main course is the ultimate roast, not just for Easter, but for all those special occasions when you need to deliver good food but don’t want to grow old cooking it.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. Simply tackle the following trio of easy-to-follow recipes one at a time, spread over several days (the red wine sauce and cauliflower cream can be stored in the fridge up to two days in advance), so come the day, you can wow your guests with a celebratory meal that delivers big, mouth-watering flavours for very little effort. 

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Roast Loin of Venison with Cauliflower Cream & Red Wine Sauce (serves 4)

Ingredients

Venison

750g of loin of wild venison, trimmed of all silver skin (see Notes below)

2 sprigs of fresh organic rosemary

1 tbsp organic olive oil

15g organic ghee 

40g organic unsalted butter 

300g mixture of wild or cultivated mushrooms, preferably organic, trimmed and sliced

Himalayan pink salt (or use sea salt)

Organic black pepper, freshly ground

Organic watercress - to garnish


Cheesy Cauliflower Cream

1 head of organic cauliflower (about 600g), separated into florets

30g organic double cream 

50g organic salted butter 

50g organic Cheddar , grated

Himalayan pink salt or sea salt

Organic white pepper

Red wine sauce

1 tbsp organic olive oil

1 organic shallot, sliced

1 organic carrot, sliced

1 organic leek, top only, sliced

1 stalk of organic celery, sliced

1 sprig of organic fresh thyme 

1 organic bay leaf

1 sprig of organic rosemary

200ml organic red wine 

50ml organic red wine vinegar 

100ml organic port 

500ml organic chicken stock, or make your own

25g organic butter, cut into small cubes

Instructions

Prepare the red wine sauce in advance

Place a heavy-based pan over a medium heat, add olive oil and sauté the vegetables. Stir and scrape the pan until the vegetables turn a dark brown colour.

Add the herbs, red wine, port, and vinegar. Simmer until the mixture has reduced down to a few millimetres deep.

Add the stock, bring the sauce to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half.

Pass the reduced sauce through a fine strainer. Return to a small pan and set aside until you’re ready to serve. Just before serving re-heat to boiling point and whisk in the cold butter.

To make the Cheesy Cauliflower Cream

In the base of a large steamer, bring some salted, freshly filtered water to a rolling boil.

Trim the cauliflower away from its leaves and stem, divide into florets, place in the top of the steamer, cover and cook until soft.

Use a draining spoon to transfer the cooked cauliflower to a blender along with the cheese, butter and cream. Blend until silky smooth.

Transfer the cauliflower puree to a small saucepan. Season with salt and pepper to taste then either keep warm over a very low heat. Alternatively, cover and set aside until you’re ready to serve.

To serve, gently re-heat the cauliflower cream until it’s nice and hot. Tip: Stir the puree from time to time to ensure it warms through evenly and doesn’t ‘catch’ on the base of the pan. 

Cooking the venison

Bring the trimmed venison loin to room temperature. Pat dry with kitchen paper and rub the olive oil all over its surface before generously seasoning with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4.

Place a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the ghee.

Once the pan is hot and the ghee melted, sear one side of the venison for 2 minutes and then flip to sear the other side for 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the venison to a baking tray or roasting tin. Place half the butter (15g) cut into slivers evenly across the surface of the meat and top with the rosemary sprigs.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for a further 5-8 minutes, depending on your preference (see Notes below). When cooked to your liking, remove from the oven, loosely cover with foil and allow to rest 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the frying pan with the remaining half of the butter back on to a medium heat. Slowly sauté the mushrooms for 5 minutes until softened and turning golden at the edges. When almost finished, season with salt and pepper.

To Serve

Divide the hot cauliflower cream and mushrooms between four pre-warmed serving plates.

Slice the venison into 1-2 cm slices and divide between the plates, placing them neatly on top of the mushrooms.

Finish with the red wine sauce and garnish with sprigs of fresh watercress.

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Notes

To remove the silver skin from the meat, you’ll need to slip the tip of a very sharp knife between the silver skin and the meat. Starting at one end of the loin, carefully glide the knife along the meat, pulling the silver skin away at the same time. Once you’ve removed all the tough membrane, use a few strategically placed cocktail sticks to re-shape the loin and secure the meat back together again.

Don’t overcook the venison. It took just 6 minutes to cook mine medium-rare. If you don’t have a thermometer (it should read about 60℃ / 140℉ for rare to medium-rare when inserted into the thickest part of the meat) you’ll have to trust your instincts. Much depends on the thickness of your meat and the heat of the pan or oven. Clearly, there’s an art to telling when meat is cooked to your liking, but the best way to gauge ‘doneness’ is to use the finger-and-thumb test. Still not feeling it? Take a sharp knife and cut a small slit down into the centre of the meat and take a quick peek!

Fat 19g Protein 58g Carbohydrate 3g - per serving venison and mushrooms

Fat 14g Protein 6g Carbohydrate 8g - per serving cauliflower cream

Fat 8g Protein 7g Carbohydrate 7g - per serving red wine sauce


Lucky-Dip Salad Jars

by Susan Smith in


This is primarily a DIY recipe that comes to the rescue of people who think salad is boring and/or can’t be bothered to cook.

You will need to stretch yourself to make a Basic French Dressing and maybe boil some eggs (only if they take your fancy), but the final eating experience will far surpass your expectations of wading your way through a plateful of bog-standard salad.

Not only are these Lucky-Dip Salad Jars as pretty as a picture (thank you Sarah at Mirror Imaging), conveniently portion controlled (no fighting over a communal salad bowl for the best bits), fun to eat and packed with nutrients - their airtight seals means they can be assembled up to 24 hours ahead and everything will stay just as fresh and perky as it was when first prepared. 

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The key to success is layering a ‘rainbow’ of different, complementary salad ingredients that are shredded or very finely sliced (use a mandolin, if you have one), so that every forkful is a delightfully surprising, light and easy-to-eat, flavour fest.

Ideally packaged for picnics, for taking to the office or when you’re working away from home - I conjured up these Lucky-Dip Salad Jars in anticipation of a long-distance photographic assignment that involved an overnight stay, which would have prevented Sarah and I from eating ‘right’ (low-carb, organic, real food), for more than 24 hours. However, don’t save these perfectly balanced, perfectly dressed, ready-to-go salad jars just for on-the-hoof dining. They’re much too good for that. I now regularly bring them to the table whenever I want to add more plant-based nutritional oomph, colour and interest to everyday family meals.

You can either let your imagination run riot and buy a variety of fresh, salad ingredients to make these Lucky-Dip Salad Jars from scratch, or else ferret around in the bottom of your fridge for inspiration. It doesn’t take too much in the way of vegetables, herbs, salad leaves and other tasty tidbits to fill a 700ml Kilner jar with good-for-you things in contrasting colours, flavours and textures.

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Filling the Kilner jars is more like flower arranging than cooking. Simply take your time to neatly layer your chosen ingredients roughly in the order I’ve listed below and these bright and beautiful Lucky-Dip Salad Jars speak for themselves. 

You’ll discover a ’lucky-dip’ each time you dive deep into your personal salad jar because every forkful you randomly skewer is a different combination of ingredients and flavours. It’s such a novel and moreish way to eat salad, even I don’t remember what I’ve loaded my jars with until I start eating one!

What I do know is that these Lucky-Dip Salad Jars are a convenience food that has all of the pleasure and none of the pain it takes to feed yourself healthy.

Useful tips before you start…

  • You’ll need a 700-750ml, sterilised, clip-top, wide-mouthed, Kilner jar for each person - see Notes below.

  • Make a Basic French Dressing (see recipe below) before you start preparing the rest of your ingredients.

  • Select your ingredients from the suggestions listed and, if at all possible, buy organic to avoid eating chemical residues along with your salad!

  • Let your imagination be the limit of these Lucky-Dip Salad Jars rather than the ingredients I’ve put forward for consideration, which could have gone on ad infinitum! Okay, maybe I can’t resist a few more…hummus, orange/grapefruit segments, sweet peppers, red or white chicory, very finely sliced raw cabbage, toasted seeds (sunflower, flax, pumpkin), smoked mackerel, smoked salmon, sardines, prawns, blanched asparagus, cucumber etc. etc.

  • The approximate amounts given alongside each ingredient are per salad jar, but much depends on how many different ingredients you’ve chosen to use. If you’re using several ingredients of a similar type e.g. grated raw carrots and grated raw beetroot, you’ll probably need to scale back the amounts of each to 50 grams to make a 100 grams in total.

  • Layer your prepared salad ingredients in roughly the order I’ve given below. They’re organised like this for a reason - for example, grated purple beetroot would need to go into the bottom of the jar first so it doesn’t ‘bleed’ into the rest of your ingredients and delicate leafy greens go into the jar last so they don’t get squashed, bruised or soggy.

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Lucky-Dip Salad Jars

Basic French Dressing

Ingredients

1 level tsp Himalayan pink salt or fine sea salt 

1 tsp Organic Dijon mustard 

2 tbsp Freshly squeezed organic lemon juice or cider vinegar

Freshly milled black pepper 

6 tbsp Organic extra virgin olive oil or cold pressed macadamia nut oil 

1 tsp Organic honey or maple syrup or 2-3 drops organic liquid stevia 

Instructions

Put all the ingredients into a screw-topped jar and shake vigorously.

Lucky Dip Salad Jar Ingredients (per jar)

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp Basic French Dressing

Then choose from the following suggestions:

Vegetables

  • 100g Grated purple beetroot 

  • 100g Grated carrots

  • 100g Grated golden beetroot

  • 40g Finely sliced raw ‘button’ or closed cap mushrooms, white or brown

  • 30g Finely sliced raw fennel

  • 30g Finely sliced celery

  • 30g Finely sliced, kohlrabi

  • 30g Finely sliced radishes

Protein

  • 4 x Quail’s eggs, hard boiled or 1 x large hen’s egg, hard boiled and sliced

  • 25g Finely grated mature Cheddar or Parmesan

  • 25g Feta cheese, cut into cubes

  • 50g Tinned tuna, drained and mashed with 1 tbsp mayonnaise, if liked

Fruit

  • ½ tbsp Kalamata or green olives, stoned and slivered

  • ½ Avocado, dressed in 1 tsp lemon or lime juice 

  • 60g Whole cherry tomatoes

Nuts & Seeds

  • 25-30g Pine nuts, or other nuts e.g. almond flakes, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts etc. lightly toasted and roughly chopped, if required

  • 10-15g Pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, sesame seeds etc., lightly toasted

Leafy Greens & Herbs

  • 25g Baby leaf spinach, 

  • 25g Baby red chard

  • 25g Mixed baby salad leaves

  • 15g Rocket

  • 15g Watercress

  • 25g Shredded romaine lettuce

  • 10g Sprouting seeds of your choice - broccoli, clover, mustard, radish, onion, alfalfa etc.

  • 1 tbsp Finely chopped herbs - coriander, mint, dill, parsley, chives etc.

Instructions To Assemble Lucky-Dip Salad Jars

Place 1 tbsp of dressing in the bottom of each jar. 

Start layering up your selected ingredients roughly in the order listed above.

Seal the lid on tight and refrigerate.

When you’re ready to eat, drizzle another 1 tablespoon of dressing on top of the salad, re-seal the jar then tip upside down and shake well.

Dive in with a fork to enjoy!

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Notes

I subsequently discovered the seemingly best-shaped 700ml Tala jars that feature in this blog post were not dishwasher proof, as described on Amazon’s website. You need to make sure that the clips that secure your Kilner jars are stainless steel; the Tala ones corroded and went rusty after just one round in the dishwasher! 

450-500ml Kilner jars would be a better size for children and would still have sufficient space to layer a variety of ingredients that hopefully they’ll want to eat.

As far as possible, when selecting your salad ingredients make the most of each season’s fruits and vegetables and buy organic. This makes sense because it provides your body with what it needs nutritionally at different times of the year.

There’s a bit of guesswork involved in the total amount of ingredients you need to use to fill the jars attractively. Having decided on what ingredients I’m going to use to assemble my jars, I usually eyeball the quantities of each item I need to prep (chop, finely shred, grate etc.), before separately weighing and layering that particular ingredient equally between the number of jars I’m filling. I then prepare, weigh and continue to layer-up the rest of the ingredient in the same way until the jars are full.

Don’t forget to take a fork and a small, tightly-sealed glass jar of Basic French Dressing with you if you intend eating while you’re out and about. 


Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream

by Susan Smith in


We L-O-V-E ice cream. About six months ago Sarah asked me if I’d made a chocolate ice cream for Primal Plate’s blog yet. I reminded her that I had, albeit a No-Churn Double Chocolate & Cherry Ice Cream version rather than one made from just pure chocolate. It obviously hadn’t satisfied Sarah’s need because ever since she came back from holidaying in Tuscany (12 years ago!), she’s been raving about the Italian-style ‘cioccolato gelato’ that she just couldn’t get enough of whilst she was there.

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As Valentine’s day is just a couple of days away and I’ve heard dark chocolate is literally good for your heart, I thought I’d try and replicate the intensely-flavoured, Italian chocolate ice cream that Sarah still vividly remembers. It was a labour of love. My brief was lots of rich, lingering chocolatey flavour, just the right amount of smoothly soothing creaminess and no sugary aftertaste. It sounds like the perfect combination for a delicious keto dessert, but this one didn’t come easy.

Behind scenes, every new recipe I develop for Primal Plate takes at least three to four hours experimentation before I’m satisfied it works and is worthy of posting. To say I’m demoralised when I spend an entire afternoon in the kitchen and a small fortune on ingredients with nothing delicious to show for it, is an understatement. My first attempt at making Tarfuto Gelato (Italian for chocolate truffle ice cream) whilst carefully following a recipe in a well-known cookery book, turned out to be a rock-hard, grainy, under-sweetened, frozen ‘clod’ of inedible ice!

Usually, when I’m following someone else’s recipe, I instinctively know when something isn’t going to work and how to put it right, but on this occasion my cook’s intuition had gone ‘bye-byes’. In retrospect, the recipe was so ill-conceived and poorly written, I didn’t stand a chance. Sarah and John are always a little more forgiving of my foodie sorties into the unknown and nobly volunteered to eat the damn stuff, but most of it ended up where it belonged…in the bin.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Once chocolate ice cream was on Sarah’s ‘radar’, there was no turning back. Almost defeated, but not quite, I decided that if I was going to succeed in my quest to make The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream I’d better go ‘belt and braces’ and buy myself a decent cook’s thermometer. Another sixty-five quid to add to the mounting costs of chocolate ice cream hell!

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As things turned out, it was a good call. Whilst I waited for my luxury digital-probe thermometer to arrive, I tentatively but radically altered everything I knew was wrong with the previous recipe and in one fell swoop came up with The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream. For a health-driven food blogger, nothing feels as good as making healthy sweet! Because what’s more Primal than to seek out the sweet taste of sugar like your forebears did? It’s an instinct that’s hardwired into our DNA. The problem is that sugar is no longer the rare and lucky find that thousands of years ago provided our ancestors with the calories their bodies desperately needed to keep moving and to survive times of famine. Today, sugar is the edible enemy that will mostly likely kill you. Not only have we inherited the sugar-craving gene, it’s thanks to Big Food (along with Big Agri, Big Pharma and the likes of Slimmer’s World) who know exactly how to exploit our biological need for sweet, that there’s now sugar, sugar everywhere in the processed foods they peddle, and lots of overweight and sick people to show for it.

Mass-produced ice cream made from milk powder, water, refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavours, stabilisers, emulsifiers and “substances of plant and synthetic origin” may have the taste and texture of sweetened, aerated cardboard and be a serious health hazard, but at least it’s not a sheep in wolf’s clothing. What really gets my goat is Ben & Jerry’s ‘premium’ ice cream. They’d have you believe that it’s worth paying extra for their all-natural, “Caring Dairy” “Fair trade” environmentally responsible ice cream, but surprise, surprise, they’re not for real. Their reputation has been built on a cynical global marketing ‘game of pretence’ that creates the impression, amongst others, that the milk they source for their ice cream comes from cows that are allowed outside to graze on grass. The truth is that Ben & Jerry’s uses the same milk as most other commercial ice cream manufacturers. It comes from intensive dairy farms where anxious cows are kept in close confinement for their entire (short) lives and fed a diet of soy and grains that their digestive systems simply can’t cope with.

Poison ice cream anybody? Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy ice cream is not what it seems. As well as containing whacky ingredients such as wheat flour, soybean oil, carageenan, guar gum, Dutched cocoa (alkalised to make it taste less bitter) and six teaspoons of refined sugar per 100 grams (Yikes! That’s the maximum recommended daily sugar allowance for women in just one-half cup serving) it also likely comes with its own sundae topping of pesticide! Here’s what the Organic Consumer’s Association (OCA) has to say about their “Roundup-Ready” ice cream. So far as I know, Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s still haven’t cleaned up their act and gone organic and for that reason, as they say, I’m out.

For me, ’The Most Important Thing’ is to show you how to nourish yourself and the people you love with real food that makes everyone want to do a happy dance. To this end, The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream is chock-full of organic ‘superfood’ ingredients - high percentage dark chocolate, pastured egg yolks, full-fat grass-fed milk and cream. I think it goes above and beyond the call of duty to eat well and stay slim. It’s so deliciously indulgent, people who want to lose weight, might think of it as food anarchy! How else do you think Sarah and I maintain a dress size 6? It’s not by restricting what we eat - although when you ‘go keto' you can easily intermittently fast for more than 18 hours without even realising you’ve not eaten - It’s all about never feeling deprived of the things you love to eat.

Nothing is more powerful than when you combine care with eating wonderful food. Add to that the emotional response people have to chocolate and ice cream (especially Sarah!), and it’s probably true to say that nothing speaks the language of love more eloquently than this sublime, home-made, chocolate ice cream. It’s so much more than just food…it’s the sweetness and light of the pleasure principle that our ancestors lived by and that a part of us can never forget.

Happy Valentine’s.

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Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream (serves 8)

Ingredients

50g organic 100% dark chocolate 

100g organic 70% dark chocolate 

375ml organic whole milk

3 large organic egg yolks 

100g non-GMO erythritol 

200ml organic whipping cream (combine 100ml double cream with 100ml single cream)

1 tsp vanilla extract , optional

1 tbsp alcohol (organic vodka or rum)

40g organic dark chocolate (minimum 75% cocoa solids, but I used 85%), finely chopped

choc ice cream ingredients.jpg

Instructions

If you're not using ready-made chocolate ‘drops’ (as listed in ingredients above) snap or chop the chocolate into small pieces, then place in a heavy-based saucepan with the milk.

Heat gently, stirring until completely smooth. Do not let the mixture boil.

Remove from the heat to cool slightly.

Using an electric hand whisk, beat the erythritol and egg yolks together in a heatproof mixing bowl until pale and thick.

Heat 5cm of water in a saucepan that your mixing bowl will comfortably sit on top of without allowing any steam to escape at the sides (you don’t want to burn your hand when stirring the custard base!).

Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the eggs and erythritol, beat vigorously then set the bowl on top over the top of a pan of barely simmering water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.

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Cook the custard, regularly stirring so it doesn’t catch on the base or sides of the bowl until it thickens into a smooth custard that thickly coats a metal spoon (this can take up to 20 minutes). If you’re using a thermometer to check the temperature, it should reach about 85℃ / 185℉. Whatever you do, don’t allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle.

Remove the pan from the heat. Sit the base of the mixing bowl in a few inches of cold water until the mixture is completely cold, stirring occasionally.

Once cooled, add the vanilla extract and strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl, then cover and refrigerate.

When the mixture is completely chilled, beat the cream and alcohol into the chocolate mixture.

Churn in an ice cream machine, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until it is the consistency of whipped cream (about 20-25 minutes).

About 5 minutes before it’s ready, mix in the 40 grams of finely chopped chocolate and continue churning until set.

Quickly scrape into a glass freezer-proof box, level the surface and cover with waxed or greaseproof paper and a lid.

Serve within 2 hours.

If frozen solid, take the ice cream out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you intend to serve it to let it soften enough for scooping.

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Notes

I prefer to use a metal mixing bowl to make ice cream because it transfers heat and cold more quickly. You can use a glass bowl but it will take longer to cook and cool your custard.

Whilst I recommend you get a cook’s thermometer to make The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream, it doesn’t need to be a fancy-pants version like the one I bought. This digital thermometer was my second choice and I think it will serve you just as well.

Although I didn’t find Pacari's professional organic chocolate couverture drops in time for this recipe, I’m really tempted to test them out. Perhaps a vegan version of The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream made with Pacali’s 85% chocolate drops, coconut milk and cream already beckons!

I added vodka to this recipe to try to stop it from setting too hard, but I’m not sure if I added enough for it make much difference. After 24 hours in the freezer, it took about 40 minutes to get to the right consistency for scooping. Anyway, please don’t include alcohol if you’re serving this ice cream to children - just make sure your freezer temperature isn’t below -18℃ / 0℉

I chose to use organic A2 pasteurised milk for this recipe rather than the raw, organic grass-fed milk we prefer to drink because it has to be heated anyway to make the base custard. If you normally suffer discomfort after consuming regular A1 milk, you might find that you can tolerate A2 milk perfectly well.

Fat 36g  Protein 6g Carbohydrate 13g - per serving


Wild Mushroom Torte

by Susan Smith in


With the winter festivities over, I’m maxed out on animal protein.

As delicious as our low-carb, festive feasting was, which included a side of organic salmon, a saddle of wild venison and a Riverford XXL chicken the size of a small turkey (too much already!), in my opinion, the best meal to grace our table was this vegetarian Wild Mushroom Torte.

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I know, I know. I should’ve posted this recipe before now, but in the final week before Christmas I suddenly realised that the foraged wild mushrooms that Abel & Cole thoughtfully supplied throughout the autumn months, were no longer available. Nevertheless, after all my careful menu planning, I wasn’t about to change my mind about having a Wild Mushroom Torte for Boxing Day lunch.

With just five delivery days left until Christmas Eve, I tracked down the brilliant Wild About Mushrooms, ordered some dried morels and chanterelles and kept my fingers crossed that they’d arrive in time. They did. Furthermore, when they were reconstituted their wild mushroom ‘perfume’ was just as, if not more fragrant than, fresh wild mushrooms.

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Combining wild mushrooms for their perfume and concentrated flavour and cultivated mushrooms for texture (any type of mushroom that you fancy, and your purse will allow) makes this Wild Mushroom Torte the most delicious-tasting, vegetarian main course you can imagine. I served mine with lime-glazed parsnips, curly kale and a gravy enriched with the broth from the rehydrated mushrooms and it was divine!

Whilst my fellow diners and I are a sample size of just three people, for what it’s worth, we all feel significantly better - lighter in body and mind - when our meals are low-carb, high-fat and centred around a plateful of vegetables.

You wouldn’t guess this from the OTT seasonal animal protein extravaganza listed above, but my love for animals means I regret having to eat them at all. I choose to do so because clearly humans are genetically programmed for optimal functioning from a diet that includes meat.

When ancient humans first created the tools and developed the skill to hunt down some carefully selected prey - antelope, wildebeest, bison - our species, hungry for a dense, protein-rich source of energy, got a taste for meat. To our half-starved ancestors, the sight of a large animal being dragged back to camp for the benefit of the tribe would signal a time to ‘party’ and gorge themselves silly on meat. But this wasn’t a daily occurrence. Afterwards, they would not eat any protein again until the next kill…which could be days, weeks, or months.

Unfortunately, without taking a much needed rest from consuming protein, most Primal/Paleo fans who favour eating unlimited amounts of pastured meat because, to their mind, it’s the real ancestral deal, may find that their diet won’t cut it for long-term health. Eating way too much protein, particularly animal protein, is no better, and in fact, potentially worse than eating pasta and bread regularly. 

The same applies to people on a ketogenic diet, who believe that all they have to do to lose weight is cut the carbs and replace them with massive amounts of cheese, eggs, butter, bacon and fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb. An excess of protein in the diet contributes to excess calories.

Surplus protein morphs into sugar inside the body and raises insulin levels. Insulin is the fat depositing hormone that ushers excess blood sugar into your fat cells for future storage and voilà, you start to gain weight.

Not too much difference between that and a diet filled with bread, pasta, potatoes and rice!

It’s almost a universal problem for those of us unwilling to eschew all animal protein for a plate of carb-laden grains, potatoes, beans and legumes (did you know that 46% of the world’s diabetics live in India, where many Hindus avoid meat?) that we inevitably end up eating far more meat than is good for us.

Since it is too tedious and stressful for me to try and work out a daily macronutrient dietary analysis of the delicious Primal foods my family eats, my rather lenient-minded cook’s solution is to encourage us all to engage in 16-20 hours of intermittent fasting every day, to eat relatively small amounts of meat or fish two or three times weekly and, for the rest of the time, make sure all our meals centre around high fat with lots of colourful, high-fibre plant-based elements rather than the usual carbohydrate or protein heavy meals that most people depend on.

I’ve not yet mentioned that if the meat you’re eating isn’t organic and the animal it came from was grain-fed, which all cheap meat raised in commercial feeding lots is, then you are actually eating the same grains and/or soy beans that the animal ate when it was alive. Furthermore, these cereals most likely came from GM crops grown with Glyphosate and other mad, man-made, toxic chemicals. You need to know there is such a thing as Glyphosate Induced Obesity, which applies to everyone who continues to eat ‘cheap’ highly processed and chemically laden food, whether it be fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes vegetable seed oils or from animals born and bred on a cocktail of chemicals. 

A further disturbing reason to avoid red meat, or at least eat significantly less of it, is that the flesh of cattle, pigs and sheep contains a sugar molecule called Neu5Gc, which, unlike most other mammals, humans cannot synthesise. A shout out here for Dr. Gundry’s book ‘The Plant Paradox’ (and my sister Wendy, who gifted me this brilliant, informative read!). According to Dr, Gundry, every time humans eat the flesh of beef, pork and lamb - grass fed or not - it triggers an immune response that can cause chronic inflammation, which is a known contributor to cancer, diabetes and heart disease. All things taken into consideration, eating too much meat is not just unhealthy, it’s really unhealthy. 

Now I know we’d all be better off eating less meat, I shall be re-focusing my efforts on finding more nutrient-rich, plant-based, ketogenic recipes to share with you on this blog. These won’t include much fruit. Because whilst there’s an ongoing debate about whether or not an excess of protein kicks you out of ketosis, it has to be said that fructose - the copious amounts of fruit sugar contained in apples, bananas, grapes, pears and especially the exotic fruits you've been told are “healthy” - most certainly will. 

When I first started writing this blog, it was a massive overdose of multiple fruit and vegetable smoothies that put my immune system on red-alert, causing acute systemic inflammation and a skin rash that wouldn’t go away. Subsequently, I thought I’d sussed out the perfect anti-inflammatory diet, until my last birthday, when a celebratory meal at a restaurant caused me to have another severe allergic reaction. It’s taken four months of paying close attention to my gut health, noticing how my body responds to different foods and implementing more elegant lifestyle choices (less wine; more sleep!) to repair the damage that I can directly attribute to just one savoury meal. 

Whenever you eat food prepared by someone that’s not on your dietary wavelength, e.g. profit-led restaurants and high street food chains, you’re vulnerable. My recent experience told me that even a single meal can push you towards metabolic mayhem, which if repeated often enough, can lead to diseases such as obesity, atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes. Staying-in to eat together seems a much nicer way to have fun!

If you’re planning to make 2019 the year you take back control of your health by opting for a life-enhancing diet that quickly burns-off excess body fat, reverses the symptoms of chronic disease and helps you to stay slim, strong and fit forever (well, almost forever!) please subscribe to Primal Plate’s blog for delicious, inspirational recipes and the latest nutritional research that will show you the why, when and what foods to eat to achieve your goal.

In the meantime, the best food-related new year’s resolution you can make is to eat real food. Essentially, this means you, someone you love or someone you’re willing to pay, cooks for you at home. 

Start with the joy of cooking this Wild Mushroom Torte, which is a slightly modified version of Annie Bell’s recipe in Gorgeous Greens. Preparing the mushrooms takes quite a bit of time, but you’ll find the end result so very tasty and worthy of the effort that you may never want to eat restaurant food again! 

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Wild Mushroom Torte (serves 4-6)

Ingredients

50g organic butter

4 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil

160g organic Parmesan, finely grated

3 organic shallots, peeled and finely chopped

800g mixture of wild and organic cultivated mushrooms, trimmed and finely sliced

Himalayan Pink salt (or use sea salt)

Organic black pepper, freshly ground

150ml organic double cream

3 tbsp organic fresh curly-leaved parsley, finely chopped

 a generous pinch of organic nutmeg, freshly grated

2 large organic eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten together to combine

Instructions 

Liberally butter a 20 x 7 cm spring form cake tin, line the base with a circle of non-stick paper, butter the paper and dust the tin all over with some of the grated Parmesan.

Pre-heat the oven to 190℃ fan/210℃ / 400℉ / Gas mark 6.

You will need to cook the mushrooms in about 4 batches as follows:

Heat ¼ of the remaining butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan until hot and foaming, add the shallots to the pan and fry until softened but not browned.

Add your first ¼ of mushrooms to the pan, stir to combine with the oil and shallots, then continue to fry, stirring from time to time, until the mushrooms have softened and the mixture is starting to colour. Tip: When you add the mushrooms to the pan, leave them alone for the first 45-60 seconds to allow them to slightly caramelise on the base of the pan before moving them around.

When the first batch of mushrooms are almost ready, season with salt and pepper and then tip into a large mixing bowl. 

Re-heat the frying pan with a ⅓ of the remaining butter and another tablespoon of olive oil before adding your second batch of mushrooms and cooking them in the same way.

Repeat with remainder of the mushrooms.

When all the mushrooms are cooked, transfer half of them into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to a textured puree. Combine this puree with the rest of the mushrooms.

Stir in the cream, parsley, eggs and half the remaining Parmesan. Add the grated nutmeg and some seasoning to taste.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling it out on top. Scatter the remaining Parmesan over evenly and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden on the surface and set.

Allow the torte to rest for 10-15 minutes before running a knife around the sides of the pan and removing its collar.

Serve in wedges.

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Notes:

About 30g of dried mushrooms equates to 100g of fresh when they’re rehydrated. I use approximately 25% of wild mushrooms to 75% of cultivated for this recipe.

Strict vegetarians cannot eat Parmesan Reggiano but can use this Italian Parmesan-style vegetarian cheese instead.

To get ahead, pre-prepare the cake tin and the ingredients up to, and including, cooking and pureeing the mushrooms. When you’re ready to bake the torte, just combine the mushrooms with the rest of the ingredients before proceeding with rest of the recipe.

The cooked torte keeps well in a refrigerator for several days. I think the best way to use up leftovers is to loosely wrap remaining slices of torte in tin foil before re-heating in a moderately hot oven (approx. 195℃) for 15 minutes. Served hot with a couple of crispy-bottomed fried eggs is pure keto indulgence! 

Fat 61g  Protein 26g Carbohydrate 4g - per serving

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Pizza Goes Keto

by Susan Smith


Never mind ‘pizza-to-go’, this Pizza Goes Keto recipe is nothing short of revolutionary for those of us who can’t safely stray from a strict, no-grains lifestyle. In my experience, anything less than a 100% effort to eliminate grains, in particular wheat, from your diet is a big mistake unless you plan on making an appointment with your doctor sooner rather than later.

This Pizza Goes Keto recipe is completely against the grain, but you wouldn’t know it. Crusty-edged and soft and chewy in the middle like a ‘proper’ bread-like pizza crust is, you can pick it up in your hand to eat it without difficulty. Soggy-bottomed, Primal cauliflower pizza crusts begone! Now whenever I tell my family I’m making pizza for supper they think Christmas has come early. With so many happy memories of a previous life when we’d come together as a family to eat pizza and drink red wine as an antidote to a stressful day, re-living the pizzeria experience at home, without suffering gastrointestinal havoc and inflammatory flare-ups caused by wheat and/or wine loaded with a plethora of chemicals and added sulphites, just makes us smile.

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Primal Plate’s game plan is to help you remove all grains and other nasties that are unfit for human consumption from your diet by re-creating much-loved, familiar recipes with healthy ingredients, so that eating low-carb, high-fat, real food is all about gustatory pleasure and nourishing the body. If you want to get back to health and eat yourself thin, without the pain and misery of calorie counting, hunger and deprivation… Go keto! The only “essential” macronutrients (meaning they cannot be made in the body so must come from food) are essential fats and essential amino acids. The best sources of essential amino acids are animal proteins like meat, eggs and poultry. Carbohydrates are non-essential. That is to say:

You need zero carbs to supply your body’s energy needs, providing you eat enough fat and protein.

Even so, eating ’low-carb’ doesn’t mean eliminating all carbohydrates from your diet. For sensuals like me, eating a rainbow of organic vegetables and fruit, which are primarily carbohydrates, is a healthy eating challenge that I relish every day. As well as being visually attractive on the plate, colourful vegetables and fruits are full of polyphenols (powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation) and many other essential nutrients and dietary fibre. For weight loss purposes, simply restrict your carb intake to less than 50 grams per day (or no more than 15 grams at each meal if you’re eating three times daily).

More than half a century of unscientific hooey told to us by successive governments, doctors and dieticians has convinced many overweight, sick and tired people that a low-fat, high carbohydrate, whole-grain diet is “healthy”. To them I say, before you scarf down another slice of bread or bowl of porridge consider this:

Agribusiness ‘grain finishes’ most livestock because it helps cows gain weight more quickly and reliably. 

Feeding cows cheap high starch grains (some animal feed has up to 15% paper added to make it even cheaper) causes devastating damage to a cow’s digestive system. Still, as every farmer knows, cows don’t get fat from eating grass and hay. If you can bear to know what happens to these poor beasts, click here. The fact is, you are not simply what you eat…but also what you eat, ate.

Whole grains, fiddled and faddled with by humans via hybridisation, GMOs, or worse still, ‘mutagenisis’ - multiple mutations from exposure to either chemicals or radiation, which by the way doesn’t count as GM for food labelling purposes! - are toxic and the hardest food for us and cows to digest. Changes introduced into modern wheat have turbo-charged what I call the ‘grain-effect’, namely fat storage. Gliadin protein in the gluten of modern wheat is not only the main culprit for triggering digestive disturbance, it has addictive, appetite-stimulating properties to boot. Putting it bluntly, if you don’t want to look like a cow, you need to stop shovelling cheap grains into yourself that compel you to graze like one! The proof of the grain-free pudding is dramatic weight loss and the impressive reversal of many chronic diseases.

For me, even slightly straying off the Primal path results in a hyperactive immune system. The last time I treated my family to a slap-up dinner in a posh restaurant to ‘celebrate’ my 70th birthday, I was digestively challenged all night long and by the next morning I’d developed an intolerably itchy rash from the top of my thighs down to my knees. Within 24 hours the rash had spread to the rest of my body. Three months later, and I’m still ‘fire-fighting’ symptoms of systemic inflammation. Was a few hours of pleasure worth all this suffering? Nope!

It’s not as if I hadn’t briefed the chef and waiting staff beforehand. Twice, in fact. I blame the sweet blackberry syrup and thickened jus they served with the grouse and an entrée of seafood risotto. Either Chef ‘forgot’ that rice is a grain, or he doesn’t know. Or perhaps, it’s that most high-end restaurants don’t give a monkeys for your food intolerances. 

Last Sunday, Sarah was invited out to the same restaurant for lunch. Whilst carefully reiterating her dietary requirements to the waiter and by way of an explanation, she told him what had happened to me the last time we ate there. Consequently, when her fish main course arrived, it was bereft of any accompaniment because, the waiter argued, “Our tartare sauce is made with whole grain mustard”. Sorry to befuddle you guys, but ignoring the fact that most commercial mustards rely on undesirable chemicals, artificial flavours and sugars to make them cheap to produce, pure mustard seeds are about as Primal as you can get! Eventually, Sarah settled for hollandaise sauce and after a lunch that cost her friend £175 for the two of them, she (and he) came home hungry! Fine dining? Meh.

With two Christmas party restaurant bookings looming within the next four days, my recent health crisis has put me on red alert. I’m more determined that ever to stick with my zero tolerance of grains, sugar and industrial veggie oils that the vast majority of restaurants use because they’re cheap. It may not seem Christmas spirited of me to make a fuss but a fuss is what I shall make if my food preferences are ignored. No matter how embarrassing, seemingly inappropriate or inconvenient it is for me to say “No thanks. Take it back”, the truth is I am never too hungry to eat crap.

Thankfully, Pizza Goes Keto is at the other end of the “Let’s party!” spectrum. Its get-ahead simplicity, versatility (toppings are only limited by your imagination) and popularity with people of all ages makes it a certain winner when you just want to just kick-back with a glass of wine and relax.

Welcome back to real food that your body is meant to eat.

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Pizza Goes Keto (makes 4x 8.5” to 10” pizzas, depending on how thin you like your crust)

Ingredients - for pizza crust

200g organic ground almonds 

25g organic coconut flour 

4 tbsp unflavoured, organic whey protein powder

4 tbsp organic golden flax seed, freshly ground

4 tbsp organic psyllium husk powder 

1 tsp Himalayan pink salt

50g organic parmesan, finely grated (cheaper option from Sainsburys)

1 tbsp fresh organic rosemary leaves, finely chopped

2 tsp gluten free baking powder

4 medium organic eggs

100ml organic olive oil

200ml freshly filtered, boiled water

Ingredients - for the ultimate Margherita pizza topping (serves 4-6)

330ml Cherry Tomato Passata 

2 tbsp organic tomato puree (or cheaper option from Waitrose)

Himalayan pink salt 

Freshly ground organic black pepper

200g organic mature Cheddar

2 balls organic vegetarian mozzarella

2 tbsp organic rosemary leaves 

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Instructions - for pizza crust

Preheat the oven to 190°C

Place all the dry ingredients, grated parmesan and rosemary into a large, deep mixing bowl. Using an electric whisk mix together until evenly blended.

Beat the eggs and olive oil together with a fork then whisk into the dry ingredients until well combined.

Pour in the boiling water and whisk again just until the dough thickens and starts to form a firm but pliable ball of dough. Allow to stand for a few minutes.

Draw 8 to 10 inch circles on individual sheets of baking parchment (one per pizza). Turn the paper over so that the pencil marks are underneath, then place the dough in the centre of the circle.

Place a piece of cling film over the top and roll it out to no more than ⅛ inch thick, using the circle you’ve drawn to guide you. Remove the cling film and slide the circle of dough still on its baking parchment onto a large baking sheet.

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Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Note: If you’ve a double shelved oven, two pizzas can be baked together on two separate baking sheets at the same time; otherwise you will need to cook the pizzas one at a time.

Remove from the oven and add toppings to the halfway baked crust.

Bake for a further 15 minutes.

Sprinkle over the fresh parsley and serve with a lightly dressed green salad if liked.

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Instructions - to make the Margherita topping

Pour the cherry tomato passata into a medium saucepan, add the tomato puree, stir and season to taste.

Bring to the tomato sauce to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer, stirring from time to time until the sauce has reduced by half. Set aside to cool.

Slice or grate the mozzarella and set aside to drain on paper kitchen roll. Coarsely grate the Cheddar cheese. Finely chop the fresh rosemary leaves.

Top the pizza bases in the following order:

With the back of a metal tablespoon, thinly spread 2 tbsp of tomato sauce to the outside edges of each half-baked 8” to 10” pizza crust.

Top with the grated or torn slices of mozzarella, divided equally between the four pizzas, to cover the bases evenly.

Sprinkle over a quarter of the grated Cheddar cheese evenly over the top of each pizza, followed by the chopped rosemary.

Bake for a further 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven until the cheese is hot, melted and golden.

Be careful not to burn yourself when you first bite into it!

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Notes

The raw pizza dough can wrapped (I use environmentally-friendly Bees Wrap) and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days before rolling out.

Half-baked pizza bases can be cooled, wrapped and frozen for later use. Either defrost before adding toppings and bake as stated in the recipe above or top the still frozen pizza crust and bake for an extra 5 minutes or so. 

For children, make smaller pizzas - they are filling! 



Fat 67g Protein 28g Carbs 11g - per pizza base

Fat 26g Protein 23g Carbs 8g -  Margherita topping

Fat 93g Protein 51g Carbs 19g - per Margherita ‘adult-sized’ pizza


Apple Pie Muffins

by Susan Smith in


We have two very old Bramley apple trees in our garden, which every autumn produce a mass of fruits that inevitably fall from the tree faster than we can harvest them. Clearing them up is a messy business but I console myself that whilst ever they lie rotting on the ground our resident squirrels, hedgehogs, birds, bugs and other critters in nature make good use of them, and when completely decomposed, they act as an organic fertiliser for the soil and plants close by.

This year I was determined to pick some of the most perfect specimens straight off the tree ready for us to eat. A good idea, except for the fact It’s taken me a month to decide what to do with them, let alone find the time for baking. In the interim, they stored well in the dark of our cellar, just waiting for my ‘eureka' moment and their transformation into delicious Apple Pie Muffins.

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Aside from the fact that apple pie is an iconic English dessert and the Bramley's Seedling tree grew from pips planted in 1809 by Mary Ann Brailsford in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, which is just 4 miles up the road from where I live, the idea to create a quick, simple-to-bake muffin that tastes just like regular apple pie was prompted by Steenbergs, who sell an organic ‘apple pie’ spice mix, which I recently purchased from them along with some other Christmassy-inspired goodies.

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I think it’s safe to say that all human beings are hard-wired to love the taste of sweetness and psychologically one of the hardest things to do when trying to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle is to try and resist sweet treats and delicious desserts. As Adam and Eve discovered to their cost, the more a ‘fruit is forbidden’, the greater compulsion humans have to eat it, which is why most diets fail long-term. But what if you can satisfy your sweet tooth without ever jeopardising your health and weight loss goals? The longer I practice the art of food alchemy, converting little known ingredients into luscious, low-carb, sweet treats that you can’t differentiate from the traditional sugar and grain offerings that are making so many of us fat and sick, the more it seems my life’s purpose is to deliver the message: ‘You can!’

The trick is to combine minimal amounts of natural sweeteners like monk fruit powder (otherwise known as Lo Han Guo) and good-for-your-gut yacon syrup with naturally sweet, prebiotic tiger nut flour and ground almonds and…Bob’s your uncle. These healthy, nutrient-dense, Apple Pie Muffins hit the sweet spot between a whole food that’s as unprocessed and close to the earth as possible and the unadulterated pleasure of sugar and spice and all things nice that feels like a big hug. Never mind “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, two Apple Pie Muffins taken by mouth daily as needed, have about a third of the carbs you’d get from eating a medium apple!

Apple Pie Muffins taste so good and monk fruit powder allows us to enjoy this delicious taste whilst keeping us safe from sugar’s harm. Totally compatible with a keto-lifestyle, these appley muffins incentivised us for the first time in 27 years to rush out and collect the rest of our precious Bramleys before the slugs got to them. With a big box full of usable fruits ostensibly stashed away for the winter months, I doubt that they’ll see December out. 

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Apple Pie Muffins (makes 12)

Ingredients

100g extra fine organic tiger nut flour (see Note below)

150g organic ground almonds 

1½ tsp gluten free baking powder

2 tsp organic apple pie spice

½ heaped teaspoon pure monk fruit powder (see Note below)

2 large organic free-range eggs

125 ml organic whole milk

75g organic unsalted butter

1 tbsp organic yacon syrup

2 large organic Bramley apples, peeled, cored & cut into very small pieces (you should end up with about 325g of chopped apple)

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4 and line a 12 x hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Mix the tiger nut flour, ground almonds, apple pie spice and monk fruit powder together in a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter over a gentle heat together with the yacon syrup. Set aside to cool a little.

In a separate beat the eggs and milk, then add the melted butter and yacon syrup and mix together well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just enough to combine, do not over mix.

Add the apple pieces, and gently mix them through.

Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases (see Notes below).

Place the tray in the pre-heated oven and bake for 25 minutes until well risen and golden (they smell divine!).

Cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight tin.

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Notes

Although considerably more expensive, Navi Organics extra fine (premium grade) tiger nut flour is the very best for baking superb cakes and muffins etc. You can buy regular ground organic tiger nut flour for a lot less money and then grind it down yourself to a finer consistency in a coffee-nut grinder. However, the finished muffins, whilst unarguably delicious, may for foodie purists like me, still have a slightly annoying crunch to them!

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Whenever I bake muffins, bread rolls, biscuits etc., I find it helpful to weigh the uncooked mixture prior to dividing it between the number of portions I wish to make. For example, the amount of raw batter I had to make 12 muffins weighed a total of 925 grams, i.e. 77 grams per muffin. Measuring equal amounts of mixture into the muffin cases ensures they all rise evenly and no one gets short-changed!

These muffins freeze well.


Fat 8g  Protein 6g Carbohydrate 4g - per muffin

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Baked Trout With Almonds and Ginger Butter

by Susan Smith


Baked Trout With Almonds and Ginger Butter is a fabulous fish dish that we regularly enjoy. It’s economical, it’s delicious, it’s quick and simple to cook and it’s… full of fat.

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Not a problem when you’re already experiencing the health-restorative benefits of a Primal ketogenic diet, but probably concerning for people who still believe conventional wisdom telling them to stay away from fat, particularly saturated fat, because it clogs up your arteries and contains cholesterol that will kill you!

The consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol foods does not raise blood cholesterol and trigger the heart disease process. In fact, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state: “dietary cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern”. Shame that since the early 1960’s, the medical establishment, government and food industry have been indoctrinating people with the idea that vegetable oils are good and butter is bad. I honestly believe that if my father hadn’t been told by his doctor to ditch butter and lard and use Flora margarine and Mazola corn oil instead, he might not have suffered the stroke that disabled him in his early fifties, and a further stroke that killed him when he was just 57 years old.

Finally, the tide is beginning to turn; the flawed diet-heart hypothesis is being rejected and the health conscious already know that low-fat diet advice is dead. Not that food processing giants, grain producers, many diet ‘experts’ and hitherto well-respected doctors are about to change their minds. They still postulate that a lower intake of fat, a move away from saturated fat or an increase in PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids), is best diet advice. With the exception of omega-3 fatty acids, nothing could be further from the truth.

Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are not your enemy. The real risk factors for heart disease are oxidation and inflammation in the blood stream, which is caused by poor dietary and lifestyle choices. One of the most pernicious dietary causes of systemic inflammation and oxidation is the consumption of highly unstable, highly inflammatory, highly processed and refined vegetable oils - notably sunflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed, rapeseed (canola), safflower and peanut and the margarines, shortenings and spreads that contain them.

Vegetable oils are divided into two types: omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Omega-6 essential fatty acids are pro-inflammatory - they not only fuel inflammation throughout the body but also reduce the availability of omega-3s, resulting in more inflammation. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are widely accepted as anti-inflammatory.

Both omega-6 and omega-3s are called “essential” fatty acids because they can’t be made in the body and so must be obtained from food.

Whilst both are “essential” nutrients, you don’t need a lot of either and they need to be consumed in the right ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s; thought to be 4:1. This doesn’t happen in the modern diet - most people massively over-consume omega-6 fatty acids and under-consume omega-3s.

One of the most helpful analogies I’ve found compares these vital nutrients to hot and cold water taps. Omega-6 is the water coming from the hot tap (pro-inflammatory) and omega-3 the water from the cold tap (anti-inflammatory). Since you neither want your water too hot or too cold, you need just the correct mix of water from both taps to get the temperature just right.

When the water gets too hot (too much pro-inflammatory omega-6) the best remedy is to reduce the amount of water coming from the hot tap rather than adding more cold water (anti-inflammatory omega-3s) because excess consumption of polyunsaturates per se has been shown to contribute to a large number of diseases including increased cancer and heart disease; immune system dysfunction; damage to the liver, reproductive organs and lungs; digestive disorders; depressed learning ability; impaired growth; and weight gain.

So what of the cheap, clear, tasteless, vegetable oils found in clear plastic bottles on every supermarket shelf that for decades many health “experts” have urged us to eat? In contrast to the much maligned, saturated, nutrient-rich, natural fats found in butter, lard, tallow, dripping and coconut oil, which we traditionally ate and cooked with up until the 1900’s, PUFAs are extremely unstable and easily damaged when exposed to heat, light and oxygen. Thus, you should never cook with them. One reason the newfangled, so-called “vegetable” oils (actually they’re seed oils) are so injurious to health is because they’re subjected to insane amounts of toxic chemicals and immense amounts of heat during processing and refining, which causes them to oxidise and go rancid.

Rancidity causes lots of free radical damage that wreaks havoc in your body. Free radicals are renegade molecules that attack cell membranes and red blood cells and damage your DNA, triggering mutations in tissue, blood vessels, organs and skin (hello premature ageing and wrinkles!) plus a host of diseases from liver damage, to heart disease, to cancer.

If that wasn’t bad enough, most of these industrial oils are made from genetically engineered crops; are contaminated with glyphosate and residues of chemical solvents (hexane is a neurotoxin commonly used to extract seed oils); have most of their protective antioxidants removed; and are loaded with damaged omega-6 fatty acids. The oxidised oil further degrades inside its plastic bottle from continued exposure to light and from heat applied during cooking - particularly the repeated re-heating of the same batch of cooking oil, as is common in the food industry.

The single most important thing you can do for health is to avoid refined vegetable oils and all processed food that contains them e.g. salad dressings, baked goods, fast food, French fries and processed snacks such as nuts, popcorn and crisps. Whilst you’ll struggle with most restaurant food and takeaways, at least you don’t have to opt for cheap heat/chemical-extracted oils when you’re cooking and eating at home.

Ignore the Diet Dictocrats and media nonsense that would still have you believe that saturated fat and cholesterol is bad for you and that low-fat and vegetable oils are good. Grass-fed butter is one of the healthiest foods known to man, which you can read about in Weston A Price’s article Why Butter Is Better.

Don’t let the nay-sayers cause you to throw the baby out with the bath water. Start enjoying plenty of natural fat (without sugar, of course!) to help your body absorb nutrients, maximise metabolism and maintain optimal nerve, brain and heart function. This should be music to your ears if you’re trying to lose weight and stay trim. The main reason why high-fat, low carb diets, like the keto diet, are so effective for weight loss is because they help you eat fewer calories without noticing. Delicious LCHF (low-carb, high-fat) recipes such as Baked Trout With Almonds and Ginger Butter are fundamental to burning stored body fat as fuel for energy, while preserving all the pleasure of eating. For a list of fabulous fats Primal Plate recommends, please refer to Notes below.

The tastiest, freshest and easiest way to get two of the three omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) into your diet is to eat more oily fish like rainbow trout, mackerel, salmon and sardines, twice per week.

A cooked serving of rainbow trout is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids and also provides two days worth of B12 - essential for healthy nerves, blood cells and DNA - as well as calcium, potassium and selenium. Looks like I’m on a roll with today’s recipe!

organic trout.jpg

The rainbow trout that I always purchase from Abel &Cole, have bright eyes and beautiful, glistening, silvery skins flanked with shimmering streaks of blue, pink and purple that lives up to their name. Far more economical than organic or wild salmon and available all year round, they are a great choice for dinner because they’re raised in an ecologically responsible way, they’re generously sized and as ‘fishy-on-a-dishy’ recipes go, they don’t get more enjoyable than a soft mouthful of delicate, pretty pink trout flesh happily paired with the buttery crunch of golden almonds and fiery fresh ginger juice.

Totally satisfying, totally yum, this dish contains nothing but good fats that are needed to protect your heart and brain and soothe inflammation from the inside out.  Bye-bye eczema, allergies and brain fog. Hello health and happiness.

Baked Trout With Almonds and Ginger Butter (serves 4)

Ingredients

125g organic salted butter

4 whole rainbow trout, cleaned and prepped (see Instructions below)

75g fresh organic root ginger, finely grated

100g organic flaked almonds (also, Sainsbury’s SO Organic flaked almonds @ £1.95 for 100g)

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ /Gas mark 4. Warm 4 large flat serving plates.

Line a large baking tray or oven grill pan with non-stick tin foil. Gently melt 25g of the butter in a small saucepan and with a pastry brush or piece of kitchen paper use some of it to lightly grease the non-stick foil.

Brush more melted butter inside each trout before seasoning with salt and pepper. Then use the rest of the butter to brush over both sides of the fish before seasoning with more salt and freshly ground pepper and laying them down on the foil-lined tray.

Place the tray on the top shelf of the pre-heated oven and bake the trout for 8 minutes.

Turn the oven grill to high and grill for a further 4 minutes.

While the trout are cooking, squeeze the grated ginger over a small bowl to extract the juice. You should have about 3 tablespoons.

Melt the remaining 100g of butter in a frying pan and when it starts to foam, add the flaked almonds and cook gently for 2-3 minutes until the nuts are golden.

Add the ginger juice and heat through for a few seconds before spooning it over the fish.

Serve with lightly steamed tender stem broccoli, fine green bean or sautéed spinach and mushrooms.

Notes

Although Abel & Cole’s rainbow trout arrive individually wrapped and cleaned, on the day you want to eat them I recommend you unwrap them and, with a sharp pair of heavy-duty kitchen scissors, remove the fins and gills and van-dyke the tails (cut into a neat ‘v’ shape). Heads can also be removed, if preferred.

Quickly rinse the fish under cold running water before drying off with wads of kitchen paper. If you’re not eating straight away, set the prepared trout out on a plate, cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook them.

Now, to meet those fat needs, here are some of the healthiest fat sources to choose from and include in your diet:

Saturated fats: Grass-fed butter and ghee, extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil, and animal fats obtained from organic, grass-fed meat, pastured eggs and full fat dairy6 tablespoons per day.

Monounsaturated fats - cold pressed, preferably organic: Macadamia oil, avocado oil, and extra virgin olive oil. 4 tablespoons per day.

Polyunsaturated fats: cold pressed and rich in omega-3 fats and vitamins A & D: cod liver oil, perilla seed oil, fresh flaxseed oil (buy in small quantities and store in dark glass bottles in a refrigerator). ½ -1 teaspoon per day.

Organic MCT oil

Organic 85-100% Dark Chocolate A small amount per day - 10-20 grams is about right for me!

Organic Nuts: Macadamias, almonds, pecans, pistachios, brazils, walnuts; not peanutsNo more than a small handful per day. If you’re following a ketogenic diet, it’s far too easy to snack on too many nutritious, but highly calorific nuts. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may be better off resisting the temptation and eliminating nuts from your diet entirely. Macadamias are my favourite because they’re a highly anti-inflammatory nut with a high monounsaturated fat content. Almonds are the second most anti-inflammatory nut and are a brilliant alternative to wheat flour and other grain flours for baking. Again, home-baked cake, cookies and crackers made with significant amounts of ground nuts are hard to resist; try to restrict how many of these foods you eat. Walnuts are the best nuts for omega-3 but but also the worst in terms of their omega-3 / omega-6 imbalance, which means you’d have to eat a lot of omega-3 foods to counteract their inflammatory effect. Because all nuts are high in polyunsaturates they’re best stored in cool, dark, airtight conditions. Freezing them isn’t a bad idea.

Here are links to sites where I buy organic nuts online:

Natural Choice

Real Food Source

Healthy Supplies


Fat 49g  Protein 67g Carbohydrate 5g - per serving


Gourmet Beef Burgers

by Susan Smith in , ,


Almost every evening after dinner, we go for a three mile walk around the outskirts of the village where we live. Aside from helping us to attain a self-imposed daily fitness goal of at least 10,000 steps, it’s a wonderful opportunity to say ‘hello' to numerous four-legged friends that we regularly meet and greet along the way. Amongst them, four horses, some special canine characters - Star, George, Rosie, Eric, Oscar and Alfie to name but a few - grazing sheep, the llamas that live with the sheep to protect them from foxes, and numerous cats who, when they see Sarah approach, literally run over to her to be fussed and stroked. There’s a suggestion of Walt Disney about our walks…save for a couple of spoilers.

The first is that one of ‘our’ horses is old, alone and extremely dirty. Her mucky face, constantly weeping eyes and un-groomed body attracts hoards of flies that readily exploit her poor condition and clearly irritate her beyond measure. She is my favourite. A gentle soul who, when called, snorts, nickers and blows us greetings as she slowly and tentatively makes her way from the farthest end of her field to receive the healthy snack of organic apples and carrots that awaits her. Until last week, we thought she was incapable of moving any faster, but then she surprised us. One evening after she’d been fed, she lay down on the ground in front of us and did what can only be described as a ‘victory roll’ of appreciation. The next day, as we walked away, she came with us - galloping at full speed alongside the hedge separating her field from the lane where we were continuing our walk. Truly heart-warming! It’s clear to us that almost all animals love and want to be loved.

The second is the bullocks that used to stand cheek-to-jowl in the adjacent over-crowded shed to watch our nightly horse feeding ritual almost certainly craved some loving act of kindness. Sadly, it wasn’t ours to give. These permanently confined sentient beings were kept for months on end, unable to move freely and without access to fresh grass even at the height of last summer’s heatwave. We always stopped to talk to them and, looking into their soulful eyes, their boredom and neglect was almost tangible. They’re gone now…we presume raised for beef and slaughtered. Although more fortunate than factory-farmed animals, the unnatural way these animals were forced to live is a moral mistake that leaves us with very little appetite for meat.

For the sake of Sushi the cat, whose health naturally depends on meat and fish, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that all animals survive and thrive by the seemingly barbaric act of killing other animals lower down in the food chain. Twice, through dietary interventions I’ve brought her back from the brink of “incurable” conditions that, in the vet’s opinion, warranted euthanasia. If food is medicine, chicken bone broth appears to be an elixir for health and longevity. Feeding it to Sushi every day for the past two years has seemingly transformed her back to ‘kittenhood’…or so you’d think, if you met her. Her coat is shiny, her appetite hearty and her energy levels amazing. Stands to reason, whatever she’s having, we all need some of it!

The Primal food laws are: Eat whole, real foods, avoid unnecessary carbs and don’t fear fat and animal protein. We prefer to eat a primarily plant-based diet but Sushi’s remarkable recovery has persuaded me to make my peace with eating more animal protein. As well as a regular supply of chicken bone broth for Sushi and ourselves, I also cook a couple of meals a week that centre around organic, grass-fed red meat (primarily for its iron and vitamin B12 content), free-range organic chicken or sustainably-caught wild fish (for Omega 3 fatty acids). Animal products are only as nutritious as the food they are fed on and the care they get while being raised so it behoves health-conscious, compassionate cooks to put their money where their mouth is and support organic farming. Buying organic food is not expensive when you factor in the extra cost, time and dedication that organic farmers expend in producing nutritionally dense meat, milk, eggs and cheese from animals that are raised in a natural environment with full consideration for their welfare.

Today’s post for Gourmet Beef Burgers is a celebration of ‘Organic September’. The award-winning recipe for the ready-made beef burgers isn’t mine but it does provide the perfect opportunity for a well-deserved shout out for both Brown Cow Organics and Abel & Cole

For convenience, I buy Brown Cow’s Guernsey beef burgers from Abel & Cole. Unfortunately, when they arrive vacuum-packed they look more like beef ‘splats’ than the gourmet burgers featured on Brown Cow Organic’s website! First impressions count, so the first job is to quickly re-shape them. Note: Any gourmet burger worth its salt must have depth to it to fully appreciate its juicy succulence when cooked and should only be defined “gourmet” if it requires ludicrous amounts of paper towel or napkins to eat it!

For maximum gustatory pleasure, the toasted keto bread rolls and homemade basil mayonnaise are mandatory. Not a problem since both are best made in advance. To finish, just whiz a large handful of fresh basil leaves into homemade mayonnaise a couple of hours before serving and toast the halved bread rolls in a dry griddle pan at the same time you’re cooking the burgers.

After selecting your preferred salad accompaniments, e.g. lettuce, watercress, rocket, slices of tomato, radish, avocado or cucumber, you’re ready to do an ‘assembly job’. I like to stack the ingredients ‘sky high’ - to the extent that it usually requires a bamboo skewer to hold everything together. Making them visually enticing is the primary objective, not ease of eating! Only Sarah ever manages to work her way through an entire burger whilst holding it in her hand. But even if you can hold it together, there’s no chance of being la-di-dah when tucking-in to one of these bad boys! 

Fast, fun food doesn’t have to be ultra processed junk. Very satisfyingly (to me at least), these keto-friendly Gourmet Beef Burgers are light years away from a ‘Big Mac’ or the ironically named ‘Happy Meal’ for kids. There’s nothing ‘happy’ about filling a child’s belly with beef from cows raised on GM crops. Or encouraging them to eat a disturbingly sweet-tasting burger bun made from damaging-to-human-health ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, bleached wheat flour (genetically modified to withstand being sprayed with Glyphosate - a herbicide proven to cause cancer), toxic soybean and canola oils (also genetically modified). Or turning a blind eye to the pro-inflammatory effects of the polyunsaturated vegetable oil that Mackie D’s use to cook their fries. What you need to know is that MD’s fries aren’t just potato, salt and oil as you might imagine, but are manufactured with seventeen other “shocking” ingredients. Still “lovin it?” I thinketh not!

Whereas, Sarah recently found herself spontaneously retching at the mere smell of a McDonalds (quite rightly!), she would tell you that these Gourmet Beef Burgers are one of “the best meals ever!” Serve them at an informal gathering of friends or family, perhaps with some low-carb ice cream for dessert, and I doubt you’ll hear any dissenting voices drowning out enthusiastic grunts of approval.

Sarah’s photos are probably the best way to show you how to make these Gourmet Beef Burgers. Have fun!

grass fed organic burgers.jpg

Gourmet Beef Burgers (serves 4)

Ingredients

2 packs (2x 180g) Brown Cow Organics Guernsey Beef Burgers

2 tbsp organic, grass-fed gheefor frying 

4 keto bread rolls

Ingredients - to serve

Salad e.g. lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, radish, avocado, watercress, rocket etc. 

4 heaped tbsp organic mayonnaise (preferably homemade - see Notes below)

10 g fresh organic basil leaves

Plus,

4 mini bamboo skewers - optional

Instructions

Pre-make the keto bread rolls and 3-minute mayo up to 24 hours in advance.

Several hours before you intend to eat, re-shape the ready-prepared portions of beef into burgers about 3.5” in diameter and x 0.75” deep. Cover and refrigerate until half an hour before you want cook them. Then take them out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature.

Whilst the burgers are ‘coming to’ prepare the salad ingredients, cover and set aside.

Using a hand-held stick blender, combine the fresh basil leaves and mayonnaise together until smooth and green. Set aside and keep cool.

Melt the ghee in a large frying pan over a high heat. Meanwhile, halve the bread rolls and place them cut side down into a dry frying or griddle pan set over a medium-hot heat.

When the ghee is fully melted and sizzling, place the burgers into the pan and fry for 4 minutes. Carefully turn with the aid of a spatula and cook the other side for another 4 minutes.

From time to time, check the keto bread rolls. There’s no need to turn them over - you just want them hot and toasty.

organic burger recipe.jpg

Once the beef burgers have been fried on both sides for an initial 4 minutes, flip them over again and cook the first side for further 2-4 minutes. Flip again to cook the other side for 2-4 minutes more. N.B. Total cooking time is 12-16 minutes, depending on whether you want your burgers to be slightly pink in the middle or completely cooked through. If in doubt, use a sharp knife to cut into one to check that it’s done to your liking.

Place the bottom halves of the toasted bread rolls on to 4 warm serving plates. Build as much height as you can by layering the salad on top of the beef burger. Finish with a large dollop of basil mayonnaise before pressing the other half of the bread rolls firmly down on top.

Pass the problem of imminent collapse over to your guests by skewering the burgers together from top to bottom with mini bamboo skewers.

Serve with plenty of paper napkins and don’t mind messy eating!

Notes

I’ve updated and improved Primal Plate’s original 3-Minute Mayonnaise recipe by changing-up the oils and altering their amounts. The rest of the ingredients and instructions remain the same. Here’s the revised recipe (with changes in bold):

3-Minute Macadamia Nut Oil Mayonnaise

Ingredients

2 organic eggs 

2½ tbsp organic lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp organic Dijon mustard

½ tsp sea salt or Himalayan Pink salt

a good grinding of organic pepper 

1-2 drops organic liquid stevia

200 ml cold-press macadamia nut oil

50 ml organic cold-pressed olive oil

Instructions

Place all the ingredients into a tall, narrow container in the order listed above.

Using a hand-held stick blender, blend everything together until it emulsifies into a pale, creamy mayonnaise. Takes about 30 seconds!

Taste and add a little more lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, if liked.

Transfer to a glass container and seal with an airtight lid. Use within 5 days.

grass fed organic burger.jpg


Fat 14g  Protein 41g Carbohydrate 0g - per Guernsey Beef Burger

Fat 21g  Protein 13g Carbohydrate 3g - per keto bread roll

Fat 30g Protein 2g Carbohydrate 0g - per serving of Basil Mayonnaise


Low-Carb Rose & Raspberry Ice Cream

by Susan Smith in


I’ve recently been channeling my inner child ‘sunshine style’ with gourmet beef burgers and homemade ice cream eaten ‘al fresco’. My only dilemma was which recipe to feature first on Primal Plate’s blog. Given that the hot weather continues unabated, this gorgeous rose and raspberry ice cream, inspired by an English country garden at the height of summer, took priority because in unrelenting heat who doesn’t crave something refreshing to cool down? 

One mouthful of this sophisticated ice instantly tells you that carbohydrate restriction doesn’t mean giving up the foods that give you most pleasure. Low-Carb Rose & Raspberry Ice Cream’s bright and showy presentation actually made me laugh out loud when I first brought it to the table but what really sets this glamorous ice cream apart is the double-whammy of silky-smooth creaminess from organic cream and Mascarpone cheese. The light, fresh flavour of dairy, intensely sweet-sour flavour of ripe raspberries and subtle floral perfume of rose harmoniously combine with each other to make an especially delicious keto ice cream. 

If you like eating ice cream and are following a vLCHF (very Low Carbohydrate, Healthy Fat) diet, this beauty comes with a 100% happiness guarantee!

raspberry icecream recipe.jpg

Low-Carb Rose & Raspberry Ice Cream (serves 8)

Ingredients

200 g organic frozen raspberries

1-2 tbsp organic vodka, chilled

240 ml organic double cream, chilled

3 large organic egg yolks

3 tbsp Sukrin Icing sugar, sieved 

1 tbsp organic rose water

1 organic lemon, just the zest, finely grated 

225 g organic mascarpone cheese, chilled

To serve:

Dried or fresh organic rose petals

Fresh or frozen organic raspberries

Organic freeze-dried raspberry powder

Sprigs of fresh organic lemon balm or mint

keto icecream.jpg

Instructions

Take the raspberries from the freezer half an hour before you start to make the ice cream. Tip them onto a large flat plate and allow them to defrost.

Meanwhile, whip the cream lightly until soft peaks just start to form. Set aside and keep cool in the refrigerator.

Puree the defrosted raspberries and vodka together in a blender. You can pass the puree through a fine sieve if you don’t like the seeds but I don’t bother. Set aside.    

In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, Sukrin icing sugar, rose extract and finely grated lemon zest until pale and fluffy - takes about 5 minutes using an electric whisk. 

Whisk in the mascarpone cheese and pureed raspberries, then fold in the whipped cream.

Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze until soft-set following the manufacturer’s instructions*.

Scrape the soft-set ice cream into a freezer proof container quickly smoothing it out on top. Cover the surface with a layer of waxed paper before sealing with a lid and freezing until solid. 

*Alternatively, pour the mixture into a container with a lid and place in the freezer. Stir the ice cream every fifteen minutes or so until it firms up - it will take about 1-1.5 hours.

 

Notes

Homemade ice cream, especially one made without sugar, tends to go rock solid and the longer it’s left in the freezer the harder it gets. The first time I made a batch of this ice cream I let it set overnight. By the next day it was nigh impossible to scoop and I got so frustrated with waiting for dessert I ended up smashing the glass container it was stored in! Alcohol doesn’t freeze, so I subsequently added a small amount of vodka to the recipe to keep this ice cream the right side of solid without overpowering or altering its original taste. This means it’s an ice cream for adults only. If, like me, you find patience boring please don’t take a hammer and chisel to it! Just remember to take it out of the freezer and keep in a refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before attempting to make the perfect scoop.

Using frozen rather than fresh raspberries makes this ice cream trans-seasonal. So pretty and fresh-tasting, I can see myself serving it for dessert on Christmas Day! 

 

Fat 32g Protein 3g Carbohydrates 6g - per serving

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Grilled Mackerel With Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad & Watercress

by Susan Smith in ,


Today’s blog post is for a complete summer meal that’s easy to prepare when you have a lot on your plate. Including whizzing together a batch of Macadamia Oil Mayo (I always keep a jar of this at-the-ready in my fridge), everything can be brought together in less than half an hour. It’s healthy, its quick, it’s delish! This year, when the first Jersey Royal potatoes came into season, I couldn’t resist making a real potato salad (cold, pre-cooked potatoes are an excellent source of resistant starch) and it actually took me longer to scrape the papery skins off the potatoes than it takes to make this entire meal! Henceforth, I shall live without pesky potatoes!

It’s the labour intensive ‘potato-peeling’ type of cooking chore that’s been fully exploited by food corporations and made their marketing hype so successful. They’ve convinced society that ’fast’ food and ready meals are quicker, cheaper and easier to get on the table. However, I disagree. You can make Grilled Mackerel with Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad & Watercress in less time than it takes to order a takeaway and have it delivered. It’s probably cheaper too. And obviously, better for your health.

primal plate keto mayonnaise.jpg

Actually, food corporations don’t cook; they process deadly ingredients sourced from the cheapest, most consistently available form of food, namely genetically engineered crops, grown with toxic chemicals. Do you really believe pesticide laden, genetically engineered, processed food - food that could never be created by nature - isn’t disastrous for human health? Whilst most people crave these edible abominations and see them as desirable ‘convenience’ foods, I can’t think of many things more inconvenient than being dependant on fake food contaminated with toxic chemicals. Processed food is chock-full of refined sugar, chemically altered fats, refined carbohydrates and other processed ingredients poisonous to humans that are a root cause of many food-related diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

It’s not just biotech giants, industrial farming, food corporations and other toxic chemical food polluters that assault your body. Doctors have been delivering terrible advice for decades. Instead of focusing on the prevention and reversal of obesity and disease by tackling its underlying cause, which is eating modern foods incompatible with our genes, doctors respond to the body’s cries for help by intervening with drugs or surgery to suppress symptoms. Why the medical establishment hasn’t been sued for actually causing bodily harm beats me!

Of course, they are reluctant to admit their mistake, so it could be a very long time before doctors get behind public health advice telling its citizens to return to eating the natural, unprocessed food that was consumed before obesity and diabetes reached epidemic proportions. The fact that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree was highlighted in a recent BBC1 programme called The Big Crash Diet Experiment. The ‘experiment’ presented itself as an hitherto unknown (at least to doctors), revolutionary treatment for the obesity and diabetes crisis and, if you believe everything you see on TV, the spectacularly successful results really took the doctors by surprise. After all, who knew that a very low calorie diet triggers ketosis, which accelerates weight loss, lowers blood sugar levels and reverses the symptoms of diabetes? Awww, c’mon guys! That would just be me and an entire Primal Health community then!

But still they can’t help themselves. In sharp contrast to the natural, LCHF (ketogenic) whole food diet promoted by Primal Plate, the doctors’ solution was to by-pass any requirement for cooking skills and feed four grossly overweight volunteers highly processed, low-calorie, meal replacement products (a.k.a. The Cambridge Diet)…naturally, under strict medical supervision! They then pronounced themselves the successful innovators of a drug-free advance in modern medicine that could save the NHS millions of pounds. Stop right there! I have never seen a more miserable group of people than the programme’s volunteers, who were made to suffer deprivation and hunger in a ludicrous attempt to limit calorie intake by eating synthetic packaged meal replacements soups and shakes cobbled together in a science lab. This is not my idea of healthcare, nor is it sustainable.

However, if your long-term goal is to get fat and sick, go for it! Last time I looked, products like SlimFast are loaded with chemical thickeners, sugar, artificial sweeteners (e.g. aspartame, maltodextrin and ace-sulfame K), inflammatory vegetable oils (soy and sunflower), carageenan (linked to cancer of the gut), modified maize and soy proteins (genetically modified) and cheap vitamins that are poorly absorbed. 

Here’s a piece of ancestral wisdom based on your genes and human evolution: Cooking nutritionally dense food is where it’s at! If you want to eat well, lose weight and feel great for the rest of your life, you’re going to have to reclaim control over what you’re eating, which means prioritising some time to cooking real, fresh foods. So why has home cooking got such a bad rap since the 1970’s? Because clever advertising duped people into believing that cooking is too hard, too complicated and too time consuming. You can see its effect in society at large (pun intended), there’s an obvious correlation between a preference for eating high carbohydrate, processed food and increasing rates of obesity and chronic diseases.

Notwithstanding the profits-before-people economy at the heart of agriculture, restaurants and fast food industries, we recently decided to eat out and were reminded just how unsatisfying and expensive it can be. In exchange for some promotional photos she’d supplied to a local restaurant, Sarah had been given a £50 voucher that had to be redeemed before the end of June 2018, so it was simply a case of use it or lose it. We each selected a main course off the Early Bird menu, took our Üllo wine purifier to filter our non-organic wine at the table, decided not to negotiate the chorizo part of the dish for something more to our taste, and came home hungry! Total ‘early bird’ price £72.50 + gratuity. That doesn’t seem like good value to me.

Let me compare. Fresh, mackerel fillets, rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, take no longer than 4-5 minutes to cook under a hot grill. Make-ahead, keto ‘potato' salad, can be assembled several hours before you want to eat it and takes about 15-20 minutes to make, including boiling the eggs and making a batch of mayo. Opening a packet of watercress adds 30 seconds. Finito!

grilled mackerel recipe.jpg

Using premium-priced, organic ingredients (you can buy these cheaper at most supermarkets), Grilled Mackerel Fillets with Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad & Watercress, will feed three people, including a good bottle of organic, low sulphite wine for just £24.70 or £8.23 per person. Say what?

How can home cooked food be “too expensive” or “too time consuming” when there are literally dozens of healthy, delicious meals that can be prepared within half an hour for less than the £8 or so it costs to buy a single gin and tonic or decent glass of wine at your local? This is even before you factor-in the future cost of disability and ill-health because you neglected to eat right. The question is whether you think the rewards of sourcing fresh, preferably organic food and preparing your entire meal is worth the effort. If you’re willing to invest the time and money you’re going to be a lot healthier. Being taught how to cook nutritious food that supports your body is what true healthcare is about. It’s people that don’t cook that get into trouble with diseased states.

Whilst ever public health is stuck in the past and resistant to change, you’ll need to pick a team. Food as medicine is not exactly a revolutionary idea, even to doctors, but you will need to decide whether you’re willing to continue on with the botched up, calamitous, health strategies that allopathic medicine, pharmaceutical companies and food industries have subjugated us all to, or whether to take a more do-it-yourself approach by respecting your hunter gatherer genes and choosing food consistent with your biology. Namely, a higher fat diet that doesn’t include poisonous modern foods such as refined sugar, grains and chemically altered fats and dairy. 

I’d like to start a cooking rebellion. The only way to safely stop obesity and other diet-related disease in its tracks is to remove people’s addiction for highly processed food and to replace it with more pleasurable alternatives. In the case of food, nothing is more delicious than a nutrient-dense, primally aligned, high-fat, moderate-protein and properly prepared, low-carbohydrate diet. 

Grilled Mackerel With Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad and Watercress is a good place to start. 

primal recipes grilled mackerel.jpg

Grilled Mackerel With Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad & Watercress (Serves 4) 

Ingredients - for Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad

1 medium-large organic cauliflower 

75 g organic sour cream or organic crème fraîche

120 g Macadamia Oil Mayo (see recipe in Notes below)

Himalayan pink salt, to taste

freshly ground organic black pepper, to taste

4 large organic eggs, hard-boiled (see Notes below)

2 large organic celery stalks, any outer stringy parts trimmed off with a peeler, then finely diced

2 tbsp fresh organic dill, finely chopped

fresh organic chives, finely chopped - optional

 

Instructions - to make Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad

Boil a kettle of water. Put the boiling water into the bottom of a steamer.

Prepare the cauliflower by cutting the head (you don't need any stalk) into small bite-size florets.

Place the florets into the steamer basket and steam until the cauliflower is only slightly tender, about 4-6 minutes. Plunge into ice cold water, drain well and set aside.

Peel the eggs and reserve two yolks; dice the remainder and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the sour cream and mayonnaise.

Mash the two reserved egg yolks well with the back of a fork, then add to the cream mixture and whisk together until smooth.

Add the cooled cauliflower, diced eggs, celery, and dill to the dressing. Stir to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if you think it needs it.

Garnish with chopped chives immediately before serving cold or at room temperature.

 

Ingredients - for Grilled Mackerel & Watercress

600g sustainably caught, skin-on, fresh mackerel fillets (you need 2 mackerel fillets per person, if there’s any leftover, they freeze well)

Himalayan pink salt

Olive oil, for greasing

100g organic watercress, washed, thick stalks removed

 

Instructions - for Grilled Mackerel

Preheat the grill to Medium-High. 

Line a baking sheet or grill pan with parchment paper or non-stick foil and brush the surface with olive oil.

Dry the mackerel fillets with kitchen paper and season the flesh side with salt.

Lay the mackerel fillets skin side up on the lined baking tray, brush the skin with olive oil and season with salt. 

Grill the fillets for 4 minutes, then if the skin is not already golden brown and crispy, switch the grill to its highest setting and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until it is. 

Serve hot with Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad and a large handful of watercress sprigs. 

 

Notes:

Because your health is under attack from every direction - environmental toxins, ultra-processed foods and GMOs as well as a host of other threats - Primal Plate always features organic ingredients in its recipes. If you can’t find fresh, organic produce, or really can’t afford to buy it, you can still reduce your exposure to pesticides by checking out EWG’s 2018 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. It’s recommended that you avoid the Dirty Dozen (virtually impossible when you’re eating out) and only eat non-organic if it’s listed under these Clean-15

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To make Macadamia Oil Mayo:

Ingredients

2 large organic eggs

2½-3 tbsp organic lemon (or lime) juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp organic Dijon mustard

½ tsp Himalayan pink salt

freshly ground organic black pepper

1-2 drops organic liquid stevia 

200 ml cold pressed macadamia nut oil

50 ml organic extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

Place all the ingredients into a tall, narrow container.

Using a hand-held stick blender, blend everything together until it emulsifies into a pale, creamy mayonnaise. Takes about 30 seconds!

Taste and add a little more lemon/lime juice and seasoning, if liked. N.B. Don’t worry if the mayonnaise seems a little on the runny side when it’s first made. It thickens up to the perfect consistency, when chilled down in a refrigerator. 

Transfer to a glass container and seal with an airtight lid. 

Store in a refrigerator and use within 7 days.

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To steam-boil eggs - boil a kettle of water. Pour about 2.5cm (1 inch) of the boiling water straight from the kettle into a saucepan. 

Place a steaming basket inside the pan and place the eggs into the steamer-basket (I find a collapsible steamer most useful because one-size fits all pans). 

Put the lid on the pan and steam/boil the eggs for 10-12 minutes until hard-boiled. 

 

Fat 56g Protein 18g Carbohydrates 8g - per serving

Fat 30g Protein 2g Carbohydrate 0g - per stand-alone serving of Macadamia Oil Mayo

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Cheddar & Feta Frittata

by Susan Smith in , ,


I should be old enough to know better, but after weeks of ignoring nagging voices telling me Primal Plate must be “GDPR-ready” before 25 May 2018, I finally succumbed to the general confusion by sending out an email to all our blog subscribers, which essentially promised to unsubscribe them by default! Oh, how I despise bureaucracy. Does anyone else recall the ridiculous, government-led Y2K millennium bug scaremongering that told us to prepare for the worst? It was all for naught. And what about the TPS (telephone preference service) that supposedly allows residential phone users to register their wish to opt-out of receiving cold calls? In the nineteen years since we signed up it hasn’t made a jot of difference to the number of nuisance calls we receive. Whilst I agree it’s a good thing to have control over who holds my personal information and for what purpose, I think the hoo-ha and perceived threat of this latest EU legislation is just another sledge hammer to crack a nut. The fact is that data protection enforcement has been extremely lax to date and although, in theory, fines of £500k can be imposed on anyone found flouting the law, I‘m willing to bet no-one will be around to successfully police it. Rant over. If you’re reading this blog, I’m happy you’re still with us and my apologies for last week’s needless attempts to put right your current subscription status, which was never wrong to begin with.

If fathoming out GDPR cost me two days of my life this week, yesterday was a complete wipe-out. I was quietly doing my usual morning face-cleansing ritual in front of my magnifying mirror when to my horror, I sat and watched my right eye - as if in slow motion - fill up with blood! No warning, no obvious reason, no pain, no loss of vision but hell’s teeth, it was frightening! Feeling too faint and too scared to go online to investigate, I was left in a state of shock. Was my brain seeping blood? Was I about to have a stroke? Was my bloodied eye permanently damaged? I had never seen or heard of anyone suffering a trauma as unexpected and dramatic-looking before, so when my husband told me I’d had a subconjunctival haemorrhage and it was completely benign, I was both thankful and relieved. Nevertheless, I took it as a warning to slow down and rest. As someone who can accurately be described as health obsessed, it’s humbling to know I’m not always on point.  I share my experience with you because I believe that stress was the most likely cause of my eye ‘pop’. It’s a reminder that the true “price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it” (saith Henry David Thoreau). From now on I will be more selective!

In the spirit of ‘rest and restore’, I’ve turned to Sabrina Ghayour’s book entitled Feast for today’s recipe for Cheddar & Feta Frittata. A frittata is such a cheap, quick and easy, low-carb, keto meal to prepare and you can use almost any combination of seasonal vegetables with the eggs and cheese and have dinner on the table within half an hour. If I’m feeling really lazy, I don’t even bother with a salad accompaniment. I segment the sizzling frittata still in its pan and simply serve wedges of it with a glass of wine. There are lots of different frittata combos that we enjoy - leeks and blue cheese is another winner - but for now this Cheddar & Feta Frittata with peppers, fresh herbs and chilli should get you into the frittata groove.

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Cheddar & Feta Frittata (serves 4)

Ingredients

1 tbsp organic ghee organic olive oil or macadamia nut oil

1 organic red pepper

1 organic green pepper

4 organic spring onions, cut into very thin slices from root to tip

200g organic feta cheese, roughly crumbled into 1 cm chunks

100g organic strong Cheddar cheese, grated

4 organic dried chillies, crushed in a pestle and mortar (or organic chilli flakes - milder than whole bird eye chillies - to taste)

10g fresh organic dill, finely chopped

10g fresh organic coriander, finely chopped

8 large organic eggs

Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground organic black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Wash the peppers, halve lengthwise and remove the stems, seeds and membranes, then cut into 1 cm strips and finally into 1cm dice.

Place the ghee (or oil) into a large, non-stick ovenproof frying pan and set over a medium-high heat. 

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When the oil is hot, add the peppers and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until softened, but not coloured. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile crack the eggs into a medium-large bowl and beat together well. Mix in the spring onions, feta, Cheddar, crushed chilli/chilli flakes, dill and coriander.

Add the cooked and cooled pepper pieces to the eggs and mix again.

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Set the frying pan back over a medium heat - add a little more ghee/oil if you think it needs it. 

When the pan is hot, tip the egg mixture into the pan, spreading the contents out evenly with a wooden spoon. 

Cover the pan with a lid or stainless steel splatter guard and leave the frittata to cook on the top of the stove for 6-8 minutes or until the edges have set.  

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to High.

Remove the pan lid and place the frittata under the hot grill. Cook until golden brown and sizzling hot.

Check to see that the eggs are cooked through by inserting a knife into the centre of the frittata. If they’re still runny, put back under the grill for 1-2 minutes more until they’ve firmed up completely.

Slice and serve straight from the pan.

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Notes:

You will see from the photos that I ring the changes with whatever vegetables I have to hand. I’ve added lightly steamed rainbow chard to one of the frittatas and lightly steamed English asparagus to another. I could equally be tempted to throw in a couple of handfuls of baby spinach. The more green veggies the better, just don’t overcook them before adding to the eggs.

Leftovers are great served at room temperature.

Fat 36g Protein 31g Carbohydrates 3g - per serving

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Creamy Avocado ‘Hummus’

by Susan Smith in ,


In this ravingly busy life, one of the best ways to improve your health is to consume lots of fresh vegetables. Abel & Cole and Riverford Organics are my lifeline because twice weekly they bring a wide variety of organic, fresh produce direct to my door. I always buy half a dozen or so avocados every week because they happen to be one of the healthiest things you can eat. They’re rich in monounsaturated fat that your body can easily burn for energy and moreover the fat they contain helps your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods you eat with them.

Actually, avocados are not a vegetable, they’re a very-low-in-fructose fruit with a buttery texture and delicious flavour that means they’re my number one go-to favourite snack when I want something quick and savoury to eat. For simplicity and satiety, I like to halve and stone them before stuffing the cavities beyond reason with prawns or tuna mayo. Prawns bound together with a spicy, tomatoey mayonnaise atop a halved avocado was the first food I ever prepared for my husband John. It was love at first sight - he’d always thought such food, simple as it is, only came out of restaurant kitchens! On a more fruity note, avocados can be transformed into a silky, delectable dark chocolate or avocado and lime mousse or used as a base for ice cream. Yum! Full of essential vitamins and minerals, including fibre, vitamins K, B5, B6 and C, folate and more than twice the potassium of a banana, you can see where I’m going with this.

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Today my fancy is for avocado hummus. I love traditional chickpea hummus but can see no reason to take the anti-nutrient, high carbohydrate hit from legumes when this creamy avocado dip is a far healthier, yet comparative alternative. I first eyeballed Paleo Hacks version of Bean-Free Creamy Avocado ‘Hummus on their blog but glancing down the list of ingredients quickly assessed they were too out of whack for my taste (what’s with a teaspoon of lemon juice?). I’ve re-written the recipe to balance out the flavours and it works. Beautiful to look at and delicious to eat, it’s a really fresh, clean ‘take’ on hummus. Apologies to garlic lovers, there is none in my version of Creamy Avocado ‘Hummus’ because its whiffiness on post-consumption breath always offends me!

A quick and easy keto way to get your five a day. 

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Creamy Avocado ‘Hummus’ (serves 6 as a dip, serves 4 for a light lunch)

Ingredients

2 large organic courgettes, peeled and deseeded

2 large organic ripe avocados (use 3 medium if large not available) 

3 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp organic lemon juice, freshly squeezed 

100g organic light tahini

½ tsp ground organic cumin        

½ tsp Himalayan Pink salt, or to taste

¼ tsp organic cayenne pepper

a good grinding of organic black pepper

15g fresh organic coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Organic paprika and extra sprigs of fresh coriander - optional

A selection of freshly cut crudités - to serve

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Instructions

Slice off the ends of both courgettes, peel, then lay them on a cutting board and slice them in half lengthwise.

Using the pointy end of a teaspoon run it down the middle of the courgettes, gently scooping out the seeds. Chop the courgette into rough pieces. Discard the seeds. 

Peel and de-stone the avocados, roughly chop into pieces.

Place the avocado, courgette, olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, cayenne pepper, most of the coriander leaves and salt in a food processor. 

Process on high until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with paprika and the remaining coriander leaves before serving with a selection of freshly cut crudités for dipping. 

 

Fat 32g Protein 6g Carbohydrate 4g - per serving of ‘hummus’ only.

If you’re counting macronutrients, please add on extra grams of carbs for the crudités. N.B. Vegetables grown above ground are less carb heavy than veggies grown below ground

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Celeriac Terrine With Red Pepper Sauce

by Susan Smith in , , ,


I was slowly but surely getting through the training programme to become a qualified health coach until I was recently stopped in my tracks. Last week I received an email announcing “numerous coursework and program updates” that were being rolled out now and later this year. Gees! They don’t mean maybe. The volume of coursework has increased by a hefty 60% and I can’t now move on through the 16 original lessons and exams unless I first go back and then sequentially complete each of the new business building tasks interspersed between them. It’s not easy being forced to switch between academia and creative writing on demand - I simply don’t have the time or headspace for both - and last week’s task, which was to write ‘my story’, overwhelmed me. Firstly, who cares what trials and tribulations I’ve suffered? Secondly, it seems if anyone does, it’s me! I found wading through the timeline of my life and reliving the experience extremely upsetting. So today, I’m taking some welcome time out to write this blog. For sanity’s sake, I have to loosen my grip on my study work and let go of my original intention to be an accredited health coach before the end of the year. After all, there are so many other things I have to do. 

Without the support of my husband, who steps into the domestic breach every time he finds me glued to my computer, I would have given up completely. Economy of effort is where it’s at and Celeriac Terrine With Red Pepper Sauce is one of those meals that John can prepare single-handedly so that we’re still well fed even when I’m overly committed to tasks beyond the kitchen table. Celeriac Terrine With Red Pepper Sauce makes an impressive vegetarian meal for six people. Since there are only three of us to feed, that means enough leftovers to slice-up cold several days later, which you can then generously top with more cheese before reheating in the oven for 15 minutes and gently warming through the leftover red pepper sauce on the hob. Alternatively, the terrine eats equally well cold with homemade mayonnaise and salad leaves, preceded by a delicious creamy, hot tomato and red pepper soup that’s simply thrown together in minutes by combining the leftover red pepper sauce with a bottle of Abel & Coles cherry tomato passata and a generous dollop of double cream. Voilà, two nutritious, keto-inspired meals for the price of one! 

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Celeriac, otherwise known as celery root, is a bit of a culinary life saver when you’re living a low-carb lifestyle. Although a root vegetable, celeriac isn’t nearly as starchy as potatoes (potatoes contain over twice as many net carbohydrates) so it’s really useful for making mash, chips, gratins and soups - watercress soup thickened with celeriac instead of potato is even better. High in dietary fibre and loaded with vitamins and minerals for maintaining good health, this recipe totally transforms celeriac from its reputation as the gnarly hobbit of the vegetable world into a very elegant looking, make-ahead main course for entertaining, or a much more appetisingly colourful, meat-free alternative to a family roast.

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A long-standing favourite of ours, this recipe is taken from the Winter section of Rose Elliot’s book ‘Vegetarian Four Seasons’. However, while I can still buy organic celeriac in May, I make no apology for enjoying it in Spring! It’s simply delicious food, whenever!

Celeriac Terrine With Red Pepper Sauce (Serves 6)

Ingredients - for the celeriac terrine

700g organic celeriac

25g organic butter

125g organic strong Cheddar cheese, grated

25g freshly grated organic Parmesan or organic vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese 

4 tbsp snipped organic chives

3 organic eggs

Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt

Freshly ground organic black pepper

Organic cherry tomatoes and fresh chives - to garnish 

 

Ingredients - for the red pepper sauce

2 tbsp organic olive oil or macadamia nut oil

2 organic onions, finely sliced

2 organic red peppers

150ml vegetable stock

Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt

Freshly ground organic black pepper

15g cold organic unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

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Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 160℃ / 325 ℉ / Gas mark 3

Grease and line a 450g / 1lb loaf tin with a piece of non-stick parchment paper to cover the base and extend up the short sides. Grease again.

Boil a kettle of freshly filtered water.

Peel the celeriac and cut into even-sized 2cm chunks.

Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the base of a steamer. Place the celeriac into the top of the steamer and cook for about 12-15 minutes, or until the celeriac is tender.

Lift the celeriac out of the steamer and drain well before tipping into a bowl - the water in the bottom of the steamer makes wonderful stock.

Add the butter to the celeriac and mash, but don’t puree because some texture is good in this dish. Mix in the grated Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, the chives, eggs and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the terrine feels firm to the touch, is golden-brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

While the terrine is baking make the red pepper sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, put in the onions and cook over a gentle heat with the pan lid on for about 10 minutes until the onions are softened but not browned.

Meanwhile, wash the peppers and cut into rough pieces - there’s no need to remove the seeds because the sauce will be strained.

Add the peppers to the onions, cover the pan again and cook gently for a further 5 minutes.

Pour in the stock. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Liquidise the sauce, strain into a clean saucepan and season to taste.

When the terrine is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes or so before slipping a knife around the edges to loosen, then turn it out onto a warm plate.

Garnish the terrine with halved cherry tomatoes, sprigs of parsley and small strips of chives.

Just before serving, bring the pepper sauce to the boil. Take off the heat and whisk in the cold butter, a little at a time, to make the sauce glossy. 

Serve the sauce with the terrine and some lightly cooked broccoli or other green vegetables. 

 

Fat 22g Protein 14g Carbohydrate 11g - per serving

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Torn Mozzarella and Peppers

by Susan Smith in ,


As predicted, while I grapple with the gargantuan task of becoming a certified health coach, assisting Mirror Imaging at the height of the wedding season and simultaneously checking-out old tenants and finding new ones, I have virtually no time to develop new recipes for this blog. Indeed any attempt to write my blog is secondary to cooking our daily meal and getting enough exercise. Hence, I’ve gotta keep things quick and easy.

It’s a blessing. My brain cells are getting enough of a work-out with coursework and exams so I’ll keep to the point of Primal Plate, which is to simply feature delicious recipes that help you transition from being a carb-dependent sugar-burner to a fat burning beast.

Here’s one such recipe taken from Jill Dupleix’s book, appropriately titled: ‘Very Simple Food’. Torn Mozzarella and Peppers is like a bottomless pizza that sings out ‘Mediterranean’. With more than its fair share of vitamins and minerals - the brightly coloured peppers are a give away - this warm salad relies heavily on the best ingredients you can find. Fresh buffalo mozzarella is heavenly and its soft creaminess pairs beautifully with the slight crunchiness of warm, sweet peppers.

This gorgeous salad only takes minutes to make and can be served either on its own or as a light main course accompanied by crispy Keto Bread Rolls, still warm from the oven.

The easiest meal in the world to prepare and so very healthy and tasty to boot, Torn Mozzarella and Peppers is a yummy, Primal, low-carb winner. I think you’ll enjoy.

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Torn Mozzarella and Peppers (serves 4)

Ingredients

2 organic sweet red peppers

2 organic sweet yellow peppers 

2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

Himalayan pink salt

Freshly ground organic black pepper

2 tbsp organic flat leaf parsley

2 organic fresh mozzarella balls (convenient for me to buy weekly with my Riverford order but it’s cheaper from Waitrose!)

 

Instructions

Holding the peppers upright, cut the sides away from the core and seeds, then cut each piece into 1cm squares.

In a saucepan, combine the peppers with the olive oil, salt and pepper and stew gently over a low heat for 10-15 minutes without allowing the peppers to fry or brown. 

Remove from the heat and allow to cool until barely warm.

Set out 4 shallow serving bowls or plates and using a slotted spoon, divide the peppers equally between the plates, saving the cooking juices/oil left in the bottom of the pan.

Drain the mozzarella and pat dry with kitchen roll. Tear the mozzarella into small pieces with your fingers (I don’t discard the thick skin as the original recipe advises - it’s all good!) then distribute evenly between the plates, randomly dotting it over the peppers.

Tear the parsley leaves into shreds with your fingers and scatter on top of the mozzarella. 

Drizzle with the reserved oil to serve.

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Notes

This recipe is a great example of how eating low-carb doesn’t mean eating no carbs. You easily consume plenty of carbohydrates (glucose forming food) for your body’s needs when you eat lots of fresh, organic vegetables grown above ground, small amounts of fresh fruit, nuts and seeds. A high-carbohydrate, high insulin-producing diet is pro-inflammatory, immune suppressing, and hormone balance disrupting, which increases the risk of assorted health problems and serious disease.

Interestingly, the total amount of glucose dissolved into the bloodstream in a healthy non-diabetic is only about a teaspoon, or five grams. Exceeding that level quickly becomes toxic; fall much below that and you will pass out. 

It takes approximately 21 days to lessen your reliance on external sources of carbohydrates and become efficient at fat and ketone burning. If you want to be strong, slim, disease and wrinkle free for longer than most people believe possible, limit your carbohydrate intake to less than 150 grams per day. 

 

Fat 24g Protein 11g Carbohydrate 13g - per serving

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Sugar-Free Fresh Lemon Mousse

by Susan Smith in


I’ve taken the zing of lemons to extreme in this sugar-free, light and lovely Fresh Lemon Mousse. In my book, if the clean, fresh, sour essence of lemon doesn’t acidify your tastebuds enough to stimulate a spontaneous squint in one eye, you’ve gone overboard with the sweetener!

What I love about this recipe is the contrast between citrussy aromatics and the soft gentleness of a creamy, light-as-air mousse. In fact it is so fluffy and cloud-like, it feels like you’ve inhaled this dessert rather than eaten it! Add to this the satisfying crunch of toasted almonds to further soothe the sharpness of lemon and it’s a positively sublime, melt-in-the-mouth finale to an Easter celebration lunch.

Sugar-Free Fresh Lemon Mousse is an unapologetic invitation to ‘scaredy-fat’ members of Weight Watchers, Slimmer’s World and all others still faithfully adhering to outmoded, anti-fat dietary guidelines, to do their research. Here’s a helpful link to get you started.

Once you’re persuaded that a low-carb, high-fat (ketogenic) diet can be a more efficient and enjoyable strategy for a healthier, slimmer body than calorie counting and low-fat can ever be, I imagine you’ll be happy to grab yourself a long handled spoon and dive in. After counting calories, syns, food points or whatever else low-fat propagandists have people do, this seductive, Sugar-Free Fresh Lemon Mousse makes for eye-opening, lip-smacking, diet ‘liberation’ that makes the heart sing. 

What a perfect way to celebrate new beginnings. 

Happy Easter!

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Sugar-Free Fresh Lemon Mousse (Serves 4)

Ingredients

3 large organic eggs

60g non-GMO pure erythritol sweetener

¼-½ tsp pure monk fruit powder

2 large organic lemons

3 tbsp organic Greek yogurt

125ml organic double cream

⅛ tsp cream of tartar

A handful of organic flaked almonds    

            

Instructions

Grate the zest from the lemons and juice them - you should end up with about 80ml juice and 1 heaped tablespoon of zest.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and reduce the heat so that it is barely simmering.

To create a stove top bain-marie (double boiler) select a stainless steel mixing bowl to fit on top of the pan without the base of the bowl coming into contact with the water. There should be at least an inch of space between the water and the bottom of the bowl.

Now separate the eggs. Place the egg yolks into the bowl you’ve selected for the bain marie and the egg whites into a separate, scrupulously clean, metal bowl. Set the egg whites aside. 

Add the erythritol and monk fruit powder to the egg yolks and whisk for about 2 minutes until pale and thickened. Stir in the lemon juice, zest and yogurt.

Now place the bowl with the egg and lemon mixture on top of the pan of simmering water and whilst whisking constantly, cook the mixture for about 10-15 minutes, until it thickens into lemon curd. It’s ready when it’s the consistency of mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce. 

Immediately plunge the base of the bowl in cold water and keep stirring the lemon curd until completely cooled. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks just start to form, then stir or gently whisk into the lemon curd so it’s evenly combined. Set aside.

Using a clean electric whisk, beat the egg whites for 1½ minutes until foamy, then add the cream of tartar and keep whisking until stiff peaks form and the mixture has increased fourfold - takes about 2 minutes.

Using a metal tablespoon, very gently fold the egg whites into the lemon curd cream in roughly 3 parts, making sure that you don’t deflate the meringue and it’s evenly incorporated.

Spoon the lemon mousse into 4 individual dessert bowls or glasses.

Chill for 2 hours or until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, toast the flaked almonds in a small, dry, frying pan until lightly golden, turning occasionally to make sure they don’t scorch. Watch carefully and take off the heat as soon as they’re toasted, then allow to cool down completely before using.

Immediately before serving, sprinkle the toasted almond flakes on top of the mousse.

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Notes

I’m still a bit dubious about using excessive amounts of sugar alcohols as sugar alternative sweeteners in Primal Plate recipes so I’ve supplemented erythritol with pure monk fruit powder to get the equivalent intensity of sweetness I wanted, naturally. Don’t be put off by the price of pure monk fruit powder, it’s actually very economical because only the tiniest amount is needed for it to work its magic. 

Monk fruit powder is 300 times sweeter than cane sugar but not because it contains natural sugars like most other fruits do. Its incredible sweetness is due to the presence of mogrosides, which are powerful antioxidants. Consequently, monk fruit powder is metabolised differently to fructose and glucose by the body and has a negligible effect on blood sugar. Very useful in food and drinks when you’re trying to lose weight.

Because I’ve not used gelatine to stabilise this mousse, you need to make Sugar-Free Fresh Lemon Mousse on the day you intend to eat it. If it’s left in the refrigerator to chill for more than a couple of hours or so, it may start to separate. Not a culinary disaster, just not quite so visually appealing! 

 

Fat 22g Protein 6g Carbohydrate 3g - per serving


Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles

by Susan Smith in


And so it begins…the start of a new wedding season combined with a desire to qualify as a primal health coach whilst managing a small portfolio of rental properties, does not lend itself particularly well to new recipe development for Primal Plate’s blog. Please do not judge if over the next few months my postings get even fewer and farther between. Whilst I haven’t forgotten that my priority is what I can accomplish in the kitchen, these things take a hefty time commitment and it’s not easy keeping all my balls in the air at once.

In fact it took three attempts to perfect these Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles. The clue is in their name. Even though they no longer disintegrate before you can get them into your mouth, they definitely won’t stand being dipped in your tea! More the texture of a digestive than a rich tea biscuit, John and Sarah think they’re fabulous and would have been happy for me to keep going…until I finally produced these biscuity bites of loveliness and they both declared it was ‘game over’.

What does guilt taste like? Chocolate and roasted almonds successfully bound together in a delicate, comforting cookie; that’s what! Just crispy and firm enough to snap neatly in two, these Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles are soft and crumbly on the inside with bursts of chocolatey goodness that explode inside your mouth. Indulgent they are; unhealthy they’re not. 

Amazingly, these keto friendly, healthy, cookie crumbles can be enjoyed guilt free. Without grains, sugar or dairy - the roasted almond butter does the job of regular butter - you can even ‘veganise' the recipe by substituting a chia or flaxseed ‘egg’ for the real egg that I used (see Notes below).  

For a heady hit of chocolate (the darker the better), these Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles are the thing. Ridiculously quick and easy to make, they don’t need rolling or cutting out. 

Another good reason to spoil yourself. 

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Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles (makes 15)

Ingredients

1 large organic egg

250g organic roasted almond butter

40g organic ground almonds

20g organic extra fine tiger nut flour

½ tsp organic whole psyllium husk powder, freshly ground by you in a coffee grinder, if you have one

¼-½ tsp pure monk fruit powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp organic vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate chips (at least 70% cocoa solids)

                    

Instructions 

Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F / Gas mark 4 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Add to a food processor bowl the almond butter, ground almonds, tiger nut flour, monk fruit powder, egg, vanilla extract and baking powder. Blitz together until smooth.

Add in the dark chocolate chips and briefly blitz again until evenly combined.

Roll the mixture into 15 small balls (approx. 31g each), spacing them out evenly on the baking sheet.

Gently flatten out each ball with the palm of your hand into rounds approximately 6-8mm thick. 

When they’re ready to bake, press a couple more chocolate chips into the surface of any cookies that look like they’ve been shortchanged!

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.

Let the cookies rest on the baking tray for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to cool down completely.

Wait for at least 30 minutes before tucking in.  

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Notes

To prepare a flax or chia ‘egg’ for vegan baking: Grind whole, organic seeds in a coffee grinder just before using as follows: Stir 1 tablespoon of ground seeds (measured after grinding) and 3 tablespoons of warm, freshly filtered water together until well combined. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes until if forms a gelatinous ‘goo’. Use to replace eggs in any recipe that doesn’t list more than 2 eggs in the ingredients. N.B. If making Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Crumbles with a chia or flax seed ‘egg’, leave out the psyllium husk powder.

If you don’t have chocolate baking chips to hand, chop 100g of an organic dark chocolate bar into small pieces with a sharp knife. A bit messy, but needs must! Given the wider choice of chocolate bars available, I’d be tempted to go for the highest percentage of cocoa solids (up to 100%) if your tastebuds will allow!

Fat 13g Protein 5g Carbohydrate 4g - per cookie crumble.

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Zero Sugar Meringues

by Susan Smith in ,


In a society that tends to eat a lot of excess sugar and overeat in general, it seems that for the most part I stand alone when it comes to refusing to eat or drink anything with refined sugar added. It’s not easy. Not because I crave sugar - physically and psychologically I have come to loathe the stuff - but because relatively healthy sugar substitutes are not readily available and when I can get hold of them, they’re expensive. Whilst buying low-carb sugar replacements to bake with is nothing like the financial liability of regularly eating out - which I seldom do because the majority of restaurant food centres around refined, non-organic vegetable/seed oils, sugar and grains - they come at a price that make your eyes water! 

Furthermore, most alternative sweeteners either don’t taste quite right or don’t behave like ordinary sugar when you cook with them. Amazingly, I recently found one that’s a notable exception: NuNaturels Tagatose is a prebiotic sweetener produced from lactose that is virtually indistinguishable from table sugar in every respect. Tagatose is costly and even more annoyingly, only currently available to purchase from the US. But with half the calories of sugar and a low glycemic index (GI) of just 3 (sucrose has a GI of 65), it doesn’t raise blood glucose and insulin levels in healthy individuals and those with diabetes type-2. It is also believed to stimulate the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria. All of this seems to make it a ‘goer’ as a low-carb, Primal sweetener. It was my discovery of tagatose that first enabled me to successfully make low-carb meringues that looked and tasted like the real deal. To the best of my knowledge, they were a culinary ‘first’ and, if you’re willing to believe what the producers of tagatose tell you, they smash conventional meringues made with sucrose into the ground. That said, tagatose became irrelevant for the purpose of this blog post because the next time I tried to order some, there was none left in stock.

Disappointed but not dissuaded, I decided the way forward was to purchase NKD Living’s Non-GMO Erythritol sugar replacement sweetener instead. I’d previously seen other peoples’ erythritol meringue recipes posted online but to be honest, it was the pictures of these that originally put me off using erythritol myself. However, beggars can’t be choosers and as I had already challenged myself to feature Zero Sugar Meringues on Primal Plate’s blog, last week I put erythritol to the test. As you can see, the revised version of Zero Sugar Meringues also turned out spectacularly well. Sweet, light and ‘sugary’, erythritol has no aftertaste but does have a slight cooling effect in the mouth. I thought this rather enhanced the eating sensation, which was a bit like biting into an exploding snowball!

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Crispy on the outside and meltingly soft in the middle, these crunchy, cloud-like patisseries are a luxurious, hedonistic affair when sandwiched together with lashings of whipped cream and accompanied by fresh, organic raspberries to cut through their sweetness. Never mind the price of tagatose, I’m now on a roll with erythritol. Next up, pavlova! 

Because it takes at least 10 minutes of non-stop beating of the egg whites, meringue is best made in a food mixer with whisk attachment. I’ve included the speeds I set my Kenwood Chef at. Otherwise, use a hand-held electric whisk, or if you’re feeling really energetic, a balloon whisk.

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Zero Sugar Meringues (makes 8 meringues; serves 4)

Ingredients

2 organic egg whites, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

100g non GMO erythritol, preferably whizzed in a coffee/nut mill to make it extra fine (like icing sugar)

½ tsp organic vanilla extractoptional

 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 130℃ / 250°F / Gas mark ½

Cut a piece of non-stick baking parchment to fit a large baking sheet.

Using a scrupulously clean glass or stainless steel bowl and whisk, beat the egg whites on medium speed (Kenwood Chef number 4) until foamy - takes about 2 minutes.

Add the cream of tartar and continue beating at the same speed for another 3 minutes.

With the beater still running, slowly add the erythritol/tagatose, 1 dessertspoon at a time. When all the sweetener has been incoporated, turn the beaters up a notch (Kenwood Chef number 5) and beat for a further 5 minutes until very stiff and glossy.    

Add the vanilla extract, if using and beat 1 minute more.

Remove the bowl and whisk from the mixer stand. Using the meringue left on the whisk attachment, place 4 blobs of meringue at each corner of the baking sheet so that the paper will stay put whilst you’re spooning the meringue on to it.

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Bang the whisk attachment sharply against the side of the bowl to remove the rest of the meringue then using 2 metal tablespoons shape the meringue into 8 ovals or mounds on the parchment paper.

Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.

After the first 10 minutes, lower the temperature of the oven to 110℃ and continue baking for a further 20 minutes.

After baking for 30 minutes, lower the temperature again to 100℃ and continue baking for another 30 minutes.

Check their progress after 1 hour. Take the baking tray out of the oven and with a flat palette knife attempt to gently lever the meringues off the parchment paper.

The meringues are ready when they are dry and crisp on the outside, are a pale coffee colour and will peel off the parchment paper easily.

If the meringues are still a little sticky, turn them upside down so that the sticky underside is exposed and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until completely dried out.

Now, leaving the meringues in the oven, turn the oven off and allow them to dry out and cool down completely as the oven cools. N.B. This can take a couple of hours or more with the oven door closed, so make sure you don’t need to use the oven for anything else.

When the meringues are cooled, they will have a crispy shell and they should sound hollow when you tap the bottom.

Store in an airtight container. They will keep for 5 days at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.

When you’re ready to assemble the meringues, generously sandwich two of them together with lightly whipped cream and serve with fresh, organic raspberries.

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Notes

The bigger the meringues, the longer they will take to bake. Reduce the cooking time if you’re making mini meringue ‘kisses’.

Tagatose is not suitable for vegans because it’s made from whey, which is a milk by-product. However, since tagatose does not contain lactose, it's okay for the lactose intolerant

A word of caution: Primal Plate does not advise eating any sweetener in high amounts and cannot wholeheartedly recommend any non-nutritive sugar replacements. Whilst non-GMO erythritol and tagatose are thought to pass through the body untouched with virtually zero effect on metabolism/blood glucose levels that doesn’t mean, as is touted by their manufacturers, that they’re natural or healthy.

Nevertheless, I do believe that sweet tasting foods are for most people a highly desirable part of their diet, which is why I cautiously promote non GMO erythritol and stevia as possibly the best “naturally occurring” sugar alternatives for low-carb baking. Pure monk fruit powder is probably better if the recipe allows. Unfortunately, monk fruit powder is a 300x sweeter-than-sugar, mustard coloured powder that cannot easily be incorporated into many desserts. If you’re not doing keto and can take the carb ‘hit’, modest amounts of raw organic honey, maple syrup, ripe bananas, homemade apple sauce or medjool dates are also healthier alternatives to table sugar. Whatever sweetener you choose, learn to cut down on the level of sweetness needed. I strongly advise you to try and dampen down your sweet-tooth by saving Zero Sugar Meringues and other Primal Plate sweet tasting treats for special occasions only.


Lemon ‘Sugar’ Keto Pancakes

by Susan Smith in ,


It’s pancake day today, but because it’s taken five attempts to make this recipe foolproof, I’m afraid only we will be able to indulge ourselves with these Lemon ‘Sugar’ Keto Pancakes. Never mind that I missed the deadline this Shrove Tuesday. In one form or another, we’ve eaten these pancakes on six successive days during the past week and we’re not bored of them yet! They’re delicious! 

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Two years ago I posted a recipe for Primal Pancakes but my understanding of eating low-carb has moved on significantly since then and, in retrospect, 10 grams of carbohydrate per pancake is quite possibly 9 grams too many, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. Personally, we’re no longer in that boat but a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet still holds good for us because we want to stay at our fighting weight and keep ourselves as healthy as possible. 

Talking of boats, did you hear about the four British amateur oarsmen who recently smashed the transatlantic rowing race world record by a full 5 days? Get this, they did it by rowing for just under 30 days on fat. That is to say, eating a LCHF aka ketogenic diet. Furthermore, their boat was a sugar-free zone! Admittedly, after 30 days of extreme exertion they binged-out on carbohydrates, but this can hardly apply to Joe Public, who generally don’t stop eating from the minute they get up in the morning to the minute they go to bed at night, and who do little in the way of exercise in between. In my view, the only excuse for not adopting a LCHF diet is that life loses its sparkle if you’re deprived of bread, cake, ice cream, crisps and pancakes. Enter, Primal Plate food blog. It’s my job to fool you into believing you’re not eating low-carb.

These delicious pancakes are the perfect example. Neither an American pancake nor a French crêpe, they sit somewhere between the two. We had a couple of hilarious days whilst I fathomed out how to create a pancake batter that would ‘flip’ without drama. Apart from sheer tenacity and persistence, I don’t quite know how I finally achieved such a well-behaved batter that is neither too ‘eggy’, too thick or ‘blubbery’ and is a breeze to turn. It’s a mystery to me what alchemy occurs with even the slightest adjustment to a recipe’s ingredients, but here I give to you - drum roll please - my recipe for flourless, sugarless, Lemon ‘Sugar’ keto Pancakes.

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It’s now your turn to indulge yourself. I think you’ll find these pancakes are everything you dream of when you think of classic, hot, golden pancakes with the crunch of sugar and the sweet tart lift of lemon juice. When Sarah was a baby, she used to entertain herself by sucking on lemon wedges and chuckling uncontrollably at my screwed up face as I imagined their sour taste assaulting her senses. Your little ones may appreciate freshly juiced blood oranges in place of lemon juice and organic maple syrup or raw honey instead of erythritol. These pancakes are equally yummy served with fresh organic blueberries and lightly whipped cream. 

An easy to follow recipe that should have you enjoying pancakes all year round.

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Lemon ‘Sugar’ Keto Pancakes (makes 8, serves 4)

Ingredients

4 large organic eggs 

2 organic egg whites

150g organic full-fat soft cheese

50g organic full-fat crème fraîche

8g organic whole psyllium husks, ground into a fine powder                

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp monk fruit powder

Unsalted butter, coconut or macadamia nut oilfor frying

To serve:

Freshly squeezed organic lemon juice and a sprinkling of zero calorie Erythritol (See Notes below)

                                            

Instructions

In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and crème fraîche together with a fork until soft and smooth.

Beat the eggs and egg whites with electric mixer or hand held blender on high for 1 minute to make them light and fluffy. 

Add the softened cheese mixture to the eggs and blend for 20 seconds more before adding the rest of the ingredients and blending again until well combined.  

Let the batter stand for 3-4 minutes.

While the batter is standing, heat a small (20 cm) non-stick frying pan - I use this one - over a medium heat.

When hot, add a little butter or oil to the pan - wiping away any excess with paper kitchen roll. 

Add 2-3 heaped tablespoons of the batter and swirl the pan so it covers the base evenly. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the underside of the pancake is golden and lots of small bubbles appear on the surface.

Turn the pancake over with the aid of a flexible, wide slotted turning spatula.

Fry on the second side of the pancake for a further 2-3 minutes until golden and set.  

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Slide the cooked pancake onto a warm plate, sprinkle over the erythritol sweetener and agree to eat in relays. 

Alternatively, roll each ‘sugared’ pancake tightly into a cigar shaped cylinder then cover and keep warm in a low oven whilst you cook the rest.

Notes

Delicious, organic Citron Beldi lemons available from Abel & Cole are sweet, floral citrus fruits that look like squashed lemons and come all the way from Marrakech. They are only around in winter, so make the most of them while you can. They make a delicious juice to serve with these pancakes.

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NuNaturels tagatose was going to be my closest-to-sugar alternative for sprinkling over these pancakes but it’s a nightmare to get hold of and ridiculously expensive to boot, especially when you add on custom charges. I’ve just had to pay an additional £17 to get three 250g bags of tagatose into the U.K. So until someone somewhere pulls their finger out and starts to produce pure tagatose for sale in the U.K., I have decided to abandon the idea of promoting Primal Plate recipes that rely on tagatose as a primary ingredient. Very disappointing, since before last Christmas I’d perfected a brilliant sugar-free meringue recipe that I never had chance to post. Identical to normal, crispy on the outside and slight chewy on the inside meringues, I thought they would be a lovely recipe to feature for Valentines Day. Unfortunately, without it, I’m going to have to start over. For now, that just leaves me with non-GMO erythritol to play with. 

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Erythritol is naturally found in fruits, vegetables and fermented foods. It has a GI of 0 and 0.2 calories per gram. It does not affect blood sugar and is suitable for a low-carb diet. Its sweetness is about 70% of table sugar, so you may need to use a bit more than sugar. Don’t worry, erythritol counts as a zero carb sweetener because your body can’t digest it. 

 

Fat 33g Protein 6g Carbohydrate 1g - per pancake (N.B. Don’t forget to add extra carbs for toppings and accompaniments)

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Keto Bread Rolls

by Susan Smith in


These Keto Bread Rolls are so clever but they’re not my invention. It doesn’t matter that I came late to the party, our low-carb diet is now officially one step closer to eating what most people think of as a “normal diet” because we have buns with our burgers! With just 3 grams of carbs each, these are the perfect no-grain burger buns, dinner rolls or picnic fare. Credit goes to the Diet Doctor who adapted their keto bread recipe from an earlier bread recipe by Maria Emmerich. My contribution to keeping the keto dietary wheels turning was to test both recipes and then make this totally reliable final version - accurate weights and measurements provided in millilitres and grams - and more relevant to the U.K. 

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A common problem with this bread is that the dough appears to randomly change colour during baking; its mauvish hue thought to be caused by using “some brands of psyllium husks”. An unhelpful generalisation, particularly when the specific ‘Now’ brand of organic psyllium husk powder recommended by the Diet Doctor and many others, did the very thing it wasn’t supposed to. It doesn’t work…at least it didn’t for me. Consequently, my first batch of Keto Bread Rolls toned perfectly with the purple beetroot and feta burgers I’d made in readiness to fill them! Joking apart, mauve may be an okay colour for Halloween or a kiddies party cupcake but it’s quite disturbing in a bread roll, even if the taste and texture remain unchanged. You eat with your eyes first!

I came to the conclusion that the reason for purple-tinted dough may be less to do with the brand of psyllium husks and more to do with buying them in powder form. My feeling is that whole psyllium husks, like flaxseeds, quickly deteriorate (oxidise) when they’re ground down into powder because they’re more readily exposed to the air. Thus, the trick to making Keto Bread Rolls look like bread rolls is to track down a supplier of organic whole psyllium husks and then grind these down yourself just prior to baking. N.B. Only buy 100 percent pure organic psyllium husk, since most psyllium crops have been treated with chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertiliser.

The first attempt! The lilac-mauve hue was resolved by grinding my own whole psyllium husks.

The first attempt! The lilac-mauve hue was resolved by grinding my own whole psyllium husks.

Finding a U.K. supplier of reliably fresh, organic whole psyllium husks is no mean feat but my search finally brought me to the website of Stay Fresh Organics and voilà, I’d smashed it. To successfully make these Keto Bread Rolls, you will need a coffee/nut grinder. The one I use is an inexpensive Andrew James Coffee Grinder and it does the job admirably. 

You’ll be glad I went to the trouble. Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, the rest of the weighing and the mixing is done in about 5 minutes flat and fresh-from the-oven bread rolls, indistinguishable from the real thing, are ready within the hour. 

If you like the soft, light texture of commercial bread, you’ll love these Keto Bread Rolls, which are a sort of cross between Italian ciabatta and the cute, mini Hovis loaves that I used to pack in my daughters’ school lunch boxes back in the 1980’s. We had a nostalgic moment when Sarah reminded me that when she was very small, I’d often scold her for creating Play-Doh out of Hovis mini-loaves instead of eating them! In their raw state, these Keto Bread Rolls could also be mistaken for Play-Doh. All lumpy, bumpy, beige and bouncy before baking, the dough is transformed in the oven into the most perfectly risen, golden-brown, delicious, crusty bread rolls. Simply amazing to look at and even more amazing to cut, butter, fill and bite into, you’ll be flabbergasted that they’re not made from wheat flour! 

Whole, organic psyllium husk powder is a miracle ingredient for low-carb baking because it does the work of glueing and binding together breads, cakes, pancakes in the same way that the gluten in wheat flour does - without the digestive issues or weight-gain that many people suffer from when they eat gluten and grains. In fact psyllium husk, taken from the seeds of the Plantago plant, has numerous health benefits. It is a godsend for people who don’t get enough fibre in their diet - step-up low-carbers who don’t eat whole-grains and, if you’re like me, not a lot of fruit either - because psyllium contains both soluble and insoluble fibre to help facilitate weight loss, improve digestion, lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, nourish gut-friendly bacteria and cleanse the system. 

In the world of grain-free baking, these easy-to-make Keto Bread Rolls are a revelation. They miraculously achieve the same light, bready texture of regular bread without yeast or gluten, which means no kneading or rising times are required. The finished rolls are not only wonderful to behold they’re more tasty than any commercial bread you can buy. Sarah was so taken with their taste and texture, she thought them worth making even when they were purple! 

I can see why she would think so. Keto Bread Rolls remind you of how life used to be before ditching the grains and eating low-carb. Paradoxically, they appear to be the antithesis of wholefoody. A welcome change from the delicious but dense nut and seed based breads featured elsewhere on this blog, they make you believe you’re eating normal ‘white’ bread. Psychologically, this is good. If there’s one thing that people use as an excuse for not giving up the grains, it’s their reliance on bread. No more. Useful for breakfast, lunch, supper or snacking at any time, you can fill, spread and dip these Keto Bread Rolls at your pleasure and they won’t make you fat…just rather full and satisfyingly smug.  

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Keto Bread Rolls (makes 4 large picnic or burger-sized buns or 6 dinner rolls)

Ingredients

150g organic ground almonds

45g organic whole psyllium husks, freshly ground into fine powder

1½ tsp gluten-free baking powder                 

½ tsp Himalayan pink salt

1 tbsp organic cider vinegar

177ml filtered water, freshly boiled

3 large organic egg whites (about 120g total weight)                    

Sesame seeds for sprinkling - optional

 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4. Boil the water.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, psyllium powder (no substitutes: flaxseed meal won’t work), baking powder and salt.

Beat the egg whites and vinegar together with a fork until foamy, then add to the dry ingredients. 

Using an hand-held electric blender, mix for about 15 seconds until starting to come together into a thick dough.

Bring the water back to the boil before adding it to the bowl, while beating with an electric hand mixer for about 30 seconds. Don’t over mix the dough at this stage, the consistency should resemble Play-Doh.

Moisten hands and form the dough into 4 rolls (about 125g each) Note: they’ll double in size when cooked.

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Place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment or a silicone baking mat and sprinkle over sesame seeds, if liked. 

Bake on middle rack in oven for 55 minutes. The bread rolls are done when they’re golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack. 

 

Notes

I used organic black sesame seeds for visual effect but organic natural sesame seeds seem to be more widely available.

To make 6 to 8 dinner rolls, use about 70-75g of raw dough per roll and reduce the baking time to 40-45 minutes.

Store the bread rolls in the fridge or freezer.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine the above quantity of dough is enough to make a 1lb loaf of bread. Grease the tin well and roughly shape the loaf to fit, then bake for at least 1 hour, maybe longer. Test ‘doneness’ by tapping the bottom of the loaf to see if it sounds hollow. 

 

Fat 21g Protein 13g Carbohydrate 3g - per large bread roll