Spinach, Cherry Tomato & Avocado Salad with Spicy Sicilian Almonds

by Susan Smith in , , ,


Having initially accepted the challenge of featuring delicious, primarily vegetarian, Primal/Paleo recipes on Primal Plate’s blog, I now find myself obsessed with the idea of going one step further. Accordingly, it’s my intention to include many more vegan recipes that can be enjoyed as part of a Primal lifestyle. I’m excited at the prospect. With summer almost upon us, light and easy is the order of the day and it feels entirely appropriate for our meals not to be so dairy dependant. Vegan food eaten in this context, means moving away from Primal and more towards the Paleo diet, which excludes milk, butter, cheese, crème fraîche, cream, ice cream and yogurt.

I am too much of a hedonist to go the whole hog (strictly speaking, Paleo peeps don’t even drink red wine for heaven’s sake!), but I do want to consciously use dairy products less often. Sarah has coined a new phrase for what’s turning out to be a delicious voyage of discovery. She calls it ”Valeo”, which in my view perfectly sums up the logic of eating more healthily without exploiting animals. If there’s one thing that miffs me about the Primal/Paleo diet, it’s the emphasis on eating animal protein.  

Yesterday we enjoyed a valeo meal of soup and salad…a Roasted Beet Borscht with Horseradish Cream (recipe coming soon) and this amazingly tasty, healthful Spinach, Cherry Tomato and Avocado Salad. Vivid colours and packed with goodness, eating valeo is light years away from the high-carb pasta, rice, bread, potato and legumes that most vegetarians and vegans rely on. 

As I’m a complete novice entering the world of veganism, I’m sailing in relatively unchartered waters. Therefore, I make no apology for seeking out the best vegan recipes from other authors that obviously don’t contain meat, fish, eggs or dairy as well as all the Primal ‘no-no' foods such as grains, potatoes, legumes, processed soy and fats etc. It’s a tall order! Nevertheless, this Spinach, Cherry Tomato and Avocado Salad with Spicy Sicilian Almonds, which I’ve borrowed from Annie Bell’s book Gorgeous Greens, immediately hit the culinary jackpot by ticking all the aforementioned boxes. Sod’s law that it’s been Primal Plate’s most popular posting on Instagram to date! 

Clearly this is not just a dish for Paleos or Vegans but also for meat-free Mondays, dairy free dieters and anyone that finds themselves somewhere in-between (me!). Full of punchy flavours, this hearty salad is a wake-up call for the senses that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.  

Spinach, Cherry Tomato & Avocado Salad with Spicy Sicilian Almonds (serves 4)

Ingredients - for the nuts

100g organic whole, blanched (skinned) almonds

1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp organic Tamari

1 tsp, organic fresh thyme leaves

¼-½ tsp organic chilli pepper 

 

Ingredients - for the salad

2 organic avocados

125g organic baby spinach leaves, or torn young spinach leaves

2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

a good squeeze of organic lemon juice

200g organic cherry tomatoes, halved

a small handful of organic fresh chives, finely chopped

sea salt (my favourite for serving at the table is fine Pu‘uwai Deep Ocean Hawaiian Sea Salt)

Instructions - for the nuts

Pre-heat the oven to 170℃ / 325℉ / Gas mark 3

Toss the almonds in a bowl with the olive oil and tamari, then toss in the thyme, scatter over the cayenne pepper and toss again.

Tip the nuts into a small roasting tin or baking tray and spread them out into a single layer. 

Toast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until deep golden and crisp. 

Transfer the nuts to a plate lined with a paper towel and leave to cool.

 

Instructions - for the salad

Remove the avocados from the stone by cutting in two halves and picking the stone out. 

Peel the skin off the avocado halves, then slice each half into four long segments (8 segments per avocado).

Toss the spinach in a large bowl with the olive oil and lemon juice, then carefully fold in the halved cherry tomatoes and chopped chives.

Pile the salad on to four individual plates and scatter over the spiced nuts.

Serve straight away, leaving each diner to season their own salad with sea salt. 

 

Notes

Impossible to resist, the spicy, piquant almonds make a superb stand-alone snack. I chose premium, organic, ready-skinned almonds from sunny Sicily for their larger size and superior creamy, sweet taste but any raw, organic, blanched almonds are fine.

Readers will notice that I always create Primal Plate recipes from organic ingredients. For your health and wellbeing, it’s extremely important you do likewise. Many nuts have a high oil content, which means that they easily absorb pesticides. It is always best to purchase organic. For more information read why you need to buy organic nuts and seeds.

 

Carbohydrate 15g Protein 8g - per serving


Bone Broth With Vegetables

by Susan Smith in ,


We don’t eat much meat because intrinsically we believe that animals belong in our hearts, not in our stomachs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t regularly buy meat. Almost exactly a year ago to the day, my cat Sushi was suffering from distressing symptoms that the vet diagnosed as the onset of renal failure. We thought her death was imminent. Rather than accept the vet’s unhappy prognosis, which meant subjecting Sushi to the ongoing stress of regular blood tests, injections and the daily oral administration of drugs for the rest of her life, I boldly decided that I would responsibly ‘manage’ her condition by fully taking care of her nutritional needs. It is no mean feat to hand prepare fresh, organic pet food from scratch, but that was what I committed to do and one year later (Sushi’s now 17), she’s completely free of symptoms and, as they say, “As happy as Larry.”

When people think the cost of organic food is too expensive and cooking is a bore, they need to also think about the future cost of healthcare for humans and animals once good health disappears - as it most surely will - when they choose to feed themselves and their pets chemically processed food made with heavily refined ingredients and artificial additives that essentially amounts to toxic crap. It’s this catastrophic dietary decision that makes so many people and animals sick and fat. Good for vets’ profits maybe, but not so good for a cash-strapped NHS when the lifestyle and dietary choices of an ageing population starts to catch up with them! Today I am out to prove a point. Even though my idea of pet food is freshly ground, organic, grass-fed beef, lamb and chicken made from meat cut off the bone by me, when you factor in a nutritious meal for four conjured-up out of the leftovers, 63 pence per portion for my pet food versus 45 pence for Lily’s Kitchen is, in my view, a monetary piffle. What’s 19 pence when I’ve saved £100’s on veterinary fees and my beloved cat’s quality of life?   

Bone Broth, or homemade stock as we used to call it, has been hailed as a trendy new superfood by the Paleo/Primal fraternity, but in fact our ancestors always used to have a pot of meaty bones continually brewing over the fire. Our modern day equivalent would be to throw some good quality bones (they must be organic) and vegetables into a slow-cooker in the morning, go to work and come home to a beautiful, clear, savoury broth. The longer bone broth is slow-cooked, the more nutritious and gelatinous the broth. Yet, for the forward thinking cook, this is healthy, fast food at it’s best because it requires nothing more than shoving a few ingredients into a pot and walking away. 

Renowned for healing the gut, fighting inflammation and strengthening bones and teeth, the numerous nutrients found in bone broth are easily absorbed and used by the body. However, today’s recipe is not just for the health conscious, it’s for foodies, cooks and those of us with darling pets to care for because from scraps and remnants, a few meaty bones, freshly filtered water and a handful of organic vegetables, Bone Broth With Vegetables is a fuss-free way to produce the most soothing, nourishing, warming ‘hug-in-a-bowl’ imaginable. 

Last week Sushi’s monthly meat order coincided with me working at a wedding fair with Mirror Imaging at the weekend and because Perfect Roast Chicken is one of the simplest of meals for my husband to prepare in our absence, I ordered an extra chicken for us too. Whilst it isn’t always about preferring to eat vegetarian, it is always about consciously eating less meat and fully appreciating it when we do. For me this this means not throwing out what most people think of as waste i.e. leftover raw bones, giblets and the Sunday roast chicken carcass. And, when it comes down to it, the more variety of bones, the better the broth. Simmered long and slow in freshly filtered water with a handful of vegetables, these simple ingredients are the makings of another meal. All that’s needed to elevate the delicious resulting broth into a visually appealing, light yet filling lunch or supper is some finely chopped vegetables, seasoning and a generous handful of fresh parsley.

Not so much a recipe, more ‘waste not, want not’ opportunism, bone broth can be made from the remains of Perfect Roast Chicken, including the roasted vegetables you cooked it with, plus a few raw, organic meat bones and/or half a dozen raw organic chicken wings, a stick or two of celery, a carrot and an onion. This super cheap, super satisfying ‘superfood’ is so good, you’ll probably be left wondering why you never thought of making it before.

Bone Broth With Vegetables (Serves 4)

Ingredients - to make the broth

The remains of a Perfect Roast Chicken including the vegetables/herbs you roasted it with

Raw, organic lamb/beef bones or 500g raw organic chicken wings

1 organic onion, unpeeled and chopped into quarters

1 large or 2 medium organic carrots, scrubbed (no need to peel) and cut into thick wedges

2 sticks organic celery, washed and chopped into large pieces

Fresh filtered water - enough to virtually cover the bones/chicken carcass  

 

Ingredients - for the vegetables (can be varied according to what’s fresh and in season)

30g organic butter or olive oil

I large or 2 medium organic leeks, tough green tops and roots removed, cut into fine dice

1 small organic sweet potato, peeled and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

2 organic carrots, peeled and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

2 medium sticks organic celery, washed, trimmed and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea)

½ large organic courgette, washed and cut into small dice (no bigger than a pea) 

100g organic frozen peas, defrosted 

1-2 tbsp organic tamari

a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Ingredients - to serve

small bunch organic parsley, finely chopped

cold, roast chicken, cut or shredded into small pieces - optional

Instructions - to make the bone broth

Place all the ingredients into a very large saucepan (or you can use a slow-cooker, if you have one).

Add enough cold, freshly filtered water to virtually cover - push down any bits and pieces that are sticking out above the water line.

Set the pan over a medium-high heat and bring to boiling point. Keep your eye on it. As soon as the liquid starts to boil, turn the heat down to a very low setting and, using a metal tablespoon, skim off any scum that’s risen to the surface. 

Cover with the pan lid and allow the liquid to simmer very gently for at least 2 hours - although 4 hours would be better. N.B. It is very important that the liquid does not boil rapidly at any time because this will make the finished broth cloudy rather than clear.

After a couple of hours - longer if possible - the liquid will have turned into a clear, golden broth and will smell really inviting. Allow the contents of the pan to cool down a little before straining the hot broth through a metal sieve into a clean saucepan. Or, if you’re not planning to use it straightaway, a glass bowl. Leave to cool completely, then cover and store in the refrigerator, where it will turn into a savoury jelly.

 

Instructions - to cook the vegetables and finish the dish

In a large saucepan, melt the butter (or gently heat the olive oil) then add the diced vegetables and stir everything together well to lightly coat the vegetables in the oil.

Cut a circle of greaseproof paper to fit the pan and press this down directly on top of the vegetables. Put the pan lid on and cook gently over a medium-low heat for approximately 8 minutes or until the vegetables are just soft - they should retain their natural, vibrant colour.

Bring the bone broth back to boiling point, then season to taste with Tamari, sea salt and black pepper. 

Add the hot broth to the saucepan containing the vegetables and simmer over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes. 

If using, add the diced chicken to the broth and allow to warm through for a further minute before ladling into individual pre-warmed serving bowls - making sure that the vegetables and chicken pieces are evenly distributed between each bowl. 

Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve. 

 

Notes

The broth will keep for up to 5 days covered in a refrigerator.

Before using jellied broth straight from the fridge, scrape off the top layer of fat from the surface.

You can freeze the cooled liquid broth in ice cube trays and then use the resulting frozen stock cubes individually to add depth of flavour to savoury sauces and gravies. 

 

Carbohydrate 21g Protein 5g - per serving


Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Sage Butter & Goats Cheese

by Susan Smith in , ,


Good news for all Primal/Paleo enthusiasts who still crave potatoes. Today’s blog post for sweet potato gnocchi offers all that’s best about the much-loved spud - golden and crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside - without going off-piste. These delicious little pillows of potato-like perfection have the heart of soft, light-tasting mashed potato and the soul of crispy, caramelised, umami-flavoured chips.

Sweet potatoes offer a healthier, lower-starch alternative to other potato varieties, but here I’ve tamed down their sweetness and cancelled out their higher water content with primal-friendly ingredients to mimic the taste and texture of regular potatoes. As a cook, there have been many occasions when I’ve thought that only potato can properly complete a meal that’s lacking the comfort and pleasure of something satisfyingly starchy. No longer. These sweet potato gnocchi have the density and depth of flavour I’ve been missing and are the perfect potato substitute for any meal crying out for chips, mash, roasties or croquettes. 

However, I think today’s recipe for Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Sage Butter & Goat’s Cheese is at its best presented as a gratifyingly simple, vegetarian main course. With just enough sweetness from the gnocchi to complement the saltiness of strong-tasting goat’s Cheddar, it’s a combo that’s so tasty you won’t even think about reaching for the ketchup! Also, these beauties are a brilliant dinner-party starter or, piled onto a platter with freshly grated goat’s Cheddar and crispy fried sage leaves scattered over, they will blow your guests away when handed around as a hot savoury canapé to accompany drinks. 

Unlike traditional gnocchi that’s made from regular potato and refined wheat flour, Primal Plate gnocchi are grain-free, potato-free and gluten-free too. They may require a little effort to make but the pre-cooked and cooled gnocchi ‘sausages’ can be stored, still in their cling-film wrapping, for up to 2 days before being cut into gnocchi-sized pillows and quickly fried off in butter. Finally, without compromise, my appetite for potato is satiated!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Sage Butter & Goats Cheese (Serves 6)

Ingredients

750g organic sweet potatoes (should yield about 500-550g sweet potato puree)

1 organic egg yolk, lightly beaten

200g organic ground almonds

50g Sukrin organic coconut flour

50g organic arrowroot powder

1½ tsp Celtic sea salt

100g full-fat organic soft cheese

40g organic butter

18 fresh sage leaves

100g Quicke's Goat Cheddar (I purchased this from Waitrose's deli counter) or Parmesan-style cheese, freshly grated - to serve

Freshly ground black pepper - to serve

 

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 180°C / 350℉ / Gas mark 4

Place the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and bake for 45-60 minutes (depending on their size) until completely cooked through.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and whilst they’re still hot cut them in half, then scoop out the centres of each. Pass the sweet potato flesh through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Discard the skins.

Add the ground almonds, coconut flour, arrowroot powder, cream cheese, egg yolk and sea salt to the sieved sweet potatoes and mix everything together well. 

Cover and chill for 20-30 minutes in a refrigerator.

Bring a wide, deep pan of water to boil.

Divide the cooled gnocchi mixture into manageable portions (about 200g each). Roll each portion out between cling film into a 2 cm (¾ inch) thick long sausage. Twist the ends of the cling film together tightly then cook each sausage for 6 minutes in the boiling water.

At the end of the cooking time, remove the gnocchi sausage from the boiling water with the aid of two spatulas and lay each one down in an ice-cold water bath to cool down.

Once cool, remove the cling film and slice each sausage into little gnocchi ‘pillows’ i.e. about 2.5cm (1 inch) long pieces. Cover and keep chilled. N.B. They can be stored for up to 2 days in a refrigerator.

When you’re ready to eat, heat 40g grass-fed butter in a large frying pan set over a medium heat. Do not let the pan get too hot - you want the butter to foam, not burn. Sizzle the sage leaves for 1 minute, then remove from the pan and set aside. 

Top left: Gnocchi rolled into cling wrapped  'sausages'. Top right: Blanching in simmering water (put the lid on). Bottom left: In the ice cold water bath. Bottom right: Chopping the chilled Gnocchi 

Top left: Gnocchi rolled into cling wrapped  'sausages'. Top right: Blanching in simmering water (put the lid on). Bottom left: In the ice cold water bath. Bottom right: Chopping the chilled Gnocchi 

Now add the gnocchi pillows to the pan and fry them in the sage-infused butter until golden on the outside and light and fluffy in the centre. Depending on how many people you’re feeding, you may have to do this in several batches. N.B. It’s important that you don’t overcrowd the pan and if the butter starts to burn, clean the pan out and start afresh with more butter. When the gnocchi are nice and golden on all sides, lift them onto a warm plate lined with kitchen paper.

Serve the gnocchi hot with a generous amount of grated goat’s Cheddar sprinkled over and a good grinding of fresh black pepper. Garnish with the crispy sage leaves.

 

Carbohydrate 29g Protein 13g - per serving


Spicy Salmon Fishcakes / Halloumi & Toasted Cashews With Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’

by Susan Smith in , , ,


East meets West in this Primal/Paleo culinary take on fishcakes and coleslaw. Without the potato, flour and breadcrumbs used in traditional fishcake recipes, these Asian inspired, fishcakes are so much simpler and quicker to make. 

Fresh and light - with no mayo or endless amounts of shredded cabbage to chomp your way through - the Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ is also a wonderful thing!

Put the two together for a surprisingly satisfying, clean-eating, Omega-3 packed family meal that’s high in protein and low in carbs.

Vegetarians can also make a meal of this punchy-flavoured Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ by topping it with 60g toasted cashew nuts and replacing the salmon fishcakes with slices of freshly griddled ‘vegetarian-friendly’ - i.e. not made with animal rennet - halloumi cheese - you’ll need to allow about 80g-100g of halloumi per person.

Tasty, pure and simple…job done! 

Spicy Salmon Fishcakes With Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the fishcakes

800 g wild Alaskan salmon, boned and skinned

3 spring onions, finely chopped

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp organic dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp tamari

1 dsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (approx. 1 x 2.5 cm / 1inch piece)

4 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves

1 organic egg, beaten 

1 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

75-100 g organic ground almonds

1-2 tbsp organic coconut oil - for frying the fishcakes

 

Ingredients - for the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ 

2 medium courgettes, cut into thin slices, coarsely grated or spiralised (see Notes below)

3 medium carrots, cut into thin slices, coarsely grated or spiralised (see Notes below)

200g frozen baby broad beans, thawed and shelled (about 120g prepared weight)

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

1 tbsp raw organic sesame seeds

        

Ingredients - for the dressing

40 ml fresh lime juice

40 g raw organic cashew nut butter

1 tbsp tamari (I used Clearspring)

40 ml Co Yo natural coconut milk yogurt

1-2 drops organic liquid stevia

 

Ingredients - to serve

1 tsp raw sesame seeds

coriander leaves and/or micro leaves

 

Instructions - to make the fishcakes

Put all the fishcake ingredients, except the ground almonds, into a food processor and pulse together until well blended. N.B. Be careful not to over-process - you want the mixture to retain a little of its chunky texture rather than turn into a mushy fish paste! 

Tip the fishcake mixture into a large bowl and add just enough of the ground almonds to ensure that it will hold together sufficiently well to form into fishcakes. The final mixture may still feel a little wet but should be easy enough to shape in your hands and will firm up in the refrigerator prior to cooking.

Divide into 8 fishcakes about 2.5 cm / 1 inch thick (weighing approximately 125g each). Transfer to a large plate, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the coconut oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium/high heat until the surface of the oil starts to shimmer (don’t allow it to smoke!). Cook the fishcakes for 3 minutes until crisp and golden on the underside, then flip them over and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes.

Serve with Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

 

Instructions - for the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’

Using a small hand whisk, combine all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or cup until you have a smooth dressing that’s of pouring consistency.

To quickly defrost and remove the broad beans from their pods. Weigh out the frozen broad beans into a heatproof bowl or jug. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and pour over the beans. Let stand for 3-5 minutes. When the water has cooled down pop the tender, bright green beans out of their thick, leathery skins by squeezing gently between two fingers. 

In a large bowl, combine courgette, carrots and shelled broad beans. Add the chopped chives and sesame seeds, mix together gently and set aside.

Just before serving, pour over the dressing and gently toss all the ingredients together until the vegetables are evenly coated.

Transfer to plates and top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, chopped coriander and/or micro leaves. 

Serve with either Spicy Salmon Fishcakes or Fried Halloumi and Toasted Cashews (see below).

The vegetarian option: Fried Halloumi and Toasted Cashews

The vegetarian option: Fried Halloumi and Toasted Cashews

Instructions to make Fried Halloumi & Toasted Cashews With Paleo Pad Thai 'Slaw' (V)

Firstly, toast the cashews in a large frying pan over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until turning pale gold, then take off the heat and set aside. 

Cut the halloumi into 1 cm thick slices. Heat some coconut oil or olive oil in a pan until hot, then fry the halloumi for just 1-2 minutes on each side until golden and crispy around the edges. 

Arrange the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ on 4 serving plates, top with the toasted cashews, sesame seeds and coriander leaves, then serve the fried cheese slices (3-4 per person) alongside, with wedges of fresh lime for squeezing over.

N.B. Be sure to plate-up the fried halloumi immediately after it’s cooked - it’s so much nicer warm! If you allow cooked halloumi to go cold, it will tend to become too hard and rubbery.

 

Notes

To make carrot and courgette julienne for the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’, I first cut the washed courgettes and peeled carrots in half horizontally, then finely sliced the halved vegetables vertically (on a mandolin) before using a small sharp knife to cut them into 6 cm long thin julienne strips. Coarsely grating them in a food processor would be a lot quicker!

The Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ is suitable for vegans.

 

Carbohydrate 17g Protein 66g - per serving (assuming 2 fishcakes per person)


Almond Milk

by Susan Smith in ,


Almond milk and other milk alternatives are becoming increasingly popular as people turn their backs on dairy in search of a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. I personally enjoy cow’s milk and other dairy products but this is conditional upon the milk, butter and cheese being organic, grass-fed, full-fat, vegetarian (no animal rennet in my cheese please!) and preferably raw (unpasteurised).

Mass produced dairy products involve the use of antibiotics, bovine growth and milk producing hormones, feeding cows an unnatural diet of soy and other grains that have been grown with fertilisers and pesticides, and continuous milking, even throughout pregnancy. Treating dairy cows as mere ‘milking-machines’ rather than as intelligent animals, forces the animal to overproduce milk and robs mothers of their baby calves - the male calves (considered a waste product of the dairy industry) are shot, and the females are reared only to suffer the same fate as their mother. From a human health perspective, the cheap milk that’s produced is not only nutritionally inferior, it is also contaminated with the hormones, antibiotics and other toxic chemicals that have been forced upon these suffering animals throughout their short lives.

Unfortunately, most industrially-produced alternatives to dairy milk are not as healthful as you might imagine. Firstly, there is never a good reason to drink soy milk. But also shop-bought almond, rice and oat milks are frequently packed with chemicals - flavourings, thickeners, sugar or toxic sugar substitutes like aspartame. Organic coconut milk is a healthy drink but only reliably so if it’s free from BPA (a potential toxic found in the lining of canned goods containing coconut milk, soup, tomatoes etc.) and guar gum (that can cause digestive problems). As far as I’m concerned, if it’s a choice between factory-farming or industrially-processed dairy substitutes, they can all milk off! 

Fortunately, with just two ingredients, a decent blender and a nut milk bag it’s easy to make a healthier, better tasting ‘milk’ at home by simply blitzing nuts with water. 

Rich and creamy almond milk can be drunk straight, in tea or coffee, poured over Primal Plate’s Nut & Seed Granola or as a substitute for cow’s milk in recipes for soups, smoothies, shakes, sauces, ice creams etc. It is particularly good when made into our Cream of Cauliflower Soup

A delicious health-food option for everyone, I think nut milks are an absolute boon for vegans, anyone who is lactose intolerant and not least of all, cows! 

Almond Milk (makes 750ml)

Ingredients:

200g raw, organic, unblanched almonds, soaked overnight in cold water

600ml freshly filtered cold water (see note below)

 

Instructions:

The next day, drain the soaked almonds and rinse well under cold water. Drain again.

Tip the almonds into a blender and pour in 600ml of filtered cold water. Blitz for 3-4 minutes until completely homogenised and smooth.

Open up the nut milk bag and set it inside a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour the mixture from the blender directly into the bag. 

Tighten the tie at the top of the bag to hold everything inside, then using your hands firmly squeeze out all the liquid until you’re left with only dry almond pulp.

Transfer the milk into a lidded glass jar or bottle and chill. 

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Stir or shake well before using. 

 

Notes

The above recipe is for unsweetened almond milk. To sweeten, add 2 teaspoons maple syrup (or raw organic runny honey) and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 2 roughly chopped stoneless Medjool dates to the soaked almonds and water before blending. Alternatively, add organic liquid stevia to the finished milk to taste (approx 4-6 drops). 

You can make cashew nut, macadamia nut, hazelnut, tiger nut (see our recipe for Horchata) and coconut milk (with organic coconut chips instead of nuts) using the exact same method.

I strongly recommend freshly filtered water for making nut milks. I think this warrants the separate blog post entitled ‘Cool, Clear, Water’ to tell you why and how!

 

Carbohydrate 2g Protein 2g - per 100ml serving (unsweetened)



Speedy Seedy No-Grain Soda Bread

by Susan Smith in ,


No grains, no dairy, no eggs, no yeast…no kidding! Inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Seedy Rye Soda Bread in the River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook this super-speedy, seedy bread is my Paleo/Primal-friendly grain-free ‘take’ on Hugh’s original recipe. I’m loving the fact that you can knock it up in about 15 minutes then bake and eat it within the hour. 

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall just happens to be my man of the moment in more ways than one. Pioneering war on waste and taking to task the supermarket's ridiculous stance on wonky veg, he is also a brilliant, down-to-earth, imaginative chef that seriously cares about the environment and sustainability. I salute you sir!

For this blog post, my job was to figure out which no-grain flour alternatives would emulate River Cottage’s inspirational rye-based bread i.e. to create a dense, semi-sweet, almost malty, rye-tasting soda bread, without the rye flour or honey that the original recipe calls for. I think I’ve done it! With the help of Sukrin and their fantastic range of alternative cold-pressed, fat-reduced nut and seed flours (I particularly like the cold-pressed sesame flour in this recipe for it’s distinctive depth of flavour), I was fully equipped and ready to go.  

This nutty tasting bread is deliciously satisfying, can be eaten in the context of either sweet or savoury, and is so quick and easy to make I’ve ended up making 4 loaves in the past 5 days! 

Speedy Seedy No-Grain Soda Bread (makes 1 small loaf - serves 6)

Ingredients - dry

20g organic pumpkin seeds

20g organic sunflower seeds

20g organic sesame seeds

20g organic golden linseeds

1 tbsp organic chia seeds

150g organic ground almonds

50g Sukrin sesame flour  

50g fine milled organic tiger nut flour

20g Sukrin reduced-fat organic almond flour plus a little extra for dusting the finished loaf

½ tsp sea salt

1½ tsp baking soda

 

To finish the loaf before baking

1 tsp seeds - for sprinkling

1 tsp Sukrin almond flour, for dusting

 

Ingredients - wet

100ml apple juice (I used Coldpress)

1 tsp raw cider vinegar

50ml water

2 tbsp avocado oil 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 200℃ (180℃ fan-assisted) 

Put all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and, using a fork, mix everything together really well.

In a jug, whisk together the wet ingredients. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and quickly mix everything together with a fork.

Allow the mixture to stand for 1-2 minutes, during which time the chia seeds will help thicken out the mixture. 

With the help of a spatula, tip the sticky but malleable dough onto a sheet of non-stick (parchment) paper and, using both hands, form into an approximate 15cm / 6” round. Slide or lift the shaped bread, still sat on its parchment paper, straight onto a baking tray.

Make a deep cross in the bread round (cutting at least halfway down through the dough) then sprinkle a teaspoon of extra seeds on top and lightly dust with a little more almond flour. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes in the pre-heated oven, or until a cocktail stick inserted in the centre comes out clean and the crust is a really dark brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Tuck in!

Top left: Make a well in the centre of the combined dry ingredients, then pour in the combined wet ingredients. Top right: Mix everything together with a fork. Bottom left: After shaping, score a cross in the dough. Bottom right: Sprinkle with extra seeds and dust with sifted almond flour before baking.

Top left: Make a well in the centre of the combined dry ingredients, then pour in the combined wet ingredients. Top right: Mix everything together with a fork. Bottom left: After shaping, score a cross in the dough. Bottom right: Sprinkle with extra seeds and dust with sifted almond flour before baking.

Notes

I regularly purchase organic nuts and seeds online (more availability and at a better price than most supermarkets) These are my go-to suppliers: Healthy SuppliesReal Foods; Red23; and, for tiger nuts, Na'vi Organics.

This bread will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container. After a couple of days, it can be used to make croutons or made into breadcrumbs for coating. 

If you want a nutritious, no-hassle, low-carb, home-baked bread for breakfast, simply measure out all the dry ingredients into a bowl and the wet ingredients into a jug the evening before, then cover with cling film. Next day, combine everything together and bake…good morning Primal Pronto!

 

Carbohydrate 15g Protein 12g - per serving

Speedy Seedy No-Grain Soda Bread is delicious served simply with lashings of organic butter.

Speedy Seedy No-Grain Soda Bread is delicious served simply with lashings of organic butter.


Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry with Green Pea Fritters and Avocado Cream

by Susan Smith in , , , , ,


Continuing my quest to find Primal Pronto veggie-inspired meals, I discovered these delicious Green Pea Fritters at The Healthy Chef. Initially, I was just looking for an alternative to Primal Naan Bread and Cauliflower Rice to accompany a family supper of Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry because, as satisfying as Primal naan bread might sound, since posting the original naan bread recipe I subsequently found out that I need to re-invent it without tapioca flour, (which increases blood sugar even more than wheat flour) and zanthan gum. Yikes! Sorry for the oversight! Plus, cauliflower ‘rice’ and cauliflower curry have zero gastronomic appeal when eaten in combo, so I wanted something new and tasty, preferably vegetable-based, to make our curry meal more appetising. 

As it turned out, the Green Pea Fritters were such a hit that I’m including them as part of this week’s blog, so today, three recipe posts for the price of one! Whilst the Green Pea Fritters and Avocado Cream are a perfect stand-alone meal for a fast and simple supper or to serve with drinks, when brought together with Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry you have several wonderful things that make for a fresh, creative, vegetarian meal fit for entertaining friends. I think the whole thing looks mouthwatering on the plate and it tastes just as good - spicy, savoury, creamy and delicious!

The cauliflower and mushroom curry recipe is adapted from a recipe in Daniel Green’s book, The Paleo Diet but there is one notable exception - if you try to make this curry with “1 tablespoon of chilli powder (or more to taste)” as directed in the book, please do not even think of inviting me for supper! It may simply be a ‘typo’ (I think it should read 1 teaspoon of chilli!) but it would nevertheless be ruinous to the finished dish and most likely would get missed by an inexperienced cook slavishly following the recipe. Thank goodness for Primal Plate’s extensive testing and tasting of all blog featured recipes before posting! 

I have added tiger nut flour to the pea fritter recipe to enhance the sweetness of the peas and on this occasion left out the lemon zest in favour of fresh mint because a) fresh mint and peas are a classic and b) the avocado cream has a lemony ‘hit’ all of its own that more than compensates for its absence in the fritters. Plus, it saves the time and effort of grating a lemon!

The pea fritters are very quick and easy to make - it’s just a matter of mixing everything together in a bowl and dropping spoonfuls of the mixture into a hot frying pan (only a few at a time), pressing them flat with the help of a spatula and cooking (for less than a total of 10 minutes) until they’re golden brown on each side. Meanwhile the avocado and cream cheese can be quickly whizzed to a luscious pale green cream in a food processor or with a hand-held blender.  

The Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Curry is just as fuss-free and makes a great vegetarian low-carbohydrate option for followers of Paleo and Primal diets. 

Put it all together for warming, nourishing mouthfuls of extreme pleasure.  

Green Pea Fritters (Serves 4)

Ingredients

300g frozen peas, defrosted

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley (about 10g without stalks)

1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint leaves

2 large organic free range eggs, lightly beaten

100g full-fat soft cheese, softened (I used Longley Farm)

25g organic tiger nut flour

15g organic coconut flour

1½ tsp sea salt and a generous grinding of black pepper

1 small organic lemon, finely grated zest only - optional

1tbsp olive oil, for frying

Handful of pea shoots, to garnish - optional

 

Instructions

Crush the peas in a food processor using the pulse button. Make sure you keep the peas a coarse texture, this is not meant to be a puree.

Transfer the crushed peas to a bowl, add the parsley, mint, eggs, lemon zest (if using), tiger nut and coconut flours. The ground tiger nuts and coconut flour help to hold the mixture together during cooking. 

Season with the sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. 

Soften the cream cheese by breaking it down with a fork then add to the pea fritter batter and combine well.

Heat a little olive oil in a large heavy-based non-stick frying pan over a low heat.

Add heaped tablespoons of the pea fritter mixture to the pan -  you should get about 16 bite-sized fritters. To avoid overcrowding the pan you may need to cook them in several batches. 

Cook the pea fritters over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes without disturbing them. When they are firm and golden on the underside, carefully turn them over with the aid of a flat-ended spatula. 

Continue to cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until the fritters are cooked through and golden brown on both sides. 

Immediately transfer to an oven proof dish (or serving platter if you’re handing them out with drinks) and then into a pre-heated hot oven until you’ve cooked the rest of the fritters and you’re ready to eat.

 

Avocado Cream (Serves 3-4)

Ingredients

1 large ripe avocado

½ lemon, juiced

100g full-fat soft cheese, softened by breaking down with a fork (or use Waitrose Duchy Organic Soft Cheese straight out of the tub).

Sea salt

Cayenne pepper

 

Instructions

Peel, stone and mash the avocado with the lemon juice then mix together with the soft cheese, sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste until it is completely smooth and creamy - this is best done in a food processor or with a hand-held blender.  

Serve as a dip with Green Pea Fritters or crudités.

 

Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry (Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 medium head of cauliflower, broken into small bite-sized florets

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

250g button mushrooms

1 x 2½ cm piece of fresh ginger, grated

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tbsp Marigold organic vegetable bouillon powder

400ml full-fat organic  coconut milk

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

a large handful of fresh coriander, chopped - to garnish

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 200℃ / 400℉ / Gas mark 7

In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Tip onto a non-stick roasting tray and roast for 25 minutes, turning occasionally until the cauliflower is nicely browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a wide, shallow pan set over a moderate heat, fry the onion in the remaining olive oil with the pan lid on for about 8 minutes, stirring from time to time, until softened and starting to brown.

Add the mushrooms and ginger and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring. Stir in the spices and bouillon powder and cook for another minute.

Add the coconut milk and season to taste. Bring to the boil then stir in the cauliflower.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. 

Ladle into warmed bowls and top with plenty of fresh coriander. 

 

Notes

I was in two minds about the Primal Pronto status of the Green Pea Fritters and Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry because both these recipes are so easy and fuss-free. In the end I decided that Primal Pronto should be defined as: a recipe with 5 or less main ingredients, or one that can be prepped, cooked and on the table within 45 minutes. The Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry didn’t quite make it on both counts (realistically it’s takes more like 50 minutes to make) but it is still wonderfully warming comfort food that’s simple to prepare. It’s also suitable for vegans.  

You can defrost the peas quickly by putting them in a heat proof jug and pouring boiling water over. Allow to stand for a few minutes, then drain well and proceed with the recipe. 

The uncooked pea fritter batter can be made well in advance and stored in the fridge overnight. The mixture will make approximately 16 small or 8 large fritters. I use a heaped tablespoon to make the bite-sized ones and a ¼ US cup for bigger ones.

Two large Green Pea Fritters per person served with a medium/soft boiled egg and a dollop of avocado cream is great for a fast and easy low-carb brunch or supper.

If you can’t get button mushrooms for the curry, use closed-cap mushrooms cut into halves or quarters instead.

 

Carbohydrate 14g Protein 11g - per serving (4 small or 2 large) of Green Pea Fritters

Carbohydrate 5g Protein 2g - per serving of Avocado Cream

Carbohydrate 22g Protein 8g - per serving of Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Curry


Grilled Hake in Tomato Herb Broth with Vegetable Tagliolini

by Susan Smith in ,


Its been said that ignorance is bliss. And yes, in the context of being innocent and unaware (like a child at play), or entering that meditative space of ‘no thought’ (as a conscious adult), your bliss is unhindered by the external reality that surrounds you. I wish I could be in that state of being more often!

The enormity of the problem with agribusiness - the mass torture and slaughter of animals and the pollution and degradation of the environment - is what is, at this point in history. But thinking about it and seeing its terrible effects on social media, sickens me. When I first started to write this food blog I simply wanted to help shift the Primal/Paleo fraternity away from their avid consumption of meat by inspiring them to eat more vegetarian meals. I would even argue that the Primal/Paleo diet was not primarily meat-based but rather a preponderance of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds…and that termites were probably our ancestors main source of animal protein.    

I didn't expect to subsequently be confronted with compelling evidence for not eating fish too. Stupid of me. Ego runs humanity and the collective ego is culturally conditioned into believing that, as ‘masters of the universe’, human beings have a divine right to subjugate all of nature to its will. Apparently unstoppable, greed and exploitation knows no bounds. Whilst painfully aware that overfishing currently threatens many species of fish and the importance of sustainability, I hadn’t bargained for what is really going on under the sea

It’s not that I am intrinsically opposed to eating meat or fish. It really does depend on the context. I still have to buy and prepare organic free-range chicken and pork and line-caught tuna for my cat Sushi to eat (it is a biological necessity for cats to eat meat) and, if I had the skills to skin and gut a fresh road kill, we’d probably eat that too. But ‘growing’ meat in appalling conditions on factory farms, polluting the rivers and oceans with animal excrement, cutting down acres of rain forest to grow grain for livestock to feed the privileged few whilst millions starve, to use man-made devices to harm and kill all the creatures under the sea is both heartbreaking and unnecessary. 

Already eighty-five per cent vegetarian, there’s a part of me that would like to be vegan. I just know my body wouldn't be happy with the choice. I don’t eat meat on compassionate grounds. I can’t eat grains because I’ve fully experienced their inflammatory effect in my body. I try to avoid potatoes (although I only have personal anecdotal evidence that they’re not good for me) as well as legumes (dried beans, chickpeas, lentils etc.) because they contain anti-nutrients. Instead I rely on plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, vegetarian cheese, organic free-range eggs, raw milk from grass-fed cows and what hitherto I thought was sustainably-sourced wild or organic fish for a healthy, low-carb, protein-packed diet. However, fish will be off the menu if eating it means I’m inadvertently supporting the super-trawler industrialised version of fishing.

I’ve asked my fabulous fishmonger Terry (contact: fishinnotts@hotmail.com), who always fetches the best of ‘today’s catch’ directly from the docks and delivers it straight to my door, if he can reassure me that the fish I’m buying is responsibly and sustainably caught. Unfortunately, sustainability won’t make overfishing disappear - to solve that problem, we all need to eat less fish. Supporting the work of organisations like Greenpeace and Compassion In World Farming also helps keep food shoppers informed. Greenpeace have named Marks & Spencer as being the best UK supermarket to buy fish from. However, some fisheries do get the MSC logo for just ‘working towards’ sustainable fishing rather than actually fishing sustainably! If you’re in any doubt, don’t buy.

So now you know that eating fish is not inconsequential, I want to mindfully share with you this tasty recipe for Grilled Hake in a Tomato Herb Broth with Vegetable Tagliolini. It is colourful, it is delicious, it is low carb. It is a beautiful looking, healthy, nutritious dish - everything that Primal Plate wants to promote for a healthier you - but is that enough?

If you think it is, Grilled Hake in Tomato Herb Broth with Vegetable Tagliolini is one of the best ways I know to healthily celebrate the fact that there are still fish left in the sea for us to eat and enjoy. I hope it doesn’t prove to be my last fishy hurrah on Primal Plate’s blog. The jury’s still out.  

Grilled Hake in Tomato Herb Broth with Vegetable Tagliolini (Serves 4)

Ingredients

4 x 200g thick, sustainably sourced (MSC) hake fillets, skin-on, pin-boned & descaled

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

A little melted butter - for brushing 

100ml white wine    

200ml water

1 dsp Marigold organic vegetable bouillon powder

2 dsp Clearspring tamari soy sauce

100g unsalted butter, chilled

1 tsp arrowroot

2 medium carrots

2 medium courgettes

2 medium leeks

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and finely diced

1 heaped tbsp finely chopped coriander

 

Instructions

For the grilled hake: put the fish, skin-side down, on a large shallow dish or plate and sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. 

For the broth: put the water, wine, bouillon powder and soy sauce into a pan and boil rapidly until it has reduced by a third. Strain through a fine sieve into a clean pan and set aside. 

Rinse the salt off the fish and dry the fillets on kitchen paper. Brush each piece on both sides with melted butter and put skin-side up on a greased baking tray. Season the skin with sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cover lightly with cling film and set aside.

To prepare the vegetables: use only the white part of the leek, peel the carrot, trim the courgette, then spiralise the courgette and carrot into tagliolini - alternatively, use a sharp knife or mandolin to cut the vegetables down lengthways before then slicing again with a sharp knife into thin strips.  

Preheat the grill to high. 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl or mug, combine 1 tsp. arrowroot powder and 1 dsp. water to make a thin slurry. Re-heat the broth to boiling point then add a spoonful of the hot buttery broth into the arrowroot paste and combine well. Tip the arrowroot mixture back into the saucepan whilst stirring continuously. Allow the broth to cook on a very low heat until it thickens.

Remove the cling film and grill the hake for 8 minutes on one side only.

Whilst the hake is grilling, gradually whisk 75g chilled butter, cut into small cubes, into the hot broth to make a silky smooth sauce. Keep warm.

Just before the fish is ready, melt the reserved 25g butter in a frying pan. Stir-fry the prepared vegetables until just softened but still crisp. Season to taste. 

Remove the cooked hake from the grill and allow to rest for a minute or two. Bring the broth back to just below boiling point and add the finely diced tomatoes and chopped coriander leaf. 

Serve the fish on a nest of vegetable tagliolini with the tomato herb broth spooned round.  

 

Notes

Don’t put the fish too close to the heat source - about 15cm (6”) away from the grill will allow the fish to cook through perfectly without scorching the skin.

 

Carbohydrate 13g Protein 42g per serving


Apple and Blackberry Crumble

by Susan Smith in


This week there’s been yet another impediment to our 2015 home improvement plan - namely a mahussive wasp nest measuring at least 18 to 20 inches across. Not that we got close enough to actually measure it, but it is significantly bigger than my largest sized hat box that holds the most glamorous and ostentatious hat I possess (thanks Philip Tracey!). 

I was first alerted to our yellow-jacketed uninvited house guests when I was up until the early hours of the morning one day last week doing a food-blogger’s night shift. At first I thought that the incessant tapping at the window were moths trying to get to the light. Then I thought it must be raining. Finally, when I got up to investigate, I saw the outside of the window pane was teeming with a hundred wasps or more. Quite scary, since I never knew that wasps were nocturnal or even attracted to the light. I’d sort of hoped that as we have a fruiting damson tree adjacent to the office window, they were looking for something sweet to eat. In retrospect, I think they were simply on their flight path to and from the nest, which we later discovered in our loft.

Because the loft door has to be left open for re-decoration, during which time the wasps can merrily make their way into our home, we had to cancel the decorator and call in pest control. But wait. You can’t kick up a fuss about the decline in the bee population and then kill off a whole nest worth of wasps can you? A rhetorical question because no, we can’t. We’ve decided it would be just as an unethical to kill off our resident wasps as it is to kill bees. In spite of their bad press (I don’t think they’re nearly as aggressive as a human being flailing around in a state of panic because they’re frightened of being stung), wasps really do serve a useful ecological function - they pollinate flowers and crops and are the natural predator of many other insect pests e.g. they eat caterpillars that would otherwise destroy food crops and keep the fly population down by feeding them to their young. Good job! 

Nevertheless, it would be rude to risk them stinging our decorator, so the work has had to be put on hold until we can figure out how to construct a no-fly zone by creating a wasp-proof curtain to contain them on their side of the attic. In a few more weeks, when the weather turns colder, the worker wasps will die off naturally and then the hive becomes obsolete. And the good news is, wasps are fiercely territorial. This means they will never re-colonise an old nest or build a new nest anywhere near the site of an old one. Magic! Our magnificent wasp nest will be left in situ as a natural deterrent to future wasps, proving that nature takes care of itself if only humans will live and let live.

Like humans, wasps have a sweet tooth and they really love ripe fruit and all things sugary, which is probably why late summer and autumn - the ‘‘season of mists and fruitfulness” - is when they become more noticeable. There’s definitely something in the air, because on a recent sortie to our local greengrocer my man came back with some locally-grown, outrageously plump, sweet, juicy blackberries that he felt compelled to purchase because they were so big, black and beautiful. He had no idea what I would do with them, but on an unusually cold day in early September nothing shouted ‘comfort’ at me more than the prospect of a glorious Apple & Blackberry Crumble with lashings of cream. 

Blackberries have a wonderful affinity with apples (so too do raspberries - see notes below) but a classic crumble is normally off-limits for anyone who doesn’t eat grains and doesn’t want a dessert laden with sugar. If this is you, rejoice because gloriously comforting fruit crumble is now back on the menu with this delicious, easy-to-make, no-grain, low sugar recipe.

As an advocate for eating Primal (albeit primarily vegetarian), I’ve found tiger nut flour is a brilliantly conceived ingredient that just keeps on giving. Quickly whizzed in a blender with grass-fed butter and very little coconut palm sugar, plus chopped pecans for crunch, this Apple & Blackberry Crumble is as good to eat as any I can remember from my childhood. For a moment of happiness, just dive in with a spoon. 

Apple and Blackberry Crumble (Serves 4)

Ingredients

100g tiger nut flour

50g cold organic butter, cut into pieces 

15g organic coconut palm sugar

30g raw pecans, finely chopped

4 decent-sized organic eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used Braeburn but Cox’s or Granny Smith’s would be good too)

40ml fresh orange juice (about ½ orange, juiced)

175g blackberries

 

Instructions

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

Put the sliced apples and orange juice into a medium saucepan, cover the pan and cook over a moderate heat for about 8 minutes, or until the apples are soft but not mushy. If there is any juice left in the bottom of the pan at the end to the cooking time, take the pan lid off, turn up the heat and continue cooking for a minute or so more until there is no liquid left. 

Tip the apples into an ovenproof dish (I used an oval Pyrex dish measuring 6.5 cm x 9cm) then arrange the whole blackberries on top of the apples in a single layer.

Put the tiger nut flour, butter and palm sugar into the bowl of a food processor and ‘pulse’ several times over until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Tip into a medium size bowl and add the chopped pecans. 

Spoon the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit. Place the dish on a baking tray and bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes.

Take out of the oven and allow the crumble to stand for 5 minutes before serving with a generous spoonful of clotted or double cream. 

 

Notes:

Although this is a quick and easy dessert to make, you can skip the apple ‘prep’ altogether by substituting 350g fresh raspberries for eating apples. Just make sure they’re naturally sweet-tasting so you don’t need to add any other sweetener. Simply layer up your oven-proof dish with raw whole raspberries and blackberries before spooning over the crumble mixture and baking at 180℃ for 25 minutes. 

To make the crumble mixture without a food processor, use the rubbing-in method. Using your fingertips and thumbs, take small amounts of the cold butter and tiger nut flour mixture and rub them together, from little finger to first finger. Raise your hands above the surface so they are not warming the rest of the mixture. When the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, add the coconut palm sugar (and cinnamon, if using - see note below) and mix together with a fork before spooning on top of the fruit. 

If you like the spicy, sweetness of ground cinnamon, a teaspoon added to the crumble mixture before baking will complement the apple in Apple & Blackberry Crumble beautifully. 

 

Carbohydrate 39g Protein 3g - per serving (Apple and Blackberry)

Carbohydrate 29g Protein 3g - per serving (Raspberry and Blackberry)


Tiger Nut Horchata

by Susan Smith in


In the heat of summer our thoughts are often wont to turn to ice cream. However, with my new found friend the tiger nut, otherwise known as chufa (pronounced Choo-fah), I’ve discovered a serious contender when making my first batch of ice-cold Tiger Nut Horchata. There can simply be nothing more refreshing, or good for you, than downing a glass of this Spanish-style refreshment on a hot day.

Tiger Nut Horchata a.k.a. tiger nut milk is a delicious creamy, milk-like drink that can be best described as ‘liquid gold’ for the health conscious. Tasting so good and loaded with resistant starch, raw tiger nut milk (and whole organic tiger nuts eaten as a snack) are a veritable powerhouse of nutrients (see my last two blog posts for more information). Suffice to say, tiger nuts are an original Paleo superfood with a ratio of carbohydrates, fats and protein so similar to human breast milk it almost beggars belief. Tiger nuts are, after all, just a brown, wrinkly vegetable tuber!

In spite of its name, tiger nut milk is both nut and dairy free, which is an absolute boon for people who are lactose intolerant or who suffer from a nut allergy. It’s also gluten-free so coeliacs needn’t go without either. You can use Tiger Nut Horchata as a milk replacement in tea, coffee, poured over our Nut & Seed Granola for breakfast, and pretty much for everything that calls for normal milk. Naturally sweet, tiger nut milk is non-allergic, safe for diabetics and, since tiger nuts do not contain inflammatory omega-6 fats, Tiger Nut Horchata makes for a much healthier alternative to dairy milk or other nut milks.

Most recipes I’ve found for Tiger Nut Horchata (Horchata de Chufa) are full of refined sugar (up to 200g of sugar per 250g of tiger nuts) but because tiger nuts are intrinsically sweet-tasting, I think it’s debatable whether tiger nut milk actually needs any added sugar at all. In the end I decided to stay true to Spanish tradition (I confess my tiger nut milk did taste a little ‘thin’ without) but I have so moderated the amount and type of sweetener in my Tiger Nut Horchata, it still faithfully follows Primal and Paleo dietary guidelines. My sweeteners of choice in this unique recipe are small amounts of raw organic honey and liquid stevia, which both make the grade (to see why, please read The Definitive Guide To Sugar on Mark’s Daily Apple). The end result is a slightly thickened, rich, creamy, sweet (but not too sweet), seriously satisfying vegetable milk that’s fit for the gods.

Using heathy sweeteners rather than refined sugar, I can well imagine Tiger Nut Horchata justifiably becoming the world’s next healthy-drink ‘craze’. And, with that thought, I drink to your good health. Salud!

Tiger Nut Horchata (makes 1000ml / 1 litre)

Ingredients

250g organic tiger nuts, covered with cold water by 5cm (2”) and left to soak overnight at room temperature

1000ml (1 litre) fresh, filtered water

40ml raw organic liquid honey (I used mild-tasting Raw Health organic acacia flower honey)

2 drops liquid stevia (*see note below for Vegan Tiger Nut Horchata) 

Organic ground cinnamon

Fresh ice cubes

Whole cinnamon stick(s), if liked

 

Instructions

Take your Nut Milk Bag and set it over a deep bowl. 

Drain the tiger nuts, rinse them well under cold water then drain again and tip into the blender container. Add the filtered water, the honey and 2 drops of liquid stevia, then secure the lid and blend on high speed until completely homogenised and smooth - this will take about 3-4 minutes (depending on your blender). After blending, if the mixture seems a little too hot to handle, allow it to cool down before proceeding to the next step.

Carefully pour the blended tiger nut mixture into the nut milk bag, tighten the tie at the top of the bag to hold everything inside, then using your hands firmly squeeze out all the liquid until you’re left with only dry tiger nut pulp.

Cover the bowl containing the tiger nut milk and cool completely, then transfer to a glass bottle or lidded container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 

To serve, third-fill a glass with ice (small ice cubes are best), shake or stir your chilled horchata well then pour over the ice and sprinkle a large pinch of organic ground cinnamon on top (**see note below) 

For a final flourish, add a whole cinnamon stick to each glass and use as a swizzle stick to distribute the cinnamon flavour throughout your drink.  

Notes

You’ll need a powerful blender and a strong Nut Milk Bag to ensure this simple Tiger Nut Horchata recipe is a breeze for you to make on a regular basis. You can use 2 or 3 layers of wet cheesecloth or cotton muslin to strain your tiger nut milk through but the Nut Milk Bag sold by Love Tree Products is strong, re-usable and easy to clean. it also produces a silky-smooth milk with no bits in it. I personally wouldn't want the mess, the faff or the unpredictability of making a DIY version!

*To make Tiger Nut Horchata vegan, simply leave out the raw honey and double the drops of liquid stevia (to 4) for the same level of sweetness.

It’s recommended you don’t discard the tiger nut pulp, instead dry it out in an oven and use as a substitute for desiccated coconut. Alternatively, convert into nutritious Tiger Nut Energy Balls

** I actually prefer to put my refrigerated horchata into a blender with half dozen ice cubes and whizz together for about 10 seconds to break up the ice for a super-cold drink that doesn’t smack you around the mouth with ice cubes every time you take a sip (it was Sarah that insisted I put a single ice cube in the glass for the photographs!) You can also put the horchata into the freezer for about an hour to turn it into a ‘slushy’. Which suggests to me that I should be creating a tiger-nut-milk-based recipe for ice cream, sooner rather than later!

To calculate the carbohydrate content of this recipe I’ve referenced whole tiger nuts, not tiger nut milk. Although carb grams per serving looks relatively high, there is a significant amount of tiger nut sediment that’s discarded after squeezing out the milk. Also, some of the carbohydrate content in raw tiger nuts is in the form of a unique fibre known as resistant starch, which cannot be absorbed by the body in the process of digestion. This means it passes through your system without deleterious effects on blood sugar or insulin levels. Similarly, you don’t obtain significant calories from resistant starch either.

However, resistant starch is a highly beneficial pre-biotic that feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut, which in turn provides numerous health benefits that can ultimately assist in weight loss. Your healthy gut flora actually need this ‘food’ to survive and thrive, Thus, Tiger Nut Horchata is recommended for even the most carb sensitive individual. Even if you are trying to lose weight, it’s more important to focus on eating real, nutritious food than to worry unduly about counting grams of carbohydrate or calories. The message is: ditch all grains, legumes, refined sugar and unhealthy processed seed oils and fats, and your carbohydrate and calorie intake will happily take care of itself!

Caution: Tiger nuts and tiger nut flour have very high amounts of resistant starch which, if you’re not used to, can cause discomfort and bloating when eaten in large amounts. It is therefore advised that you slowly introduce resistant starch into your diet (less than a teaspoon per day) and gradually increase your tolerance to your particular comfort level, which will hopefully be about 15-30 grams a day. 

 

Carbohydrate 55g Protein 5g - per 250ml serving of Tiger Nut Horchata (without ice)


Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus

by Susan Smith in ,


It’s taken nearly two months for me to get my Lurch Spirali out of its box! A quick mid-week peek inside my refrigerator was the inspiration. Apart from organic courgettes, cherry tomatoes, a couple of bunches of asparagus that were begging to be eaten, half a raw cauliflower, eggs and several different cheeses, there wasn’t much else to speak of that could be converted into a substantial meal for three. Since we’d already succumbed to staving off our appetites with salted nuts and a large glass of wine, I knew I had to get something on the table sooner rather than later.

Besides which, I thought that at least making vegetable ‘spaghetti’ might distract us from our hunger pangs. And It did. Not that Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus took very long to make. In fact, I think it was on the table in less than thirty minutes in spite of there being minimal instructions in or on the box and, according to my husband, not much more information on the internet! 

Anyway, vegetable spaghetti, for the purposes of this recipe we call it courgetti, was fascinatingly simple and quick to make. We were all quite excited to see these long beautiful green pasta-type spirals falling effortlessly from this genius little gadget (kids, especially those who find vegetables unappealing, will just love it!). Plus, we think the result is even better to eat than conventional pasta - altogether tastier, healthier and lighter - which lets your choice of pasta sauce sing even more loudly! 

My ‘sauce’ is an adaptation of a similarly entitled recipe in Rose Elliot’s book, Fast, Fresh and Fabulous. and, as well as befooling veggie-reluctant children (you might just change their minds by getting them involved in making the courgetti!), this low-carb, really healthy recipe is a slimmer’s delight - because who would not like to lose a little bit of excess weight in contemplation of baring all in the heat of summer? Or if that’s not your concern, when the sun starts to rise in the sky, you might just prefer spending more time outside rather than in the kitchen! 

A cross between a pasta dish and a warm salad, this is so quick and easy to make it’s practically convenience food! I’ve used slender asparagus spears here because they need very little preparation. Just snap off the bottoms, wash and cook. They also cook so quickly. Happily this means you can leave the ‘sauce’ to make itself under the grill whilst you attend to the courgetti, which is cooked al dente in just 3 minutes flat!

The images of the raw ingredients I’ve used for Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus are not just for show! This is how I get organised when making any meal or recipe. I collect all the ingredients together and prep them first, i.e. before I even start the cooking process. 

This is a lovely, fresh way (looks so very Italian!) to eat young, thin spears of asparagus and get a healthy quotient of other fresh vegetables on your Primal Plate too. I’ve used soft goats cheese and some Gran Padano to add more depth of flavour and texture to the dish, but if you prefer, you could get your protein fix by substituting grilled meat, chicken or fish for the cheese.

Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus (V) (Serves 2)

Ingredients

300g (10½oz) cherry tomatoes

250g (9oz) thin asparagus spears (about 12 thin spears per person, or if not available, 7 thicker ones see Notes below)

2 tbsp olive oil

Basil leaves, about 8 large ones, finely shredded

3 medium-large, firm, flat (not curved) chunky courgettes (size and shape matters!)

Sea salt 

Freshly ground black pepper

100g (3½oz) full-fat soft goat’s cheese

25g (1oz) Parmesan (or Gran Padano, or Vegetarian parmesan-style cheese), finely grated

Instructions

Boil a kettle of water. Set the grill to high.

Cut off both ends of the courgettes. Put the centre of the courgette into the centre of the Spirali vegetable support and holding the machine steady with one-hand, turn the crank clockwise with your other hand whilst pushing the vegetables tight up against the blades. - the courgettes are easily and quickly sliced twice into fabulous long julienne strips. What fun! Set aside whilst you prepare the ‘sauce’ ingredients.

Place the cherry tomatoes in a single layer on a grill pan. Put the washed and dried asparagus into a large bowl with half the olive oil and mix together with you hands until evenly coated. Put these on the grill pan too and season everything well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Put under the grill and cook for about 6-8 minutes or until the tomatoes are on the point of collapse and the asparagus just tender to the point of a knife, and perhaps tinged golden brown.

Once the tomatoes and asparagus are about half-way through their cooking time (after about 3-4 minutes) put the courgetti into the top half of a steamer and pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom half of the pan. Put the pan lid on and steam for 3 minutes. Keep your eye on the asparagus and tomatoes whilst the courgetti cooks.

Drain the courgetti well, then pour over the rest of the olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Divide the courgetti between two warm pasta dishes (large shallow bowls). Add the tomatoes and asparagus to the vegetable pasta and top with goats cheese, shredded basil and a sprinkling of Parmesan, if liked. Buon appetito!

 

Notes:

Select the finest (3mm blade) out of the 3 cutters supplied with your machine - this makes thin ‘spaghetti’ spirals out of your vegetables that not only look fantastic, they only need a very short period of time to cook. Assemble your Spirali machine on a clean flat surface and place a large container underneath to catch the prepared courgetti as it falls from the machine.

If you want to, you can peel the courgettes first so it comes out white, like pasta.

If you can’t get thin whole asparagus, use asparagus tips. Alternatively, first cut the tips off thicker asparagus and then split the stems vertically in half. 

For vegans, omit the cheese and try adding other finely chopped herbs to the basil - perhaps tarragon and chives. Serve the vegetable pasta with freshly chopped herbs and perhaps a good handful of toasted pine nuts scattered over.

You can make this dish completely fat-free by omitting the olive oil (although ‘low-fat’ isn’t a concern for people who follow a Primal or Paleo diet) 

 

Carbohydrate 16g Protein 22g - per serving


Thai Spiced Aubergine Curry with Cauliflower Rice

by Susan Smith in , , ,


I met one of my oldest friends last week. We go back nearly thirty years, I think. I don’t see her that often, but when I do, it’s as if it’s just a continuum of the time before - even if our last meeting was months, or even years, ago. I love this woman’s courage, directness and no-nonsense attitude to life. Turns out, we’ve both lost a significant amount of weight recently, so obviously our respective weight-reduction diet plans were up for discussion and comparison. Her low-fat / low-calorie / high-nutrient Slimmer’s World diet (by which method she has lost four stone!) is almost the exact opposite of my high-fat / low-carbohydrate / Primal diet that doesn’t give a hoot about counting calories (though it’s still nutrient dense).

It’s a sure-fire thing that Primal Plate has nothing to offer my friend in terms of optimising a weight-loss maintenance plan because she’s doing brilliantly already, thank you very much! What I do know is that you cannot combine Primal eating (no-grains, low-carbohydrate) with a low-fat diet because you’d find yourself in a dietary hell of restricted food choices and no energy. And vice versa. The natural consequence of a high fat, high carbohydrate diet and a sedentary lifestyle is an increasingly fat and unhealthy body. In this context, today’s obesity and type-2 diabetes epidemic is the norm.  

It appears dietary guidelines for weight loss are still polarised between low-fat / high-carbohydrate (including grains, potatoes and wholemeal bread) and high-fat / low-carbohydrate (your source of energy comes from healthy dietary fat like cheese, grass-fed meat, butter and cream). So, the message is, unless you do insane amounts of exercise, you really can’t combine both diets and stay at your optimum weight! Whatever you’ve been conditioned to believe, there is mounting scientific evidence that proves fat, particularly saturated fat (butter, cheese, meat and cream), isn’t the enemy. In fact, it may be high carbohydrates that are more dangerous. Hence, Primal Plate recipes answer the need for comfort food that could be mistaken for carbohydrate-rich meals.

Whilst putting the world to rights, as only sixty-something sagacious women can, I mentioned my inclination towards vegetarian food and my friend went on to tell me how tricky she found cooking for her son and girlfriend, who are both vegan. It was then a light went on inside my head. To make Primal Plate blog more relevant to her, why not develop a low-carbohydrate, Primal (no grains, no pulses, no legumes) easy-to-cook vegan recipe? And with that thought, Thai Spiced Aubergine Curry with Cauliflower Rice was created.

The first time I made this dish, the result was such a pleasant surprise! The aubergine transforms itself into a sort of ‘vegetarian meat’ that absorbs the curry spices and fresh lime juice well, and perfectly blends with creamy coconut milk into an amalgam of sweet-sour, meltingly soft, spicy curry perfection. 

The trick to cooking aubergine is to cook it thoroughly - in this instance, first cutting it into smallish pieces and frying in coconut oil until it’s evenly brown on all sides, then lightly braising in the sauce until it’s unctuously soft and velvety. Low-carbohydrate, grain-free, cauliflower ‘rice’ does a brilliant job of soaking up all the delectable juices and voilà - a healthy, flavoursome vegan meal that is seriously yum!   

You’ll need a food processor to make the Cauliflower Rice.

Thai Spiced Aubergine Curry with Cauliflower Rice (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the aubergine curry

3 medium aubergines (about 750g (1lb 10oz) total weight)

3 tbsp organic coconut oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2.5cm (1in) piece root ginger, finely chopped

4 tsp red Thai curry paste (I use Barts)

1 tbsp raw organic coconut sugar

1 lime, juiced

1 tbsp tamari

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

300ml (10½ fl oz) cold water

2 x 400g (14oz) cans full-fat coconut milk

15g (½oz) basil leaves, finely shredded

60g (2oz) raw cashews

1tsp olive oil

 

Instructions 

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a small frying pan and slowly toast the cashews over a low heat until they are golden. Allow them to cool on a plate lined with kitchen paper. When cool, use a sharp knife to chop them into smallish pieces. Set aside.

Meanwhile, clean the aubergines with a damp kitchen towel, cut off the stalk end then cut the flesh into small (2cm) cubes.

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat then add the chopped onion and ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. 

Add the aubergine cubes and fry, turning over from time to time, until everything is a deep golden brown on all sides. This takes about 10 minutes so keep your eye on it to make sure the mixture browns evenly and doesn’t burn.

Add the curry paste to the pan and cook for a further minute. Then add the coconut sugar, the lime juice, the tamari, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and the cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to gentle simmer and continue to cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to about a third of its original volume. 

Stir in the coconut milk and continue to cook gently for another 5 minutes.

Taste to check the seasoning, then serve with shredded basil and toasted cashews scattered over and steamed Cauliflower Rice.

Cauliflower Rice (V) (Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 large head of cauliflower, preferably organic

1-2 fresh bay leaf (optional)

 

Instructions

Boil a kettle of water.

Wash and dry a large head of cauliflower. Cut off the florets only (you don’t need the stem). Blitz the florets in a food processor for about 30 seconds until it comes together into a powdery cauliflower ‘snow’. 

Tip the cauliflower into the top of a steamer and tuck a couple of bay leaves into the cauliflower, if you have them. Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom of the steamer, cover and steam for 3-4 minutes (do not cook any longer than this - the ‘grains’ of cauliflower should stay separate, not reduce to wet mush!)

Drain well and serve immediately with Thai Spiced Aubergine Curry

 

Notes:

There’s no need to salt the aubergines for this recipe, or indeed for any recipe calling for aubergine now that the bitterness has been bred out of modern varieties. When it comes to Mellanzane Parmigiana I still do, mainly out of force of habit, which just harks back to the time when I used to fry the aubergine slices in olive oil prior to assembling the dish and, unless they were pre-salted, the amount of olive oil they absorbed was alarming!

 

Carbohydrate 28g Protein 13g - per serving of aubergine curry with cauliflower rice