Dairy-Free Evaporated Milk

I love baking.  I don’t do it often, but the nostalgia of the holiday season always brings out that side of me (and of course bulking season, so I mean I may as well enjoy it, yes?).  While recipe testing for the upcoming ebook, Paleo Cookie Exchange, I realized that our fudge recipe that we were “paleo-fying,” if you will, called for evaporated milk.  Well… that’s not paleo.  And I tried looking up dairy-free alternatives for evaporated milk, but they all involved soy and/or rice milk.  So what did I do?  Create one that didn’t call for those things, of course!  This is an easy way to get around highly-processed traditional evaporated milk while using all paleo ingredients.  Give it a go next time you’re doing some primal baking!

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Dairy-Free Evaporated Milk

Prep time: 1 minute   Cook time: 50 minutes   Total time: 51 minutes

Yield: 3/4 cup evaporated milk

 

Ingredients

1 can full-fat coconut milk

Equal amount of water (use can to measure out water once milk is poured out)

 

Directions

  1.  Pour coconut milk into a medium-sized pot.  Refill the can with water and add that to the pan, too.
  2. Heat the pan on medium-high over stove until it reaches a boil, about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat slightly if it begins to boil over, but allow to continue boiling for another 45 minutes or so, until the volume is reduced by half.  The bubbles will go away for the most part at this point and you should see a line at the top of the pot where the liquid used to be compared to where it is when it is done.  The end result will be thick and creamy.
  3. Use at a 1:1 replacement for traditional evaporated milk in recipes you are trying to remove dairy from!

The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

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Is this a myth?  Is this real life?  I must be joking.

I can’t tell you how many hard-boiled eggs I’ve made in the past year, let alone in my entire life.  They’re an awesome source of natural protein that can easily be transported, which is key in my full-time-college-student, working, paleo sorority-girl life.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist, if you haven’t already guessed.

Anyway, I can’t remember where I first heard this trick when it came to making perfect hard-boiled eggs, otherwise I’d credit the source.  But it always seemed so hit-or-miss with me: either the shells came off no problem and I had a beautiful lunch ready for the nest day, or they came off in shambles and my eggs looked like I’d hacked them out of the shell.  There was rarely an in-between.

The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg 

For a video tutorial, click here.

Prep time: 2 minutes   Cook time: ~20 minutes   Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: Varies

Ingredients

Eggs (as many as you want)

A pot large enough to hold the eggs

Enough water to cover the eggs in the pot

1-2 tsp baking soda (more for more water/eggs, less for fewer)

 

Directions

1.  Place eggs in the pot and fill with just enough water to cover the eggs.

2.  Sprinkle baking soda throughout the water.  I use around 1 tsp for 3 eggs, and just add a bit more with each additional egg.

3.  Cover the pot with its top and bring the water to a boil.  As soon as a boil is attained, shut off the heat and leave the pot covered on the stove and let sit for 15 minutes.  The steam is what does the majority of the cooking, so having a top that seals it in is crucial to hard-boiling eggs.

4.  After the 15 minutes are up, gently remove the top and pour the water down the sink, keeping face away from the steam.  Fill the pot with cold water and dump it out 3 more times.  This cools the eggs and pot before handling and helps shrink the meat inside of the shell and detach it a bit more.

5.  Crack the eggs on the side of the pot, just enough to get a crack started and peel.  Store in a sealed container until you’re ready to eat them.  Don’t let them sit for over a week or they’ll get bad… and smelly!

Some more pointers:

– If you can, use the oldest eggs in your fridge.  The shells are looser and come off easier in general, without adding anything to the water.

– Use the lid of your pot to hold the eggs inside while pouring out the water.

– BE GENTLE when placing the eggs in the pot… any cracks in the shell while cooking will result in a cool-looking, but not-too-tasty snake of egg that shoots from the shell if there’s a hole.  I mean if you want to see that, go for it.  But you might want to do that just as an experiment 😉

The Art of the Breakfast Hash by TheWholeLifeBalance

The Art of the Breakfast Hash AIP

Hello, everyone! My name is Leslie, and I’m the blogger over at The Whole Life Balance. You can check out my blog at www.thewholelifebalance.com. My blog focuses on trying to find the balance between life and diet, specifically Paleo and the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).

I want to give you a little background about myself before getting into the real meat of the post, so bear with me. When I was 18 years old, just about to graduate high school, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. I “managed” it for about seven years by taking Synthroid and intermittently exercising here and there. Fast forward a few years to when I discovered the Paleo diet in December 2013. After reading up about it a bit, I thought it could help my Hashimoto’s, so I tried it. I loved the peace of mind I got from following the guidelines, knowing that I was (mostly) no longer eating processed, chemical-filled junk. I eventually learned about AIP, but I didn’t want to try it because it seemed so restrictive. After more than a year following Paleo with no noticeable changes to my health, I decided back in March that it was finally time to give AIP a shot and have been strictly adhering to the elimination phase since mid-April.

Strange as it may seem, my biggest dietary concern when transitioning to AIP was breakfast. What on earth was I going to have for breakfast?! At least with Paleo, I could have eggs in various ways (normally as a frittata), and I could occasionally make treats like Paleo pancakes. When I was transitioning to AIP, I was just really at a loss here. I had no idea how to replace my daily eggs.

So, when the time came to eliminate eggs from my diet, I browsed the blogosphere for AIP-friendly breakfast recipes. At that time, I only had one AIP cookbook—The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott. While it’s a fantastic cookbook that I use frequently in my meal planning, there are no true “breakfast” recipes in it. I found some blogs with posts about breakfast recipes, and something I started doing initially was a breakfast hash. I think the first week that I had to eliminate eggs, that was what I did each morning for breakfast. I prepped some of the ingredients the night before so that the next morning, I could just plop it into the skillet and be on my merry way. While I learned that I didn’t like this process for busy weekday mornings before work, I do enjoy making breakfast hashes on the weekends. Thankfully, I decided to bite the bullet one day and ordered three other AIP cookbooks, and I now have a better breakfast option to prepare for my weekday mornings.

Let’s get into the breakfast hash. Really, it’s a pretty quick and easy way to get yourself a satisfying meal with a variety of nutrients. At first thought, you might think it seems challenging to vary what you get while on AIP, because so many veggies seem to be eliminated—mainly nightshades (think tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, eggplant)–but it’s not too hard to find some variety. I have a fairly standard hash to which I normally conform, but I try to push myself beyond that each week. It’s important to get many different nutrients from quality sources to make sure you’re sustaining your body and your health. This is also an excellent opportunity to shop seasonally; whatever veggies are fresh and current to the season are perfect candidates to go right in that tasty hash.

Let me lay a foundation for you:

  • Cooking fat (I love to use bacon grease…of course, from the bacon that I just cooked up for the hash)
  • Meat
  • Veggies
  • Leafy greens

How easy is that?! You can really pull in lots of different foods while sticking to this foundation. Next, I’m going to list out all of the fun veggies and leafy greens I’ve included in my breakfast hashes, as well as others that I can think of AND different meats that you can pull in. But, I’ll be honest: I’m in a committed relationship with bacon, as far as my breakfast hashes are concerned.

  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Calabaza squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Sweet potato
  • White sweet potato
  • Purple sweet potato
  • White mushrooms
  • Baby bella mushrooms
  • Yellow onions
  • White onions
  • Sweet onions
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Beets
  • Golden beets
  • Green kale
  • Red kale
  • Lacinato kale
  • Red swiss chard
  • Rainbow chard
  • Collard greens
  • Spinach
  • Shaved Brussels sprouts
  • Bacon
  • Ground pork
  • Ground beef
  • Ground turkey
  • Ground bison
  • AIP-friendly sausage
  • Chicken thighs
  • Stir-fry beef

There are even other things that I 1) probably don’t even know about or 2) that I just haven’t thought of to add to the list! Even with this list, you can see how many different combinations can be created! Just think of all of the yumminess to be had!

Following is a recipe for one of the many breakfast hashes I’ve created since I went AIP. I also have another recipe for a breakfast hash on my blog, which you can find in the recipe index. If you’re struggling to find a path through the AIP jungle, I hope this is a starting place for you. Lifestyle changes like this seem totally crazy; I get it, I really do. But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and in this case, the “light” is a breakfast hash with bacon. Mmmm, bacon!

In health,

Leslie

 

Brussels Sprout, Squash, and Bacon Hash {AIP}

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

Total time: 23 minutes

Yields: 1 hash

 

Ingredients

4 slices thick-cut bacon

½ cup butternut squash, cubed

1 shallot, diced

½ cup baby bella mushrooms

1 calabaza squash, cubed and de-seeded

1 cup shaved Brussels sprouts

½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

 

Instructions

  1. Cut bacon into 1/2-inch strips. Place in skillet and cook over medium-high heat to desired doneness.
  2. Prepare plate with paper towel sitting on top. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper towel to rest. Leave bacon grease in skillet.
  3. Add butternut squash, shallot, mushrooms, and calabaza squash to skillet. Stir around with spoon to mix veggies and evenly spread throughout skillet.
  4. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add shaved Brussels sprouts to skillet. Stir around with spoon to mix with other veggies.
  6. Sprinkle pink salt over hash.
  7. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Plate hash and add bacon on top.

Rendering Bone Broth

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So before I got all into this Paleo stuff, I had never heard of bone broth before.  It honestly sounded terrifying to me and I didn’t really plan on trying it any time soon… until I read about the awesome health benefits it yields and how easy it actually is to make on your own.  Rendering your own broth ensures that you know exactly what goes into it, where the bones came from, and how it’s flavored.  Plus, it reduces waste by using more parts of the animal.  A few fun facts about why you should drink bone broth:

– Bones contain collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body.  You may have heard about it before in reference to beauty products of some kind, because it definitely has that effect – collagen intake has been linked to healthier skin, hair, nails, and reduced wrinkles.  It is also the most abundant protein in the joints, so it supports their health as well.

– Gelatin, another compound found in bones, is leeched into the broth and promotes joint health.

– Minerals that are often hard to pack into your diet every single day are found in significant quantities in bones.  These include calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

– Bone broth has been linked to improved digestion and reduced bloating.

All these reasons and more are a good excuse to try making some of your own bone broth ASAP.  So let’s get started!

 

What you need

A large slow-cooker/crockpot and lid

Bones that can fit in said crockpot

Any spare veggies you want to throw in for flavor (I recommend at least using some onions)

Enough water to cover the bones

 

Directions

1.  Try to clean off the meat from the bones as well as possible.  It’s completely fine if there is some left; I actually like having a bit on them because it helps with the flavor that much more.  But you don’t want to throw a full chicken in the crockpot, either.

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2.  Place the bones in the crockpot, along with any veggies you’re including, and fill it up with water so that the bones are covered.

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3.  Turn the crockpot on low, and let the broth sit and brew for at least 24 hours.  This is when the nutrients from the bones will have leached out into the water quite a bit.

4.  You can leave the broth on for longer, too.  The longer you let it sit, the more good stuff gets pulled from the bones.  The bones will disintegrate, though, if kept in the crockpot for too long, so try not to leave the same batch in there for more than a week.

5.  When you’re ready to serve or store it, strain the bones and veggies out and save the broth.  Those nutrients I keep talking about are all now in the liquid that tastes great by itself, but can also make a mean base for a soup or stew.  Try drinking a bit of this every day and reap the benefits!

*Note: I use venison bones a lot because I save them after I go hunting.  This yields a darker stew than, say, chicken bones.  Whichever type you decide to use, make sure they are from an animal that was humanely raised and grass-fed, otherwise the benefits aren’t as great.  Many butchers and farmers will sell bones to you for VERY CHEAP – all you have to do is ask.  I have also heard rumors that Whole Foods sells some grass-fed bones specifically for broth purposes, so that is worth a check if a farmer’s market is less accessible.

Homemade Almond Meal

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A huge staple in a paleo kitchen (especially when it comes to grain-free bread and baked items) is almond flour/meal.  The only real difference between the two is that almond meal tends to be a bit coarser and is ground with the skins still intact, while almond flour is made from ground-up blanched almonds.  “Blanched” just means that the skins have been removed.  In my experience, almond meal is useable interchangeably with almond flour if it is fine enough, as is the case with this method.

Anyway, this stuff is finally becoming more widely available in stores, which is great.  The price, however, isn’t so great.  That’s why I like to use the almonds I buy for as many things as possible.  If you’ve seen my post about How to Make Nut Milk, I explained that once I’ve reared the milk from the almonds, I strain the almond pieces from it and set them aside to dry in a dehydrator.

Here is a video tutorial to better explain the process!  You can watch this link from the beginning to see how to make almond milk first and then use the pulp from that same batch of almonds to make the meal, as I outline in this recipe.

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These pieces are already broken up pretty well, but they’re still pretty coarse and can only be used in specific recipes in lieu of finer almond meal or almond flour (for example, I used these thicker pieces in my batch of Primal Palate’s Apple Crisp recipe, and the crunch was outstanding).  In order to use this leftover almond “pulp” from my milk, it needs to be finer for most recipes that call for it.

So what do I do?  Whip out the handy Nutribullet, of course!

Homemade Almond Meal

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 0 minutes   Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: Varies

 

What you need

Whole almonds or pulp from homemade nut milk (make sure both are completely dry)

Nutribullet or high-quality food processor/blender

Container for storage

 

Directions

1.  Select the milling blade for your grinding machine (the Nutribullet has one of these and most other food processors should, too).

2.  Place almonds/almond pulp in your Nutribullet or food processor.  Attach milling blade firmly on top of the Nutribullet.

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3.  Grind in Nutribullet/processor until the almonds or almond pieces are very fine, resembling sand.  If you’re using strained and dehydrated almond pulp, like I do, this should only take about 10 seconds.  If you’re using whole almonds, it will take a bit longer.

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4.  Once this consistency is reached, you’re done!  Store it to be used in whatever recipes call for it.  This is a great money saver because this one batch of almonds has now reared milk AND flour for you.  Talk about a Paleo hack!

*Note:  If using whole almonds, do NOT continue grinding for too long after the fine consistency has been reached.  If you continue grinding it, almond butter will eventually form as the oils in the nut are extracted.

Homemade Coconut Butter

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I can’t tell you how many Paleo recipes call for coconut butter, but I can say this: it’s a LOT.  Anyway, if you’ve ever tried finding it at the store and you’re like me, you probably ended up just choosing a different recipe because the stuff sells at around $11 for a 16oz jar (that’s two cups. No thank you).  However, if your store sells coconut butter, I’m sure it’s got shredded coconut as well.  My grocers sell this for about $3-4 per pound… which just so happens to make 2 cups of coconut butter.  $3 vs. $11?  I’ll take the former!

Homemade Coconut Butter

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 0 minutes   Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 cups

 

What you need

1 lb shredded coconut

Food processor or high-powered blender (like a Vitamix)

Jar with lid to store finished butter

 

Directions

1.  Dump the bag of shredded coconut into your food processor or blender.

2.  Close the blender/food processor and turn it on.  Keep the machine running until the shreds eventually liquefy.  I use a food processor and it takes about 8-10 minutes.  Other blogs like Stupid Easy Paleo say that it doesn’t take as long in a Vitamix.  Both will result in a delicious cream that you can use in any recipe calling for the stuff.

3.  Store in a container you can close and refrigerate!  It will solidify in the fridge (coconut oil is solid at 76ºF) but you can simply melt it again in the microwave or on the stove.

*Note:  If you have trouble getting the shreds to liquefy and you know it’s been processing for at least 10 minutes, try adding a bit of coconut oil to soften it up.

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How to Make Nut Milk

If a video tutorial is more your style, here is a step-by-step video on making nut milk!

Okay, I’ll admit it… I have been purchasing my almond milk by the carton for about two years now.  I didn’t think it could be that bad for you – I mean, how processed could it really be, right?  And it had to be better than dairy milk, anyway.  That’s how I felt until I started listening to Dave Asprey‘s podcast, called Bulletproof Radio (in case you’re wondering, yes – he’s also the inventor of Bulletproof Coffee and the author of The Bulletproof Diet).  In his episode entitled “Paleo, Eating Disorders & the Power of Intention,” Asprey interviews George Bryan on all of these topics and more.  Anyway, in that particular interview, one of them mentions how there is the equivalent of about 6 almonds in a half gallon of store-bought almond milk.  WHAT?!?!  First off, that’s a huge price mark-up, but what the heck is the other stuff thrown in there?  Turns out, tons of processed ingredients and sugars.  Ew.

So after this revelation, I finally bit the bullet and started making my own nut milk.  It is very easy and actually quite fun – and you’ll also find out very quickly how processed store-bought milk is when you taste the difference in your homemade batch!

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Note: This recipe calls for soaking the almonds beforehand.  By soaking them, you are removing the phytic acid, which is a digestion inhibitor in many nuts that binds with minerals and blocks our body’s ability to reap all of the nutritional benefits in them.  When you see how gross the water is after they’ve been soaked, you’ll be happy you did it.  Almonds, pecans, and walnuts require a long soaking time.  Nuts such as cashews only need to be soaked about 4 hours.  Hazelnuts do not contain physic acid and therefore do not require the soaking process at all.

Homemade Almond Milk

Prep time:  8 hours, 30 minutes   Cook time:  0 minutes   Total time:  30 minutes

Yield:  1 Quart

 

Ingredients & Supplies

1 cup raw almonds

4 cups water, plus more for soaking

Large bowl

High-power blender or food processor

Doubled-over cheesecloth or fine strainer

Container for holding milk

 

Directions

1.  Place almonds in a large bowl and cover with water.  Soak overnight, or for at least 8 hours.

2.  Drain and rinse soaked almonds.  Place almonds and 4 cups of water into a high-power blender or food processor and blend for 2-3 minutes, until nuts have been pulverized into a fine meal.

3.  Slowly pour the milk through the cheesecloth and into the milk container.  The cheesecloth will strain out the almond meal that was made in the blending process.  Make sure to squeeze the pulp to get all of the milk out of it.  You will have to clear the cloth of the meal several times throughout as well.

4.  Once all of the milk is strained, you’re done!  Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.  You can also save all of that almond meal and dry in out, either by sitting it out somewhere or using a dehydrator, to be used in whatever recipes you need it for.

*Tip: You can use these measurements for any nut milk you desire – cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.  Just make sure to do your research on if (and how long) they need to be soaked beforehand.  The picture in this post is actually half-almond, half-hazelnut milk, and I made 2 quarts to fill my half-gallon mason jar.  Feel free to also add a bit of vanilla extract or salt, if that’s what you’re into.  Yum!