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!

Dairy-Free Country White Gravy

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Because you can’t have Southern favorites like Chicken Fried Steak without this gem.

Dairy-Free Country White Gravy

Prep Time: 20 minutes   Cook time: 5 minutes   Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: A little more than 2 cups

Ingredients

1 lb bacon

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

1 cup water

4 tbsp potato starch

1-2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp sea salt

Black pepper, to taste

 

Directions

1.  Cook the bacon.  You just need the grease from it for this recipe, so save the bacon for something else.  I’m sure you won’t mind.  If you’re making my Chicken Fried Steak recipe, the grease left over from cooking the steaks will work perfectly (and probably better).

2.  Add coconut milk and water to the bacon grease, still cooking on medium heat.  Keep a whisk going through it as you add the starch, 1 tbsp at a time, to the liquid.  Mix in the chili powder and salt, along with as much pepper as you want (it’s hard to have too much) and whisk together evenly.

3.  The gravy will thicken quicker than a traditional recipe, but if it’s having trouble for whatever reason, stop whisking for a few seconds and allow it to sit on the heat.

4.  Once desired gravy consistency forms, remove from the heat and throw this onto whatever you want!

Sweet and Sour Sauce

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I know this is a flavor I’ve missed for some time now.  After looking at several different homemade recipes, it was no surprise to see that most called for soy sauce and even corn starch.  This is a starch-free version that is very satisfying and a great addition to meat (or veggies) that you want to flavor with an American-Chinese twist!

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes   Cook time: 5 minutes   Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: About 2 cups

 

Ingredients

1 cup pineapple pureé (directions below)

1/3 cup water

1 tbsp coconut aminos

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1 tbsp local honey

Pinch sea salt

 

Directions

1.  Make pineapple pureé by blending up chopped pieces of fresh pineapple.  You may need to add a bit of water to get it to liquify correctly.  Liquify about a cup of pieces and add more as needed until you have yielded a cup of pureé.

2.  Mix together all ingredients and heat on the stove.  Stir occasionally while heating, and then serve when it is hot!

Balsamic Blackberry Sauce

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Here is the easiest “fancy” sauce you will ever make.  I never understand why sauce recipes that use fruit call for more sugar – that’s already the biggest macronutrient present in the fruit itself!  There is no added sugar in this baby, making it a great recipe to include any time – even if you’re a Whole 30-er.  This no-brainer sauce can be used in a variety of ways, such as a topping to my Venison Thigh and Caramelized Veggies or a perfect compliment to leafy greens as a salad dressing replacement.

Balsamic Blackberry Sauce

Prep time: 2 minutes   Cook time: 3 minutes   Total time: 5 minutes

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups

 

Ingredients

12 oz fresh organic blackberries

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

THAT’S IT!

 

Directions

1.  Mash up blackberries with a fork in a mixing bowl.

2.  Once they are as creamy or chunky as you’d like, stir in the balsamic vinegar so it is evenly distributed.

3.  Pour sauce into a small pot and cook on low heat.  It will begin to sizzle very quickly, so you will need to be stirring almost constantly.

4.  The berries will begin to soften more as their heat continues to rise, so as soon as they have reached your desired consistency, take them off of the heat and serve warm.

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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Dairy-Free Basil Pesto

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This is a great sauce to add to a number of dishes, and a main player in my “No-tellini” Basil Pesto Chicken and Veggies recipe.  The consistency is great and no flavor is lacking with the exclusion of cheese.

Dairy-Free Basil Pesto

Prep time: 4 hours, 10 minutes   Cook time: 0 minutes   Total time:  4 hours, 10 mintues

Yield:  About 1 1/2 cups

 

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1 cup fresh greens (I recommend spinach or kale)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pine nuts (can substitute walnuts)

1/2 cup cashews

1 cup water

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 garlic cloves, crushed

 

Directions

1.  Soak cashews overnight in water.  This will soften them up (not to mention remove harmful phytates) and yield a more cheese-like consistency when they are ground up the next day.

2.  Once cashews have soaked overnight (or at least 4 hours) drain the water they were in and pat them dry.

3.  Place cashews and nutritional yeast in a blender or food processor and grind until a creamy consistency has been formed.  You may have to scrape the sides of the food processor to get everything blended well.

4.  Crush garlic and add to cashew mixture along with basil, greens, and olive oil.  Continue blending until everything is well-integrated and a smooth texture has been produced.

5.  Add pine nuts (or walnuts) and pulse into the pesto.  If you want some bigger pieces, you’ll only need to pulse a few times.  The more you blend it, the fewer nut chunks will be in the final product.

6.  Pour mixture into a storage container, place in the fridge, and enjoy within the next 2 weeks.

*Note: If the oil and solids separate, this is normal and you can simply re-mix the ingredients with a spoon.

Spicy Cranberry Salsa

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For Thanksgiving, my aunt made this AWESOME cranberry salsa that I could not get enough of.  After getting the recipe, I realized it was chock-full of processed white sugar and decided to touch it up just a bit.  So, this is very similar to the one found here, just Paleo-fied and actually Whole 30-friendly as well if you opt to leave out the honey like I did – that is just an option in case you want to sweeten it up more.

Spicy Cranberry Salsa

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

Yield:  About 3 cups of salsa

 

Ingredients

12 oz fresh cranberries

1 bunch fresh cilantro

1 bunch fresh green onions (mine was about 6 large ones)

1 jalapeño pepper

Juice of 1-2 limes, depending on flavor preference

1 large, ripe banana

Extra honey, if desired

 

Directions

1.  Make sure all ingredients are cleaned thoroughly.  Chop up the green onions and cilantro into smaller pieces so they fit into your food processor with the other ingredients.

2.  Blend all ingredients, except banana (and honey, if you’re using it), until everything is chopped into small pieces.  Break banana into 1″ long chunks and add in about 1/3 of the banana at a time, blending everything well after each addition.

3.  Taste the salsa after the banana is integrated and if you want a sweeter outcome, add honey in 1 tbsp at a time until you like the flavor.  This is purely optional, just for taste preference, and should be omitted completely if you’re on the Whole 30.

4.  Once all of the banana (and possibly honey) is added in and everything is blended well, you’re done and you can store it in the fridge or serve immediately!