Pizza Plantains

Y’all… I have done a thing.  This thing.plantain pizza 2

This thing just might be the reason for world peace one day… or the reason the Internet crashes.  I don’t know.  All is possible now that this exists.  I have no shame in admitting this was my entire dinner on Super Bowl Sunday.  This recipe is the combination of two of man’s greatest culinary feats: Tostones and Pizza.  Long story short: MAKE THEM.

I’d also like to say that since starting food allergen testing, I made the beautiful (and potentially dangerous) discovery that I am, in fact, tolerant of dairy.  For the longest time, I thought that dairy was the culprit in my terrible recurrences of dairy.  Through the Body By Butter Bootcamp, which I am still participating in, I was able to discover that high-quality cheese and keifer do not actually make me feel bad OR cause my skin to break out. I tested both goat dairy and cow’s dairy with the same conclusion for both: my Scandinavian-Polish-Irish genes pulled through for me!

I’m both very excited and a little worried about this realization.  Very excited because now it means I can indulge in some cheese from time to time and use keifer as another source of probiotics.  Also excited because I will be studying abroad in Italy this summer, and while gluten is actually very easy to avoid there, I am going to LOVE having some mozzarella and gelato without fear of digestive or skin distress.

However, this leaves me with a new issue: what is making my face break out?  Well, I have an idea.  After dairy, the next thing to reintroduce on the Protocol was eggs.  I tried to take it slow by only eating yolks for the first few days, but realized after meal prepping for the week that the mayo I used to make my Primal Chicken Salad had whole eggs in it.  Well, my face has broken out this week.  I cut the eggs back out altogether these past few weeks to see if my skin would heal up, and it did.  So there’s that.  Next up is to slowly test PROPERLY this time, with only yolks for probably a week and then slowly work in whites if nothing happens from that first round.  I also need to make sure that I buy eggs that are NOT from soy-fed chickens, because apparently the brand I’ve been loyal to for a while now feeds them FREAKING. SOY.  That is the worst food allergen for me, so honestly even that could be the issue.

Long Story short: food allergy testing is hard.

For me, an egg allergy will be harder to face than a dairy one.  I’ve been dairy-free for a year and a half now.  Dairy is pretty easy to avoid in most things – you just don’t use it in the recipes that call for it and don’t buy the few products it’s included in.  But eggs… DANG. Those are one of my favorite protein sources.  I love breakfast.  And eggs are used in so many products and recipes.  I know it’s totally doable, but I’m having a bit of a diva phase about this possible readjustment I’ll need to be making.  In the meantime, though, don’t you dare take away my Pizza Plantains that are, indeed, filled with CHEESE.

Plantain pizza

Pizza Plantains

Prep time: 5 minutes   Cook time: 30-ish minutes   Total time: 35 minutes

Yield: Varies, 2-4 servings

Ingredients 

4 green plantains

1/2 cup grass-fed shredded cheese (if tolerated) or cheese alternative (like this one)

1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more as needed

Sea salt to taste

1 cup marinara sauce, for dipping

Optional:  some other pizza toppings like preservative-free pepperoni, sausage, or other things you can stick in some cheese & get to fit between two plantains!

Directions*

*NOTE: If you already know how to make Tostones, do that with the plantains and then jump to step 5 to pizza-fy them!  If you don’t know, that method is outlined in steps 1-4.

  1. Melt coconut oil in a pan over medium heat.  There should be a thin, 1/8 inch layer of melted oil along the entire bottom of the pan.
  2. While the oil is melting and heating up, peel the plantains and slice in 1-inch thick pieces.
  3. Place plantain pieces in the hot oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side, until the majority of each piece is golden.
  4. Remove the plantain pieces from the pan and grease the bottom of a gar or glass cup (I used a mason jar).  Use the bottom of your jar to smash each plantain piece into a flat disk, and return the disks back to the hot oil to fry again.  Keep frying them until they begin to get brown spots on each side, flipping as needed.  Sprinkle salt, if using, on each side of the plantain disks while they are frying this second time.
  5. Remove the disks from the pan again, and sprinkle shredded cheese and other toppings, if using, in the middle of half of them.  Take the other half of the chips and place them on top of the ones with cheese on them.  Place back onto the pan, still over medium heat, and leave them there until the cheese is melted.  Flip as needed to avoid burning the plantains.
  6. Remove the plantain cheese sandwiches from the heat and serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

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Cinnamon Baked Pineapple

This recipe is special.  I’m in a bible study that two of my kinesiology professors run and announce invitations to every class they teach each semester.  I joined it after they told my introductory-level class of theirs my freshman year.  To give you an idea of how many people they invite to it, they each teach two lectures of around 200 students and then several upper-division classes every semester.  Anyone interested in joining can simply email or talk to them and they will give their home address to that person.  I think that is so kind and brave of them.

Anyway, even with the number of people invited, only a handful of us join and stick it out each semester.  This past year so far has had several of our members diagnosed with food allergies.  One person has recently been told to follow the low-FODMAP diet, and another girl is so sensitive to gluten that she cannot even be around it.  The female professor who runs the bible study is gluten and dairy-free, and the friend I began bringing this semester is as well.  Needless to say, I am not alone in this group of people in when it comes to avoiding certain things in my diet.

As the semester ended, the bible study leaders invited all of us to join together one last time for dinner at their house.  Everything they cooked would be gluten and dairy free, with as much consideration for everyone’s dietary needs as possible.  I was asked to bring something sweet since Anne Marie and I have recently released Paleo Cookie Exchange.  I knew that all of the recipes in there were paleo, but not all things paleo are compliant with low-FODMAP and the other diets being followed in our group.  So, I needed something else to make because I wanted everyone to get to enjoy dessert.  That is where this recipe comes in!

It is very simple, but so delicious.  This dessert doesn’t have any added sugar and can just as easily be enjoyed as a snack or side dish.  It is compliant with: Dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, AIP, paleo, primal, low-FODMAP, low-oxalate, whole 30, and vegan diets.  Without the baking, it would taste just as good and would also be raw-vegan compliant.  Needless to say, I tried to make it so that anyone can have some.  I hope you do, too!

Cinnamon Baked Pineapple

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 15 minutes   Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: One 9×9 pan

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Ingredients

1 large or 2 small pineapples, cored & diced

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until pineapple looks like all of the pieces have an even amount of cinnamon covering them.
  3. Add mixture to a 9×9 baking dish and cook in oven on center rack for 15 minutes.  If you want some juice retained, the dish is done at this point.  If you would like it drier, mix it around and leave it in for another 10 minutes.   If you wish to make this raw-vegan compliant, simply skip the baking and let your mixture chill in the fridge for 30 minutes so that the flavors marry before serving.
  4. Serve immediately for a pie-filling-like dessert, or serve cool for a sweet-and-tangy refreshment.

Almond Butter Cups

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Reeses peanut butter cups have always been a favorite treat of mine.  Growing up, I remember splitting a package of the large ones with my dad on the way home from many a fishing trip.  The mini cups were our ranch special to finish off dinner after cleaning whatever game we got that evening.  After going Paleo, I have very much missed them.  Luckily, they are easy to mimic on your own with almond butter (or other nut butter of choice).  I can’t believe I haven’t shared their simplicity on here yet!

Anyway, do you remember all of those awesome things I got for Fair Trade Month last week?  Well, here is my first creation with some of the ingredients!  What better way to celebrate National Dessert Day (and soon Halloween!) than to make some delicious desserts that also support a good cause?  Make sure to check out the #BeFair campaign and each of the products I link to in my recipe, as they are all Fair-Trade Certified and working to make farmers’ lives better.

Almond Butter Cups

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cool time: 20 minutes   Total time: 30 minutes

Yield:  12 mini-cups

Ingredients

1/2 cup Nutiva Virgin Coconut Oil

1/4 cup Lake Champlain Organic Unsweetened Cacao Powder

2 tbsp honey (can adjust to taste)

1/4 cup almond butter (I LOVE the salted creamy Trader Joe’s kind)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

 

Directions

  1. Melt coconut oil until it is completely liquid using method of your choice.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine coconut oil and cacao powder with a whisk until the clumps are all gone from the powder.
  3. Add honey and vanilla extract to the mix and whisk again until well-incorporated.
  4. Line 12 molds of a mini muffin tin with paper liners or simply grease with extra coconut oil, if you prefer not to use the liners.  The cups may be more difficult to remove without them, though.
  5. Pour 1/2 of the chocolate liquid into the molds evenly.  Place the tin in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to solidify.
  6. Remove muffin tin from the freezer and dollop teaspoon-sized scoops of almond butter into each of the molds, on top of the chocolate layer.
  7. Pour the other half of the chocolate liquid on top of the almond butter layers and place back in the freezer for an additional 10 minutes to solidify and finish.  If serving immediately, remove from the freezer after this time and enjoy.  If storing for later, keep the cups in either the fridge or freezer until ready to serve.*

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*If you are in an area where coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it will be safe to allow them to sit out for a short while.  If you live in a place like I do (Texas, where it is still in the 90ºF’s in mid-October) then you probably want to leave them in the fridge as long as possible before pulling them out to serve. 🙂

Fire-in-the-Hole Pico de Gallo

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Okay, I’m from Texas.  I like spicy.  I’ve had spicy.  This is definitely spicy.  I’m not kidding when I tell you this is the hottest pico the gallo I’ve ever tried.  So if you don’t like such a kick, definitely take my advice in the ingredients list and cut the number of peppers used in half.  However, if you like that extra flame… this stuff is where you should be putting your time.

Pico de gallo is a fresh salsa that is very easy and fast to make, and works as a great add-on for many Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes, as well as a dip on its own.  It’s a quick snack for game day and an easy, delicious way to pack more veggies onto your plate!  So grab a bowl and get chopping, because this is one recipe I’m very glad to have around.

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Fire-in-the-Hole Pico de Gallo

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: None   Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: 3-4 cups

 

Ingredients

2 large heirloom tomatoes, diced & seeded

1/2 red onion, diced

2 serrano peppers, finely diced (adjust to temperature preferences… this is called fire-in-the-hole with two peppers for a reason!)*

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/4 tsp sea salt

 

Directions

  1. Prepare all veggies as indicated in the ingredients section.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir all of the vegetables together until they are well-combined.
  3. Squeeze the lime juice and sprinkle the sea salt onto the mixed veggies and give it another good stir, incorporating the flavors all over.
  4. Serve as a topping to some grilled chicken or as a dip for your favorite chips!  If not serving right away, store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

*Keeping the seeds with the serranos and adding them in with the rest of the recipe will make it even spicier.  You have been warned…

Blood Diamond Popsicles

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It’s summer.  And I’m in Texas.  It is HOT.  My weakness is ice cream and anything related to it, and once in a while I’ll indulge in the “real thing” if it’s an extra-special occasion (anyone see my post on National Ice Cream Day?).  But this health journey of mine has revealed a strong sugar sensitivity and addiction in me, and while I think I have a pretty good handle on the addiction at this point, the sensitivity is still there.  And I’m talking reaaaaaally there.  I get hot and sweaty and breathe heavily when I eat too much sugar at once, even from something “technically paleo,” such as dried fruit.  To combat this, I wanted to make a low-sugar, still-delicious popsicle recipe that wouldn’t cause such a reaction in me and would be good for people following bulletproof and leto lifestyles as well.  These babies are the result, and I’d say they hit the spot!  They even turned out vegan… yay for pleasing everyone!

Blood Diamond Popsicles

Prep time: 10 minutes   Set time: 4+ hours   Total time: 4 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 6 popsicles (may vary based on popsicle mold size)

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1/2 can full-fat coconut milk

1/4 cup water

1 tsp vanilla extract

Stevia or other natural sweetener of choice, to taste*

Directions

1.  Pureè the raspberries in a Nutribullet or other blender.  You may need to add a little bit of water to get them to blend up.

2.  Pour the raspberry pureè evenly into popsicle molds.  Push it down to the bottom with a spoon to make sure there are no air bubbles.

3.  Blend together the coconut milk, water, vanilla, and sweetener* until an even consistency has been formed.

4.  Pour the coconut milk mixture over the raspberry layer evenly among each mold, and place the popsicle sticks on top.

5.  Place on an even surface in a freezer and allow to set for 4 hours.  Before serving, allow the popsicles to sit out of the freezer to melt a little to help with removal.  You can also run hot water on the outside of the molds if you just can’t wait to tear into these babies!  Bet you can’t eat just one 😛

*I only needed two packets of stevia for this entire recipe, and it turned out great.  The natural sugars in the raspberries and the sweetness of the vanilla extract already help to enhance toe sweetness in the coconut, so excess sugars are not required to make this a tasty treat!

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Cucumber Finger Sandwiches

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I think the idea of these babies came from my reading The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and wondering what a cucumber tea sandwich would taste like.  Or rather, what is tea time in general like?  Was that a pretentious enough intro to this ultra-simple recipe?

Anyway, these sandwiches will make you look as sophisticated as Algernon thinks he is, all with the simplicity behind his real character.  Literary references = done (for this post).

Cucumber Finger Sandwiches

Prep time: 5 minutes   Cook time: 15 minutes   Total time: 20 minutes

Yield: Varies depending on size of potato

 

Ingredients

1 medium potato of choice

1 large cucumber

1-2 avocados

Primal Kitchen Mayonnaise*, to taste

1-2 tbsp coconut oil

Black pepper

Paprika

 

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Slice the potato into chip-like shapes, as thin as possible.  Toss with coconut oil and black pepper, if desired.  Spread in a single layer across a greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly crispy.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

2.  Slice cucumber and avocado.  Spread desired amount of mayonnaise along each potato slice, and place on a plate with the mayo facing up.

3.  Layer one cucumber slice on top of the mayonnaise, and one chunk of avocado on top of the cucumber.  Sprinkle paprika across the plate once all of the sandwiches are built, for garnish and extra flavor.  Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

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*I finally got my hands on a jar of this stuff, and let me tell you – it does NOT disappoint!  I was never a huge fan of traditional mayo, but this blows that out of the water!  Such a great addition to a primal or paleo household 🙂

Liver Pâté

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I’ve been experimenting with different ways to incorporate more organ meats (especially liver, since I have a ton from the deer my family shot during hunting season).  I’d never even heard of pâté before until I googled “ways to cook liver” one day.  It seemed easy enough, but I really had no idea how I’d like it.  The first time I tasted this recipe, it was still warm and I hadn’t taken the time to let it sit in the fridge and cool, like you’re supposed to.  This resulted in mixed feelings and a VERY strong taste that I was not prepared for.  I highly recommend letting it sit for the amount of time I ask and cool/set properly before enjoying, because the taste and texture change completely and it is absolutely delicious once it has cooled completely!

This stuff is great as a snack or appetizer, if you want to be fancy.  The best way I’ve been able to explain it to my roommates is that it is “like hummus, made with liver.”  I like eating it on celery and I bet you could reuse chard stalks to munch on it as well!

Liver Pate

Prep time: 20 minutes   Cool time: 4+ hours   Total time: 4(+) hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 2-3 cups

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs liver of choice (I used axis deer)

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp bacon grease

1/4 cup clarified butter

1/2 sweet onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp maca powder

1/2 tsp thyme

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

 

Directions

1.  Slice liver up into pieces about 1″ thick.  Prepare the onions as listed above, too.

2.  Cook liver thoroughly in 1/4 cup bacon grease on the stove.  It will take about 8-10 minutes to cook all the way through, depending on how thick it is.  Make sure to flip the pieces to make sure it is cooked evenly, and cut into a few to make sure it’s done all the way through.

3.  Allow meat to cool some, then add liver pieces, along with their drippings, to a food processor.  Pulse until the pieces become a hummus-like texture.

4.  Once the meat is well-pulsed, add in the diced onion, clarified butter, 2 tbsp bacon grease, and seasonings.  Pulse again until the onion pieces are well-beaten and everything is mixed thoroughly.  You may need to stop the food processor, scrape the sides, and pulse some more to achieve this.

5.  Once the hummus-like texture is reached, remove the pâté from the food processor and place in a sealable container in the fridge for at least 4 hours.  It will set, cool, and the liver flavor will become less intense as the texture thickens from the cool of the fridge.  Once it has reached the thicker consistency, serve and enjoy.