So you know you are supposed to be adding more fruits and veggies to your daily eating. And you know that how much damage added sugar is doing to your body. But are you really having to sacrifice flavor for health? And really, how difficult is it going to be and how much are you going to have to sacrifice when you go out socially???
What if I said you won’t have to sacrifice anything and that all that is really required of you is self discipline?
In culinary school, my nutrition teacher was a vegetarian licensed dietician. While her recipes left much to be desired when it came to real life preparation timing, one thing she taught left a lasting impression on me. When talking about good fats and bad fats, flavor in food/the palate, and changing any habit, she said that it takes 10 days to cleanse the palate therefore changing your flavor cravings. Culinarily speaking, fat coats the taste buds, smoothing out the flavor of whatever you are eating. The first thing we identify on our taste buds is sweet – babies LOVE sweet foods which is why you must feed them fruits last when introducing food to them or you will have a very difficult time getting them to eat veggies. Same when we get old, the sweet part of our taste buds is the strongest of them all (how many seniors do you know that love their dessert but won’t eat the rest of their meal?) So when we take away the bad fats and we take away the added sweeteners both real and artificial, our taste buds will learn all sorts of new flavors and will become discerning about the foods you are eating. AND as an added bonus, your body will begin to identify fake foods vs. real foods.
Let’s look at this another way – you want to release those extra 10 pound (maybe 5?); you have heard that the inflammation and achy joints can go away with changing your eating habits; you are sick and tired of being sick and tired but all those crazy protocols out there are so time consuming it won’t fit into your schedule, so why bother? But what if I told you it is pretty darn easy because I have found the way to make your food life easier?
Okay Adrienne how do you do this?
Well, let’s talk reality about all the info that is out there and what is practical about it.
Zoodles – Hmmm, are they the end all be all replacement for pasta? NO. Can you replace them in your favorite spaghetti dish seamlessly? NO. However – can you use them to make some awesome dishes that make zucchini seem amazing again? YES! I have a client who needs to stay away from grains and soy. She loves zoodles. I found a recipe for Asian Garlic Noodles. I found Coconut Aminos that are Asian Garlic sauce. I used the zoodles which take all of 3 minutes to flash saute, sliced garlic, chopped green onion and the Coconut Amino Garlic Sauce and BAM! Instant Paleo Asian Garlic Zoodle.
4 medium zucchini, zoodled 3 green onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, thin slice 1 Tbsp Olive OIl
¼ – 1/3 C Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos Garlic Sauce
- Heat large saute pan on med high heat.
- When hot, add oil, zoodles, and garlic. Stir fry 2 -3 minutes (stir the zoodles every so often to distribute heat evenly).
- Add Garlic sauce, stir to mix and IMMEDIATELY remove from heat, add green onion and serve/
Spaghetti Squash – Again, this will NOT take the place of pasta and I will not tell you it does. I can tell you however that when you mix spaghetti squash with chicken/pork sausage and fresh basil/rosemary/thyme and Herbamare with garlic sautéed in your choice ghee, coconut oil or olive oil, it is a very tasty dish. Um Adrienne, how do I cook spaghetti squash if I do not have a microwave? 425 degree oven, slice in half across the midsection (not lengthwise) place in pan with 2 inches of water and let it bake 15 – 40 minutes until it is soft to the touch. I will not commit to a time because sizes on squash vary and oven temperatures vary. How do I get the spaghetti squash out Once it is cooked? That is pretty simple, First you use a fork to get the seeds out by gently scraping out the middle of each half. Then just begin to gently break apart the squash with a fork and you will see all these really cool threads. You continue until you get to the skin.
Butternut squash noodles – These and beet noodles I do recommend buying already cut just because the butternut squash is a bit to wrestle with when you try to peel it plus you can only noodle the top half of the squash. Beets stain horrifically. That being said, they are both a rewarding noodle dish that brings life to your palate and plate.
All veggie noodles cook in minutes – literally 2- 5 minutes tops and then they break down when you saute them – so the 8 – 15 minutes you spend preparing them is worth it. Just know that you will spend more time preparing the vegetables so if prep is not your forte, avoid veggie noodles or pay for them all ready cut for you.
Cauliflower – Now this one is a hot topic. The reason why I say this is because there is a plethora of recipe substitution out there for this crazy vegetable right now. What can you do with this vegetable you may ask?
Let’s start with cauliflower for mashed potatoes. My recipe is to boil the cauliflower until you kill it and then add butter or said butter substitute, Himalayan pink salt, a little bit of white pepper, a little bit of black pepper and a little bit of granulated garlic. When I use the hand stick blender all of my clients absolutely love it. You can also put it in a food processor and you may also use a hand masher. I have to say the best results have been with a stick blender and it is easy to clean up. Whole Foods has organic cauliflower frozen in their veggie section and I get 2 servings of Paleo mashed potatoes for my shepards pie from it.
Riced cauliflower? Yes!!!! For Paleo fried rice, chicken and yellow rice, and risotto. Jambalaya not so much. How can you make your own riced cauliflower? With either a hand grater/shredder side or cut into florettes (no stems) and place in your food processor. Whole Foods does have organic frozen rice cauliflower in their freezer section and it makes 2 servings of Fried rice for me.
Keto gnocchi not so much. Unless you have a passion for cheese, keto cauliflower crusts leave something to the imagination in my opinion. The amount of cheese needed to hold it together kind of kills the purpose of finding practical ways to add more veggies into your daily eating.
Almond Flour and chia seeds – Now here is a topic that a baker can take these ideas and run with. I am not a baker. I do not have the discipline nor the patience needed to do baking justice. I do however, have tips that I can share to make your life happy. In the process of going through the GAPS protocol, one must learn how to prepare pancakes and bread with nut flours.
I came up with not only pancakes and bread, but also waffles, and muffins. The waffles do take more time to prepare and the GAPS bread does take more energy, but once you get into full GAPS I found a recipe that is out of this world. It is also when I learned that chia seeds, ground chia seeds are even better, works fabulous as the binding agent for almond flour since it is a gluten free product. Ground chia seeds work the same as eggs becoming gelatinous, holding the batter together more. When I first fell into natural foods and learned about gluten free first thing I had to learn was how to keep a gluten free product together ’cause using just eggs, milk, and sugar would not do that. At that point in my career that I learned that xanthan gum was the binding agent since gluten was absent. Fast forward to 2018 and finding this great bread recipe that is simply 4 tablespoons of almond flour, one teaspoon of chia seed, one egg One half TSP baking powder and a pinch of salt. The recipe does say to work quickly and place directly into the oven. Here is why – the longer chia seeds sit with a liquid and a solid, the more gelatinous it becomes and weighs down your baking product making it more dense. And no one wants a dense bread or muffin. Here is the link to the bread – http:/www.lowcarbsosimple.com/easy-4-ingredient-keto-mug-bread/
Oven temperature 350 degrees for 20 minutes
Savory pancake recipe – 1/4C pumpkin or butternut squash, 1 egg, 1/4C almond flour, pinch of Himalayan pink salt. Mix all together and using coconut oil or ghee, make silver dollar size pancakes in pancake griddle or large saute pan over medium heat. Any other size will break!
If using the entire can of pumpkin, it is the same ratio, I have broken this recipe down into its simplest form. These pancakes do freeze well so I use 1 can pumpkin, 6 eggs, 1 3/4C almond flour. I have not put honey or cinnamon in but I am certain that would be fabulous.
The other thing you can do with this recipe is make waffles. All you need to do is to separate the eggs, mix the egg yolks and the pumpkin and the flour together. Whip up your egg whites until they are nice and stiff and then gently fold them into your batter. And all you do is put the coconut oil or ghee in your waffle maker and make you waffles. I cannot give you a time on the waffles because each waffle maker is different.
Almond flour muffins – Although I did not create this recipe it is a collaboration of 3 recipes I found online.
1 1/2C almond flour 1 ½ C cups of shredded carrots,
½ tsp baking soda 3 eggs
1 Tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla
1 smashed banana or one individual Cup serving of Unsweetened Apple sauce.
1. Combine in a bowl – 3 eggs, vanilla, and banana/applesauce with a hand stick blender
2. Almond flour baking soda cinnamon in a bowl
3. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until combined. Add shredded carrots bake at 325 degrees for 22 minutes.
This recipe will not be super sweet there is not any added sugar it is only sweetened with fruit falls into paleo and diabetic protocol. I believe the original recipes I found had honey or Maple syrup in them and I would say to add somewhere from one tablespoon to a quarter Cup if you want these muffins sweeter. You may also add nuts, raisins, nutmeg, allspice, whatever other spices you would like.
Coconut Milk – Can’t figure out a way to substitute heavy cream or milk in recipes? Full fat coconut milk is your answer. Oh No fat!!!!!!! Seriously, it is a vegetable fat, not an animal fat. Plus, it is brain food, just like avocado is a plant fat brain food. I have successfully substituted coconut milk for heavy cream in a plethora of recipes with a large amount of success. Granted it does not reduce the same way heavy cream does, so go easy on it if you are intending to reduce it (doesn’t work), just use a little less with the intention of no reduction time for thickening. You may also use coconut cream for a richer sauce, that comes in a can like the coconut milk, but again, it will not reduce like cream.
Avocado – Yes, I am going to say for chocolate pudding. By the time your palate has cleansed a bit from sugar, fake sugars and gross fake or unclean fats, a chocolate pudding will be welcomed. 1 avocado, 2 pitted medjool dates soaked in 3 Tbsp warm water for 5 minutes (the time it takes to cut, pit and put the avocado in the food processor or Magic Bullet), 1 tsp vanilla, if you want 1 Tbsp raw honey, and 1 Tbsp cacoa. Blend it up until smooth. Don’t have dates or don’t like them? You can make the pudding with just honey – 2 Tbsp vs. 1 Tbsp. The dates do give it a more puddingish flavor. I have tried putting in the Bulletproof coffee for more of a smoothie/type coffee but DON’T. It is awful. If you have tried it and liked it more power to you, but to me it is the same as saying zoodles make a great spaghetti substitute.
Brazil Nuts – For what? I found online this great recipe for vegan artichoke dip that used Brazil nuts, sea salt and garlic for Parmesan cheese. What????? Here it is – 1 1/4C Brail nuts, 3 cloves garlic, 1/4tsp Himalayan salt. Grind it up in your spice grinder or mini food processor/Bullet. That is a large enough quantity to hold extra in the refrigerator.
Walnuts – Walnuts cost less than pecans when it comes to a gluten free crust. And it works.
2 ½ C walnuts ground, 1tsp baking soda, 1/4tsp Himalayan salt, 2Tbsp coconut oil. Bake 350 for 15 minutes. It worked great with my pumpkin pie.
Green Banana Flour – Okay Adrienne, now you are pushing it. No seriously, Sarah Bingham – Fast Food Healing- had asked me if I had ever heard of it or used it so of course I had to. It is gluten free, grain free, GAPS approved. It comes from green bananas just like it says. It behaves MUCH BETTER than coconut flour. It is a soft flour like pastry flour, makes a great roux and can be baked with. Just use 1/4C less – it says on the package. And use less baking time, it is very delicate.
In my opinion, I like to keep as practical as I can and do with as little equipment as needed. Tools I do recommend to have on hand include –
Cutting board Chef knife Paring knife Peeler Stick hand mixer
Zoodler Spice grinder (for grinder chia seeds)
Food processor (if you intend to make pudding or to make your own riced cauliflower)