Arrowroot Powder Pizza Crust Recipe

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Most people who are paleo will tell you that at some point or another, they just really miss pizza. We’re no exception to this rule. Finding a good paleo pizza recipe, however, can be tough. It’s a lot of trial and error, and sadly, some not so good dinners along the way. Well, I happened upon this recipe from Paleo Spirit. I don’t have, and have never actually used Tapioca Starch, so I substitited arrowroot powder, since I’ve heard that they can be substituted for one another. I also always add some italian seasoning (oregano, basil, thyme, and a little rosemary) to my pizza crusts. I add the dried herbs on top of whatever liquid the recipe calls for. This refreshes the herbs so to speak and makes them a bit more flavorful. Here is a picture  of the cooked crust.

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I then topped it with some home made pizza sauce, cheese (we eat dairy) and some pepperoni. It turned out to be really tasty.

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The toddler eating trials

Anyone who has ever been near a toddler at feeding time knows that getting them to eat what is put in from them is not an easy task. It’s no exception in our house. We have always had luck getting her to eat fruits and vegetables (although the ones she loved yesterday might be highly offensive today), and since I couldn’t cook when we lived with the in laws, we did a lot of snacking. I’d keep the mini fridge full of fruit and veggie trays (not the most cost effective, by any means, but easy), so that when she was hungry, she had food options. I’d also usually keep some full fat cheese and some Applegate lunch meats. Clearly, not as awesome as sitting down to eat actual meals, (and we did always have something more substantial for dinner), but under the circumstances, it was the best I could do.

Sliced Cucumber

Goose with Raspberries and Banana

When we moved into our own place, I knew that getting her to eat meals (and the meals that I prepared) was going to be an adjustment. I didn’t, however, get the memo that it was going to be such an issue. In the beginning, we tried to force her to eat at least one bite of whatever I made. You would think that just one bite would be do-able, but I have never in my entire life met anyone as stubborn as this child. After a few days of this, we realized that that was not the approach that was going to get us results. If we continued down that patch, meal time was going to turn into a battle every single time, and meal time wasn’t going to be the pleasant family time that I was hoping for.

Goose with Pear

So, we changed our approach. She does need to sit at the table until everyone is done eating. That’s not negotiable, but we stopped pressuring her to eat. My husband and I do make a big deal about how good the food is while we are eating, and usually this will encourage her to eat it. If it doesn’t though, we just let it go. Maybe she’s not hungry, maybe she is just being picky, I don’t know. However, I won’t make her something different. Dinner is what I make, and that is that. We have had way more success with this method.

Do you have any tips or tricks for getting toddlers to eat? I’d love to hear what works for your family in the comments below!

It’s time to make the donuts…

wpid-IMG_20131123_190954335.jpgWe were lucky enough to move home in time to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday. The family was throwing her a surprise brunch, and people were bringing food to share. I figured that there would be some eggs there and probably some bacon, but I wanted to bring along a paleo friendly treat. I had found a grain free donut recipe from Primal Palate on pinterest awhile ago, but never had a good reason to try it, so I figured that this would be a great excuse.

I don’t own a donut pan though, and to be completely honest with you, I am worried that if I actually own one, it will be much too easy for me to justify making donuts more often. I like donuts, but lets be honest here, paleo or not, a donut is a donut is a donut. It’s not a healthy choice. So, I needed to come up with a way to make a donut shape without a donut pan. I found a tip on pinterest where you make the donuts in a muffin tin. You make little balls of aluminum foil and place one ball in the center of each open spot. The batter then goes around the aluminum foil and you simply pop it out once the donuts have finished cooking. I decided to give it a shot.

wpid-IMG_20131123_161943320.jpgIt didn’t work well, at all. So I needed to figure out another plan. The muffin tin made the right shape and size that I was going for, it was just the donut hole that wasn’t right. So I ended up using an apple corer to punch a hole through the middle. This method worked really well. Then I simply made the chocolate ganache to top the donuts with. The next morning, we brought them to the party. I was, of course, not sure how my extended family would react, but they devoured them. I’m still getting requests to make more months later. wpid-IMG_20131123_191541007.jpg

Vanilla Waffles

Vanilla WafflesWe got one of those fancy double waffle makers for Christmas one year, and when we made the transition to Paleo, I thought it had seen the end of it’s days. Luckily, the awesome folks over at the Food Lover’s Primal Palate have an awesome Vanilla Pancake recipe that works really well for waffles. I just add a few shakes of nutmeg and cinnamon to their recipe, and pour it in the waffle maker. (These waffles are incredible, but they are sweet). A lot of paleo pancake recipes that I have tried tend to be a bit dry, but these are moist and delicious as pancakes and as waffles.

Mongolian Beef

So, I found this recipe for Mongolian Beef on Pinterest and thought it looked like something that I might be able to make some changes to, and come up with a paleo version. Whenever I see a recipe, I keep a few easy swaps in mind

Recipe Says:                                                                   Paleo Swap:

Soy sauce                                                                       Coconut aminos if you avoid soy, or gluten free soy sauce

Cornstarch                                                                     Arrowroot powder

Vegetable oil                                                                  Coconut oil

Sugar                                                                               Maple syrup/honey

These work for me in a 0ne to one swap. There are lots of other paleo substitutions in recipes, but some of them involve making other changes. (For example almond flour doesn’t replace flour in a recipe without making other changes, like adding more eggs or liquid).

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2 teaspoons coconut oil
½ teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
½ cup coconut aminos
½ cup water
¾ cup maple syrup (This can be reduced to make the dish less sweet).
coconut oil, for frying (about 1 cup)
1 lb flank steak
¼ cup arrowroot powder
2 large green onions, chopped

Directions:

Sauce:
Heat 2 tsp. of coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat.  Don’t get the oil too hot.
Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the coconut aminos and water before the garlic scorches.
Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then increase the heat to medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Beef:
Slice the flank steak into 1/4″ thick bite-size slices. Dip the steak pieces into the arrowroot powder to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef.  Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the arrowroot powder sticks.  As the beef sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok (or a deep skillet). Heat the oil over medium heat until it’s nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and sauté until brown. Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly.  After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels.  Dab excess oil off meat with a paper towel and add to medium saucepan with the sauce in it.  Put the pan back on the oven over medium/low heat.  Add chopped green onions and let sauce simmer until warm. I served this over cauliflower rice.

Cookbooks

I have a few Paleo Cookbooks that I use regularly. I also have the ebook Caveman Feast, as well as some other ebooks that I bought as part of a bundle. My problem with ebooks is that I don’t have a fancy tablet, so I have to use tons of paper printing recipes, or bring my laptop into the kitchen, which is dangerous when you are as clumsy as I am. I also have the Caveman Feast app, as well as the Primal Palate My Kitchen app. I use those quite a bit, especially if I’m at the store and forgot my shopping list at home. 🙂 photo(15)

Now, there are a bunch of other books that I would LOVE to own, but I’m slowly building my collection. Of these, if I were to recommend one to someone starting out with this lifestyle, it would be Make it Paleo.

Chicken Nuggets

Here’s another recipe from the Food Lover’s Primal Palate’s cookbook Gather. Generally, we don’t eat a lot of fried foods here, but I was in the mood for something different, and luckily had all of the ingredients for these bad boys on hand…..Chicken nuggets, paleo chicken nuggets, paleo fried chicken, gluten free chicken nuggets paleo chicken nuggets, chicken nuggets, grain free chicken nuggets, gluten free chicken nuggets

I wish that I had taken more pictures of the process of making them (I’m still getting the hang of this blogging thing), but they were much easier to make than it first looks like. They came out deliciously as well. I did make a small change to their recipe. I didn’t have any lard on hand, and didn’t want to use that much coconut oil for one recipe (we were getting low, and I need to use it in the baby’s formula), so I use bacon grease that I had left over from baking bacon. I threw that into the deeper cast iron pan that we have, and it worked really well. It added another layer of flavor to the chicken nuggets that my husband really liked.

I also didn’t make their honey mustard dipping sauce. Their recipe calls for lemon juice, and with interstitial cystitis, I can’t have lemon juice. (Techincally, I can, but it’s not good for my interstitial cystitis, so I simply don’t eat it, or things made with it, when I can avoid it). Sometimes, I will leave it out of recipes, or try and substitute something else in it’s place, but I wasn’t sure how to substitute it. (I am certain that if I had sent a message one their blog or social media, the nice folks at Primal Palate would have given me some suggestions). Instead, I made my own my combining 1/4 cup honey (raw and local is best), 1/4 cup mustard (check the label to make sure there aren’t any crappy ingredients hiding in there), and 1 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp black pepper. I just whisked the ingredients together and it was pretty darn tasty.

Paleo vs. Primal

Let me preface this with the statement that I hate the term “Diet.” You will often hear about the Paleo Diet or the Primal Diet. Diets to me sound temporary, and this isn’t temporary. This is a lifestyle. After seeing the drastic improvements in my health, I will never go back to the way we were eating before. Diets also sound like something you do to lose weight. I never did this to lose weight. At all. Did I lose weight? Yes. Am I thankful for that? Absolutely, but my objective was to see if my health would improve. It doesn’t matter how much weight you lose doing something if it makes your health worse. It’s not good.

I also want to state that we are human. I would be a bold faced liar if I said that we eat this way 100% of the time. We don’t. We do the best we can, as often as we can, and if we sometimes end up eating a pizza for dinner, so be it. That’s life. I don’t beat myself up over it. I don’t feel guilty about it. I accept it, enjoy it, and move on. Obsessing over food wouldn’t be very Paleo, after all, now would it?

Paleo

Primal

We tend to identify a bit more with the Primal Lifestyle, because we do include dairy. It doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on our bodies, so we include it. In addition, there are some other elements to this lifestyle that are important to note. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of them. Your body isn’t ever going to function at it’s best if it doesn’t have a period of time where it can rest and reset itself. (This one has been very difficult in the past 7 months since we welcomed our baby into the world, but we’re doing the best we can.) Movement is also big with this lifestyle. We try to do something active every day. Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood with the baby in her carrier or the stroller, yoga, or a kettlebell workout, being active allows me a few minutes each day to refocus my energies, and to take care of my own needs. As a mother, this is so important, and so often neglected. Primal living also emphasizes play. This is an easy one with a new baby around, but I still struggle with just playing. Our society is so focused on technology and staying connected that it’s easy to be updating twitter or facebook or checking my bank balance while I’m anywhere. So, lately, a big part of my focus has been on making the conscious decision to just play. When my daughter is awake, it’s time to put the phone aside, turn the laptop off, and just play. It sounds simple enough, right?

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Sick kid, eh?

I’m going to start this blogging adventure with some dry posts about my health. It’s important to me to start there because it lays the foundation for why I eat primal, and how it’s helped me. I have two conditions: interstitial cystitis and diabetes insipidus. The interstitial cystitis was diagnosed in 2004, although I’ve probably had it my entire life. The diabetes insipidus was diagnosed in 2009, and seemingly came out of nowhere, with no known cause. So what do these conditions mean??

Interstitial Cystitis:

According to the Mayo Clinic  “Interstitial cystitis (in-tur-STISH-ul sis-TI-tis) is a chronic condition characterized by a combination of uncomfortable bladder pressure, bladder pain and sometimes pain in your pelvis, which can range from mild burning or discomfort to severe pain.”

My case is more severe than that. Basically, the pressure and pain is caused by a lack of elasticity in your bladder lining. As a normal bladder starts to fill, it stretches to make room. Mine doesn’t. Mine, tears. So, it hurts. A lot. In addition, the foods or drinks that I consume, affect the acidity of my urine, and that affects the level of pain. For example, if I drink a refreshing glass of lemonade, that acid from the lemons gets into those little tears along my bladder walls. The pain from that is similar to when you get salt into an open cut on your finger, and it also causes muscle spasms in and around the bladder. It’s not fun, and usually I end up back in bed with pain medication and a heating pad until things calm down again. For the most part, I’ve learned which foods and drinks to avoid to minimize that aspect, but some days, my bladder just has what we call a flare anyway, and there’s not much I can do about it. This condition also means that my bladder doesn’t hold as much as other people’s do. So, I pee a lot more than your average Joe. All day, and all night. This part, I just deal with. I can spot a public restroom a mile away. I can tell you which gas stations tend to have the cleanest restrooms (Shell and Chevron), which mall stores or restaurants tend to have dirty restrooms (JC Penny and Chilis) and on a road trip, I will always make sure you get to stretch your legs plenty. 🙂 It’s just my reality. I accept it, and do the best I can to reduce the negative impact that it has on my life.

Diabetes Insipidus

I know what you’re thinking….I know what diabetes is. This isn’t your typical diabetes though. According to the Mayo Clinic “Diabetes insipidus (die-uh-BEE-teze in-SIP-uh-dus) is an uncommon disorder characterized by intense thirst, despite the drinking of fluids (polydipsia), and the excretion of large amounts of urine (polyuria). In most cases, it’s the result of your body not properly producing, storing or releasing a key hormone, but diabetes insipidus can also occur when your kidneys are unable to respond properly to that hormone.” Basically, my pituitary gland doesn’t produce the hormone that helps my body regulate water absorption, so instead of my body processing the fluids I drink, they just get flushed out. I imagine that would suck on it’s own, but paired with my bladder, it’s not a good time at all. It also means that I tend to be dehydrated more often than not.

So…how do they treat that stuff?

Drugs. Lots of lots of drugs. I used to be on 17 pills a day, with no sign of ever getting off the medications. My day literally revolved around taking medications. (Which ones can be taken with food, which ones have to be taken on an empty stomach, which ones need to be taken X minutes before I eat….) It was exhausting. I’ve also had lots of physical therapy for the pain from the interstitial cystitis, and to re-train all of the muscles in my core to work properly. I’ve had surgeries where they try to manually stretch the bladder out for me while I’m asleep, numbing medications injected directly into my bladder, and botox injections to deaden the nerves in my bladder to reduce the pain. My doctors have always said that I have one of the worst cases of IC that they have ever seen, and that was before the complications caused by the DI.

And now?

A few years ago, one of my husband’s friends introduced him to Paleo. At first, we both scoffed at the idea. “I can’t live without bread,” I said. I thought that if I gave up grains, dairy, sugar, and beans I would starve. We kept our minds open, though, and after my husband started to read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, we decided that there might be something to this lifestyle. We had always thought that we ate healthy: low fat foods, lots of whole grains, and lean meats. However, I realized that I was eating grains (and lots of them) at every single meal. Cereal for breakfast, some sort of pasta, soup, or sandwhich at lunch, and dinner always involved pasta or rice of some kind. So, we made the choice to start replacing some of those of grains with more vegetables. “Eating more vegetables will be good for us anyway,” I thought. Little did I know just how good. I’m not going to sit here and say that Paleo cured me, because it didn’t. It did, however, give me my life back. I am off all of my medications, I haven’t had surgery in years, I have more energy, and the number of days where I am bed-ridden due to pain has been drastically reduced. I’ve also lost weight, and had a baby, which we had thought wasn’t going to happen for us, because of my health. So, as it turns out, I can live without bread, and it’s better.