Monday, February 21, 2011

My Favorite Bread Alternative

This is why I haven't blogged in a while...
It has been quite a while since I last blogged, and for that I apologize.  I posted a photo of me above, in case you were wondering what I've been so busy doing.  I just got back from a vacation to Florida where (in between tanning sessions at the pool and beach) I gave my family a crash course on how to eat better.  Whenever you're a strange eater and you go home to visit family, there are inevitably questions about your culinary preferences.  After so many years of this, my family is actually incredibly accommodating, driving me around town for ingredients and tolerating my many special needs.  Some memorable conversational tidbits?  "Neely, I don't understand how you eat so much," upon seeing my breakfast.  Every. single. morning.  Or "Ewwww, it smells like cabbage in here now.  Gross."  My favorite quote of the week, though, was when we were driving past a tattoo parlor discussing whether or not my mom, sister and I should get tattoos.  My mom's response?  "Well, I have always wanted a tramp stamp."  She insisted she was kidding...    

Back to food, though.  The question I was asked the most over the week was about my famous (well, among my 3 friends and me) tapioca crepes.  "How do you make those?  They look delicious!  What's the recipe?"  I told my mom I'd write her an email with the recipe in it, but here's a blog post instead, Mom.

First of all, though, what is tapioca?  What you've probably conjured in your mind is the tapioca pudding that your grandmother used to make - super sweet, really sticky little balls.  Well, it does come in ball form, but you can also buy it as flour.  For you Boulderites, it's also the "boba" in your boba tea at Pekoe.
Tapioca, also known as cassava, cassada, cassaba, yuca (not to be confused with yucca), akpu, kabba, and mushu, among many other things, is the starch of the root of a woody shrub in the spurge family.  It's the third largest source for carbohydrates in the WORLD.  That's why it has so many names - it's found in all parts of the world, but is native to South America.  It's a fantastic source of food, but only if it's processed appropriately.  If you just sit down and eat a raw cassava root, there's a good chance you'll get cyanide poisoning and die, so don't do it.  Leave it up to the pros to soak, ferment or cook it and then put it in a tidy package for you before you eat it. 

While tapioca is not technically on the list of acceptable foods for Paleo eaters, it's not a grain, and it's not a legume.  It's certainly not dairy and it's not a potato, so I'm calling it good.  I make an exception for it because I love - LOVE - bread, and this yummy substance makes sticky, stretchy, bread-like foods.  I would be lying to you if I said it offered much in the way of nutrients to your diet besides carbohydrates.  It's a pleasure food.  It's an energy food for active people who can't seem to get enough carbohydrates on the Paleo diet from fruits and veggies.  And it's gluten free, of course.  You can make crepes, pancakes, muffins, cakes, bread, or whatever you want out of this stuff.  I just happen to like very simple recipes, so I make crepes.  I eat them with my egg scrambles.  If I need a dessert once in a while, I'll cook one up and put a bit of honey and coconut oil on it.  Or I'll wrap some salmon salad up in one.  All good options.  If anyone has any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  

Here's the recipe:

Tapioca Crepes 1:1:1
(makes 5-7 crepes)

1 C Tapioca Flour (or "Starch" - same thing)
1 C Organic Coconut Milk (Native Forest cans contain no BPA)
1 Pasture Raised Egg
1. Mix all the ingredients well in a bowl.   
2. Heat up coconut or olive oil in a pan on medium low until a drop of water sizzles in it. 
3. Pour in about 1/4 cup of the mixture and tilt the pan in all directions to spread out batter to desired thickness.
4. Cook both sides until very lightly brown.
5. Add salt and any other herbs (sweet or savory).
6. Enjoy!

I usually make one and then put the rest of the batter into a mason jar or other tupperware (preferably not plastic) and store it in the fridge for up to a week.   

Allergen Note:  If you can not eat eggs, you can substitute the egg for 2 tablespoons of water and it turns out just as well.

Oh, and if you don't like my crepe recipe, if you google "tapioca recipes", you'll come up with 818,000 results (which I won't list here), so knock yourself out.  If you do try this one, let me know how it turns out!

Until next time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Make Chard Taste Amazing in 10 Minutes

My very dear friend, Cat, who will hopefully be guest blogging soon, is an excellent cook.  She is a fellow omnitard, meaning she is not only gluten sensitive (a glutard) or dairy intolerant (a lactard),  but that she has so many food sensitivities that she is an omnitard.  She must avoid almost all pre-packaged or prepared foods.  In other words, like me, she buys, prepares and cooks 95% of her food in her own kitchen.  Unlike me, though, she is creative in her kitchen.  In the midst of enjoying some of her creations, she'll sometimes text me entire recipes.  Here's one:  "hv I ever given u recipe for rainbow chard??? Saute in coc oil. Add coc milk. Add salt add lemon.  Omg delic"  She's really good at text speak.  Sometimes I wonder how I even understand what she writes, but I always do.  Even if at first I say out loud, "Why the hell is she using cock milk?" Ohhh, coconut milk - got it.  

My second thought on that email was, 'Chard?  Delicious?  She's so f#@king weird.'  She told me about the amazing chard recipe a couple more times, and each time I nodded and smiled at her outlandish claim that it was truly amazing.  How delicious could chard, lemon and coconut be?

And then she made it for me.  The fact that I've dedicated an entire post to this recipe speaks volumes about its flavor and satiety factor.  It's hard for me to feel full without meat.  As many of you know, I like my meat and it belongs on my plate, but when I ate this chard deliciousness, I was full and needed nothing else.  For at least an hour.

What I've realized lately is that you don't necessarily want to hear me blather on about the reasons to eat or not eat certain foods.  You just want me to say, "Eat this, buy it here, do this with it and eat it at this time of day."  I will try to do more of that in these posts in the future.  I may even devote an entire post per week to recipes and cooking tips if you all would like that (comments are appreciated).

Before I give you the recipe, though, why should you eat chard?  I bet you've walked past it a thousand times in the grocery store, not daring to buy it because you didn't know what to do with it, right?  Well, for that reason alone you should try this recipe.  It is a dark green, leafy vegetable, and that alone is enough to deduce that it contains a LOT of nutritional value.  All of those colors that make up the dark greens, reds, pinks, and yellows in rainbow chard all signify different nutrients.  About three dozen antioxidant phytonutrients have been found in chard, including betalains and epoxyxanthophylls.  These antioxidants decrease inflammation, and therefore help keep us safe from atherosclerosis, diabetes, and cancer.  Besides that, though, chard is an excellent source of bone building vitamins and minerals like vitamin K and calcium; it has a lot of fiber to help with blood sugar regulation; and it contains B vitamins that increase energy and help keep us happy.  Chard.  It's good for you.  Read more about it here.

Chard Delicious 
(total prep/cook time: 10 min, serves 2 vegetable lovers)
1 bunch organic chard
1/3 can organic coconut milk (preferably Native Forest - it has no BPA's in the can liner)
1 tbs organic coconut oil
1/2 organic lemon
salt to taste (5 shakes)
(optional protein - shrimp, scallops, chicken, salmon...)

-Start melting the coconut oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat.
-In the meantime, rinse the chard well and chop it roughly, stalk included (good fiber in there).
-Drop the chard into the pan and cover it up.  Let it cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
-Add coconut milk, lemon and salt and stir in evenly.
-Let cook for a couple more minutes and serve.
-Optionally, cook protein option beforehand and add in to chard mix.

Next time I'll get the camera out and take gorgeous, appetizing shots of what I (or Cat) make, but for now, you'll just have to trust me.  Eat this as part of a balanced meal (with a protein source) - in the morning, noon or night.  It will keep you warm, fill you up, and tantalize the taste buds.  At least, that's what it did for me.

Until next time.