Monday, July 1, 2013

I've moved to!

You may have noticed things have been a little quiet on the blog lately.  I've been busy finishing up school and will be graduating in October to become a Certified Nutritional Practitioner/Holistic Nutritionist.  My studies and assignments have kept me very busy and I haven't had as much time to post as I would have liked.  But as school comes to an end and there are fewer and fewer deadlines, I feel a sense of calm coming over me and the ideas are starting to flow again.

Primal Kat is just over three years old now.  I started this blog at the very beginning of my Primal/Paleo journey to casually talk about my Primal experiences and share some recipes.  Little did I know that this would empower me to leave the miserable life I had been experiencing and accept the challenge to go back to school after so many years.  It was the best decision I've made (to date) and I really feel I'm coming out of this experience a very different person.  I have a sense of purpose now, something I never thought I could obtain and feel that for once in my life, I'm moving in the right direction.  I've met a lot of amazing people in this journey from many different nutritional avenues:  Paleo, Primal, Vegetarian and Vegan.  I'm still very much living the lifestyle, although lately it's been a lot more Paleo these days.

I've recently switched over to a Wordpress blog format and would love for you to join me on my continuing journey!  There will be more recipes and educationally foodie posts to come.

Although I may not have been around much to show it, I am really very grateful for the Primal Kat audience.  It's been slow to grow, but I really feel honoured and humbled that people are reading and sharing my content. I look forward to seeing you at the new Primal Kat!

See you on the other side!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Savoury NOT-Corn Bread

Oh so yummy!
Since February of this year I've been attending bi-weekly GAPS Support Classes hosted by the Weston A. Price Foundation Toronto Chapter.  In the eight sessions (sadly only one left next week) we've learned the foundations of the GAPS diet and the connection between a compromised gut and psychological and physiological issues.  We also discuss foods to include and avoid, supportive supplements as well as recipe demonstrations emphasizing healing meat stocks, fats, fermented vegetables and dairy and the wonderful uses of gelatin.

dry ingredients
For those who are unaware of what GAPS is, GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome and was designed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.  It is a diet primarily used for healing a damaged digestive system and limits certain carbohydrates while emphasizing foods that promote the healing of the digestive tract.  The diet includes foods that are Primal friendly and mostly Paleo friendly (there is the introduction of fermented dairy in later phases), but is a diet that is mainly promoted for digestive healing only.

If you would like to learn more about GAPS, you can visit this site for more information.

The recipes I walk away with from each session are incredible and this week I couldn't resist making the "Corn" Bread.  It was so good, I went back for seconds and even considered thirds.  The samples I brought to school were thoroughly enjoyed and requests were made for the recipe.

It is a savoury "bread" recipe and does not contain corn.  It is only reminiscent of corn bread in texture and colour.  The recipe does however contain dairy, so it is primal friendly.

wet ingredients
Savoury Not-Corn Bread

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter or oil a small loaf pan

6 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil + 1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated daikon radish (or you can substitute carrots or zucchini)
1/2 cup kefir (or coconut milk + 2 tsp lemon juice)
2/3 cup coconut flour (sifted)
1/3 cup grated hard cheese (I used cheddar)
ready to bake!

1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda

1) Mix all wet ingredients in one bowl.
2) In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients.
3) Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well with a wire whisk.
4) Pour batter into loaf pan

5) Bake for 40 - 50 minutes

Cool for 5 minutes and take out of loaf pan to cool on rack.

Enjoy with butter, slices of avocado or whatever else you fancy!

I'm going to try the dairy-free adaptation soon by substituting the kefir for coconut milk plus 2 tsp of lemon juice and omitting the cheese.  I also want to try substituting the olive oil for ghee or just additional coconut oil.  I don't generally like cooking with olive oil because of it's delicate nature and prefer to use it raw.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Almond Milk and Experimental Almond Pulp Crackers

soaked almonds
Honestly, I don't have much use for almond milk.  I don't eat "paleo cereals" and I don't make fancy latte's at home.  If I do make a coffee or tea, I use either organic cream or coconut milk.  Store bought almond milk always tasted like chalk to me and I was never entirely impressed with the added sweeteners, guar gums and carrageenans either.

Somehow this week, though, I got it into my head that I should make some.  Just something to do in between my nutritional research assignment and various case studies that are due in the next few weeks.

I decided to start with a VERY small batch, just in case it was a fail or didn't like the taste.  I viewed a number of recipes, all of which were basically the same and went to work.

  • 1/2 cup almonds, soaked overnight and then rinsed thoroughly.
  • 1 honey date (pitted)
  • 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of filtered water
Add all the ingredients into a high powered blender (Vitamix/Blendtec) and blend until the almonds are a fine texture.  (For regular blenders, almonds may need to be blended in divided doses).

At this point, I decided to taste the "milk".  It was FREAKING AWESOME! 

The "milk" was poured through a fine wire strainer into a clean jar.  Ideally this part would be best done with a nut milk bag or or at least some cheese cloth.  In order to get as much liquid separated from the pulp, I repeated the process of straining.

The portion is small and yielded about 1 cup.  According to other recipes, it should be consumed within 3 - 5 days.

A total success and non-paleo husband approved!  I really think the success of its flavour is based on the added honey date and touch of vanilla.  Definitely trumps any commercial brand of almond milk, hands down!  Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with it.  Perhaps a homemade chai latte or added to my weekend morning coffee.
Almond Milk Success!!

And then I experimented with the almond pulp...

Not wanting to waste the almond pulp, I decided to try making some crackers.

I was left with a very wet pulp after straining.  A nut milk bag or cheesecloth is key to getting a dryer almond pulp needed for successful crackers.

I thought I was completely out of cheesecloth, which is why I initially used the strainer, but I searched a little harder in the kitchen and found a six inch square of cheesecloth.  I put my mushy pulp in and squeezed every last bit of liquid gold I could get out. It did the trick!

Because I had made such a small batch of almond milk, I was left with roughly 1/4 cup of dry pulp.  Not really enough to follow a recipe, but enough to experiment with on my own.  And if they didn't work out, then not much was wasted.

***Note: this was a trial run only.  Still needs some work.***

Oven was preheated to 350 F

1/4 cup almond pulp
1/4 tsp sesame seeds
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp celtic sea salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp melted butter
1 tsp water

The consistency of the dough was quite moist and slightly sticky.  I may add a bit of almond flour for the next test.  I rolled it out to about a 1/4 inch thickness and cut with a small circle cookie cutter.

I placed them on parchment paper and in the oven for roughly 14 minutes, just until the outside was firm.
After cooling for a few minutes, I tasted one of the crackers.  They were delicious but definitely not a cracker consistency.  The texture was more reminiscent of biscuits or scone, slightly soft yet crumbly.  The taste was incredible and I definitely got the seasoning proportion down for such a tiny batch.  I'll definitely try and replicate this again, but on a larger scale.  This made 5 whole crackers/biscuits. I might be able to achieve a better cracker consistency if I rolled the dough to 1/8th of an inch.  That way they'll crisp up better in the oven.

Certainly some more experimentation is needed, but overall quite pleased with how they turned out.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lazy Girls Cheeks

lazy girl's beef cheeks
I know I've said it before, but beef cheeks are freaking amazing!  When braised at low temperatures for hours on end, you end up with meat so tender, you don't even need to chew it...really. 

Although I have a freezer PACKED with delicious lamb, beef, pork and chicken from my recent meat share pick up, I couldn't resist picking up some beautiful beef cheeks today.  They were calling my name from behind the butcher's counter.

I usually make a basic stew using cheeks, but after getting home and into my comfy clothes, I realized I didn't have all the ingredients I needed for a delicious stew, like my staple carrots and sweet potatoes.  I could have gone back out to get some veggies, but that just didn't happen.  Today was my day off and my pajamas won.

This isn't so much a recipe, but a loose description of me being lazy and scrounging in my kitchen for things to put together.
spoon tender beef cheeks smell amazing
I had an onion, a bunch of garlic and some fresh rosemary so decided to try something really basic.  I placed the beef cheeks in a dutch oven with 3 cups of filtered water, half an onion, 6 cloves of garlic, and a sprig of rosemary.  I even threw in a bay leaf just for fun.  I put it in the oven at 250 F for 4 hours and proceeded to lay on the couch catching up on some reading and watching back to back episodes of Louie.

At the fourth hour I found myself half dozing on the couch (my body does not cope well with daylight savings time in the spring).  I peeled myself off the couch, turned off the oven and left it in there for another hour while I napped some more.  I figured it would just be even more tender given the extra hour.

Around 8 pm I decided to haul my 'cheeks' off the couch and take my lazy girl's brew out of the oven.  It smelled really good!  The beef cheeks were beyond fork tender; they were SPOON TENDER! 

I served some up in a bowl and added sea salt to taste.  I made a lovely little salad with some homemade dijon balsamic and garlic dressing and took some glamour shots.  It was really really good and so incredibly tender.

Now, because beef cheeks have a lot of collagen and connective tissue, I'm expecting this (soup? stew?) to turn into beef cheek jello by the morning.  Beef cheeks also contain quite a bit of fat so it makes this a very satisfying dish and would be perfect for someone following a GAPS type diet.  Very nourishing with lots of gut healing goodness!

Looking forward to some meat jello in the morning!