Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Birthday Dinner

On my kids' birthdays, I always make the dinner they ask for.  Actress specifically requested Orange Chicken and Strawberry Tarts.  I was determined to make them paleo.

I coated chicken pieces with beaten egg and coconut flour, then cooked them in coconut oil.  Instead of rice, the chicken was served over stir-fried veggies.  I simmered orange juice concentrate on the stove to reduce it to orange sauce.

For the strawberry tarts, I looked up a recipe for coconut flour crust.  The crusts were more cookie-like in texture, and very dry, but they worked well enough for this experiment.

I modified a recipe I found here.  If I were to make this again, I'd use less coconut flour (remember how the entire recipe for Cranberry Orange Bread had only 1/2 c. flour?).  I think it would make a good crumb crust recipe, especially if chopped pecans were added to it.  I'll have to try that sometime.

Coconut Flour Pie Crust
1/4 c. coconut oil
1 c. coconut flour
2 eggs
1 t. honey
pinch salt
1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
1 T. water

Pulse ingredients together in food processor.

Line cupcake tin with parchment paper strips.  Scoop crumbly "dough" mixture into each cup, then press into shape.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes, until the edges start to brown.  Let cool.

Remove shells from cupcake tin.  Fill with chopped strawberries and serve.

Paleo Cranberry Orange Bread

This was an immediate hit with every single taste-tester.  Fantastic flavor and texture.  Less talk.  More eating.

Cranberry Orange Bread
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
1/4 c. canned coconut milk
1/4 c. honey
1/2 c. orange juice
1 T. orange zest
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. coconut flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together the wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined.  Fold in the frozen cranberries.   Divide batter into two small loaf pans, lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 50 mins, or until loaves are set and pass the toothpick test.

One word about coconut flour -- a little goes a long way.  Okay, that was more than one word.  Note that there is only 1/2 c. of coconut flour in this recipe.  This is not a typo.  Do not be tempted to increase it, based on your understanding of baking with wheat flour.  Trust the recipe.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Where's the Beef?

For years, I've pondered on the ridiculous idea spouted by vegetarians that since a cow doesn't need to eat another cow in order to create protein for its body, then we shouldn't either.  Since cows get all the nutrients they need from plants, then we should also.

I have two rebuttals to that.

The first is:  that spinach you're eating didn't eat another spinach plant in order to produce the nutrients it provides in your diet.  It made them from sunlight, assisted by water and fertilizer.  Since plants get all the nutrients they need from sunlight, water, and poop, you should also.

The second is a little less snarky.  A cow is a slow-moving beast with an entirely different digestive system than a human.  In order to utilize the nutrients in the plant matter it ingests, it has to regurgitate its food repeatedly, sending that matter to each of four compartments in its stomach.
Cows are ruminants, animals with a unique digestive system that allows them to live on otherwise unpalatable foods by repeatedly regurgitating and rechewing them as "cud." The cud is then swallowed again and further digested by specialized bacterial, protozoal and fungal microbes that live in the rumen, one of the four compartments of a cow's stomach. (A Cow's Digestive System, www.teachersdomain.org)
If we are going to compare humans to creatures of the animal kingdom, it would be more logical to use felines.
"The internal anatomy of the cat is very similar to that of the human." (Features to Identify in the Cat, http://biology.clc.uc.edu)
A lion is a fast and powerful beast.  It makes strong muscles on a carnivorous diet.  Am I saying humans should be strict carnivores?  No.  I believe there is significant evidence to support the idea that humans were meant to be omnivores, able to metabolize both animal flesh and plant matter.  Show me a lean, strong, fast cow and I'll be willing to eat my words.  In the meantime, please pass the steak.