Chopped Chicken Liver

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I had a yen for pâté recently and remembered bookmarking a recipe by Melissa Joulwan (blogger & author of Well Fed 1 and 2) for Chopped Liver, so decided to give it a go. I love her recipes because Ms Joulwan is not afraid of a good spicing. Apparently chopped liver is a common Jewish side dish, and the saying “What am I, chopped liver?,” spoken in a haughty tone, conveys indignance at being treated as a side dish. Frankly, if someone were going to treat me as a side dish, I’d be happy if it were one as nutrient dense as Chopped Liver. It’s a lot easier to make than pâté and can be made dairy-free (depending on the fat used). The most tedious part was removing the stringy bits from the livers, but with a bit of imagination, the time passes quicker if one pretends one is performing a chicken autopsy.

Chopped liver makes a great breakfast food and would also be perfect for picnics. It reminds me of the kind of food that was recommended for children before people got all weird about organ meat.

I tweaked the original recipe a bit, using schmaltz as the fat. I also added some garlic and a pinch of nutmeg. Instead of the caraway seeds, I would use thyme next time as I wasn’t a big fan of the chewy texture of the caraway seeds.

Chopped Liver

Serves 4

  • 2 – 3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat (schmalz) (or fat of your choice: ghee, lard, duck fat)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup chicken stock or water
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 400g chicken livers
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or caraway seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons brandy (or madeira or sherry)
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup parsley leaves
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Remove stringy veins and sinews from the livers.
  2. In a non-stick frying pan, cook the onion in a bit of the chicken fat over medium heat until softened and browned. I like to add stock or water (around 40ml at a time) which helps with the cooking process. Add the garlic when the onions are almost ready (to avoid burning the garlic).
  3. When the onions have browned and any added liquid has evaporated, remove onions from the pan and set aside. Add more chicken fat to the pan and brown the chicken livers in batches. Brown the first side, undisturbed, for 2 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side until the livers are cooked but remain a little pink in the middle. Remove the livers and deglaze the pan with brandy (or a little stock/water). Let the livers cool.
  4. In a food processor, blend all ingredients until combined but chunky.
  5. Spread into a storage container and chill for an hour before eating.

Serving Suggestions: Serve in baby cos lettuce leaves with a sprinkling of chopped parsley. If you are keto, feel free to up the amount of fat, which will only make it more luscious.

Paleo Pancakes

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While browsing the forum on Marks Daily Apple, I came across a 23 page thread on paleo pancakes, specifically, discussing a simple formula for ‘two ingredient’ banana and egg pancakes. Many posters raved that these actually tasted like pancakes, or how the people they cooked them for said they tasted better than regular pancakes. So with 2 ingredients, how could I not give it a try? I quickly digested some of the 23-odd pages of users’ tips, suggestions (“add some tapioca flour”) and cautions (“don’t add coconut flour, makes it chewy”), then made them for breakfast before boot camp, as I figured the pancakes would be great fuel for what promised to be an energising and punishing session with our Olympian trainer Zoe.

Verdict: winner! They were delicious, although there is no mistaking these for regular flour pancakes taste-wise, being more like a banana omelette, and seemed more crepe-like in texture than pancakes. I will definitely keep on making them. My version has more than just two ingredients but it’s not overly taxing to make. Indeed, they are way quicker to whip up than regular pancakes and use only 1 bowl, a fork and spoon in the prep.

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Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • blueberries
  • coconut oil (or ghee)
  1. Mash up banana in bowl with a fork. Move them to the side, add 2 eggs and beat. Add spices and combine everything well.
  2. Cook in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. They will be easier to flip if they are not larger than about 9cm in diameter. Place a bit of coconut oil in the pan. I wouldn’t advise using butter as it tends to burn. Spoon the batter into the frying pan and scatter some blueberries on top. Let the pancakes set and turn a nice brown colour before flipping. If you attempt to flip them too soon, they will break up. They don’t need much time at all on the other side, about 10 seconds on the second side.

Variations:

  • Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and some chopped fresh strawberries.
  • Add 1 heaped tablespoon of almond meal and 1/2 tsp baking powder.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of almond butter.

Breakfast Egg Bake

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I love egg bakes. They make it easy and delicious to pack in a big serve of veggies and protein at breakfast and can also be eaten cold on picnics. If you subscribe to a vegetable box, egg bakes are the perfect way to use up veggies that you don’t quite know what to do with. Basically egg bakes are frittatas, except that mine invariably turn out to be more like a mass of vegetables bound together with some egg. The only downside is that they take a bit of time to prepare, as I sauté some of the veggies beforehand to get rid of the water which would otherwise seep into the egg bake, but I make a big enough batch for several days and it saves so much time in the mornings.

Silverbeet, Leek & Bacon Bake

  • 1 bunch silverbeet, chopped into small pieces (kale or spinach works well too)
  • 250g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, finely diced
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 3 rashers bacon, diced
  • 9 eggs, beaten
  • 80g parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Coconut oil, for sautéing veggies

Method

  1. Fry bacon until browned and crisp. Set aside.
  2. Cook leek, mushrooms and capsicum until they have released most of their water. Set aside.
  3. Cook silverbeet until it has released its water and is wilted. Place in a large mixing bowl with the bacon, leek, mushrooms, capsicum and parsley. Add the beaten eggs and combine thoroughly. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Pour mixture into a 9” square baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and bake at 180°C for 30 minutes or until a knife stuck in the centre comes out clean.

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Passionfruit and Ginger Smoothie

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Now that the weather has turned cooler, the hot water bottle and winter doona have come out yet I long for summer still, so I was delighted to pick up a bargain bag of passionfruit from my greengrocer, which turned out to be the sweetest juciest passionfruit I’ve ever had. I took the opportunity to savour the last memories of summer with this vibrant smoothie.

Ingredients
Makes 2 serves

  • 70g chia seed porridge (or 2 tbsp chia seed soaked in 60g water for 30 minutes)
  • 1 passionfruit
  • 1/3 lebanese cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 small carrot, unpeeled, diced
  • 1.5 cup kale leaves
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 kiwi fruit, unpeeled
  • 1.5-2 cm knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 290g iced water
  • 1/4 cup parsley, stems removed (optional)

Blend for 30 seconds.

Image Credit

Transitioning to Paleo

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So you’ve heard about this paleo diet and want to give it a try, or perhaps a colleague at work has gone Paleo and is looking trim, or you’ve done the calorie-counting thing and are sick of losing and gaining the same 5 or 10 kilos and am ready to try something new and sustainable, like going paleo! Where to begin? You could take baby steps, or could plunge right in. Most people find it easier to make a gradual change, I know I did. Undoing decades of misinformation and ingrained beliefs about what is and isn’t supposed to be good for you can be stressful, so take it easy and try to enjoy the challenge.

Here are some painless steps towards transitioning to a paleo diet:

  • Switch from margarine to butter.
  • Instead of cooking with vegetable and seed oils, use coconut oil or ghee. I like Spiral Organic Coconut Oil from Woolworths as it doesn’t have strong coconut flavour. I have tried other coconut oils which make everything I cook taste of coconut, which gets old pretty quickly.
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  • Instead of store-bought salad dressings which contain unhealthy vegetable oils, make your own dressings with extra virgin olive oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil, and balsamic or wine vinegar.
  • Eat eggs for breakfast every day. Boiled, fried, scrambled, whatever. Boiled eggs make a great snack on the go. They’ll fill you up, provide protein and don’t omit the yolk! It is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can get.
  • Give up soft drinks (including diet drinks) and juice. Drink water or green tea instead.
  • Introduce more non-starchy vegetables into your meals. I like broccoli or spinach for breakfast.


Next step is going paleo one meal at a time. Breakfast is usually the hardest because most of the breakfast foods available at the supermarket contain grain and sugar. But it is easier if you stop thinking of breakfast as a time where you need to eat “breakfast foods”, and think of it as any other meal.

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The hardest thing to give up for most people is wheat, which is ubiquitous. When I mention I don’t eat wheat, people often ask “well, what do you eat then?” I say “meat, vegetables, fish, nuts, fruit.” Most people can’t contemplate a life without bread, but those who have given it up and feel terrific can’t contemplate a life with it.

You will need to be prepared and have paleo alternatives at the ready. I prefer not to give up something without knowing what I will eat in its place otherwise I am susceptible to making poor choices. At 1pm on a weekday, in a food court, when your stomach is grumbling and you have all of 30 minutes to locate, capture and digest your prey and walk back across the plains to rejoin your tribe is not the moment to decide that you are going to go paleo. Because there will be bread, wraps, pies, pasta, and pastry everywhere you look and it is going to get stressful.

On the other hand, if you are the type of person who doesn’t like to do things by halves, or are dealing with digestive or auto-immune issues and want to plunge head-first into strict paleo, check out the Whole 30 program. It is basically an elimination diet with a list of foods to eliminate for 30 days – no dairy, grains, sugar/sweeteners or soy. The Whole 30 is stricter than what most paleo-eaters follow on a day to day basis, but if you suspect you may have any undiagnosed food intolerances or IBS, the Whole30 can help you find out what foods are causing you grief. It also helps you to acclimatise to the spirit of paleo and to overcome sugar addictions by going cold turkey.

Check out our Whole30 compliant meals here.

Introducing Go Paleo Granola

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One of my favourite products is our Go Paleo Granola, which comes in three varieties:

  • Cinnamon Nut
  • Macadamia & Plum and
  • Luxe.

Cinnamon Nut is the most basic version and the other two varieties are made using the same base as Cinnamon Nut but with different additions.

When we were coming up with our granola formula, the most important thing was that it be sugar-free and sweetener-free. Unlike most paleo granolas on the market, we do not add any honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, or any of the other myriad sugars out there. We figured that if you want your granola sweet, it’s easy to add a drizzle of honey yourself, but if you are watching your sugar and carb intake, ours is a sweetener-free option. The only added sugar is the in the dried cranberries in the Luxe Granola. As cranberries are naturally very tart, some sugar is added by the manufacturers, giving it around the same sugar content as raisins.

We started with sourcing the highest quality and freshest nuts we could find, using Australian pecans, macadamia and almonds. Our base formula includes a bunch of other nuts too, including hazelnuts for delicious flavour, brazil nuts for their selenium, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. The Luxe variety also has pistachios.

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Next, we looked at how to make the clusters of crunchiness which make our granola so delectable. We added some butter, not too much, which contributes a wonderful flavour. We figure that the lactose content in butter is very low so it would be suitable for most people. We also add cinnamon, nutmeg and a little salt for flavour, and ground flax seed for its nutritional benefits.

So which granola to choose? If you are strictly watching your carb intake, Cinnamon Nut is the one for you as it has no dried fruit. Next up the Macadamia & Plum containing dried plum which is the lowest sugar dried fruit we could find. The plum bits are nice and chewy, and this is a good option if you want some fruit but not too much. Finally our Luxe Granola, which is still very low in sugar and carbs in comparison with regular breakfast cereals and mueslis, but contains dried plums, raisins, goji berries and dried cranberries.

We love it for breakfast. Sprinkle granola over yogurt and berries, with a drizzle of honey if you want a bit of extra sweetness. Other things you could add are cocoa nibs and chia seeds.

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Green Smoothies 101

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So they look a bit like pond slime, but I confess to being a green smoothie convert. Formerly I was a member of the “I don’t drink my calories” brigade, but for the last couple of months I’ve been enjoying one every day and love how it keeps me full for ages. I am not much of a raw vegetable eater so it helps me get down a good portion of green leafy vegetables in a very convenient and quick way. If you are in a rush to get out the door but don’t want to skip breakfast because you know you’ll otherwise make unhealthy food choices in the paleo food desert that is the outside world, smoothies are your solution. Sip on one of these at every red light or on the train and you will be well nourished and set up for the day.

I am giving you my base green smoothie formula to which you can add your favourite fruits or whatever is in season. I don’t need my smoothies to be very sweet at all, they are packed with healthy vegetation and don’t contain a whole lot of fruit in comparison with normal smoothies.

Makes 2 large glasses.

It’s Easy Being Green Smoothie
Base ingredients
80g chia seed porridge – available here or make your own by soaking chia seeds overnight (1 part chia seeds to 7 parts water, by weight), or simply use 2 tablespoons chia seed
25g coconut milk or coconut cream
30g protein powder (I use whey protein isolate)
200g water and ice cubes (about 1/3 of the weight in ice cubes)
1/2 lebanese cucumber
60g spinach leaves, washed (about 3 handfuls)
1/4 avocado (optional)
+ the fruits below as per your preferred variation

Variation 1:
1/2 nectarine
1 passionfruit
1/2 kiwi fruit

Variation 2:
1/2 banana
1 mango cheek (frozen mangos work well too)
1/2 kiwi fruit

Variation 3:
1 cup frozen mixed berries (120g)
1/2 banana
1/2 kiwi fruit

Variation 4:
1/2 green apple
1/2 kiwi fruit
1/2 banana
1/2 nectarine

Blend all ingredients in a blender for 30 seconds or until smooth. I use an Omniblend which is a high speed blender similar to a Vitamix (but at a third of the price), but you could make green smoothies in any blender, you might need to process it a bit longer.

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  • Other ingredients which can be added for extra flavour include basil, mint, parsley, ground cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder (probably not all in the same smoothie).
  • It is fine to combine the ingredients the night before and blend it the next morning.
  • I don’t bother peeling the cucumber or kiwi fruit, just give them a good rinse. The kiwi hairs are not detectable in the smoothie.
  • If you want it a bit sweeter, add a couple drops of stevia, although I find including 1/2 a banana makes it plenty sweet.
  • Other possible substitutions are almond milk or coconut water for the water, yogurt for the coconut milk, baby kale &/or salad greens for the spinach.

PS. I was so impressed with the Omniblend that I signed up for their Affiliate program so you dear readers could score a discount if you buy one on the Omniblend site using the coupon code below.

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What are your favourite green smoothie combinations?