Thursday, July 31, 2014

Apple Roasted Chicken {The Best of Both Worlds}


Les pommes sont assez récurrentes dans les plats salés ici dans le sud de la Belgique. Elles sont parfois servies comme un plat d'accompagnement {prendre le plat traditionnel de boulettes Liégeoises, frites, salade et compote de pommes par exemple} ou parfois elles sont intégrées dans le repas {comme avec la délicieuse salade frisée au lard et aux pommes}.

Il m'a fallu un certain temps pour m'habituer à cette façon de manger des pommes {je ne suis pas un grand fan de sucre avec ma viande} mais maintenant je ne peux pas en manger assez de n'importe quel plat qui utilise des pommes.

Ce poulet est ma version d’encore un autre favori belge aux pommes : des cuisses de poulet grillées, une compote de pommes, des frites et de la salade. Ma version nécessite beaucoup moins de travail pratique, cependant, et elle est délicieuse à chaque fois ! La pomme cuit doucement pour devenir une pomme au four parfaitement texturée, et elle libère également de la vapeur pendant la cuisson qui conserve le coté ultra juteux du poulet entier, tout en ajoutant un léger soupçon de saveur à la viande. Vous voulez une sauce pour servir ? Il suffit tout simplement de mixer ensemble les oignons et jus de cuisson du poulet en utilisant votre mélangeur à immersion et ensuite à versez cette sauce sur tout !


Servez ce plat avec votre légume racine rôti préféré et une salade verte simple pour l'ultime expérience belge - vous serez heureux de l’avoir fait!


Apple Roasted Chicken (serves 4)

Ingredients:
  • 1 whole chicken, emptied
  • 1 whole apple, washed
  • 3 sprigs of fresh sage
  • 1-2 onions, chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Cinnamon (optional)
Method:
  1. Spread the onions out in a single layer in the bottom of an oven safe baking dish.
  2. Pierce the apple 3-4 times with a fork and place inside the chickens' cavity, along with the sage.
  3. Place the chicken on the onions, then season generously on all sides using salt and pepper.
  4. Bake at 200°C {400°F} for 45 minutes. Baste chicken with its juices. Bake for another 45 minutes, or until juices run clear.
  5. Remove chicken from oven and place entire chicken on a cutting board. 
  6. Allow the chicken to cool slightly before gently removing the apple. Cut the apple into eighths, placing two slices on each plate and sprinkling them with cinnamon.
  7. Carve chicken and serve alongside the apple slices.
  8. If desired, blend the onions with the chicken drippings and drizzle sauce over chicken.
  9. Serve with roasted root veggies and a green salad.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Taco Seasoning {AIP, Whole30}


I wanted loaded nachos the other day. I happen to be in the middle of an AIP Whole30 "cleanse" as well, so these nachos needed to be compliant to both those regimes... the hardest part would be the meat seasonings...

A huge part of Mexican food (even fake American remakes such the loaded nachos I was craving...) revolves around nightshades: tomatoes, peppers, cumin... This AIP+nacho thing was going to be harder than I though...

I searched all over the Internet for an AIP compliant seasoning mix. There weren't any to be found. There were many nightshade-free mixes to choose from, but what about those on the AIP diet? Or those who can't have nightshades or seeds?

I took my nose into the kitchen, along with a list of AIP friendly foods, and got to work.


I mixed and smelled until it smelled right. Then I blitzed everything together in my blender to create a powdered spice mix. Then I made taco meat with it. You know what? It's delicious. It's even hubster approved - which is a very rare thing indeed!

You might want to double or triple this recipe to make even more. It's always nice to have ready-made spice mixes on hand. Mix some up today - and check out my loaded nachos recipe if you're into that sort of thing as well!

AIP Taco Seasoning

Ingredients:
  • 4 tbsp minced dried onion
  • 1 tbsp dried garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Himalaya salt
  • 1/8 tsp powdered cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • *optional* 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Method:
  1. Mix everything together well. If desired, blend into a powder using a high-powered blender.
  2. Store in an air-tight container and use as you would use traditional taco seasoning.
*Black pepper is a nightshade, and is therefore not permitted on AIP. It is, however, part of the phase one reintroductions and is well-tolerated by most. Omit the black pepper initially, but feel free to add it in once you have successfully reintroduced it as it does add a bit of kick to the spice mix.

AIP Guacamole {my other recipe has mustard}

The common theme of today's post is nachos. But there are certain things required for delicious nachos, such as cheese, chips, veggies, spices, meat... and guacamole.

My tried-and-true, love-it-so-much recipe has mustard in it, so that was a no-go since I am doing an AIP Whole30 for the moment... I would have turned to Nom Nom Paleo's guacamole, but I didn't have shallots or lime.

So I improvised.



It ended up being insanely delicious and the hubster loudly proclaimed that he just loved guacamole - which I think means it's also hubster approved!

{I have to say though, he was in a rather good mood that evening. He even "invented" a little song and dance to "go with the green onions", which he sang and danced while waiting for his Loaded Nachos to cook. If you're curious, the only words to that song were "les petits oignons..." repeated over and over again, as he pranced around, moving his hands ever so slightly as if he was jumping rope... You have to realize, he weighs in at just under 100 kilos of mostly muscle and he doesn't usually "dance". This was quite the sight to see, and should, if anything, tell you this meal was damn good.}

Feel free to double the recipe if you're feeding a crowd, or just to have some on hand for a couple days in the fridge. It's delicious on everything!

AIP Guacamole

Ingredients:
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Mix everything together and enjoy!

Cauli-Carrot Nacho Cheese {AIP Whole30}

So, in case you hadn't noticed, Hayley Ziegler has taken the IG community by storm with her #zucchinicheese. Everyone is busy whipping up batches of the creamy good stuff, adding their own special touch each time.




When I saw Martine Partridge make cheese covered broccoli with her own unique take on the faux-cheese, I knew exactly what I needed to make for myself: loaded nachos

The Paleo Partridge || Cauli-Cheese Sauce (Paleo, AIP)

Since I am the only paleo blogger who doesn't have a box of gelatin on hand, my version relies on agar agar powder as its thickening agent. Sadly, this vegan version does not melt. Happily, it's creamy and delicious and fills my dairy-free void perfectly!

Whip up a batch of this liquid "chz" and throw together some loaded nachos for yourself!



Cauli-Carrot Nacho Cheese
Original Recipe: Hayley Ziegler's Zucchini Cheese 

Original Idea: Martine Partridge's Cauli-Cheese Sauce


Ingredients:
  • 125 grams cauliflower, chopped
  • 100 grams carrots, diced fairly small
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp agar agar powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • Sea salt to taste
Method:
  1. Dissolve the agar agar powder into the water in a small sauce pan.
  2. Add the diced carrots, then the cauliflower, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat slightly and cook until tender (about 10 minutes).
  3. Blend the water and veggies together using an immersion blender.
  4. Add the coconut oil, vinegar, salt, garlic, and pepper, then blend again.
  5. Use immediately for best results.
This sauce can be stored in the fridge and reheated for later use, but it will be quite lumpy done this way. If you absolutely must reheat it and want it smooth, blending it again with your immersion blender will solve the problem and give you the creamy-smooth texture from before.

And just for laughs:

This used to be true - but not any more! Now cheese is a lump of veggies! Yay for paleo!

Loaded Nacho Salad {AIP & Whole30}

So the other day I got a hankering for what the hubster and I call nachos. Pre-paleo, would would line baking dishes with corn chips, then layer on seasoned ground beef, crisp iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes and bell peppers, spread on salsa, guacamole and sour cream and then sprinkle on grated cheddar cheese. We'd throw the whole thing in the oven until the cheese was ooey-gooey melty, and then we'd dig in. It was divine!

The hubster still eats his nachos like that, and though mine have been paleo-adapted, they are still utterly delicious!

Then I got this crazy idea to give AIP a try {by the way, I'm loving it!}. This is a major game changer when it comes to loaded nachos though - no nightshades! This means no chopped tomatoes and no salsa, plus I needed a nightshade-free guacamole... and spice mix! Yikes!

I searched high and low online... and found nothing. I hit the kitchen anyway, determined to have my nachos all while remaining AIP Whole30 compliant... and I succeeded!



You'll need to follow the links in the ingredient list below to check out each corresponding recipe needed to make these scrumptious nachos. Made this way, they are gluten free, dairy free, legume free, nut free, seed free, nightshade free, soy free, coconut free, grain free... did I forget anything? 

Oh, and you could totally leave out the ground meat if you were making this for a vegetarian or vegan friend - the cheese is vegan!

This is one of those fun, hands-on meals that are great to do with friends or little ones: everyone gets to assemble their own plate and add exactly what they want to the mix! Have fun!

Loaded Nacho Salad (AIP, Whole30)
serves about 2

Ingredients for meat:
Ingredients for nachos:
Method:
  1. Add ground beef and diced onion to a frying pan over medium heat. Cook until browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks.
  2. Add the taco seasoning and bone broth, stir to combine and reduce to low allowing the bone broth to evaporate.
  3. Assemble your nachos as desired using the meat, lettuce, olives, onion, cheese and guacamole. Serve with plantain chips and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Food Prep {ground meat}

A key part of following a real-food diet is food prep. Always having healthy, good-for you, and tasty food on hand is essential to avoid eating junk food.

Whether it's for a fast breakfast because you're running late, a quick lunch between meetings or a late dinner after a long day you didn't plan for, having ready-to-go food in the fridge will save you time, money and a stomach ache later on!

On of my favorite things to prep is ground meat.

The meat can be beef, lamb, pork, or chicken - or any combination of the four! This already-browned-protein can be added to baked dishes, sprinkled on veggie noodles, served in lettuce cups, stirred into soups... the possibilities are endless!

My favorite way to prep ground meat is super simple, giving it just enough flavor to be eaten as is, but not too much so you can change it up during the week with other sauces and spices.

  • Step 1: Brown about a pound of ground meat (500 grams) in a frying pan over medium heat.
  • Step 2: When meat is cooked through, add 1 tbsp of your favorite spice mix, a bit of sea salt and 1/2 cup of homemade bone broth.
  • Step 3: Increase heat to med-high and simmer until the liquid has evaporated.
  • Step 4: Use immediately or store covered in the fridge for up to one week.

My favorite spice mixes to use are my All-Purpose Spice Mix, my Italian Seasoning, my Gyros Meat spices, and the Cavegirl Rib Rub. Feel free to substitute your favorite mix.

When reheating this, simply add a splash of homemade bone broth or your favorite sauce to add a bit of moisture, then use as desired. And enjoy the ease of using prepped ground meat throughout the week!

Need some ideas? Check out this great post by Nerd Fitness for ways to use ground beef throughout the week!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

AIP Whole30 Check-In {Week 1}

Well, today is day 7 of my AIP Whole30. The goal I set for myself at the start of this "reset" was to learn even more about AIP and to read everything I could get my Internet hands on. I did just that and was really fascinated by all I read. The way our bodied function is really amazing and it's crazy to think about how much is affected by our food choices.

By far, the most informative website I found was The Paleo Mom. There is even an entire section devoted to Autoimmunity, which I highly recommend to anyone who is curious to learn more about AIP Paleo.

So, goal achieved - but how am I feeling?

As a reminder, I am committing to 30 days of AIP Whole30 Paleo, plus the reintroduction period, in an effort to clear up a few lingering problems I have been experiencing, notably gas {flatulence and eructation}, IBS {Irritable Bowel Syndrome} and insomnia.


First, I'm sleeping much better and finally waking up refreshed once again! I set my alarm for the same hour each and every day, but for the last couple of days I have been waking up before my alarm goes off. Before, I used to wake up every single night when the hubster would come to bed, but that's happening less and less often. I'm also falling asleep faster which is a major plus!

My IBS has improved drastically! This may be a bit TMI, but I have been having normal bowel movements since day two! Something I as eating was really messing my with digestion down there, and boy am I ever happy to have removed it from my diet! Now, I just have to pinpoint what it was during the reintroduction phase...

Lastly, the gas. I hardly ever eructate anymore. I used to burp after every meal, and between each meal as well. To give you a bit TMI again, they would sometimes be pretty acidic, or even have a taste {either of the meal I just ate, or of bile}. It wasn't usually noticeable to others, but it was bothersome to me {and not to mention pretty disgusting}.

As for the flatulence, it has diminished, but is still present. To venture once again into the realm of TMI, they used to be really smelly before - each and every time. And oftentimes, they were loud. Now, they are mostly discrete and usually odorless. This remains bothersome nonetheless, so I have decided to reduce the amount of fruit I eat, just in case that's the cause.

Edited to add: After a discussion with the hubster, I have also decided to give up bacon. Bacon has been my one exception to eating clean - the only bacon I have yet found here in Belgium is full of nasties, but I always figured that it wouldn't make that big of a difference since 100% of the rest of my food was squeaky clean. Hmm... after a fruit-free breakfast, I was still gassy... was it the bacon? We'll see...

So, my goals for week two are:

Eat smaller portions of fruit.
Eat a larger variety of veggies.
Edited to add: No more bacon {unless I find a clean one}.



Is anyone else doing a Whole30, AIP or not? How are things going so far? Remember, you can follow along with my AIP Whole30 meals by watching the hashtag #Whole30andThriving. Be sure to tag your own Whole30 compliant meals with that tag as well so I can find them!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Don't throw out the tops! {Strawberry Tea}

The hubster and I both love strawberries. I prefer to eat mine plain and he likes them dipped in a bit of sugar or whipped cream, but we both agree they are super tasty. They are actually one of the few fruits we both really enjoy eating.

Because of this, when we stumbled upon a good deal, we take advantage of it. We recently bought just over a pound of strawberries for 2€ - score! We didn't feel like eating a pound of strawberries in one day though, so I did what I usually do: I washed them, cut off the tops and any bruised parts, and put them out to dry. I always let my strawberries dry completely before storing them uncovered in the fridge. They usually stay nice for about four or five days - leaving us plenty of time to devour them!


After laying them out to dry {my inner OCD requires me to stand them all up on end} I looked at my pile of "trash". Since adopting a paleo lifestyle, I try very hard to reduce my food waste. I always throw any veggie scraps into the freezer for my bone broths {I have a special bag just for collecting bones and scraps in my freezer at all times} but I just didn't think strawberry tops would go well with beef bones.

I turned to my trusty search engine and Google informed me that the tops can be dried out and used to make tea! The resulting infusion is reputed for easing the digestive tract and helping things work the way they should, as well as for being anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal. Alright then - let's get to drying!


I separated the greens from the bits of fruit because the drying times were different, but I think next time I clean strawberries I'll try to just remove the greens - I hadn't realized how much fruit I was cutting away!

You can make the tea using just the greens, or you can dry bits of fruit as well which will naturally sweeten the tea as well as add more flavor. If you have access to the whole plant, parts of the stem and stem leaves can also be dried and steeped.



A note of caution though - make sure you dry the greens out thoroughly. As strawberry leaves begin to decay, they release hydrogen cyanide gas which could be dangerous to us in large doses. Better safe than sorry and make sure those bad boys are dry!

Strawberry Tea

Ingredients:
  • Strawberry tops, greens separated from fruit
  • Boiling water
Method:
  1. Lay the greens and fruit bits out in a single layer on an oven safe tray. Bake at 150°C until dried. (The greens will dry out faster than the fruit. Time will vary depending on ovens, so check semi-frequently.)
  2. Pour boiling water over about 2 tbsp of dried strawberry greens and fruit, allow to steep for five to ten minutes. Enjoy!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Eating Clean {Homemade Deli-Style Ham}


I have many food allergies and sensitivities, notably to gluten and dairy products. This rules out many foods, such as the obvious bread and cheese, but also some less obvious foods, such as sandwich meats.

At least here in Belgium, I have yet to find a commercially-sold deli-style meat that is just meat


So, I have to make my own.

This ham tastes delicious, but looks a tad, eh, not so delicious. It's gray on the outside. That's because I don't use saltpeter, which is what gives ham its traditional pink color. Feel free to add saltpeter to the brine mix if color is an issue for you.



Also, I used half Guerande salt {what we commonly call "fleur de sel"} and half Himalaya salt, just because. Feel free to use whatever salt you have on hand. For the spices, I chose 2 cloves of garlic, a couple Juniper berries, one whole clove as well as fresh sprigs of bay, thyme and sage. You could really add any spices you like though, and even no spices as well.

Also, play with the salt levels. I like a fairly salty ham so this is the amount I use. If you prefer a less salty taste, use a bit less, if you like a really salty ham, use a bit more


Homemade Deli-Style Ham
{Brine Cured}

Ingredients:
  • 1 ham, about 1 kg or 2 lbs
  • 1 liter water, boiled (more or less to cover the ham)
  • 1/2 cup salt of choice
  • Various spices
Method:
  1. Place ham and spices in a dish.
  2. Dissolve the salt in the warm but not boiling water. Allow to cool to about 40°C/100°F, then pour over the ham (the ham must be fully submerged).
  3. Cover the dish and refrigerate for 3 to 5 days {I prefer 5 days}.
  4. Drain water and remove spices. Bake covered for about 45 minutes {150°C/300°F} or until a meat thermometer reads 75°C/160°F.
  5. Refrigerate for 24 hours before slicing.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dining Out, Paleo-Style {Colmar, France - La Musardière & La Sorbetière d'Isabelle}

This was the restaurant we chose for our last restaurant meal while on vacation in France. You can read about the rest of that day's activities here.



The city of Colmar was extremely picturesque, but a tad too touristy for us. We looked around for a restuarant with home-style cooking, but the only one we found had a price range that was just a bit out of reach of our small pocketbooks. We finally settled on La Musardière, not only because the price was right but also because there were several meals I could eat without modification {which is always a plus in this sort of situation}.

We settled into our chairs in the shade and ordered our meal. I wasn't disappointed at all by this meal, I actually found it quite delicious! {It didn't surpass my meal at either Kastelberg or Les Grands Près, but then, nothing does!}

I ordered the pork knuckle with sauerkraut, and I was glad I did! The sauerkraut wasn't the best I had ever eaten, but it was still lots better than anything I'd ever bought in a store. The mustard, on the other hand, was clearly industrial as it was served to us in small packets. The ingredients were listed however, which was nice for me.



The pork though. Oh yum. Still way below the standards set by the fermes-auberges, but tasty nonetheless. It was perfectly crispy on the outside with a deliciously flavorful fatty layer. The meat itself was tender and moist, and had really good flavor. All in all, it was a great deal at only 9,90€ - and the hubster had to help me finish my dish! {He ordered the sauerkraut at 9,50€ with five meats and agreed with me - good, great deal, but doesn't beat the home cooking we experienced in the Vosges.}

Dessert was taken at a little sorbet shop, La Sorbetière d'Isabelle. This little shop boasts numerous different flavors of both sorbets and ice creams, so everyone can find something delicious! The hubster took a scoop of Passion Fruit and another of Thyme Mango. He loved both flavors. I choose the Flavor of the Day {Raspberry Cranberry Hibiscus} and Blueberry. The Flavor of the Day definitely won in my opinion, as I found the Blueberry sorbet at the Hohneck was far superior. {But this one was still über delish!}



All in all, if you find yourself wandering the streets of Colmar, looking for somewhere to eat, this restaurant, La Musardière, is sure to give you a great tasting meal for a bargain price. And if you need a dairy-free and gluten-free dessert option, give La Sorbetière d'Isabelle a try!

This has nothing, yet everything, to do with France {Cauliflower Cheese}

Hayley Ziegler agrees with me: three of the biggest pleasures in life seem to be cheese, wine and chocolate. At least, they are to most people.

Neither of us can have cheese - unless we are willing to sacrifice our tummy comfort {if not something worse!} in order to indulge.

Neither of us can have alcohol - personally, it makes my joints swell up painfully, leaving me with a hangover that lingers for days, if not weeks.

Neither of us can have chocolate - okay, I'm still testing this one to be sure, but a lot of signs are sadly pointing me in that direction.

We don't let this get us down though, of course, as we both know there are many other pleasures in life, food-related or not. One of these pleasures for me is hiking, and the hubster and I recently went on a hiking trip to France {you can read about how I stayed mostly paleo during the trip here}. I loved everything about France - the architecture, the country, the people... and the food.



The food, what little I could eat of it, was absolutely delicious. I truly savored every bite... but still. I was surrounded by cheese and wine. I was in the country of cheese and wine. I did venture one sip of what the hubster deemed to be a "very good" wine {and it was very good} but I didn't care to taste even a bit of cheese because I knew what the consequences would be. I simply watched as others enjoyed their cheese. Plugged my nose as the hubster bought cheese. Pulled my hard boiled eggs out of the cooler from under the cheese. It was hard, but I did it.

On the way home from France, I thought back to this Instagram post:

Then I saw that all the cool kids were doing it, too:




Then it clicked - I could have cheese.

I read through the list of ingredients - I didn't have half of them. Being the seasoned, self-taught chef that I am {read: I really wanted cheese}, I decided to use what I had and see what I could come up with.



What I came up with was cheese. It's kind of hard to describe the texture, but I'd say it falls somewhere between Kraft Singles and goat cheese, as weird as that may sound. The taste is surprisingly neutral, and I really can't wait to make another batch and start playing with the flavors! It doesn't get all melty though, which would have been just amazing, but hey - who cares? I have cheese!

If you want the original, gelatin version {this version melts!}, check out Hayley's IG feed or the Gutsy By Nature blog, where Jaime kindly did up a blog post on the magical stuff. 



If you don't have gelatin or need a gelatin-free version, read on. And have fun adding this dairy free, nut free, seed free, soy free, gluten free, sugar free {really, free from EVERYTHING!} "cheese" to all your dishes! The version below is even vegan - everyone should be happy here!


Cauliflower Cheese
Hayley Ziegler's Zucchini Cheese

Ingredients:
  • 7.5 ounces (212 grams) cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp agar agar powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste
Method:
  1. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Dissolve the agar agar powder into the water in a small sauce pan.
  3. Add the cauliflower, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook the cauliflower until soft (all this took me about 6 minutes).
  4. Blend the water and cauliflower together using an immersion blender.
  5. Add the coconut oil, vinegar and salt, blend again.
  6. Pour into the parchment paper lined baking dish and smooth evenly.
  7. Refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting and using.

Eating Paleo on Vacation {The Vosges, France ~ Day 3}

Okay, so the title isn't quite correct for Day 3. Day 1 and Day 2 were spent exploring the French region called Les Vosges, but for Day 3 we ventured into the region referred to as Alsace. But just to keep the trip posts united, we'll keep the title the same. {By the way, you can read about the first part of our trip my clicking on the links above.}

Anyway, back to Day 3. We woke up fairly early and showered {we wanted hot water this time!} then had pretty much the same breakfast as the day before: hard boiled eggs, sliced chorizo and half a peach. I also added my last banana bread bar to the mix {you can get that recipe here}.


Once we had finished, we packed up our room, turned in the key and hopped in the car - we were going to Colmar! Colmar is a historically preserved town well known for its black stork population. Our first stop in this little town was a local market. 


This particular market is open every day, all day. I would really love to see this sort of thing replace our modern-day grocery stores. Every stand was full of ugly, dirty produce - produce that was organically grown in local dirt. There were homemade breads, cookies, treats... galore. There were more types of honey than I could count. There were even ethnic stands, serving homemade Greek, Italian and Asian food. Fresh meat and fish were also available - I even saw a guy buy a "bucket of meat".


The hubster and I settled down for an espresso {he ate both the cookies, though I was tempted to try the Amaretti as "real" ones are paleo-friendly}. We soaked in the ambient noises, enjoying the hubbub of a busting market. I only ended up buying a pack of macaroons, even though I would have gladly taken half the market home with me!


We then strolled the streets of Colmar, enjoying everything we saw! The buildings were typical Medieval-style homes, complete with over-hanging second and third floors and wooden crossbeams in every which direction. The colors were also typical of France - yellows, greens, reds and blues adorned the facades of every building making everything clash yet match at the same time. It was truly like taking a trip back in time.

Even though the sights were so beautiful, the sounds of the multiple tourists starting getting ruining it a bit. Don't get me wrong, we are tourists ourselves, but we tend to prefer the less touristy areas when we visit new places. Though its beauty is worth seeing, Colmar was just invaded by tourists. 

After we had walked around the entire town twice, we decided to find a cafe and sit for a drink before finding a place to eat lunch. We happened to stumble upon a cafe whose name was Brasserie Jupiler - Jupiler being a popular Belgian beer, the hubster needed to have a drink there. We sat down and were both happy upon looking at the menu - he had several Belgian specialty beers to choose from and I had a selection of a few natural juices.

If ever you're in France, or any other country that sells these juices, you need to try them. I ordered the Pear-Rhubarb-Cinnamon drink by Borderline. They boast they're all natural, and the ingredients list is pretty impressive. And the taste. Oh man. I am for sure going to be preparing some sort of dessert using this flavor combo again - it was out of this world!


We had a good time munching on my macaroons {disclaimer: not paleo}, sipping on our drinks, and watching the storks fly by. But then we got hungry and went looking for food. We ended up eating at La Musardière and getting sorbets as dessert at La Sorbetière d'Isabelle. You can read my review of both those places here.


Then began our long drive home. Quick fact: Did you know the man who made and gifted the Statue of Liberty to the United States lived in Colmar? There is a miniature version of Lady Liberty on the outskirts of town, and we happened to drive past her back side on the way home.

Please don't mind the incredibly dirty windshield. I'm a compulsive washer when I drive, the hubster, not so much so. 

That sums up our trip to France, and how I managed to stay {mostly} paleo during it all. The bottom line is, be prepared, look around and don't be afraid to ask questions or modify your meal if need be! Most of all - enjoy your trip!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Carbs & Healthy Fats To-Go! {Banana Bread Bars}

Before going on my trip to France {click to read about Day 1 and Day 2}, I had a couple bananas that needed to be used. I figured they'd be a perfect addition to a sort of energy bar for my hiking trip, so I brainstormed ways to make a nut free energy bar...



I decided to simply try out using just banana and coconut - and it worked! That's right, two ingredients. And these taste just like banana bread!

I decided to add some cacao nibs to go the chocolate chip banana bread route without adding extra sugar, and they were delicious! The little crunchy bits really added to the overall texture, but I'm thinking small pieces of dried fruit would be equally delicious.



So, you have many choices to personalize this to suit your tastes and needs. Add cacao nibs or chocolate chips - or even nuts- if you like. Use dried fruit or leave them plain and these are AIP friendly. These probably fall into the gray area when it comes to Whole30, but if you are okay eating Kind or Epic bars, this should be okay for you as well then {just don't use them for a dessert replacement}. Adding spices such as cinnamon or vanilla would amp up the flavor as well.

And while they are a tad on the delicate side, they held up surprisingly well in our backpack - until the hubster packed them on the bottom... Pack at your own risk!

Banana Bread Bars

Ingredients:
  • 2 very ripe bananas, pureed
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • *optional: 2 tbsp add-ins
Method:
  1. Mix together the banana and the coconut.
  2. Line a loaf pan with lightly greased parchment paper.
  3. Spread the thick batter evenly in the bottom of the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes at 180°C (350°F).
  4. Allow to cool slightly, then remove from the loaf pan and allow to cool completely in the parchment paper.
  5. Gently remove the parchment paper, cut into 6 bars and wrap individually or store in an airtight container.

Eating Paleo on Vacation {The Vosges, France ~ Day 2}

Today's recap is all about Day 2 of our mini vacation. You can read about Day 1 here if you wish - there's a recipe and a restaurant review to go along with that post as well.

We slept in this morning - we were on vacation, after all! Then we started out the day with our packed breakfast, served on napkins and eaten on the only table in our room. We had the oh-so-glamorous meal of hard boiled eggs dipped in Himalaya salt, sliced chorizo and a nectarine each.


Then we got ready and headed out for our hike - this was my first hike in high altitude, and I must say I was winded faster than usual, but it was a blast! If you're in the area and looking for a quick hike to do, this is a great one. It goes up the Hohneck mountain and then back down again in a perfect loop. I even got the chance to walk through a herd of mountain cows! Cows in most parts of France are pretty much let loose in the wilderness and hiking trails pass through "their" fields all the time. They wear huge cow bells so the farmers can find them easily - and the sound is just magical!


{Please don't mind my sweat soaked tank - it was about 40°C outside and we had just hiked/climbed up a mountain side.}

We stopped about 3/4 of our way up the mountain to eat lunch. The hubster found a shady spot under a tree with a gorgeous view to boot! He had the traditional mountain lunch {baguette with dried sausage} but as that meal would make me terribly ill, I passed and ate the same lunch as yesterday. I ate the other half of my avocado {slightly discolored since I didn't bring lemon}, a can of tuna, the rest of my lettuce leaves and a couple banana bread bars. {You can find the recipe for those here.}


After our meal, we started up again, determined to get to the top! We did, and took a break from the hot sun in the shade at the top of the Hohneck. Since it was so hot, and since I had loved the house-made apple and blueberry juice the day before, I decided to order the house-made sorbets! The hubster got two scoops of mirabelle {also known as cherry plum} while I got one scoop each of blueberry, mirabelle and raspberry! The blueberry definitely won - and the hubster regretted having taken only mirabelle!


We then headed back down the mountain, thoroughly enjoying the sights and sounds as we went. 


Once arrived at the hostel, we showered and had a little pre-dinner snack to refuel after all the effort. I had classic kombucha, sliced apple, sliced chorizo and another banana bread bar. The hubster added a beer and peanuts to his side of the snack table.


Next up was dinner. You guys, this was seriously my favorite meal of the whole trip, and quite possibly one of the best meals I have ever eaten. You can read about the restaurant here - it is a must taste if ever you're in the area!


And, just like the day before, we crashed as soon as our heads hit the pillows! Come back tomorrow to hear about the foodie exploits of Day 3!

Dining Out, Paleo-Style {Plainfaing, France - Ferme-auberge "Les Grands Près"}

This was the spot we chose for our second dinner while on vacation in France. You can read about the rest of that day's activities here.

This was the best choice we had made during that trip. Not only was this my favorite meal in France, but it just may my favorite meal ever.

We showed up at the Ferme-auberge Les Grands Près just before they started the evening service. We installed ourselves at a picnic table in front of the farmhouse and admired the view. We weren't as high up as we had been at the Kastelberg Auberge, but the view was still beautiful - and we had animals all around to admire! Just below us was a herd of sheep, and we could hear the pigs and chickens in the background.

We explained my food allergies to the owner, and while she seemed a bit overwhelmed by all the limitations {considering the local specialties are usually full of cheese and potatoes}, she was also more than willing to adapt the menu to suit my needs.



I started the meal out with a glass of homemade apple juice. My in-laws also make their own apple juice, so I'm a bit of a self-proclaimed apple juice snob, but this was good. I timidly suggested to the hubster that this was even better than his parents' juice. To my surprise, he agreed! {He had a local artisan beer, which he said was very good as well!} 

Next up was my allergen-free Country Salad - just fresh greens, house-smoked bacon and a fried egg. It was utter perfection. The bacon was so perfectly smoked the hubster couldn't help but steal a few bits from my plate! The smell alone was intoxicating! {His starter was a sort of poultry paté and a fresh cabbage salad.} I wanted the starter to continue even after I had licked the plate clean and I told the hubster, "Okay, I'm fully satisfied, we can go home now," as a joke - boy am I ever glad that was just the beginning!


The main dish was even better than the starter! I was treated to more deliciously home-smoked pork meat, served on top of over-roasted zucchinis, onions and tomatoes. I had a side of homemade sauerkraut and a green salad. Once again, the smell of the pork was making the hubster drool, so I kindly gave him a small piece, along with a bit of my veggies. {He had oven roasted lamb with various veggies and white potatoes.}


To put a perfect end to a perfect meal, the owner offered to prepare a cup of local berries. I was treated to raspberries, red currants, black currants and blueberries. It was absolutely divine. {The hubster had some homemade ice cream, strawberry and pine flavors. He was loving it!}



We left this place with fulls stomachs and dreams of going back - they also have rooms! All the food is prepared in their kitchens using what is grown and raised on their own property, or what they buy from surrounding farms. This is the sort of food quality I can get behind - and one I hope to see expanded to other domains!



Be sure to check out the Ferme-auberge Les Grands Près if you ever get the chance - you won't regret it!