Monday, February 18, 2013

Experimental Paleo Baking

I had no idea how addicted to Gluten I am, until we started trying to follow a Paleo Diet at the beginning of the year.  I craved toast, pizza, MONKEY BREAD...fortunately, some of those cravings have subsided.  However, I'm not sure that I will ever get over my love of pizza!  And I haven't gotten brave enough to try "Paleo Pizza Crust".  Somehow, I can't get my head around using mashed cauliflower for the crust - pretty sure that it would not emulate the crust from The La Pizza House!

So, I've decided to start experimenting with other baking using Paleo ingredients.  There are lots of resources out there - some are more paleo than others.  I'm not super fussy about that - after all, this blog is called "Almost Paleo".  I come from a long line of cooks, so it's fun to experiment and see how I can make a beloved, full-gluten recipe fit for a caveman.

Last week, I ran across a Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on  She cooks all kinds of good stuff, but decided to post this recipe of her trainer, Clark.  I'm now sharing it with you and including the changes I made:

Paleo Chocolate Chunk Cookies
3 1/4 C Almond Flour 
1 t salt 
1 t baking soda 
2  eggs, room temperature 
1 t pure vanilla 
1/2 C honey (maple syrup or agave will work) 
1/2 C coconut oil, melted 
1/2 bar special dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (I didn't have Carib)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

Combine dry ingredients in 1 bowl and mix well.  In another bowl, combine wet ingredients.  Gradually incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well combined.  Lastly add the chocolate chunks that have been pulsed in Food Processor to desired coarseness. 

Do will be fairly sticky - it can be refrigerated to firm it up if desired.  Spoon the batter onto the baking sheet and bake for 8 - 10 minutes.  Once they are completely cooled, you may want to store in the refrigerator as they tend to be soft and a little sticky.  

NOTE:  I've found that the Almond Flour I picked up in the Organic Section at the grocery was course and gritty.  I just bought some from and think it's consistency is much better!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Paleo Valentine

When my newest issue of "Cooking Light" magazine arrived yesterday, I was I had been looking for inspiration for something to cook for our Valentine's meal.  My hope was that I wouldn't have to make a trip to the market and that I would be able to make my little Paleo alterations.  

SUCCESS!  Not many pages into the issue I stumbled upon the Pork Chops with Tangy Red Currant Sauce.  I actually had pork chops defrosting in the fridge (although I wish they had been the thick cut chops).  While I didn't have any Red Currant Jelly, I did have Blueberry Jalapeno Preserves and decided that would be a great substitution.  Pairing the Chops with Mashed Cauliflower - the inspiration was born. 

1/2 C White Onion, chopped 
2 cloves Garlic, minced 
1/3 C Chicken Stock 
2 T Agave Nectar (+ 1 T Honey) 
2 T Blueberry Jalapeno Preserves 
1/4 C Red Wine Vinegar 
1 1/2 T grated Lemon Zest 
4 Thick-cut Butterfly Pork Chops 
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper 
1/4 tsp Sea Salt

NOTE:  I added 1 T Honey to the sauce mixture as it was boiling because I was afraid the sauce was too Vinegary. 

Place a saucepan over medium heat, coat pan with 1 T. Bacon Drippings.  Add onion and 1 T garlic; sweat onions and garlic about 4 minutes.  Add chicken stock and cook until the liquid is almost evaporated.  Add Agave, honey and preserves; bring to a boil.  Cook 1 minute.  Add vinegar and return to a boil cooking until mostly reduced. 

Heat a large skillet, melt 1 T bacon drippings.  Combine Garlic and Lemon Zest and apply evenly over Pork Chops.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  Cook Pork to desired degree of doneness.  Remove from pan and let stand - apply glaze over the pork prior to serving.  

Serve pork alongside mashed cauliflower. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Who Can Resist a Brownie?

THANK YOU - "The Primal Blueprint Cookbook" for your 'Walnut Meal Brownies'...there is some decadence in the world of Paleo. definition of decadence may be a little off, since I started eating healthier.  But these are WONDERFUL!

Again, it's "Almost Paleo" because of course I had to alter the recipe a little.  I had some butterscotch chips in the freezer just wanted to be used, so I threw in 1/2 a handful - the buttery flavor they lend to the brownies is fantastic.  It took me a while to figure it out when I first tasted them.  They melted down so much (and there were so few of them) that I kind of forgot they were there.  It wasn't until I went to bed last night that I finally figured it out.  Talk about mindless eating!  Wow - I made the darn things and couldn't remember that I snuck forbidden ingredients into them!

It's been about 5 weeks since I started eating this way and I can honestly say I feel so much better for it.  Last night was the community meal at church and we served Pizza.  For me, Pizza has always been my favorite "Perfect" food - so how could I not indulge?  Well let me just say, it was not a good experience - Pizza is no longer my friend.  My gut was not happy and I will continue on this Paleo journey and find some new friends.  Good bye evil pizza!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Oohh" Goo Gai Pan

This was my first experiment with cooking a Paleo dinner - it resembles Moo Goo Gai Pan, but since it is not made of Chicken (I used butterfly pork chops) I decided on "Oohh" Goo Gai Pan.

It's a quick fix on a busy night and Ooohhh So Good!

"Oohh" Goo Gai Pan

1/4 onion, julienne cut
1/2 red bell pepper, julienne cut
1 C. snow peas
1 T. bacon drippings
1 T. soy sauce or Tamari
1/2 C. Moscato wine
1 clove garlic, minced
6 mushrooms, sliced
2 butterfly pork chops, thick cut
dash Sriracha hot sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, melt bacon drippings and add pork chops.  Searing meat until almost cooked through.

While the pork is cooking, julienne cut the onion and bell pepper.  Remove meat from the pan and set aside to keep warm.  Add Moscato wine, soy sauce and Sriracha to deglaze the pan.  Add onion and garlic and saute until caramelized.  Next add the remaining vegetables until cooked lightly.  To create a thicker sauce, add cornstarch to a bit of chicken broth until well combined.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and incorporate through the vegetables and lastly add meat back to the pan to warm.

Serve immediately - nothing else is necessary to accompany this gorgeous meal!

Going Paleo?

It's been about a year and a half since a very good friend of mine started touting the benefits of the Paleo Diet.  When I first started hearing bits and pieces, I thought...well I guess I don't really know what I thought other than it would really mess up the way I cook, eat, live.

Instead of just letting the information come in one ear and go out the other, I recently started doing my own research.  Listening to Podcasts of Sean Croxton, reading recipes from the Civilized Caveman and ABSOLUTELY loving to listen to Able James speak (I'm a sucker for a deep, sexy voice) about this lifestyle.

At the onset of this new year, my husband Roger and I decided that we would give this a try and so far, it's pretty amazing.  Bacon and Eggs for breakfast - oh heck yeah!  So I must go back now and apologize to my good friend, whom I've made fun of and teased.  I think we are really on to something.

As part of my transition to this diet, I'm having a great time deconstructing recipes and making them more Paleo.   I call most of them "Almost Paleo" as I am sure that I am not always very pure about my approach.  So this blog will be dedicated to my attempts in the kitchen and realizations of a life changed by being more mindful and intentional with the food I put in my body.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Old War Wounds

Yesterday was a very interesting day in Student Clinic. I shadowed a practicing acupuncture student, for whom I have a lot of respect. Both patients yesterday were war veterans. The first, a Korean War Veteran, who will turn 81 next Thursday. The other patient was a Vietnam Veteran. Both are still profoundly affected by the experience of war, after all these years.

Our first patient was not new to me - I have observed treatments with him on a couple of occasions this semester. He is as I said almost 81. This past year has been a year of first for him, as he has tried to navigate life without his wife of many years. She died in January of this past year. It appears from his interviews that she was his world - the rock that held him together. And after all these years, he still suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

During yesterday's appointment, he discussed all the death that he has experienced among family members during the last 4 months of the year. He brought up his Father's death in November of the year he turned 7. He discussed deaths of aunts and uncles all in this timeframe. Then he said, "December is supposed to be so joyous, but for me it is not." I found this to be so profound - it seems as if all the terrors of war, he has internalized. I think he has probably "stuffed down" a lot of emotions and attributes his ability to cope to his beloved wife. Yet all these terrors and the sense of loss he tags onto the loss of loved ones. I'm sure it has been a difficult year for him. He's made many adjustments to learn to navigate life without his soulmate.

The second patient was a Navy Veteran from the Vietnam era. I was struck by how much that experience in his life defined him. He came in wearing a Navy baseball cap, a Vietnam Veteran belt buckle, T-shirt with a Navy ship and you would not believe the cell phone ringer....."ANCHOR'S AWAY" Full volume (when it rang in the treatment room). This is a man who came home from the war 40 years ago, yet he only sleeps a couple of hours at a time and his always "vigilant" to his surroundings. He says that he was relieved to finally be diagnosed with PSTD, because it gave hims some basis to work from. Before that - he thought he was just "an angry guy".

When he was asked about his daily routine, he said that he volunteered a lot. In my mind's eye, I was thinking "oh good - that's a positive thing". Then he said that his volunteer work sometimes gets him in trouble because he volunteers at the American Legion and the Elks Club. He likes to hang out there, "because there are people there like me, they are not normal - and I am not normal. These people understand me and I can talk to them." My hopes were dashed by this comment. I don't think he sees how much he keeps himself right in this place with how he's living his life.

My question to our instructor was, "How do you help someone move past this stuckness?" I think it is probably a tough thing to do - and I think that this beautiful human being is operating from the most comfortable place he can find in a chaotic world. He has no sense of himself and I guess our job as practitioners is to help him reconnect with HIMSELF - not with the person who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. I have prayed for both of these men, that perhaps some sense of safety and peace will descend upon them this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

He still loves me after all these years

In just a few weeks, I will be done with the semester at Southwest Acupuncture College and be heading home. For a few weeks in December, we have gratefully accepted an invitation from Pastor Kay to stay at her house. Yesterday, Roger and I received an email from her letting us know that a new mattress had been ordered for the guest bedroom. Roger replied with his thanks to her and further said, "With Malinda coming home, I would be sleep on the floor." Oh my gosh, what a LOVE!

We've been married twenty-four years this coming March. I feel that we are closer now than we have ever been. And as I reflect back over the years, I can't remember our first year of marriage being as difficult as these 5 months have been. Three months after we were married, Roger was sent to Korea with the Air Force. In their infinite wisdom, they left me to serve in Louisiana. There are huge differences in these periods of separation. In 1987, we had no internet or Skype or texting (or cell phones like today's) for that matter! In fact, I put him on a commercial flight out of Des Moines, Iowa, and had no idea how to contact him in mailing phone number - of course I knew I could always contact him through the Military or the Red Cross. But I just remember taking him to the airport and thinking, "Okay, I guess I'll see you, when I see you." And off he went! Of course, I shed about a gallon of tears, right there in the airport...but I guess at 22 years old you just pick yourself up by your boot straps and soldier on!

I can't remember really what I did to occupy my time, except I was working and I think I watched a lot of MTV. Nothing like this separation where I'm in school a maximum of 3 hours per day. The rest of the time, I'm sitting right here at the dining room table studying. I think I've lived a healthier life this time - I have tried to "care" for myself by cooking good foods. I've napped when I felt like I needed to nap and I've reflected on this time and that time in the past.

There are times when the distance really doesn't seem that far, thanks to our morning Instant Message sessions on Gmail. And I think Skype is a fabulous tool to stay connected...that is until you hang up and then it kind of hits home how much you're missing out on. I find this to be especially true when we have Skype'd at my sister's house. Roger will go there for dinner on a regular basis and we connect up. It makes me miss everyone so much - to see their smiling faces and to know that they have enjoyed each other's company for a few hours. Nighttime is the worst for me - instead of going to bed and falling asleep, that is when my brain wants to kick in. Initially it was all about feeling "safe". I had to check and re-check that I had locked the door. And then, I wondered if I had turned off the stove. " I need a drink" and all those other thoughts that the brain cycles through just to keep you awake. I still check the locks before I got to bed, but now the gymnastics that my brain is going through involve more thoughts about what is going on at home, what will the job market be like when I get there, will I go back to doing massage....what's Roger doing right at this instant? AND I have to admit, as annoying as it can be - I miss his "Darth Vader" breathing, right before he falls off to sleep.

So now, I'm counting down to the time when we are back in the same household. I feel like there is so much potential in our relationship and so many things that in the past I have taken for granted. Roger is my best friend, lover and rock. I only hope that he knows how thankful I am that all those years ago, he chose me. I love him with all my heart!