Paleo Banana Pancakes, My Style!

bananapancake

With melted butter and strawberries. Delish.

I’ve been dubious about trying the two/three ingredient paleo banana pancake. But I finally gave it a shot (doctored up to be extra good) and it was awesome! It satisfies my craving for something sweet and carb-like, but is actually pretty dang healthy. Don’t forget to broil to set the top! That’s the key.

1 ripe banana, mashed
1 egg
1 heaping spoonful almond butter
1 tbsp ground flax
1 tbsp shredded coconut
1 tbsp chopped pecans
pinch salt
pinch ginger
pinch turmeric
pinch cinnamoncoconut oil for frying

Whisk or mix the egg with the mashed banana and almond butter until smooth. Add remaining ingredients. Turn on your broiler. Cook in coconut oil in a small non-stick pan over medium-high heat until edges start to bubble. Put under broiler for a few minutes until top has set. Pull out (use a potholder!) and flip and brown for just a minute. Serve with butter and fruit.

A Bit of a Departure

So those of you who follow this blog know that Tiffany and I provide

a lot of recipes, some light humor, and some mommy stuff. In the last year, we both got too busy to blog.  But then I started having health issues, and ended up going on a gluten-free diet. So I’m now blogging again, partially to keep track of recipes I create or try that fit into my new lifestyle. Cool, right? Right.

In my non-cooking time, I’m a mom, a college teacher, and a PhD student. So I spend a lot of my time thinking about stuff, particularly social stuff, because I’m getting my degree in Human Development, a subset of Sociology. I blog about it over on MsMichelann.com, and I do my best to keep my politics and my diet separate. Today, not so much.

As I’ve transitioned to this new lifestyle, I’ve been exposed to a lot of rhetoric from what I see as two extreme ideologies in the sort of clean eating/locavore oeuvre, of which this little blog is a very minor part. I tag some of my posts “paleo”, because it’s a big thing right now and some of my friends eat paleo. My doctor has not recommended this diet for me (though he does for some patients), but I do eat a diet that consists mainly of vegetables/fruit, meat, and fats, in around that order. This is not really a choice for me; I get pretty sick if I veer too far away from it. I do, however, eat gluten free carbs and low glycemic sugars in moderation. All of this is to say that I am extremely busy and therefor pragmatic about my diet. I don’t really buy into the ideology that has emerged from the original research on paleo-like diets, but I think the original research is compelling and helps informs my decisions. In a nutshell, what I’m doing works for me, and I choose to fiddle with that rather than immersing myself in the paleo or Whole 30 or Ancestral or whatever culture.

I have several friends who are vegan. This is awesome. There are lots of  great reasons to be vegan. You’re not killing animals. You’re not supporting a really corrupt mass-production industry that spawns environmental and health problems. You don’t have to pay a premium (as I do) for well-sourced fish and meats. If your body likes to eat only plants, awesome! If your body really prefers meat and veggies, awesome! If your body likes everything and functions best with carbs AND plants AND animal protein, AWESOME!

So why am I talking about this? Well, my research is about observing how people police each others behavior in online forums (in a different area; body acceptance activism). So I can’t help but notice the kind of policing that is emerging in food culture. I hear and read rhetoric from both paleo and vegan advocates that seems mightily judgy of those that don’t conform. From a personal standpoint, this is just mildly annoying. I can read a paleo or vegan cookbook and learn some great new techniques and flavor combos without getting my panties in a twist. But here’s the thing that’s starting to chafe.

A brief vignette: My little family and I often go to Whole Foods for lunch. My daughter is 5 and eats nothing but pizza, strawberries, and goldfish; they have good pizza. I can get some gluten free BBQ and fruit, which is as close as I can come to fast food given my dietary restrictions. We grocery shop. Win! But today there was some kind of educational event, which we happened on the beginning of. A largish man was telling the story of how he used to be a much larger man, and how (essentially) meat was the Devil and plant based diets were Jesus. He did a lot of conflating the mass produced processed foods he used to eat with his previous meat consumption, life of crime, and weight. He did some delightful retro-active self-fat-shaming by having the thin woman he was presenting with wear one of his old, extra large shirts, and using a measuring tape to demonstrate his previous and current girth. As a mother, research, and activist, I found the whole thing infuriating. So I did some thinking about why I was so pissed off.

His rhetoric was by no means exclusive to vegans. I’ve heard similar language from other groups: Demonize one food, deify another; trash previous version of self and by association anyone that still eats the demonized food. Still, there seems to be an emerging culture war between the extreme proponents of the vegan and paleo lifestyles. The problem with this is that it means that any relevant dialogue about food sourcing, big agriculture, genetically modified crops, etc is happening amongst a small subset people who are RICHER THAN MOST OF THE THE REST OF THE WORLD POPULATION COMBINED.

I can afford a local CSA subscription. I can drive around town to get the best beef, eggs, and fish. I can choose locally sourced, ethically produced food because I am INCREDIBLY PRIVILEGED. So are most of the rest of the people touting these diets. In order to have access to the kind of food that supports a vegan or paleo lifestyle in the U.S., you must have time, money, and transportation. I do. Millions don’t.

I used to use Whole Foods as a corporate case study in my leadership and ethics classes because they’re a corporate icon in Austin and they are complex; in some ways they are an excellent corporate citizen, and in other ways not so much. But then I taught a class of students from less privileged backgrounds, and one of them commented that he a) didn’t understand what the fuss was about with organic, unprocessed food, b) didn’t live anywhere near a Whole Foods, and c) couldn’t afford organic food even if he wanted it.

Privilege, checked.

Seriously, what was I thinking?

The mythos of American bootstrappy individualism is great when it gives people hope and gumption and social mobility. It’s not so great when it blames individuals for contextual problems. When school lunches are made of crappy non-foods, that’s contextual. When ethically and healthily produced food (meat or veg) is available only to the rich (and by that I mean us, not just the millionaires and billionaires), and deficient food is further supported by subsidies that encourage dangerous mass-production techniques, that’s contextual. We have a very large contextual problem with food in the U.S.

So what if, instead of trumpeting the advantages of our particular diet, proselytizing its benefits, and slamming it’s detractors, we did something else? What if we used all that energy and our collective privilege to pressure our precious Whole Foods, Trader Joes’, etc. to start providing affordable food to people who don’t live in affluent sections of our cities? What if we used our collective, hyper-privileged brains to recognize that most people who don’t eat clean, or paleo, or vegan, or local, or whatever, have bigger problems than which local farm to buy from? What if we  started trying to change or dismantle the corrupt system that churns out horrible, harmful food to the rest of our country and the world? What if we stopped snarking to and about each other about the little shit? Because really, for most people getting enough of ANY non-processed food or perhaps enough food at all, is way more important than whether or not we buy into each others food religion de jour.

As people with access to healthy food, transportation, and money, WE have the power to pressure corporations and government to change their practices and to pave the way for small growers and cottage producers.  WE can demand higher standards for the production of ALL food, not just the stuff only we can afford. Our collective voices, time, money, and privilege are needed to deal with the real problems our society faces in getting and producing non-harmful food. No kid deserves to be raised on food that significantly shortens her lifespan. And no parent wants to feed their kid bad food. Let’s get on that.

New Diet: New Staples

So I’m in month 4 or 5 of my gluten free, mostly dairy free, low carb, high protein, and high fat diet. The bulk of my hardcore calories come from meat and fat, but I eat a crapload of vegetables and fruit to balance out the rest. I’m also not totally paleo; I do carbs in moderation when it works with my meal. I just don’t eat them with every meal or even every day anymore. So what is a foodie to do in the absence of bread and pasta? Seek out new, delicious foods to cook with. Because deprivation is for wimps.

Check out the latest additions to my pantry and fridge:

King Arthur Gluten Free Flour
I  tried a few different pre-mixed flours before I read about this one online. So far, it’s the easiest to use. It doesn’t have xanthan gum, so you need a binder for anything that needs binding. The lack means that you can use it for things other than bread and paper mache.  I use it in my latkes, Korean pancakes, and the occasional mug brownie. I also used it in my scones, which came out pretty good. In general, gluten-free flour mixes seem to be a little more pasty than wheat, so I’m still adjusting my recipes.

Penzy’s Natural Cocoa Powder
This stuff is deeelish. It’s got an earthier flavor than Dutch process cocoa powder, so it blends with even cold liquids quite easily. It’s great in my Chai and my Mug Brownie.

Dr. Bronner’s Coconut Oil
This coconut oil has a great, mild flavor that doesn’t overpower my food. I use it in stir fries, tea, baked goods; whatever. Great stuff.

Raw Agave
This is my go-to sweetener for chai and other stuff that needs a drizzle of something. Sweet, mild, and low glycemic index.

Coconut Palm Sugar
Kind of the same texture and flavor as brown sugar, but a bit less sweet and way healthier. I use it in baked goods. The Trader Joe’s brand is good and pretty cheap.

Chun Jung One Gluten Free Gojuchang
You would not believe what all has wheat in it! I was devastated to find out one of my favorite condiments was gluteny. Enter this brand, which is gluten-free and delicious. Makes fried eggs into a masterpiece. Obviously, I can’t live without Siracha, but it’s good to mix it up.

San J Tamari
Add soy sauce to the list of things that contain significant amounts of wheat. Blah. But this tamari is a great sub and is delicious in stir fries. I sometimes use coconut aminos when I want a sweeter flavor, but I’ve got no probs with soy in moderation.

Tempt Coconut Hemp Milk
This stuff is uh-maze-ing. Creamy, mild, and delicious in chai. Also a good milk sub in baking. This brand is carrageenan free, which is a good thing.

Lots of other things make daily appearances in my kitchen, but I’ll save them for another day. Next time I’ll talk about meat and fish sourcing!

 

Sweet Potato Pancakes, perfected!

Sweet Potato Pancake

Sweet Potato Pancake

While for the most part I’ve not had a lot of carb-envy, I do miss stuff like pancakes or french toast in the morning. And while there are lots of gluten-free versions, having mainly carbs for breakfast screws up my day (in that I crash and want to sleep all morning). While I love my eggs-and-veggies breakfasts, sometimes a girl just needs some damn pancakes.

I’ve seen the smashed banana pancakes around, but I decided to see if there was a sweet potato version. There was, but it was less than perfect. It’s too eggy; too wet. It’s almost impossible to turn and falls apart easily. So I thought about what made my favorite pancake recipe so good, and kind of mashed it up. There’s a trick to the cooking part, so read carefully.

1/2 C mashed cooked sweet potato (I smooth mine out using a ricer)
1 egg
2 tbs almond flour
pinch salt
1 tbsp ground flax
1 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
pinch (or more) cinnamon and other spices to taste (I like a good wallop of ground ginger in mine)chopped pecans (optional)
1 tbs finely shredded unsweetened coconut (optional but helpful)
oil for cooking.

Turn on your broiler and set a rack in the top third of the oven. On the stove, heat a small, non-stick frying pan with enough oil to coat the bottom thinly. Use around 1/3 cup batter and plop in the pan. Spread it out or bang the pan on your stove to flatten it out. Cook on medium high until bubbles form around the outside of the pancake. Stick it in the broiler for a few minutes until the top of the pancake starts to set (but not brown). It should lose some of its sheen. Take it out (use a potholder!) and flip the pancake. Cook until browned on the other side.

The recipe makes 4 small-medium cakes. Serve with butter and honey, or whatever works for you. If you want to freeze, allow to cool, separate with parchment paper, and put in a freezer bag. Toast in your oven or toaster oven to reheat (pretty much the same as an Eggo).

Gluten Free Spiced Mug Brownie

3 minute deliciousness

3 minute deliciousness

In spite of my dietary shift to a low carb, high protein, fat, and veggie diet, there are times I just need a quick (leftover-free) fix. I give you,

Awesome Mug Brownie (GF)

1/4 C gluten free (xanthan gum free) flour
1/4 C palm sugar
2 tbsp high quality cocoa powder
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
2 tbsp almond milk
pinch salt
pinch cinnamon
pinch ground chipotle powder
1 tbsp chocolate chips
1 tbsp chopped pecans

Mix it. Microwave it for a minute. Nom it.

Please ignore my wreck of a kitchen.

 

Paleo Staples: The Fry Up

fryupfortwo

Fry Up for Two

This is my version of what Brits often call a fry up. It’s more like a roast-up, or a broil-up, but whatever. It’s comprised of some kind of meat, a lot of veggies, and eggs. I’ll break it up by procedure rather than ingredients.

Meat:
I use a gf sausage or bacon; something that sheds some fat that I can use for the rest of the cooking. Usually it’s sausage. I slice it up, fry it (a drizzle of oil to get it started if necessary), and remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. I’ve found that cooking any kind of flavoring meat too long leeches all the flavor into your food, leaving you with leathery or rubbery tasteless bits.

Veggies:
I use what I’ve got, and a break it up by the amount of cooking time and the kind of pan I’m using. I have some lovely thin copper pans that are great for a quick searing, but not appropriate for cooking root veggies. Choose your pan according to the cooking time for your veggies.

So say I’ve got some small, cubed butternut squash or sweet potatoes, some shredded Brussels sprouts, some kale, and some frozen corn. I’ll use a cast iron pan, and throw the root veggies in first and cook until they’re a bit browned and starting to soften. I’ll then add the next most firmest veggie (sprouts), and the leafiest stuff (kale) and the corn last. Then I’ll mix back in the meat. Everything should be close to cooked to your desired level, but not quite because..

Eggs:
Turn on your broiler and make sure you have a rack in the top half of the oven. Make a well in your pan and break an egg into it. Repeat if you are making multiple servings. Throw it under the broiler until the egg is cooked how you like it. My oven cooks unevenly, which ends up being a good thing because my husband likes his eggs over hard while I prefer over-medium. Grab a potholder and pull the pan out and put it back on the stove (no heat).

Extras:
Scoop your serving onto a plate or into a bowl, and dress as you like. I like siracha, gochujang, wasabi mayo, you name it! Pesto or chimicurri could also be fantastic. Sesame seeds, green onions, try it all!

This is my go-to for lunch and sometimes dinner. I can use up a ton of my CSA with little effort.  I get enough protein and a ton of veggies with minimal carbs and maximum deliciousness!

Lunch!

Lunch!

First Foray into GF Baking Adaptations: Whole Grain Apple Pecan Scones with Orange Coconut Steusel

Tea and the remainders of a scone (with butter and jam).

Tea and the remainders of a scone (with butter and jam).

I’ve shied away from gluten-free baking so far, other than a couple of already-adapted recipes (few of which I was really excited about). I decided, on this cold, rainy afternoon that I needed some scones in my life, stat. I had hidden away my favorite scone cookbook after my diagnosis out of ire and despair, but I dug it back out and looked for a likely recipe. This one is mostly an adaptation of the author’s Spiced Whole Wheat Scones, but with multiple adaptations and changes. Mainly, I subbed gluten-free white flour for regular flour, and buckwheat flour for whole wheat. I also took out the baking soda and just used powder, since I didn’t have a dairy-free version of buttermilk available. My dried apples were actually crunchy dehydraded apples, so I soaked them in orange juice to soften them up until I was ready to add them. I also used palm sugar instead of cane sugar for the lower glycemic index, and added a little flax just to health it up a bit. The streusel was a riff on the accidental streusel I made last week. It worked well! If I was using it on a coffee cake I’d add some butter.

Whole Grain Apple Pecan Scones with Orange Coconut Steusel

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use King Arthur)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup palm sugar
6 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup culinary coconut milk (regular or lite)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1/2 cup chopped dried apples
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Streusel:
1 Tbsp fine shredded unsweetened dried coconut
1-2 Tbsp palm sugar
1 tsp orange zest

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees f.
  2. Whisk together wet ingredients: coconut milk, vanilla, and egg. Set aside.
  3. Add flours, flax, salt, sugar, and spices to food processor. Pulse to mix.
  4. Add chunked butter; blend until butter is fully distributed.
  5. Pour in wet ingredients and blend until fully mixed.
  6. For streusel, you can either mince your zest, or add all the ingredients to a clean coffee/spice grinder and pulse until fine.
  7. Prepare a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Using about 1/4 to 1/3 cup scoops, roll dough into balls, place on cookie sheet, and smash down to about 1 inch thickness.
  9. Sprinkle streusel generously on top.
  10. Bake for about 14 minutes; turn pan halfway through if your oven is freaky like mine.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
  12. Eat ‘em hot with butter and jam or honey and some tea.
gfscones

Yum.