One recipe, endless possibilities

If you’re following the autoimmune paleo protocol (AIP), the paleo diet, or a gluten-free diet and you crave the flavor and texture of traditional baked goods – prepare to be amazed. Recently, in my constant search for new and creative AIP-friendly recipes, I came upon a real gem by Alaena Haber of Grazed and Enthused. With her Rosemary and Prosciutto Hot Pocket recipe Alaena has created the perfect AIP dough. It’s easy to make (the hardest part is waiting for it to cool enough to put in your mouth), it’s delicious, and it’s very versatile. The hot pocket dough/crust can be filled to suit any whim. Savory or sweet, the possibilities are endless!

Please visit Alaena’s website for the original hot pocket recipe, and continue reading below for additional preparation ideas.

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Rosemary and prosciutto hot pockets, with basil for added flavor.

The original recipe is mind-blowingly good, but AIP-friendly prosciutto is not cheap. For a less expensive but still delicious alternative try replacing the prosciutto with sliced roasted turkey.

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Turkey hot pockets made with AIP-friendly roasted turkey slices.

One night, while enjoying a turkey hot pocket, it occurred to me that the dough could be used for an AIP sweet pastry. The next night I made the dough again and this time filled it with frozen blueberries, coconut sugar, coconut cream, and vanilla. The finished product? Blueberry bliss!

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Blueberry and vanilla-cream AIP “pastry.”
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Simple preparation: sprinkle coconut sugar on the dough. Cover with blueberries. Mix coconut cream with alcohol-free vanilla and sprinkle the vanilla cream on top of the blueberries. For more flavor, add a little vanilla to the dough.

A few days ago the idea of using the dough for an AIP bear claw popped into my mind. I gave it a try last night. Bear claw filling: about 1/2 cup of coconut cream blended with about 2 tsp vanilla, 3 tbl maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon. (Sorry, but I did not measure the ingredients – I simply added everything together until I got the taste I was looking for.) I crumbled the vanilla-maple cream onto the dough, then sprinkled a little cinnamon over the top. After rolling up the dough I cut a few “claws” into each end. This combination made a fun, sweet treat. And, unlike some other versions of this recipe, the bear claw is just as good cold!

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Experimental bear claw pastry with vanilla-maple cream filling.

Up next: a beef and vegetable variation sounds intriguing, as does a cherry version. Hopefully this post will inspire you to experiment with your own creations. Thank you, Alaena, for such a great recipe!

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Sweet Potato “Oatmeal” (AIP)

IMG_8199Here it is: my favorite AIP backpacking recipe! The first version of this recipe was a happy accident: I made too much sweet potato “rice” for sushi, so I dehydrated the extra and decided to take it backpacking. I mixed the dehydrated sweet potato with shredded coconut and a small handful of dehydrated blueberries and brought it on my next trip hoping it would make an interesting snack. To prepare the cereal I simply dumped it into my titanium mug and let it soak in water for about 10 minutes before eating. It was absolutely delicious and the texture was phenomenal. Now this cereal accompanies me on every backpacking trip – one serving for every day on the trail!

Ingredients

  • 1 large Japanese sweet potato (white flesh)
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut (more or less as desired)

Options:

  • Fruit of choice (blueberries, strawberries, and apples work well). For backpacking, use dehydrated or freeze-dried fruit.
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Vanilla to taste (use powdered vanilla for backpacking)
  • If you like a sweet cereal, add coconut sugar to taste

Preparation

1) Peel the sweet potato and chop into large pieces.

2) Place sweet potato pieces in a food processor and process until small, rice-sized grains are formed.

3) Cook the sweet potato on the stove-top until the “grains” are soft. I saute the sweet potato in a little bit of water to prevent sticking.

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Sweet potato processed to grain-like consistency.

Option 1: add spices and/or fruit to the sweet potato and mix well. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator. Full disclosure: I have never prepared the cereal using this method. I always dehydrate it and then rehydrate when backpacking, but the end result should be the same.

Backpacking option: Transfer the cooked sweet potato to a mesh bag and place in the dehydrator. Dehydrate at 150 degrees until sweet potato is completely dry and crunchy (usually overnight). Be sure to check on the sweet potato every 30 minutes for the first 1-2 hours to prevent the sweet potato grains from becoming glued to the mesh bag.

Place dehydrated sweet potato in a ziplock bag, along with shredded coconut and other additives, such as spices or dried fruit. This recipe will make 2-3 servings of cereal.

I have made blueberry, strawberry, and apple-cinnamon versions of the cereal and each is delicious!

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Sweet potato “oatmeal” with dehydrated strawberries.

Preparation in camp

Simply soak or simmer the cereal until it reaches the desired consistency. It does not take long for this cereal to soften. Once softened, the consistency is very similar to oatmeal.

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Strawberry cereal ready to eat!

Cabbage, Kale, & Yam (AIP)

IMG_8127 This is a colorful, easy recipe. One batch makes a meal for a family of four (we often make this dish when I visit my parents), or can be used as a week’s worth of lunches for one. This recipe also makes a delicious dehydrated meal for backpacking. My husband and I made “cabbage-kale-yam” on a regular basis long before I converted to AIP. Happily, all ingredients are AIP-compliant!

Ingredients

  • 1 small head of purple cabbage
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 large yam (orange flesh)
  • 2 tbl coconut oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: protein of choice (approximately 1 pound). I prefer to use ground beef, but shredded chicken or ground turkey also work well.
  • Optional: stir in sliced black olives; top with sliced avocado. You can also add sautéed garlic and/or onions for extra flavor. (Unfortunately I’m allergic to garlic, so I have to omit these ingredients.)

Preparation

1) Chop the yam into bite-sized pieces. Grease a large baking disk with coconut oil, add the chopped yam to the baking dish, and bake at 350 degrees until the yam is soft.

2) Chop the cabbage and kale and steam them. If you have the ability to steam the cabbage and kale at the same time, do so. I often have to steam the cabbage and kale separately.

3) Cook the meat as desired.

4) Combine all ingredients in a large pot or bowl.

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Special instructions for backpacking

1) Bake or stream the yam. Mash the yam and spread it on dehydrator sheets. Dehydrate at 150 degrees until dry – it may have a consistency like fruit-leather.

2) Steam the cabbage and kale as above.

3) Cook the ground beef in a pan on the stove. When the beef is fully cooked, place it in a strainer or colander in the sink and rise well with warm water. The goal is to remove the fat and grease to prevent the meat from becoming rancid during storage.

4) Place cabbage, kale, and ground beef in separate mesh bags and dehydrate at 150 degrees until everything is completely dry. I like to use separate bags because the different foods do not dry at the same rate, but you can put everything in one bag.

5) Break up the dehydrated yam in a food processor. Grind the cabbage and kale into a powder using a food processor. Grinding the food into small pieces will allow for easier re-hydrating.

6) Combine cabbage, kale, yam, and beef in a bag and add a little sea salt. This recipe will make multiple meals. Place each serving into a separate bag. Your meals are ready for the trail!

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Yam, baked and mashed and ready for the dehydrator. Each strip of yam equals one serving.
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Steamed kale (top) and purple cabbage (bottom), ready for the dehydrator.
Ready for the trail.
Ready for the trail.

Carrot Spice Cookies (AIP)

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Ingredients

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 apple, any variety (I have used Fuji and Granny Smith)
  • 1 cup sweet potato or yam, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 3 tbl coconut oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preparation at home

1. Grate the carrot and apple. A food processor is excellent for this task! Transfer the grated product to a bowl.

2. In a food processor, process the chopped sweet potato/yam until it is very finely chopped.

3. Add the chopped dates, oil, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, coconut flour, and salt and process until the ingredients are well combined.

4. Add the apple, carrot, and shredded coconut and process until the dough is smooth. If the dough is very moist or sticky, add more coconut flour (1-2 tbl at a time) until the dough can easily be formed into cookies.

5. Form cookies using your hands. I have found that this recipe makes 12 medium-large cookies.

6. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. If cookies are still very moist after 20 minutes, put them back in for 10 minutes.

Options:

1) If you plan to take these cookies backpacking, dehydrate the cookies until they reached the desired texture. I like to dry them until almost all of the moisture is gone and the texture resembles store-bought ginger snaps. Dehydrated cookies travel very well in the backpack.

2) If you won’t be taking these cookies on the trail, frost them with coconut butter! Simply soften the coconut butter and spread or drizzle on the cookies. Frosting works best when the cookies are cool, otherwise the coconut butter tends to run off. Store cookies in the refrigerator.

Carrot spice cookies "frosted" with coconut butter.
Carrot spice cookies “frosted” with coconut butter.
Cookies ready for dehydrator.
Cookies ready for dehydrator (the recipe made 12 but I opted to dehydrate 8).
Bagged and ready to eat!
Bagged and ready to eat!

This recipe was adapted from the Paleo Partridge’s Morning Glory Cookies.

A Week’s Worth of Cooking 

Every Sunday I spend hours in my tiny kitchen preparing batches of food: a week’s worth of breakfasts and lunches, made in advance and ready to go. Adhering to the autoimmune paleo protocol means I can’t buy pre-made or packaged foods from the grocery store. I make every meal from scratch, every week.

My menu for this week:

Breakfast: turkey patties with cinnamon and ginger and a side of sauerkraut. I have never felt inspired to make my own sauerkraut. I buy the Sonoma Brinery brand at my food co-op because it is inexpensive, tastes great, and it much easier than making my own.

Turkey patties and sauerkraut.
Turkey patties and sauerkraut.

Mid-morning snack: morning glory cookies, with sweet potato instead of plantain, and with extra cinnamon and powdered ginger for a little more spice. 

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Morning glory cookies.

Lunch: grated yam and grass-fed ground beef, with a side of steamed broccoli and carrots. No spices, just a little sea salt. 

Grated yam, ground beef, carrots, and broccoli.
Grated yam, ground beef, carrots, and broccoli.

Dinner: California rolls with sweet potato “rice,” avocado, grated carrot, cucumber, bay shrimp, and coconut aminos. I made a large batch of rice, enough for five meals, and will slice up the veggies fresh each evening.

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California rolls with coconut aminos for dipping.

Dessert: strawberry-blueberry pie. I used Mickey Trescott’s crust recipe and filled it with fresh organic strawberries and blueberries. I purposely made a little extra crust and created a crumble top by mixing the extra crust with coconut sugar and sprinkling it on top of the pie. We’re supposed to minimize sugar intake while following the autoimmune protocol, but sometimes you just need some dessert!

Strawberry-blueberry pie with a crumble on top.
Strawberry-blueberry pie with a crumble on top.

Yes, cooking this way is exhausting – and expensive. But it is so worth it. I converted to the autoimmune paleo diet on May 17, 2014. I believe that this diet has played an important part in my healing process. While it is not a cure, it has greatly contributed toward my well-being. I cannot imagine ever returning to a standard American diet.

Adopting the Autoimmune Paleo Diet

In October of 2013 I was very, very ill. I had experienced nagging health issues for much of the previous year, but in the fall of 2013 my condition deteriorated very suddenly and I was unable to perform even basic tasks. After reading through my one-and-half page list of symptoms, my doctor ordered a lab test to check my thyroid function. The results were shocking: my TSH registered 205 and my free T4 was virtually undetectable at <0.30.

I began taking thyroid medication to treat my extreme hypothyroidism, but my improvement was slow. I requested a test for thyroid antibodies, which my doctor was reluctant to order. However, the results were astronomically high, confirming a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease.

I switched doctors in early 2014. My new doctor was concerned about my sky high thyroid antibodies. She raised my thyroid dose, but by May 2014 I was so sick that I had to request medical leave from my job. I was desperate, and I decided to make a radical change: adopt the autoimmune paleo diet.

The autoimmune paleo diet, also referred to as the autoimmune protocol or AIP, is a restricted version of the paleo diet. Allowed foods include vegetables and fruits (but no nightshades), meats, and roots. No grains, nuts, seeds, beans, or dairy products are to be consumed. This is a nourishing diet that removes potential sources of inflammation and helps the body to heal. I bought Mickey Trescott’s book, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, and dove in.

At first I found it challenging to adhere to a diet that was so much more restrictive than what I was used to. Over time, however, it became easy. When I returned to work I was concerned about feeding myself while attending multi-day trainings and workshops, but I soon realized that it was easy enough to make big batches of food at home and bring everything along in an ice chest.

More concerning was the idea of feeding myself out in the woods. As I slowly regained my health I was able to begin hiking again, building up from short, easy day hikes to short, easy backpacking trips. And with the help of a dehydrator, I’ve been able to create healthy, great tasting AIP meals and snacks that are far better than the foods I used to eat while backpacking.

I have followed the autoimmune paleo diet for 11 months now and I have greatly benefited from this diet. When I’ve attempted to reintroduce foods that are not included in the protocol I’ve experienced symptom flares. The healing process is very, very slow, and diet is only once piece of the process, but I believe that it is an important piece.

When I was diagnosed with Lyme disease I researched diet and lifestyle recommendations and was pleased to find that Lyme literate doctors were recommending a diet free of grains and processed foods – a diet nearly identical to the autoimmune paleo approach that I was already following.

The Internet is an amazing tool. I have found an abundance of delicious AIP recipes in the blogs of others who are following this diet. On this blog I will share some of my own recipes, with a focus on meals suitable for hiking and backpacking.

In the meantime, here are links to a few of my favorite recipes:

Rustic Apple Cinnamon Rolls by Alaena at Grazed and Enthused.

Paleo Sweet Potato Muffins by Tessa the Domestic Diva. These are fantastic with blueberries!

Morning Glory Cookies by the Paleo Partridge. I use sweet potato in place of plantain. Dehydrated, these cookies make great backpacking snacks!

Spinach and Sweet Potato Gnocchi from Predominately Paleo.

Prosciutto Meatloaf Muffins with Fig Jam by Alaena at Grazed and Enthused.

Grain-free California Rolls by Alaena at Grazed and Enthused. These are great with prawns!