Saturday, January 29, 2011

Green Chile Beef Stew (GAPS friendly, gluten- and grain-free)

This recipe simmered all day in the crockpot, and the results were fabulous! Tender, juicy meat and great flavor.  My husband was super excited about it, proclaiming "I want this for my birthday!"  I sent a bowl home with my mom (who is not on the GAPS diet), and she loved it as well!

If you don't have a slow cooker, you could easily cook this on the stovetop over a very low flame, or use an oven-safe pot and cook it all day in the oven set at 225 degrees F.

Green Chile Beef Stew:
  • 4-pound beef roast (mine was an arm roast, but you could use any roast or even a brisket)
  • one white onion, chopped
  • filtered water 
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • juice from 3 limes
  • 2 Tb cumin, divided
  • 1 Tb oregano, divided
  • 1 tsp thyme, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1.5 c. green chile, mild or hot, chopped (I used some from the freezer that had already been peeled and roasted; try to avoid using canned chile as it has poor flavor)
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and avocado as garnish
Chop the onion and place in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Place beef roast on top of the onion, and add enough water to reach about 2/3 of the way up the side of the roast, with the top of the roast sticking out of the water (this will allow the top of the meat to marinate in the lime juice and spices).  I have an oblong slow cooker, so I cut my roast in half lengthwise and placed the two pieces side-by-side.  If you have a smaller, round slow cooker, you could just leave the roast intact.

Sprinkle garlic, salt and pepper on top of the meat.  Then sprinkle the meat with 1 Tb cumin, 1/2 Tb oregano, and 1/2 tsp thyme.  Squeeze the juice of 1.5 limes on top of the spices to allow the top of the meat to marinate while the rest cooks in the water. Allow to cook on low for about 4 hours, and then add the chopped carrots and green chile.  Flip the meat over so that it is on top of all of the veggies, then season the meat with salt, pepper, 1 Tb cumin, 1/2 Tb oregano, and 1/2 tsp thyme.  Squeeze the juice of 1.5 limes on top so it can marinate once again. 

[NOTE: Since I was home all day, I was able to cook the meat and onion for 4 hours before adding the remaining veggies and flipping the meat over to marinate the top with lime juice and spices once again.  This ensures that the carrots and chile won't be overcooked, and that the meat will be very flavorful.  If you won't be home to flip the meat, go ahead and add all of the veggies at once as well as all of the spices and lime juice (or you could even marinate the whole roast in lime juice and spices overnight before cooking).]

After cooking on low for a total of 8 hours, set the pot to "Warm" and allow to cool slightly.  Use a fork to shred the meat in the pot.  Then add the 1/2 c. sour cream and stir.  Check the seasonings, adding any more salt, pepper, or spices as desired.  If time allows, leave the pot set on "Warm" for about 2 hours (or at the very least, turn off the pot and allow to sit for 30 minutes).  This will allow the meal to cool down and the meat will be wonderfully tender.  

Ladle into bowls, and garnish with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and ripe avocado chunks.  Enjoy!

This recipe is part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, and Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet!

Apple Snap Granola (GAPS-legal, gluten- and grain-free)

This grain-free granola is a real hit in our house.  Pecans have such a wonderful flavor and make the granola nice and crispy.  I've tried making it with almonds, and it was not nearly as good (but maybe I'm biased as pecans are definitely my favorite nut). And luckily for me, pecans are a local crop here in southern New Mexico.

This granola makes a great breakfast cereal or a great snack at any time.  For a twist, try it with plain whole-milk yogurt and sliced banana. You could also eat it without dehydrating it.  My daughter loves to eat it that way as a soft and simple breakfast on days that I'm making granola. I like to make a double batch to really fill up my Nesco dehydrator.

Apple Snap Granola:
4 heaping cups pecans, soaked in water with a little salt for 12-24 hours* and then rinsed and drained
2 cups organic unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup local raw honey
1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt

Chop the nuts in a food processor until fairly small and uniform. Stir together nuts and other ingredients. Spread onto dehydrator sheets (I use the fruit roll sheets for my Nesco dehydrator), and dehydrate for 18-24 hours (I use the max temperature of 155 degrees F on my Nesco dehydrator). (Of course, you could also bake it in the oven instead, but I like using the dehydrator as it is impossible to burn the granola that way.) To check whether the granola is done, break off a small piece and allow to cool completely before eating.  When it is nicely crunchy, it's done! Allow to cool, break into pieces, and then store in the fridge.

*Soaking the nuts neutralizes phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid blocks mineral absorption of calcium and magnesium (among others); enzyme inhibitors make nuts hard to digest.

This recipe is part of Permanent Posies, Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, and Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Creamy Chicken and Thyme Soup (GAPS friendly, gluten- and grain-free)

This soup is so delicious, and a great way to get plenty of vegetables into everyone in the family. It started as a vegetable soup puree recipe from Nourishing Traditions, but I added meat and left it chunky to make it into a full meal. Don't be afraid to make it if you don't have any creme fraiche on-hand, as it is delicious without it as well! Everyone in our family loves this soup! It also freezes well, so I usually double the recipe and freeze the leftovers in 2-cup glass containers so my husband can take them to work for lunch.

Creamy Chicken and Thyme Soup:
  • 2 medium onions or leeks, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4 Tb butter or ghee
  • 1.5 quarts homemade chicken stock
  • several sprigs fresh thyme (or used dried)
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 zucchinis or yellow summer squash, sliced thinly
  • 1.5 lb ground turkey, chicken, or leftover poultry from roast
  • creme fraiche, optional (or you could use sour cream, but it does not melt down into the soup as well)
  • splash of red wine vinegar (you probably won't need this if you're not using homemade stock; my stock tends to be very strong and a little bit sweet so the vinegar helps to balance the flavors)

Cook carrots and onions/leeks in butter (or ghee) until mostly soft. Add ground meat (if using) and season with salt and pepper. Cook the meat a bit, but don't worry about cooking it all the way just yet. Add stock and thyme (throw in the sprigs whole as the leaves will fall of while cooking); bring to a low simmer. Skim off any foam that rises to the top. Cook until veggies and meat are nearly done. Add zucchini/squash and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the stems from the thyme (all the leaves should have fallen off by now). If using leftover chicken, throw that in and turn off heat once warmed through. Add a splash of vinegar if the broth tastes too sweet. Ladle into bowls and let cool a bit. Then add a dollop of creme fraiche to each bowl and stir in (don't add this while the soup is piping hot). Enjoy!

This recipe is part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, and Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet!

Egg Muffins (GAPS-friendly, Gluten-and Grain-free)

Egg muffins are a staple breakfast dish in our house. They are like mini-frittatas made with egg, cheese, and whatever else is on hand (leftover bacon, cold cuts, ham, spinach). They are pretty foolproof, and can be made with whatever you have on hand; they are also good even without meat. They reheat well, so they are great as a quick breakfast for my husband before work. I usually make a batch on the weekend, and then he can pull two out to reheat in the toaster oven.

Egg Muffins:
8 large eggs, preferably from pastured chickens
1/2 c. whole milk kefir (you could use whole milk instead)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
4 ounces thinly slices ham, chopped
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tb. dried basil and/or parsley
2-3 Tb. butter

In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs by hand with a whisk or fork. Add all remaining ingredients (except butter) and stir to combine. Line a muffin tin with paper cups (or you could grease it instead, but using the paper cups makes clean up much easier as well as allowing to reheat the muffins easily in the toaster oven). Add a small dollop of butter (~1/2 tsp) to each paper cup. Pour egg mixture into muffin tins, filling each one about 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes, until set. They will puff up while baking, but then deflate once removed from the oven. If I am making these to serve as breakfasts for later in the week, I will pull them out of the oven when the muffins on the side are set, but the ones in the middle still have a little jiggle.

They are good as-is, or even with a little pat of butter on top!

This recipe is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade and Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Red Crackers (GAPS friendly, gluten- and grain-free)

This is my favorite grain-free cracker recipe. These crackers taste similar to cheese crackers, although they don't have any cheese in them. They are delicious by themselves, topped with cheese, or even as a base for a sandwich with meat, cheese, and mayo. Probably my favorite way to eat them is with a smear of strained yogurt cheese and a couple slices of cucumber on top.

I usually triple this recipe to fill up the dehydrator and make the most of my time.

Red crackers:
One red bell pepper
3/4-1 c. crispy cashews* (use a full cup for a large bell pepper and less for a smaller one)
1/2 tsp. celtic sea salt

Roast a red pepper**, allow to sweat in a covered bowl, and remove the skin once cool. When removing the skin, resist the urge to rinse the pepper under water as this will remove lots of good flavor. Instead, just use your fingers to remove all of the skin. Pull the pepper open, and be ready for a fair amount of liquid to come out. I just open the pepper over my food processor bowl so all the good liquid will pour straight into it. Remove and discard the seeds, stem, and stringy bits from the inside of the pepper. Put the roasted red pepper and 3/4 to 1 cup of crispy cashews in food processor (more nuts for a large pepper, or less nuts for a small one). Also add salt.

Process until smooth. Scoop the mixture onto lined dehydrator trays. (I use the fruit roll sheets in my Nesco dehydrator. If you don't have something similar, line the trays with parchment paper instead.) Use a spoon or small rolling pin to flatten the mixture to cracker thickness (~1/4-inch); try to achieve a uniform thickness, but they don't have to be perfect. Then dehydrate about 12-24 hours (I use the max temp of 155 degrees F on my dehydrator). To check for doneness, break off a small piece and look on the underside. If it looks like there is still some moisture, dehydrate for a bit longer. Once done, allow to cool and then break or cut into crackers. Store in the refrigerator.

*Crispy cashews: These are cashews that have been soaked 6-7 hours in water with a little salt, and then dehydrated until crispy (note that the soaking time for cashews is less than for other nuts such as almonds and pecans). Soaking the nuts neutralizes phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid blocks absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium; enzyme inhibitors make nuts hard to digest. I make large batches of crispy nuts to keep on hand. It takes about 24 hours for the nuts to dry at 155 F in my Nesco dehydrator.
**To roast a red pepper, place it (whole) directly onto a gas burner on the stovetop. Turn the flame on medium and roast the pepper, turning it every 3-4 minutes. You want to develop a nice blackness on the skin (and your house will smell good but slightly burnt). As soon as all sides have been roasted, place the hot pepper into a glass bowl and cover to let the pepper sweat.

This recipe is part of Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet, Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist and Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Peanut Butter Coconut Bars (GAPS-friendly, grain- and gluten-free)

A homemade, nourishing protein bar! These peanut butter coconut bars are absolutely addicting! They make a great snack or treat. This is my version of a recipe from Passionate Homemaking. The coconut flavor really shines through because of the unrefined coconut oil.

Peanut Butter Coconut Bars:
2 cups crispy almonds and/or pecans*
1/2 cup dates or raisins (I've used 1/2 dates and 1/2 raisins or all raisins)
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup natural peanut butter
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ cup unrefined coconut oil (soft enough to scoop easily)
1 Tbsp honey (optional, I omit this as we find the bars to be sweet enough without it)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Coarsely chop nuts in food processor. Then add all other ingredients and process until smooth (this takes awhile in mine; after a little while a clump forms but just let it keep whirring until it gets all smooth). Grease either an 8X8 square baking dish or a couple mini muffin tins with coconut oil. Plop into your dish and refrigerate to harden. These always tastes much better once cold for some reason. Store in the refrigerator.

Because of the high amount of coconut oil in these bars, they will get quite mushy if out of the fridge for any length of time.  We usually just eat them right out of the fridge, or pack a small ice pack if taking them in a lunch pail.

*Crispy nuts: these are nuts that have been soaked in water with a little salt for 12-24 hours and then dried in the dehydrator until crispy (which usually takes about 24 hours at 155 degrees F in my Nesco dehydrator). Soaking the nuts neutralizes phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid blocks mineral absorption of calcium and magnesium; enzyme inhibitors make nuts hard to digest. You could just make a large batch of crispy nuts to have on hand, and they are also much tastier for snacking that way, too. If the weather is nice, you can put the dehydrator on the back porch during the day to cut down on the heat and noise in the house.

This recipe is part of Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet, and Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade!