Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Almond Meal Pie Crust (Round 2) and Blueberry Pie

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1t salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2T creamy almond butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2T sugar

Mix well. Press into a pie pan, bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a preheated 350ºF oven.

If you're making a custard-based pie, pour the filling into the HOT crust.


Blueberry Pie

  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2T corn starch*
  • 1/2 cup milk*

Whisk everything except fruit together well. Fold in fruit. Pour into HOT almond meal pie crust. Bake for 50 minutes at 350ºF.

*The original recipe I have calls for 2 1/2T flour and 1/2 cup whipping cream. This adaptation uses corn starch (gluten free) and milk (because I didn't want to go to the store). It's better with cream, but works fine with milk.

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Thoughts: This is great! My first attempt at almond meal crust turned to mush with the same custard filling. This one had considerably more heft and held up to the liquid. It borrowed some concepts from Mark Sisson's Primal Energy Bar, and frankly could be a meal in itself. The crust crumbles under the fork but is hefty enough to come out in clean slices. I'm very pleased.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Curried chicken salad, to go

Leftover grilled chicken, chopped. Mixed with blanched and shocked snap peas, cherry tomatoes, some mayo, salt, and a generous dusting of curry powder. Wish I had sliced black olives

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blenders are compatible with Mason Jars

Use a mason jar on your blender mount. It's like a magic bullet, only you already own it. I'm excited that this works with my blender :) Can't wait to make some almond meal or grind some spices!



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bulletproof Your Intestines

Or, the importance of good bacteria on health and digestion. I'm going to paraphrase the Wikipedia entry on Gut Flora in a moment.
In summary:
  • There are more bacteria in the human body than there are total cells.
  • The relationship is symbiotic.
  • Bacteria help digest things your body otherwise cannot.
  • Bacteria improves digestion by up to 30% in rats (improves the body's ability to extract nutrition from food)
  • Bacteria contribute vitamins to their host as they help digest foods.
  • Bacteria prevent growth of pathogenic bacteria (reduce likelihood of becoming ill).
  • Bacteria train the immune system and may prevent allergies.
  • Bacteria may help prevent cancer by lowering pH to expel toxins and prevent tumor growth.
  • The bacteria composition of human hosts is directly linked to obesity/bodyfat composition.
This doesn't require much editorializing, since the facts speak so loudly. Bacteria is an essential part of the human condition, improving it almost wholesale. Humans evolved in a much dirtier (less sterile) world than we inhabit today. In some ways, our bodies thrive under these conditions since we evolved to live in symbiosis with these bacteria.
Do not neglect your intestinal bacterial health. It is an important "organ," and benefits from being nurtured with helpful cultures such as those pictured below. Remember: every cell in your body is made up from nutrients that pass through your mouth, and through your digestive tract. Make the most of it and reap the benefits.
5f (3)
My current ferments: kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut.
Here's the promised Wikipedia paraphrasing:
Gut flora consists of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of animals and is the largest reservoir of human flora. Gut (the adjective) is synonymous with intestinal, and flora with microbiota and microflora.
The human body, consisting of about 100 trillion cells, carries about ten times as many microorganisms in the intestines. The metabolic activities performed by these bacteria resemble those of an organ, leading some to liken gut bacteria to a "forgotten" organ.
Research suggests that the relationship between gut flora and humans is not merely commensal (a non-harmful coexistence), but rather a symbiotic relationship. Though people can survive without gut flora, the microorganisms perform a host of useful functions, such as fermenting unused energy substrates, training the immune system, preventing growth of harmful, pathogenic bacteria, regulating the development of the gut, producing vitamins for the host (such as biotin and vitamin K), and producing hormones to direct the host to store fats.
Bacteria in the gut fulfill a host of useful functions for humans, including digestion of unutilized energy substrates, stimulating cell growth, repressing the growth of harmful microorganisms, training the immune system to respond only to pathogens, and defending against some diseases.
Without gut flora, the human body would be unable to utilize some of the undigested carbohydrates it consumes, because some types of gut flora have enzymes that human cells lack for breaking down certain polysaccharides. Rodents raised in a sterile environment and lacking in gut flora need to eat 30% more calories just to remain the same weight as their normal counterparts.
Another important role of helpful gut flora is that they prevent species that would harm the host from colonizing the gut, an activity termed the "barrier effect". Harmful yeasts and bacterial species such as Clostridium difficile (the overgrowth of which can cause pseudomembranous colitis) are unable to grow excessively due to competition from helpful gut flora species adhering to the mucosal lining of the intestine, thus animals without gut flora are infected very easily. The barrier effect protects humans from both invading species and species normally present in the gut at low numbers, whose growth is usually inhibited by the gut flora.
The process of fermentation, since it produces lactic acid and different fatty acids, also serves to lower the pH in the colon, preventing the proliferation of harmful species of bacteria and facilitating that of helpful species. The pH may also enhance the excretion of carcinogens.
Gut flora have a continuous and dynamic effect on the host's gut and systemic immune systems. The bacteria are key in promoting the early development of the gut's mucosal immune system both in terms of its physical components and function and continue to play a role later in life in its operation. The bacteria stimulate the lymphoid tissue associated with the gut mucosa to produce antibodies to pathogens. The immune system recognizes and fights harmful bacteria, but leaves the helpful species alone, a tolerance developed in infancy.
The resident gut microflora positively control the intestinal epithelial cell differentiation and proliferation through the production of short-chain fatty acids. They also mediate other metabolic effects such as the syntheses of vitamins like biotin and folate, as well as absorption of ions including magnesium, calcium and iron. The gut flora plays a major role in metabolizing dietary carcinogens, the microcomponents and the macrocomponents.
Bacteria are also implicated in preventing allergies, an overreaction of the immune system to non-harmful antigens. Studies on the gut flora of infants and young children have shown that those who have or later develop allergies have different compositions of gut flora from those without allergies, with higher chances of having the harmful species C. difficile and S. aureus and lower prevalence of Bacteroides and Bifidobacteria. One explanation is that since helpful gut flora stimulate the immune system and "train" it to respond properly to antigens, a lack of these bacteria in early life leads to an inadequately trained immune system that overreacts to antigens.
It is known from experiments on mice that obese mice lacking leptin, a lipid metabolism regulator (ob/ob mice), have a distinct gut flora compared to (normal) lean mice, reflected in a change in the ratio between bacteria from the divisions Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes, which is shifted towards fewer Bacteroidetes and more Firmicutes in obese mice.
The microbes occupying the human gut are also in direct relation to obesity. A shift in the ratio between bacterial divisions Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes can be observed in lean and obese individuals—in the latter, a shift towards Firmicutes can be observed. The ratio between Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes dynamically reflects the overall weight condition of an individual, shifting towards Bacteroidetes if an obese individual loses weight.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Following Mark Sisson's guidelines, I prepared some kraut today while I baked a pie.

  • 1 large cabbage, cored and sliced
  • 1 small bunch carrots with greens
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2T hunk of ginger
  • 1T sriracha hot sauce
  • Salt (4 teaspoons per kilogram of vegetables)


Shred your veggies. I ran the cabbage through the slicer of my food processor and the carrots, garlic and ginger through the grater. I also discarded the big stems from the carrot greens and ran the rest rough the slicer. (Carrot greens taste like parsley, so why not add a handful?)

Weigh your veggies to find the right amount of salt.

Mix veggies, salt and hot sauce. Mix, smoosh, squeeze. Mix, smoosh, squeeze. Mix, smoosh, squeeze. You need to get the cabbage to release enough liquid such that the entire veggie mix will be submerged in a brine of its own juices.

Cram it into a container with a lid, making sure the brine submerges the vegetables. Put a lid on it. Check on it regularly, particularly at first, to ensure the bine covers everything.

I'll report back in a few days once the cabbage wilts and the fermentation does its thing.


Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Almond Meal Crust

  • Mix 3T melted clarified butter with 1.5 cups almond meal and 1T sugar.
  • Press it into a pie pan with a rubber spatula. Bake for 10 minutes at 350ºF.
  • Ready for filling.
  • Dice  3 cups rhubarb and 2 cups strawberries.
  • Prepare custard pie filling by mixing:
    • 1 c. sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 ½ Tablespoons Flour
    • ½ cup whipping cream
  • Fold in fruit; pour into crust. Bake for 1 hour at 350ºF or until rhubarb is tender. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

I don't know if the crust will hold together, but I didn't want to use a regular bread crust. Hope it works :)

Edit: The crust only sort of works. The first piece came out in crumbles; subsequent pieces I was able to get out in what would count for slices. The center soaked up some of the custard filling and made it less crusty and more gooey. Next time I'll try adding some egg, maybe some shredded coconut, making it thicker, brushing with egg white and/or pre-baking the crust longer. The good news is that the crust is delicious.

Clarified Butter

One of the best cooking oils – richly flavored with a high smoke point make clarified butter one of my favorite and most versatile cooking oils. It's easy to make. I use it for eggs, veggies, searing meats… you name it.
  • Start with good butter. This is summer butter (made from milk when the cows are out to pasture, which means it's higher in Omega 3s) from a local creamery in Wisconsin.
  • Melt it.
  • Simmer it over medium to medium-low heat. Keep simmering.
  • Eventually the milk solids clump together (the chunks on the bottom). Skim off and discard the foam on top. The butterfat (the clear golden liquid) is what you want. Pour it through a fine strainer and store.
  • Done!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kefir Custard Fruit Tart

Strawberries and blueberries are in season, so it's time to put them to good use. Here's a recipe I whipped up using my favorite fermented treat, kefir. If you're not familiar with kefir, check out my other site: Kefir's natural tart flavor goes great with fresh, sweet fruit!


  • Preheat oven to 350ºF
  • Prepare 2 cups of your favorite fruit (I'm using 1 cup of each quartered strawberries and whole blueberries)
  • Prepare a crust in a pie pan. I'm using fillo dough since I had some in my freezer.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine and whisk together
    • 1 1/2 cups kefir
    • 2 T real maple syrup
    • 1/8 t vanilla
    • 2 eggs
  • Place fruit in crust
  • Pour kefir mixture through a strainer (to remove any egg or kefir chunks) over the fruit.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until center of pie is at least 170ºF
  • Let cool, then refrigerate.

The custard only sort of set. I think there's room to improve that part of this recipe – either cook it hotter/longer, cook it in a typical custard hot water bath, maybe pre-cook the fruit to get some moisture out, or filter the kefir whey out and make it with just the cream.

That said, if you make sure this is fully refrigerated before cutting into it, it will mostly hold its form. Enjoy!


Waste Not - Carrot Green Tabbouleh


Have you ever tried carrot greens? They taste quite a bit like parsley. So I set out to make this classic parsley salad using carrot greens instead. I'd rather not waste a perfectly good leafy green vegetable! Oh and I left out the classic ingredient bulgur wheat.

  • Mince carrot greens until you get about 2 cups
  • Mince mint to get about a 1/2 cup
  • Press a clove of garlic into the green mix
  • Add other veggies. This salad can take pretty much anything. I used a little of everything I had on hand:
    • 1 rib of celery
    • 2 raddishes
    • 2 small carrots
    • 1 green onion
    • 1/2 medium onion, minced
    • 6 quartered cherry tomatoes
  • Add 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Add 1/8 to 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Add 1t to 1T salt

Combine. Refrigerate to let flavors meld. Delicious, full of bright and fresh flavors.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Grilled Chicken

Sprinkled with salt and generously doused in tandoori spices; butterflied; grilled for about 65 min, breast-up the whole time.


Scrambled Eggs

Gordon Ramsey teaches technique.

From the left, smoked gouda, top left corner some brewing kombucha (not relevant for this discussion), a jar of clarified butter; in the pan, green pepper & onions, cherry tomatoes roasting whole, and cube of smoked/cured ham.

For the egg technique, if you don't want to watch the video: crack four eggs into a cold pan, and add 1T of (clarified) butter. Add heat, stirring constantly. When they start to set, remove from heat and keep stirring. Add a little more heat...remove...about three or four times...keep stirring. Creates a great texture in the egg. Once cooked, add in your mixings. Gordon Ramsey adds crème fraîche at the end to stop the cooking, but I don't have any.