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Sweet potato and herb salad

Given you all know how much I love sweet potato, here is another way to have it! I made this salad a month or so ago to take to dinner at a friends, place and I make variations of it all the time. I really liked the mixed herbs I used for the dinner party (Thai basil, basil mint & coriander) but sometimes I do it with just English spinach leaves. It’s the kind of salad that’s keeps well and can be eaten hot or cold.

* Adjust quantities depending on how big a salad you’d like
Salad
Sweet potatoes (at least 2)
2 Tbs coconut oil
Mixed herbs eg basil, mint, coriander
English spinach
Shallots (chopped)

Chop sweet potato into desired shapes, toss in coconut oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in oven at 180C/350F for about 30-40mins. Cool slightly.

Toss with the rest of the salad ingredients.

Dressing – you can use any dressing you like. This is a pretty common one for me:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs caramelised balsamic (omit for AIP)
Good squeeze fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove grated
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a jar, shake well and pour over salad immediately.

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announcing whatannabelcooks paleo cooking class!!

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 8.08.45 pmI am so excited to announce the first whatannabelcooks cooking class!  It’s amazing how things can just ‘come together’.  A few days ago I asked for requests for blog post ideas and in amongst requests for sweet treats, lamb shanks, salads and dressings, came one for a cooking class.  I then combined that idea with my desire to find ways to help women caught up in the sex-trafficking industry.  “Girls cooking for girls” was born.

I’m hoping that these classes will become a regular event, I already have ideas for several other themes, including what I think will be the next one, Paleo Treats Morning Tea.  I may well mix up which charity the money goes to, but the idea is that a bunch of girls get together, do some cooking, eating (and lots of chatting, sharing ideas etc) and raise awareness, money  and take action to help other girls around the world far less fortunate than ourselves. Aside from the costs of the food, the rest will all go to the nominated charity.

I am intending to have homemade goods available for pre-sale and sale at the class, so if you have requests, get in early and let me know!

This has the potential to be a whole lot of fun doing a whole lot of good, so I’d love your support, ideas, feedback etc. I know many of you live in far off places and so won’t be able to come to the classes in Brisbane, but maybe it might inspire you to share some love in your community ;-)

Whilst I have a large kitchen (yes the idea is to do it in my home), the numbers will have to be limited, so get in quick with your registration.  If it fills up quickly that will just inspire me to find new dates for more classes.

Let’s have some fun and share some love.

Annabel x

za’atar spiced labneh

IMG_1087 I think these little balls of yoghurty yumminess are perfect for Friday night drinks, broken up to spice up a green salad, or a perfect gift.  Now, go get a glass of wine, some crackers and snack away.

  • 500g greek yoghurt
  • za’atar spice mix
  • olive oil
  • thyme
  • salt & pepper
  1. To make the labne you scoop the yoghurt onto into a nut bag/onto a clean muslin cloth (or new rinsed chux will do). Pull up the corners to form a ball and tie a rubber band on the top. Suspend the bag over a jug by threading a wooden spoon through the rubber band and resting it across the mouth of the jug. Leave overnight (at least).  You can add the liquid that drips out to your green smoothie!
  2. Make balls from the labne, roll them in your hands then roll them in spice mix.
  3. Pour a little olive oil into the bottom of a jar, place a few balls in, more oil and repeat until the jar is full.  Stick a few thyme sprigs into the jar.

Enjoy.

zaater labneh cracker

detox water #1

detox water

I have realised that lately I haven’t been drinking enough water.  Sometimes I do well and drink a lot and other times it’s a bit boring.  There are lots of interesting ways to make your water more interesting, but here’s one.   The cucumber has good detox effect, so what a great way to start your day/week than with some detox water.  Better still fill a jug with it and sip on it all day.

Just put slices of lemon, cucumber and a few mint leaves in your water and drink away!

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paleo/raw bounty bars

paleo bounty bars.jpgI have thought about making these for a while and then as cacao is not AIP friendly forgot about them. The other day I had lunch at the Paleo Cafe with my friends Sharon and Lyn and Sharon brought out her secret stash of bounty bars for us for dessert! I was re-inspired to give them a go. Glad I did!
Coconut Filling Coconut Filling

    • 1 Tbsp cacao butter (melted)
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or to taste)
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk
    • 2 cups desiccated coconut
    • pinch salt
    1. Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until just starting to come together as a paste but don’t over process as you still want to have some of the texture of the desiccated coconut.
    2. Press into rectangular container lined with baking paper (I used 15cmx22cm) or into rectangular shape. Freeze until solid.
    3. Remove and cut into pieces (I cut mine into 18 but you could certainly make them larger or smaller)

coconut filling
Chocolate sauce Chocolate sauce

    • 3/4 cup cacao powder
    • 3/4 cup coconut oil
    • 1/2 cup maple syrup (or to taste)
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
    1. Place all ingredients into a saucepan and gently stir over medium heat until combined. Cool but don’t refrigerate before dipping.

To assemble

    1. Dip each piece of the coconut centre into the chocolate sauce and lay out on baking paper. Put in the fridge/freezer until set and repeat at least twice to get a decent coating of chocolate.
    2. Trim the ‘drippy’ edges of each bar with a sharp knife.
    3. Bounty bars do need to be kept in the fridge (or freezer) and remove just as you want to eat them as the chocolate sauce will melt at room temperature in warmer weather.

Makes 18
Any leftover chocolate sauce can be kept in a jar in either the fridge or at room temperature.
bounty bars

What is the auto immune protocol (AIP)?

Are you wondering what AIP is?  What does it stand for? Why on earth Annabel are you eliminating so many foods from your diet?  Please explain!

Over the last few months as I embarked on the autoimmune protocol elimination diet quite a few people have asked me for a bit more information about what it actually is.  Whilst there are many others who have written excellent explanations about it, I’d like, in this post to explain what I know about it, why do it etc.  Listed at the end are a few excellent resources with far more detailed and scientific explanations than this one!

What is the AIP?

Essentially the autoimmune protocol (AIP) is a form of elimination diet that is designed to reduce inflammation in your system, and in particular in your gut.  It is an ‘extension’ of the paleo diet.  It’s not for everyone, it’s designed for those of us with auto immune conditions.  I have hashimotos (under active thyroid).  Many other common auto immune conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, crohns disease, coeliac, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis &  lupus.  Here is a list of many common ones.

An auto-immune condition occurs when your immune system  attacks itself because it loses the ability to differentiate between which proteins belong in your body and which ones don’t. So, in my case my immune system attacks my thyroid gland. It is believed that all auto-immune conditions stem from having gut dysbiosis and a leaky gut (and have been found in every auto-immune condition in which it’s been tested!).

The AIP diet isn’t designed to ‘cure’ autoimmune disease but to relieve from the many symptoms. Whilst there is plenty of information provided by doctors about medical treatments (eg forhashimotos I takeoroxine daily for the rest of my life and will have to even if I follow theAIP), they don’t usually give much information about food and lifestyle choices that can dramatically improvethe quality of your life (and I think stop further deterioration of your immune system – including collecting MORE autoimmune diseases).  This is whereAIP can help.  It addresses the FOOD side of things.

So how do you do it?

The AIP elimination diet is designed to be done for 30-60 days and then you gradually reintroduce the eliminated foods (to be done properly it’s in a specific order) and see how your body responds to each one to know if you should leave it out or keep it in.  I did it strictly for 6 weeks and have added back in eggs, milk (dairy), butter and some small number of nuts but have found that I’m not that fantastic with nightshades.  Even those I have introduced back, it’s been done with a digestive enzyme support (a magic ginger concoction called digestaid, available here in Brisbane).  I don’t eat grains of any kind (I feel much better without), I know I’m better without high fat dairy eg brie & cream.  I also don’t have a gallbladder so I need to make sure the fat I eat is easily digestible, which is why I eat so much coconut oil as it’s the easiest oil to break down.

What to cut out?

The first and most important recommendation (it was certainly the first given to me about 8 yrs ago – but it took me 5-7 years to really accept and live it) is to be completely gluten free for the rest of your life.   If you can only do one thing, do this.

The AIP diet first and foremost a nutrient dense diet, focussing on fresh vegetables, fruit, fat and protein.  REAL food.  There is still soooo much you can eat, but I have to say it is quite tricky to eat out whilst strictly following the AIP diet.

Here is what needs to go:

  • ALL grains (paleo)
  • dairy (paleo)
  • legumes (paleo)
  • refined sugars (paleo)
  • some oils (paleo)
  • chemicals (paleo)
  • alcohol (paleo)

In addition to the paleo restrictions, you also take out:

  • eggs
  • nuts (and nut oils)
  • seeds (and seed oils)
  • nightshades (potato, eggplant, tomato, capsicum, chilli, paprika, many spices, goji berries)
  • potential gluten cross-reactive foods (ie the proteins in these foods are so similar to gluten your body can thing you are eating gluten and reacts to them in the same way), the saddest for me in this category is caffeine.
  • NSAIDS (eg asprin, ibuprofen)

There are some excellent, clear print out guides to what’s in and what’s out here.

I have also created a couple of ‘word clouds’ to show you what’s in and what’s out.

IN:

cloud

OUT:

AIPavoidlist

Should I do it?

Whether or not you should consider trying the AIP is certainly a personal choice.  Given it’s for auto-immune conditions, if you have an auto-immune disease or your think you might, it would be worth giving it a go.  It does require preparation (mentally and practically) and support from those you live with.  I’m certainly glad I did it.

I definitely feel ‘cleaner’, less puffy, I think I have less joint pain (my back in particular has been great), I have lost a few kg.  I must say though that I wasn’t suffering terribly from symptoms when I started, if I was I think the results would have been more dramatic. There is a FB group I belong to called ‘AIP for you and me’ and I hear of some AMAZING results!

** please notw none of this information constitutes medical advice.  Talk to your holistic doctor or naturpath for specific advice.

For more info, detail, recipes and science check out:

www.thepaleomom.com – Sarah Ballentyne.  Her book The Paleo Approach is a must buy if you are serious about finding out more.  Her website  has SO much information about paleo and AIP, recipes etc. She is also worth following on Facebook

www.aiplifestyle.com

www.autoimmune-paleo.com

www.phoenixhelix.com

It Starts with Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig. See www.whole9life.com

www.againstallgrain.com

The Clothes Maketh the Girl

www.chriskresser.com

Good luck and feel free to comment, share your experiences, ask questions etc.

Annabel x

 

eye fillet, mushrooms and sweet potato crisps (AIP/paleo)

eye fillet mushrooms sweet potatoWe just finished this sensational dinner and so I just had to share it with you all! Eye fillet steak cooked to perfection by my hubby, topped with mushrooms (they are hiding a bit in this photo) and sweet potato spiral crisps.  It was served with a simple green salad on the side.  The crunch of the sweet potato makes this a complete winner for either an ‘above average’ mid week dinner, or a great meal for entertaining!

This recipe serves 2.

  • 2 eye fillets or steak of your choice
  • 300g sliced mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tbspn olive oil
  • 1 Tbspn vegetable stock concentrate
  • 1 Tbspn coconut aminos or soy sauce (if you can have it)
  • 1 med sweet potato
  • 2 Tbspn coconut oil

Mushrooms:

  1. Fry onion and garlic in olive oil.  Add mushrooms and vegetable stock and cook until the mushrooms are soft.
  2. Add coconut aminos/soy sauce and stir though.

Sweet potato crisps

  1. Create spirals from the sweet potato using a spirialiser. (see picture below)
  2. Toss in coconut oil.
  3. Spread out on lined baking tray and bake in the oven (180C/350F) for 25 mins or until they have turned crispy but not burnt.  You may need to toss them around mid-bake so the edge bits don’t burn.

Steak

  1. Grill or panfry your steak to your liking whilst the sweet potatoes and mushrooms are cooking.

Place the steak on the plate, top with mushrooms and sweet potato crisps and serve with a green salad.  YUM!

This is my spiraliser – you can buy on eBay or I got mine from local farmers markets.

veggieslicer

pretty peach & greens salad

pretty peach & green saladThis just looked so pretty tonight, I couldn’t wait to eat it with my sweet potato hash & chicken sauteed with onion, bacon and chicken stock.

  • few handfuls of mixed rocket & english spinach
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves
  • 1/4 cup mint
  • 1 cup watercress.
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1/2 grated beetroot
  • 1 peach, chopped.
  1. Toss all the ingredients in a bowl.  You can sprinkle toasted coconut flakes on top or nuts if you can eat them.

poached chicken, sauteed mushrooms & herbed salad (AIP)

Looking for an easy dinner?

Here is one of those meals that can easily be whipped up for a mid-week meal, but feels a bit more special.  The challenge I’m finding on the auto-immune protocol (elimination diet) is variety.  When a number of usual go-to ingredients are no longer go-to, it is a bit challenging!  I have to say though, it is forcing me to be a bit more creative, and I am feeling better and even lost a few kg so that’s great.

poached chicken For the chicken: 

  1. Bring about 500ml of chicken stock (see recipe) to the boil.
  2. Place 2 chicken breasts in the stock, reduce temperature & simmer for 4-5mins. (Lid on)
  3. Turn stove off and leave the chicken in the stock with the lid on for about 15 mins.
  4. Remove and slice or shred the chicken.

For the mushrooms:

  1. Pour about 3 Tbsp olive oil in the pan. When hot fry 1 clove of grated garlic.
  2. Then add 300g chopped mushrooms (I used portabellos) + 1 tray of mixed gourmet mushrooms. Sautee.  Add more oil and a little bit of chicken stock.
  3. Cook until soft.  Season with salt.

For the salad:

  • few handfuls of mixed salad leaves
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves
  • 1/4 cup mint
  • 1 cup watercress.
  • 1/2 granny smith apple, chopped.
  • 2 sweet potatoes roasted (see my tips here) in olive oil and salt.
  • 1 avocado chopped

Toss all the ingredients in a bowl to serve.

Recipe serves 2-3 with enough for salad left-overs.

homemade chicken stock

The other day, I had a chicken de-boned and rolled by my butcher and he gave me (well I’m sure I paid for it!) the carcass. Out with the slow cooker again! Chicken stock is such a staple in my house, I have the concentrate in the fridge constantly (will post that recipe soon too).  I use the liquid for poaching, soups, marinades etc.  It’s just one of those ‘all in and leave it’ recipes.

  • homemade chicken stock1 chicken carcass or 1 kg chicken necks
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 carrots chopped
  • 1 celery stick chopped
  • handful sliced mushrooms
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • bunch of herbs (I used parsley & thyme)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp peppercorns (omit for AIP).
  1. Put the chicken carcass in the slow cooker, cover with water.
  2. Toss in the vegetables & herbs.
  3. Season.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8hrs.
  5. Let it cool, remove the carcass and any big chunks of vegetables/herbs.
  6. Strain the rest into a large jar/container.  Store in the fridge for up to about a week (or even better, use it for a soup whilst it’s still hot!)