Pork Cubano with Jicama Grapefruit Salad

I have a fairly deep love affair with Mexican food (well, I actually have a love affair with all food, many of  which I most likely will never eat again, unless I’m looking for self inflicted sick days). While a Paleo diet is pretty accommodating to traditional Mexican cooking, aside from beans, corn, sugar and dairy, okay so a little challenging (but Tequila is Paleo!) the AIP diet (autoimmune protocol) is not. So, I’m not using any of the 8 varieties of homemade hot sauce we have. Yet.

I posted this list of AIP foods on my fridge so I would see the possibilities instead of looking at foods to avoid and feeling stifled. Restrictive diets are challenging enough, wishing for foods that may make me ill is pointless (though the almond butter slathered banana my husband eats is wearing me down). I filled our kitchen with vegetables, citrus fruits, the only redeeming thing about winter, and good meats (I’ve also started making water kefir, that is another post).

This Pork dish came from a longing for fresh Mexican within the constraints of AIP,  but it’s really Cuban. And it’s delicious. The Jicama Grapefruit Salad is a completely lame attempt to replicate one we had in Mexico, but very good in it’s own right.

Also, toast your peppercorns people! Toast them in a small skillet until fragrant, let cool and put in your pepper mill. It adds a whole new dimension to black pepper.

 

the slow cooker is your friend

the slow cooker is your friend

 

Pork Cubano  (aip style)

1 3 lb pork loin or shoulder roast (give or take a 1/4 pound is fine)

3 or 4 mixed citrus fruit (grapefruit, orange, blood orange, sour oranges) mostly peeled and cut into small sections

1 cup fresh grapefruit or sour orange juice

1 large onion cut into medium thick slices

4 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1 tbsp oregano

2 tsp salt

1 tbsp toasted black peppercorns

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar, for deglazing

Place all ingredients except pork and cider vinegar into a slow cooker.

Heat a heavy skillet over high heat, add pork fat side down and brown for 5 minutes or until some of the fat starts releasing. Turn and brown the other side. Place pork on top of the mix in slow cooker. Turn flame back on under skillet, add apple cider vinegar scraping up the stuck bits of pork once the vinegar boils, add all this to the slow cooker. Place lid on, turn slow cooker to high and cook until pork is fork tender and can be pulled apart, about 5 hours. Half way through turn the pork roast over (if you’re around).

NON AIP:  add 1 tbsp ground cumin to the spices. To make it authentically Cuban, remove cinnamon and ginger.

No slow cooker? not a problem. Use a dutch oven with a lid and cook for 4 or more hours at 300*, checking every so often to make sure things aren’t sticking, add a little water or citrus juice if you need.

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Jicama Grapefruit Salad

This is really simple.

Napa cabbage (or lettuce), 2 cups shredded

1 grapefruit, peeled, pith removed and sliced into 1 inch chunks removing membranes and seeds as you go (you can segment it if you’re inclined)

1 small Jicama or half a large, sliced very thin (a mandolin works well) then cut into matchstick pieces

2 scallions, chopped

juice from 1 lime

1 tbsp honey

Pinch of salt

avocado or olive oil

Cilantro leaves, chopped, to taste

Toss Jicama, grapefruit, scallions, cilantro and salt together in a  bowl. Mix lime juice with honey and a few tablespoons full of avocado or olive oil in a small bowl. Place cabbage on the bottom of your serving dish, top with jicama grapefruit mix. Drizzle with dressing.

We serve Pork Cubana and Jicama Grapefruit Salad in plantain tortillas and love this meal.

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Plantain Tortillas (AIP Paleo)

Plantains are a beautiful and versatile starch full of fiber and potassium, often overlooked by cultures where they are not grown. They are considered a ‘cooking’ banana, not intended for raw eating, which is just fine because they cook up wonderfully wether yellow-ripe or green.

While in Tulum last winter we ate at Hartwood  where, among many incredible dishes (the Pulpo Platter, holy smokes!) we had plantains roasted in a wood fired oven, drizzled with honey and cinnamon, proving plantains can be incredibly luscious. My love for plantains was complete. ( If you are vegatarian and ever go there, order two).

In my quest to create bread-like foods on the AIP/Paleo diet I did a quick internet search and discovered quite a few recipes for plantain tortillas. I picked one that made the most sense to me,  I made them but was not wholly pleased. Being hopeful and full of perseverance,  I tried again, altering until it worked. With good green plantains these are foolproof.

We eat these every week, sometimes for breakfast.

Plantain Tortillas 

3 green plantains (make sure they are not turning yellow)

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup coconut oil (no need to soften)

1/4 cup arrowroot flour

1 tsp salt

Optional: try substituting 2 tbls of water with fresh lime juice. Add 1/2 tsp spices such as smoked paprika, cayenne or chipotle.

Heat oven to 400*. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Peel green plantains (you may need to cut some of the fibrous inner peel off the plantain) and slice them in to 1 inch rounds. Place them in your blender or food processor. I have found the Vita-Mix to work the most efficiently, try pureeing half the plantains and water at a time in a less powerful machine.

Add the remaining ingredients and puree until you’ve achieved a smooth applesauce-like consistency. If your plantains were tough to peel they may be dry, add additional water 1 tbsp at a time, too thin and the tortillas won’t come together properly.

Scoop a spoonful of batter on to your parchment lined baking sheet spreading  it around until a thin 1/8-1/4 inch thick circle is formed (or any wonky shape will do) about 4 inches around. I use a soup sized spoon, you can make them bigger if you like. They do not spread during baking, so go ahead and put 5 or 6 on each sheet.

Spreading tortillas

Place your baking sheets in the pre-heated oven set a timer for 10 minutes, at that point you need to check for loosened edges and dry centers, it may take up to 14 minutes a side. Carefully flip the tortilla and bake another 8 minutes or so. Baking time depends on what your goal is, you can have soft foldable tortillas or crisp tostadas. So versatile!

Store in a bag in the fridge or freeze if desired. Reheat in the oven, microwave or, my preference, quickly on a low open flame.

A final note: if you do this recipe with ripe yellow plantains (when the skins are close to black that means ripe) you can make them thicker and eat as sweet pancakes 🙂

 

 

Sweet Potato Lefse (AIP Paleo Breads)

 

Even on a good day, even if you have crazy good cooking skills and creative juices flowing, wake up with ‘seize the day’ gumption, restrictive diets can really bring you crashing down. The AIP diet is one such challenge, with a CAPITAL C, seemingly designed to not only alter your immune system, but your whole arsenal of coping skills (If you’re not familiar with it read here and here for starters, no need for me to go into what has already been so eloquently and thoroughly described). To prove my point, here is one of my first FAILS

lovely zip banana waffles

aip banana waffle mess.

I was not swayed. I’m always behind the trends, may not seem so to my loving family and kind worded friends, but it’s truth. So naturally I took to the internet in search of those who have been here before me. I’ve baked gluten free for years, some pretty memorable goods (Sourdough Breads, Chocolate Marble Bundt Cake, OOH and Hand Pies!). Now I’m AIP Paleo. Big shift. Even so, I can only talk myself out of wanting something for so long..

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My search for bread like things took me to a great Sweet Potato Lefse recipe from Sweet Treats Baking, my inspiration! It’s like a combination of flat bread and this sweet potato pancake I make (gf, with tapioca or millet) from Food 52. Since tapioca flour is now considered a Gluten Cross Reactor it’s not recommended on AIP ( bonus: arrowroot is the easiest starch to digest AND it can be used as an egg replacer, I adore who ever came up with that!)  I added proper .oz measurements for those of you without kitchen scales, I left the out sweetener (I find sweet potatoes sweet enough) I second Laura’s notes on doubling the recipe (the batter doesn’t keep well, neither does the sweet potato pancake recipe if you’re going to try it) but I did double the sweet potato and held off adding the dry ingredients until I was ready to cook the Lefse, having extra in the fridge made breakfasts easy for three days straight.

Sweet Potato Lefse  (adapted from Sweet Treats Baking)

2 cups cooked cubed WHITE sweet potato, from one large

1 cup arrowroot flour * plus more for rolling

2 tbsp coconut flour

3 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp salt

Boil sweet potato cubes until soft, drain in a sieve and let cool there so all moisture evaporates. Place sweet potatoes into a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork until smooth. Add 3/4 cup arrowroot starch, 2 tbsp coconut flour, 3 tbsp oil, 1 tsp salt and stir until all ingredients are incorporated. Let this batter sit for 10 minutes, this allows the arrowroot and coconut to absorb moisture (but not longer because the batter will break down and be more difficult to work with).

When you are ready to roll out breads add 1/4 more arrowroot flour to batter and flour your work surface. Scoop out a large tablespoon of batter roll it into a ball then pat it flat on your floured surface and roll it out to a 1/4 inch thick  round with your rolling pin (sorry folks, I have no photos of process other the top one) making sure the lefse doesn’t stick to the rolling pin or work surface (I carefully use a bench scraper to lift it from my marble to the skillet). Heat a cast iron skillet or a non-stick pan over medium heat, add a little coconut oil, once hot add the lefse and cook a couple minutes per side, flipping when the bread seems to loosen around the edges (like a pancake, these really are a kind of crepe). While this is cooking you can quickly roll out another, remembering to flour your work surface and rolling pin. Take the cooked lefse off the skillet, set aside and start again. This is time consuming but pretty easy, and more fun if someone is helping you (*especially if you want to double this! wait until the whole first batch is finished cooking before mixing dry ingredients into second batch of sweet potato).

rolling out in beautiful sun light always helps

rolling out in beautiful sun light always helps

Some serving suggestions:

My husband says “shove in mouth, chew” right off the skillet.

Drizzle with an AIP amount of honey, sprinkle with cinnamon and roll up sliced banana in them.

Paleo, nut butter with a little dried fruit or cocoa nibs or toasted coconut flakes.

Use as a sandwich wrap for your lunch ‘salads’.

 

 

 

 

 

Grain Free Banana Muffins.

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What I made this weekend.

Once we start the process of eliminating foods based on allergy, intolerance, sensitivity or auto-immune reasons (as in Celiac Disease) it can become a never ending spiral, a rabbit warren of dead ends and frustrations brimming with tears. Now that grain free and gluten free have become ‘fads’ this has created a non-stop flow of GF processed food stuff. Maybe you didn’t bake before going GF and you love all the new food stuff on the market. But have you read the ingredients? Okay, maybe we don’t need the conversation about corn products right now (xanthan gum, corn starch..).
I say to you Do Not Be Swayed! Purchase some gluten (grain) free flours and a few other pantry staples and enjoy the freedom of knowing what is in that muffin you’re about to eat, and knowing it is the best thing you can do for your sensitive self. Go ahead and earn your bragging rights! This one is simple.

This recipe can be used as a base for other fruit purees such as pumpkin or applesauce.

Grain Free {Banana} Muffins

Pre-heat oven to 350*. Oil a muffin tin.

Wet: Beat together in a small bowl

3 very ripe bananas mashed (equal to 1 cup or a little more)
1/2 cup coconut oil melted
2 eggs beaten

Dry: whisk together in a medium bowl

1 cup cashew (or almond) meal
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour (starch)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
2tbsp flax meal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom

Mix the wet ingredients in to the dry making sure the batter is mixed thoroughly. Then scoop even amounts into the muffin tin. This will make 10-12, depending on how full you want them. They will rise slightly.

Bake for 30-35 min until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in to the top of a muffin.

Add raisins or other dried fruit and nuts as you wish. Change up the spices, add ginger or ‘pumpkin pie’ seasoning.

Summer End

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It had to happen. The last of the zinnia’s. The last of everything. This is when seasonal affective disorder sets in, DEPRESSION, really, let’s call it what it is. The blazing brilliance of fall doesn’t cheer like a smiling zinnia or sunflower tall tall big head full of seeds, or a ground cherry fresh, ripe yellow and juicy. Fall leaves turn to mold, damp with stench of decay, compost. mushrooms rotting.

All the while I work through summer with an apprehension toward fall, everyone’s beloved season, and I’m agitated. I need to hibernate deep in down covers and dark to sleep the end of fall and all of winter. I like snow, once. Or twice. Grey is one of my favorite colors in textile. I fill our home with colour, cheer, joy, yet it’s cold, pillowing bright drab outside

I have my beach mind and garden thoughts to carry me through. Laughter from students silly with ferment and those fresh frozen green beans, canned tomatoes, jam up on shelves so high

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