Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake with Coconut Palm Sugar Frosting

I really wanted a bite of chocolate cake today so I made this little cake. It's a dark chocolate frosting, really tasty.  Coconut palm sugar has a low-g.i. and I feel it's a better choice than agave.  I've tried making frosting with stevia, or with sugar alcohols, and they never turn out. So, just be careful how much you eat and you should be fine, if you are maintaining a low-carb lifestyle. This is a dark chocolate cake that is not too sweet.

It's just one layer in a 7" pan. I know that's an unusual size pan. You could use an 8"x8" brownie pan, just check as it will probably cook faster.  Or you could instead make 6 cupcakes with this recipe.

***You'll want to cut out a circle of parchment paper for the bottom of your cake pan so it won't stick.  Cut a piece of parchment paper bigger than the bottom of your pan, then with one hand hold it to the inside of the bottom of the pan, and with the other hand, draw a line with a pen or slightly sharp object all the way around the inside circle on the bottom, so you'll know where to cut it. Then cut it along the line you made, and it will fit perfectly in the bottom of your cake pan.

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake with Coconut Palm Sugar Frosting
adapted from Cooking with Coconut Flour

6 Tablespoons butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder, fair trade
6 eggs, room temperature, 3 separated
1/4 cup coconut milk or whole milk
1/2 teaspoon stevia powder (I used NuNaturals)
1/4 cup Erythritol, or 3 Tablespoons honey, or 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (subs)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sifted coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
parchment paper cut out to fit a 7" baking pan

Butter or oil your pan under and on top of the parchment paper, as well as on the sides.   Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Mix in cocoa powder, set aside to cool.  It is very beneficial to have all of your ingredients at the same temperature. In one large bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. If your kitchen is warm, it is okay to put these into the fridge until you need them so they don't melt. In another bowl, mix together the other 3 eggs, egg yolks, [coconut] milk, stevia, sugar sub, salt, and vanilla.  Stir in cocoa mixture.  Combine sifted coconut flour with baking powder and whisk into batter until there are no lumps.  This is the time to taste your batter to see if it is sweet enough - you may want to add more sweetener, if it is not.
Fold egg whites (if you don't know how to, go here for tips) into mixture, starting with 1/3rds, mixing, then the rest. Pour into cake pan and bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until toothpick entered comes out clean when inserted into middle of cake.  Cool.
Take a long piece of wire or dental floss and slice this cake in half and make it two layers so that you can put frosting between the layers.  Or you can cut it in half with a large knife.

1/2 cup butter, soft
1 - 3.5 ounce 85% Green and Black Chocolate bar
3 Tablespoons coconut palm sugar, measured and then powdered in a coffee/nut grinder
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch finely ground sea salt

Melt chocolate in a very dry (one drop of water will ruin the chocolate) small pot or a double broiler, watching carefully, over very low heat.  Stir it and watch that it doesn't burn.  Remove from heat and let cool completely (catch it while it's still liquid though- don't refrigerate).  Wait until after it is cooled to do the rest: In a medium - large bowl, whip together butter and sugar until creamy.  Add chocolate slowly in a pouring motion while whipping. Add vanilla and sea salt and whip a little more.  Frost your cooled cake!!

You can, if you wish, top this dark chocolate cake with coarsely ground sea salt or non-pareils, which are gluten free and pretty low carb but still have sugar... your choice!  We did it half and half!

Monday, June 14, 2010

How to tell if the cows from your store-bought organic beef ate grass or were force-fed grain

Lets talk about what grass-fed beef really means... and how to tell what kind of "organic beef" you are buying.  The brand of beef you buy may be labeled organic but how was that animal treated, fed, and is it still good for you?  Even if your cows were fed organic grain, they can be called organic.  However, since cows were not meant to eat grain, that does not mean that the organic beef you bought is good for you.  Cows were meant to eat grass.  They are Herbivores. 

What is the difference between Industrial Beef and Grass-Fed (also called Pastured) beef?  Industrial beef is beef meat that comes from penned, grain force-fed cows.  What is wrong with this method of farming, besides the discomfort and mistreatment of the cows?  Since cows were not meant to eat grain, they tend to get sick when they eat it.  When they get sick, they began to need antibiotics and hormones.  Their stomachs become so acidic from the grain, e coli and other harmful bacteria become abundant, and the meat has to be sterilized and radiated before selling.  Have you ever heard about how cow flatulence destroys the ozone layer?  Only grain-fed cows have this kind of ozone-reducing flatulence, because their stomachs are not happy.  I am not positive, but I'm willing to bet that pasture-raised cows do not have flatulence.
Pastured Grass fed cows eat grass on a pasture, as nature intended.  Their meat is higher in vitamins A and D, omega-3 fats, CLA, and butyric acid. Conjugated linoleic acid  (CLA) and butyric acid are anti-cancer fats that are not found in industrial beef.  Grass fed beef is also lower in saturated fat. 

How can you tell what kind of diet your store-bought cow ate?  Grain-fed cows have white fat and pastured cows (who eat grass) have yellow to green fat.  I believe yellow means they were grain-fed at the end of their lives to fatten them up. A little bit of grain is not that bad, but you definitely want beef from cows who ate mostly grass.

I buy my pastured beef from a local farm, and here is what it looked like when it cooled in the fridge (this is the liquid from my pot roast).  No fear! This fat is good for you. Read some Michael Pollan Books or Nina Planck's Real Food for more information on healthy natural fat if you are having some doubts.

Now you know what you are buying!  That marbled white fat in your steak is bad saturated fat and that steak had to go through a lot of unnatural steps to make it to your table. Grass eating pastured natural cows are cheaper to produce and are not harmful to the environment.  Their meat is healthier for you and you can support your local pasture farmer and save money by buying direct!

As you can see, the cow I got this meat from ate only grass, hence the greenish-yellow cast to the fat.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Don't throw away that Chicken Carcass!! GF Chicken Stock

Sometimes it's just IMPOSSIBLE to find a chicken stock or broth at the grocery store that is fully organic, and has no gluten or sugar.  In fact I've never found one without some type of sugar.  So before you throw out that chicken carcass from your Roasted Chicken, use it to make an easy low carb stock!  I cut mine in a few pieces, threw it in a small pot with filtered water, onions, and garlic and boiled it.  That's it.  There was still some of that bacon-herb rub inside it with onions (from my last recipe) which is a PLUS!

You bought that delicious farm raised organic pastured chicken from your local farm (hopefully) and now you can milk every bit of nutrition out of it and stretch your dollar too!!!

Here's how you do it.  Put your chicken bones/carcass in a medium sized pot - use a pot that is slightly wider or about the same size as  your chicken carcass before you cut it up. Add a little roughly cut up onions, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pour enough filtered water that covers your bones plus one more inch.  Cover your pot with a lid, bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour until it is reduced by 1/3rd and looks rich in color.  Strain out the vegetable and bones and you have chicken stock!  Cool it and freeze it until you are ready to use.  TIP** you can freeze it in an ice cube tray and then put the cubes in a ziplock bag for single servings or just freeze it all together.

I put mine in glass jars, leaving enough room at the top for it to expand in the freezer.  Look at that gorgeous fat on the top! It is full of monounsaturated oleic acid, a heart healthy fat found also in olive oil.  Also, it's got CLA, a the anti-cancer fat which fights cancer and builds lean muscle.  This is great stuff! It's going to make your next meal amazing. :)  Mine made 4 cups!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Save the World By Eating Local Pastured Meat! Gluten free Bacon & Rosemary Roasted Chicken

 Yes, it's true. The two most important things you can do to save the planet are:
1. Work close to home and drive a fuel-efficient car, like a hybrid
2. Eat local organic foods and pastured organic meat & dairy

Listen folks, we cast the most powerful votes with our wallets!  If we were all to eat locally, think of all the fossil fuels that would be saved from shipping. Also, all the health benefits!  And supporting your local organic pastured farm who is supporting the environment.  If we all ate locally, then that would reduce the amount of Industrial Farming that is ruining this country.

And don't forget how healthy it is for you! Your food is fresh, still bursting with the most nutrients possible. You are eating seasonally, which is cheaper and more natural.  Yes, my meat costs more from the farm, because of the way it is raised.  There is nothing comparable at the market - I have no guarantee of how these animals are raised and how long the cows actually ate grass... or what was actually fed to the chickens (did they eat grubs and insects as is natural??  Or were they fed organic soy and fish meal in a dark barn?).  Also, hey, it just tastes better. Seriously. It tastes so good.  Eating cheap is costing this country a LOT of money.  Industrial farms are not profitable, they ruin the environment with pesticide run-off, and raise our taxes. From Real Food, by Nina Planck:

Industrial cattle eat corn, wheat, soy, and cottonseed oil because this feed is subsidized.  From 1995 to 2004, taxpayers spent ninety-one billion dollars on these four crops alone.

Today a [industrial] farmer spends thirty-five calories in fossil fuels to produce just one calorie of feedlot beef and sixty-eight calories for a calorie of pork.

So cheap meat isn't really cheap.  And it costs us in health as well.  But, just a note, my local eggs are cheaper and way better than the store's "organic" eggs. Yes, some things are cheaper. I bet I spend less on my food budget each month than other organic eaters.

I know where my chicken comes from, and what it eats (soy-free!) and I feel good about eating it.  I know it led a happy chicken life and was prepared for our table with care.  I will post soon about ways to save money while eating healthy real food. It is full of monounsaturated oleic acid, which lowers LDL.  It is full of CLA, the anti-cancer fat which fights cancer and builds lean muscle.  And it boosts immunity!  And where is most of this good stuff? In the mostly un-saturated fat of the chicken. Yes, in the FAT!  (of course, I have nothing against pastured or coconut saturated fat, but all kinds of natural fat is good for you!)

I know it is not bleached with chlorine like regular chicken at the store, to kill harmful bacteria, because it doesn't need to be. The risk of harmful bacteria in pastured meat is very very low.  That comes from feedlots and chickens stuck in a barn standing in their own waste. 

OK, on to the yummy chicken recipe! Thanks for reading.  I'm passionate!  If this interests you, read Real Food and Omnivore's Dilemma.  Those are my two favorite books on this subject.

Okay folks, don't be scared. This took me only 15 minutes to prepare before I had any coffee. And to be honest, I hardly ever make a roast chicken, because I always think it will be hard. But, it wasn't!! It was EASY! Try it!!!

You can use any veggies you want... if you don't have a roaster pan and you don't have asparagus, you can use celery in the same way.  If you don't have bacon, you can make this mixture with butter.  I would have used more but I just didn't have that many lying around.  I did add some potatoes for my husband.. not very low carb, I know.  I'll try not to eat them. ;)

Bacon & Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Asparagus & Tomatoes
adapted from this recipe

about a 4 lb organic pastured chicken
4 slices pastured pork bacon, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon dried (technically 1/3rd teaspoon)
1 teaspoon fresh basil or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon dried
a teaspoon each of sea salt & pepper, plus a little extra (or to taste)
2- 3 garlic cloves
one small onion, peeled and quarted
one bunch of organic (local!) asparagus
a handful of organic grape tomatoes
4-6 Tablespoons grass-fed pastured butter/lard, or EVOO or Coconut/Palm oil
roaster pan or baking pan
baster, or use spoon
meat thermometer

Preheat oven to 450˚F.  Rinse off your chicken and pat dry.  Make sure there is nothing in cavity (if you bought it from the store).  In a food processor, blend bacon, rosemary, basil, garlic, s&p until it becomes finely minced or has a paste like consistency. Put your fingers between the skin and meat of the chicken breasts and legs, loosening skin. Spread the minced bacon mixture under the skin, pressing and working it towards the back and towards the legs so it is evenly over the meat. Place any extra inside the cavity with the onion.

Wash and cut the ends off your asparagus and place them side by side in the bottom of the pan (especially if you don't have a roaster pan, like me).  Place the chicken breast side down on the asparagus.  Sprinkle extra s&p on top of the chicken.  Place pats of butter or pour your oil on top of the chicken and roast for 10 - 15 minutes.  Baste with butter from bottom of pan.  Turn heat down to 350˚F and baste every 20 minutes. Roast for about 17 to 20 minutes per pound, or until an instant-read thermometer reads about 165 to 170° when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh and juices run clear (not bloody). It should be very brown, not just light brown on top.  Let sit for 10 minutes without cutting when you remove it from oven.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Real Food by Nina Planck

I am not even all the way through this book and I have to recommend it! It is really great.  Of course, she talks about whole grains, which we Gfree-ers cannot eat, but all the same, I just love what she says and all the scientific evidence she quotes to back up why PASTURED (and natural) saturated fat is SO GOOD for you!!  She talks about Cholesterol myths, and many other myths we are so brainwashed to believe by outdated information!! She is also a great writer.. and she started farmer's markets in London, isn't that cool??
I love it!!
Great excerpt:

 * Grass-fed beef is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin E (both fight heart disease and cancer) and CLA, the anti-cancer fat.
* Grass-fed milk, cream, butter, and cheese are rich in vitamins A and D, omega-3 fats, CLA, and butyric acid, another fat that fights cancer and infections.
* Pastured pork and lard are rich in antimicrobial fats and the monounsaturated fat oleic acid- the same fat in olive oil, which reduces LDL.
* Pastured eggs are rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fats, which prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and depression.  Egg yolks contain lecithin, which helps metabolize cholesterol.

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