Clafoutis or Flaugnarde - Eating Fruit in Season






Everyone talks about eating fruit in season, but somehow when it comes down to it, we often forget to take advantage of local produce when it's available. Today I'm going to tell you about a delicious way that I do it. Throughout the spring, summer and fall when all the fruit is ripe and abundant in the local markets, I make Clafoutis.

Clafoutis (sometimes spelled Clafouti) is a baked French fruit dessert.  Traditionally black cherries are arranged in a buttered dish, then covered with a thick flan-like batter.  Once baked it's often dusted with powdered sugar and served lukewarm - with or without a little cream.


The Clafoutis comes from the Limousin region of France, and is the kind of dessert you can often enjoy sitting in a sidewalk cafe in a French village after a couple of hours spent shopping in the local outdoor market. 

While it is traditionally made with cherries, you will often find it made with plums, apples, pears and berries.  When it's made with other fruit it's properly called a Flaugnarde.

The traditional French Cafoutis  contains the pits of the cherries which contain amygdalin, the active chemical in almond extract.  During baking a small amount of this chemical is released from the pits into the clafoutis, adding an almond flavour to the dessert.

All of these characteristics makes this a perfect recipe for Primal Paleo.  Instead of regular flour, using a little almond flour gives us the same flavour.  And we can use various fruit as it comes in season.  I start making it in the spring when the first strawberries and rhubarb make their appearance. During the summer it's terrific with blueberries and blackberries, and in the fall plums and peaches give it yet another different taste.  


Here is how to make it.  This recipe will make a generous cake that will serve 8.  You can keep the leftovers (if there are any!) in your fridge for a few days, or freeze individual servings for later use.

Ingredients :

4 large eggs
1/4 cup sweetener (I use Xyla or Erithretol but you could also use honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, melted
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1/3 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 pound sliced fruit


Directions :
  • Generously butter a 9" tart pan.  I use a special one with a removable bottom, but as long as you butter your pan well you could also use a quiche dish or a regular pie plate.
  • Whisk together the eggs, sweetener, cream, melted butter and vanilla.
  • In a smaller bowl stir together the almond flour, salt and spices.
  • Now sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ones and keep whisking until well combined.
  • Pour over your prepared fruit and bake for 40 to 50 minutes until it is set in the centre and the top is a golden brown.
  • The clafoutis will slice a lot easier if you allow it to cool for about 20 or 30 minutes before serving.

I always use organic fruit so I don't peel it, just give it a good wash.  That way I'm getting all the benefits of the nutrients in the peel as well as in the fruit itself.

Feel free to play around with the amount of fruit you use.  If you want a cake that's mostly fruit you can double the amount called for.  On the other hand, if you are watching your carbs or following a Keto diet, use only half the amount.  This will still give you a taste of fruit but the majority of the cake will be butter, cream and eggs with a little nut flour - a healthy high fat recipe. 

Lastly, here is another tip worth considering. When I'm preparing my fruit, I always make sure I cut up a few extra portions and stash them in freezer bags in my freezer so I can enjoy this treat year round.  You haven't lived until you've had a warm slice of plum Clafoutis with a cup of hot tea in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter's day!



 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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Ketogenic Diet Recipe - Mexican Bacon & Egg Nests




If you love Mexican food and are eating a high fat Ketogenic diet, this is the dish for you.  Buttery eggs in fried onion and bacon nests with avocado slices and salsa - what's not to love!

This is a high fat, moderate protein and low carb dish.  You get lots of good fats from the bacon, butter and avocado and more than enough protein from the bacon and egg.  Adding a bit of salsa as well as the onion will give you a few carbs, but this should not be enough to take you out of ketosis.  However if you are on the Ketogenic diet then I'm sure you've figured out just how many carbs you can get away with, so you can easily adjust the recipe according to your own specific needs. 


Ketogenic Diet Recipe - Mexican Bacon & Egg Nests

Ingredients :

2 strips of nitrate-free bacon, chopped
saved bacon fat for frying (or coconut oil)
1 large free-range organic egg
1/2 a large onion, sliced very thin
1/2 a small avocado (or 1/4 of a large one)
salsa to taste


Directions :
  • Heat a little bacon fat or coconut oil in a skillet. (Use a cast iron one if you can.  The flavour is so much better!)
  • Add the sliced onion and chopped bacon and cook over medium heat until the onion is browned and the bacon is crispy.
  • Using the cooked onions and bacon, create a nest with an opening in the middle of the skillet. 


  • Now here is the trick to having a lovely buttery egg.  Melt a tablespoon of butter in the middle of the nest you have created. 


  • Quickly add your egg and turn down the heat to low, allowing the egg to cook until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. (If you prefer your eggs cooked more that's fine too.) The egg white will run into the onion and bacon mixture, creating a sort of pancake which will make it much easier to remove from the pan. 
  • With a spatula pick up the egg nest and place it onto a plate. Add sliced avocado and salsa to taste. Enjoy! 

This recipe makes one serving and it's very flexible.  If you want you can always use a couple of eggs instead of just one.  And the amount of bacon, onion and salsa can also be adjusted to your specific taste.

If you are making this for several people you can double or triple the ingredients very easily.  But when you are cooking you might want to make a few changes.  I would cook all the bacon and onion at once, then divide into individual portions and finish one at a time with the egg.  This will prevent everything from running together and creating a mess.  Or you could use a griddle  which has a larger surface and will allow you to cook a few portions at a time.



 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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Ketogenic Diet Recipe - Jalapeno Poppers






If you are on one of the many Paleo or Primal Keto diets that are becoming more and more popular now ( the Wahls diet and Jimmy Moore's Ketogenic diet are two examples), and if you love spicy food, then this lunch is perfect for you.  It would also make a tasty light dinner.  If you're looking for a good Ketogenic diet recipe, you can't get much better than this - my opinion anyway!

Usually Jalapeno Poppers are served as an appetizer along with lots of high carb selections that will do nothing for your health.  But serve it for lunch as a salad topping and you are not only eating something amazingly delicious, but it's good for you as well. It's low in carbs, moderate in protein and high in fat .... and it let's you eat the greens that you need every day in one of the most delicious ways possible. 

Japapeno Poppers are sooooo easy to make and you only need 3 ingredients !(The salad is extra.) This recipe makes one serving.  To serve two, just double the ingredients and use a larger baking dish.  You can make as many servings as you need at one time.  The only limitation is the size of your baking dish and your oven.

Primal Paleo Ketogenic Diet Recipe - JALAPENO POPPERS

Ingredients :

For the poppers :
4 jalapeno peppers
4 tablespoons organic cream cheese
4 slices nitrate-free bacon

For the salad:
1/2 a small avocado (or 1/4 of a large one)
1 to 2 cups of mixed salad greens



Directions :
  • Preheat your toaster oven to 425'F
  • Grease a small baking dish with butter or coconut oil. 
  • Cut the ends of the peppers, cut them in half lengthwise, then using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds.  
  • Fill the halves of each pepper with a tablespoon of cream cheese, put them together, and roll each pepper in a bacon slice.  
  • Place in the prepared baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy.
  • Let the poppers cool for a couple of minutes while you prepare your salad.
  • Place the greens on a plate and top with the avocado cut into chunks.
  • Place the poppers on the salad and then pour the grease from the pan (up to about a teaspoon) over the salad as dressing.  Make sure to scrape the burned bits - those are the tastiest!

Here are a few hints to make this even easier :
  • When you're cutting and scraping the peppers, wear glasses or sunglasses.  This will prevent any of the pepper juice getting into your eyes.  Believe me when this happens it burns!
  • I use a small glass pyrex dish - the kind that comes with a lid - to bake my peppers.   Pyrex Storage 10-Piece Set, Clear with Blue Lids It's the perfect size and I can make these ahead of time (a real time saver) and store them in the fridge.  Then when I'm ready to eat I just need to take them out and pop them in the oven. I have to admit I have been known to have these for lunch 3 or 4 days in a row! 
  • I also use a 50/50 mixture of coconut oil and ghee for baking and greasing my baking dishes.   PRIMALFAT Coconut Ghee 14.2 oz, Virgin & Certified Organic - Pure Indian Foods(R) Brand This is wonderful because it gives you all the benefits of coconut oil (doesn't burn at high heat) plus all the flavour of butter. If you sniff the oil it does smell coconutty, but once it's cooked I find there is no coconut flavour at all. 
  • If you are eating dairy-free, fill your peppers with avocado instead of cream cheese before rolling in bacon.  Not quite the same but still delicious.
  • Try to get organic cream cheese whenever possible.  You don't want all those hormones most regular cream cheese contains. The kind I get locally also contains live probiotic cultures which is another plus. (Most Ketogenic diets encourage you to eat probiotic foods.)

Since I love anything with heat, this recipe is definitely one of my personal favourites.  Add a cup of coffee with some cream and you have a wonderful filling meal that will take you well into the afternoon with NO hunger pangs and NO cravings. 

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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Does Paleo REALLY work? It isn't working for me!




Are you one of the surprisingly large group of people who have followed all the Paleo rules but still haven't gotten the results you want?

It can be very disheartening to put in a lot of time and effort - not to mention give up a lot of your favourite foods - just to find that you aren't losing weight or are still suffering from the same health problems and don't seem to be getting any better.  


When you read all the success stories, see all the photos of smiling, happy, and FIT people, while you aren't getting anywhere it can make you feel like you are all alone in the world.  The only person for whom this is NOT working.

But if you are finding yourself starting to think this way - you're wrong.  Now, after years of popularity and many many Paleo success stories, we are starting to see that there is indeed another side to this coin.  Not EVERYONE is successful when they try Paleo.  In fact quite a few people are not. Not on the first try anyway.

There are of course many reasons for this.  You might have sensitivities to foods like dairy or eggs that others can eat quite easily.  You might have health problems or take medication that makes losing weight more of a challenge.  Or you simply might just not be following the rules correctly.  It's easy to do, even with the best of intentions. 

Everyone is different and unfortunately we don't come with instruction manuals so a lot of what we are doing is trial and error.  The lucky ones seem to find what works a lot easier than others.  Some of us are still looking - and getting very discouraged with the whole process.

Life isn't fair.  We all know that.  But these days we are a lot luckier than all the generations that came before us because we have the Internet.  We have access to the best information.


Yes, it can be too much sometimes, even if we have it all online and not in some huge library of books.  But the answers are out there.  

Unfortunately sometimes it seems like there are too many of them and it can start to feel like you are being pulled in all directions .....


.....  Should you try this plan or that one?  Which one will work and which is a waste of time?  I can't give you the answer to that I'm afraid because it's different for everyone.  But I can give you some direction and hopefully that will be enough to get you on track to where you want to go. 

There are many things you can try if you are having problems, and keeping a food log is the first. You can't know where you are going wrong without keeping track.  You don't need anything fancy.  You can keep track in your daily planner or just get a small notebook to keep in your pocket or purse.  Just make sure to write down everything that passes your lips and then review it every few days to make sure you are actually eating what you think you are eating.

You can also try following one of the many Paleo food plans that are available.  Mark Sisson has a menu plan that will help you with Primal Paleo that you can check out here, Primal Blueprint Meal Plan and there are others available as well, but to be absolutely honest, I do see some problems with this approach. 

I personally find following someone else's plan not that great.  There are always some things that I really don't want to eat, and eating something you don't like will make sticking to any plan that much harder. 

What I suggest is you use the menu plans as a source of ideas for the kinds of meals to eat, when to eat, and how much.  What do they suggest for breakfast, lunch and dinner?  Do they suggest any desserts or snacks?  And how does this compare to what you've been eating?  Just doing a comparison like this might bring to light problems with what you've been eating that you didn't know existed, and give you some ideas for changes that you can make. 

There are usually also suggestions for recipes included with these plans that you can use.  There are also some great cookbooks and step by step books available such as these that Mark has published. 

The Primal Blueprint 21 Day Total Body Transformation
Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals

And of course I have a step by step series as well that you might want to check out.  It's really a guide to all the information on this blog and allows you to learn everything you need to know step by step without getting information overload.  Here is the link to the first book.  




As you know if you read this blog on a regular basis, I follow Mark Sisson's Primal Paleo plan and this blog is based on it.  The main difference between this and other Paleo plans is that I do use dairy occasionally, and I do allow myself the occasional non Paleo treat as well.  I find that as long as I do this in true moderation it works for me.  

But for many people even this slight deviation may be enough to put them totally off track.  You might be one of those people who need a more restrictive approach - at least until you get things going, and if this is the case I have another suggestion for you. Much as I personally love Mark's approach, if you are having problems making Paleo work for you I strongly recommend you check out the Wahls Protocol.




Just in case you have been living in a cave for the last decade, Dr. Terry Wahls famously rid herself of a major disease by taking up a Paleo diet, and she gave a very popular TED talk on the subject that went viral. ( You can watch it here. )  

But she didn't just do ordinary Paleo.  Her goal was to get as much nutrition as possible, therefore she researched and chose foods that would be the most health promoting.  

In her book she gives very specific directions for 3 versions of her plan from the simplest to the most advanced.  As well as the usual Paleo rules - no grains, legumes or processed foods - you will need to give up all dairy and eggs.  And you will also need to eat a lot of vegetables - she tells you very specifically which ones and how much.  

You can start with the simplest plan and that might be just enough to make the difference for you.  If not there are two other versions you can progress to.  Each is a little harder to do, but if it gives you the results you are looking for then it's worth doing don't you think?  And even though at first it might look very daunting, the food is actually very tasty and quite easy to get used to.  Yes, I have tried these plans myself so I speak from experience.


So if you are finding yourself discouraged right now, don't despair.  There IS hope.  Paleo can work for you.  You just need to find the version that is right for you. 

Try the Wahls Protocol. It isn't easy, but it IS doable.  If you really stick to it, one of her plans is bound to work for you, and once you finally achieve the results you are looking for it will all have been worth it.


By the way, the beautiful photographs I have used in this post are by talented Flickr photographer Steven Guzzardi.  If you want to see some really beautiful creative work check out his link here.


 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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My West Coast Patio Garden - July update



This year my garden was an experiment and, as often happens with experiments, it didn't turn out quite the way I expected.

We had a very unseasonal spring with lots of cold damp weather, and all my plants really suffered. Most were stunted, and the ones that survived the frost ended up being attacked by mould.  I think I probably put them in too early.  My bad.

Gardening is usually a constant learning process and even if you've gardened for many years as I have, you can still go very wrong.  Especially when you are gardening in a new climate.

So like all gardeners often have to do, I'm making the best of a bad situation.


The only plants that did well were my lemon tree - surprisingly - and my herbs.  My lemon tree had a huge amounts of flowers and now still looks very healthy - though I don't think there are any lemons.


My herbs have done very well too, but I think that's only because I ended up bringing them inside.  I'm lucky that my office windows get great light so they are really quite perfect for growing plants.  I even added a small lavender plant so I can surround myself with nice scent year round.

I am not quite finished for this year though.  I still have a few ideas up my sleeve, and once I've got a few things in place and planted again I'll do another update. Meanwhile I hope you are all having a much more productive year in your gardens than I am!



Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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Is Quinoa Paleo?



photo by nerissa's ring


Quinoa is a very popular grain alternative, and many may wonder whether it fits into the Paleo lifestyle. This is what Mark has to say :

While the Primal Blueprint recommends avoiding grains and higher glycemic foods altogether, at some point or another most of us partake in the context of occasional compromise.


There are a lot of great recipes using Quinoa.  Here is one of my favourite - Italian style quinoa cakes from totalnoms.com



You can get the recipe here.

In this post Mark also has a video on how to prepare a spicy quinoa dish, so he isn't opposed to it's occasional use - as long as you are aware of it's limitations. Here, from another post on Mark's website, he warns us :


Obviously, like everything else, quinoa has it's pros and cons, but for a lot of people, this is a great grain alternative to at least explore.

I will leave you with one last recipe from Keith McDuffee.  This one is for pesto quinoa with shrimp and baby spinach - looks delicious.  If you want to try it you can get the recipe here.



 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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