Calorie Bonanza

So I tried to do the Spartan Military Sprint in Ft Carson a week ago.

I failed.

And it is the popular opinion that I did so because I lack fat. See, I’m a skinny bastard: I’m 5’11” and I weigh 139 lbs on a good day. My body fat is in the single digits (but I’ve got a mean six pack) and when you try to compete in a race with a lot of mud in a cloudy and windy day with no training whatsoever that missing fat may be a key component of why you get hypothermia.

But next year will be different, I’ll be much better trained, much better equipped, and me and my team will destroy that race.

Yes, I’m doing it again, and for that I am increasing my calorie count.

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Boulder’s public library has several books on Paleo, but almost always they are checked out. I have to consider myself lucky for finally snagging Chrissy’s Paleo Slow cooking. I’ll be honest – I was not aware of her site and I haven’t checked it yet. I just got into this massive “I should check out all the Paleo books” mood in the library and that’s how I got it. I have to say I am impressed.

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I am a fan of slow cooking because of its simplicity. Chop, dump, cook, forget. That’s it. I have several tales of chicken and beef so the Carbaganza was the first thing that I wanted to do. Immediately. And since today was a gym day it seemed much more important than ever.

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I cut up and peeled three sweet potatoes, one apple and put it in the slow cooker with some cinnamon for six hours. After that time, the sweet potatoes were soft so I could dump them in the food processor and have a nice paste that looked not unlike baby food. I deviated from the original recipe by adding nutmeg and raisins in order to bring up the sweetness even more.

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This should be plenty for three weeks. Unless I go wild on my portions. AGAIN.

Mexican Traditions

One of the things that have changed about me during this food journey is my willingness to try more foods. While once I used to shy away from foods for any different kind of reasons, mostly the gross factor, now I am willing to be more open about them and give them a try. That’s how I ended up learning six different ways to cook liver and one way to do sauerkraut. And that’s why I’ve started to look onto mexican dishes that I used to pass a long time ago.

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One of these is Tepache, a fermented beverage made with pineapple and sugar. It is pretty common to find street vendors selling them, and since the amount of alcohol is super low, it is given to children without any worries. It is not sweet, but rather tangy, like a pineapple flavored kombucha, though the process does not involve introducing a new culture – it rather lets the bacteria found in the skin of the pineapple do the process.

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A good tepache begins with a good pineapple. It has to be mature, even a bit overripe, but not too much. You start by removing the crown (the top green portion) and the bottom and discarding both, and then you slice and dice the whole pineapple, skin and rinds included! You don’t throw anything away.

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Now, tepache also needs some flavor, added in the form of a pair of cinnamon sticks and a couple of whole cloves. They bring a smokey, more intense flavor to the drink.
Now, depending on the recipe you are using, you are told to either just use the rinds and skin, or the whole pineapple. I prefer to use the whole thing just because I like my drinks a bit on the acidic side (the natural flavor of the pineapple dulls the sweetness of the added sugar, required for fermentation to occur) but I also used piloncillo, a solid form of unrefined cane sugar. Sally Fallon’s rapadura is the same thing.

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I actually just dumped everything in the pitcher and filled it with liquid all the way to the top. And left it outside for three days, covered with a piece of cheese cloth and in a warm (but not hot) spot in my place. After those three days it looked like this:

Oil in my hands

First of all, I´m sorry. I’ve been too busy at work, and that has made me fall back onto recipes that are either easy or that I can make with my eyes closed, and that’s why I haven’t posted anything in the past couple days. I swear I will catch up at some point, but it might take a couple days.
Now, this past weekend a lovely blizzard came upon Colorado and forced me to stay indoors. Since I had bought a huge packet of almond flour because I was supposed to make carrot cake for my frat potluck but ended up making sweet potato brownies I opened my Evernote account and filtered all my recipes with “Almond Flour”.

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That happened.
They are from Elana’s pantry and the original recipe is quite awesome because it’s vegan and removes the “Can I share this with you?” factor that i encounter when cooking for others sometimes, the only sugar comes from honey and besides the chocolate (I had some Enjoy Life chocolate chips from the brownies – soy free, dairy free, gluten free, but a bit more expensive than your usual chocolate) all the ingredients are handy. Well, I didn’t have palm oil shortening so I subbed with coconut oil.

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Thing is, when I was making this dough in the food processor… it wasn’t working. It was crumbly. And in my inexperience I kept adding coconut oil. And it wasn’t helping. So I gave up and whisked and egg in, and that helped. A lot. But when I was folding the chocolate chips in the batter was OILY. I had to squeeze the oil out by hand, making a mess. A huge mess.
But after baking carefully (less than ten minutes at 350F) the cookies came out. Chewy, not crumbly, and roommate approved.

Fermenting follies II: as long as you clean the spoon

Yesterday I talked about buttermilk. However, since I got a huge bottle of cultured buttermilk I decided it would also be a good idea to make some sour cream (or hopefully, creme fraiche) since I always seem to find a use for it.

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In this case the ingredients are buttermilk and cream. I used a tablespoon of buttermilk per cup of cream, and put it in my ever present jars of coconut oil.

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It thickened beautifully. And the first time I used it was today same, since I used a tablespoon to thicken the sauce of the chicken I had just cooked. Delicious!

Fermenting follies I: the fatter the thicker

Well, I attempted to do fermentation a while ago, but that didn’t work. My cream never thickened and I decided to throw it away. However, I made the decision that I had to do it again, specially since I’m interested in lactofermenting my condiments (so I can actually make ketchup that’ll last in my fridge for a while… and maybe sri racha) I decided to try again.

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After reading Nourishing Traditions for a couple hours, I decided to make buttermilk first. Not just because according to Dr. Fankhauser is the most foolproof ferment you can make, but because it can be used later to make whey and cream cheese. So I gathered some milk, some cultured buttermilk and proceeded.

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I measured one cup of buttermilk and then three cups of milk (I was not sure of the freshness of the buttermilk, so I decided to use Fankhauser’s large ratio).

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Poured it into mason jars and left it on top of the fridge for a day!

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I don’t know if you can tell from this picture but my end product was super thick. Almost like a yoghurt. The taste is fine – a bit tart, but not like rancid or anything, so I am confident I did not screw up. A quick google search told me that the fattier the milk, the thicker the buttermilk – and since I used cream top, I guess it can be understandable.

Smoothie week – Chocolate Vanilla

This week I will be talking about smoothies. Easy, quick and filling meals.

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I’ve talked about Toad before. He’s probably one of the most interesting paleo cases out there, experimenting with himself over and over and trying to achieve a great state of living in a minimal setting. He’s thinking about dropping the Paleo label, since he thinks it’s too restrictive -and causes too much conflict between people who want to eat well and people obsessed with the “Is this Paleo?” question.

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This smoothie, from his Smoothie recipe book (free!) involves Primal Fuel, one of Mark Sisson’s supplement, but can be easily substituted with cacao powder and whey protein powder, which is great since Primal Fuel is actually a bit expensive. I used it, I’ve been buying it since I went back to the gym, but I used chocolate instead of vanilla and added a couple drops of vanilla extract. It also has shredded coconut. The smoothie tasted great, though you do feel the coconut in there -I would mix it every once in a while with the wire whisk that comes with the bottle.

Cooking with scraps

So after turning a pound of almonds into almond milk, I had almost a pound of almond pulp. What to do, what to do? I wasn’t gonna throw it away, not with the price of almonds!

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Thankfully Elana offers a solution: turn them into crackers! I mixed some of the pulp with flaxseed meal, thyme and salt, and some grapeseed oil to add consistency, and pressed it!

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It’s round because that’s the shape of my roommate’s dehydrator. A day later at 105F I ended up with these beauties:

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And I haven’t even used a quarter of the pulp I have. Boy I’m gonna have so many crackers!