Monday, 18 August 2014

Nutty Paleo Apple Muffins with Speculaas


Ever heard of it? 

It's a blend of spices, originating in the Netherlands, and it includes tasty ingredients such as cinnamon, cloves and ginger. It's warm and sweet and has a cosier, more rounded flavour than if you'd just used cinnamon on its own. 

Steven Dotsch from The Speculaas Spice Company sent me a little packet of his own speculaas spice blend to try out. He missed the speculaas biscuits his mother baked when he was growing up in Amsterdam, and set about trying to recreate that flavour using his own blend. Happily, he cracked it, launched his own range - and I was only too happy to give it a try. And it seemed natural that my first adventure with its cosy, sweetly-spiced scent would involve apples. And nuts. Well, it is nearly autumn, after all.

These muffins are paleo and gluten and dairy-free - although Steven informs me that not all the spices in his secret blend are AIP compliant, just so you know.

I've adapted a recipe of one of our favourite paleo muffins, from the blog Bravo for Paleo. I've tweaked it - adding less salt, subbing in maple syrup for honey and obviously including the speculaas, apple and hazelnuts, too. I hope you love them as much as we do. 

Nutty Paleo Apple Muffins with Speculaas
Makes 12
250g ground almonds
1 tbsp coconut flour
a pinch of salt
half a tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp van Dotsch speculaas spice blend
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil (in its liquid state)
3 tablespoons runny honey
3 tablespoons coconut milk (give the can a shake so the fat layer is absorbed into the rest)
2 eggs
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into small squares
handful of roasted, chopped hazelnuts for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180ºC/350ºF and get out a silicone muffin tray. 

In a bowl, mix together the almonds, coconut flour, bicarbonate of soda and the speculaas spice mix. 

In a jug, mix together the vanilla extract, coconut oil, honey, coconut milk and the eggs. Whisk together until well combined. 

Pour the now deliciously-scented egg mixture into the almond mixture, and stir well, until you get a firm but uniform batter. Tumble in the apple pieces and lightly stir again. 

Divide the mixture between the holes of the muffin tray, making sure every muffin gets about the same number of apple pieces, and then scatter the chopped hazelnuts over the top. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins are golden and set. 

I find it's easier to remove these from the tray if you leave them to cool thoroughly first. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Thai Inspired Turkey Meatball and Coconut Curry

This is probably one of the most beautiful dinners I have made myself since starting AIP. 


It's dairy, nut, seed, gluten and nightshade-free. 

Imagine a creamy coconut Thai green curry but without the heat. You just get the creaminess flecked with fragrant ginger, coriander leaf, basil and lemongrass. And THEN there are the light, aromatic turkey meatballs just seasoned with a pinch of salt and finely chopped spring onion. 

I know, you want the recipe. Of course you do. 

Here it is:

Thai Inspired Turkey Meatball and Coconut Curry
Serves 4. 
2 sticks of lemongrass, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
big handful fresh coriander leaf 
handful fresh basil leaves
juice of half a lime
1 cm thick slice of ginger
400g turkey thigh mince
1 tsp coconut oil
2 spring onions (green onions), finely chopped
pinch of salt
2 courgettes (zucchinis), trimmed and peeled into strips with a vegetable peeler
400ml coconut milk
quarter tsp turmeric

First, make the curry paste. Put the lemongrass, garlic, basil and ginger and lime juice in a small food processor. Cut the stalks off the coriander bunch and add these in too, reserving the leaves for later. Blitz it all up until you get a citrus-smelling, greenish paste. Put to one side. 

Gently fry the sliced spring onion in a little coconut oil until slightly softened. Put to one side to cool. Once cooled, combine with the turkey mince and the pinch of salt in a bowl until just mixed and form into small bite-sized meatballs. Brown them in the pan for about 5 minutes, turning regularly and then transfer to a baking tray and bake in the oven at 200ºC/gas mark 6/400ºF for about 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through. 

To make the sauce, tip the curry paste into the frying pan (I use the same frying pan all the way through) and fry gently until aromatic and sizzling. Pour in the coconut milk and then add the courgette/zucchini strips and then the turmeric. Simmer for a few minutes, until everything has warmed through and the courgettes are soft. Taste and season with a little more salt if you need to.

Serve the meatballs with the sauce, with freshly-chopped coriander leaves sprinkled on top. 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

29 Autoimmune Paleo Barbecue and Grilling Tips

It's only the beginning of August, but there's still time to light the barbecue a few more times before autumn starts to sneak in. 

If you're on a gluten, grain or dairy-free diet then barbecues are quite a good option. If I'm invited to one I find there's always something for me to eat, especially if I can bring along some home-made (AIP-legal) burgers for everyone too. A handful of meat, some salsa, salad dressings and a few salad leaves and I'm sorted. 

Here are a few tips I've put together after a lot of practice - I love barbecues!
Try some of these:
  • Spatchcocked chicken or poussin - marinate with garlic, parsley, lemon and coconut oil. Cooking it in the crisp skin keeps the bird juicy and flavoursome - just make sure it's cooked all the way through.
  • You can barbecue whole squid. It'll take just a few minutes. Grill it until you can see the barbecue lines and then turn over. Toss the hot, cooked squid in garlic, parsley and olive oil. 

  • Burgers - pork, turkey, beef or lamb burgers (without egg or breadcrumbs) and wrapped in a crisp lettuce leaf with a rasher of crisp, cooked bacon
  • Artichokes are heavenly when barbecued. Try this recipe but you can use coconut oil instead of the olive oil. 
  • Sausages - while hot dog franks are safely out on AIP, good-quality sausages are possible. However, even paleo ones (with no breadcumbs) still often contain nightshade spices and black pepper. If you can find AIP compliant sausages (or if you can make your own), they're beautiful with some chimichurri salsa (leave out the pimentón in the recipe).  
  • Offal will barbecue too. Try grilling liver and hearts, which can also be made into kebabs. You can also cut the liver up and add it to the standard burger mixture.
  • Sweet potato slices - cut them thinly and bbq - or wrap whole sweet potatoes in foil lightly and bbq in the coals/on grill - lovely with lime and coriander leaf. 
  • Lamb chops - grill for a few minutes per side.
  • Grill half an avocado until the dark stripes of the grill appear. Oil the bars of the grill well. This will give a lovely smokiness to guacamole, salads and salsas. 
  • Palm hearts from a tin can be placed on the barbecued and cooked until lightly golden. Eat them with meat and you'll get a creaminess that is (sort of) similar to cheese. 

  • Salmon kebabs - squeeze with lime and sprinkle with cilantro before cooking - spear boneless salmon onto a skewer. 
  • Try barbecuing salmon fillets or the whole fish - either wrapped in foil or on the grill itself. Other good fish to try are tuna, or any firm-fleshed variety. 
  • Sardines work brilliantly on the barbecue, as do mackerel. Try with a beetroot and grated horseradish dip.
  • The BBQ favourite - steak. Cut into thin slices and grill for a few minutes or until done to your liking, turning a few times. Don't forget the chimichurri! 
  • King prawns in their shells grill very well. Cook until the shells are pink and slightly golden.
  • Mussels in their shell can be barbecued - just make a little pouch out of foil and add a slosh of wine (it's ok if it's cooked) or a splash of water. Seal up the packet and place on the barbecue until they've all opened up. You can also sprinkle in some chopped garlic, parsley, coriander leaf or other AIP-compliant spices and herbs if you like. 
  • Kebabs - try lamb and artichoke hearts together and pork with slices of apple.

  • Bananas - grill on the BBQ in their skins. They turn mushy and sweet and are wonderful with whipped coconut cream. Ripe bananas work best. 
  • Grilled plums with whipped coconut cream - half them and remove the seed and place directly on the bars of the grill. 
  • Grilled pineapple slices on bbq - try with squeeze of lime afterwards and some AIP-compliant toasted coconut ice cream
  • Strawberries and raspberries can also be warmed in a foil packet placed on the BBQ. 
  • Salads - add figs and strawberries for a special summery treat. 
  • Dressings - try ones with pomegranate molasses or a vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil and salt - this one would be good with fish. 
  • AIP puds are eaten in moderation only but if it's a special occasion and a hot day, an AIP-compliant ice cream can be a blessing. Make up a stash of these lollies if cooking fruit on the barbecue is too much. 
  • AIP tacos - using the upturned leaves of little gem lettuce - add cucumber, avocado, red onion and add shredded meats or fish. 
  • Crockpot pulled pork - take the pressure off the barbecue if you're feeding a lot of people and have a pork shoulder cooking in the crockpot or slow cooker. Once it's done (about 4-5 hours) shred it with a couple of forks and pile up on plates for everyone to eat with salad.
  • For a different flavour, try rubbing pomegranate molasses into chicken strips and then grilling for a tart-sweetness.
  • Where you previously would have served something on a bun, think about serving it either on a stick (kebabs, sausages - corn dog style) or wrapping it in a lettuce leaf. No plates (and less washing up and fiddling with cutlery!). 


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