Wednesday, 30 July 2014

In Defence of AIP and Paleo Desserts

Look at that. It's a cherry ice cream with a chunky cherry sauce drizzled over the top, still warm. And it's healthy. Or is it? 

There's a huge debate in paleo circles about whether paleo desserts are actually considered healthy. They contain fruits - which are often high in sugar - as well as natural sugars like honey and maple syrup. Many contain dates, which are really packed with sugar. So at what point does a 'healthy' paleo dessert differ from a tub of ice cream you'd pick up from your local corner shop? 

Firstly, it's true that home-made, paleo desserts are free from artificial colours, preservatives and all sorts of refined sugars and syrups. It's often as simple and natural as swirling some berries and honey into a carton of coconut cream. They contain good fats too and there's evidence that natural sugars are easier for our bodies to cope with. 

But just because something is 'healthy' it doesn't mean you should eat it to excess. As you may know, I've suffered for most of my life with psoriasis, which is an autoimmune condition. When I eat well, manage stress and get plenty of sleep and daylight it generally behaves itself. If I eat a scoop (and I mean ONE SCOOP) of the ice cream pictured above, it will stay under control. But if I eat it again the next day, I'll have raised red patches of skin that itch and burn and won't calm down for a few days - maybe longer. 

My psoriasis - and my digestive system - respond very badly to sugar. Fruit, too many carbs, honey, maple syrup - you name it - I have to watch it all carefully. I've made some paleo puddings from other blogs and I've been absolutely shocked at the amount of maple syrup that goes into some treat bars and paleo brownies that are labelled as 'paleo' and 'healthy'. As I said, just because it's healthy (or healthier) we don't have to go mad with it. 

Many people think it's best just to stay away from paleo puddings altogether. You're eating quite a large amount of sugar in one go (compared to the day's meals, which are generally sugar-free) which can kick off major sugar cravings. I can go without sugar for weeks, and I'm fine. But give me a Mars Bar or one of those maple syrup-drenched paleo coconut bars and I'll turn into one of those bad minions from Despicable Me - fidgeting and irritable until I get my next sugar 'fix'.

But, in spite of all this, I do think there is a place for puddings on the paleo and AIP diets. You can take some coconut milk ice cream to a party, which means you're much less likely to want to tuck into that triple chocolate fudge cake perched proudly on its stand. Nibble on a small square from a coconut bar made from blended dates, coconut and orange zest if it means you won't pop to the shop and buy a 200g bar of chocolate-covered caramel. I've managed to introduce a little dark chocolate (80% cocoa solids or more) successfully after a year on AIP. But I don't allow myself to eat it more than once every few months because I find that my body seems to recognise it as chocolate and then expects sugar to follow. And it gives me a hard time about it, and a few days of sugar cravings. 

A little paleo/AIP ice cream or cheesecake is fine, for most people. But if you find that after you eat it you're craving more and more sugar, then it might be best to lay off the desserts - even those 'healthy' ones - for a while longer. We're all different, and don't all tolerate sugars the same. All AIP treats are designed to be eaten in moderation, and most of us will be fine with that. Just don't overdo it. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Taste Test: Walkers Crisps - The 'Do Us A Flavour' Finalists

So. Remember when Walkers launched a contest for the public to come up with some unique crisp flavours? And they would pay the winner £1 million? 

Well, the finalists have now been chosen - after David Walliams and Marco Pierre White put their heads together to come up with the final 6 flavours. (Mine wasn't in there. Booooo.)

The final crisp flavours are: 

Sizzling Steak Fajita
Chip Shop Chicken Curry
Cheesy Beans on Toast
Ranch Raccoon
Hot Dog with Tomato Ketchup
Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce

Walkers sent us a packet of each for us to have a nibble on and try them for ourselves. We gathered around the table, broke open the packets and tentatively nibbled on each one. 

The Chip Shop Chicken Curry was mild, and sweet - the flavour is exactly like chip shop curry - and was one of our all-round favourites. I loved the flavour of the Sizzling Steak Fajita - beefy but you can taste the flavour from the peppers and spices. Quite a complex crisp flavour, with a lot going on, which was why it was my personal favourite.  

Cheesy Beans on Toast was a bit of a head scratcher for all of us. When you crave beans and cheese on toast, isn't it the texture of the soft beans, the silky sauce and the oozy melted cheese that have as much allure as the actual flavour? The crisp tasted exactly like beans and cheese, but I wasn't sure that it worked for me as a crisp flavour. My nine-year old loved it, though, although she agreed it was a bit weird missing the texture. 

Ranch Raccoon was my 6-year old's favourite - it was kind of creamy in flavour, a bit like soured cream flavoured crisps - and, we had to admit - it was a good tasting crisp, even if none of us knew what a raccoon actually tasted like. 

The Hot Dog with Tomato Ketchup was towards the bottom of the list - everyone thought that although you could find the pink-frankfurter flavour in there, it tasted predominantly of tomato. A bit like a stronger version of a prawn cocktail crisp. Not one I would probably look out for in the shops, to be honest.

My husband liked the Pulled Pork flavour the best - you could taste some roasty porkiness, and definitely a barbecue sauce flavour - it works well as a crisp flavour, too. 

Have you tried any of the finalists' crisp flavours? Which are your favourites? 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Breakfast Pork and Leek Burgers

I love these burgers. They're made from good pork mince but taste like sausages. It's great if you're looking to cut down a bit on your processed meat but still have a sausage craving.

These burgers are paleo, dairy-free, AIP compliant and gluten-free and they just take a few minutes to cook.

aip paleo pork and leek burgers

Breakfast Pork and Leek Burgers
Makes 4
1 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
1 tsp coconut oil
pinch of salt
1 leek, trimmed, washed and finely sliced
400g pork mince
good pinch of mace
pinch of sage

Fry the onion in the coconut oil, with the salt, until softened. Add the leek, and continue to cook, until the leek has started to soften too. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and leave to cool. 

Once completely cooled, add the pork mince, the mace and the sage, and mix well. Combine to form patties, and fry them for 5-6 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. Gorgeous with a fried egg and beautiful with greens. Veggies for breakfast? 

You betcha. 


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