Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Prosciutto Salad {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Prosciutto Salad

I like Brussels sprouts - but I love them with bacon! And I'm thinking I'm not alone on this as there are many sprouts recipes including bacon.

Sadly though, I have yet to find bacon here in Belgium that doesn't make me sick. I finally decided to avoid bacon in an effort to find better health, thus ending an incredibly long love-hate relationship between me and the smoked porky goodness.

But the other day I got a hankering for Brussels sprouts. I would have just roasted some and eaten them with sea salt, but the hubster doesn't like sprouts. He only tolerates them when bacon is involved. 

Then I thought about Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo and her Porkitos. Porkitos, for those who don't know, are baked prosciutto slices. I used dry-cured ham commonly found around here, which worked perfectly. Just be sure to read the labels and go with a sugar-free meat, whatever you choose to use.

And what did the hubster think about all this? Well, sprout-hater that he is, he fought me for the salad that was left in the serving bowl. When he finished scarfing it all down, he threw his hands up in the air and said, "It's just so good! Make that whenever you feel like it." 

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Prosciutto Salad

If that isn't a seal of approval, I don't know what is!

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Prosciutto Salad

Ingredients:
  • 10 large Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup Porkitos
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt and black pepper
Method:
  1. Thinly slice the sprouts and place in a serving dish. 
  2. Crumble and sprinkle the porkitos over the sprouts.
  3. Mix together the oil and vinegar, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Dress the salad and toss to combine.
  5. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for a few days.

Bonus!

This recipe works well with finely chopped broccoli florets as well - simply use one small head of broccoli instead of the Brussels sprouts and follow the directions as usual. {The hubster prefers this with the sprouts.}

Chopped Broccoli & Prosciutto Salad

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Churroed Pig Ear {AIP, Paleo}

I'm a pretty adventurous eater, and my father-in-law knows that, so when he saw a discounted package of pig parts, he bought it for me. The pack included a pig ear, foot and tail. Don't you think the tail looks eerily like a fingernail-less finger?


Anywho, back to the pig parts. They sat around in my freezer for awhile because I couldn't decide what to do with them. Then my copy of The Paleo Approach Cookbook arrived - and there was a recipe for trotters. I pulled the pack out of the freezer and prepared the foot and tail following the recipe.

Both were pretty dang tasty prepared this way, though I preferred the tail. The tail had more actual meat, while the foot had a lot of squishy stuff. I wouldn't go out of my way to prepare trotters again, but I just might hunt down more tails...

Anywho again... I was still left with an ear. I had boiled it with the foot and tail so that it would be ready, and it was now time to tackle the beast.


I decided to deep fry it.

Then I decided to cover it in cinnamon and sugar.

Those were two of the best decisions I have ever made.

Now, bits of the ear were gross. Like, the inner ear had hairs. Eww. So I cut that part out and threw it away. I'm adventurous, but that was too much for me. The hubster came home just as I was finishing the frying, so he didn't see the ear, therefore, he tried a bite. His reaction: not worth it.


I, on the other hand, loved them!

They were crunchy on the outside, and chewy-meaty-squishy on the inside! They had a great churro look and flavor, but they also had an amazing pork flavor that shone through. Deep fried cinnamon and sugar pork - what more could you ask for?


Churroed Pig Ear

Ingredients:
  • 1 pig ear
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar of choice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Fat for frying
  • Optional: 2 tbsp granulated sugar of choice + 1 tsp cinnamon
Method:
  1. Boil the pig ear for 3 hours, topping off the water if needed to keep covered.
  2. Remove ear from water and rinse with cool water until cool enough to handle.
  3. Slice as desired.
  4. Mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon, then coat the slices in the mixture.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the fat over medium-high heat until hot.
  6. In small batches, fry the slices until golden brown. Remove from fat and drain on paper towels.
  7. If using the optional coating, sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon while still hot.
  8. Allow to cool slightly, then enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Make Your Own Kombucha {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}

Make your own kombucha

I don't have easy access to fun paleo things here in Belgium. No convenient snacks, no awesome beauty products - and no kombucha. I searched high and low for kombucha here in Belgium, wanting even to simply taste the drink everyone in the healthy-eating community so raved about, but I couldn't find any for about two years! 

Then, randomly, my cousin found some at our local grocery store. Score! I tried it and liked it - and then I started seeing this fermented tea all over the place! Now if only I could get my hands on a live bottle of kombucha to grow my on scoby...

Healthy scoby

Wait - what?! A scoby? Scoby is a fun little acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. The scoby is what makes regular tea turn into deliciously fermented kombucha - and it's alive. Most of the kombucha found in regular grocery stores is no longer alive - it has been pasteurized, or heated, for safety reasons. This process kills off any harmful bacteria that may be in the tea, but it also kills off all the beneficial bacteria naturally found in kombucha, thereby removing any point to drinking it.

Kombucha is reputed to being highly beneficial for gut health. Apparently, it promotes a healthy bacterial balance in our intestines, leading ultimately to better overall health. Kombucha doesn't cure anything, but it creates a healthy bodily environment allowing our health to take control. Many people find gastro-intestinal relief from drinking a glass of kombucha per day, but other symptoms seem to be helped as well, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It really is a magical drink, but one I thought I would have to live without.

Then I got lucky. My aunt gifted me a couple bottles of live kombucha that she bought at a small health foods store, and this is where my kombucha journey begins...

Growing a Scoby

In order to grow a scoby, you need some live kombucha. {You can also buy a scoby online.} You'll be able to drink most of the bottle of kombucha, but you'll want to save about a cup's worth. Place this kombucha in a different glass jar - this will become your brewing jar, so choose a size that works for you.

Tip: Start smallish and work your way up to a bigger jar - don't immediately go for the 5 gallon barrel. I started my kombucha in a half-gallon jar.

Brew 1-2 cups of plain green or black tea, using 2-4 tea bags. When the water is still hot, stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar. Use regular old cane sugar for this. The anti-bacterial properties of honey will kill your scoby. When the tea has cooled to room temperature, add it to your kombucha starter jar. Cover the jar with a square of cloth held with a rubber band {old t-shirts work great for this} and place in a cool area {meaning, not hot, not cold} out of direct sunlight.

You should start to see growth after about a week. {If there's no growth after three weeks, your kombucha was dead. Throw out the liquid and try again with new kombucha.} The top of the tea will become thick and jelly-like. After about two weeks the jelly mass should solidify and become tan in color. Continue to allow the scoby to grow until it is at least 1/4 of an inch thick.

Healthy scoby

Making Kombucha

Now that you have a scoby, you're ready to make kombucha! Brew enough green or black tea to fill your brewing jar, using enough tea bags to make it strong and enough sugar to make it sweet. {Taste it - it should be too strong and too sweet.} Very carefully remove your scoby from the jar {with clean hands!} leaving the starter tea in the jar. Place the scoby on a small plate and sprinkle with a bit of kombucha. Pour the room temperature tea into the jar, mixing it with the starter fluid. Gently return the scoby into the jar ad cover with the t-shirt. Place the jar once again in a cool area {meaning, not hot, not cold} out of direct sunlight.

The next part is up to you. Allow the tea to ferment for at least a few days, then taste it. To taste, simply slip a straw into the jar below the scoby and take a sip. If it's to your liking, you may bottle it and start a new batch. If it's not yet how you would like, return it to it's fermenting spot and allow it to continue doing its thing.

A 7-day ferment will yield a rather sweet kombucha, with it getting progressively tangier and then more bitter as time goes on. {I like it best after about 15 days.} Once the kombucha is as you like it, remove all but a cup of the fluid from the jar. Start a new batch using the directions above if desired.

The kombucha you removed can either be drank plain, or it can be flavored. The easiest way to flavor kombucha is to mix it with fruit juice in whatever proportions you want.

You can enjoy the drink right away - or you can allow a second ferment to happen. To do so, simply place the jars of kombucha in a cool area {meaning, not hot, not cold} out of direct sunlight for 1-3 days. This will result in bubbly kombucha.

Make your own kombucha

Scoby Tips & Tricks

The biggest thing you can do to care for your scoby is to always wash your hands before handling it! Keeping it clean ensures that it will stay healthy. If your scoby starts to mold {has black, green or red spots} you'll need to throw it and the tea away. Brown bits or strings are usually okay and are just yeast overgrowths. If in doubt, throw it away.

Each batch of kombucha will most likely produce a baby scoby, though sometimes the mother scoby will just grow a bit thicker. You can either store these extra scoby's in a "scoby hotel" in the fridge {a small jar with a bit of kombucha} or give them away to people who would like to make their own kombucha. There are also other ideas online, such as including them in recipes or even eating them plain. Run a quick Google search if you're interested.

Sometimes scoby's will float nicely on top of the kombucha, but other time they'll sink down to the bottom or even float sideways halfway up the jar. This is just fine, as long as the scoby is healthy, and will not affect the quality or taste of your kombucha.

Don't use flavored teas to make your kombucha as the different spices, oils or other ingredients may hurt your scoby or even make it mold.

"Floaties" in your kombucha are just fine to drink - they are either baby scoby's or yeast growths. If you don't want to drink them, simply filter them out.


Who else makes their own kombucha? 
What tips or tricks do you have to share with us?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pull Pork Tongue {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}

When I saw pork tongue for sale at my local Carrefour, I grabbed the two-pack and threw it in my basket without even thinking. It was only as I realized I was digging through the shelves looking for more packs that it hit me: I was buying tongue. Wha?!

I just shrugged and carried on with my searching. And while I didn't find any more tongue, I did find four packs of beef liver and two packs of pork heart, all of which got thrown into my shopping basket as well. I often grind up some liver and/or heart to add to my breakfast sausage, and the hubster is used to this by now, but I was sure he wouldn't accept the idea of eating tongue quite as easily...

And I was right.

He whined and moaned and complained long before I even put the tongues on the menu. When the day came to cook them, he spent the day sending me threatening texts {If you don't make me a steak or a pork chop instead, I'll go eat fast food!} which soon turned into pleading texts {Please, could you make me something else?}. I told him to be a man and eat the dang tongues. 



Dinner time came and I served him up a big plate of tongue. I had even gone the extra mile and shredded the bad boys just so it didn't look one little bit like a tongue. He spent a good five minutes "searching" for I-don't-know-what in his mess of meat before I finally yelled and him and threatened to force-feed him if he didn't just try it already!

He tried it - and loved it! {And I must admit, it was full of flavor!} As he put it:


It doesn't taste like tongue... 
Actually, I don't know what tongue tastes like. 
It's good. Real good.

He then pulled a gluten-filled bun out of the freezer, plopped it into the toaster, and proceeded to eat the tongue like a pulled-pork sandwich, but hey, baby steps, right? I got him to eat - and like - tongue. And I now have permission to make tongue again when I like. #winning


Pulled Pork Tongue

Ingredients:
  • 2 pork tongues
  • 3 small onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup of bone broth
  • Water
Method:
  1. Slice the onions and place in a pressure cooker or a slow cooker. Peel the garlic and cut in half, adding to the onions.
  2. Rinse off the tongues and lay on top of the onions and garlic. Sprinkle with thyme and celery salt, and add the bay leaves.
  3. Pour in the bone broth, then add water to cover the tongues.
  4. Place on the lid. If using a pressure cooker, pressurize, then cook for 3-4 hours. If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  5. Once cooked, remove the tongues from the liquid and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Meanwhile, heat up the liquid over high heat and allow it to boil rapidly so it reduces by at least half (reduce more for drier meat, less for soupy meat).
  7. When the tongues are cool enough to handle, remove the skin by scoring and peeling. It should come off easily.
  8. Using two forks, shred the meat as desired. 
  9. Once the liquid has reduced, add the meat back in to reheat. Serve hot.