Coco-Choco Coffee

Like Coffee? Mmmhmmm.

Like Chocolate? Mmhmmm.

Like Coconut? Mmhmm.

Put it all together and you’ve got Coco-Choco Coffee.

 This happened by complete happenstance. I bought some cacao nibs the other day because I apparently had no idea what cacao nibs are, except I had this notion they were like chocolate chips but not as sweet. Turns out that’s sort of the idea, except they aren’t sweet at all. They’re quite the opposite of sweet, in fact. So they sat in my shelf where I store my coffee beans and grinder and all that good stuff.

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Just sat there, poor cacao nibs being neglected, until one morning they fell out of the cabinet as I pulled my coffee bean grinder down. The Universe obviously thought these lonely cacao nibs needed to be put to use. 

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Staring at these little bitter chocolate pieces, I suddenly remembered reading somewhere about pressed chocolate. Basically the same idea as French-pressing coffee, you grind cacao nibs and use the cacao powder instead. This isn’t the same as pressing cocoa powder. Why? There is a difference between the two! According to equalexchange.coop:

“Cacao” is the bean that comes from the cacao tree, which is known by the scientific name of Theobroma cacao. Cacao pods – large football-shaped fruits – grow off the trunk and limbs of the cacao tree, and cacao beans are found inside the pods. 

The beans are harvested, fermented and dried. They are then cleaned and roasted, after which point the products are often referred to as “cocoa.” In other words, “cocoa” is what the bean is called after it has been processed.

Aha! So cacao powder is less processed than cocoa powder. Perfect. I’ll bet you can guess what I did next. 

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Yup. Put a bunch of cacao nibs in with my coffee beans. Ground it all up together and threw it into the French press. The rest I made exactly the way I would regular coffee, except since I was getting all fancy anyway I put a few drops of vanilla extract in the french press before I added the boiling water. 

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Yes I have a lime green French press. Don’t judge.

So even before this magnificent blend came to my brain, I’ve been a fan of coconut milk in my coffee. the full-fat, thick, rich, delicious coconut milk in the can. I prefer Native Forrest (no BPA in their can-liners) but Thai Kitchen is a close second (they don’t have BPA free can liners, but they are also organic and have no additives). Don’t mess around with buying light coconut milk. Your body needs good sources of fat, and what better source than a coconut!? Image

Mmmmm. Coco-Choco Coffee.

 

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Cabbage Leaf Tacos

I know that name sounds not only like a super interesting blog post, but also a really delicious way to wrap up your tacos…(where’s my sarcasm font?). But seriously, these things are amazing. Like something out of a Paleo Taco Truck. Speaking of which, why haven’t I come across a Paleo food truck at all? Get on board with it food truck people!

It’s hard to find a substitute for taco shells, but cabbage leaves really do the trick. I can’t exactly take credit for coming up with the idea, because a friend of mine on Facebook posted a pic on my page of tacos wrapped in purple and green cabbage leaves. Using lettuce to wrap things formerly wrapped in gluten and grain is pretty lame in my opinion. Who wants to wrap a taco in wilty lettuce? Gag. I want my taco shells crispy and crunchy. And cabbage is PERFECT.

These tacos are also a perfect way to use leftover roast, even if that roast didn’t come out so fantastic. Which is exactly what happened to me the other night. I never have any luck with roast in the crock pot. I don’t know what the deal is. They’re never juicy and tender and falling apart like my moms. So I had all this leftover meat and I sure as hell wasn’t going to throw it away. I also had an avocado and some cabbage that needed to be used. Thus, Cabbage Leaf Tacos for lunch today! There was enough meat left that there is also a beef stew currently simmering on my stove for dinner. One roast, 3 meals…I call that $20.00 well spent (even if the first meal didn’t knock my socks off, the tacos made it totally worth it!)

Cabbage Leaf Tacos

About 1 lb roast, cooked, diced into teeny tiny pieces

One large bell pepper, diced

half an onion, diced

2 1/2 tablespoons bacon grease (or whatever fat or oil you prefer)

6 cabbage leaves

Taco seasoning (I make my own)*

Guacamole or 1 avocado

1/2 bunch cilantro

Melt 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in a large frying pan. Add onions and bell pepper, sauteing over med-low heat until onions are translucent and bell pepper is crisp-tender. Add roast and taco seasoning, stirring every couple of minutes until heated through. Image

Remove taco mixture and set aside. Melt remaining 1/2 tablespoon bacon grease in frying pan. Remove 6 whole cabbage leaves from head of cabbage. Cut out the thick part that was attached at the center of the cabbage. This step isn’t imperative, I just don’t like that part of the cabbage. Place cabbage leaves in pan, keeping heat on med-low. Cook until edges touching pan start to brown, flip over, and cook until those edges brown a bit as well. Fill cabbage leaves with about 4 tablespoons of taco mixture each, topping with guacamole or avocado slices and cilantro. Fold excess cabbage over itself and enjoy!

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*Taco Seasoning

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons red chile powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you really want to bring the heat! This amount was appropriate for my 3 year old to eat without complaining that it’s too “picee”)

Hot Damn I’m in a Headstand!

Those were the words I uttered (hollered) when I pulled my knees to my chest and pushed my feet into the air all on my own for the first time. Appropriately so, because I was in hot yoga. Hot damn, indeed. Since then I feel the need to do headstands at any given opportunity. I was working on (the very inkling of a thought of beginning) handstands with my mentor on Friday and so of course we took the opportunity to snap a photo of my leaning tower of headstand. I didn’t realize i leaned until I looked at the picture, but whatever people, it’s progress! Check it out.

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Ignore my demon eyes, I just want ya’ll to know I can do a headstand.

Onto more delicious things, like muffins.

When I went Paleo I had this idea that I was never going to eat baked goods again. Ha! All I’ve really done is perfected Paleo baking.

No, not really. Because my muffins the other day were a pancake recipe gone wrong. I was out of bananas, so I used pumpkin puree instead. Should work, right? Yes, unless you accidentally add an extra tablespoon of coconut flour, and then realize you have no coconut milk. EFF!!! So I sat, looking forlornly at my much too thick pancake batter, wondering what the hell we were going to eat for breakfast. Then it dawned on me. Muffin batter is really just thick pancake batter that rises, right? So I added some baking soda and put that batter in my super-see-duper awesome silicon muffin pans. Is it still a pan if it’s silicon? Hmmm.

This is what came out.Image

What the yum.

This is what went in ’em.

  • 1/3 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • a bunch of cinnamon (depending on how much you love cinnamon, up to a tablespoon)
  • pinch nutmeg, ginger, and cloves
  • 1/4-1/3 cup raisins

Mix together everything but raisins, I used my hand mixer. Fold in raisins. Grease muffin tin with coconut oil or use muffin cups. Divide evenly into muffin tin. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Image

When the tiny peaks are starting to brown like in the pic above, they’re done.

Know what I did next? Threw some grassfed butter on that bad boy and gobbled it up. Ok maybe I gobbled three up. Details, whatev.

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So this morning, I’d agreed to sub a yoga class at 8 am. WHY DO I CONTINUE TO SAY YES TO EARLY CLASSES?!?!?! Thus, no time for bacon frittatas. We had fresh blueberries and my kiddo had mentioned blueberry muffins, so I figured I’d see how well it worked with a banana and blueberries instead of pumpkin and raisins. And it was DELICIOUS. Duh. Here’s what went into these:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • a bunch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of blueberries

Same as with the pumpkin muffins, mix it all together sans blueberries. Fold in the blueberries, and put them into greased muffin tins (or use paper muffin cups). Bake at 375 for ten or so minutes. I should have made a double batch of these.

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The fresh blueberries really made the difference.

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Next time i’m thinking some coffee and chocolate chunks will be appropriate mix ins!

Misadventures in Coconut Milk

Ever get burned by coconut milk?

Ever think you’d even have to consider that question? Yeah, me either. Until last night.

About twice a week I make my own coconut milk. That crap from the store in a carton is loaded with, well…crap. Highly processed corn derivatives, sweeteners, yuck. And making it is super easy. Some chipped coconut, some boiling H2O, Vitamix, boom. Coconut milk.

Unless your three year old flips the “variable” switch to “high” without you realizing it. For those of you non-Vitamix users, you can put your Vitamix on high and when you turn it on you go from zero to F5 tornado inside the blender. Or, you can keep the switch on variable, start the blender low, and crank it up to F5 slowly. The latter is the way to go, unless of course you’d like to cover your kitchen in whatever it is your blending. Or, give yourself lovely burns on your forearm and forehead.

Because that is seriously what happened. Vitamix filled to max line, variable switch set to high, BOOM.

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Note the chipped coconut on the blender. I’ve been sweeping it up off the floors of not only the kitchen, but the dining room and living room as well. Aside from the fact that it felt like someone had set a small smoldering fire on my forearm and along the hairline of my forehead for the majority of the night and into this morning, I believe I’ll survive.

Luckily I was able to enjoy a nice relaxing cup of hot green tea with honey and freshly made coconut milk to calm my nerves.

How to make your own coconut milk (without getting burned)

  • 1 cup chipped coconut
  • 3-4 cups boiling water

Place chipped coconut in Vitamix and pour boiling water in. Make damn sure that switch is set to variable and the nob is turned to one. Turn Vitamix on, slowly crank nob up to 10. Let blend at F5 tornado force for about 1 minute. The longer you blend, the more coconutty the milk will taste, and the more coconut fat you’ll accumulate on the top once it’s cooled.

The coconut milk will need to be strained. I use cheesecloth over my container secured with a rubber band. Pour contents a little at a time into container through the cheesecloth. When there’s a pile of coconut bits on the cheesecloth, take it off, rinse, and replace.

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Continue until all the coconut milk is strained. Store in container* in refrigerator. I have absolutely no idea how long it stays good, as I use mine up in about 3 or 4 days.

*I started this post about a week ago and completely forgot about it. As I went through re-reading, I realized I make my coconut milk in a plastic container. What am I thinking?! Pouring near-boiling liquid into a plastic container…it’s BPA free, but I’m sure that high heat is causing release of God knows what toxins into my coconut milk. I’ll be purchasing a glass container to use in the future, and you should too!

Can Your Tongue Have an Orgasm?

The first time I ever saw a butternut squash I was dumbfounded. I mean it’s kind of intimidating at first, right? All bell shaped and the color of a dreamsicle and stuff. Squash in general used to kind of baffle me, but particularly the butternut variety. The first thing I learned to make with a butternut squash was soup. Creamy, velvetty, sweet, delicious butternut squash soup.

I used to make it using Greek yogurt. Then the Paleoness happened, and I had to find something else. So like everything else in my Paleo cooking experience, I pulled out a can of full fat coconut milk. Talk about nectar of the Gods. This stuff is the dopeness. It goes good in coffee and tea, I use it as a substitute for milk when baking, you can pop open a can and leave it in the fridge over night then whip it as a replacement for whipped cream, or whip it then refrigerate again and re-whip to use as frosting on cakes or cupcakes, it’s the base in all of our veggie and fruit smoothies…basically I can’t live without coconut milk. Or coconut oil. Or coconut flour. Or chipped, shaved, or chopped coconut. My boyfriend thinks I was a coconut in a past life. I may very well turn into one in this life.

I think I got off track. Soup. Butternut Squash Soup. Oh yeeeaaahhhh. So, first I started substituting the Greek yogurt with coconut milk. That’s all I used, was squash and coconut milk. And it was delicious. Then I had some butternut squash soup at a restaurant and they had nutmeg in it.  And it was amazing. So I started sprinkling some of that in mine too. But then…oh, then. 

BACON.

Sorry veggie friends. It had to happen. It was kind of an accident. I needed to use up some bacon, and that naturally sweet squash combined with the saltiness of bacon just seemed so…perfect. And it is. It’s perfect. It’s easy and it’s delicious and it’s good for you and if your tongue could have an orgasm, this is what it would be. Maybe I should re-title this blog entry as Tongue Orgasm. <—-Nevermind, I did. It was originally Velveteen Soup. Tongue Orgasm > Velveteen Soup.

So if you’ve never had a tongue orgasm, make this soup as soon as humanly possible. Pretty sure winter squash season is coming to a close soon!

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(I’m a runner, a yogi, and a cook, not a photographer. But even taken on the iPhone with no filter that shit looks fantastic, yeah?!)

Butternut Squash Soup (aka La Lengua Orgasma)

  • 1 large or 2 small butternut squash
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (don’t make me ramble about how the fat in coconut milk is good for you, just buy the full fat kind!)
  • 2-3 strips bacon
  • 1/2 teaspoon-ish nutmeg

Roast the squash by cutting in half lengthwise, scooping out the seeds and guts, and laying face up on a cookie sheet. Put in oven at 400 F until you can easily poke the meat of the squash with a fork (45 mins-1 hour). Scoop meat out of skin and into your Vitamix (or Blendtec or food processor or blender). Add the can pf coconut milk and blend until smooth. If you like your soup thinner, add some regular old water, or I like to use home-made coconut milk because it’s thinner (like the coconut milk out of a carton. I suppose you could use that too if you like xanthum gum in your soup).

While the squash is roasting, fry your bacon until crispy. After it cools, chop it into bits. Serve soup in bowls (depending on the size of your squash, this will make 3-4 good sized bowls). Distribute nutmeg and bacon bits between bowls. Commence tongue orgasms. 

My Quest for The Holy Grail (or, Why the F%#k Don’t Paleo Pancakes Taste Like Pancakes!?)

I like love pancakes. Everything about them. I like them light and fluffy made with white flour, or hearty and thick made with whole grains. I like them with pumpkin puree mixed in, or topped with berries or bananas or chocolate chips and walnuts. No matter what you put on or in a pancake, it is delicious. Unless, of course, it is a Paleo pancake.

You know this if you’ve tried them. Paleo pancakes are not pancakes. They are eggy souffle type things that are incredibly hard to flip and almost always taste like crap. Since I went the way of the Caveman I have tried no less than 13 different Paleo pancake recipes. None of them were delicious. A few weren’t even edible. Not a single one had the texture of a pancake, that’s for damn sure. I mean, I get it. You can’t re-create the texture of grains if you don’t use grains. All I want is something very very close to a pancake, that is also delicious.

And so began my quest to CREATE the mufucka. Browsing through Paleo pancake recipes, I took note of all the different ingredients people used. Coconut flour. Tapioca flour. Almond flour. Almond butter. Eggs (50 bajillion of them). Baking soda, baking powder. Coconut milk. Bananas. Then I looked at the ones that turned into souffle le mess. All of these had at least three eggs, so I knew I had to limit the amount of unborn chickens in my Paleo pancakes. I’m a big fan of adding bananas for moisture in almost any bread-ish recipe, so I threw one in. And I decided to throw caution to the wind and add more coconut flour than any of the other recipes had used. I’m guessing they try to limit it because that stuff is peeeeee-ricey, but whatevs. I’m not looking for a cheap Paleo pancake, I’m looking for a yummy one.

And thus was born, my Paleo Pancake! Don’t get me wrong here. It’s not exactly like a pancake. I feel that Paleo pancakes will never get there. But it is a damn good substitution. It’s also still not particularly easy to flip, but it was easier than the multitude of other Paleo “pancake” recipes I’ve tried. It also turned out rather light and fluffy, almost like the inside of a real pancake!!! I get giddy just thinking about it. I used grassfed butter on my griddle because I was out of coconut oil, so the outsides browned extremely fast. I think if coconut oil was used you’d get a more golden brown pancake. I didn’t cook the second batch as long as the first, and the inside did turn out a little more souffle-ish, so I’m thinking the key with these suckers is a lower heat for a longer time. Since this was a trial run I also kept these free of any add-ins, but next time I might try some walnuts inside. They ended up tasting like a whole-grain pancake, but with a lighter texture.They were a bit salty, I’m guessing from the bakng soda, but I never use salt when I cook and I’m super sensitive to the way it tastes, so people who eat more salt may not even notice it. I was also out of maple syrup (make sure you’re using 100% pure organic maple syrup if you use some!) so I put grassfed butter and a little (by little I mean miniscule) honey on top. Overall I was damn pleased with myself, and so was my tummy. In the next batch I’ll probably cut a bit of the baking soda, and maybe add a little more almond butter.

Are you about to die in anticipation of the recipe? Fear not! Please let me know if yours turn out good, or if mine were a total fluke of nature and will be gross when I make them again (please God no, I can’t handle more pancake recipe searching!)

Recipe makes 4 pancakes about the size of my hand. The smaller you make them, the easier they are to flip.

  • One banana (the riper the better, overly ripe is great too)
  • One egg + one egg white
  • Two tablespoons coconut flour
  • One tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (remember my salty-ness)
  • One heaping 1/2 teaspon cinnamon
  • One tablespoon almond butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut milk

Mix everything but the coconut milk together. You can throw it all in a Vitamix (or blender of some sort) or mash everything with a fork in a bowl if you like your bananas chunky. Add coconut milk until you have a thick batter. Melt a half tablespoon grassfed butter or coconut oil on griddle. Cook over low heat, turning once, 3 ish minutes on each side (maybe longer, I’m a poor judge of time). Top with whatever sounds delicious to you and enjoy!

***Update***

I’ve made these pancakes 4 or 5 times since the original post, and they’ve turned out great each time. I was feeling like something particularly decadent the other morning, and this beast is what happened:

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I topped the pancakes with coconut whipped cream, raspberry reduction, and toasted coconut. It was like a berry bread pudding dessert almost. Yes, I ate 4 of them.