Fruit smoothie with homemade coconut yoghurt (SCD/paleo)

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I recently read about the ‘rule’ for eating fruit – how it should be consumed on an empty stomach, between meals rather than with or directly after them. You can read the article here, which Pure Ella posted on her Facebook page this week – thanks Ella!

This was news to me, as I often have fruit for ‘dessert’, right after eating – I love to complete a savoury meal with something sweet. And while I do think that everyone has to find a way of eating that works for them (I’m sure some people can eat fruit whenever they like with no ill-effects), I thought I’d give this theory a bash since I struggle so much with bloating, cramps, gas and discomfort.

Because I sometimes eat quite often throughout the day, it’s hard to find a two-hour gap where I haven’t touched any food – so for me, if I’m to eat fruit on an empty stomach, breakfast makes the most sense.

So this morning, I whipped up a super easy, nutrient-packed smoothie with fresh ingredients and my own homemade coconut yoghurt (recipe here), which adds a little healthy fat and some probiotics too. During the week as I’m dashing off to work, I probably wouldn’t have time to do this, but it was a great ‘treat’ for a Sunday morning.

Fresh fruit smoothie with homemade coconut yoghurt

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized ripe banana
  • 1 kiwi fruit
  • 3 large strawberries
  • Handful fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen)
  • Roughly half a cup of yoghurt (I used home-made SCD coconut yogurt)
  • A drizzle of honey (optional)

Method

Chop all the fruit into smaller pieces and add to your blender or the measuring cup of your stick blender together with the yoghurt and honey. Blend until smooth and serve immediately.

Fresh fruit smoothie with coconut yoghurt

Fresh fruit smoothie with coconut yoghurt

It couldn’t be easier, healthier or more delicious, and if you struggle to get the right amount of fruit or vegetables into your diet, this is a super easy way to get your recommended daily amount in one yummy burst. Enjoy!

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Nightshades: A trick for replacing tomatoes in recipes

I’ve become one of those people that no one wants to cook for. When I first went dairy and gluten free, it was okay because I could eat everything else, and my family happily cooked chicken and sweet potatoes for me. Then I went SCD, and I took my own food everywhere and my family happily boiled eggs for me.

Now, on the autoimmune paleo diet, my family and my girlfriend have basically thrown their hands in the air. They could deal with no dairy. They could deal with no grains. They could even deal with no sugar. But no nightshades?! NO TOMATO?! *hands fly up into the air. What do we feed you?!

I concede that a diet void of tomatoes is… devastating. It’s not only difficult to cook for, but also difficult to live with. The AIP diet calls for the elimination of all nightshade vegetables – the edible members of the solanaceae family – which include potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, chili, paprika, eggplant and various others. See a full list of nightshades as well as an explanation of why they’re problematic for people with autoimmune disease here.

Saying goodbye to nightshades

For the most part, for most people, nightshades aren’t all that hard to give up – except for the tomatoes. Many of us already limit or restrict our intake of potatoes. Lots of people don’t like peppers and they’re pretty easy to avoid too. The same can be said for eggplant. Chilies and paprika is admittedly harder to kick – especially if you like your food to have a bit of kick itself – and also, paprika is found in many pre-made spice mixes.

But here’s the real catch: tomatoes. Just for a moment think of how many tomato-based or tomato-enhanced dishes you eat. Salads, soups, stews, sauces, curries, casseroles, bakes, bolognaises and so much more. Tomatoes are used for colour, flavour, thickness and tang, and they’re used because they’re delicious.

It’s been less than a week but I’ve already found myself up against some pretty tenacious tomatoes. There are some still loitering in my fridge; there were some gorgeous baby ones in my restaurant salad last night, and I had to deftly avoid slurping up some of their seeds with my lunch today (close call!).

When it comes down to it, there’s nothing that easily replaces tomato. It’s not like switching shallots for onions or replacing sweet potato with butternut. NOTHING is like a tomato, which means that one must get creative and think laterally!

The tomato paste bait-and-switch

A few nights ago I decided to make my SCD burgers – one of my absolute favourite meals. But – panic! – I knew that omitting the tomato paste would completely dull the taste of the patties: due to its tartness, tomato paste adds a unique depth of flavour that is very difficult to mimic with anything else.

tamarind-paste

After plenty of Googling, I finally came across the answer: substituting tamarind paste for tomato paste. Who’d have thought?!

And even luckier: I bought a large packet of tamarind paste while I was in Malaysia recently. I’d used it during my cooking course in Kuala Lampur and I was eager to bring it home and try it in my own cooking.

What is tamarind paste – and is it paleo?

Tamarind is a very sticky, tart brown pulp that comes from the pods of the tamarind tree. Often, the seeds – roughly the size of a cherry pit – are left in the paste and you need to remove them before using the paste.

It's suuuuper sticky and sometimes it still has the seeds inside

It’s suuuuper sticky and sometimes it still has the seeds inside

To make the substitution, use roughly half the amount of tamarind paste as you would tomato paste. It’s very tangy with a touch of sweet, just like tomato paste but more intense. Put a little on your finger and give it a taste.

Where to get tamarind paste and what to use instead of it

You’re most likely to find tamarind paste at Asian, Chinese or Indian food suppliers. Or, you can do what I do and Google it, as this will help you to find a supplier in your area or perhaps an online retailer that sells it.

Tamarind paste comes in jars or blocks wrapped in cellophane

Tamarind paste comes in jars or blocks wrapped in cellophane

If you can’t find it, some people use pomegranate molasses instead. Accordingly to Nigella Lawson’s site, you can also mix equal parts of lime juice, white wine or rice vinegar with sugar. I haven’t tried this myself, but it is apparently only effective if just a small quantity is required, as tamarind has a very unique flavour (in the same way, this is why it works well as a substitute for tomato paste, because the latter is usually only used in small amounts).

Recipes using tamarind paste

Tamarind paste is mostly used in Indian and Asian dishes. Here’s an awesome recipe for paleo pad Thai using tamarind paste, taken from Against All Grain – an amazing site if you haven’t checked it out yet. Or you can give it a bash my paleo/SCD burger recipe 🙂

Give it a try and see what you think!

Recipe: SCD/paleo burger patties with guacamole & steamed vegetables

Here’s the recipe I promised you for the AMAZING burger patties I made the other night. They’re SCD/paleo/GAPS, super easy to make an they’re knock-your-socks-off good! How do I know this? K said, “I feel like I’ve just eaten at a restaurant” after finishing hers – which, let me tell you, is high praise!

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Bear in mind that the bun and chips aren’t SCD or paleo. The plate on the left is 100% SCD/paleo/GAPS

Ingredients

  • 800g mince (I used half ostrich and half venison; I haven’t tried these with beef)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic (depending on taste)
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 small tin (50g) tomato paste
  • 2 handfuls fresh coriander, stems removed and leaves chopped (divided)
  • A good shake of ground nutmeg
  • A good shake of ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mixed veg of your choice
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • lemon juice

Method

1. Add your onion and garlic to a pan and soften for a few minutes. This is not essential but it’s a good idea for anyone who requires their veg fairly well cooked.

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2. Meanwhile, place the rest of the ingredients, minus 1 handful of coriander, into a large bowl and add the onion mixture once ready.

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Get in there with your hands and work all the ingredients together, mixing well. I asked K to add a few more dashes of salt and pepper as I mixed.

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3. Now shape your meat into patties. I made 6 big patties, but you could easily turn these into 8 or 10 smaller ones. Place them on a lined chopping board or plate, and allow to firm up in the fridge for a few minutes. This probably isn’t essential, but I gave mine 20 minutes of chill time.

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4. While the meat is chilling, make your steamed veg. I used carrots, zucchini, green beans and broccoli. If you don’t have a steamer, simply put your veg into a colander and place it over a pot filled with about 3-4cm of boiling water. Cover the colander with a lid and steam until desired doneness. I usually cook mine for about 10 mins. Just be sure the water doesn’t evaporate, as you’ll burn your pot! (I’ve done this more times than I care to admit!)

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5. Add a drop of coconut oil to a pan, heat to medium, and add your patties. I fried mine in two batches. Because I hate using oil (it makes me a little queasy), I added dashes of hot kettle water to the pan whenever it needed moisture. I know that purists would recoil in horror at this, but it kept the patties so moist while still allowing them to brown. Cover with a lid while cooking, and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.

Guacamole

While the meat is cooking, make your guacamole. Place the avo and coriander in a bowl, drizzle with lemon juice and add a good crack of salt and black pepper. Mash it all up together with a fork.

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And voila! There’s your 100% SCD/paleo meal, super healthy and (I promise) totally delicious. Place 1 – 2 patties on each plate, top with guacamole and slices of gherkin, and serve with veg. If you don’t have a dairy intolerance, go ahead and add some cheese to your burger too 🙂

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K’s plates always look a little more fun than mine!

Day 86: My 100th post and FORTHWITH with Phase 4! (plus a new SCD/paleo recipe)

This morning while deciding what to cook for dinner tonight, I suddenly realised:

WHERE IS PHASE 4?!?!

I frantically scrolled back through this blog to figure out when I started Phase 3… and it was 39 days ago – eek! If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I have no problem eating the same food over and over (and over and over) again, which is probably why I got stuck on Phase 3 without even really realising that I was stuck.

In the early phases, I was eager to test food and move through the phases because the choices were so limited. But once I hit phase 2, and even more so phase 3, I got comfortable and complacent in my little ‘safe food’ bubble. I got into a habit of cooking butternut, green beans, tomato and gem squash every Sunday, and I was quite happy with my little routine.

Until I suddenly realised that I could be eating so much more! And, after 39 days on phase 3, I SHOULD be.

Phase 4, forthwith!

So I immediately made the decision to start phase 4, and tonight I began with pineapple.

Even though you can eat raw fruit and veg on Phase 4, I decided to cook my pineapple in a sweet and sour-type dish for tonight, to which I also added chicken, ginger, veg and tomato. It’s packed with (well-cooked) veg (I’m still hesitant to take chances with raw/undercooked veg) and it’s oh-so-healthy:

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Here’s the recipe:

‘Sweet and sour’ chicken, pineapple and ginger pot

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 2-3 baby zucchini, grated
  • 1 small knob ginger, grated
  • 2-3 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic (depending on taste)
  • A few glugs pure tomato puree
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, sliced thinly
  • 8-10 baby tomatoes, halved
  • A generous handful broccoli florets
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of pineapple, chopped into small blocks (soft parts only)
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Method

Place the grated onion, carrot, zucchini, ginger, leek and garlic in a pot, add a splash of water and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour in the tomato puree and mix well, then add the chicken and cook until white – 2 to 3 minutes. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients, turn down to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes, checking from time to time to make sure it hasn’t dried out (it shouldn’t).

I served mine with gem squash and fresh avo slices. Delicious!

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And my belly?

My tongue is singing, but my belly is growling. It’s bloated, tight and gurgly. Cue sad face. I loved this dish!

Vegetables makes me bloated, full stop. I don’t eat them before I go out, for example, and I know when I have a veggie-based meal, I’m going to blow up like the Michelin Man.

Yes, the whole point of SCD is to be able to accurately identify the foods that make you bloated, but it’s not as easy at it seems. Even though I introduced foods 3 days apart and monitored my symptoms, it was still tricky to pinpoint exactly where the bloat was coming from.

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To be honest, I got lost somewhere along the way. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, because I tried to be so careful in my testing. But I do know that sometimes I get more bloated than other times – which leads me to believe that while food plays a big role in my symptoms, it’s not the only contributing factor.

[NB: I’ve just had a brainwave: SALT?? I eat loads of it. Doesn’t salt contribute to bloating? Perhaps I need to seriously consider reducing my intake].

What I do know is that my bloating was quite under control until Phase 3, so I think it was the introduction of the more ‘advanced’ veg that put me back a few steps. I know if I cut every vegetable back out, except for the squashy veg, the bloating would pretty much disappear. But do I want to do that? Of course not. So this is a choice I make – squash only and no bloating, or a variety of veg and bloat.

Tonight's selfie (okay *yes*, you got me - I'm sucking in)

Tonight’s selfie (okay *yes*, you got me – I’m sucking in)

SIGH.

Why can’t I just live on nut butter?

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A week’s supply

PS: After my 90 days + 10 extra on SCD, I plan to transition into paleo, which is supposed to really aid in bloating. Now that SCD had healed my GI system, I’m hoping that paleo will be able to target the bloating.

Day 82: I DID IT! (and a delicious, easy SCD/paleo recipe)

My meal: Cauliflower mash, ostrich bolognaise, cooked baby spinach, roast baby tomatoes

Ostrich bolognaise with cauliflower mash, wilted baby spinach and roast baby tomatoes

Tonight, after nearly three months on this diet, I achieved something I never thought possible: I got K to eat an SCD meal! And not only that, but she ate a whole bunch of things she’d never have agreed to if she’d known 😉

The reason that this is such a massive milestone for me is that when it comes to food, K likes what she likes. She’ll eat fruit and veg… but she prefers meat and potatoes. And while I love nuts and seeds and dates and bananas, she’d rather go hungry than eat them.

Tonight, I made a delicious bolognaise that I served on cauliflower mash. The meal was completely SCD legal (obviously) and apart from two tiny differences between our meals, we ate the exact same thing. Another reason that this is significant is that I cook two different meals every night. Being able to make one meal for both of us – at least some of the time – will be such a big time saver (except now I have to share my delicious food – damn!).

The recipe

Sneaky me: I snuck tons of veg into the mince and K had no idea. It’s a great tactic for kids too. If you’re still in the early phases of SCD, like me (I consider phase 3 fairly early still), make sure you cook the veg really well. There is no oil in this recipe, very little fat, and it’s packed with nutrients.

Recipe: SCD bolognaise with cauliflower mash, roast baby tomatoes and baby spinach

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 3 baby zucchini, peeled and grated
  • 3-4 leeks, white part only, sliced finely
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 2 heaped tsp minced garlic
  • 500g ostrich mince (or venison or extra lean beef mince)
  • 1 small jar / 50g tomato paste (make sure it contains only tomatoes)
  • Two medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (seeds removed if you are in the early stages)
  • 200ml tomato puree (I used bottled, pure tomato puree)
  • A good glug of red wine (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few handfuls of baby tomatoes (I used baby roma)
  • Several handfuls of baby spinach, washed
  • 1 medium cauliflower head
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Add the carrot, zucchini, onion, leek and 1 heaped teaspoon of garlic to a pot, add a few drops of hot water, and heat. Stir constantly over high heat for about 10 minutes, adding water as you need to, until veg is cooked and soft.

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Bolognaise: The best way to hide veg that kids or girlfriends won’t eat 😉

Add the mince and tomato paste to the pot. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon or fork, and continue to cook on high heat, stirring all the time.

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Now you need to disguise all that veg…

Add the wine and stir until reduced. Throw in the chopped tomato, tomato puree and the second teaspoon of garlic, as well as a good pinch of salt and several cracks of black pepper. Stir to incorporate.

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One medium tomato contains 40% of your recommended daily vitamin C intake

Reduce heat to low, stir until the pot has simmered down, and then cover and leave to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. The longer you leave it, the better the flavour – but it smells so good it’s hard wait!

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Be patient – it needs to simmer for at least 20 minutes! But you can ‘taste’ for seasoning purposes of course 😉

Meanwhile, place the baby tomatoes into a pot with a little water, and cook on medium heat until the skins have just begin to burst. Set aside.

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Keep a close eye on these!

Next, pour some boiling water over the spinach (or leave it raw if you’re able and prefer it) and leave to soften. Then grate the cauliflower into ‘rice’, like this:

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Use the smallest holes to grate the cauliflower

I know there’s a much easier way to do it using your the food processor, but I’ve still not figured out how to do much more than blend things and make banana ice cream with mine! Anyway, it’s a great bicep workout 🙂 Grate it all until it looks like this (discarding the thick stems in the middle):

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Cauliflower ‘rice’

Cook the cauliflower in the microwave, covered, for about 12 minutes. Add a dash of water before cooking if you need to.

Now it’s time to plate! Spread a spoonful of cauliflower mash onto the bottom of each bowl, then scatter the spinach leaves on top. Top with the bolognaise, then place a few cherry tomatoes on top. K also got a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, which is SCD legal, but I can’t eat it because I’m lactose intolerant. And here’s what our meals looked like:

K's meal: Cauliflower mash, raw baby spinach, ostrich bolognaise and roast baby tomatoes

K’s meal: Cauliflower mash, raw baby spinach, ostrich bolognaise and roast baby tomatoes

My meal: Cauliflower mash, ostrich bolognaise, cooked baby spinach, roast baby tomatoes

My meal: Cauliflower mash, ostrich bolognaise, wilted baby spinach, roast baby tomatoes

Oh my gosh guys, it was amazing! And there were NO leftovers (sob).

K’s verdict

Here are some things that K said during the meal:

“Oh my gosh this is so good. I don’t know why you’ve been complaining about SCD food.” (luckily this was punctuated with a grin and a wink).

“I love it.”

“…nmmmnonmmmmsshluuuurrrpnommmmmm…”

“Is there more for seconds?”

“What’s the squashy type thing that was in there?”

“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU MADE ME EAT ZUCCHINI. YOU’RE EVIL.”

“I’m too full for dessert.”

So I did pretty well, and it’s another dish I can add to our weekly rotation. I am SO proud of myself for taking a bunch of ingredients that K would never normally eat, and turning it into something that she actually loved – AND it was SCD legal! BEST. EVER.

Please feel free to share you recipes or links to your blogs – I love finding new SCD recipes and I need all the inspiration I can get!