Monthly Archives: January 2016

{Paleo Pantry} Caribbean Spiced Plantains

Happy Hump Day everyone! I love me a 4-day week … we get to Wednesday, and then the weekend, so much quicker. Although this week I’m buried in reading applications and doing admissions interviews and could use another day in the week … and I have to work this weekend, so I’m not even sure what I’m talking about. #losingit

The chaos of a week like this, where I am literally on an interview every hour, makes me grateful for a well stocked pantry, fruit basket, and spice cabinet, so that dinner is quick to pull together. Plantains have become a key part of our well stocked pantry. They used to scare me because you’re expecting a sweet banana and then you end up with a thing that you can’t peel, and depending on the ripeness, can be pretty bland, and you have to cook. Buuuut, our nutritional therapist put me on a super strict eating plan as part of our mold detox and my fibromyalgia treatment. Basically, I’m allowed to eat grassfed/pastured/free-range meat, arugula, and low fiber/low carb veggies (winter squashes, carrots, and plantains). It’s not the most exciting eating in the world, but I’m still on a mission to make it taste good.

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We buy plantains in bulk. Two bags, from Costco, once a month. When you’re only allowed squash and plantains as your starch, you need a serious supply. Usually we eat green plantains because they’re lower in sugar, but sometimes they get away from me on the ripeness (I’m acting as though I don’t let them, which I do, because they’re so much better sweet) and we just have to indulge in a sweet treat. 

Spices are totally your friend when it comes to creating tasty paleo meals. I’ve always had a decently stocked spice cabinet, but it now gets some serious use. I love love love smoked paprika and was including that in every spice blend, but I’m also on a nightshade-restricted diet right now (no tomatoes or peppers (which is where paprika comes from)), so no paprika (or spicy food, which really puts a cork in my snorkel). Instead, I add ginger and turmeric to every spice blend I make for their anti-inflammatory properties, and because they taste good.  

CaribbeanSpicedPlantains2These Caribbean spiced plantains are an awesome side dish and super quick and easy to pull together. To get the best flavor, it’s good to grind some of the spices fresh. I use my dad’s coffee grinder circa 1992 – notice the yellowed plastic? I remember when my grandpa gave this to my dad when I was little. My dad probably doesn’t even know I have this #nowhedoes #hidad. If you don’t own a spice grinder, just use ground cinnamon, allspice, and pepper.

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This recipe is this easy: grind up your spices, peel and slice your plantains, toss the plantains in the spice mixture, melt some butter, sear the plantains, and throw them in the oven until soft. The whole process takes about 17 minutes. Best part? They totally taste like bananas foster, except without the ice cream and booze, and you get to eat them for dinner. #awesomesauce #excepttheresnosauce

Also, you should know that cooking (or any other activity in our household) involves refereeing the dog wrestling. 

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Yep. You do spy the easy salmon burgers in the background. Last night was totally a Paleo Pantry kind of night. And, someone should remind the cook that we all learned in third grade not to have the pan handles hanging off the stove. #danger

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If you haven’t eaten many (or any) plantains, these a great gateway plantain. Make sure you’re using ripe plantains (yellowy-brownish) and here’s a good tutorial for peeling plantains (both green and ripe).

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Caribbean Spiced Plantains
Serves 4
Quick and easy paleo plantain side dish
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Prep Time
7 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
17 min
Prep Time
7 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
17 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 ripe plantains
  2. 2 cinnamon sticks (or 2 tsp ground cinnamon)
  3. 1 tsp whole allspice (1 tsp ground allspice)
  4. 1 tsp ground ginger
  5. 1 tsp ground turmeric
  6. 1 tsp ground cumin
  7. 1 tsp ground coriander
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. 10 whole peppercorns (or 1/2 tsp pepper)
  10. 2 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grind all spices in spice grinder/coffee grinder (or mix ground spices together)
  3. Peel plantains and slice into 1 inch slices on the bias
  4. In a medium bowl, toss the plantains in the spice mixture
  5. Heat butter in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat
  6. Add plantains to skillet and cook until almost blackened
  7. Flip plantains and cook again other side until almost blackened
  8. Move skillet to oven and cook until plantains are fork tender/soft, about 5-8 minutes.
Adapted from Beyond Bacon
Adapted from Beyond Bacon
Isn't That Grand? http://isntthatgrand.com/
 P.S.  I realize turmeric isn’t really a Caribbean spice, but like I said, I add it to everything.



{Kitchen Update} Beadboard Sent Me to the Brink

We’re about halfway through the kitchen update … wahoo!! The painting is done and now we just need to figure out the lighting situation and how much of the dividing wall we’re going to take out. I know – I just painted the wall and now I’m ripping it out?? #thatshowIroll Oh. And the hearts still have to come down. Those suckers are really secured up there.

Hearts

Thank goodness for a weeklong holiday between Christmas and New Year’s – this project would have taken a FOR-EV-HER (say that in your best Sandlot voice) if I’d had to cram it into evenings and weekends. I wore this outfit for a week straight. I know what you’re thinking – TimTheFarmer is a lucky guy #youshouldhaveseenmyhair.

Overalls

When we left the kitchen last week, we were picking paint for the cabinets and beadboard. TimTheFarmer and I both thought we’d pick the lighter grey, but once we saw them both on the wall and cabinets, we loved the darker grey – Cordite. It had an unexpected green tint to it that looked really cool. So, it was back to Home Depot to get a gallon of the Behr Marquee to put to the one-coat test.

Paint Sample2

We prepped all the surfaces by scrubbing the cabinet doors, the cabinet frames, and beadboard using TCP as the wash. Not eco-friendly, but gives a good clean of surfaces that get dirtier than you’d like to admit. While we waited to close on the house, I was redecorating the entire house in my head, which meant painting the cabinets. I spent a fair amount of time researching how to paint cabinets. There are some great posts out there on how to do it, but I learned it can be a super involved process.  Depending on the surface, it can involve sanding, removing the finish, prepping, priming, painting, sealing….eeeekk! I wanted to do it right, but I don’t have that kind of time. Once we finally moved in , I started really examining the cabinet and beadboard surfaces. They’re not a fancy hardwood (they might be plywood…classy, I know), they don’t have a shiny stain, and they’re a little rough. So, after consulting a few people and lots of justification in my head, I decided to wash them really well and just paint them. In other words, this not a post on how to paint cabinets. I’m hoping this method will work for our basic cabinets, but probably not what should be done for most other types of cabinets.

First, we pulled the cabinet doors off (using my new hot pink drill – thanks Dad!) and painted them and the cabinets. We didn’t paint inside the cabinets #notthatOCD but we did paint under them, which made more of a difference than I expected.

Cabinets

To keep it real, it looked like a bomb exploded in our kitchen. And, having all the cabinet doors off confirmed my hunch that I can not hop onboard the open shelving trend.

Mess

While the cabinets were drying, I started in on the beadboard. Oh. My. Word. I thought painting trim was awful. Painting beadboard must seriously be the most tedious thing you can paint in an existing home. Which is saying a lot, because painting the trim around windows or trying not get paint on the floor when painting baseboard trim is pretty flippin’ annoying. Between trying to get a straight line where the wall meets the beadboard and making sure all the little grooves are filled, it took as long to paint the beadboard as it did the rest of the kitchen (cabinets, trim, and walls combined). My cousin wrote to say she has 7 ft tall beadboard throughout her New Zealand home they’ve been slowly painting. Lilly, I would LOSE my mind.

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I think there is going to be a whole post dedicated to my straight-line odyssey. I know – try to contain your excitement. 

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Second only to the beadboard in frustrating projects, was re-hanging the cabinets. They still don’t shut quite right, but for the sake of our sanity, and marriage, we agreed to give it a week before we tried to fix them.

While I was painting the cabinets, TimTheFarmer painted the walls and ceiling with the light grey. It was SUCH a help #teamwork. After how long the dang beadboard took, if I’d have had to paint the walls too, this project would be finished in April.

Behr Marquee Paint Review 

So…the big question…did the Behr Marquee cover in one coat?

Paint Sample

Drumroll please…yes!! 

And thank goodness for that, because, as we’ve been discussing, the beadboard was close to sending me to the brink. It worked so well that I tried to get the Home Depot man to mix me up my wall color in the paint, but because it’s not a Behr Marquee color, it turns out it wouldn’t be guaranteed. Since I still had a gallon of the original wall paint, I figured I’d use that up and then try to find a super similar light grey for the rest of the house. It’s double the price of our other paint, but if I could only do one coat, the time and money savings would definitely make it worth it. Although, I did learn that one coat coverage is harder to achieve in light colored paint than it is with dark. Any ideas on why that is? I have my theories… Anyway, here’s a tiny, messy preview of the cabinets.

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I can’t wait to show you how all the paint turned out! As soon as I’m home when it’s light out, I’ll get some pictures. Stay tuned.



Paleo: Why we eat what we eat.

All the recipes I post on here are grounded in paleo concepts – gluten, dairy, grain and sugar free. Organic. Unprocessed. Full-fat. Free range, grassfed, pastured. I know, I sound like a jerk. But there’s a reason for it (aside from it’s what we’re meant to eat) so I thought I’d give you a quick run down of our story.

I love food. I love to cook. I love to eat. I always have, but I think our culture can make you feel guilty for loving food and to eat. I remember feeling incredibly liberated when I read Eat, Pray, Love because Elizabeth Gilbert said she was a food tourist. Yes!! I had never heard anyone admit that when they travel, it was about making sure every meal was amazing. In my head, travel was supposed to be about experiencing the sights, the culture, the history and the activities. Which it is. But for some—me—it’s also about food. I got way off topic there, but to say I’m always thinking about the next meal would be an understatement. For me, food is about the satisfaction that comes from eating something delicious while experiencing someone’s art and culture. It could be a meal prepared by a James Beard Award-winning chef, or it could be my nana’s tortillas, or it could an Oreo (although I find (slightly) those less satisfying these days). If a meal is mediocre, it feels like a wasted opportunity. Yes, this is an exhaustive and often disappointing relationship I have with food, but I don’t think I chose it. I’ve realized in the last few years that it’s where I find joy.

So, with that, how the heck did we end up eating a generally paleo diet? Where there’s no bread or cheese or pasta or beer or cheese or chicken pot pie or cheese or tortillas? For us, it sort of came together all of the sudden about 18 months ago.

I have fibromyalgia. I have had it since I was 18. From day 1, I was told I should eat paleo because grains and sugar are inflammatory. But, back in 2001, paleo looked very different than it does today, and fibromyalgia was even less understood than it is now. I tried, but couldn’t stick to the low-fat, no carb structure and looking back, wouldn’t have had the understanding of processed foods or nightshades to make it effective. Instead, I spent 10 years on muscle relaxants not paying attention to what I was eating, or my digestion. I kicked that habit and discovered it wasn’t even doing anything. I had some success with network chiropractics, but moved away from my chiropractor. I also tried massage and acupuncture and various forms of exercise and regular chiropractics and tried taking all sorts of supplements (but never really knew how to take them). I did learn that the digestive system was a big part of fibromyalgia, but didn’t know what to do about it. For the most part, I just ignored the chronic pain and fatigue – I had a life to live. Then, we unknowingly moved into a moldy house and spent the last four years battling a crazy combination of health issues.

TimTheFarmer is generally a healthy guy, but when we moved into our last house, he started having major stomach issues. We couldn’t eat a meal out without him getting sick, and half the dinners I cooked also made him sick. It was awful. We had no idea what the problem was.

Then all at once, I saw the cover article on Time Magazine, “Eat More Fat” and started hearing about bulletproof coffee. I read the article which lead to reading The Big Fat Surprise, which blew my mind. We started drinking the storied bulletproof coffee, which rocked our world, but I knew we couldn’t add all that fat into our diets without changing the rest of our diet, so I got the Bulletproof Diet book to learn his approach. This is when I got exposed to the new paleo. The full fat (good fats only though – grassfed butter, coconut oil, lard from pastured pigs, etc.), big meat (from pastured/grassfed animals), organic produce version of paleo. The switch to paleo was almost instantaneous and because this new version encourages the eating of fats (which makes you feel full much quicker than flour and sugar and processed food), it was easy. What I think is most surprising is things I used to love, are generally not that satisfying anymore. Although, lately I’ve been craving a good, homemade mac and cheese with a crunchy, cheesy breadcrumb topping.

TimTheFarmer was getting better, but would still get sick when we’d eat out. After moving out of our house into our new home, we both started working with a nutritional therapist who quickly identified the likely source his issues to be the moldy house. We were floored. My symptoms made sense – respiratory issues, chronic colds and allergies, fatigue, more sever fibromyalgia symptoms – but we had no idea how different everyone is and that it could affect your GI system. I’ll post more on this, but she prescribed an even more restricted version of paleo with a host of vitamins and supplements (different for each of us). That’s where we’re at today. Working to detox from the neurotoxin illness we developed after 4 years in a moldy home. Eating paleo is at the core with an emphasis on local, fresh eating.

So for us, this is about seeking health and actively trying to find a way to eat and live and thrive. This means what we eat will continue to evolve and we may throw some things strict paleo folks would never dream of touching into our diets from time to time. We also avoid things that are popular on paleo, because they send me into an asthma attack and curl Tim up on the floor due to the high histamine content i.e. bone broth. 

Because I find joy in delicious food, I’m always trying to make eating paleo just as delicious fresh crusty ciabatta topped with St. Andre’s triple cream cheese and a glass of Cabernet. If I post a recipe, it’s because it makes for awesome eating. End of story.

I expect I’ll share more about our health journey, but for now, I guess this is our paleo manifesto?