Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Desserts for Paleo / GAPS guests (an open letter to hotel and restaurant chefs and staff)

Dear hotel and restaurant staff of the world,

I am your fan. You do a wonderful job. I find it awesome that your calling in life is to make good food for other people. Throughout my life you have made me extremely happy with excellent service and outstanding dishes and I truly appreciate your will and effort and patience when you meet my ever changing dietary needs.
It is therefore purely out of respect and a hope to assist you on your mission that I write the following words. 
 
As a fairly frequent traveler and a fan of good food I often dine at hotels (and restaurants). When I stay at hotels or when I attend dinners that are planned in advance I make sure to send written information in an e-mail on beforehand, whenever possible. To summarize the contents of that mail, it states that as far as there are no additives or sugar in the food, I happily eat all meats and fish, vegetables (except for potatoes, spinach and parsley), fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, eggs and honey
[1]. I am also not very hard to satisfy.

I very often get extraordinary starters and main courses, even some that completely outdo what I am able to in my own kitchen, and for those meals I am eternally grateful.
However, when it comes to desserts… I get fresh fruit (or berries). Don’t get me wrong. I think fruits are a kind of nice, generally. But let’s give this a little thought.
Firstly, conference and seminar guests often get abundance of sliced and diced fruit throughout the day. This is at least the tradition in Norway; and I appreciate it. Sliced fruit is so much better and healthier than sugary biscuits, that used to be the traditional coffee break snacks. However, it means we are already a bit full of fruit when it comes to lunch /dinner (and dessert).

Secondly, at the same time we watch our peers getting crème brûlées, chocolate cakes, juicy cream tarts or the ice cream of the house… to give some examples. It looks and smells sweet and lovely. But all we get… is fruit. Sliced, diced, peeled, unpeeled, piled, folded... it always look colorful and pretty... but still...

Thirdly… if fruit is really what you think your guests feel like having after a delicious, full main course; how come you don’t just give them all fruit? How come you assume that the one thing we, the different-diet people, crave after a meal is fruits?

Here are a few photos of some the beautiful fruit dishes I have enjoyed in the past 2 years or so:









The yellow icecream-looking thing (to the left) was a mango sorbet. A kind of a nice twist… and I happily give the SEM Gjestegård guesthouse in Asker, Norway, a definate plus for the effort.
But to be honest I have usually not been in the mood to take photos of the fruit I get for dessert. The lamest attempt ever, was a simple plate with sliced apples, pears and oranges. Athens. 2011. Not worth paying for - at all!

I therefor kindly ask you, dear chefs and restaurant staff; to consider preparing something a little bit more "dessert-like" for us; the special diet people.

I will give you three little hints or ideas here, but I urge you to google and be creative. Honestly, you are much better than me at making delicious food, so I have full faith in you.
 
Suggestion / inspiration number one is the avocado chocolate pudding (click on the link) that I blogged about a few weeks back. It is pretty easy to make and does not require much time. It is not only suitable for Paleo / GAPS people, but also vegetarians (including vegans) and many allergies and intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance / celiac disease and egg allergies / intolerance, to name some.

Secondly there is the very basic frozen banana ice cream. Yes it too is a fruit dessert… but very different from the variations of fruit salads that you usually serve me. And it is super-simple. All you need to do before your challenging special diet guest shows up, is to have some sliced up RIPE banana in a freezer. That, my friends, is really all the preparation you need. You will fix the rest in 5 minutes once the guest is there. When you put frozen banana in a food processor it becomes ice-creamy… and yummy. Try it yourself.

All you really need to do is to sprinkle some berries or something on top, you are very good at decorating things, I know you will not have a hard time making it look good. Depending on the kind of special needs / wishes your guest has, you can add raw egg yolk and honey, honey alone, vanilla powder (pure, no sugary stuff) coconut cream, other fruit (I recommend frozen mango) or even cocoa powder. The choice is yours. This is just to give you an idea. Alternatively you can add more liquid (coconut milk, regular (cow) milk, fresh fruit juice or just water, again depending on your guests’ needs) and serve as a milk shake or a smoothie. The only drawback: You have to serve it fairly fast, as it melts rapidly and turns into a much less desirable puddle. Suitable for people who claim to be on a low carb diet, Paleo, GAPS, SCD, people with nut allergies and depending on your version it can be suitable for vegans and people with lactose, gluten and egg allergies as well... to take some random examples.

The third piece of advice is the apple dessert I frequently make. It too is a fruit based dessert, but a very sweet and tasty one (at least the way I make it…) and it is so simple & easy. This is what you need:

·         Apple(s)
·         Cinnamon
·         Honey
·         Coconut shreds, almonds or nuts

Slice the apple(s). Place it/them in a oven safe glass bakeware. Add some honey. Sprinkle nuts, almonds or coconut shreds (or all of the above if you wish), as well as cinnamon over it. Place in the oven. Bake at around 200°c (around 390°F) for about half an hour. Serve hot with fatty sour cream (if your guest tolerates it) or a vanilla sauce. You make the vanilla sauce by mixing guar-gum-free coconut milk (Like Rapunzel or the Santa Maria coconut cream if you are in Scandinavia), honey and vanilla powder. This one is gluten free and suitable for lactose intolerant people (except if you use the sour cream), for people with egg allergy, vegans and many others.  

Thank you for paying attention and thank you, no less importantly, for the good job you have done in creating great main courses for me and the rest of us who need to have our menu “tailor made”. I am looking forward to dining with you frequently in the future.

Your sincerely,

Helga
 
 
[1] I will post a more detailed version of my restaurant mail later, for anyone to copy, if interested

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Basil Pesto

I know that the internet is overflowing with basil pesto recipies.
 
However, my recipe is 100% GAPS / Paleo friendly, incredibly yummy, and above all; S.I.M.P.L.E.!

Here goes:

2 juicy tufts of organic basil leaves (about 600 gr / 21 oz)
3 cloves of garlic
100 gr (3,5 oz) sunflower seeds (and coconut shreds if wanted)
Organic, cold pressed olive oil (about 250 ml / 8,5 oz, or until desired texture is reached)
Himalaya salt... or any good salt

Method:

  1. Roast the sunflower seeds (and coconut shreds, if you wish) on a frying pan for a few minutes, or until golden brown.
  2. Let the sunflower seeds cool.
  • Place the seeds in a food processor. Grind.
  • Take the leaves of the basil plant and add them to the food processor.
  • Add the garlic.
  • Mix.
  • Add the oil as you mix. Add as much as you feel like (the quantity mentioned above is just an educated guess). Aim for a spreadable texture.
  • Add the salt last. Taste to find the desired amount of salt.
  • Enjoy! 
  • This is really good with all sorts of meat dishes, as well as fresh veggies or as a spread on some sort of bread... if you are a fan of bread ;-) 

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    Avocado chocolate pudding (GAPS / Paleo / SCD)


    There are countless versions of the avocado chocolate pudding circulating the internet. Just google it, and surely you will get loads of yummy results.


    I have been meaning to try it for a while.

    Recently I came across this version: Fast Paleo Chocolate Pudding and decided to give it a go. To my joy this version of the recipe was pretty simple. However, since I am bad at following recipies anyways, this is how I did it:
    • 2 fairly small, ripe avocadoes
    • 350 g honey (about 12,5 oz)
    • 200 ml creamy coconut milk (about 7 oz)
    • 2 table spoons Udo’s 3-6-9 Omega oil
    • 250 g Pure Cocoa Powder (about 9 oz)

     ... and then basically mix it all. I mixed the avocadoes, the honey and the coconut first, then added the cocoa powder and the oil came last. 

    The reason for the Omega oil, is simply that this is a brilliant way to get my girls to take the oil without any complaints. Not that they are always this lucky... ;-)

    And perhaps it was just a little too sweet for adult taste. You may want to cut downt on the honey a little, unless you're on a mainstream diet.


    We had some banana with it and I really liked it better that way than on it's own.

    Next time I will add some vanilla powder and serve the pudding with a larger variety of fruits / berries.






    Resources: 
    http://fastpaleo.com/paleo-cinnabuns/
    ... and countless others. Just google it...! :-)

    Sunday, February 17, 2013

    Dried fish skin snacks

    I meant it when I said I was not gone forever... sorry again for the long delay :-)

    I wanted to tell you how to make amazing and seriously healthy snacks. 


    In Iceland we eat a lot of dried fish. I should actually make another post just on the dry fish alone, in a way I feel like I am jumping over the foundations of this post here, but I feel like sharing with you how to make fish skin snacks for now, so that's what I'll do... :-)

    In short you can buy dried fish in pretty much every single little gas station anywhere in Iceland and many of the larger supermarkets have an impressive variety of dried fish, mainly haddock, cod and catfish. Those are mine and my daughters favorite snacks and perfectly Paleo / GAPS :-)

    Unfortunately, most modern Icelanders, throw away the fish skins after eating the dried fish, therewith missing out on the best part, really!

    My dad tought me how to fry the fish skin. I have made several experiments, but I have come to the conclusion that really fat catfish skin makes the best snacks ever - the fat somehow makes the skin literally "pop" and it becomes light, airy and crispy. 








     I have also grilled cod skin and haddock skin, it also turns out good, but extremely dry, so I add butter to make it yummy :-)

    The photos are from grilling catfish skin with my dad last summer.

    Trying to show you how the fish skin gets "popped" and airy...

     And here is a video, that should give you an idea of the irresistible crispyness... 

    Bon appetit!

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    Sorry about my absense...

    ... and thanks for not giving up on me just yet. 

    This has been a rough summer - I've moved twice and been spending time in 3 countries altogether, I've only had 1 week of holiday so far and am pretty exhausted. But I haven't thrown in the towel for this blog. 

    I'll be back... soon. Or soonish. 

    Right now I am busy unpacking the 1 million boxes that currently fill my living room - using any spare minute to be a mother. I'll get back to you when things calm down a bit again. 

    A fragment of the load of boxes :-(
    Remind me in my next life to be
    a Buddhist munk / nun...

    Sunday, May 27, 2012

    Real sausages

    On page 111 in my now dog-eared and worn Icelandic version of the Gut & Psychology Syndrome book it says that we should find a meat-maker – a professional willing to make GAPS legal sausage, that should contain only “minced meat, salt and pepper”.
    So, very early on I made an attempt to do this. This was when I lived in Iceland. After a little searching (and a few disappointments) I found a guy who runs a small family business. He makes sausages and some other meat products for immigrants in Iceland who miss their home cuisine. They tell them what they miss – he produces. So, I explained to him what we wanted and he was willing to give it a try. After some experiments with casings (Dr NCM forgot to mention that many artificial casings contain ingredients that irritate our sensitive guts), he found a solution and to make that story short he has now opened his own shop where he, among other things, sells sausages and bacon marked with “GAPS/SCD”… so, yes; it was a success.
    The first year I lived in Norway we got sausages with relatives from Iceland – and even by post once (not recommended!). I also tried to “make my own”, as advised by some on the GAPS help group on yahoo, but that turned out nothing like the real thing.
    
    So when I moved to a new town last fall I decided to make an attempt to have sausages made here. I dug up the only company in town that would possibly be able to do it. And they said no. They said that one can not make sausages without a “binding agent”. I said you can too. They asked how. I tried to explain, but honestly I didn’t know the details, it never occurred to me that it would be a problem. So I went and browsed the net for sausage recipes. I printed out a few that I liked and then came up with my own version, that is, listing ingredients that I’d like. I walked over to their place and showed it to them. They were skeptic, but gave in to making an experiment.
    The experiment worked out well, but it included beef and we agreed that it would turn out better (and cheaper!) without the beef. So, they did it again, with only pork, and it was such a success that now there are other people – non GAPS/paleo/SCD… just regular mainstreamers, who are buying them too. A bit like what happened the first time, although they only produce them when we ask for them and you have to ask for them to get them. They call them “Iceland sausages”, even if they have absoloutely nothing to do with Iceland. I love them, although they are crazy expensive. Here are the ingredients that I suggested (minus the beef):

    
    One of the sausages that we have made
    in the little town in the background :-)
    
              pork
              Fresh garlic
              Fresh marjoram
              Sea salt
              Black pepper





    Mind you, I doubt that the “fresh” herbs are entirely fresh (let alone organic), but hey… it works, we like them and I guess it is as good as it gets. Oh, and I might add that they make them both smoked and not smoked – depends on what I order each time, but both versions taste lovely.

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Clinging to the wagon...

    Every now and then I read comments and posts from people who have a hard time resisting „temptations“ on GAPS / Paleo. I am referring to posts and discussions on various forums on yahoo, Facebook, Paleohacks etc. “Fell off the wagon“ seems to be a common statement.  So are questions about how to stick to the diet and resist temptations.

    Just to be clear; it isn‘t my intention to boast or glorify myself in anyway, but I just don‘t understand this. I just don‘t. Sorry. It has repeatedly occurred to me that I must have Asperger or something – after all this is one of the Asperger symptoms, being “controlled by rules“. Oh, and then “lacking the ability to emphasize“ might explain why I just can not even begin to fathom how people can decide to take the huge step from mainstream diet and then not stick to it.

    Ok, so my daughter was diagnosed with Asperger before GAPS. Apparently she does not have it anymore, although it‘s not been confirmed by a formal diagnosis – and actually doesn‘t really matter as long as she‘s healthy and happy (thank you, lifestyle change!). So there is a good chance that I have it too, although I keep failing all the online tests.

    However, this post is not really about me and whether or not I have Asperger, but about my complete lack of understanding to those who fail to follow through their desicion of changing their lifestyle. So far I don‘t think I have been of any help when people ask for advice on how to stick to the diet. Not sure if I will now, but at least I am willing to share my view here.

    And again; I am no saint and don‘t pretend to be one. When I haven‘t made a firm decision I break all my goals and binge on all sorts of things – although for the past 2,5 years those have only been GAPS “legal“  temptations (however bad for me). And even if I know that baked grainfree goods knock me out I can‘t resist to have a taste just about EVERY single time I bake bread / cookies for my daughters, which happens every weekend. So... it‘s not that I don‘t get falling for temptations. It‘s just that I don‘t get when you have made the big decision to say goodbye to the standard western diet – quite often because of health reasons – how you can still want to go back every now and then – or under any circumstances...!

    When I started GAPS it was out of desperation. Not because I wanted to cook even more myself, have even less time for myself (I didn‘t have any before) and buy more expensive food, be regarded as even more eccentric than before and make social situations even more complicated than before. It was just because I was not well, my beautiful little ones were not well and I saw in this protocol a hope for all of us. So, I decided to do the most radical version of GAPS – following the book extremely rigidly, to then be able to look back and say with certainty that it had not been the solution for us – if all would fail. And when it didn‘t fail, that was all the motivation I needed for us to go on forever.

    The things that I miss... well; cheese. Melted cheese in particular. That‘s the only thing I really miss. Most of the cheeses I miss the most are, in fact, GAPS legal. Last year when I was slicing cheese for my youngest one for her lunchbag I couldn‘t resist that either and had a bit... but that pain was unmistakable. I have not been tempted to try it again for a long time now. Anyway; rumour has it that it should be possibly possible, one day, in far future... had I not converted to GAPS I would have been confined to eternity without cheese. I don‘t really miss other things, as GAPS / Paleo / real food tastes and feels just so much better than the cheap copies. 

    Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8545275@N06/2811652242/