Thursday, 30 October 2014

Paleo Honey-Glazed Beef and Zoodle Soup, Chinese-Style

THIS is one recipe you're going to want to cook when you've only got 15 minutes to get dinner on the table.

Or when you want to curl up on the chair in a blanket while the rain's hammering down outside.

Because this is sweet, comforting Chinese-style soup. And it's paleo.

The beef is from a company called Farmer's Choice, who specialise in free-range meats. It was, honestly - sweet, tender and richly-flavoured. Gorgeous.

This hot, anise-scented soup is packed with veggies - courgettes (zucchini), carrots, spring onions - as well as ginger and garlic. There's nutritious, healing bone broth in there and then the beef, which is stir-fried and then caramelised in a little honey.

Some people don't like to add the sesame seeds as they're thought to contain high levels of omega-6 oils. Leave them out if you prefer, but they do provide a toasty, nutty crunch to the whole dish. I hope you like it.

Paleo Honey-Glazed Beef and Zoodle Soup, Chinese-Style
Serves 4
2 tsp sesame seeds
350g beef stir-fry strips
quarter teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
2 tsp coconut oil
2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled 
1cm thick slice of fresh ginger, peeled
1 carrot, peeled, trimmed and cut into sticks
2 chestnut mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
500ml bone broth or beef stock
1 courgette, trimmed and sliced into thin strips using a vegetable peeler (if the slices are thick, cut them in half again lengthways)
pinch of salt
1-2 teaspoons of runny honey

First, gently heat the sesame seeds in a dry non-stick pan until slightly golden. Keep an eye on them, they can burn quickly. Tip them out onto a saucer and wipe the pan with a piece of kitchen paper. 

Sprinkle a good pinch of the Chinese Five Spice over the beef strips and put to one side for a couple of minutes. 

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat 1 tsp of the coconut oil and fry the white parts of the spring onions, carrot and mushrooms. Finely grate the ginger and garlic directly into the saucepan and stir, until everything is sizzling and fragrant. Immediately pour in the broth or stock and bring to a simmer. Drop in the courgette strips, add the rest of the Five Spice and a pinch of salt, and leave everything to cook slowly, until piping hot. 

To cook the beef, add the remaining teaspoon of the coconut oil to the pan you toasted the sesame seeds in. Over a medium/high heat, drop in the beef and stir-fry until browned - this will only take a minute or two. You might need to do this in batches so the meat browns and doesn't steam. Once you have all the beef in the pan, and it's browned on the outside and tender on the inside, drizzle over the honey. Allow to bubble up for a second or two and then turn off the heat. 

To serve, lift the veggies out of the soup with tongs and divide between warmed bowls. Pour over the broth and then top with the glazed beef, the reserved green slices of spring onion and a sprinkling of the toasted sesame seeds. Eat hot. 

Alterations for the Autoimmune Protocol: If you're on strict AIP, you'll need to avoid the Five Spice which contains some questionable spices that are initially eliminated. Instead, just add a little more ginger or garlic depending on your flavour preferences. You'll also need to skip the sesame seeds, but trust me, it's still great without them. 

I received a contribution towards the ingredients for this recipe, from Farmer's Choice, who also provided the meat. And pretty gorgeous it was, too. Do go and check out their website. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Scallops with Bacon, Courgetti and Lime

You say zoodles, I say courgetti....

Yeah, it doesn't have quite the same ring to it as the song, to be honest.

But this tastes lovely.

And it's ready in about 5-10 minutes.

I was watching in on a convo on Twitter at #paleohour* and everyone was talking about what they call courgette (or zucchini) noodles/veggie pasta. Some call it 'zoodles' (zucchini noodles), others courgetti (courgette spaghetti) - while sweet potato versions can be 'swoodles' (sweet potato noodles). Whatever you call it all, it's a great alternative to pasta. 

And scallops. They're really good for you, according to The Paleo Mom (aka Sarah Ballantyne). She says, that if you're on a healing diet, you should eat more seafood, because it's rich in anti-inflammatory fats that our body needs. I never ate much seafood before, but as I find, it's all too easy to end up on a paleo diet with lots of meat. So I started eating a lot more fish and seafood and then meat about 3-4 meals per week (red meat just 2-3) and I feel much better for it. 

One of the great things about this dish is that it takes just a few minutes to cook. I've been having it for lunch - and one day, when I had a few scallops leftover, raw in the pack, I had it for breakfast. Salty bacon, creamy mildly sweet scallops, peppery watercress and soft courgette noodles. Sorry, courgetti.

Scallops with Bacon, Courgetti and Lime
Serves 1
1 rasher of smoked, streaky bacon
1 tsp coconut oil (I use flavourless coconut oil but any coconut oil would be fine - you just might get a faint coconut flavour but that's never a bad thing)
5-6 scallops, out of their shell (roe removed)
1 courgette (zucchini), trimmed at the top and bottom and then peeled into strips lengthways using a vegetable peeler (to make courgetti, you see)
1 handful watercress, roughly chopped
Half a lime, cut into wedges, to serve

First, chop the bacon and heat gently in a fairly large, dry frying pan. When it's turned golden and starting to crispen up, lift it out and put it on a plate, to one side. Next, add the coconut oil (if you have plenty of fat left in the pan from the bacon you won't need to) and drop in the scallops. Fry until golden and just cooked through - on a medium heat, this will take just a couple of minutes per side. You'll see them start to 'split' and contract a little as they cook. They should be cooked through and white, but still soft in the centre, not tough and rubbery. 

Once the scallops are ready, drop in the courgette strips and toss everything together - the courgette strips should soften in a few seconds. Throw in the reserved cooked bacon and the watercress and toss everything together until softened. 

Tip everything out onto a plate and serve straight away, with the lime juice squeezed over. 

*#paleohour happens on Twitter between 8pm-9pm on Tuesday evenings (UK time) where us UK-based paleo bloggers all get together to have a paleo-based natter. Come along, just search for the #paleohour hashtag. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Baked Sweet Potato Topped with Caramelised Apples and Honey

Picture it. It's Sunday evening. You've probably had a huge lunch, and you don't feel like eating something too big at the moment. If you had one, you'd just hack a slice off a big cake and settle down in front of the telly with that. But then cake isn't very healthy. 


This. THIS is healthy. 

Caramelised apple slices, warm cinnamon, honey and the soft, sweet flesh of the sweet potato all combine here to give you THE TASTE OF AUTUMN.  I love it. And although the sweet potato takes about 40 minutes to cook, you'll only actually be required for 5 minutes of it. Brilliant, yes? 

Baked Sweet Potato Topped with Caramelised Apples and Honey
Serves 1. 

1 small-medium sized sweet potato
1 tsp coconut oil
1 eating apple, sliced but not peeled
a pinch of cinnamon
2 tsp honey

Preheat your oven to gas mark 7/220ºC/425ºF and line a baking sheet with foil. 

Wash the sweet potato and pierce it all over with a sharp knife. 

Place on the tray and bake for 40 minutes. 

Check the sweet potato - it should be crisp-skinned but tender in the centre. Now, get on with the apple topping. Heat the coconut oil in a small frying pan and drop in the apple slices. Drizzle in 1 tsp of the honey and turn the heat up, stirring, so that the apple starts to turn golden. Add a dash of cinnamon as you go. Once the apple is soft and golden, remove from the heat. 

Cut the sweet potato and pile the apple slices up on top. Finish with a drizzle of honey if you like, and eat hot, preferably in a bowl, with a spoon. 

FODMAP note: I realise this recipe is a bit of a FODMAP nightmare, with almost all the ingredients potential triggers. However, you could use a small sweet potato and try it with pear slices instead and maple syrup, which all rate lower on the scale and are less likely to be triggers. 


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