I love mince pies! I was just thinking how much I would miss the warm, comforting flavours traditionally consumed at this time of year, when I was struck with the idea of recreating them. So here are two recipes with that end in mind. One for what I have called 'Mince pie Muffins' and the other are revamped butter tartlets. I hope you enjoy them. I asked the Sons how many they rated them out of ten, but I didn't get an answer - they just gobbled them up so fast I took it they liked them! I can't taste them at the moment as I am only eating meat, vegetables and fermented dairy to try and get my carpel tunnel back under control as it was beginning to disturb my sleep again, which was a shame since I had nearly got rid of it. It's worked, So I just need to be careful now how I reintroduce foods!
Grain free Mince Pie Muffins:
Refined sugar free, gluten free, wheat free
1 cup diced courgette
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup (2oz) butter (solid)
rind of one unwaxed lemon
1 Tablespoon fresh pressed orange juice
1 desert apple finely chopped
4 oz currants/raisins (the amount is not overly important, a cupful will do)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Peel, slice and chop the courgette and whizz it in a food preocessor until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the coconut flour and whizz to combine.
Add the butter, whizz again.
Add the eggs and whizz until mixed in.
Add the fruit and spices and baing soda
Mix one last time.
Spoon into 12 muffin cases (if you are fortunate, you might get 13).
Bake for 25 mins. Gas 4, 180 C. 160 F. fan. 350 F.
I can imagine them served warm in custard........ MMmmmmm! Best warm from the oven.
Store in the fridge.
Grain free 'Mince Pie' Tartlets
Refined sugar free, gluten free, wheat free
The smell from the pan after making the filling was irresistable, I had a tiny lick! The smell from the oven was wonderful - but I had to resist - this time. Maybe soon.....
You need a crust for these. I have used this one here, but you can use any grain free crust recipe you have.
Expect it to be a swishy mixture, not a hard ball of dough but you should be able to scoop a teaspoonful into each cupcase and then gently flatten it with your fingers. My crust was more like a crust layer at the bottom, rather than coming up the sides of the tartlet, but if you double the crust recipe you can make a proper looking pie case.
1/4 cup butter
2 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
4 oz currants/raisins
rind of 1 lemon
rind of 1/2 orange
1 tablespoon freshly pressed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
Once the crust is baking, melt the butter in a pan. Then mix in the eggs. I whisk them to get them evenly mixed in. Then add all the other ingredients. Stir well and divide between 12 tartlets.
Bake for 15 mins Gas 6, 200 C. 180 c. fan, 400 F. The middle mixture should be firm, but wacth the crust doesn't burn - it will go brown round the edges. Keep your eye on it!
Serve with sour cream - if desired.
It has to be said, we are not great lovers of fish! Never-the-less, when you are eating a lot of meat it is easy to get tired of the same things over and over again. We are trying to be adventurous and have tried some wild duck legs, pheasant and partridge. Of course, we understand too that fish is very nutritious, so we try to include it at least twice a week in some form or another. Sometimes it's just a tin of salmon heated up in a pan of soup, or with salad in summer.
One thing I always struggle with and that's how to present the fish. Again we get tired of the same thing all the time. So here I have compiled for myself, as much as for anyone else, a list of five different ways to serve fish, of any kind, though I tend to use frozen fish from the supermarket. Salmon tends too, to be the most versatile. I pull out the crib sheet when I am planning the weeks menu, and I'm not trying to re-invent the wheel each time, neither do I have to be creative at that particular motive. When the time comes to cook the meal, I see what vegetables we have on hand and what's convenient to cook.
Once more, be adventurous in your choice of vegetables. Cauliflower rice goes well with fish meals, as do roasted vegetables. (That is not a GAPS web-site and so you will need to substitute fats you can tolerate to cook the rice.) Cougettes can be cut into 'noodles' and briefly cooked.
I find this handy little gadget great for knocking up quick 'spaghetti'. Vegetables that they wouldn't normally eat sliced normally, suddenly look attractive!
So here is my Fish Crib sheet. Download, print and laminate to make for easy meal planning!
Meal plans seem to be all the rage amongst special dieters. I have to confess I am not tempted to buy into a meal planning programme as very often the foods they suggest are just not the ones we eat, let alone the fact it seems so much cheaper to do it oneself! I much prefer to make my own, albeit a little more time-consuming. I am not somebody who can stick with a meal plan for long either... I soon get bored with it and want to search out new recipes. What I do for myself though, is to write a crib sheet of ideas for each type of meat so that when I am planning a week's menu I can look at the crib sheet and be inspired to serve the meat in a different way, as it's all too easy to just do things the same way each week and forget the different ways meals could be served.
So I have produced for myself a sheet to remind me of the varying ways there are in serving minced meat, be it beef, lamb, pork or turkey. I can keep it in the kitchen, so that when I plan the next week's meals I can refer to it. A different way of serving the same sort of meat can make it seem like a completely different meal. Actually, I have to confess that even planning my meals a week ahead is too rigid for me. I tend to state the meat we are having and leave it to last minute impulse as to how I cook it, which vegetables we have with it etc.. So I can pull out my sheet and see how the fancy takes me! If I'm short of time, then the 'Sausage meat' option is a good one - just mix it all together and press it into the bottom of a baking dish and stick it in the oven for half an hour Gas 5, 190C/170C fan. The Family like this with cheese melted on the top, though Husband is trying without cheese at the moment, so I won't mention it as it'll make him long for it! Or the Meals in a skillet is another quick one, with just one pan to wash. If I have more time, and feel like being a bit more adventurous, then a casserole or stew is good, or even shaping the meat into beef burgers or proper sausage shapes.
I deliberately haven't been too precise with cooking times as most can be done at any temperature (except for very high which will make the meat too dry). Mainly, mince takes half an hour at 190C./170c. fan, Gas 5. So if you don't mind it cooking longer, turn the oven down. Do make sure the meat is fully coked before consuming it. If I am using the oven, I will often pack it with vegetables too to make more economical use of power.
As to vegetables, we vary how they are served. We like roasted veg, mainly carrots and squash, but sometimes we have roasted broccoli/cauliflower. We also like to to have a mash potato alternative, so one day we'll mash the carrots with butter, another day the cauliflower. When I have the time I'll make the topping from the 'Pork Pie, and serve it as a side from the meat. It goes well with chicken stew/casserole as well. When I'm in a hurry, it's just boiled with plenty of butter, and if I remember, steamed (but it means another pan to wash!)
So click below for your copy of the crib sheet if you think it would be helpful!
Mainly for ladies, but not exclusively.
This is a subject that has occupied my thinking for a while. Now understand I am no expert - just a beginner and can only share with you the few small bits of knowledge I have gleaned from my limited reading. And that from a vast subject that even the medical profession know relatively little about.
Our bodies are indeed 'fearfully and wonderfully made'. I attribute this fact to a Creator God.
When I used to think of hormones, I thought of teenagers and ladies! That was the extent of my knowledge, plus a few tales passed down from older ladies that our lives can be pretty miserable when the hormones are unsettled (out of whack), particularly around middle age.
With Husband having an out of control thyroid gland, we have done a lot more research. I have heard about adrenal glands and the importance of making sure they are functioning well. To me that was a mystery, and why should I worry anyway? The pituitary gland plays a part too - another obscure part of the body that if I knew existed, I didn't worry about what it did. Suddenly, all these glands seemed rather complicated and intertwined.
Then I started to consider the menopause and it's affect on the body and found a book in a charity shop (don't you just love them, I do!). What I started to learn about surprised me. It is all about the hormones - yes, but not just the hormones I associated with ladies, but the whole range - including the adrenals and the thyroid. What I am discovering is that all these hormones work together, often in pairs counteracting each other, but they should be in perfect balance.
Many things can cause them to be out of balance and if just one goes off kilter, then the rest are forced in to survival mode to keep us alive, and most often they do, but with some unpleasant symptoms as a side-kick.
It is only at this point that we become aware that something isn't right, go to the doctor, who gives us some medicine, which often times only removes the symptoms (e.g. pain killers to suppress pain or hormone supplementation) but doesn't actually look to see what has caused it in the first place.
Surprise, surprise (and no surprise), I have learnt that the one biggest thing that can cause them to go off balance is our diet - a lack of adequate nutrition from our diet, laden with too many carbohydrates and processed foods, too few vegetables and so too few vitamins and minerals entering our bodies. Added to which the toxins in our environment (including our personal hygiene potions and lotions and make-up),
Added to which our lifestyle - stress being a major player which can put an already compromised system(through poor diet) under even greater strain. All this is familiar to those of us doing the GAPS diet. As I have said before, not everyone needs to do the GAPS diet, but it would do everyone well to consider those three things mentioned above - diet, environment and lifestyle. I think that very often, we don't think about what our bodies need to operate well. We ignore them and push them, until something goes wrong.
When you are endeavouring to put right the wrong, then you need to understand why the body has gone wrong, so you can back track and try and put it back together. They say it's never too late to improve your health. Even small steps can help. Suddenly, things like good quality sleep and how to achieve it become important.
To return to the hormones, they regulate everything our body does. Important? VERY! They keep for example, our heart in rhythm, our body cycles in rhythm, our mood stable. They control our sweating, our energy levels and so on. So it would pay us all to be more considerate of them in the way we live our lives.
I have only really touched the surface in my learning. I've learnt about how important it is to keep estrogen and progesterone in balance, and that too much estrogen can cause the unpleasant symptoms often linked to the menopause. I have found that our environment is full of products with estrogen mimicking properties, like plastics, which can flood our bodies with estrogen giving us estrogen dominance. At the same time, we could be low in progesterone, which is in ample supply in vegetables, should we consume enough, but we often don't. So estrogen dominates and the counteracting progesterone isn't there to counterbalance it as it should. Added to which, the adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing hormones that regulate many life- supporting roles, rely on progesterone to make their hormones and in times of stress our adrenals have first call on the progesterone, of which many of us don't have much anyway, so there is even less to counteract the estrogen. (1) Then arise symptoms so frequently linked to the Menopause. Dr. Lee (see below) says that premenopausal symptoms are being experienced by ladies in their mid thirties, rather than just mid-forties to fifity. He attributes the shift to an earlier age to our diet and life-style and toxins in the environment that mimic estrogen. The programme he recommends is first of all centered around a whole food diet, with adequate exercise and minimizing exposure to toxins in the home and managing stress, like going to bed at a reasonable time. So you can see from this the importance of our diet, what we have around us in our environment and the need to look after our bodies - getting enough good quality sleep for example.
Of course all of these things can affect youngsters going through puberty too (I have two at the moment!). From personal experience I can say that being on the GAPs diet has had a regulating influence on them - neither seem to be suffering from mood swings. We have a few spots, but they have been much better and I can link their outbreak to times of stress (like being unwell - Son 2 had a dislocated kneecap in the summer so he couldn't run around in the fresh air the same and we saw a difference in him because of that). So little things do have a big impact on us and as we as a family begin to be more aware of our bodies needs we have greater awareness and greater motivation to keep working at the diet, environment and lifestyle.
Maybe you would like to look some of this up for yourself (as I have only made you aware, not really taught you anything!).
Here are some useful resources:
(1). Lee, John R., What your doctor may not tell you about Menopause, Warner Books, NY, 1996, Ch. 11
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. A member of the medical profession should be consulted about all matters relating to your health. This information is for advice only.
I love the change in seasons. After the toil of the spring and summer, growing and harvesting, it is good to put the garden and allotment to bed for the winter and curl up warm and snug.
We are not quite there yet...the weekend saw us spreading manure on the allotment. This week we have a few more projects to undertake to ensure the plot is ready for next season, like building a compost bin and digging trenches to improve drainage on the site, which is a real problem. There are still carrots to dig up, cabbages, leeks and swedes still growing. Never-the-less we feel the nip in the air and the dark mornings and evenings and our thoughts are turning to warm nourishing foods fit for Autumn and Winter.
So here's a few things we are currently enjoying.
Yes it just has to be chocolate for breakfast - not every day mind, just a weekend treat!
These are so simple.
Recipe for 1 (double/triple as needed)
2 pastured eggs (or more up to 4)
1 small/medium banana (yellow with brown spots for GAPS)
1 tbls coconut flour
1 heaped tsp cocoa powder
Preheat the skillet and melt a knob of lard (a standard frying pan would do too)
Meanwhile, put all the ingredients in a bowl and use a stick blender to whiz it all together into a smooth batter.
Pour a small amount into the skillet and wait until it begins to lose it's glossy look. Ease a metal spatula underneath and when it will come away easily, lift and flip.
We make double/triple decker layered pancakes, oozing with honey and sour cream!
This didn't sound very appealing, but having some left over cooked squash I though I would try it. When I came to make it I decided I could improve on the original recipe and make it more nutritious. The result astounded me, so much that Son 2 declares it the best porridge he's ever tasted and even the more reserved Son 1 says he will try some!
It is simple to make. You need:
1 oz butter (or just cut a thin section off a block - I rarely measure for something like this as it really doesn't matter.
A quantity of cooked squash - use what you have and adjust, about 1 cup per person is good.
1 egg per person eating the porridge
2 oz creamed coconut
spices - cinnamon/mixed spice/nutmeg (We like lots!)
I cooked my squash first and used a stick blender to mix it to a smooth consistency, then simply added the butter and creamed coconut (it melts once warmed) to melt in the hot squash. . I stirred it all together, then added the eggs and a little boiling water to bring to the right consistency (how you like it really). At this point I put it back on a gentle heat, briefly, to cook the eggs, stirring all the time in case it stuck on the bottom of the pan.
I then added the spices, leaving the nutmeg to sprinkle on top once served.
We then added honey and sour cream.
It was so warming and delicious!
If your squash is already cooked, just put the ingredients in a pan and warm it through. You may need a little more boiling water to help stop it sticking.
Nothing earth shattering here... just that we had tried using creamed coconut to make coconut milk but it was always 'gritty' however much we strained it. but now we have found canned coconut milk from Biona - in BPA free cans, and it is so smooth and creamy...so as an odd treat we make ourselves a mug of steaming hot chocolate. Oh how we had missed it!
1 can coconut milk (free from additives)
1 can cold water (fill the can with cold water)
3 tbls cocoa powder
honey to taste
Put first three ingredients in a pan and heat to boiling.
Stir in the honey.
We are working on marshmallows to add to the experience - watch this space!