Paleo BlueBerry, Coconut & Banana Cookies

As I roll into my annual “must lose the spare tyre” post festive detox, I’m on the hunt for an eating plan I can, erm…get my teeth into. Forget that 5:1 diet, that’s just starvation, but ‘hello’ to Paleo.  Eat as much as you like. Avoid the carbs, dairy and basically anything that comes in a box with microwave instructions. This seems achievable right? Now I won’t lie. I’ve had a crack at this before and the results, well in my mind anyway, seemed pretty good. So I’m back on it and ready to smash out 4-weeks of nothing by grass fed meat and vegetables. What could go wrong.

Prep seems to be the key to avoiding temptation here. So armed with enough lunch boxes to host my own Tupperware party and I’m ready to go. Chicken salad lunch. Check. Almonds to graze on. Check. 11am bit of cake for my cup of tea……erm, nope.

Cookie Mix

So here’s my challenge. Create a cake that tastes like a cake, but it’s actually gluten and wheat free. So here it is.

Guilt Gluten Free Blueberry, Banana and Coconut Cakes
170g coconut flour
3 organic eggs
1tsp baking soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
2 mashed ripe bananas
125g fresh blueberries
1tbsp olive oil
60g maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Blueberries

I’ve learnt two things about coconut flour. It’s expensive and absorbs any amount of moisture like a sponge. So I needed a way to make it go a little further, plus add enough moisture to prevent it tasting like I’d just eaten some sand. To get around this I used mashed banana and packed it full of healthy blueberries. It worked a treat and it’s pretty simple.

Heat your oven up to 200°C and combine all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the banana, eggs, olive oil and maple syrup with a food mixer. Bit-by-bit add all your dry ingredients until combined. Gently fold in your blueberries.

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Baked Cakes

Don’t worry if the batter appears fairly sticky. That’s just the coconut flour, but if your want more moisture in the batter supplement some coconut flour for ground almonds. Pour the batter into a lined baking tray and smooth flat.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool before cutting into cake slices. Either cut into bars, or for this post I used a cookie cutter and made them into handy little handheld cakes.

Paleo Cakes

Leftovers?

So what to do with all these leftovers? We’ve already done the best bit, where you go round with two slices of bread and fill them with only things you like. A cold bit of ham? Oh yes please. How about these leftover brussels? …..erm, no thanks they belong in the bin. I’ll have a slice of that blue cheese, as well as those stuffing balls, with a little mustard wedged between my two slices of bread please. Anna? Well her sandwich was more pickle and turkey based….not my bag.

Leftover Turkey Pie

The only thing is there are only so many sandwich challenges you can manage before those leftovers pass their reusable date. So what to do? Turkey curries are always popular, but I like a good pie. It’s a cracking last meal dish before you head off into a detox January of kale smoothies and portion controlling. Plus, if you’ve just about had enough of Christmas dinner a pie will freeze really well for a later date.

Leftover Turkey Chopped Leftovers

Turkey and Gammon Pie (feeds 4 people)
750g leftover turkey and ham
400ml chicken stock
1 sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg
1 small red onion (diced)
150g button mushrooms (sliced)
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
Salt, pepper and fresh thyme

Chop up all you leftover turkey and ham into pieces about 1cm thick. In a large pan gently fry the onions and mushrooms in olive oil, until they start to colour. Add the turkey and ham with the tablespoon of flour and stir to prevent it sticking. Once it starts to stick to the pan add a small amount of the stock and deglaze the pan. Then add the crème fraîche, remaining stock, fresh thyme and mustard. Stir well and bring the pan to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and take the pan off the heat.

Turkey Pie Filling

Roll out the pre-rolled pastry onto a floured surface and turn the oven onto  200°C/ 400°F. Flip your pie dish upside down onto the pastry and cut around the dish leaving an extra couple of centimeters. Crisscross the pastry to score it and if you have it in you use the remaining pastry to make some fancy decoration bits. Tip your pie filling into the dish and wet the edge of the dish with a little water to help the pastry stick. Place the pastry on top of the pie dish and crimp it down with a fork to hold in place. With a knife poke two little holes into the middle to let the steam out.

Quickly beat the egg and brush the eggy mix all over the pie pastry. Bake on the top shelf for about 20 minutes, or until it starts to go golden. Your oven is likely to be different so you might need a few minutes either way. Serve with mash, gravy and peas. On a side note, just like a puppy this recipe isn’t just for Christmas and works well for any leftover joint of meat.

Gawker Pie

Christmas Slaw

I have to apologise in advance: This is a recipe with brussel sprouts. Yes I know! “BRUSSEL SPROUTS!?” Don’t worry, I’m totally with you. There’s nothing more terrifying than being handed a bowl of these on Christmas day. Sure, you can cook them with bacon or cover them in goose fat, but that’s just the point. They’re so bitter they need all manner of tastier items to disguise them.

Needless to say, working out how to get them into our Christmas menu is keeping me busy. Well, that and trying to work out what Anna wants for Christmas……but that’s a different story altogether. Technically, they’re just little underachieving cabbages, so why not treat them like a cabbage and make a slaw. So that’s what I did, but with with a bit of Christmas spirit.

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Dressing

Brussel Sprout Slaw with Red Onion, Preserved Lemon and Parmigiano-Reggaino.

320g Brussel sprouts
1 small onion
1 preserved lemon (juice and zest)
pinch of salt
Teaspoon honey
Tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt
Tablespoon finely grated Parmigiano-Reggaino

Finely slice the red onion and soak in a bowl of cold water for about 15 minutes. In an old jam jar add the olive oil, preserved lemon zest, lemon juice, honey and salt. Shake up until combined. Set aside.

Trim off the hard outer layers off the sprouts. With a sharp knife slice the sprouts and discard the hard root edge. Then with your fingers gently break apart, but throw away the hard middle root. It’s the bitter bit and you just want the soft leaves.

Drain the sliced red onion and add to a large bowl with the shaved brussel sprouts. Pour in the the dressing and cheese. Gently mix together and serve.

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A Brilliantly Giant Christmas Decoration

Now for a different kind of Pom Pom, not as soft and fluffy as the Pom Pom’s in last week’s post, but certainly just as pretty and effective. In fact I had so much fun and got so much satisfaction from making these, that I got carried away and made loads.

When I say these are easy to make, I mean they are so easy to make, you could fill your house in a day. And what is even better is that they are so cost-effective, it wouldn’t even cost you a lot to fill!

I bought a pack of 5 sheets of tissue paper (75cm x 50cm) and cut them in half, therefore having 10 sheets in total. After laying them on top of each other, I folded them back and forth in a concertina fold, at a measurement of about 3cm.

TISSUE POM POM INGREDIENTS

FOLD MEASUREMENT

After folding, I used some fine floral wire to secure the middle of the folded paper, leaving enough wire to make a loop (to use as means of hanging the Pom Pom). Once the middle is secured, fan out the sides and on one side separate one of the top layers of tissue paper. Gently manoeuvre the tissue paper up to the centre of the fan. repeat this on both sides, raising at least 4 sheets of tissue paper on both sides.

POM POM FOLD

POM POM CURVE

POM POM FAN

Once that is done, turn the Pom Pom over, being careful not to crush the sheets you have already pulled into place. If you want, use the wire loop as something to hold onto. Repeat the process on the underside, pulling up to 4 sheets either side. You should then be left with the final middle sheets. Pull these apart and fan them out, being careful not pull them apart too much. This way you are forming more of a circle with your Pom Pom.

POM POM FANNING

All that is left to do is a bit of fluffing, to make sure all the sheets are evenly spread out. Then attach a lovely piece of metallic thread or fishing line to hang from wherever you please.

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