Coconut-Dill Veggie Dip



Yesterday we hosted our first BBQ since moving into our new home. We love entertaining and it’s so great to have a huge backyard and a full-sized grill. Plus, our new house is plenty big and not all of our “living space” furniture is crammed into one room anymore! I think last night’s BBQ was a great success–everyone seemed to really enjoy the food, beverages and conversation. YAY! 


We had burgers, brats, a veggie platter, a fruit platter, and our friends each brought a little something to share. There were crackers and olives stuffed with anchovies and wine and these OMG-to-die-for-sweet potato fries baked with pumpkin pie spices (Thanks, Nicole and Brian–you two are brilliant!). Are you drooling yet? Well, if not, I think you will be soon because I’m finally going to get the point of this post…


Coconut-Dill Veggie Dip

Ingredients

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon yellow mustard seed, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill (fresh is best, but dried dill weed will work just fine)
  • top half of a 15 ounce can of coconut cream (make sure you don’t shake it up before opening; you want to use the top half of the can b/c that’s where the most fat/cream/pulp has settled–if you use too much of the liquid below it, the dip will be too runny to dip veggies into)
Method
  1. Combine spices in a mini bowl.
  2. Scoop out of the can into a small bowl the top half of the coconut cream. 
  3. Blend the spices into the coconut cream.
  4. Chill for about 5 minutes in the refrigerator.
  5. Serve and enjoy!
As you can see from the picture, I served my dip with baby carrots, broccoli, celery sticks and radishes. The dip was sweet and creamy up front, savory in the middle, and finished with a tiny bite in the back. It went well with all of the veggies! 

Honestly, this was completely a last-minute experiment. (By last-minute, I mean it–I started putting this together at 4 p.m., exactly when the party was supposed to start, haha. Lucky for me, the first fashionably-late friend didn’t arrive until 4:45 p.m.) My goal was to make a Paleo-friendly ranch dip for our veggies; I had even purchased a ranch flavor packet earlier that day just in case my efforts failed. But I really didn’t want to use that packet because it was littered with preservatives and such. 

I was nervous. I tried to look up recipes for making ranch dip from scratch. All of them were different and called for things like mayo and sour cream. But I got a vague idea of what spices to use. I threw caution to the wind and mixed a few spices together. That’s when I started to get excited. After I tasted the final product, I was thrilled!

I think if I had had the time to add some paleo-mayo (freshly made with egg, lemon juice, mustard seed and coconut oil), it might have had that tangy, ranch taste. However, I love this recipe just as it is. I love the sweet coconut, the savory dill with onion and garlic, and the little kick at the end from the yellow mustard seed and black pepper.

And the best part: Everyone loved it.

I hope you will, too. 🙂

Paleo-friendly Carrot Pulp Bread – Attempt 2

In case you haven’t read Attempt 1, the long story short is that it came out overly moist (yes, it’s possible, just go read that post); perhaps the better description is oily. Either way, I adjusted a few things and tried again this past weekend…

Unfortunately, this time, the bread came out too dry and crumbly. I probably should have only adjusted one or two things, not five at once. Ah well, lesson learned. Here is what I did this time. One of these days, I will get this right…

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus a little extra with which grease the pan
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 cups carrot pulp
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon corse Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk the oil, eggs, and maple syrup together in a large bowl.
  3. Then mix in the carrot pulp into the other wet ingredients.
  4. Mix in a separate medium bowl the flaxseed meal, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients.
  6. Grease the bread pan with extra virgin olive oil (I used a pastry brush to do this).
  7. Place the bread batter into the pan and place into the oven.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes.
It is edible, but I can’t say it’s enjoyable. The bottom half of the loaf seems almost the right texture, but the top half is all crumbs; and the whole thing falls apart at the slightest touch. 
Maybe third time will be the charm? I can only hope…. 🙂

P.S. Sorry there are not pictures with this post. I had taken a few, but my iPhone needed to be reset recently and I ended up loosing the few pics I took for this recipe.

Paleo-friendly Carrot Pulp Bread – 1st Attempt

Disclaimer: This recipe didn’t really fail, but it wasn’t that good. This is labeled “1st Attempt” for a reason. I will revisit this recipe soon and try to fix it. Try it if you like, but read through this whole post and please tweak the recipe (as I suggest at the bottom or in your own way). And if you find a more successful way of doing this, please let me know!

Brent and I make two cups (one cup for each of us) of fresh carrot juice nearly every morning using our juicer, a pile of peeled carrots and 1 lemon. One of these days I might actually measure it out and post it, but today I want to talk about the pulp, not the juice.

Pulp from juicing… what do you do with it? This question first crossed my mind months ago, when we bought our juicer and made our first batch of juice. It pained me to just toss all that pulp in the trash. Brent soon after started a compost pile. Ok, that helped for a little while, but the compost container filled up quickly. So, we Googled it. I found breads, muffins, and other fun recipes. The only problem was that they were not Paleo-friendly.

Then last week, I was bubbling around online, scanning Paleo blogs and sites looking for inspiration, and I saw something that made me drool on Paleomg.com: Banana Bread French Toast. WOW, it looks amazing. I haven’t tried it yet, but it gave me an idea. Why not use this Paleo-friendly banana bread recipe as a template for a carrot pulp bread? I searched online also for a basic carrot pulp bread recipe, and last night I did my best to blend the two to make a paleo-friendly carrot pulp bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to grease the pan
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 and 1/2 cup carrot pulp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt (sea salt would probably be better, but I don’t have that in the pantry)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk the oil, eggs, and maple syrup together in a large bowl.
  3. Then mix in the carrot pulp into the other wet ingredients.
  4. Mix in a separate medium bowl the flaxseed meal, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients. 
  6. Grease the bread pan with extra virgin olive oil (I used a pastry brush to do this).
  7. Pour the bread batter into the pan and place into the oven.
  8. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
As I mentioned in the disclaimer at the top, this wasn’t a total flop, but it wasn’t all that good. I started with cooking it just for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough, so I kept cooking it in 10 minute increments. Finally, at 60 minutes I realized that my bread wasn’t undercooked, it was simply insanely moist. All that oil… yea, it was too much.
So, how will I try to fix this recipe in the near future? Here are a few of my ideas (a special thanks to my friend who tasted the bread today at work and helped me brainstorm ideas for fixing it):
  • use a LOT LESS olive oil
  • add a little almond or coconut flour (flaxseed has a lot of natural oils so the flaxseed meal was naturally a little oily to begin with, so adding a dryer flour or meal would help balance out things)
  • add a little more vanilla extract
  • add a little nutmeg
  • add some walnuts and/or raisins for texture and interest
I’ll post an improved recipe as soon as I perfect this. In the meantime, if any of your wonderful readers out there have ideas for fixing it or want to play around with the recipe yourselves and come up with some great ideas, share please! 

Curried Ground Pork with Carrots and Celery

Last weekend Brent and I bought a couple cookbooks on sale at the local Barnes & Noble, and one of them was called The Curry Bible. Brent and I love food. Yes, we eat Paleo more and more frequently; but we love food, all kinds of it. Curry is one of my favorite things to eat out. All this Paleo business has kept us from going out to eat. Now, that’s awesome because we’re saving big money not eating out. But it’s a little less awesome because we’re not going out to eat for some of our favorite things (like curry!).

So, this weekend, despite being insanely busy (and not with the usual stuff like cleaning house and grocery shopping and cooking multiple big meals to have all week), I made sure to make some time for experimentation.
My one and only curry recipe that I make at home is a peanut-butter curry chicken. OMG I love that stuff. YUM. It is near and dear to my heart, but alas, peanuts are a legume and thus off-limits all through the Whole30 Challenge (oh wait, that’s right, it’s over! woah…) and generally not acceptable even when we’re doing a 80/20 approach to Paleo. You know–80% Paleo, 20% whatever-we-want.
I guess Brent and I are pretty much sticking to Paleo (at least 80/20) from now on, with the occasional cheat day. This isn’t an official decision, just something that seems to be happening. So, still in this 100% Paleo mindset and knowing that we had approximately 1 pound of ground pork desperately in need of being used hanging out in the fridge, I decided to try creating my own curried ground pork recipe. We also had plenty of onion and garlic (typical), lots spices in the cabinet (also typical), and a few select veggies in the fridge (carrots and celery, also in desperate need of being used soon). 
I started by looking through a few recipes in The Curry Bible. Then, I rummaged through our pantry and sniffed (yes, literally sniffed) a variety of different spices next to the curry powder.  This may sound a bit silly, but I find it very effective: I hold the curry powder in one hand near my nose, and then in the other hand hold one or two other spices at a time; I then sniff all three more or less at the same time, somewhat waving them in front of my nose so I can get all the scents as close to simultaneously as possible. In this case, I feel pretty confident it worked out. 
And so, without further adieu, here is my new Curried Ground Pork with Carrots and Celery recipe…
~~~
Ingredients (roughly, in order of when you need them):
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (approx. 1 and 1/4 to 1 and 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced or pressed)
  • 6-8 thin carrots, cut into 1-inch sticks (approx. 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups) 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated with a microplane or grater (or simply minced)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 and 1/2 cup coconut milk 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon garam marsala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 3-4 celery stalks, chopped (approx. 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups)
*Note: This picture of all the ingredients includes one I didn’t list above: red pepper flakes. Originally, I planned to sprinkler a few in to give the curry extra kick. But as I cooked it, I realized that there was plenty of delicious flavor coming from the curry powder and other spices. So I didn’t use the red pepper flakes. If you do use them or some other heat/kick-adding ingredient, let me know how it goes!
Method:
1. Heat ghee over medium-high in a large, high-walled pan.
2. Saute onion, garlic and carrots in the ghee for about 2 minutes.
3. Add the ginger and ground pork. Sautee everything together, breaking up the ground pork with your spatula until the ground pork is nearly cooked through (most of it should not be pink, but it’s ok if a little is). 
I admit, I forgot to time step 3. I *think* it took about 6-8 minutes for the pork to become mostly cooked through, but please don’t quote me on that. Make sure you pay close attention and keep breaking it up and moving things around.
5. Add coconut milk and spices. Stir well to blend it all together.
6. Add the celery.
7. Bring the whole mixture back to a low bubble and then turn the heat down to medium-low.
8. Let it simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes. This will allow some of the liquid to reduce while all the yummy flavors congeal.
9. Serve in bowls and enjoy! OR let it cool, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator over night to let the flavors mingle even longer before eating it. 🙂
~~~
I taste-tested this throughout the cooking process to make sure I was adding just the right amount of curry and other spices, as well as to make sure it came out delicious overall. 
I think it’s awesome! And Brent did say it smelled amazing. 🙂 But Brent and I actually haven’t eaten it yet (even though I made it last night, just before we went out to dinner with friends who were visiting DC this weekend and wanted to see us). 
Why? Well, I planned for us to have it for dinner tonight. But, around 1 p.m. today, we got an invite to go to another friend’s cook-out this evening. So we had yummy grilled pork/onion/bell pepper skewers with veggies and other yummy sides. Tomorrow, we will “officially” get to taste this curry ground pork and I will be able to add a little note about how good (or bad–hopefully, not!) this recipe actually is.
If you try it, please let me know what you think! Feedback is key to perfecting recipes. 🙂