Friday, June 27

Low Carb, Paleo Sushi- and No, I'm not kidding.

When one makes the decision to embrace a grain free diet, one often fails to consider that one of the carby delights in life, sushi, will no longer be a regular staple of the diet. I like sushi, but I am not a purist, I'm a roll kind of gal. Which in some sets, is the trash of sushi. I like things with rice, tempura-ed shellfish, cream cheese, things with the word 'rainbow' in the name, avocado, things with the word 'California' in the name. I think you get the gist. So while I could have proper sushi, nigiri, on a paleo diet, I have ZERO interest in eating raw fish by itself. I love the soy sauce, the wasabi that makes my nose burn and eyes water, the pickled ginger. I do not like the seaweed. I have tried, but the smell, THE SMELL. So, when I went out and ordered sushi, I would order it made with soy paper, which is amazing. However, my weekly sushi habit went to carb heaven many moons ago, but man, there are times when I still intensely crave the stuff! I've thought a few times about how I could 'paleo-fy' it, but really, how do you do a sushi roll with no rice?? Stop being ridiculous! But, I've been craving sushi something fierce lately, so on my hour long commute to work, I've been putting this together in my head over the last week or so. I got the idea when I made a recipe for bacon, zucchini, feta rolls found here. When I made them, I took them to a weekend lake trip and made an appetizer plate and as I cut them I thought, huh, I wonder if I could do a sushi type roll using zucchini? It's been marinating ever since, so tonight I thought I would give it a try, and quite honestly, I wasn't convinced it would work, but the worst that could happen was that I would end up with a bowl full of ingredients and call it a 'sushi salad'. So here we go!!
First you have to resolve the rice issue. The only sensible solution is the low carb staple, cauli-rice:

magical cauli-rice
To make the rice, just grate the cauliflower with a box grater and microwave it for 2-3 minutes on high. I added a splash of rice vinegar, a splash of sesame oil and sea salt.

Next, I had to decide what to wrap it in since the seaweed wasn't an option and this is where the zucchini comes in. So, I took a vegetable peeler and made long, flat zucchini strips:

zucchini ribbons
I had decided to make a California roll for this experiment, so assemble the cast of characters:

King Crab- no fake stuff here!!!

cucumber cut in matchsticks
My first approach was to lay 4 zucchini ribbons slightly overlapping, to recreate the size of a sheet of seaweed:


Next, I spread a thin layer of the cauli rice on the zucchini like you would do with sushi rice:

Add the cucumber, a bit thickly, because you need some volume to make up for the lack of rice:

top with the matchstick cucumbers
Now, the king crab! Try and splurge on real crab. The imitation stuff is scary with the stuff they add! And the real thing tastes exponentially better!

King Crab

Finally I added the avocado and I was ready to roll!


The first few rotations turned out fine and I was feeling like maybe I was gonna pull this off!


However, by the end, so much filling had pushed out and it was not sturdy at all:

So, I scraped out all the filling and decided to use a single zucchini ribbon for each roll:

single ribbon technique
And to make them even more secure, I used a piece of spring onion to tie it and from there on it was smooth sailing!

finished Paleo sushi!!
Once they were all rolled and secured, it really was a great sushi experience! A big part of the sushi ritual for me is the taste of the soy sauce and wasabi, so for me, to dip it into that and have that burn and taste, it was amazing!

Ready to start eating!

They were sturdy enough to use chopsticks with and truly satisfied my sushi craving!

You can use chopsticks!

This was an amazing recipe and was a milestone for me in my low carb journey. To actually think outside of the box and recreate something that really is a tough one to recreate in a grain free way, but everything is possible! You just have to suspend your expectations! Did this taste like 'normal' sushi? Of course not, but did it taste like a California roll? YES, it did! Try it!

Beautiful sushi!

Sunday, June 22

Paleo Indian 'oh my GOD these are good' Meatballs

I am just going to come out and say it, this is one of my BEST recipes yet! Partly because it is actually MY recipe. Creating new, clever and unique foods is not so simple anymore with the plethora of food bloggers out here on the internets. Usually when I think of something to make, I google it and someone else has already done it, and because I am pretty lazy by nature, I just say 'huh, yea, I'll use their recipe'. But not tonight kids, not tonight.
I have been looking at make ahead paleo meals that I could freeze and have on hand for quick easy meals during the week and I found a recipe for paleo crockpot meatballs. I was going to make those, but then remembered that we had Bolognese just last night, and these meatballs were essentially the same thing, but bigger. So, there I was with 2 pounds of ground beef that I couldn't refreeze and I thought to myself, 'Indian food sounds good'. And then I jokingly said 'I can make Indian meatballs'. I had a good laugh, because stereotypes and stuff, but then sobered up and thought 'why couldn't I make Indian meatballs???'. So of course I googled 'Indian Meatballs' and a whole SLEW of recipes came up (dammit!!), but my wheels were turning already, so I briefly looked at one and saw all the nasty breadcrumbs, vegetable oil, and other non paleo ingredients and set out on my own. Join me, won't you?

Paleo Indian 'Oh my GOD these are good' Meatballs
For the meatballs:
2 pounds ground beef (grass fed, organic if possible, you know the drill)
2 large eggs
1 cup 'breadcrumbs'- recipe link below
1/2 can coconut milk
2-4 TBL of fresh minced ginger (to your taste)
Indian curry spices (again to taste)(what I used listed below)
dried onion flakes
dried minced garlic
handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)- chopped
handful of fresh parsley-chopped
sea salt
For the sauce:
1 large onion chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
2 boxes of chopped tomatoes
3 TBL tomato paste
4-6 TBL curry paste
2 cubes organic beef broth
1-2 TBL coconut oil
1 cup water
the other half of your can of coconut milk

Let's get started!

If you don't know already, I will let you in on a secret. The secret to a delicious meatball is BREADCRUMBS. Something about those breadcrumbs makes the end product super moist and delectable. I was thinking of what I could sub, almond flour perhaps, when I suddenly remembered a batch of 'Ben's low carb Rye Bread' I had made a few weeks ago. This is a great paleo bread to use for sandwiches, toast, ect. So I cut a couple of slices and put it in my food processor and whipped it into bread crumbs. To these I added the coconut milk and set it aside to soak until I was ready for it:

'bread crumbs' soaking in coconut milk
Next, I combined the ground beef and spices. I know I was vague up top about ingredients and amounts, but really, whatever Indian spices you have on hand will do and some people like varying degrees of spice. I recommend against using a prepared curry paste as they are usually full of sugar and bad oils and I really recommend Penzey's for spices! They have hand mixed blends that are amazing! In my meatballs I used their Rogan Josh, Vindaloo, Cumin and Russian Sausage seasonings, liberally. I also added their freeze dried onions and garlic along with the ginger, coriander, parsley and sea salt. To this, I added the eggs and the breadcrumb mixture and dug my hands in and gave that meat a nice massage! I didn't take a picture of the big bowl of meat mixture. Sorry. When you are done and you have tasted it and are satisfied with the flavor, set it aside.

For the sauce, chop your onion and garlic and cook it over medium high heat in your coconut oil until it starts turning translucent. While they are cooking take 4-6 tablespoons of your curry powder and add some water to it to make a paste. Now add this paste to the onion and garlic and stir it all together. It will smell delicious. Add your tomatoes, tomato paste, water, beef stock cubes and stir til everything is incorporated and it's bubbling. Taste it. Adjust your spices as necessary.
Spicy sauce simmering (say it fast a lot of times)
Now it's time to make the meat balls. Just dig in and form balls with you hands:
and drop them into your tomato gravy one by one til the pot is full. Let everything bubble and get acquainted for about 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook them until finished, about 20 minutes I guess:

At this point, I started getting very excited. These bad boys smelled delicious and I couldn't wait to taste them. I recommend getting another pot and putting the meatballs you are going to eat NOW into it with the appropriate amount of gravy before adding the coconut milk. The coconut milk really finishes this off well, and if you add the small amount of coconut milk into the giant pan of meatballs and gravy, it'll get lost and disappear. Trust me on this. Add your coconut milk:
Stir until combined and keep it on low heat until you are ready to eat them:

I topped my meatballs with fresh picked rocket salad from Torstein's garden down the road and the spicy, peppery green really was a nice complement to the dish:
These are seriously good! The faux breadcrumbs made them moist. Not as moist as real breadcrumbs, but so much moister had I not used any. My non paleo family members loved them and had theirs with coconut rice and I think I said 'Oh my gosh, these are soooooo good' at least 12 times in the 25 minutes we sat at the table. I hope you try them because I know you will LOVE them and make a big batch, because these are great to portion out and freeze and grab and go during a busy week.
Indian Meatballs. I never would have guessed they would rock my world so hard! The clean plate speaks for itself!!!