Friday, April 10, 2020

Paleo Banana Bread



Looking at a few ripe bananas on the counter today prompted me to make a banana bread.  I had some almond and coconut flour, bananas, coconut oil, and eggs so I knew I could make a nice paleo version.  I think I've finally gotten to the emotional state from being at home one too many days since this covid-19 panic started.  I miss my friends, my favorite restaurants, my usual freedom, and many other normal daily routines.  While I eat Paleo style on and off, I'm not normally a baker nor a sweets lover.  But, my husband loves this kind of food! This has to be one of the best banana breads I have ever made.  It came out so moist and held together so well, it slid out of the pan and off the parchment paper perfectly and whole.  I'm in awe.  So have fun making this and I hope it comes out as delicious for you as it did for me.

Paleo Banana Bread

1 ½ cups almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour (may need to adjust due to the wetness of the banana batter)
1 tsp baking soda
​½ tsp salt
​4 large eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
​¼ cup coconut oil, melted
​3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper

3. In a large mixing bowl add the bananas and mash them with a fork.  Then add the eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and mix together till well blended.

4. Next, add in the almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and then
 mix together with a wooden spoon until well combined.

5.  The mixture should be pretty wet depending on the amount of bananas you use.  Add in the coconut flour until the mixture thickens up some.  Remember coconut flour is highly absorbant so mix it a little at a time and add more if necessary.

6. Spoon into the parchment paper lined loaf pan.

7. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

8. Remove from the loaf pan to cool.

Good luck and enjoy!



Saturday, November 16, 2019

Mystic, CT Getaway at the Seaport and Red 360

On a recent Sunday we decided to take a trip to Mystic Seaport to view the exhibition of the legendary British painter, J.M.W. Turner, being held at the Museum. The exhibit is in partnership with Tate, London and is being held from October 5, 2019 through February 23, 2020.  

Since I have recently picked up a paintbrush and started painting with watercolor I was specifically interested in seeing Turner’s watercolor paintings.  This exhibit holds a fabulous selection of over 90 of his works.  The exhibit is well organized with great explanations of each work.  It was a busy day at the exhibit and I was really inspired by his work and picked up some tips on how to improve my own work.  There were plenty of books for sale at the Museum about Turner as well.  I am now the owner of his book titled “How to Paint Like Turner.”  If I could only be so lucky to paint even one stroke like his work I’ll be happy! 

J.M.W. TURNER: WATERCOLORS FROM TATE
Once we finished the Turner exhibit, we headed out to explore a little more of the Seaport.  One particular room was fascinating, The Wendell Building, that houses figureheads that are mounted on the wall in the building.  It was interesting to see the various sizes, colors and skill exhibited on the figureheads and ships’ carvings from craftsmen centuries ago. 


We also took a quick look at the Mayflower II while we were there.  Someone pointed out to us that we’d be surprised by the size of the ship and indeed we were.   There it was in all its glory, and yes we were surprised at how small it was!  Visitor’s to Mystic Seaport are really going to be in for a treat to see the Mayflower II in 2020 for the commemoration of its 400th year celebration of the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth Rock. 

Once we finished walking around the Seaport we set off to get lunch at a restaurant recommended by friends that are frequent visitors to Mystic during the summer.  There were a few places to choose from and we decided on Red 360 because it had Sunday Brunch items, a good "winetail" list and it had waterfront views of the Mystic River and boats in the marina.

Red 360 is a bar and restaurant located in downtown Mystic on the Mystic River.   You get there by going through to the back of a marina.  It is a good-sized restaurant and was very busy for a Fall Sunday.  As it was the last day of Restaurant Week it had a rather busy crowd.  We managed to get a seat at the inner bar and had a beautiful view of the boats and the water.  The restaurant was very lively to say the least with the bartender running back and forth making drinks and serving meals.  After some time we ordered drinks from the menu, one was a Cuban drink with rum and mint and prosecco, and the other was a Blood Orange Spritz with  rosemary infused Aperol and Blood Orange and Gloria Ferrer.  Although very good, I did not taste any rosemary flavor.   

Brunch is one of my favorite meals and I was looking forward to something different and yummy.  As I looked around I didn’t see anyone close by eating yet.  The restaurant week menu looked good and eventually my husband chose the Grilled Chicken Flatbread with basil pesto, arugula, baby tomatoes and shaved parmesan.  There was a lobster omelet on the menu that also looked pretty good but I ordered a hot buttered lobster roll instead.  I’m a huge CT lobster roll fan so I wanted to see if this would be worth a return visit to Mystic in the summer.  Both meals did not disappoint.  The lobster was fresh and loaded with salty butter.  It was a good size and the fries with it also very good.  The flatbread was on the small side but that was due to it being from the restaurant week menu rather than the regular menu.  It also included a dessert that was a small ramekin sized crème brulee.  Unfortunately, we did not end up eating that as we had to leave since we had been there longer than expected.  We would probably return because of the great waterfront view and to try some other menu items.  Hopefully next time there will be more servers so it won’t seem so chaotic.




Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Essex Restaurant Centerbrook CT

The Essex Restaurant
Centerbrook, CT


Dreams do come true.  A few weeks ago I had a dream that I was walking through waist high water towards a small village.  Water in dreams most often means a good thing to come.  Once in the village I found myself standing inside a fish market.  There were beautiful displays of fish on all sides of the market and in the center the fishmonger was preparing the cuts of the day.   I asked for some fish and he proceeded to cut them into small perfect squares.  They were about 2 inches high, clear, translucent succulent looking pieces of perfect fish.  Since that dream I've had a craving for a piece of white fish and I finally found it here at The Essex Restaurant in Centerbrook, CT.  

My husband and I love going out to dinner for new eating experiences.  We had gotten into a rut recently and had been visiting the same favorites for a while and therefore we had somehow missed hearing about The Essex.  Until this past Friday that is when a friend passed along an invitation to a future event.  Once we read about it online and saw the menu we decided to take the ride to Centerbrook for happy hour and check it out.  We were so glad we did!

Originally, we thought we'd just try a drink and an appetizer at the bar from the bar menu and come back for dinner another night.  But then we tried the appetizers and wanted more.

This Crispy Pork Belly appetizer is on the regular menu.  It was a nice chunk of pork belly sitting on an apple carrot puree with tangy shredded carrots on top.   

Bob (aka the Carb Man...) had a non carby appetizer to start.  I might even say this could be a Paleo appetizer and we probably should have switched apps.  Octopus is his favorite go to appetizer though at any restaurant so it was a given he would try this.  It was the Duo of Octopus & Pork with 
black garlic, chickpea, blood orange.  We loved the presentation as much as the dish itself. 


Duo of Octopus & Pork appetizer

Once we heard the fish on the menu that night described we decided to proceed with dinner.  Walu, also referred to as snake mackerel, is a fish from Hawaii and is a white, buttery, yet mild, white fish.  Was this the fish in my dreams?  Well, it was what I was hoping for and couldn't have been any more perfect than it was.  It was accompanied with produce from Long River Farm.  Heirloom tomatoes, watercress, and a pesto went so perfectly and tasted so fresh I felt like I was eating Summer tomatoes and greens.

Walu fish with heirloom tomatoes and pesto

Dinner for Bob was the Fried Chicken and Biscuits.  This was delicious crispy, fried chicken that was moist inside and crispy.  I could taste a subtle hint of cinnamon in it that made it devine! The saltiness you get with the side of pickles and buttery goodness with the biscuits.  The biscuit was so buttery and soft and yes he shared half his biscuit with me thank goodness or I would have had to do some begging just to have more for myself ;-).  

Chicken and Biscuits

On to everyone's favorites, dessert time.  We have not been eating desserts lately so this was a real treat.  My dessert was a Winter Citrus bowl of citrusy goodness.  It looks like a pudding/mousse yet it was a tart, light as air not too sweet concoction with bits of lemon cake (I believe) underneath it all.  I'm not a sweet freak so this was so perfect for me.

Winter Citrus

And I couldn't hold back from tasting some of this visually stunning as well as delicious bread pudding with caramel.  

Bread Pudding


Overall, our visit was a wonderful experience.  The restaurant has a open, cozy, and warm vibe. It was so warm and inviting sitting at the corner of the bar that I wish we lived closer.  For now this'll have to be a treat to go to.  The bartenders, Dana and Mikaela, were friendly, professional, and were knowledgeable and focused on making impressive cocktails, shaking them to a perfect icy cold temperature. 










Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Paleo Horseradish Avocado Deviled Eggs

Paleo Horseradish Avocado Breakfast Deviled Eggs


First, yes, I still have and use my trusty old Tupperware deviled egg tray.  And I use it a lot!  I make these deviled eggs or a variation quite often so that my husband and I can have a quick breakfast to go.  I work from home some days so it's also nice to have these already made so I don't have to make breakfast.  Once my coffee is made, the laptop is on, and I can eat these with no cleanup either.  It's maximizing my work time.

The eggs in my photo aren't the prettiest looking and that's because they are just for us.  If I make them to bring to a party for appetizers I do them up nicely and use a pasty bag to squeeze out the filling to make them pretty :-)

On to the recipe!

Ingredients:

8 Jumbo Cage Free / local farm eggs

3 Tbls mustard (I use Kosciusko brand) and think it makes all the difference from using yellow mustard) but use whatever your favorite mustard is :-)

1 Tbls horseradish - (If you like hot horseradish, I found this awesome Homemade Hot Horseradish brand called "Kielbasy King" )

1 ripe avocado

1/2 lemon (juice)

1/4 tsp of sea salt
1/2 tsp of ground black pepper

Process:

Boil the eggs for about 10 minutes and then pour off the hot water.   Add cold water to the pan and let the eggs cool for a couple of minutes in order to make them easier to peel.  
Peel the shells off the eggs, slice the eggs in half and put the cooked yolks into a bowl.  Put your empty egg halves into a container of your choosing.  Combine the cooked egg yolks with the remaining ingredients, mix well, and add to the empty egg halves.

Notes:

  • I use the lemon juice for moisture and also so that it stops the browning process of the avocados.  
  • After much research about the great salt debate, I started using Sea salt.  Bottom line is that regular salt has been refined. Unrefined natural salt contains 80+ trace minerals and it's easy to imagine why that is better for us.  So, in order to reduce the use of processed foods it makes so much more sense to me to use any version of sea salt whether it be Himalayan, Celtic, whatever kind. 






Monday, February 20, 2017

Paleo Hamburger and Cauliflower Casserole

Paleo Hamburger and Cauliflower Casserole


Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hr
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 large head organic cauliflower
2 lbs ground grass-fed beef
1 tblsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
1 small onion (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon Hawaiian Sea Salt
pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried Pasta Sprinkle herb mix (basically any mix of oregano, parsley, thyme, etc.)  whatever you like
½ cup coconut milk (I used Native Forest, unsweetened Organic Coconut Milk, Full Fat)
2 eggs
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  
Blanch the cauliflower (al dente) and then remove it from heat, drain and set aside.  
Heat a frying pan to medium heat and add olive or coconut oil and sauté the onions and garlic (just a couple of minutes).  Add the ground beef and season liberally with salt and pepper, cumin, and oregano mix of herbs. Cook the beef and break up into small pieces with a spatula while cooking. When almost cooked through, remove the meat, onion, and garlic mixture and set aside. 
Beat the eggs and coconut milk together in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.  
Break up the cauliflower into florets.  
In a casserole pan layer the meat mixture, then cauliflower, then beef mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the top and mix into the casserole. 
Sprinkle the top with the sliced almonds.  

Cover and bake for approximately 45 minutes.  Remove lid and bake for 15 minutes longer to brown the almonds. Remove and serve warm.  Yum!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Paleo Spinach Balls

Paleo Spinach Balls

2 (10 oz. each) frozen spinach, drained and thawed
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
3/4 cup coconut flour
¼ cup fine almond flour
½ cup coconut oil, melted
black pepper
1 – 2 teaspoons of Sea Salt
4 eggs

I found that thawing the spinach so that it still has some ice crystals in it is helpful in keeping the balls rolled together.  You don’t need to cool in the fridge that way and they hold their shape nicely when baked.  Don't drain the spinach too much either because the coconut flour will absorb the liquid.  Also note that the melted coconut oil may harden if you have not thawed the spinach fully. 
Mix all ingredients and roll little balls. 

Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180 C) and bake on a cookie (baking) sheet for about 30 mins.   Baking in a glass pan also helps to give them a nice browned bottom if you want to use that instead and bake for 20 mins first then check them.  If they still need some browning adjust accordingly.  Ten more minutes should be ok.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Juicing it up in Florida and Connecticut – Juice Bars and Cafés

In late December 2016, Bob and I visited Sarasota, Clearwater Beach, Safety Harbor, and Tampa Florida to spend some time with family and friends. I wanted to find a way to stay healthy on this trip especially being around so many people when traveling.  It's not easy to get needed vegetables because of eating out often and from dinners at homes where there is little control of the meals prepared (without feeling like a pain the butt to your hosts)...  So I decided to find a place that made juices and/or smoothies so I could get a blast of some nutrients to help me.  Raw food, vegan, and vegetarian juice bars seemed like the best place to get some quick nutrition for an immunity boosting and hopefully anti-inflammatory action. I wanted to try them and to have a juice on hand for breakfast or lunch.  I had tried juicing a few times at home a few years ago (until the juicer broke…) and made some green goddess type of smoothies recently but had never actually visited a juice bar/café/vegan type place.

Here are a few places that we went to over the week on vacation:

Sarasota, FL:
Ionie Retreat * Raw Food Café


Ionie Raw Food Café was our first stop after landing at the airport in Tampa, FL on the way to our friend’s house in Sarasota.  I wanted to get a juice and hopefully find something for my husband to eat.

Ionie’s foods are organic or wild-crafted ingredients, vegan, raw, and gluten-free.  The café eating area inside is small but cozy.  There are also a couple tables outside.  For my juicing needs I wanted something as green as possible with as little fruit/sugar as possible as well to keep it as alkaline as possible.  My choice was Green with Envy a mix of Parsley, spinach, cilantro, kale, cucumber and celery.  It was pretty tasty but with a bit stronger celery taste than I like.  For a light vegan lunch we had their specials of Zucchini hummus & Crackers and Bob had a Gyro: Onion Pita, Tzatziki, arugula and cherry tomato.  It was really tasty and I loved the hummus and crackers.  The crackers had a caramelized onion taste to them.  Yum.  They also had a few juices and assorted salads freshly made to go if you desired.  I really wanted to come back and try their vegan Lasagna because I had read some really good reviews of it online but we ran out of time to stop in again. I liked the Zen vibe here too along with the friendly service and explanations of the juice and food.

The bonus to Ionie Retreat is that it is a Retreat!  They had treatment options that I had never heard of before such as Rolfing, a type of massage, Thai Yoga, and a Crystal light bath.  I so want to go back to Sarasota to try these!

CROP Juice - 2320 Gulf Gate Drive, FL


Next we tried CROP Juice on Gulf Gate in Sarasota.  It happened to be closer to where we were staying and I needed to get a quick juice before we went out for a boat ride. They have a large menu with many juices and smoothies to choose from, organic as well unless noted. It was hard to make up my mind so we were able to taste a few samples of a few of them.  I settled on Camouflage, a spinach, kale, pineapple, green apple, and lemon juice.  That one was a little on the sweet side but good and “green” tasting as well.  They also have daily freshly bottled juices so I got one to go for the next day.

CROP Juice’s owner, Karen Odierna, was interviewed for the Natural Awakening Magazine’s December 2016 edition.  In the article she states “Begin with a commitment every morning to incorporate one habit that benefits your well-being.  Stay active, unwind your brain, and nourish yourself and just breathe.”  Sounds like excellent advice and trying her juices was a step in a healthy direction for me.

And not to forget about dessert, there were some vegan cacao truffles with only maple syrup as a sweetener so I bought a couple for one of the family who is a vegan.  It’s always good to travel with a little flexible cooler so I was able to keep them cold.  I didn’t try them but I liked the ingredients so I may try to make something similar at home.

Onward to Clearwater Beach and…

Organic Goddess Juice Bar & Café, Safety Harbor, FL

We wanted to take a drive through Safety Harbor, one of our favorite small towns, and found Organic Goddess!  Juice heaven again… Gluten Free, Non-GMO, Fresh and Organic. I liked the feel here because it had another element of mind body health, food/juices that align with your chakras.  Now that was cool.  I had the Green Goddess Horta Kale which is:  Spinach, Chard, Celery, Carrot, Apple, Lemon, Ginger, Topped with Lemon Zest.  This was the best tasting blend so far.  Even hubby got in on it and ordered the Third-Eye (Ajna), which is:  Cherry, Blueberry, Carrot, Orange, and Lemon.  He thoroughly enjoyed it.  I could get into hanging out at the Organic Goddess because the counter reminded me of a hometown diner/bar with the chef preparing the food right in front of you.  Order up your juice or lunch while he makes it to order in just a few short minutes.  And it’s easy to just strike up a conversation with someone that way, as we did!  In addition to the café, there is also a boutique that has gifts for sale and the back room is the dance and Yoga studio with many different events available.  It all seems very community oriented as well.  A plus for the Temple Goddess!

Finally, we made our way back home to Connecticut. Then we tried our own hometown juice bar, Pure Alchemy!

Pure Alchemy Juice Bar & Café, Wallingford, CT

This is one of those places that I’ve driven by hundreds of times and always wanted to check it out.  I’m so happy I finally did.  Pure Alchemy has plenty of juices, smoothies, and superfood smoothies to choose from.  The first visit I choose The Afterglow.  It had spinach, celery, apple, lemon, ginger, pear and turmeric.  I really needed that turmeric!  They juice their juices to order as well.  It was so made so quickly and it tasted perfect.  The next day I came back for another one and some lunch.  The Kale Punch did the trick with kale, cucumber, lemon, apple, pear, ginger, and celery.  They had no pear available but that was fine because I wanted less fruit anyway so it was even better for me. 

Pure Alchemy also has many other items available include salads, wraps, entrees, rice bowls, and more.  On the special menu that day was Kale soup.  It was chock full of veggies and I could eat it every day it was so good.  Perfect for a chilly day and filling as well.  Since I’m starting a Whole 30 program (a nutritional reset) in January 2017, I will be visiting here much more since they are also Paleo friendly because they have many vegetable items.  There are several entrees, and plenty of salads to choose from. It’s nice to know I have a place to go when I haven’t planned everything out and need a quick lunch.

Also, what would a juice bar and café be without a delicious vegan dessert?  There were some mouth watering vegan house made chocolates and desserts to choose from.  The best looking of all was the vegan peppermint pie – only a couple of slices left!  Maybe after the Whole 30… ;-) Pure Alchemy has a Face Book page as well that is up to date.  Looking through that I see that they hold many different mind, body, and spiritual related events throughout the year.  Love it!