Paleo Chocolate Coconut Creme

Chocolate Coconut Creme

A piece of fruit is a great option for a sweet Paleo snack, but sometimes a cup of berries just isn’t going to cut it. Add a bowl of chocolate into the mix and we’re moving in the right direction. This Paleo take on classic chocolate fondue hits the spot and satisfies those annoying sweet cravings. It’s foundation is coconut milk, so it’s dairy-free and sweetened with honey. Kids love it and they can choose a variety of dippers – strawberries, bananas, or even Paleo chocolate chip cookies (a revelation stumbled upon by my husband).

If you want to make a batch for a party, you can reserve half of the cooked creme and omit the cocoa powder for a strictly vanilla coconut version. A duo of dips always seems more complicated, but it’s really just a matter of leaving out an ingredient!

Yield: 16 oz.
Ingredients
2 cans coconut milk (14 oz. each)
1/2 c. honey
1 oz. cocoa powder
2 T. vanilla

Method
1. Combine coconut milk and honey in a medium sized heavy-bottom saucepan.
2. Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat to low.
3. Stirring occasionally, cook 40-60 minutes, or until it has reduced by nearly half and is the consistency of thick cream.
4. Whisk in cocoa and vanilla, stirring to combine.
5. Taste and add honey if it isn’t to your desired sweetness.

Candied Pecans

Raw Pecans
After over a year of adopting a Paleo lifestyle, I still struggle with sugar cravings. Granted, I don’t indulge myself like I used to – cookies, snacks and candies don’t have a place on my pantry shelves any more. Sometimes though, you just need a little something to curb the craving and it will pass.

These little pecan gems do just the trick. They are crunchy, slightly sweet, and full of warm spicy flavor. They remind me of pecan pie – without all of the guilt. You can adjust the seasonings to your liking, but keep in mind, after they bake, the spices will mellow. Keep a container of these in your desk drawer so when the 2 o’clock craving hits, you have something handy that you won’t regret later.

Spices
Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients
4 cups pecan halves
3 ea. egg whites
1/2 cup honey, slightly warmed
1 T. cinnamon
2 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. salt

Method
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. Set aside pecans in a large bowl.
3. Whisk together the whites and honey in a small bowl, just to combine.
4. Add all of the spices and salt, whisking again to combine.
5. Pour the egg white mixture over the pecans and toss to coat completely.
6. Spread the pecans out evenly on the parchment-lined sheet pan.
7. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, checking often to ensure they don’t burn. They will still be slightly tacky to the touch, but will have a fully roasted color.
8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, they will no longer be tacky to the touch. Store in an airtight container.

Candied Pecans

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie

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My mother and sister make, quite possibly, the World’s best pot pie. The crust is tender and flaky, the gravy is thick and creamy, and the chicken is always juicy. It is packed full of flavor and you can never quite seem to get enough. This recipe is a derivation on their original and I dare say, comes pretty close in terms of flavor. Surprisingly, the almond flour crust is a fantastic substitute for the gluten version. It crisps up nicely, but definitely needs a quick egg wash to achieve a deep caramelized color.

The Crust

Ingredients

3 cups almond flour
2 large eggs
4 T. cold butter, cubed
1/2 t. salt
1 t. honey

Method

1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Pulse until the butter is distributed and the dough forms a ball, about 15 pulses.
3. Separate into 3 pieces, wrapping one tightly in plastic wrap. Combine the remaining two pieces and wrap in plastic wrap.
4. Refrigerate until firm.
5. Roll out the larger piece to fit your pie plate, making sure to leave a little extra overhang for combining with the top piece. Refrigerate until firm.
6. Reserve the smaller piece for the top of your pie.

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The Filling

Ingredients

2 large carrots, peeled & diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 T. butter
1 T. dried thyme
1 T. dried rosemary
2.5 T. tapioca flour
.25 cups almond milk
1.5 cups chicken broth
.5 cups heavy cream
12 oz. cooked, shredded chicken
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 egg, well-whisked (for egg wash)

Method

1. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Boil the carrots until al dente, 5 minutes.
2. In a large pot, sauté the onion, celery, butter, thyme and rosemary. Cook until the onions are translucent.
3. Create a slurry with the tapioca flour and almond milk, making sure to fully dissolve the flour.
4. Slowly add the broth and heavy cream to the pot.
5. Bring to a boil and stream in the tapioca slurry.
6. Once the gravy has reached the desired consistency, take off the heat. You can always add more tapioca slurry if you want the sauce thicker.
7. Fold the chicken and carrots into the gravy.
8. Pour the mixture into your prepared pie crust, making sure not to overfill.
9. Roll out your reserved dough to slightly larger than the diameter of your pie pan. Place on top and crimp together with the edges of the bottom crust.
10. Brush the top and edges with egg wash. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
11. Bake at 350°F for 45-60 minutes, or until brown on top. It will take longer if the pie is completely frozen.
12. Cool for 20 minutes, to set the crust.

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Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Our recent switch to a Paleo lifestyle has been admittedly easier than I thought it would be. I have had a few cravings, but nothing that couldn’t be curbed with a hard boiled egg or a piece of fruit. However, it recently hit me that my beloved, delicious, spicy pumpkin pie was no longer on my list of “acceptable” foods for Thanksgiving! My heart started beating faster, my leg started to twitch, and for the first time since we embarked on this journey, I seriously considered sneaking something into the house that I knew we shouldn’t be eating.

Luckily for us (and our waistlines, triglycerides, and blood sugars), I have a knack for baking and I was pretty sure that I could come up with a delicious version of a pumpkin pie that would fit the bill for our Paleo diet. Initially, I thought it would be pretty easy. Obviously the crust would be the most challenging aspect due to the wheat flour it needed, but the custard itself shouldn’t be too tricky. After 5 attempts, I hit the jackpot and created what I think is a pretty stellar substitute for the pumpkin pie I grew up loving.

The recipe below includes teff flour. I have done a lot of research trying to find out if it is acceptable on a Paleo diet. As of today, I have found no definitive answer. Some say it isn’t, because it is technically a grass. Others say it is, because it is essentially gluten free, doesn’t have as much phytic acid (which makes minerals nearly useless when eaten), and it is loaded with nutrients. It is a staple in the Ethiopian community and is often eaten fermented into flatbreads (which makes it even better for you). With that said, it was the best option for a pie crust that gives good flavor, great mouthfeel, and stood up to the pumpkin custard. While I wouldn’t suggest inhaling pounds of teff every day, I would also say that everything can be eaten in moderation. Even though you’ll probably want to devour this entire pie…

The crust bakes up beautifully and has a great texture that you don't get with almond flour.
The crust bakes up beautifully and has a great texture that you don’t get with almond flour – it resembles the texture of a graham cracker crust.
The secret to a great pumpkin pie is baking it as a custard - low and slow.
The secret to a great pumpkin pie is baking it as a custard – low and slow.

The Crust

Ingredients:

2 cups teff flour
1/2 cup macadamia oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 t. salt

Method:

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly to combine.
2. Press the mixture into a 9″ pie plate, making sure to press all the way to the top of the sides. It is important to get an even thickness throughout.
3. Freeze completely.
4. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Bake the crust for approximately 35 minutes. Start checking it early to prevent over-baking. It should be firm to the touch, and will have lightened in color.
5. Chill the crust until your custard mixture is ready.

The Custard

Ingredients:

6 ea. large eggs
15 oz. pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
2/3 cup almond milk, unsweetened
2/3 cup heavy cream
5 oz. coconut palm sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1.5 t. ground cinnamon
1.5 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground nutmeg
3/4 t. salt

Method:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 300°F.
2. Combine the eggs and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine.
3. Add the almond milk, cream and coconut palm sugar. Continue whisking to completely incorporate the milks.
4. Finally, add the vanilla, all the spices and the salt. Combine.
5. Pour into your pre-baked crust and set into a baking dish (big enough to hold some water).
6. Place the baking dish into your pre-heated oven and fill half-way with hot water.
7. Bake until the custard is set in the middle, about 2 hours. If it still jiggles in the middle, it may need longer. Start checking it after an hour and a half. If it over-bakes, there will be a noticeable crack in the center after it cools.
8. Let cool to room temperature, then finish chilling in the refrigerator to ensure a complete set.

A Few Notes:

– You can use any lightly flavored oil in the crust, including melted butter or ghee.
– Honey can be substituted for the coconut palm sugar, but it will be significantly sweeter. Reduce the measurement to 4 oz.
– It is always best to freshly grate your nutmeg for the best flavor. If you are using pre-ground nutmeg, increase the measurement to 1.5 t. per 9″ pie.