Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Goodies

I hope everyone had a very happy and blessed Easter!

My kids seemed quite happy with their Primal(ish) Easter baskets. Although, the natural cherry licorice was not received well. They didn't even ask why and when the Easter Bunny went Primal. I guess this means they have now accepted our new way of eating as normal. That's pretty cool!

We went to 11 o'clock Mass, and then headed to Tom's mother's house for lunch. We kept it primal with turkey, green beans, mashed sweet potatoes, olives, and cookies and cake for dessert.

The kids had a great time hunting for eggs. Grandma has been very supportive of our new lifestyle change, filled the eggs with objects the kids could trade in for dollar bills. No candy. Thank you! 

We then headed to our friends' house for dinner. I had thought I'd cheat for Easter, but I ended up staying fairly true to GP. I had ham, chicken, asparagus, brussel sprouts and about 1/4 cup of green bean casserole.  My friend Cathy made an almond crust, strawberry cream pie (what was it called, Cathy?) She said it did have some sugar, but was Primal-friendly in all other aspects, so I had some of this and it was awesome. I wish I had thought to take a photo, because it was just as pretty as it was delicious.

Oh, I also had half glass of red wine. 

Overall, not too bad, I don't think. 

Now, I made a chocolate cake and it looked (and smelled) fabulous until I transferred it to a cake stand, where it promptly cracked in ten different directions. I made a quick cream, but whipping heavy cream and vanilla, and served it with the cake. The cake was so dense, it needed something light and cool to balance it. 

(I was going to include the recipe here, but given that it is from a cookbook, I don't know if this would take away sales from the author or what, so if you really think this cake is for you, go to Amazon and buy Paleo Comfort Foods.) My thoughts on it?  It is way too rich. I love dark chocolate, but this was really something else. This recipe includes cayenne pepper.I hate spicy-hot things, so I only added about 1/2 tsp of the cayenne. It gave the cake a really nice warm flavor but without making it spicy. However, you can't properly enjoy it because you're reaching for your water to wash down the sticky, dense cake taste. I suppose if you are desperate for dessert and you would die for chocolate, this cake might be worth a try. 

I also made the Coconut Cookies which seemed to be worthy of a potluck event. I've even made them for the kids when they have school functions, and while my kids feel funny about it, other people eat them and come back for me. So this might be a good thing to bake 'n' take to family/friends gatherings. Maybe?

Then, just to be safe, I made brownies. I just can't seem to get it right. Either the middle is under baked or it's fine and the outer edges are burned... argh.  

I used:

1 cup Cashew butter
1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 egg

Mix well. Pour in a 8x8 glass cake pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees (or so say the directions)   I sprinkled with dark chocolate chips since I believe brownies should include chocolate somehow. 

 Oh, I also made Tom a berry tart (simmered and reduced berries with 1tbls honey, poured onto a baked almond crust, and put in fridge to set for an hour). I topped with whipped cream.  It didn't turn out so well. The berries were still pretty bitter/tart despite the honey I used to sweeten them. Maybe maple syrup would work better?

So a very busy weekend, but lots of fun. Now that Lent is over, I can go back to experimenting with baked goods. I'm hoping to have time for baking coconut bread tomorrow. I really want a ham sandwich.

Happy Easter!


  1. I have not tried this with berries, but the rule of thumb is something sour is too acidic. To cut the acidity add a base or salt. Try adding a little salt to the tart. Doing it to a sour apple or citrus cuts the sour flavor :)

  2. For a sweetener, check out Xagave Nectar. I'm not sure the rules of primal, but I went Raw for a while and this stuff is processed without the degree of heat (or chemicals) that would keep it from being raw. It also has a lower glycemic index than honey and it much sweeter with a more neutral flavor: the website is

    If you haven't already, you might want to look into some "RAW" uncookbooks. Sounds like it's basically the same thing as the Primal diet, except the Raw foodies don't use heat to prepare their food. RAWvolution is a great one.

    1. The problem with agave nectar is that it is very high in fructose (up to 90% in many cases). While it is true that fruits have moderate amounts of fructose in them, it is small compared to agave nectar. Fructose tends to be problematic for people because of its effect on insulin response, and that it is almost entirely processed by the liver (in high doses it can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). Most people wouldn't consider agave nectar primal/paleo.

      Personally, I think that it's best to stay away from sweets altogether due to their deleterious affect on metabolism and health, even certain high fructose fruits can be troublesome in large amounts for some people. Often, I think people are putting themselves through head-games by eating "primal" versions of crappy foods. However, if you *are* going to do it, then it would be my own opinion to use a sweetener that at least has some redeeming qualities. Pure raw honey is probably the best choice because even though it is nearly 40% fructose, it has many redeeming qualities such as minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, etc, as well as positive effects on blood lipids. I would put maple syrup at a distant 2nd with regular sugar coming in 3rd and agave nectar somewhere toward the bottom when it comes to a cost/benefit analysis of nutritional profile.

      Matt LaLonde and Robb Wolf really influenced my thinking in this area, that's for sure.

      As for raw or not, that is a topic that has many variables to it. For instance, some foods simply cannot be eaten in their raw form (e.g. cashews), others contain high amounts of antinutrients in raw form (grains and legumes), while some should be eaten only in their raw form (such as honey). Also, when it comes to a great many veggies, the nutritional benefits are simply more bioavailable when they are cooked. Obviously, meats tend to be eaten in cooked form for many reasons (most raw foodists are vegan or vegetarian).

      When it comes down to it, there simply aren't any scientifically proven nutritional benefits to the raw food craze, and in many cases, there may be detriments.

    2. Just to clarify something that I said above. I mentioned that agave nectar is problematic for insulin response, which gives the impression that it spike insulin or something along those lines. This is not the case. Agave nectar does indeed have a low GI and doesn't spike insulin, however what it does do is increase insulin resistance, which is far worse in my opinion.

  3. I will note that Xagave brand agave nectar appears to be better than typical brands because its fructose content is 49% rather than 70-95% like most brands. However, if you compare it to high fructose corn syrup, you find that it's fructose content is comparable. The two most common types of high fructose corn syrup used in the US are HFCS-42 and HFCS-55, which have 42% and 55% fructose respectively (Xagave falls right between them). While HFCS-90 does exist, you'll almost never find it used in foods, rather it is typically used to make HFCS-55.

    Xagave seems to be the better choice of agave nectars out there, and it apparently does contain a few vitamins and minerals. However, as I said, I just assume stay away from all of it.