Zucchini Bread: 7/24/2015: 1 hour

This recipe for paleo zucchini bread had a great flavor, but the texture in my version was off. My family grows our own zucchinis, but sometimes we miss one and the extra watering makes them HUGE and they have a lot of excess moisture. It took me almost 30 minutes to grate the zucchini because it was so large that it ended up making 2 loaves of zucchini bread. Although I tried to squeeze a lot of the moisture out, I should have used the nut milk bag I have to squeeze more of the zucchini water out because this bread turned out WET. I cooked it for almost twice the recommended amount of time until the top of the bread looked perfectly browned, but the inside was still very soggy. The flavor was a perfect combination of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla, but the texture was so off from normal bread that it was kind of hard to eat.

Next time for this recipe, I would make sure to squeeze the zucchini out with a nut milk bag to strain the liquid out and dry the zucchini out. If this has too much moisture, I could also dry out the zucchini by putting it in the oven at a low temperature for a short amount of time to evaporate some of the water. I would also speed up the time by using the food processor to blend up the zucchini rather than grating it by hand because that was very time consuming. Additionally, I made this without the nuts because my mom doesn’t like nuts, but for the added carbs I would include pecans or walnuts next time (probably pecans because I think they compliment a pumpkin flavor better).

Banana Nut Paleo Muffins: 7/23/2015: 30 minutes

This recipe for banana nut muffins was one of the first times I made a baked good on paleo that both looked and tasted completely normal. The texture for this muffin was perfect, which is unusual because sometimes paleo muffins can have a very spongy texture because of the number of eggs used. It was also really flavorful and I felt like I was eating healthy (which may be deceiving but I’m on paleo so something slightly less healthy is still okay).The nut flavor was somewhat subdued which I liked because I’m not a huge fan of the taste of almonds, and it complimented the banana very well. Also, the muffins were really moist which was great. Overall I would probably incorporate something like raisins and cinnamon next time to step up the flavor and make it taste more like cinnamon raisin bread. This would also be a really good base for a bread in general because although it does have a strong taste the flavors can mesh easily with other ingredients.

Honey Mustard Chicken: 7/22/2015: 1 hour

This recipe is from the magazine Cook in Season by Clean Eating under Baked Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs. The recipe states that it is 45 minutes of hands on cooking time, but because I simplified the recipe to only include the chicken and some sauteed vegetables this only took me 30 minutes of hands on time. I made a large batch of this recipe because we had a lot of chicken in the fridge defrosting that needed to be used, and because we were having a few people over for dinner. I marinated the chicken and cooked the vegetables while my dad cooked the chicken outside. This was my first time touching a raw chicken breast, which was a VERY strange feeling to say the least, but the marinate turned out perfectly. The chicken was very moist and captured both the sourness of the mustard and the sweetness of the honey. I have made this several times since then because it is relatively easy to prepare last minute and it tastes really good with a simple side. I think a saltier side would go better with this dish because there isn’t a lot of salt in this dish (the chicken really only has honey mustard and honey flavor!). I originally only marinated the meat for 4 hours instead of the recommended 8 hours, but with a second trial I found that I liked the chicken better when it was marinated for 8 hours because it absorbed more of the moisture and it had a stronger marinade flavor. The time I included for this was also the time it took me to make this recipe the second time so I could experiment with changing the different marinade time and cooking the chicken in the oven instead of on the barbecue. In general I like the barbecue flavor more because it adds a smokiness to the meat, although the oven helps the chicken retain more of the moisture.

Paleo Biscuit: 7/20/2015: 10 minutes

This was my first time paleo trying any kind of bread substitute. I made paleo biscuits with mainly eggs and coconut flour, although there were other ingredients too like oil and baking powder. It only took me 10 minutes to mix up these biscuits because they didn’t have many ingredients and didn’t require any additional prep or cooking.

Although these biscuits were good and I ate all of them, they were rather egg like (which gives foods a strange spongy texture) and the biscuits were very sweet because of the coconut flour. Generally I use coconut flour when I am making desserts because it is a very sweet flavor and often gives a distinct coconut flavor (which isn’t generally savory). To modify this, next time I would use a recipe that instead has almond flour (more almond flour than coconut flour because coconut flour is much more absorbent), and I would use only 1 egg and replace the moisture with coconut or almond milk to give it a smoother and more realistic texture.

Although the purpose of going paleo is similar to the Whole30 lifestyle, which is not only eating good food but also having a mentality about only eating fresh foods, I like paleo baked goods a lot. I am willing to add them because I am not doing paleo by choice, rather I am doing it for medical reasons, and they are easy to have around the house as a snack. I appreciate the Whole30 mentality, yet I am not fully ready to embrace it because of my time constraints and because I believe that as long as you’re still eating healthy it’s okay to treat yourself to a fake sweet once in a while.

Scrambled Eggs: 7/15/2015: 1 hour 10 minutes

7/15/2015 was the day my scrambled egg exploration began.

As silly as this sounds, I had never liked scrambled eggs before this diet, and therefore had never made or ordered them. Once I could eat eggs though, I realized the effectiveness and appeal of scrambled eggs. They’re so fast- maybe 5 or 10 minutes to make them once you get quick at them- and they can have almost any taste that you give them.

The first day I made scrambled eggs I remember they turned out absolutely horribly. I had never had them before and I didn’t want to under cook them, and therefore extremely overcooked them rendering them almost inedible. Over time though I have become an expert at making scrambled eggs: my mom sometimes gets angry that she cant make her scrambled eggs look as nice or taste as fluffy as mine although she has been making them for much longer. Scrambled eggs have become so important to me on this diet and I have them almost every day because they help me stay away during the day and give me actual food to rely on so that I’m not starving an hour later like I so often used to be.

The first time i made scrambled eggs it took almost 20 minutes because I spent so much time choosing which herbs to use and finely chopping up spinach (and the added cooking time also from overcooking them). This was okay but the spinach needed more types of spices because it was strangely acidic, and I haven’t repeated this recipe since then because in general I don’t like the taste of cooked spinach (although I love fresh it’s strange). Later in the day I cooked and spiced ground chicken meat with eggs, which was a great quick, easy, and filling option for me to eat something so simple. I would repeat this recipe although it was somewhat bland so I don’t think I have repeated it much since then.

On the weekend of 7/18 and 7/19 I made 2 different types of scrambled eggs. The first type was with avocado, which I originally cooked. This was not very good because avocado isn’t supposed to have harsh heat on it because it makes it very acidic and denatures the benefits of the avocado. I would not repeat this because the avocado was so acidic. On the 19th I made scrambled eggs with peppers and onions which was very good. The finely sliced bell peppers and onions added color to the scrambled eggs and added different complexities. I have repeated this several times and often include renditions in normal meals because it is easy and with the right spices added can be very flavorful. Prep and cook time for chopping up the vegetables and cooking the vegetables and meats was about 30 minutes total.

Cows Milk Yogurt: 7/15/2015: 1 hour

On my diet, especially on the modified paleo diet that I’m on because of my autoimmune disease, it’s extremely important for me to keep the number of good bacteria in my stomach and intestines up. Because of this it’s required that I make some kind of yogurt because it’s a great source of good bacteria (much better than probiotic pills because it has a wider range of good bacteria). Since this, although I have switched to making goats milk yogurt more recently I have continued to have a steady supply of yogurt on hand because of its extreme benefits and because it’s so easy to grab and so filling for something paleo.

Because the coconut milk yogurt didn’t work the first time I switched to cows milk yogurt. Although I am lactose intolerant, cows milk yogurt actually has no lactose in it as long as it is cultured for 24 hours because that is enough time for the bacteria in the yogurt to eat the lactose. I first had to boil the milk to get rid of possible contaminants, and then wait for it to cool to the right temperature before I could put the bacteria in (I didn’t want to risk killing them again!). Fortunately, this time the yogurt turned out great, although homemade yogurt is much more runny than store bought yogurt which takes a while to get used to. My first batches of cows milk yogurt were especially runny and sour because I didn’t understand the proper time to keep it in the yogurt incubator and waited much longer than necessary. Yogurt like this is better to put in fruit smoothies, or it needs to be sweetened considerably with honey and vanilla extract to make it edible (although at this point the consistency is closer to kefir than store bought yogurt).

Grilled Zucchini Strips and Homemade Honey Mustard: 7/14/2015: 30 min

First, I cut zucchini up into small approximately bite sized pieces so that the pieces would take less time to bake and would be easier for me to eat. I coated the zucchini in olive oil and herbs before I baked them for 15 minutes. While the zucchini strips were baking, I made homemade honey mustard. To make honey mustard, you need a base of homemade mayonnaise, which I also had to make. Once the homemade mayonnaise was done I added more mustard and honey and other spices so that it tasted like honey mustard.

The grilled zucchini strips were rather bland by themselves and had a very squishy texture- perfect for my diet but strange in general. I thought the slices were a little bit too thick because when you bit into them the insides weren’t fully soft and there was a strange texture difference between the inside and the outside of the zucchini. The honey mustard turned out exactly like non-paleo store bought honey mustard, if not better. I love the idea that if you need more sweetness or more savory in a dish, you can just adjust the amount of mustard or honey accordingly in your sauce to pair really well with the main dish. The honey mustard supplemented the zucchini strips well and gave them flavor. Overall a very good combination that I would repeat with thinner zucchini strips (maybe like julienne zucchini instead).

The First Few Days: 7/10/15-7/13/15: 5 hours 30 minutes

For the first week of my paleo diet, it was also a very concise elimination diet, which only included chicken, applesauce, chicken broth and mashed banana.

The day before my first day on the diet-7/10/2015- I made homemade applesauce for the first time. This took me about 2 hours because I had never made it before and I didn’t know how much water should be in the pan and how high heat should be or how much I should check on the apples. I ended up leaving the top off of the pot while the apples were cooking, which I realized during later trials was a very bad move because it releases the water from the apples and it takes much longer for the apples to cook because you need to continually add water. Additionally, I didn’t put enough water in the pan because so much water was evaporated, and the applesauce tasted great but it ended up much thicker than most applesauce. I was surprised that the taste was so good though- especially because this was the first thing I had ever made that was going to be on my diet.

The other thing that I made on 7/10/2015 were chicken patties. I sauteed and had to puree vegetables until they were extremely fine and then added them to chicken patties and cooked them. This took my approximately an hour. Although I was very grateful for these patties and they helped me sustain my salt levels, they tasted strangely like soy sauce and were not very good in general. I didn’t know how to modify this recipe so as soon as I could introduce more foods I took them out of my diet and have introduced better substitutes.

After the first day I could also introduce egg- which was a good protein substitute especially because a lot of the things that I made with chicken had to be very dry because it was very important that all diseases were cooked out of them and I couldn’t add anything to increase the moisture content of the burger.

On 7/12/2015 I made banana egg pancakes and chicken egg pancakes- which together probably only constituted about 30 minutes of prep and cook time. The banana egg pancakes were very good and I have repeated them when I need quick energy, but the chicken-egg pancakes were very dry and were almost inedible they were so dry. This would have been much better with pieces of apple or applesauce mixed into the mix itself to increase the moisture content, but as I made them they were very difficult to eat.

On 7/13/2015 I was supposed to introduce some kind of yogurt. Because I am already lactose intolerant, I decided that it would be better for me to introduce coconut milk yogurt instead of the regular milk yogurt. This may have turned out okay, except I did not fully read the instructions for how to make the coconut milk yogurt and I put the bacteria starter culture in while the yogurt was too hot- which killed off all the bacteria. When I took the yogurt out of the yogurt maker the bacteria hadn’t cultivated, and I was left with a large container of sour coconut yogurt, which was completely inedible. It took me an hour to make the coconut milk because you need to sit and watch and stir coconut flakes while they are in water until the milk has the right consistency and color (very subjective).

On 7/13/2015 I also made roasted butternut squash and introduced that instead of the yogurt because the yogurt didn’t work properly. I have made this several times since then, although you have to make sure the butternut squash is ripe or else you will have a very thready texture, which is not very appetizing. This took me an hour of prep time because I had to cut and peel the butternut squash and then marinate them in olive oil and garlic before baking them. Personally, I think butternut squash is better done in a soup or in a puree rather than a baked form because of the often stringy texture.