If you have been watching my blog – or my Facebook page, Twitter feed or even Pinterest! – you know my diet has changed as I continue on a journey to heal my body with real, natural food and a cleaner lifestyle. I went to a Paleo diet almost exactly a month ago and it’s going well. Though I am still dealing with some eczema and tummy issues, both are better and the acne I have been plagued with since I was a teenager (and that has actually gotten worse in recent years, believe it or not) is almost nonexistent in just this short amount of time.
It’s taking time for my body to heal and I’m trying to be patient but here I find myself with my first major holiday after my change! (It seems to be a pattern for me; I changed to a gluten free diet five years ago in November – right before Christmas!) We had already been asking some family about plans and when no one had any we volunteered! If I cook I know exactly what I can eat – and if you have eaten a meal at my house at any time in the last five plus years you know I rarely spend the time and money cooking something I can’t eat myself!
In addition to cutting out all grains and dairy, I have also eliminated all nightshades. Nightshades are a term for certain types of fruit, vegetables, and other plants; they contain certain attributes that some people have a hard time processing and it can lead to digestive issues and allergic-like reactions. These include white potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, pimentos, and spices like anise seed, annatto, celery seed, fennel, fenugreek, mustard seed, nutmeg, sesame seeds, cayenne, chili powder, curry, paprika, and a few others. Quite a list, isn’t it? And it includes several things I really like, so it’s been an adjustment, but the health benefits will be well worth it in the long run.
I’ve been on an “elimination” diet the last month. It’s often also called a “hypoallergenic” diet and the point is to remove all potential allergens or irritants from your diet for a set time and then slowly add them back in gradually, taking stock of any reactions that might spring up to any particular food. I did something similar five years ago that helped me pin down my gluten issues. So, out went the eggs, dairy, nuts, soy, sugar, and the nightshades as I mentioned. (Wheat and gluten are usually included in this, but I eliminated those long ago.) This coming week I am going to start adding things in one by one (the rule of thumb is to wait about five days between each to give yourself ample time to identify any reactions and give your body time to heal if there are any.)
I was a little discouraged at first because I already avoided soy and consumed very little dairy or refined sugar, so I wondered how much good it could do, but I did and completely cut out the dairy and sugar and am hoping I can add back in eggs and nuts. I’m going to try this week, as you will see from my menu, but I got off subject. Back to Easter.
My husband requested ham. I have prepared ham several times in the last five years and if you are gluten-free it is one of those meats you need to be very careful of. Also if you eating a clean, real-food diet because so many of them are coated with glazes filled with sugar and processed or artificial ingredients. A basic glaze is very easy to do and can be tailored to any dietary needs in the family or simply personal tastes!
I’ve done it a few different ways and one of our favorites is a simple savory/sweet spice rub that caramelizes as it cooks and so I was going to use that and just change out any spices I needed to, and then I got an e-mail from George, at Civilized Caveman. He sent out an Easter menu – that happened to be headlined by a ham – complete with links to the different recipes and it all looked so good it became my Easter menu with just a couple of changes. You’ll find what I picked and chose plus a few others from some other favorite blogs, complete with links to their recipes.
Our guests are all bringing things and so I asked them to bring some family favorites everyone can enjoy and everything I am making fits into my diet and will be dairy, grain, and nightshade free. Don’t worry, though, it’s going to be super yummy!
Here it is!
Dinner is being served between four and five o’clock because my husband is working and so I plan on having some yummy appetizers to hold us over, and then when he gets home, we’ll eat! There is church that morning, but we don’t go until eleven so that leaves time for fun Sunday breakfasts, which we like to do.
I found this recipe for a Breakfast Fruit Soufflé that is grain, dairy, and nut free, from Primally Inspired and you can find it at: http://www.primallyinspired.com/breakfast-fruit-souffle/ . I plan on serving it with some bacon or sausage and maybe some grain-free muffins, which would be nice with it.
Appetizers ~ Chicken Liver Pate with Seed Crackers, Fresh Fruit and Veggies
Yes, I am making pate! My first one. We enjoy buying it but I haven’t been able to since changing my diet as the one we used to buy has both dairy (butter) and nightshade spices in it. Some of you who know me may find this completely hilarious because until three years ago I was a vegetarian! I’ve never liked meat and even now if you told me at this moment I could never eat meat again I don’t think I would really miss it, but when I got pregnant with Blessing the first thing I craved was meat. I continued eating it after he was born because you need even more protein and iron when breastfeeding than while pregnant and so it was just easier that way. Then I began learning more about it and I’m getting off subject again so maybe I should do its own blog post about it, but suffice it to say I am working on my bravery and have added one of nature’s greatest super foods to our diet – liver. Did you know it was a super food? I didn’t. I really should just do another blog post because I was just fascinated when I started learning about it; the website for the pate, from Balanced Bites, contains some great info if you’re curious and advice for making sure you get it from a good, clean source.
A great place to start if you’re not feeling very brave is to add it to ground hamburger when you brown it. A butcher at your local meat counter will ground it for you if you don’t want to do it yourself (it can easily be done in the blender – not pretty but effective) and then just freeze small portions (I used an ice cube tray) and then I add one or two (depending on how much meat I’m using) and you’d never know it was in there! We make some meatballs we actually prefer that way; they turn out much moister and with a deeper flavor. Pate is also a nice option; it’s puréed with spices and spreadable for a nice crusty piece of bread or some crackers. I don’t buy it regularly but when I was we liked to have it for a light meal with fresh fruit, olives, and cheese. Be brave and give it a try! I’m glad I did.
The Chicken Liver Pate, from Balanced Bites, can be made with any liver you can find and the darker the better, she says. It’s very reasonable and was the only ingredient in the recipe I didn’t have on hand but it will only cost me just over $3.00! (I’m going to double the recipe so that is for 2 pounds!) The recipe for the pate can be found at: http://balancedbites.com/2011/05/easy-recipe-chicken-liver-pate.html and I am serving it with some grain, nut, and egg free crackers I found from Whole Food Simply. I’m going to swap out the cinnamon and vanilla for something savory – like garlic and an herb maybe. That recipe is at: http://www.wholefoodsimply.com/seed-crackers/ . Why am I making crackers you ask? Because I want crackers and I can’t find any grain-free versions that don’t have dairy or nightshades. These look very easy and I can make them at any time in the week ahead, as well as the pate. It will keep fine for a few days in the fridge (and I actually recommend making it at least the day before to allow the flavors to meld together).
- Honey Baked Ham with Spiced Apples and Peaches, from Civilized Caveman, found at http://civilizedcavemancooking.com/entrees/pork/honey-baked-ham-with-spiced-apples-and-peaches . Again, watch your ingredient list on the ham you buy but an all-natural ham isn’t as hard to find as you might think.
- Roasted Rainbow Carrots, from The Spunky Coconut, and that recipe is at: http://www.thespunkycoconut.com/2013/02/roasted-rainbow-carrots/ . These look so pretty and perfect for spring!
- Lacinato Kale Salad, from Marin Mama Cooks, at: http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/lacinato-kale-salad/ . My mother-in-law is bringing a side or salad so I initially decided to take this off the list but then added it back on because it looks so good and can you have too many salads? I’ll be omitting the red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese from the recipe and serve them on the side instead if someone wants them.
- Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits from Beyond Bacon and these are at: http://paleoparents.com/featured/beyond-bacon-recipe-sweet-potato-drop-biscuits/. Drop biscuits are so easy because they require no rolling or cutting. I make sweet potatoes regularly so I’m going to bake an extra one at mealtime before I make these, making them even easier! Again, this is a recipe that can be made ahead and frozen if you want and just thaw and place in the oven a few minutes to warm before eating. I’m going to use palm shortening over the lard (because that’s what I have).
Dessert ~ I found some yummy, clean candy recipes from My Whole Food Life I can’t wait to make. These can be made ahead and stored in the freezer.
- The first is Copycat Reese’s “Peanut Butter” Eggs. My husband loves peanut butter and chocolate so I used to buy him these for his Easter basket. This recipe is so simple and I had all the ingredients on hand! The recipe can be found at: http://mywholefoodlife.com/2014/03/09/copycat-reeses-peanut-butter-eggs/ .
- The other candy I am making is also from Melissa at My Whole Food Life and is her Strawberry Cream Truffles. Yum! The website for these is: http://mywholefoodlife.com/2014/03/24/strawberry-creme-truffles/ .
- My other dessert is Coconut Flour Classic Vanilla Cake from Healy Eats Real with a dairy and refined sugar free Swiss Meringue from Pumpkin’s Pantry. This one is a little involved, but not difficult, and I want cake! This is grain, dairy, nut, and refined sugar free. As soon as I saw the picture of that pretty white layer cake I knew we had found our Easter dessert! The cake recipe is at: http://healyeatsreal.com/coconut-flour-classic-vanilla-cake-from-indulge-cookbook/ and the frosting recipe can be found at: http://pumpkinspantry.blogspot.com/2011/06/swiss-buttercream-dairy-free-refined.html.
So there’s a glimpse at our Easter dinner! I’m thinking everything but the ham and carrots can be made ahead of time so I’m off to get cooking! Have a blessed and healthy holiday!