Step by Step: How to make tostones (fried green plantains)

Wow, what a week it has been! This past Sunday was Mark and mine’s first anniversary and we celebrated on Tuesday by going to probably the best restaurant in St. John’s, Raymond’s. We’ve been planning and saving for this dinner for a looooong time, so I did not stress about staying AIP-compliant. They were, however, very accommodating in making sure everything I had was gluten-free. It was a perfect night out!

Then on Wednesday I graduated from university with my B. Sc. in Ecology and Conservation Biology! I won’t drone on about how freaking amazing it feels to go from high school dropout to college graduate, but DAMN it feels good! Whoever you are, don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. If you put in the time and hard work, you really can accomplish anything.

I celebrated by going out for lunch with Mark and my dad, then Mark and I took Bella for a nice hike out to Freshwater Bay (where there was an iceberg) and we spent some time relaxing in the sunshine before hiking back. Then we came home and drank a bottle of champagne! I would be completely happy if the only alcohol I could ever have again was champagne. It is soooo delicious and it never makes me feel like crap! Obviously, I chose not to worry about AIP this day either. 

But I’m back on the AIP train, at least until we embark on our road trip back to Kentucky. Thankfully one of my favourite foods, plantains, is AIP-friendly! I thought I would share a little step-by-step of how I make my tostones, or fried green plantains. If you’ve never tried plantains before, now is the time. That are so crunchy and salty and just absolutely freaking amazing. And even though there are a few steps involved, they really aren’t difficult to make. I’ve gotten pretty quick and efficient at since I make them pretty much any time I find plantains at the grocery.

 

Start with green plantains! It’s okay if they are starting to turn yellow, but they should still be mostly green.

Chop the ends off, cut the plantains in half, and then score down the length of the plantain with a knife. You want to cut through the peel, but not too deeply into the flesh.

Then peel them! Sometimes the peels come off easily, but other times not so much. If part of a peel is being very troublesome, I will slice it off with my knife. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Next, slice the plantains into about 1-inch thick slices.

Now is when you cook these little guys for the first time (yup, you need to cook them twice!). I use coconut oil because it can withstand heat well and I don’t find it gives any coconut flavour, but avocado oil would be another good choice. Anyways, you want enough so that 1/4 to 1/3 of the plantain is in oil. Cook covered on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes per side, until they are lightly golden.

While your plantains are cooking, set up your plantain smashing station. You will need a small bowl of cold water, a small plate for smashing, a surface to smash on, and paper towels to drain the plantains after dipping in water.

Once your plantains are done cooking, transfer them to your smashing surface. If you have patience, it helps to let them cool down a few minutes before moving on. If you are like me, then go ahead and use your plate to gently smoosh one plantain at a time. If it is stuck to the plate use a fork to carefully remove it. Then dip the plantain in the cold water and set on a paper towel to drain. Repeat one million times for the rest of the plantain pieces.

After you have smooshed, dipped, and dried all the plantain pieces, turn the heat on your pan up to medium high and throw those precious plantains back in the pan! Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Add more oil as needed… you really want them sitting in the oil, not just a dry pan. I also usually have to do the second cooking in two batches, because, ya know, they take up more space now that they are flat. Once they are done cooking, transfer to fresh paper towels to soak up some of the oil before serving. 

These are perfect to eat plain with a sprinkle of salt, or you can really doctor them up. They are great loaded up with pulled pork, taco meat, or chipotle mayo. And a classic is to eat them with them with some avocado. Another winner is eating these with some fried eggs. The possibilities are endless!

These are great leftover too… just reheat in a lightly greased pan and they taste exactly like they do freshly made!

 

Tostones (fried green plantains)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 medium green plantains
  • ~1/2 cup coconut oil (amount will vary based on the size of your pan)
  • salt
Instructions
  1. Chop the ends off the plantains, cut in half, score the skin down the length, and remove the peel.
  2. Cut into 1-inch thick slices.
  3. Cook covered in large pan over medium with enough oil to reach ¼ to ⅓ the way up the sides of each plantain slice. 4-5 minutes per side, until lightly golden.
  4. Once cooked, gently smash one slice at a time with the flat surface of a plate. Dip the smashed slice into a bowl of cool water, then transfer to paper towel to drain.
  5. Turn the pan up to medium high heat.
  6. Return the smashed and drained slices to the pan to cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Add more oil as needed to ensure the slices are really sizzling in the oil. You may need to cook the smashed plantains in two batches.
  7. Transfer to fresh paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
  8. Eat them all!

 

Continue Reading

AIP “Chocolate” Banana Smoothie

Holy moley you guys… I’m graduating in two weeks and I’m moving back to Kentucky in four weeks. AH! Time is flying by so fast. And I have sooooo much to do before we leave, but I am not exactly sure what I need to do. Things come to me at random moments and I just think to myself “Ah well, remember to get that done when you have a minute!” But then I forget. I should probably start a list or something, because lord knows I will never remember everything. Unfortunately, I’m not much of list person… I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of person. My stress would probably drop by half if I became a list person. Maybe someday…

Anyways, enough about that. Let’s talk about this smoothie. When I first started AIP, I was hungry for a week. I just didn’t realize how much of my normal foods had become off limits and I was unprepared. I was also saddened knowing that chocolate wasn’t allowed. This may sound terrible, but these things led me to create this DELICIOUS smoothie, which I now have about 3x week. It’s rich and creamy with a good ratio of fat, carbs, and protein (if you include the collagen peptides), which helps  keep me full when I didn’t have quite enough real food prepped for breakfast or lunch. And it’s chocolatey, thanks to carob powder. If you aren’t on AIP, feel free to swap the carob powder for cocoa powder. Another bonus is the maca root powder, which has excellent hormone balancing properties, something most of us could use, especially if you are dealing with a chronic illness. So there you have it… stop reading my babble and go make this smoothie!

 

AIP "Chocolate" Banana Smoothie
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ tbls maca root powder
  • 1½ tbls carob powder
  • 1½ tbls collagen peptides (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

 

Continue Reading

Whole30 Thick and Smoky BBQ Sauce

I haven’t really mentioned it, but Mark and I are in the middle (literally, day 16!) of another round of Whole30! We jumped on the September Whole30 bandwagon just two days after arriving back in Newfoundland. Starting immediately really sets the stage for making good choices through the rest of our time here. This Whole30 has been fairly similar to last one… that is, it has been easy. Now, this comes after four other not-so-easy Whole30s (and several more unsuccessful attempts), so if you are rolling your eyes at me as you struggle to forgo the bread, trust me when I say, I’ve been there! At this point though, it is much more natural. Honestly, I think life after Whole30 is much harder than doing the actual 30 days. So perhaps that will be my next goal… dealing with things better in life after.

So Mark and I have gone wild for these BBQ Bacon Onion Bombs from Fed and Fit and have been making them regularly. After starting our Whole30 though, we’ve had to tweak them a bit to make them compliant. First we had to ditch the bacon, because compliant bacon does not exist in Newfoundland (I still check every time at the grocery store though… you never know…) Then we had to come up with a compliant barbeque sauce. That is another very tricky thing to find, so I just decided to make my own! 

9/19/16-whole30bbq

Now, I’m typically a sweet barbeque sauce kind of gal, and unfortunately that is a bit hard to achieve when you’re cutting out sugar. Luckily I was able to add a touch of sweetness using dates and I think I made up for the rest by adding in delicious smoky hint, thanks to smoked paprika and chipotle chili powder. I hope you enjoy it too!

9/19/16-whole30bbq2

Whole30 Thick and Smoky BBQ Sauce
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: ~3 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • ¾ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 1 tbls ghee
  • 4 large pitted dates
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1½ tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp all-spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. Begin by placing the dates in a small bowl or cup and covering with ½ cup very hot water. Cover the dish with a lid, allowing the dates to soak for 10 minutes.
  2. While the dates are soaking, add the remaining ingredients to a medium sauce pan under medium heat. Whisk the ingredients together then bring to a simmer.
  3. After the dates have finished soaking, the outer skin should have started to separate from the date. Peel this off. You do not have to get every last bit, but getting most of the skin helps contribute to a smooth consistency once they are blended.
  4. After peeling, place dates and the water they were soaked in in a blender and blend on high until a smooth, pourable paste forms. More water may be added as needed.
  5. Transfer this date paste to the sauce simmering on the stovetop and combine.
  6. The sauce can be used immediately, or it can be cooled and placed in an airtight container in the refrigerator for future use.

 

Continue Reading

Grain-Free Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean Banana Bread

I’m baaaaack! I’ve spent the past two weeks, packing, traveling, then unpacking as Mark and I made the long journey from Kentucky to Newfoundland. The trip itself took 4 full days of driving, plus one overnight ferry ride, but thankfully it is over and we are all moved into our new apartment! I’m pretty excited about our apartment for a few reasons. We lived in a 10×10 room all summer and shared a kitchen and bath with roommates, so this is our first real home together as newlyweds! It’s also in a beautiful neighbourhood and has a large backyard that backs up to a river. Even better, our upstairs neighbours seem to be fairly normal, respectable people, which is a far cry from my previous upstairs neighbours who I’m 99% sure went bowling down their hallway between 11pm and 2am every night. So overall, I’m pretty happy about our current situation.

Unfortunately it is sooooo cold here. We went from temps in the 90s in Kentucky, to the 40s here. It could be worse, I suppose, because at least the wind isn’t blowing 100 km/h (though I know it won’t be long before I get to experience that!). Ah well… as it is my last year in Newfoundland, I am determined to enjoy it– bad weather and all.

On to Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean Banana Bread. Well now that’s a mouthful! Of deliciousness. One night when I was chewing on a banana and Mark was eating some chocolate covered espresso beans, I decided to try the two together. It was pretty awesome, and because I had just gotten a giant bag of cassava flour, I knew I needed to turn it into a banana bread! Guys, if you have never used cassava flour, it will change your grain-free lives! This is the brand I use, and so far I’m pretty happy with it’s texture and taste. I’ve never been wild about the results I get with grain-free baking, but this tastes and feels like the real deal! I used chocolate-covered espresso beans from Trader Joe’s, which have a fairly clean ingredient list. 

9:5:16bananabread

Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean Banana Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup chocolate covered espresso beans
  • Wet Ingredients:
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ coconut oil (softened)
  • ¾ cup reduced fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add the lemon juice to the coconut milk and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. While the coconut milk sits, mash the bananas in a medium bowl until smooth.
  4. Add the coconut milk and remaining wet ingredients (coconut sugar, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla extract) to the bananas and mix well, stirring for 5 minutes.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients (cassava flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, espresso beans) in a separate medium bowl.
  6. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until well combined.
  7. Pour the batter into a lightly greased or parchment paper lined 8"x4" loaf pan.
  8. Bake for ~1 hour.
  9. Once removed from the oven, allow the bread to cool for 15 min, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Eat a slice slathered in butter!

 

Continue Reading

Creamy Chicken Salad

8:18:16chickensalad

I haven’t run in almost three days. I’m going insane. And it’s my own fault. Okay, so this past Saturday I was having a blast swimming at my aunt’s pool. I was going hard, trying to beat my husband and get more diving rings than him, even though he ALWAYS wins, and felt a slight strain on my lower quad. No big deal. I kept swimming, ran a 5k later that night (setting a PR!), then 10 miles the next morning. Of course the slight strain started to feel a bit worse after all that, so I took Monday off from running. Then Tuesday I got up and pushed through to do a difficult 8.5 mile interval run, followed by work (where I’m on my feet all day), and by evening I could barely walk. Silly me. So yesterday I was stuck laying around all day not running, today I didn’t run, and let’s be honest, I probably shouldn’t tomorrow either. My body has just felt so run down lately, and I should have listened to it and backed off a little on my mileage, but I didn’t. Well now I’m paying for it! I’m sure it will be fine, but just take a lesson from me, and listen to your body. It knows what’s up!

Alright, so enough sadness. Here is a delicious recipe to cheer up this post! Chicken salad is mine and my husband’s favorite lunch ever. Seriously. We have “chicken salad week” about once a month, where we prep 5-6 lbs of this stuff and eat it for lunch every day through the week. It’s really the best. I use my homemade mayonnaise in this recipe, which adds a bit of different flavor than using store-bought mayo. Not to mention it’s healthier. I love to eat this over a bed of greens, though it would be great with lettuce roll-ups or between some gluten-free bread! Also, so long as your mayo and dijon are compliant, this recipe is Whole30-friendly.

8:18:16chickensalad2

 

Creamy Chicken Salad
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, and finely diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1½ cups grapes, halved
  • 1 batch homemade mayo
  • 2 tbls dijon mustard
  • 1 tbls dried parsley
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Get your mayo started by bringing the egg to room temperature. While the egg is sitting out, finely dice the chicken and celery and halve your grapes.
  2. Make your mayo accordingly.
  3. Add spices to mayo and stir until well combined.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the chicken, celery, grapes, and mayo dressing.
  5. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate and serve later!

 

Continue Reading

Homemade Mayonnaise

I’ve pretty much been a mayonnaise hater my whole life. Really, I just haven’t been a big fan of condiments in general. They just seemed so strange and full of mysterious ingredients (and this was long before I actually cared about what was in my food). But after I started dabbling in the real food world, I came to realize it was possible to make my own condiments. This took all the mystery out of what was in them and got me thinking that maaaaybe they just weren’t so bad (still never touching ketchup though).

Homemade mayo was my “gateway” condiment into a whole new world of condiment-filled deliciousness. It’s the base for sooooo many fantastic sauces that can take any food from super boring and bland to lick-your-plate good. Once you’ve got plain mayonnaise, you can make ranch, garlic aioli, or southwestern dressing. And then there are the multitude of other recipes you can use it in… chicken salad, potato salad, egg salad… you get the idea. 

Why make your own? Well, most store-bought mayos use questionable fats, like soybean oil or canola oil. Even the ones that tout “Made with olive oil!” on the label are still mostly made with shady oils. They also often have other strange ingredients and preservatives. Homemade mayo is just SO easy, and I must say it tastes a lot better than store-bought. Also, don’t be scared away by horror stories of the egg and oil separating, as this has never once happened to me after a full two years of making mayo. Give it try!

8:11:16mayo

Homemade Mayonnaise
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: ~1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup extra light olive oil
  • 1 tbls lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp mustard powder
  • Salt (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Crack the egg in your blender and allow to come to room temperature for at least 20 minutes (this helps the egg emulsify with the oil).
  2. Add lemon juice, mustard powder, and salt.
  3. Turn your blender on low, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream. It should take around 2-3 minutes to pour in all the oil. At first the mixture will be fairly liquid, but it will thicken as you go. Using a dish towel as a guard may help keep some of the initial splashing at bay.
  4. Blend for one additional minute after the all the oil has been added.

 

Continue Reading