How to Dehydrate Figs

 

One of the most delightful findings about figs is their use as a fat substitute in baked goods. Figs retain moisture in baked goods by simply using half the amount of fig puree as you would use butter or oil. Personally, I cannot use butter in recipes due to its immediate effects on my body. Coconut oil was once my saving grace until blood work indicated an immune response to coconut & most nuts. As most of us know, a challenge with gluten-free & paleo baking is the dry and unpleasant consistency even with traditional butter & oil. After endless experimentation, I found that figs truly do make an excellent sweetener and binder.

Since delicate and perishable, figs are often dried. Commercial dried figs may be treated with sulfur dioxide gas during processing as well as sulfites to extend shelf life. Federal regulations prohibit the use of these preservatives in organically produced figs. Therefore, purchasing organic figs and drying them at home will reduce exposure to these poisons.

Scroll down to learn how to dehydrate your own figs!

For food nerds like myself, here are a few FUN FIG FACTS:

  • Three large fresh figs contains 5.5 grams of dietary fiber. That's more fiber than in 1 cup of oatmeal or a slice of a Double Fiber Wheat Bread.
  • About 4 figs contain 162 milligrams of calcium. (16 percent of your daily recommendation). Half a cup of figs and half a cup of milk contain the same amount of calcium.
  • Known as the "fruit of the gods," figs have been enjoyed since the earliest accounts of human civilization. Tracing back to the 9th century B.C. where figs became a staple in ancient Greece and a food source for Olympians. Fast track to modern day, California remains the largest producers of figs in addition to Greece, Portugal, Turkey, and Spain.

For more info about Figs: www.whfoods.com

Dehydrate your own fresh figs:

 

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  1. Select only ripe figs for drying (immature figs will not dry properly)
  2. Gently remove stems and slice in half
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil. In a stainless steel basket, dip the figs into the water for 30 seconds. Immediately dip into a prepared bowl of ice water. (This procedure is called “checking.” It weakens the skin, allowing the figs to dehydrate faster).
  4. Place checked figs onto dehydrator trays. Dehydrate 8-10 hours or until completely dry.
  5. Or, set your oven to 140F degrees for 24 hours.
  6. The figs should be leathery and chewy.

Dehydrated figs make an excellent backpacking (or any adventure) snack.

Staying fueled on a kayak adventure

Staying fueled on a kayak adventure



Nourishing Bolognese with Vegetables [Dairy & Gluten Free]

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This meat-based sauce is a recognizable dish among the Italian classics. There is no one recipe for Bolognese sauce but the staple ingredients tend to remain the same. The following recipe was inspired by my recent trip to New York City where Italian restaurants line every avenue. I was especially impressed by the widespread acceptance for dietary accommodations within the city. Contrary to many dining establishments, meals were offered free of allergens without compromising the taste or experience.

 
Vennesa, Italy

Vennesa, Italy

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Authentic Bolognese sauce does not like to be rushed and requires about 4 hours of simmering. During my travels in Italy I crossed paths with a chef who lived in the town of Vennesa. Vennesa is among the Island's of Cinque Terra compose of 5 quaint fishing towns. This dear chef prepared freshly caught fish in olive oil, golden potatoes, and herbs from his garden. In broken English he relayed that food must be treated like a woman. "A quality meal requires your time, thoroughness, and consideration". To this day I regret never catching his name. 

Of course, spending hours on cooking is a luxury. There are short cuts available since most of us rarely find opportunity to make home cooked meals. Don't be discouraged, meals like this may simply require some preparation on the weekend. Have the veggies sliced in the food processor, the meet thawed, & the remaining ingredients available in your cupboard. The night of, simply mix together and simmer.

 

Italian food is wonderful, especially for its potential to work with fresh and whole ingredients. Most everyone loves it and is approachable for many levels of cooking expertise.The following recipe differs from classic Bolognese sauce as it includes a hefty dose of cauliflorous vegetables and omits allergens such as dairy and gluten. The sauce attains it's orange appearance from dairy but in my opinion, dairy makes the dish far too heavy. I even omit the almond milk in my portion of the sauce because it is too rich for my liking. If you're not concerned with making your dish more nutrient dense with cauliflorous vegetables simply omit them for a more classic sauce. Even with a few alterations, the sauce lacks nothing when it comes to taste and richness, making it an excellent way to disguise vegetables for picky eaters. 

This is a large serving size: about 8.

For the sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 4 small carrots diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 4 garlic cloves diced
  • 4 slices pancetta (organic bacon) diced
  • ½-1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½-1 teaspoon basil
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper
  • Extra Veggies: sliced broccoli, carrots, cabbage: slaw style. Purchase a pre-chopped bag from the produce section. Finely dice in a food processor.
  • 2lb lean ground meat I used a blend of grass-fed beef and bison
  • 1 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay)
  • 1 cups almond milk (don’t use cream) I omitted the milk altogether & it tasted fine.
  • 1 16-oz can organic tomato sauce (or you may use whole tomatoes + juice but I do not prefer them)
  • 1 cup organic beef or chicken stock
  • Package of Gluten-free pasta of choice. I used gnocchi!

Procedure:

Allow the white wine to evaporate.

Allow the white wine to evaporate.

  • Place a large saucepan to medium heat greased with olive oil. Once hot, sauté carrots, celery, onion, garlic, extra veggies if desired, and a pinch of salt. Stir continuously for about 5 minutes. Add pancetta/bacon and cook for another 10 minutes until vegetables are soft.
  • Turn the sauce pan to high heat (Or use a separate saucepan greased with olive oil) and brown the meat. Add sections of the meat a little at a time and break up with a wooden spatula. This allows the liquid to evaporate, the meat to caramelize, and keeps it from boiling. We want bits of golden meat sticking to the pan but we do NOT want it to burn. If not already, combine the meat and vegetables into one large saucepan.
With added milk and broth. Time to simmer

With added milk and broth. Time to simmer

  • Now, lower the heat to about medium. Add in the white wine. Take your wooden spoon and scrape off the meat from the bottom of the pan. Keep reducing the heat if necessary so not to let it burn. The white wine should evaporate.
  • Add the milk, tomato sauce, stock, salt, and pepper.
  • Ensuring that nothing is stuck to the bottom, bring to boil, reduce to the lowest setting, and allow simmering for 4 hours.
  • Before serving, adjust seasonings to your liking.

Sprinkle some parmesan cheese for your non dairy friends or top off with fresh basil. Magnifico!

Gluten Free Dinner Rolls [Paleo, Dairy & Grain Free]

You will need:

  • 1 Cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
  • 1/4 Almond flour (substitute coconut flour for nut-free)
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tablespoons flaxseed meal (optional. I like the texture)
  • 1/2 Cup olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup warm water
  • 1 large egg whisked

Procedure:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Line a baking sheet with greased parchment paper (or grease a muffin tin like I did)
  3. Combine dry ingredients first: Tapioca, almond flour, & salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients: whisk the egg, pour in oil, and slowly add the warm water. About a tablespoons at a time. We don't want the mixture becoming too thin.
  5. If the mixture is too thin, add in almond flour and or flaxseed meal slowly. Combine until the mixture is not watery but doughy enough.
  6. When using almond flour, the dough did not reach a consistency that was sticky enough to roll out onto balls. So I placed the batter into muffin tins
  7. If the batter is doughy, roll out small 1 inch balls onto a parchment sheet.
  8. Place in the oven, Set the timer for 30 minutes. (No longer than 35 minutes).

You will have perfectly crispy, flakiness on the outside and chewy goodness on the inside! YUM!

Gluten-Free Nut Butter & "Jelly" Crepes [Paleo, AIP, Plantain Crust]

This recipe came to me in a dream last night- no kidding. I woke up in a frenzy and wrote down the idea before it vanished from my memory. I put off my morning routine to whip out my food processor, turn on my oven, and peel some plantains. The paleo god's blessed me with enough ingredients left in my cupboard to whip up this dish. The result was nothing short of divine.

You will need:

  • 1 plantain
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt, keltic, or pink Himalayan salt.  
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon grease, coconut oil, or fat of choice
  • 1/4 cup of tapioca flour

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with greased parchment paper.

2.      Peel your plantain and chop into sections.

3.      Place plantain pieces in food processor. Add salt, add fat (oil), and blend until smooth.

4.      With a spatula, pour out the plantain mixture into a bowl. Fold in the tapioca flour.

5.      On your lined, AND greased baking sheet, spread the batter across the sheet until it's completely flat & evenly reaches each corner.

6.      Place the dough in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Check on the dough after 10 minutes. Be certain that this does not overcook. If parts become crispy, it will leave holes in the dough.

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7. Once the batter turns golden & appears a bit fluffy, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once, cool, grab the opposite edges of the parchment paper and flip the dough upside down and onto a cutting board.

8. Add your filling: I choose to process an assortment of nuts with blueberries along with some creamy almond butter.

9. (Not shown in the photo) But cover the opposite end of the crepe with nut-butter to seal it off once it's rolled up.

10. Roll slowly & eat up!