Everyone likes treat. If you’re committed to eating a gluten-free, real foods diet with little or no dairy and refined sugar, you don’t have to abandon these principles to enjoy the occasional indulgence. No need to resort to junk food when real food can satisfy the urge to splurge. Whether it’s a holiday, birthday, anniversary, graduation, or other special occasion, or a craving for a familiar comfort food or family favorite, you can indulge in a healthier way.
Tammi Creditcott’s new book, Paleo Indulgences: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes to Satisfy Your Primal Cravings, shows you how to make those special treats using paleo-friendly ingredients. From bakery shop worthy goodies to ice cream shop favorites and from homemade candy to restaurant-style entrees, you’ll find more than 85 recipes that are free of grains, gluten, refined sugar, beans (soy and others) and legumes.
More than just desserts
This is not a book filled only with desserts! The Restaurant Recreations chapter, which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, includes 28 savory dishes. These are things you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to make. Sure, the dessert pictures looked seductively inviting, but I wanted to focus on savory recipes that I could make a meal of. So, I made one of the fruit sweetened cookies and focused the rest of my energy on entrees and side dishes.
Photo credit: Copyright Rachel Albert ©2012
Two or three prizes per book
I once heard the owner of a kitchen shop say that if you get two or three great recipes from a cookbook, you’ve gotten your money’s worth. Sure, you might find more you like but a few reliable recipes, that you repeat many times with success, can go a long way to putting a smile on your face and satisfying your family and friends.
Of the six recipes I made over a three month period, my favorites were the Cincinnati Chili on page 144 and the Paleo Pizza Crust on page 160. You'll see the Mandarin Chicken from page 66 on the right (served mashed sweet potatoes and green salad my book, The Garden of Eating). I flagged other recipes I intend to make, such as Chicken n Dumplings, Taro Soft Tacos, Onion Rings, and Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy. The Banana Pecan Pancakes and Gingerbread Pancakes with Cinnamon Syrup and Orange Olive Oil Bread are contenders in the sweets category.
Photo credit: Copyright Rachel Albert ©2012
What I liked best
The Cincinnati Chili (made without beans) had a wonderful, rich, robust flavor. I used ground buffalo because that’s what I had on hand. It would be equally good with ground beef or ground dark meat turkey. It was mildly seasoned, which was perfect for me. I made it in December and frozen some of it. It defrosted and reheated well. I served it over spaghetti squash with a garnish of minced scallions and a side of blanched vegetables. I would make it again.
Photo credit: Copyright Rachel Albert ©2012
I made the pizza two weeks ago. Wow! I’ve tried several paleo pizza crust recipes and liked this one the best. Although it contained almond flour, the nut flour didn’t overpower because it was tempered by the arrowroot and a hint of coconut flour. The mixture created a crust with a subtle flavor and a delicate flavor, light with a hint of crunchiness. The almond and coconut flour flavors would probably not even be detectable to most people. The baker’s yeast gave the crust more authentic pizza flavor. While it didn’t look or taste exactly like a grain-based crust, I wasn’t expecting it to. I enjoyed it so much it didn’t matter. The slices were easy to pick up, a big plus for a grain-free crust!
I topped the pizza with one of my most frequent pizza toppings: leftover caramelized, roasted Walla Walla Sweet Onions (about 2 cups full for the whole pizza), thinly sliced Kalamata olives (about 1/2 cupful), and dabs of chevre (soft goat cheese). I served the pizza for dinner with steamed broccoli buds and sliced shitake mushrooms from the farmers’ market with a cup of my homemade Creamy Carrot Soup with Ginger from my book (The Garden of Eating: A Produce-Dominated Diet & Cookbook) the first night. The next morning I had some of the pizza with the leftover vegetables and a sliced orange. For the third meal, I served steamed swiss chard (also from a local farmer) and orange with the last of the pizza. I found it incredibly satisfying each time I ate it. I’ve already envisioned toppings for the next time I make the pizza. (Pizza recipe below.)
Even though I’m not going to focus on the desserts, I do want to tell you about those chapters in case you’re looking for such recipes. The candy pictures reminded me of many of the things I ate as a child and young adult. Reading through the ingredients and procedures I could imagine how good the Almond O’ Joys, Peppermint Creams, and Coconut Milk Truffles must taste. The cookie, bunt cake, cupcake, frosting, pancake, and frozen dessert recipes looked equally appealing (drool worthy indeed!). Some of the ice cream alternatives are sweetened only with fruit, a plus for those who are minimizing or avoiding concentrated sweeteners.
Woman on a mission
As a mother of two young girls, Tammy’s mission with Paleo Indulgences is to get her family and her readers through the 20% of life when they’re craving a dish from their past or celebrating a special occasion and wanting to enjoy a treat without undoing all of the hard work they’ve put into the eating nourishing real foods meals. Indulging responsibly is what her book is all about. Tammy recognizes that few people are willing to give up all of their familiar comfort foods all of the time, even if they are committed to improving their diets and even if they feel the benefits of doing so.
We have so many special occasions and we’re exposed to much temptation. Why not be proactive and make better versions of some of those familiar dishes to share with family and friends and to satisfy your desires (and theirs)?
Like me, Tammy believes that treat foods, like our everyday fare, can be both delicious and nutritious. We don’t have to choose one or the other. In fact, if you’re a parent, imagine showing up at the next birthday party with a cupcake or a tray of cupcakes that look like the real thing––minus the gluten, hydrogenated fat, artificial colorings and refined sugar––and having other kids and adults love them. If you entertain guests, take foods to picnics, potlucks or work, and dine with people who don’t like you do, imagine serving them foods revolutionize their view of healthy. Maybe you make chili without the beans where no one missed the beans, guacamole and onion dip with veggie dippers where no one misses the chips, or pancakes, a breakfast skillet dish, and blueberry muffins and no one misses the wheat and potatoes. Paleo Indulgences can help you do this and more.
Something I’m seeing I more cookbooks now is the inclusion of thumbnail pictures of the book’s recipes in the front. Smaller versions of the full-size pictures that accompany each recipe make it easier for readers to decide what to make and to find the recipes without having to leaf through the index. The high quality pictures in Paleo Indulgences make reading and reviewing the recipes a treat all by itself.
About the book
The recipes are laid out in an easy to read fashion and each is accompanied by a full-page, full color photograph. The instructions appear well written, concise, and include notations, such as dairy free, egg free, fish free, or nut free, at the top of each page. The back of the book includes shopping resources, special links resources, and a short ingredient index. All in all it’s a lovely book and one I’m sure I’ll cook from again.
So, here’s one of my favorite recipes from the book!
Paleo Pizza Crust
Yield: 9-inch crust Serves: 3 to 4
The photo on the right is Tammy's pizza crust topped with my recipe for roasted onions (you can use onion slices caramelized on top of the stove if you prefer), topped with sliced Kalamata olives and soft goat cheese.
Note: If you avoid baker's yeast, I'm guessing that you could replace the yeast mixture with 1/4 cup water added to the wet ingredients and 1 teaspoon of baking powder +/- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda added to the dry ingredients but I haven't tested this out, yet.
1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons raw honey
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup almond flour (I used blanched almond flour)
3 tablespoons coconut flour, sifted
2/3 cup arrowroot powder (aka arrowroot starch)
pinch sea salt (I used Redmond Real Salt)
2 teaspoons olive oil (I used avocado oil)
1 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a round pizza pan (no holes) or cookie sheet.
- Place the yeast ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Let sit about 4-5 minutes to activate and become bubbly.
- Meanwhile, place the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add the yeast mixture and the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well with ahand mixer.
- Scoop mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, using a rubber spatula to spread evenly in a circle. (I made a 9-inch circle. Keep wetting the spatula so the batter doesn’t stick.)
- Bake for 9-10 minutes (I thought it needed another 4 minutes with my oven). Remove from the oven, carefully flip the crust over with a spatula, top with sauce and your favorite toppings and then bake for 5-10 minutes more, or until toppings are hot.
- Slice and enjoy!
Source: Paleo Indulgences: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes to Satisfy Your Primal Cravings by Tammi Creditcott (Victory Belt Publishing, 2012).
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