An enthusiastic Real Food Advocate, I am a self-described “clean (eating) freak”. Why? Because that’s the biggest factor that contributes to good health: it starts with food! Fresh, unprocessed, quality, real food, which by default is nutrient dense. And that’s what the new book, The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution, released by holistic nutritionists Jill Hillhouse and Lisa Cantkier, is about!
It’s common knowledge (or it should be!) that packaged and processed “foods” aren’t really food, they do not have any nutritional value and they only contribute to health problems. In addition, raised blood sugar is potentially harmful to the body (for many reasons). This book is a combination of very useful and important health information (comprising the first 100 pages!), plus a 30-day diet plan and 125 recipes which will give you the tools you need to manage or reverse high blood sugar levels while enjoying delicious food at the same time.
Although this book takes a Paleo approach to eating healthy, whether one fully embraces a Paleo lifestyle or not, the foundations of the Paleo diet are something that everyone can benefit from: fresh, unprocessed, quality, real food which, by default, is nutrient dense is an important key to good health and will supply you with the essential nutrients the body needs for a healthy immune system. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be time consuming, costly or confusing.
Below are two recipes that I made from the book: Green Beans with Shitakes, Shallots and Toasted Almonds (page 144) and Coconut Banana Soft-Serve (page 276).
(Both recipes courtesy of The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution by Jill Hillhouse and Lisa Cantkier © 2016 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.)
The Green Beans with Shitakes, Shallots and Toasted Almonds was a quick, easy dish to make, and delicious. It is also very "forgiving": measurements do not need to be exact!
NOTE: The recipe calls for toasted, slivered almonds. I used pumpkin seeds, because that is what I had on hand.
A note on Nuts and Seeds
I prefer to purchase nuts and seeds raw (and organic!). I then soak them overnight in warm water with a bit of sea salt. Soaking and dehydrating nuts and seeds is a traditional method of preparation. The ancient Aztecs would soak pumpkin seeds and dry them in the sun before eating them whole or grinding them into a meal. The Native Americans also soaked nuts and seeds. They understood instinctively that nuts are best soaked or partially sprouted before eaten.
The soaking helps to reduce enzyme inhibitors and also phytic acid (which binds to nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract, and blocks their absorption). Soaking also helps to make the nutrients more available and improve digestibility. This step is especially important for young children who are still developing the enzymes to break down these plant foods. (If soaking seems like too much work, roasting nuts and seeds is also said to remove a significant amount of the phytic acid).
So even though nuts and seeds are considered good sources of protein and nutrients, your body might not be absorbing these nutrients. All plants contain phytic acid in some levels, but grains, legumes, nuts and seeds typically contain the highest levels.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc; soaking the pumpkin seeds for 6-8 hours allows for that zinc to be more bio-available. Zinc is an important mineral that plays a significant role in immune function.
Pumpkin seeds also help to control blood sugar! So I think they are perfect for this recipe.
(makes 4 servings)
1 lb green beans, trimmed (I used frozen green beans which were already trimmed).
2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
1. Fill a saucepan with 2 inches (5cm) of cold water and fit with a steamer basket. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add beans and steam for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking and drain again. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until starting to soften. Stir in garlic. Add shitakes, salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned. Add green beans and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.
3. Just before serving, stir in toasted almonds (or pumpkin seeds!), or sprinkle them on top of each serving.
(No ice cream maker required)
One great thing about the Coconut Banana Soft-Serve is that it is comprised of only 2 ingredients: Frozen fruit of your choice, and coconut milk (frozen into cubes)!
When I have made banana soft serve in the past, I simply put frozen banana chunks (which I keep stocked in my freezer) into the food processor and run it for a few minutes. However, the frozen coconut milk cubes, as called for in this recipe, is an excellent addition! Full fat coconut milk adds a pleasant flavour, contributes to the creamy texture, and also adds good fat! (Please see notes below on coconut milk).
I don't have my own photo, because I didn't freeze the coconut milk first... thinking that I might end up with soft serve... but instead I ended up with a coconut banana smoothie :) The photo to the right uses raspberries instead of bananas: also delicious!
You’ll need to plan ahead for this recipe, as it requires the ingredients to be frozen. I think it's worth it to plan ahead!
What you need:
Ice cube trays
Baking sheet, lined with waxed paper
High-power blender or food processor
• 1/2 can (7 oz/200 mL) full-fat coconut milk. Make sure to shake the can well before opening to make sure it is emulsified and the milk is smooth, without any lumps. If you are opening a new can, the standard size is about 14 oz/400ml - use half the can and refrigerate the remaining coconut milk in an airtight glass container for another use.
• 2 bananas (Note: you can substitute 1 cup (250 mL) of any frozen sliced fruit for the bananas. Most fruit works well with coconut milk! Raspberries were used in the photo! Yum!)
• Not in the original recipe, but an optional sprinkle of ceylon cinnamon and/or a sprinkle of vanilla powder would be great mix-ins! While you're at it, you might consider topping your ice-cream with any (or all) of these options: hemp seeds, cacao nibs, goji berries, your favourite nuts, chopped (walnuts come to mind!), coconut flakes or shreds....
1. (in advance) Pour the coconut milk into ice cube trays. Freeze until solid. (Note: I might add about 1-2 tbl of MCT oil to the coconut milk to help with the consistency, plus it's more good fat!)
2. Peel bananas and cut crosswise into 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and freeze until solid. (Note: I keep banana chunks stocked in my freezer and that's what I use).
3. Add coconut milk cubes and frozen banana slices to the blender and blend until smooth: to the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
Note: If you are using a high-speed blender like a Vitamix, you'll use the tamper to help blend. If you are using a regular blender, you'll need to stop and stir frequently (and the smaller the frozen pieces are when you start, the easier it will be).
Makes 4 servings
Homemade coconut milk
4 cups water
1.5 – 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
Heat water until hot (but not boiling).
Add shredded coconut and water to blender (preferably a Vitamix!)
Blend on high for several minutes until thick and creamy.
Pour through a colander to filter out the coconut pulp, then squeeze through a cheese cloth or nut milk bag to filter the smaller pieces of coconut.
Drink immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.