Bear Bone Broth

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Bone Broth – this stuff is as expensive as liquid gold if you buy it from the shops (and not necessarily all that nice), which is totally crazy because it’s cheap as chips to make yourself.  I do mine in my slow cooker (cue angles singing, I love my slow cooker) and the amount of hands on work that is required is actually minimal.  Win-win all round!

The one thing I would absolutely stress about this recipe is; do not skip roasting the bones first, this makes ALL the difference.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 kgs raw beef bones

2 large carrots, roughly chopped

2 large onions, roughly chopped

2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 large celery ribs, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 bay leaves

Water to cover – quantity will depend on the capacity of your slow cooker

 

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.  Place your bones in a single layer in a baking dish lined with baking paper and roast for around 40 minutes.  They’ll smell wonderful when they’re done, trust me.

Now all you need to do is put everything in your slow cooker ensure there’s sufficient water to cover and put on low for at least 8 hours.  I do this in the afternoon and just leave it on all night.

When it’s finished cooking, strain out all the bones and veges and transfer to a bowl and cool to separate out the fat.  I personally don’t keep the fat to reuse, but I know some people do.  The broth should start to jellify as it cools, this is totally what you want as it indicates you’ve coaxed the gelatine out of the bones.   Now all you need to do is decant into whatever size servings you want (I find 1 cup lots are the most useful) and chill or freeze!

Sneaky Sauce…

14 5 18 081I have to say, I’m actually pretty lucky with the vegetable consumption of my little bear cubs.  They do seem to have a preference for things beginning with ‘c’: cucumber, capsicum, celery, carrots and believe it or not, cabbage, I don’t know if this is coincidence or if the universe is trying to tell me something, I’m just going to roll with it and keep feeding it to them as, if there’s one thing I’ve learned with little bears, things change in the blink of an eye…

This sneaky sauce is based on a Tasty Junior recipe I saw one night and to be honest my initial thought was it would be most useful in upping the vege intake of hubby bear, but regardless of who needs to have the smuggled veg this is really tasty and super easy to use.  I just freeze it in 2 cup quantities and use instead of tinned tomatoes and tomato paste in everything from nachos to curry to spaghetti bolognaise.  I see no reason why you couldn’t also use it on a pizza base or even on sausages though I haven’t tried it like that myself.  Give it a go and let me know how it works!

 

INGREDIENTS

4 large carrots, diced

4 large celery ribs (leaves included), diced

1 large red/yellow/orange capsicum (bell pepper), diced

2 large onions, diced

2 large garlic cloves, diced

2 x 400g tins of tomatoes in juice

280g tomato paste

2 Cups of bone broth

1 heaped teaspoon of salt

Grind of black pepper

1 heaped teaspoon of dried oregano

1 heaped teaspoon of dried basil

1 heaped teaspoon of ground paprika

1 tablespoon coconut oil

 

DIRECTIONS

Sauté the carrots in the coconut oil in a large heavy based pan over a medium heat until they start to caramelise.  It’s really worth doing this slowly and not over a high heat as this is what dials up the natural sugars in the veges.  Once the carrots have started to brown and soften add in the onions and the garlic and continue to sauté for a few more minutes then add in the capsicum and celery and sauté for another few minutes.

 

Transfer your veges to your slow cooker and add in the rest of the ingredients, top up with water to fully cover your veges if you need to, then pop on the lid and leave it on low for ~8 hours or high for ~4.  I lurve things that just take care of themselves!!

 

Once you’re ready to get hands on with your sauce again, let it cool completely and then blitz till smooth.  I use a stick immersion blender and you would never know what the component parts of the dish were… sneaky 🙂

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BEETROOT & QUINOA SALAD

beetroot & quinoa salad

This is super simple, but super tasty.  Totally my kind of recipe!

We had a shared lunch at work today and this was my contribution.  Happy to say it went down rather well indeed.

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup uncooked quinoa

1 large or 2 small beetroots

2 large carrots

1 large handful of flat leafed parsley

½ Cup of toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds (mixed)

200g feta, I like goat or buffalo feta

4 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs maple syrup

 

DIRECTIONS

Cook the quinoa in water until the grains are no longer chalky and the water has evaporated.  Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

Finely shred the beetroot and carrot (my food processor does this, hallelujah!) and transfer to a large bowl along with the cooled quinoa, chopped parsley and crumbled feta.

Mix the oil, vinegar and maple syrup together and pour over the top, then give it a good mixing to coat everything in dressing.

Scatter over the toasted seeds and tuck in!!

Waldorf-ish Salad for One

waldorf salad

I suspect it’s a pregnancy thing, but I really, really like celery at the moment, I mean really like it.  To the extent that the following salad is my go to lunch every weekday.  Now I’m back to eating again I find myself craving after fresh, clean, slightly sweet, crunchy stuff and it certainly fits the bill.  It’s super easy and quick to throw together, just add a couple of crunchy seedy crackers (Little Bird Flax & Almond are my favourite at the moment) and you’re sorted!

INGREDIENTS

2 ribs of celery, roughly chopped

½ an apple, cored and diced

Small handful of walnuts

¼ ripe, but firmish avocado, diced

Optional, depending on how strictly Paleo you are, small cube of tasty cheese cut into slivers

Also optional if you’re not pregnant and raw eggs aren’t a ticking bomb, teaspoon of mayonnaise

DIRECTIONS

OK, now this is the hard bit, combine everything in a bowl and toss gently to mix.  Whew!  We made it, I knew you could do it!

News Flash!

OK, so it’s been over a month since my last post, ‘Where is Mama Bear’s commitment to her blog?!’ we cry.  Such tardiness is really not on.  You may well have thought I’d dropped off the face of the internet and you wouldn’t have been far wrong, I’ve pretty much dropped off the face of anything recognizable as usual human life however I have a very good/unpleasant reason for this.  Drum roll please…

I’m pregnant, yep, baby bear numero dos is on board.  Very exciting!  But I’m also suffering from Hyperemesis gravidarum.  Very awful!  So, I’m not cooking anything at the moment and until the thought, let alone the smell, of most of your basic food groups no longer makes me spontaneously retch I’m going to be an extremely useless food blogger because I’m pretty sure no one wants the recipes for my current diet of IV fluids and anti-emetics, oh yeah it’s that awesome.

However if it’s like my last pregnancy, and trust me I’m praying it is, I should be back to my usual rambunctious and comestibly (possibly not really a word, but suits my purpose) adventurous self in approx. 3 weeks.  I am counting down the days, no make that minutes till it happens.  Stay posted!

Baby Bear finds out she’s going to be a big sister:

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ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

zucchini fritters

Last weekend’s delivery from Grandma’s garden was baby golden zucchini.  Gorgeously fresh, having been picked from the garden not 30 mins prior, it was calling out for something simple to celebrate.  Bring on some fritters!

I get 4 fritters out of the below ingredients which is enough for myself and Baby Bear for lunch with a little salad on the side as Hubby does not partake of these particular little morsels, more fool him I say!

INGREDIENTS

1 small or ½ medium zucchini, grated and squeezed of excess moisture

2 eggs

1 scant Tablespoon of tapioca flour

Big pinch of salt and grind of pepper

Knob of coconut oil for frying

DIRECTIONS

Mix everything together except the coconut oil and stand while you get your pan ready to thicken slightly.

Heat a heavy based fry pan over a medium heat and when pan is hot add the coconut oil.  (You need the oil to be hot before you add the fritter mixture so it starts cooking straight away allowing it to get golden and crisp.  If you add the mixture to the pan before it reaches temperature the batter will start to absorb the oil and be flaccid and, let’s face it, a bit yuck.)  Let the oil melt completely and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.

Ladle in ¼ Cup measures of the fritter mixture and cook until you start to see little bubbles appearing in the top of the fritter dollops.  Check carefully to ensure the bottoms are golden brown then flip and cook the other side, till you’re golden brown top and bottom.

Then plate up and enjoy straight away!  I like to have mine with pesto, baby Bear likes to have hers with tomato sauce, each to their own 🙂

PALEO COCONUT YOGHURT

yoghurt

I really miss yoghurt.  Hubby Bear and I have always been fans of tangy, creamy, yoghurty goodness, but we thought that was off the cards once we’d started down the Paleo path.   Then I got the ‘Going Coconuts’ recipe book by Brynley King which includes, among many other wonderful looking things that I’m dying to try, a recipe for making yoghurt with nothing but coconut milk and pro-biotic capsules.

“Say no more Ms King, you had me at yoghurt!” I cried scrabbling into the kitchen to sterilize a large glass jar with boiling water.

I must actually admit to being a bit apprehensive about making the yoghurt as I did once attempt the alchemy with ordinary cow’s milk and yoghurt starter and quite frankly it was a disaster we can quickly draw a curtain over.  However my first foray into coconut yoghurt was pleasantly straightforward.  Maybe I was aided by the fact that the weather was so warm over the weekend or maybe the yoghurt gods were smiling down on me whatever it was making this stuff was a breeze.

INGREDIENTS

3 Cups of coconut milk (full fat)

2 pro-biotic capsules – I used, as Brynley suggested, the Inner Health Plus capsules

1 large glass jar with lid

DIRECTIONS

Sterilize your glass jar and lid, cup measure and whisk (I did this by pouring boiling water all over them).  Measure the coconut milk into the jar, break open the capsules and tip the contents into the milk.  Whisk together the coconut milk and pro-biotics put on the lid and leave to do its crazy yoghurt thing in a warm place for 10 – 12 hours.  I’m not kidding when I say our house is hot at the moment, we’re talking 28 C, so I just left the jar in Hubby Bear’s office where I knew little Baby Bear’s paws wouldn’t be able to nab it.

Once it’s sat in a warm place put it into the fridge for another 12 hours before sampling.  It will thicken up a bit more with standing.

Paleo Parsley Pesto

pesto

Now hubby bear and I both loved traditional pesto back in the pre-paleo days, but basil has such a short season where we live and it hard to grow even at the best of times and then we went Paleo and parmesan went off the menu.  Pesto just seemed to fall into the far too hard basket… but then I found a recipe for Pesto in Tammy Credicott’s Make Ahead Paleo based on parsley, woohoo!  I modified it quite a bit as the bear family doesn’t do coriander (cilantro) or jalapenos and I didn’t have any macadamias, but oh my, it ticked the boxes alright!  We had it over grilled lamb chops and salad and I think this it’s going to become an absolute staple in our house now.

Since starting to write this blog I’ve become aware just how much I rely on my food processor and my stick blender, what would my great grandmother say?!  From the photos I’ve seen of her she would have gazed balefully at me and exhorted me to “roll up yon sleeves and put a bit of backbone into it lassie!”

Oh dear, I’m definitely a child of our modern era, though having said that I usually have 20 – 30 minutes from when I get home to when baby bear and hubby bear expect to have something tasty to sit down and consume, so anything I can do to help myself deliver is just plain smart I reckon 😉

INGREDIENTS

½ Cup roasted cashews

1 Cup firmly packed with flat leaf parsley

2 cloves of garlic

¼ Cup of cider vinegar

¾ Cup of extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

Optional: I used an extra Tablespoon of water to thin it down, but if you like it to be thick leave it out.

DIRECTIONS

Put everything into the base of your stick blender or bowl of your food processor and blitz, blitz, blitz!  Once everything is smooth, check the consistency and add the water if you feel it needs it.

Store in a glass jar in the fridge for 3 – 5 days.

Paleo Bread

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Isn’t life a wonderful dichotomy? Those who know me will tell you that I have a wardrobe full of high heeled shoes, gorgeous, elegant, sexy and delicious, but these same people will also tell you that I am almost always wearing flats.  The siren song of the heels calls to me.  They sing their sweet song from the shoe shops and under a spell I try them and buy them, taking them home to join their fellows in my wardrobe.  I do fully intend to wear them all, however when it comes to crunch I am rather more practical.  I tend to walk in what I like to call a positive, dynamic way (hubby bear calls it wifey’s crazy striding) and try as I might I can’t walk like that in high heels and if I can’t walk like that I get frustrated.  So the rest of my wardrobe is stuffed with flats, sad but true.

What, you may well ask, has any of this to do with paleo cooking, or family life?  Patience, patience, where I’m going with this is here – Paleo bread.  To me, other than my pathological love and avoidance of high heels, paleo bread is the other great contradiction in life.  That something so fundamentally carb rich could be converted to a Paleo friendly form seems mystical.  But here’s the thing, when I was pregnant I craved sandwiches.  Pregnancy was in the days pre-Paleo so the bread was your standard gluten free fare.  Don’t get excited, this isn’t a rambling way of announcing that I’m pregnant again, but I have promised hubby bear it’s not completely off the cards, so at some stage in the future (when I’ve forgotten what chronic sleep deprivation does to you) it could happen again and when that time comes I fully intend to be prepared (somehow, I just know I’ll look back on this and laugh at the naivety…).

Well at least in the interim I can enjoy some almond butter and lettuce sandwiches.  Give them a try, they’re really good.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups ground almonds

2 Tablespoons coconut flour

¼ cup ground flaxseeds (flaxmeal or linseedmeal)

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

5 eggs

1 Tablespoon melted coconut oil

1 Tablespoon honey

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.

Place the ground almonds, coconut flour, flax, salt and baking soda in the bowl of your food processor  fitted with an ‘S’ blade.  Pulse ingredients to roughly mix together, then pulse in the eggs, oil, honey and vinegar.

Transfer batter to a greased and lined loaf pan .

Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in the pan, then use straight away or cover and store in the fridge for up to three days.

Things I wish I’d Know BBC (Before Bear Cub)

baby bear in a rare moment of slumber

She will eventually sleep and so will you

For the first three days of baby bear’s life she just wanted to nurse 24 hours a day and I didn’t know what to do.  I ended up calling my husband in tears at 4:45am the day after she was born, after I’d been up trying to feed her and get her to go to sleep in her cosy little bassinet all freaking night, asking him to come to Birthcare and take her so I could try and get some sleep.  Hubby Bear took her out to the Birthcare lounge where she promptly fell asleep suckling his little finger tip.  She slept, he cuddled, watched crap TV and bonded with the Dad in the lazy boy next to him who was doing exactly the same thing and I eventually managed to get to sleep too, for a whole hour, woo hoo!  This was pretty much the routine for the next couple of days till we left Birthcare and cautiously drove our precious bundle home.  She fell asleep in the capsule on the drive and when we got home I tucked her into her ethereal white bassinet in our bedroom where she slept peacefully for the next hour.  I smugly thought I had this mother thing down pat, the hard bit was over and this was how it would be from now on.  Reality check!!   That was the last time she slept in her bassinet for the next couple of weeks…  She would refuse to go to sleep in her bassinet no matter how much I rocked, patted, shunted, shushed,  swaddled, looped white noise on my iPhone, wept, pleaded or tried crying it out (her and me).  She would only sleep on either me or Hubby bear and we would take turns being up with her while the other person got some sleep.  I am not good on reduced sleep and as I got more and more tired, I also got more and more wired.  As I got more and more wired, I got more and more obsessed with sleep and less and less able to sleep.  Trust me, running on an hours sleep a day is not good on any level.  My body was not functioning properly.  I got a horrendous infection in my armpits (of all the unglamorous places…) and had to go to hospital to have an operation to clear it.  I was in there for four days and then on antibiotics for nearly two months.  Stink.  However on the plus side I did sleep while I was in hospital. 

 

Getting help is OK, in fact it’s the smart thing to do

My mother in law kindly stepped in and cared for Isla during the day while I was in hospital and continued to come in and help me while I was recovering from surgery.  My mother in law has the magic touch with babies.  She had two of her own and baby bear was grandchild number four.  She definitely had baby bear sleeping in the bassinet!  It was her who showed me how to sleep the bear cub on her side (not Plunket approved, but it sure worked for us, plus everyone now comments on how nicely shaped baby bear’s head is).  But I have to be honest with you, I did not find it exactly relaxing having my M-in-L there all day and I also didn’t feel I was actually learning what to do myself, so we got in the Karitanes.  I cannot praise this service enough.  They are life savers.  We had a few different ladies come in and guide me in how to care for baby bear, they were right there with me, but I was finally doing it for myself.  They even stayed overnight and did the feeds and settling!  Which brings me to my next point.  

 

Breast feeding is best, but if you physically can’t don’t worry about it, you are not a bad mother

Before I had baby bear the fact that I might not be able to breast feed didn’t even occur to me.  It’s natural right?  Women have done it for thousands of years, why should I be any different from my great, great, great, great… you get the picture.  Well here’s what happened.  I tried breastfeeding from the moment baby bear came out and lay on my tummy and for the first little while I had no idea there was any issue, but because baby bear was wanting to suckle constantly over the first couple of days my nipples got ripped to shreds and my midwife made me express to try and avoid getting mastitis.  So it was on about day four or five we realized there was actually nothing coming out.  After that first express I sent hubby to the hospital to buy some formula to top up what baby bear was not getting from me.  Nothing in our ante-natal prep had prepared us for this because bottle feeding is treated like some kind of taboo, it’s not discussed.  Hubby just bought the most expensive one he could see on the shelf that was for newborns, not having any other clue how to judge what might be the best one. 

From then on I took Dom Peridone, drank gallons of water and breastfeeding tea, ate everything that is supposed to stimulate lactation in large quantities and expressed as well as breastfeeding on the advice of a horrendously expensive lactation consultant, all to no avail. 

Then when I had to go into hospital, I had to accept that it was just not going to work for us as my milk supply completely dried up in spite of the fact that I continued to try and express while I was in there.  I agonized over my lack of lactation, convinced my baby was getting a terrible start in life.  But you know what, she got the colostrum and she did get some breast milk.  The Karitane nannies told me to get over myself and advised the best formula to go with is goat’s as it’s the closest to human milk, we switched baby bear to Karicare goat and her windiness largely disappeared and she’s thrived.   Why don’t you get told that in ante-natal classes? 

 

You need to nurture yourself as well as your baby

Think of yourself as a cup full of love, nurture and energy to care for those around you.  Now think about how much love, nurture and energy you expend every day on caring for your family; even those who start the day with a full cup and going to be running on dregs by the end of the day.  If you don’t prioritise time and resources to filling your cup back up again regularly, you’re not going to be doing any one a favour.   So now I go to yoga, I go for walks, I read my books, I experiment in the kitchen and enjoy feeding those I love with delicious, healthy meals, I shop on line and I have a cleaner.  Enough said.

Cake is a valid food group

You might think that’s a bit weird coming from someone who writes a blog praising paleo eating, but while I was spending my nights wrangling baby bear I lived on the delicious muffins and carrot cakes that my Mum baked and the dinners that my wonderful cousin froze for me.  If you need cake to get through the day, it’s OK, it’s not going to be forever.

Other people probably are judging you, but it doesn’t matter

We went through a stage about four months ago where baby bear would scream almost the entire way around the park before she would then fall into a peaceful sleep.  She was fine, trust me, I checked over and over again, she just wanted to be picked up and carried and that was not going to happen.  I got some very suspicious looks as I perambulated shamefacedly along with my shrieking progeny.  To be fair it really did sound like I’d broken all her limbs and then decided it was nice weather for a walk.  I am deeply saddened by the fact we live in a country where this could even cross someone’s mind, but history shows that we do.  However my mum, a previous primary school teacher, as per usual gave me some sound advice; if a baby’s crying like that it’s almost always fine, it’s when they’re super quiet something might be wrong.  So now I confidently charge around the park with my bawling offspring.  She’s fine, you can check any of her limbs you want to.