healthy dessert, is it really possible?

Throughout my #whole30 process, I was careful not to try to replace unhealthy desserts with healthy ones, its one of the rules. But after doing #whole30 for nearly 8 months, I think it makes sense to have a few good go to’s that I can enjoy too! Here are my top three picks that are not only #whole30 & #paleo compliant, but also delicious, easy to make, AND beautiful. I feel fortunate that I have made all three more than once and I urge you to do the same. Two of three of these are NOT my recipes, so I take zero credit for the delicious factor. The last, is me experimenting, and its been working.
IMG_0673Okay – first the decadent chocolate cake. See the link to the recipe and I highly urge you to make it. Two things that will make this come out the best are 1) use a food processor. You do not need to clean it between crust/filling and 2) have a pan that had the removable sides. I didn’t get that, but I think that would take it to the next level. Mine is a 9″ one as seen here.

 

Here is my during christmas holding both desserts!

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Second is pumpkin pie, although right now isn’t the season, its a great win. It took
me two to three times to get this to not burn on the top, but now it’s definitely a dessert staple. To make this #whole30 compliant, I swapped equal parts of the honey for date paste. However, if you want it to be less sweet, like I did, I put in about 70% of the volume of date paste.
Was delicious nonetheless. Also, for the coconut whip cream, use date paste, but not required, AND do not put it on until you want to eat it, looks crappy if you put it on too soon.IMG_1328

Lastly, ice-cream!  I personally didn’t grow up being a major ice-cream person. I definitely like some here and there, but never had to have a tub of it in my freezer. However, I married into an ice-cream loving family and slowly became a little envious of ice-cream while on #whole30. So I got myself this kitchenaid attachment just a while ago, and made two different flavours. I can tell you that this is definitely a great investment, and I can already picture some future ice-cream flavours like pineapple-lime or raspberry-blackberry sorbet.

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The two flavours I made were as follows.

  • coconut milk (full fat), acai berry juice (no additives), diced dates, & walnuts <– this is fairly flavourful, and reminds me of a typical ice-cream from a store (above picture)
  • coconut milk (full fat), vanilla (from mexico), diced dates (for the sweeter), & walnuts. <– this is less sweet and nice summer flavors

Note on the dates: I use dates as a sweeter while on #whole30, but if you are #paleo, use honey, it will help the ice-cream stay less icey and easier to get a sense of favour.

Note on walnuts: you can use any nut you want, I like walnuts in ice-cream over others because almonds & peanuts for example are hard before going to ice-cream compared to walnuts. I also like the walnut taste and don’t eat walnuts otherwise.

 

Homemade mayonnaise… Piqued your interest, read on!

When I started #Whole30 (but really #whole60) back on July 1st 2015, the first word of advice I got was that if I made all of the sauces in the world, I would be okay. I totally took that to heart and decided to make 3 sauces: mayonnaise, caesar dressing, and a lemoney-chive sauce. I got all of the recipe info from this page of Whole30, and I am pretty certain I will be making my own mayo for the rest of my life!

Here is the thing; I assumed making mayo would be hard and messy. The first few times it was a little messy, but now I can whip up a batch during a TV commercial break! It stays good for about 2 – 3 weeks, depending on fresh your eggs are. The mayo expires when your eggs expire; which is usually more than the 3 weeks. You will notice at some point that the mayo starts to separate, and will have an almost buttery texture with oil on top. This is different from what you are probably familiar with with store bought mayo, fluffy fat.IMG_9870.JPG

I recommend watching this video to get started. You only need 4 ingredients, though I still like playing around with it every now and then. I’ve listed my notes on what I found best below. This receipt is for one batch – but I usually make a double batch every time (just double!). One batch yields about 1 1/2 cups of mayo.

Ingredients:

  • Eggs

    • If you use organic eggs, the really yellow yolks will make your mayo appear less white. I use an organic, free range egg that has a bit lighter yolk colour and it works out fine.

  • Mustard Powder

    • This is really important! I used a crappy mustard powder first, and it was ok. But then I switched to a premium one, and the taste got significantly better and more delicious!

  • Salt

    • Nothing special here – just use salt.

  • Light Olive Oil

    • This is the MAIN determinant of taste. Do not use extra virgin oil or you will die. Not literally of course, but your mayo turns out super gross. Of course if you like gross, go ahead. I use Bertolli Light Olive Oil and I effin love it. Get it!

 

Follow the directions perfectly. You can use a blender, but because I liked doing double batches I used my food processor; which is also easier to clean!

From there – you can go forth and make ALL the sauces in the world!

Shepherd’s pie, with a few twists!

I got excited when I found a recipe in my #whole30 book (referenced in other blogs) for Shepherd’s pie. I have never made it before (any version). But before we get started on that, let me go on a small rant!

I recently started a small debate on facebook about yams vs sweet potatoes. The recipe called for sweet potatoes, while the image next to it is orange; the colour of yams. In the store, I picked up “yams” (as the label said) to make it look like the recipe pictured. I completely effed up and didn’t get the orange yams, I got sweet potatoes. It looks like the grocery store is just as confused as I am! This sweet potato/yam issue is not good for someone who is learning to cook and learning about vegetables. I have lost confidence in this area.IMG_2901.JPG

Okay, back to my point! The recipe is on page 350 of the cook book. I made mine with lamb (my first twist, which is also quite traditional) and instead of putting this in a 9” X 12” casserole dish, I used a 9.5” X 9.5” dish (my second twist). Interestingly enough, I thought that the recipe would have been a bit too thin in a larger casserole dish.

IMG_2902.JPGFinally, I didn’t make the recipe with yams (because it said sweet potatoes!) I used Canadian sweet potatoes instead (the white ones). I also used my hand blender to make the sweet potato into an easy mash.

IMG_2899.JPGI got a little cheeky and make a smiley face in my food! This dish made 6 meals and cost about $30 – so about $5/meal (not bad!)

Recipe difficulty (Agata scale) 5 out of 10

Recipe taste (Agata scale) 8 out of 10

Things I would do differently:

  • make more meat

  • add more veggies, like parsnips and peppers

  • use a different shape casserole (would feed a good group of people)

 

THIS BLOG IS CHANGING! As is my food

It’s been a really long time since I blogged, and I keep having the guilty feeling, and I couldn’t quite figure out why. I was thinking maybe I should just close agata.ca, but then my pride would get the best of me.

Then something struck me today. Someone asked me how the holidays were for me, and I was like yeah, I cooked dinner for like 18 people and it was a blast. Their response was “oh right, you had that cooking transformation last year”. I didn’t laugh or disagree. It was true.

I never learned how to cook when I was young. It wasn’t that my mother was a bad cook, in fact, she was fabulous. But my interest lied elsewhere from an early age. I liked being outside, drawing, painting, reading, helping my dad. Essentially anything but cooking.

Now in my 30’s (yup, no shame here). I realized that this step I missed was hurting me. I was the heaviest I had EVER been, and I didn’t want to turn to pills or fad diets, so I decided to take control of what I put in my body. I also decided not to do some weird drink only juice and eat 1 chicken breast kinda diet. I wanted nutritious food because one day (fingers crossed) I would be a parent and I would need to not only survive, but also help this little person thrive. Quite honestly on June 30th 2015, I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to do that.

From July 1st and almost for 6 months straight (went to Morocco / 1 wedding / holidays) I was eating and cooking primarily #Whole30. I bought pots and pans (only the best), and for Christmas my husband bought me a few good knifes. I was so excited!

Okay, getting off topic, so I realized after this comment that I essentially don’t have much to say about “Agata’s Journey” which was what this site was called before now. BUT I have a whole lot to say about exploring recipes, cooking styles, ingredients, etc.

So today I relaunch http://www.agata.ca as my ode to my journey in the kitchen, all things food (by a novice cook & foodie)