Dry Rubbed Barbecue Pork Ribs – Paleo Style

paleo barbecue pork ribs with sauceEver since the paleo diet unshackled me from the fear of eating animal fat I have been on a mission to indulge in foods previously avoided. Barbecued pork ribs is one of those foods. My goal with this recipe was to create something delicious that would be paleo, which means, among other things, having very little or no sugar. It was also important the dry-rubbed ribs be good enough to be eaten without sauce.  Of course, barbecue sauce is pretty indispensable in the minds of most people and my family is no exception.  So I have also included a spicy barbecue sauce recipe that contains no high fructose corn syrup and only 2 tablespoons of sweetener.   Continue reading

Paleo Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut has gotten a bad rap over the last several years which influenced me to steer clear because I was deathly afraid of the saturated fat. After discovering the paleo diet, and doing a lot of reading about saturated fats like coconut, I came to understand that it is actually quite healthful.

This recipe started out as a bit of an experiment. I purchased double or triple the ingredients with the expectation there would be a few tries before I got it right. Much to my surprise, the first pie turned out AMAZINGLY good. The coconut crystals taste a lot like brown sugar and imbued the custard with a really rich caramel flavor while being very low glycemic. I was astonished at just how exquisite the pie tastes and how perfect the texture of the crust turned out to be. Searching around the internet did not yield many options for coconut flour-only crusts. In fact, the coconut flour container itself advocates replacing only 20% of the flour in a recipe with coconut. One of the reasons is because coconut flour is extremely dry. It requires a lot of moisture in the form of eggs, fat and/or water to balance the dryness. I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for Coconut Cream Pie as a very rough guide for the filling and came up with my own coconut flour pie crust. The crust stays crisp in part because of the thin coating of melted dark chocolate applied before filling. I used Trader Joe’s paleo dark chocolateDark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar which is 85% cacao.

While Martha’s recipe called for 3 cups of coconut milk I used two cans of coconut milk plus one 7 ounce packet of creamed coconut.The creamed coconut made a HUGE difference in the final product because it has more texture and a very concentrated coconut flavor.

paleo coconut products

Another substitution was arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch.Corn is not a food used on the paleo diet but arrowroot is a perfectly good alternative as long as you add it at the end of a recipe. Arrowroot loses its ability to thicken at high heat.

Crust

Filling

Dairy Topping (optional)
Topping
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • dark chocolate shavings (85% or higher cacao)
Place the coconut flour and coconut flakes into a food processor and pulse until combined. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, coconut crystals, celtic sea salt, baking soda and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry in the food processor and pulse until it forms a crumbly dough. Add the water slowly until the dough comes together and appears moist but not soggy.

Spread the dough into a 9 inch pie dish and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 15 minutes until golden brown. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave (or a double boiler).
Once the pie shell is completely cooled use a pastry brush to coat it with the melted chocolate.

Place the coated pie shell in the refrigerator to harden.
Prepare an ice bath and set aside. In a bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks; set aside. In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, creamed coconut, coconut crystals, vanilla extract and celtic sea salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, about 10 minutes. You want to cook some of the liquid out of the coconut milk so that it concentrates the flavor and will thicken a bit. Whisk a quarter of the hot coconut milk mixture into the egg yolks; whisk in remaining coconut milk mixture. Pour into a clean saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until custard is thicker and bubbles appear in the center, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set in the ice bath. Whisk it occasionally while it cools off for a total of 30-40 minutes. Add the arrowroot powder and whisk until combined and somewhat thicker (it will thicken more in the refrigerator).
Place a layer of plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate. (Filling can be kept in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, up to 1 day.)
Place the coconut flakes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly golden brown. Set aside.

Fill cooled crust with the custard and spread evenly with an offset spatula.Refrigerate paleo coconut cream pie at least three hours. Garnish with toasted coconut flakes and some grated dark chocolate just before serving.
The pie is delicious without any sort of whipped cream topping. However, if you have no issues with dairy and would like to add it simply combine the cream and coconut crystals and stir gently until the crystals have melted. Use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and beat the mixture until soft peaks form. Top the pie with the whipped cream and add the coconut flakes and chocolate shavings before serving. This pie can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to three days. The entire recipe is gluten, dairy and nut free and tastes better than any other coconut cream (custard) pie I have ever eaten paleo or not!

Paleo Chocolate Cheesecake

Paleo Chocolate Cheesecake is a bit of a misnomer because the Paleo Diet, by definition, does not include dairy products. Cheesecake, obviously, has LOTS of cheese which may have you scratching your head.  In strict Paleo Diet circles this recipe would probably be referred to as “Faileo” instead of Paleo.  But here’s the deal, my husband had a birthday a few weeks ago and he requested cheesecake.  He and I have been “paleo” for a few months and while I generally avoid dairy he does indulge in full fat Greek yogurt and heavy cream for his coffee.  I searched around for a recipe in the “paleosphere” and did not find very much so I decided to come up with my own.

I started out with Nigella Lawson’s recipe for chocolate cheesecake and modified it to be as close to Paleo as humanly possible.  Voila’, Paleo Chocolate Cheesecake!  My goal was to ensure the recipe would be completely gluten free, have a low glycemic index, contain full fat, organic cheese, pastured butter and omega-3 rich eggs.

Instead of the graham cracker crust in Nigella’s recipe, I used almond meal in order to eliminate the gluten and increase the nutrition.  Full fat Greek yogurt was used in place of sour cream to increase the protein content and thicken the cheesecake without having to resort to custard powder or cornstarch.

The original recipe called for bittersweet chocolate but I used unsweetened dark chocolate to eliminate as much processed sugar possible.

I substituted 1 Cup of Coconut Crystals for the 3/4 Cup of fine sugar called for in the original recipe.

Coconut Crystals is a sugar replacement (not an artificial sweetener) made from the sap of coconut blossoms.  It is very low glycemic (GI of only 35), diabetic-friendly, contains 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C and broad-spectrum B vitamins.  By adding a full cup I compensated for the sugar missing in the unsweetened chocolate while keeping the overall glycemic level of the cheesecake fairly low.

Ingredients

Cheesecake base:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal (or use a food processor to grind up raw almonds)
  • 1/4 cup butter (chilled ghee or coconut oil)
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp coconut crystals
  • Dash of salt (especially if almonds and  butter are unsalted)

Cheesecake filling:

  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped small
  • 2 1/2 cups cream cheese
  • 1 cup coconut crystals
  • 3 large Omega-3 eggs
  • 3 large Omega-3 egg yolks
  • 7 oz container of Greek style yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa, dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sauce:

Special Equipment: 9-inch springform pan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the base, in a food processor combine the almond meal, butter, cocoa and coconut crystals until it makes damp, clumping crumbs and then tip them into the pan.

Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan to make an even base and put into the freezer while you make the filling.

Put a kettle on to boil.

Melt 6 ounces of the unsweetened chocolate either in a microwave or double boiler, and set aside to cool slightly.

Beat the cream cheese to soften it, then add the coconut crystals, beating again to combine. Beat in the whole eggs and then the yolks, and the Greek yogurt. Finally, add the cocoa dissolved in hot water, the vanilla extract and melted chocolate and mix to a smooth batter.

Take the springform pan out of the freezer and line the outside with a good layer of plastic wrap, and then another layer of strong aluminum foil over that. This will protect the cheesecake from the water bath.  Pour the cheesecake filling into the pan.

Fill the roasting pan with just boiled water to come about halfway up the cake pan.  This will keep the oven moist and the cheesecake from cracking.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The top of the cheesecake should be set, but the underneath should still have a wobble to it.  Peel away the foil and plastic wrapping and sit the cheesecake in its pan on a rack to cool. Put in the refrigerator once it is no longer hot, and leave to set, covered with plastic overnight. Let it lose its chill before unspringing the cheesecake to serve.

To make the chocolate sauce: very gently melt the chopped chocolate, cream and coconut crystals. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take off the heat and whisk it to a smooth sauce. Let it cool a little, and pour it over the chocolate cheesecake on its serving plate.

 

For this recipe I used very “high end” ingredients in order to max out the nutritional content and keep the GI very low.  If I were to add up the cost it was probably on the expensive side.  For me it was worth it for a special occasion and I wanted to experiment with these ingredients to see how close to strict Paleo I could get.  But please don’t feel like you can’t try this recipe if you are not going to splurge on the same ingredients I used.  It would be fine to use regular cream cheese and eggs and unsweetened chocolate.  Obviously you can substitute regular sugar for the coconut crystals if you prefer.  In my opinion the most important change was the use of almond meal instead of graham crackers in the crust.  For anyone trying to remain gluten free this is extremely important.

The Paleo Chocolate Cheesecake recipe was a bit of an experiment and I am pleased it turned out so well.  We had a visitor from Australia with us the weekend I made it and he, in spite of not having an interest in eating Paleo, was very complimentary of the final product.  It is an extremely rich dessert and I recommend eating smaller slices and then freezing any leftovers for future falls off the non-dairy wagon.

Enjoy!

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