This weeks Tasty Theme: Plantains!!! Named as one of the safe starches by the Paleo community, plantains are gaining popularity quickly. I’ve been cooking with them for a few years now and I love their versatility. One of the things I love the most about plantains is the way the flavor changes from starchy and potato-like when green, to sweet and banana-like when over ripe (black peel). Plantains make great snacks, are perfect in savory dishes, and have a permanent place in my dessert repertoire. Let’s learn a little more about this delicious food.
What’s the difference between a plantain and a banana?
A plantain is a member of the banana family. Plantains are generally longer with angular ridges and thick peels. While bananas can be eaten raw at any stage of ripeness, you will probably not enjoy a raw plantain unless it is over ripe (a black peel). Plantains have a much higher starch content then bananas and are lower in sugar. Therefore, biting into one when it’s just ripe (green peel), will be like biting into a raw potato. Plantains sweeten up as they progress through the stages of ripening, so be aware of this when purchasing them. You will want to match the level of ripeness to the amount of sweetness you are looking for in your dish.
Where do they come from?
Plantains are grown in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and can be found in India and Africa. I love eating local as much as possible, but there are items I make exceptions for and plantains are one of them.
What does it taste like?
Green plantains are starchy and taste little like a white potato. They have a firmer bite at this stage and hold their shape. Yellow plantains are a little sweeter. They may have a little more of a banana flavor, but still retain some of that starchiness of the green plantain. I have found that yellow plantains are a bit of a mystery. You don’t really know how sweet they will be until you start noshing. Plantains that are over ripe (have dark spotted skins or are fully blackened) will be the sweetest and will taste very similar to a banana, although it isn’t exactly the same. Over ripe plantains will be a little mushy (great for mashes or purees).
How the heck do you peel these things!?
Bananas make great snacks on the go. They conveniently come with their own little wrappers and can be easily peeled without any kitchen equipment. Plantains, not so much. These puppies can be a bit of a bear to peel, but one you get the hang of it, you will find it’s not such a big deal (plus, the reward is totally worth the effort). I like this tutorial.
So now that we know all about plantains, let’s get to some recipes!!
- Tostones (Fried Plantains) - My first try at cooking with plantains. This recipe works well at any stage of ripeness and can be served as a side dish, dessert, or a snack.
- Pastelón (Puerto Rican Lasagna) – A great way to try plantains in a savory application. Layers of plantains surrounding a delicious ground beef layer? Yes, please!! Green or yellow plantains work well here.
- Jibarito Sandwich from The Primal Recipe Archive – Here, my sister uses plantains in place of sandwich bread. This looks so good!
- Tigrillo (Ecuadorian Plantain, Cheese & and Egg Scramble) from My Little Jar of Spices – This recipe treats green plantains like potatoes by boiling them first and then mashing before scrambling with eggs and cheese.
- Jamaican Beef Patty from Jamaican It Paleo – MUST. MAKE. SOON. Here, plantains are used to make the crust surrounding an amazing looking ground beef mixture!
- Plantian Tortillas form Zenbelly – Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant. If you have been looking for grain-free soft tortilla recipe, this is it. I made these a few weeks ago and they came out perfectly. Alex and I could have easily eaten the whole batch!
- Tex-Mex Plantain Taco Bowls from The Primitive Homemaker - If hard shells are more your thing, check out these beautiful plantain taco bowls! They are almost too pretty to eat. Guess what else? It’s AIP compliant – yay! Tyler also has directions for making these into regular taco shells.
- Plantain, Avocado & Friends Paleo Breakfast Bake from The Healthy Foodie – Plantains for breakfast? Sure! It has avocado in it? Even better!!
- Creamy, Dreamy Tropical Chicken Curry from The Healthy Foodie – A great use of sweet plantains in a savory dish.
- Green Plantian Pancakes from The Curious Coconut – A savory pancake using green plantains with the added benefit of gelatin.
- Easy Shredded Pork Over Caramelized Plantains from PaleOMG - This dish is awesome. I’ve made it several times and it rocks.
- Honey Mustard Crunchy Chicken Plantain Salad from PaleOMG – Another awesome plantain dish from PaleOMG. I love making this salad for a quick lunch and the leftovers are delicious cold or warmed!
- Paleo Plantain Chips and Easy Guacamole from Gutsy by Nature – No need to buy plantain chips from Trader Joe’s. Make your own! Looks like a great snack option!
- Grain-free Plantain Bread from Purely Twins - Looks like an excellent replacement for pitas or flatbreads. I bet this would be awesome for dips or spreads at a party!
- Garlic Rosemary Plantain Crackers from Autoimmune Paleo – Yum, yum, yum!!!
- Sweet Plantain Guacamole by The Civilized Caveman from Paleo for Women – I never would have thought of using plantains in guacamole, but I bet it tastes amazing. This is a must try!!
- Autoimmune Protocol Plantain Pizza from Simple and Merry – Great idea for a grain-free pizza crust.
- Plantain Flour Pancakes from Chris Kresser - If you can get your hands on some plantain flour, this looks like a great pancake recipe!
- Caribbean Shrimp with Plantains and Mango Salsa from I Breathe…I’m Hungry… – Seriously?! I was sold at shrimp and plantains and then she went and threw in some mangoes!
- Mofongo: Puerto Rican Style Plantains from Beauty and the Foodie – A savory dish with a hearty dose of BACON!
- Flourless Fudge Brownie Bites from Hold the Grain - Let’s end this on a sweet note. These brownie bites are made with a medium ripe plantain (yellow with black spots) and the frosting uses an avocado!
Are you guys ready for the one of the quickest and easiest recipes I’ve ever posted? These Strawberry Coconut Bites are the perfect little snack for the mid-afternoon blues or as a slightly sweet treat after dinner.
I love fresh strawberries, but I always try to buy them when they are in season and organic. Since Michigan is just now thawing out from the Polar Vortex, good strawberries are nowhere in sight. I was wandering the produce section looking for something to fill the berry craving and I noticed a whole shelf of freeze dried fruits and veggies. I had never really paid attention to them before, but now I was intrigued. I grabbed a bag of organic strawberries and this recipe was the first thing I made with them.
I enjoy coconut in all forms, but lately I have been experimenting with coconut oil and coconut cream concentrate. Coconut cream concentrate can be very hard and crumbly at room temperature, so the addition of the coconut oil makes for a nice creamy and silky texture. Mix in the strawberries and you have the perfect little bite!
Strawberry Coconut Bites
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup coconut cream concentrate (AKA coconut butter)
- 2 Tablespoons of powdered freeze dried strawberries
What to do:
Place a handful of the strawberries in a mini food processor and process until powdered. Measure out 2 Tablespoons and set aside. Reserve any leftover powder for another use.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the coconut cream concentrate and coconut oil together. Once they are melted and combined, remove the saucepan from the heat and add the strawberry powder. Gently whisk the strawberry powder into the coconut mixture, but try not to create a foamy texture. Once all the lumps are dissolved, transfer the mixture to a measuring cup with a pouring spout. Pour into silicone ice cube molds and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours or until firm.
Remove the Strawberry Coconut Bites from the molds and store in the fridge.
So earlier this week I was perusing the vast interwebs for short ribs recipes. After seeing a number of awesome looking recipes, an idea popped into my head. Round up these recipes and share them with you! So for now, this will be a new semi-weekly feature on This is so Good… For each post, I will pick a new Tasty Theme and gather some of the best the Web has to offer. After compiling the list, I’ll share it with you guys! If you have any special requests or if you have a recipe that fits the theme, please send them my way!
Now, on to this weeks Tasty Theme: Beef Short Ribs! I absolutely love tender, slow-cooked short ribs. When they are done right, the meat falls off the bones and it is comfort food at it’s finest. There are three types of beef short ribs – English-cut, Flanken-cut, and Boneless. English-cut are separated along the bone and are usually found in two inch pieces. These guys are my personal favorite and I just brought home 25 pounds of them from my farm share. They are perfect for braising or slow-cooking (releasing lots of collagen into the braising liquid) or grilled. Flanken-cut are cut across the bones. I’m not very familiar with this cut, and have never prepared it. It looks to be ideal for braising, but can also be done on the grill (although they may be a little chewy). Boneless are, well, boneless. This cut is good for braising or for slicing thinly and searing.
So now that we know a little more about beef short ribs, let’s get to the recipes!
Since I am the most familiar with English-cut short ribs, I’ll start with those:
- Beer-Braised Short Ribs from The Primal Recipe Archive - This recipe comes from my sister’s blog and is the next one on my list to try. She used Gluten-free beer. I think a hard cider might work as well!
- Classic Braised Short Ribs from The Domestic Man – A very traditional looking braised beef dish, full of classic flavors from fresh herbs, red wine, and veggies.
- Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs from Nom Nom Paleo – I love, love, love this recipe! I’ve made it 3 times already and it is so good.
- Beef Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine from She Cooks He Cleans – Another classic looking braised beef dish, but I love the idea of adding anchovy paste for a hit of umami!
- Balsamic Braised Beef Short Ribs from Joyful Healthy Eats - Sounds slightly sweet and deliciously savory at the same time. Yum!
- Grilled and Braised Short Ribs from The Domestic Man
- Braised Short Ribs from Primal Palate – Mmm…bacon.
- Thyme-Braised Short Ribs from The Clothes Make the Girl
- Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs with Julienned Leeks from Fine Cooking – Sub coconut aminos for the soy sauce and leave out the sugar.
- Beef Short Ribs from Virginia is for Hunter Gatherers – Simple and tasty!
- Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs from Living Low Carb One Day at a Time
- Crockpot Coffee Ancho Chile Short Ribs from PaleOMG
Here’s a few Frankenstein, I mean Flanken-cut, recipes:
- Downhome Barbecue Beef Short Ribs from Tyler Florence – I would leave out the brown sugar and I think it would be just as delicious!
- Sun-Dried Tomato and Fennel Braised Short Ribs with Pepper and Carrot Puree from Arsy Vartanian – Oh, it all sound so good!
- Korean-Style Short Ribs from Mark’s Daily Apple - Sweetened with fruit and grilled.
- Korean BBQ Ribs (Kalbi) from Crunchy Mama
And some yummy Boneless short ribs noms for you to try:
- Braised Thai Green Curry with Boneless Beef Short Ribs from Nom Nom Paleo
- Oven Braised Mexican Beef from Nom Nom Paleo - Looks super easy to throw together!
- Barbecue Boneless Beef Short Ribs from The Domestic Man – Hickory smoked!
- Paleo Salsa Short Rib Stew from Meatified
- Tender Grilled Boneless Short Ribs from Serious Eats - So simple!
So as you can see, there is no shortage of mouth watering short ribs recipes out there. Do you have a favorite? Send it over and I will add it to the list!
A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for Homemade Almond Milk. If you guys have not tried making your own almond milk, you MUST try it! The process is super easy and the end result far superior to anything you can buy in a store. Plus, if you make your own almond milk, you get some bonus almond meal. This smoothie recipe uses both almond milk and almond meal. Don’t worry, if you don’t want to make your own almond milk, this recipe will be just as tasty with store bought almond milk and almond meal.
One of our very favorite smoothies right now is this Banana Bread Smoothie! I choose to use green bananas to decrease the sweetness a little, but if you like things a little sweeter, just use a riper banana, add in a date or two, or maybe add some maple syrup. The spices give the smoothie that familiar banana bread flavor and the almond milk gives it some texture.
Although the gelatin in this recipe is optional, I highly recommend adding it. It’s a great way to get a little more protein, get some good nourishment for you belly, and help out your hair, skin, and nails! No worries, since gelatin has no taste, you won’t even know it’s in there. Win, win!
Banana Bread Smoothie
- 1 Banana, sliced and frozen
- 1 Cup almond milk (homemade or a clean store bought version)
- 1-2 Tablespoons gelatin
- 2 Tablespoons almond meal
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional but delicious!)
What to do:
Place all of the ingredients in a blender or a magic bullet. Whir it up until smooth. Pour into a glass, sprinkle with cinnamon, and add a cool straw (I swear it makes the smoothie taste even better).
This recipe takes a bit of time, but it is so worth it! Plan it for a lazy Sunday dinner and you will not be disappointed. The sauce is actually quite easy to throw together. I wanted an quicker version of my Meat Sauce recipe, so I used some of the stronger flavors from that recipe and made a much simpler version. Get the sauce going and let it simmer while you tackle the eggplant slices.
The inspiration for this dish is eggplant parmesan. Since I no longer do gluten, breading is out. Off the cheese, so no mozzarella or parmesan. And I really like sausage, so that had to make an appearance.
To make this dish easy and low stress, prep everything before you get started! If you are not familiar with a breading station, I’m about to give you the low down. You will need 3 wide shallow dishes (like a flatter style bowl). I have breading station dishes from Pampered Chef, but whatever you already have in your kitchen will work just fine. The key to excellent tasting breading is layering. You want a flour type layer first, then an eggy liquid, then your breading of choice. I use this method all the time and it is no fail! (Check out my Coconut Fish Sticks for another example.) The other key is to pat dry the item you are about to coat in the three layers of breading. In this recipe we are breading and frying eggplant slices. They are already pretty dry, so you are good to go. If you were to try this method with a protein, I would recommend patting it dry with some paper towels before you start. Once the item is dry, dredge (AKA coat) it in the flour mixture. Tap it lightly to remove any excess flour. Next dip it in the egg, making sure it is completely covered. Finally, drop it into the breading mixture and gently press the breading onto it. Once again, shake it lightly to remove any excess and set it on a platter while you finish breading your other pieces. I find that letting the breaded pieces sit for 15 minutes or so lets everything set up and it fries a lot nicer.
Okay, ready to make dinner? Let’s go!
Sausage and Eggplant Stacks
Ingredients (for the sauce):
- 1 Tablespoon fat of your choice (I recommend ghee or lard for this application)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large sweet yellow onion, diced
- 2 pounds of pastured pork sausage, crumbled, browned, and drained of excess fat and liquid
- 28 ounce can of pureed organic tomatoes
- 6 ounce can of organic tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons Italian Herb Blend
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Ingredients (for the breaded eggplant slices):
- 1 large eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/4 inch slices
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/2 Tablespoon Italian Herb Blend
- Fat of choice for frying
What to do:
Start by preparing the sauce. In a large sauce pan or stockpot, melt the fat and saute the garlic and onions for 3-4 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients (sausage through basil) to the pot and stir well to combine. Cover and turn the heat to low. Allow the sauce to simmer while you prepare the eggplant slice. Stir occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Set up your breading station as described above. In the first dish mix the coconut flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Put the eggs in the second dish. In the third, stir together the almond flour, Italian herbs, and the other 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Prepare the eggplant slices per the above breading instructions. In a large frying pan, melt your fat over medium heat. You will need a few Tablespoons and will likely need to add more as you continue frying the eggplant. Once the fat is hot, add the slices in a single layer and do not crowd them. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until lightly golden. Place the slices on a tray in the preheated oven and continue frying in batches.
One all the eggplant slices have been fried, it’s time to eat. You can make it look pretty by layering a few slices of fried eggplant and then topping with the sauce and some fresh basil.
This recipe was shared at Savoring Saturdays.
Hi everyone! I’m pretty excited about this recipe because it is my first guest post over at Delicious Obsessions! This is a super simple meal to throw together at the last minute, but the layers of flavors make it seem much more complicated. Plus, it plates up nicely, making it a great option for a nice family meal or for guests. If you have some cod in the freezer, the rest of the ingredients are probably already in your fridge or pantry. Check out the recipe here!
So you may be thinking “Why would I make almond milk at home? I can buy it at the store. Seems like a waste of time.” I thought that for years. But I still rarely bought almond milk because I could never find a clean brand. Every one had additives, sweeteners, or preservatives of some sort. A few months ago, I decided to give it a try. Guess what? It’s super easy, tastes amazing, can be flavored to your liking, no junky stuff, AND since you soak the almonds for 12 hours before making the milk, you get all the benefits of soaked nuts (see my Crispy Nuts post).
You will need a few kitchen gadgets and gizmos for this project, but I had all of them on hand and only had to purchase cheesecloth. I have since purchased a nut milk bag and I love it! Get one, you will not regret it. (I know, it seems like a lot of money, but it will pay for itself in 4-5 batches of almond milk.)
Homemade Almond Milk
You will need:
- A blender (Of course, I would love a Vitamix, but alas I do not have one. My 13 year old blender does the job just fine.)
- A fine mesh strainer
- Cheesecloth (layered 3-4 times and large enough to fit over the mesh strainer) or a nut milk bag
- 4 cups of raw almonds
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
- Filtered water
What to do:
Twelve hours before you wish to make the almond milk, place the almonds in a large glass bowl, add the sea salt, and cover with filtered water. Make sure to add enough water to cover the nuts by about an inch. I place a large plate over the bowl to keep dust and whatnot from finding it’s way in there and set it aside on the countertop.
When it’s time to make the milk, drain the almonds and rinse them in cold water for a few seconds. Place the layered cheesecloth and mesh strainer over a bowl or place your nut milk bag over the bowl.
Put 2 cups of soaked nuts into your blender and add 3 cups of filtered water. Put the top on and blend away for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the contents of the blender jar into the cheesecloth lined strainer or the nut milk bag. Carefully gather up the sides and gently squeeze the contents (twisting from the top down). Alex refers to this part of the process as “milking the almonds”. Don’t squeeze too much or you will end up with a lot of almond meal in your milk. Reserve the nut pieces to make almond meal (see below).
Repeat with the remaining 2 cups of almonds. You will end up with 7-8 cups of almond milk. I like to store mine in quart size Mason jars. You will notice some separation within a few hours of refrigerating the milk. With the Mason jars, you can just shake it up and you are good to go.
I don’t flavor my almond milk, but feel free to add anything you like! Some suggestions: vanilla, cinnamon, honey, cocoa powder. Just pour the milk and desired flavoring back into the blender and whir it up!
So, not being one to waste anything, I encourage you to make some almond meal with the leftover nut pieces you reserved. Pull out your dehydrator (if you have one) or set your oven on the lowest temperature. Line the dehydrator trays (or a baking sheet) with parchment and spread the almond bits out in an even layer. 3-4 hours later you will have almond meal. It will be a little chunky, so go ahead and pulse it up in a food processor if you want. Store in the fridge. It’s great added to smoothies for a little extra protein and some crunchy goodness.
This recipe was shared on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday.