Category Archives: Guest Post

Caramel Slice Dessert

caramel-slice2Today I have a guest post from Sheeva who blogs at Health Wanderer. Sheeva has been on GAPS for almost one year and has had many symptoms disappear as her gut health improved. 

Hello everyone! I would like to thank Starlene for welcoming a guest post from me. When I first started searching the internet for GAPS-friendly recipes, finding Starlene’s blog was like being a kid and walking into a candy store. I thought being on a restrictive diet meant that all forms of delicious desserts and foods were gone to me, but boy was I wrong! A special favorite of mine are her pumpkin poppers so if you’ve missed them, be sure to check them out.

A little about myself – I am currently on the full GAPS diet and have been for almost a year now. I was diagnosed with leaky gut syndrome by a functional medicine doctor after years and years of confusing diagnoses and medications from other various doctors. I had many symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders, but no indications of actually having an autoimmune disorder. Needless to say, I was really frustrated until I was diagnosed with leaky gut and realized that I may finally have an answer to all of my various ailments. Healing my gut has been quite the journey and I am pleased to say that almost all of my symptoms (eczema, hair loss, bloating, etc) are GONE! The power of food as a healing agent is incredible and because of this I have started my own health and wellness blog. I share many GAPS-friendly recipes there as well as other health and wellness related articles.

Now, to the most important stuff – the Caramel Slice recipe! I currently live in Sydney, Australia where caramel slices are quite popular. I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun, so I came up with a GAPS-friendly alternative. I also wanted to make the recipe nut-free so I used a baked coconut flour [affiliate link] base to replicate the cookie portion of the slice. The crust is a recipe I modified from Eat Heal Thrive. This recipe is a lot of fun to make (and a lot of fun to eat) and will surely impress GAPS and non-GAPS dieters alike. I served this to two English friends who not only remarked at how amazingly similar it was to the caramel slices they have in the UK, but they said that they actually felt good after eating it, instead of the usual refined flour and sugar crash. I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do!

(Note from Starlene: The links below go to Tropical Traditions. If you purchase using my link, I will earn a discount coupon and you will receive a free copy of Virgin Coconut Oil: How It Has Changed Lives and How it Can Change Yours! Thank you for your support!)

Ingredients:

For the crust:

For the caramel:

For the chocolate:

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8×8 (or smaller)  baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl stir together the coconut flour and sea salt then add the remaining crust ingredients and stir well until combined into a gritty, but well-formed dough. Press into the lined pan and bake until the edges turn golden, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 20 minutes.
  4. Once 20 minutes has lapsed make the caramel layer in your food processor by adding all of the ingredients* to the processor bowl and processing until it all looks blended (usually it will clump into a huge ball in one side of the processor when it’s ready)**.
  5. Dust a cutting board with coconut flour, starting with a few tablespoons. Place the big ball of caramel on the coconut floured cutting board and cover all of it with coconut flour. Use the palms of your hands to flatten the caramel so that it is roughly the size of the pan. Add more coconut flour if you need, this step helps minimize the caramel sticking to your hands. Then carefully peel small portions of the flattened caramel (there’s no way to take the whole thing in one go) and place on top of the cooled crust and use your fingers (wearing gloves helps immensely) to gently press down.
  6. Repeat with remaining caramel mixture until it is all pressed on top of the crust and is somewhat uniform in thickness (doesn’t have to be perfect).
  7. For the chocolate, melt the coconut oil [affiliate link] over very low heat if it isn’t already melted. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients until well incorporated.
  8. Pour chocolate mixture on top of the caramel layer and place in fridge to cool for 2-3 hours. Remove from pan using the parchment paper, slice (I did mine in 9 squares), and enjoy! Store leftovers in the fridge for a  few days (though they didn’t last very long in my kitchen!).

Notes: * The Medjool dates I buy are soft enough that my processor can blend them easily. If your dates are very dry or your processor is not high powered, soak the dates in very hot water for about 5 minutes, drain well, and then add to the processor with the other ingredients.

**If you do not have a food processor, but have patience, then this can be done with your hands. Soak the dates in very hot water for 5 minutes, drain well, and then place in bowl and start mashing and kneading with your hands until the dates break down into a paste (will take 2-3 minutes). Add in remaining caramel ingredients and mix well with hands again.

Caramel Slice Dessert
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • For the crust:
  • ¼ cup, packed, coconut flour
  • pinch sea salt
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon honey [affiliate link]
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • For the caramel:
  • 1 heaping cup pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • coconut flour for dusting the cutting board
  • For the chocolate:
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup raw cacao (sub any cacao or cocoa here)
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8x8 (or smaller) baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl stir together the coconut flour and sea salt then add the remaining crust ingredients and stir well until combined into a gritty, but well-formed dough. Press into the lined pan and bake until the edges turn golden, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 20 minutes.
  4. Once 20 minutes has lapsed make the caramel layer in your food processor by adding all of the ingredients* to the processor bowl and processing until it all looks blended (usually it will clump into a huge ball in one side of the processor when it’s ready)**.
  5. Dust a cutting board with coconut flour, starting with a few tablespoons. Place the big ball of caramel on the coconut floured cutting board and cover all of it with coconut flour. Use the palms of your hands to flatten the caramel so that it is roughly the size of the pan. Add more coconut flour if you need, this step helps minimize the caramel sticking to your hands. Then carefully peel small portions of the flattened caramel (there’s no way to take the whole thing in one go) and place on top of the cooled crust and use your fingers (wearing gloves helps immensely) to gently press down.
  6. Repeat with remaining caramel mixture until it is all pressed on top of the crust and is somewhat uniform in thickness (doesn’t have to be perfect).
  7. For the chocolate, melt the coconut oil over very low heat if it isn’t already melted. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients until well incorporated.
  8. Pour chocolate mixture on top of the caramel layer and place in fridge to cool for 2-3 hours. Remove from pan using the parchment paper, slice (I did mine in 9 squares), and enjoy! Store leftovers in the fridge for a few days (though they didn’t last very long in my kitchen!).
  9. Notes: *The Medjool dates that I buy are soft enough that my processor can blend them no problem. If your dates are very dry or your processor is weaker, soak the dates in very hot water for about 5 minutes, drain well, and then add to the processor with the other ingredients. **If you do not have a food processor, but have patience, then this can be done with your hands. Soak the dates in very hot water for 5 minutes, drain well, and then place in bowl and start mashing and kneading with your hands until the dates break down into a paste (will take 2-3 minutes). Add in remaining caramel ingredients and mix well with hands again.

 

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If you love desserts like this, I have two cookbooks you really need to check out ASAP! Naturally Sweetened Treats for gluten-free dessert needs and Baker’s Dozen Volume 4, Chocolate Treats for amazing chocolate desserts and snacks.

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GAPS DIET JOURNEY is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to AMAZON.COM. GAPS DIET JOURNEY is an affiliate for several companies and may be compensated through advertising and marketing channels. Therefore, this post may contain affiliate links.

Is Fast Food Getting Any Better for You?

Today I have a guest post from Mark Sisson, the blogger from Mark's Daily Apple.

Fast food seems like it’s getting better.

Sure, the classic kings of the industry still remain. Taco Bell continues to churn out ever-more ridiculous-sounding bastardizations of Mexican food. McDonald’s reign is on the decline, but the golden arch empire puts the Mongols’ empire at its height to shame. And you can always go to Wendy’s for your square burger fix. C’mon, though: if you’re relying on the likes of Taco Bell or KFC for your caloric intake, you’ve already given up on life.

But when a person can walk into Chipotle and get a tub of presumably-cruelty-free meat, guacamole, lettuce, and grilled vegetables for under $10, haven’t we reached the promised land of healthy, affordable eating? The vegans can have their quinoa and the paleos can have their carnitas. Everyone’s happy.

Except real students of nutrition and healthy eating know that much of what passes for healthy fast-casual food can still be improved upon. What we have, while better, simply isn’t good enough.

Better burger joints let you ditch buns for lettuce wraps, but the meat by and large still comes from CAFOs.

You can often sub out fries for grilled veggies, but they’re invariably doused in vegetable oil.

Salad options exist, but they pour a quarter cup of sugar-sweetened, seed oil-based dressing on them.

As I see it, these guys are simply rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. An iceberg made of nutritional awareness, partially forged by folks in the ancestral health movement, threatens to wreck their livelihood. They can either continue toward disaster or change course. They’re trying to change course, but it’s slow going, they’re manning massive ships, they’re operating on bad information, and they still have millions of customers who expect things done a certain way — the old way.

Things are changing, and several growing trends give me hope. The food truck craze sweeping the nation has kickstarted an exciting new medium for food. Legions of mobile restaurants helmed by exciting, innovative chefs with vision, agility, and low overhead are changing the scope of food in this country, bringing incredible food at lower prices and higher quality. There are even full-on paleo/Primal food trucks.

The farm-to-table movement is bigger than ever (well, in this century, at least). Grass-fed beef, local poultry, and wild-caught seafood are no longer rare menu items, but calling cards and outright staples for an increasing number of new restaurants.

Even Chipotle finally ditched the soybean oil with which they laced everything on the menu, switching instead to rice bran oil. Hey, it ain’t EVOO or lard, and it was more about eliminating GMOs than high omega-6 seed oils, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Still, not everyone has access to food trucks and hip eateries with close ties to local farmers. And Google’s autofill has a disconcerting tendency to associate “Chipotle” with “causes diarrhea.”

There have got to be better, more democratic ways to get good food quickly.

Some suggest we should learn to make do with what’s available at existing restaurants. It’s possible, sure. With my travel schedule, I’m always zipping around the country and going abroad. Since I can’t just eating anything if I want to be at my best, I’ve become a pro at divining the healthiest, most nutrient-dense fare in the saddest of chain restaurants. I know which places will usually “cook my eggs [affiliate link] in butter” or “have real olive oil in the oil and vinegar spouts.”

That’s me, though. I basically do this stuff for a living. Scanning a menu and figuring out what’s good is like breathing at this point. Most people aren’t going to take the time to pick through the meager offerings to find something worth using to fuel their mitochondria.

If you can:

  • Imagine a world where you don’t have to wonder what exactly goes into the special sauce.
  • Imagine where you can rest assured that the cooks aren’t dropping frozen hunks of potato into vats of rancid vegetable oil that hasn’t been changed in a week.
  • Think of a restaurant where you can walk in and order anything with supreme confidence that it’s going to taste good and be good for you. A restaurant without questionable ingredients or protocols, where you can finally “just order” without a laundry list of substitutions.

Sounds pretty great, right? So why hasn’t such a restaurant gotten off the ground, or gained widespread acceptance?

Let’s face it: we’re still a vocal minority. We who care about what our meat ate. We who seek the provenance of a cooking oil. We who are willing to read blogs and buy cookbooks and spend money and time on good food. Most people simply aren’t prepared to give a damn about what they’re eating as long as it tastes good. And that’s totally expected. The desire for good tasting food is innate in all animals. Good food is, well, good.

That’s also why obesity continues to progress, with over 28% of Americans reporting being clinically obese. Before the naysayers arrive: yes, they use BMI to quantify the obesity rates and yes, on an individual basis BMI can misdiagnose the muscle-bound as obese or overweight, but at the population level BMI is fairly accurate. And while diabetes rates in the US are slowing, they’re not dropping and they’re still rising, just at a lower rate.

I’m no pessimist. In many respects, people are getting healthier. McDonald’s, as I alluded to earlier, has taken some serious financial hits. They realize that people are realizing their food is slowly killing them. Coca-Cola is getting desperate enough to fund researchers to promote the idea that it’s physical inactivity, not the sugar water people pump into their bodies, that’s making Americans fat. People are drinking less and less soda each year. Fast food is in decline. People are ready for something different, something better.

Given our collective desire for delicious food, healthy food can’t be health food. You don’t call it health food, because that conjures horrifying imagery of cardboard veggie burgers and non-fat sour cream (how do they even make that stuff?). It has to taste great before anything else. And that’s the cool thing about the prospect of healthy Primal-friendly fast-food. It would taste damn good. It’s great food that happens to be full of micronutrients, healthy fats, protein, and absent refined grains, sugar, and processed seed oils that are the hallmark of what most people consider to be tasty fast food.

Five years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible, but I recently announced the start of something very cool and very new in the fast food arena: Primal Kitchen Restaurant franchising. All those perfect restaurant fantasies mentioned above? That’s the precise basis for the franchising system we’ve devised. I’m pleased and honored to be a part of the growing trend toward better-tasting and healthier fast food, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

One thing is certain, though.

We’ll win this one, guys. People care too much about what they eat–and how they feel–for us not to.

If you’d like to learn more about opening your own Primal Kitchen franchise restaurant, contact Mark Sisson here and he’ll be in touch shortly.

GAPS DIET JOURNEY is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to AMAZON.COM. GAPS DIET JOURNEY is an affiliate for several companies and may be compensated through advertising and marketing channels. Therefore, this post may contain affiliate links.