Chocolate Apricot Paleo Energy Bar


Choc_Power_Bar

This is an excellent recipe, which has been sitting in my queue to share with you all for a long time! I made these some time ago and wrote it up as a guest post on http://www.carlmason-liebenberg.com, and the original post is here if you’d like to see it. Actually, once you’ve had a chance to read through this post, I recommend loading up the previous version. It’s a lot more wordy, and I was using a completely different recipe writing style back then (amateur…), so it may be quite interesting to take a peak at what my writing looked like in the early days of UPC. Maybe you’ll decide you liked it better, and ask me to post like that again from time to time… who knows!

Choc_Power_Bar-Ingredients

Chocolate Paleo Energy Bar; What you’ll need:

  • 1 & ½ cups pitted dates, finely diced
  • 1 cup dried apricots, finely diced
  • ½ cup sliced raw unsalted almonds, sliced (soaked, if possible)
  • ½ cup raw unsalted pecans, sliced (soaked, if possible)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

Prep time: About 1 hour (15 minutes if you use a food processor)
Choc_Power_Bar-Pre-MixedServes: 6-10

1. Dump all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and shake it around a bit to start combining them.
Note: When I have time, I buy the almonds and pecans whole so that I can soak them for a day. To save time (like I did in the above picture), you can use the pre-sliced versions.

Choc_Power_Bar-Mixed2. Using your bare hands (please wash first…) thoroughly mix the ingredients, kneading it in the mixing bowl like you would knead bread.
This is challenging because you’re trying to mix the dried fruit with powdered chocolate and other dry ingredients. This tends to be quite gooey, and not easy to mix.

3. Continue kneading it until you can roll it up in to a mostly uniform-looking ball, leaving no ingredients behind in the mixing bowl.

4. On an oiled cutting board, carefully press that chocolate ball out to a square-shape approximately 1 & ½ inches thick (about 4 centimeters thick), and as wide and tall as it needs to be to get that thickness.
Mine was about 7 inches square (about 18 centimeters square).

Choc_Power_Bar-Pre-Cut

5. Cut 1-inch (2-3 centimeters) thick bars, no more than 4 inches long (10 centimeters).

Serving:

This will definitely help you replenish lost salt after a workout (or during) – and it will make you thirsty. So when you eat this, make sure you have some water handy!

Choc_Power_Bar

Desert Bar Modifications:

Use this instead of the same ingredients above:

  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (instead of 1/3 cup)
    Note: More cocoa powder will give this more cocoa flavor – I like my cocoa dark and rich, so I use the full 1/3 cup. If you prefer more of the other flavors and ingredients; use the reduced amount suggested here.
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt (just enough)

Add this:

  • Heat ½ cup coconut cream (add honey as desired) for 5 minutes on medium-low
  • Pour heated coconut cream over bars
  • Let bars cool in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving

If you’re going to make this as a desert bar, please follow this recipe ahead of time and try it yourself. Know what you’re making, and be sure that this is the right recipe for your audience. It is for any party that I’m invited to, that’s for sure!

And finally, enjoy!

Coconut Crusted Chocolate Covered Lychee


CoconutChocolateLychee

UPC’s Coconut Chocolate Lychee

I was given this idea by Hari Qhuang, of Hari’s Got Tales!” in a comment he posted on my blog not too long ago. I was so excited by the idea that I asked him how it was done. He responded that he didn’t really know, and gave me “creative license” to go and try my own version of it. Well, this is what happens when you give UPC some Creative License! Let that be a lesson to all you who are considering asking me to come up with a way to make this or that!

CoconutChocolateLychee-Background

CoconutChocolateLychee-LycheesCoconut Chocolate Lychee; What you’ll need:

  • 10-15 Lychee Fruits, peeled, halved and pitted (bonus points if you can get the pit out without cutting the Lychee in half!)
  • 4 oz Dark Chocolate (Only the best! I used Organic Nectars 70% Dark)
  • 1 cup Shredded Coconut (Organic please!)

Serves: Umm… 1? 2? 5? It depends on whether you let other people taste it before you do!
Cook and Prep Time: 120 minutes, at least.

1. Peel, half, and pit the Lychees. Put these on a plate to dry for an hour.
Note: If you have the patience: put them in a dehydrator for the hour, or in the oven at 150 or so for the hour. If you can’t do that, it’s ok. I just let them sit, and the recipe works fine if they can air-dry for an hour.

2. Put a thick bed of shredded coconut on a large plate.

3. Heat up the chocolate bar in a pot and let it cool for 5-10 minutes until the chocolate is thick, like molasses.

CoconutChocolateLychee-ChocolateAndCoconutChocolate4. Drop the now-dried (or air-dried) lychee halves in the chocolate and roll the chocolate around to cover them with a thick coat of chocolate.

5. Rest the lychee halves on the shredded coconut carefully.
Note: I used chopsticks to pull the chocolate-covered lychee halves out of the chocolate; tongs likely will work well too.

6. Cover the chocolate covered lychee halves with a copious amount of shredded coconut, pushing the coconut up around the outside of the lychee. You should have little mounds of shredded coconut on your plate, with the chocolate covered lychee  in the middle.

7. Cover the plate (lightly!) with tin-foil or wax paper, and put it in the fridge to let the coconut-chocolate-lychees cool and harden.

8. After about an hour, take them out and “break up” the shredded coconut mounds, and brush off the extra coconut from the chocolate covered lychee halves. There will be quite a bit of leftover shredded coconut (for you to munch on, of course!).

9. (Optional) Use the leftover chocolate as a “garnish” on the chocolate covered lychee halves.

Now serve, and enjoy!!

CoconutChocolateLychee-FinishingTouches

What’s For Breakfast? Paleo Chocolate-Bar Omelet


ChocolateCoconutPlatanosMadurosOmelet

UPC’s Paleo Chocolate Bar Omelet

I’m a very playful guy. I love to run, jump, spin… There are few things in the world that are more gratifying to me than attempting something, and failing. Don’t ask me why, I don’t really have a good answer; though I am certain that it’s related to my “muchness” as Johnny Depp so adroitly described Alice’s childlike wonder and fearlessness in Alice In Wonderland. But landing flat on my butt in green grass under a blue sky after an awesome attempt at something both exciting and stupid is precisely what I envision when I think of “what would I rather be doing right now?” Except when I’m blogging, of course. This, much to my surprise and delight, has not turned out to be me, rubbing my butt as I stand up off the grass and attempt to figure out how to do it right the next time.

My playfulness translates in to the kitchen as well. I like to play with ingredients, experiment, and actually just being playful in general. I’m a very playful guy, and I can’t think of a time in my life when I didn’t want to spend time being playful. Being playful in the kitchen is somewhat more challenging; there are rules in there, sharp instruments and objects, dangerous surfaces… But my playfulness will not be overcome!
I’ve been spending a lot of time experimenting with cocoa nibs recently. They’re a touchy flavor, and so I’ve been hesitant with them for a long time. Now I look back and wonder “what took me so long?” As touchy a flavor as they are in the raw, they turn out to be amazingly adept at blending their savory chocolate goodness with just about anything I’ve managed to throw their way!

UPC’s Paleo Chocolate Bar Omelet; What you’ll need:

  • 4 eggs (Use the good stuff if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons Cocoa Nibs
  • 2 tablespoons Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Baked Sweet Plantain, chopped (prepare your Baked Maduros ahead of time)
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook time: 40 minutes

1. In a pot, add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, the cocoa nibs, and the chopped maduros. Cook on medium-low heat, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

2. Add the shredded coconut to the pot, and continue to cook while you make the omelet. Continue to stir regularly.

3. Heat up the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil in an omelet pan on medium-high heat.

4. Pour the eggs in to the pan and cook, covered, for 2-3 minutes.

5. When the eggs are about 2/3 cooked, or about 2-3 minutes after adding them to the omelet pan, pour the cocoa nibs, shredded coconut, and sweet plantain mixture on to one side of the omelet. Continue to cook, covered, until the omelet is fully cooked through.

6. Serve, and enjoy!

What’s For Dinner? Spicy Coconut Shrimp and Stir Fry Vegetables


Shrimp_StirFry

UPC’s Spicy Shrimp is becoming a summer favorite!

The “Super Moon” here in NYC was absolutely amazing over the weekend! I happened to be out for a quick run on Sunday evening as the moon was rising. The path that I run is right by the Hudson River, and has a full view of NYC over the water. It’s an amazing place to run in general, with the water keeping the air cool, and the smells of the river mixing with the manicured grass and trees that people keep as their lawns along the River Walk. On super-moon night, nearly every free space along the railing was taken up by people with tripods and cameras, waiting for that perfect shot. And Sunday night was the night for perfect shots!
Since I was running, I didn’t need to be right on the railing and so I had a fairly unobstructed view. The sight of the moon peaking between the buildings of NYC was stunning. It was so impressive that I actually had to stop and watch – it was a picture that I hope I will never forget! Obviously, the cameras around me were clicking furiously. But while they were cataloging the picture, I was viewing it through my own eyes, enjoying the sight unobstructed. It was amazing.

Spicy Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry; What you’ll need:

  • Spicy Shrimp:
  • 1 lb Wild Caught Shrimp (mine is Argentine Red)
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Butter
  • Spices: Turmeric and Oregano
  • Stir-Fry Vegetables:
  • Carrots, long-cut
  • Mushrooms, quartered (Crimini or Button)
  • Green Olives, hand-broken
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • Spices: Fresh black pepper, Thyme, Marjoram
  • Side Salad:
  • Avocado
  • Tomato

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 25 minutes

1. In a pan, combine the shrimp, coconut oil, and coconut butter. Cook on high, covered, until at a rolling boil.

2. In a separate pan, combine the coconut oil and carrots. Cook on medium for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Once the shrimp is at a rolling boil, remove the cover and add the spices; stir the spices in thoroughly. Let this boil down on high heat for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. After 5 minutes of cook time for the carrots, add the mushrooms and olives.

5. Let the vegetables cook for another 3-5 minutes before adding the spices; continuing to stir occasionally.

6. As the water in the shrimp cooks down, start to stir more frequently. This should be after about 15 minutes of cooking, but may be sooner depending on the stove.

7. The shrimp is done when the coconut butter starts to stick to the shrimp, sticking the herbs and spices on to the shrimp for serving.

I really love this recipe, and we eat different variations of the spiced shrimp often. Some of the time we use hot spices, like a chile pepper spice mix or a mustard spice mix, while other times we use more savory flavors as we did in today’s post. No matter how you do it though, the coconut butter will cook up beautifully, grabbing the spices in the pan and sticking to the shrimp. The result is a delicious, savory treat, filled with the flavors of cooked shrimp and spice!

What’s For Dinner? Lemongrass Coconut Scallops


CoconutLemongrassScallops

Lemongrass Coconut Scallops with squeezed lime, Avocado and a Side Salad

What a crazy couple of weeks for me! I’ve been keeping you all more or less informed as my time has passed, but it occurred to me and my wife on the way home yesterday that we haven’t had a weekend in our apartment in more than a month. And what’s more: we have only had 1 weekend in our apartment over nearly 2 months! We spent 2 weekends in a row in Washington DC. We followed that by a relaxed weekend in, preparing to head to Cartagena. We then spent two weekends there in Cartagena. And the past two weekends, we have been at the family lake house in the Poconos. So, 1 weekend in 7. And we’ll likely be around this coming weekend, which will make 2 weekends in 8. That’s a lot of weekends out! We’re happy. We’re tired; but we’re happy.

Today’s dinner is all about recovery. It’s a delicious meal planned around one of my favorite seafood entrees: Scallops. I love scallops, when they’re done right. Adding to scallops some of the Caribbean cooking that I picked up down there, I slow-cooked my scallops in some coconut oil, and added that Caribbean citrus flavor with some lemongrass. What an amazing flavor!

Lemongrass Coconut Scallops; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Scallops
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Mana (or coconut butter)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 tablespoons Black Pepper, fresh ground (if possible)
  • 3 inches Lemongrass, finely sliced
  • 1 inch Ginger, finely chopped (but not quite diced)
  • 1 large Lime
  • 1 large Avocado
  • Arugula
  • 1 large Carrot, chopped

Serves: 2

Put the scallops in a pan on medium heat with the coconut oil and coconut mana. Start to heat up the scallops on that medium temperature while you slice and dice the lemongrass and ginger. Once the lemongrass and ginger are ready, add them to the pan and stir vigorously, making sure that most of the scallops have even access to the lemongrass and ginger in the pan.

If you’re using frozen scallops, I would suggest heating them in just the coconut oil and coconut mana for at least 15 minutes, covered. When I am thawing out my meals, I almost never use a microwave – I just adjust my cooking technique and timing to allow for the meat to thaw in the cooking process. I have found that cooking a steak or shrimp from frozen is actually quite effective, and because I am cooking with oil the moisture of the meat often gets “sealed” in the meat, leaving me with a very satisfyingly juicy end product. In many ways I prefer to use frozen meat now that I’m used to it. I’ve read that frozen meat and seafood are often the freshest way to get them, since they’re often frozen right in the processing facility. For seafood especially, this can mean a very big difference between excellent and merely acceptable end results.

Let the scallops cook for approximately 10 minutes per side, flipping them with tongs in between. As soon as you’re ready to flip the scallops the first time, sprinkle some black pepper on the scallop just before flipping it, so that the pepper will cook in to the scallop. Pepper the up facing side too, after flipping. Apply pepper very lightly, as you don’t want to taste the pepper, it’s there just to enhance the flavor of the coconut. And of course, prepare the avocado and the salad as you’re waiting for the scallops to cook. As a note on the above: if you’re using frozen scallops, you may want to double your cook time, cooking each side of the scallop for 20 minutes at 10 minutes per side, for a total of 40 minutes of cooking.

Questions:

  • When you’re happily exhausted, what comfort foods do you turn to?
  • When you’ve been traveling, what meals do you cook to help your body relax, settle back in at home, and recover from the traveling?

CoconutLemongrassScallops1

What’s For Lunch? – Double Coconut Salmon with Side Salad


CoconutSalmonHash

Continuing the Caribbean theme with the coconut and fish (salmon in this case), and of course using up the rest of my pineapple, this lunch is an excellent meal to bring to work and chow down to your heart’s content at lunch!

No Colombia story today… Instead, I’ll share a different story which is fresh in my mind, and will likely be forgotten if I don’t tell it now! I’ve been fearing for a few weeks now that the heat would likely soon get in the way of me running to work. I can take off my suit coat for a while, once it gets to that, but that will only be a temporary solution. The truth is that I do most of my training wearing very little clothing, and my morning runs to the ferry are done wearing quite a lot more. The difference, while it is likely good for me to change up my “training” a bit, also increases the probability of me sweating too much in my suit.

Anyway, as I was considering whether we had gotten there yet this morning, and dodging the generally ever-present goose droppings on the path, I noticed that the goose droppings were likely more than I am used to seeing. So I started to pay attention. I like that running gives me a chance to keep an eye on the changes that are happening to my neighborhoods, since I am actively engaged in that very neighborhood daily! Well, looking around at the larger than usual number of goose droppings, I immediately noticed that the geese were leading around their little herd of goslings! I just love goslings! They look like furballs, literally, and waddle around in a straight line behind the goose who is leading them (often the mother, but the mother and father work together actively so it’s usually difficult to tell which is at the head at any given time). They are SO CUTE!

And that, to me, is the surefire sign that Spring is over, and Summer is upon us. That and the fact that I’m wondering, every day now, whether it will be my last fully suited run to the ferry.

What you’ll need:

  • The Salmon:
  • 1 can Wild-Caught Salmon
  • 1/2 cup Celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Chips
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • The Salad:
  • Salad Greens (this was the “spring mix”)
  • 1 small Zucchini, sliced
  • 1 large Avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 Leek stalk, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Pineapple, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Flaxseed
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook time: About 20 minutes (mostly prep)

In a pan, heat up the celery and mushrooms with the coconut oil on a medium heat. Stir these slowly but regularly for the first 1-2 minutes. After about 2-3 minutes these should start to sizzle. As soon as they’re sizzling, add the salmon and coconut chips and mix thoroughly. Keep this on the heat for about 1 more minute, stirring regularly, and then remove. The cooking is done. Leave these on the stove while they cool a bit, and tend to the salad.

The Salmon is pre-cooked as part of the canning process, so there’s no ingredient which actually needs to be cooked to eat like this. The most important part of the cooking process is imbuing the ingredients with the coconut flavors. This comes first from the coconut oil, where the flavor of coconut is very subtle, but will cook in to the food quickly. Then these come from the coconut chips which carry the coconut flavor strongly, and will pass that flavor on to anything it is cooked with. The result is quite delicious!

The salad on the side will compliment the salmon quite delightfully! Not only does it use up the leftover pineapple from my Pineapple Beef post, but pineapple is quite a delicious fruit, and can be eaten alone, along with many other meals! I am a big fan of pineapple in almost all of it’s forms, and love to eat it when it’s in season.

Questions:

  • Have you seen any of the spring/summer animals out to play and be social yet? Squirrels, birds, baby raccoons? Which ones do you look for each year?
  • Have you been startled by some of the early summer wildlife on your walks and runs in the woods or parks recently? Grouse, baby deer?
  • Have you enjoyed any of the wonderfully beautiful early summer flowers? Which ones? Which are your favorite?

What’s For Dinner? Pineapple Beef!


PineappleBeef

I just got back from Cartagena, Colombia, where my wife and I spent 9 exciting and fun-filled days! We brought home a bag full of memories, some great food shots (haven’t been fully processed yet) and a great tan! It is hot there in Cartagena, at least for the likes of a northerner like myself. So, keep tuned through the week for some of my Cartagena stories, some food shots once we’ve gotten settled back in and had a chance to process the photos, and some more of my own versions of Caribbean food!

This is a little taste of Urban Paleo Chef’s Caribbean food, with much more to come! It’s a quick, simple meal designed with the Caribbean traditions in mind. I loved it, and I hope you will too!

What you’ll need:

  • 1lb Ground Beef
  • 2 cups Pineapple, chopped
  • 2 cups Celery, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 1 large Avocado

In a pan add the ground beef and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil; cook on medium, covered. My experience of Caribbean food is all about the combination of otherwise striking flavors. In today’s recipe, I combine the bright, sweet flavor of a coconut-seared pineapple with the rich flavor of been for a delightful dish that I definitely recommend. As soon as the beef starts to make the “sizzling” sound that let’s you know it’s cooking, add the pineapple and celery. We want to add the pineapple as early as possible, since the flavor of the cooked pineapple is such an important part of this dish. Similarly, the celery needs to be there to “temper” the sweet flavor of the pineapple a bit, while bringing out the bright fruitiness. I know it sounds like you can’t do both, but give this a try and I assure you that you’ll be as delighted as I was!

With the beef cooking, add the carrots to a small pot with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and about 1/4 cup of water. Cook these on high, covered until the water is at a rolling boil, then uncover. The flavor of the coconut oil with the lightly steamed carrots is amazing. As carrots are a root vegetable, they are often utilized for their rich, earthy flavor, and the carotene that they have in abundance. I have discovered that a quick steaming, followed by a little bit of cooking in coconut oil can really bring out the sweetness of the carrots, and the resulting flavor is quite delicious!

While the beef and carrots cook, slice up the avocado. Avocado is a huge Caribbean tradition! They are everywhere in Colombia, and the Caribbean – they literally grow on trees down there! Every meal, including many restaurant breakfasts, is served with avocado. And I approve!

Cook the beef, stirring regularly, along with the pineapple until the pineapple starts to show to sings of browning. Take a quick peak at the picture at the top again for an example of this. You want the pineapple to just get started caramelizing before you serve the meal. And as soon as the beef is done, everything else should be too! Enjoy!

Questions:

  • Have you taken a trip anywhere recently?
  • I love having a spring trip to star the summer off – what is you favorite part of the Caribbean? And why?
  • What kinds of Caribbean meals are you most keen on me sharing? There are a lot of them, and I ate a good portion of what Colombia has to offer; so choose wisely!