DIY Coconut Milk + Currant Tea Cake + Crackers + Coconut Latte (AIP-friendly)

Currant Tea Cake & Coconut Rooibos Lattes
An AIP tea party: Currant Tea Cake & Coconut Rooibos Lattes

Make your own Coconut Milk!

Use it for your own nefarious purposes or make Coconut Lattes.

Use the coconut that’s leftover from the milk-making to create a Tea Cake or crunchy Crackers.

Find all those recipes here!

Coconut Milk

I experimented with Coconut Milk recipes from The Paleo Mom & Phoenix Helix before I came up with my own version. Read about my thrilling early coconut milk experiments here.

  • 1½ cups loosely-packed ground coconut
  • 2½ cups freshly boiled water, cooled slightly

Grind coconut in a blender before measuring. 3 cups of coconut chips (I use Wilderness Family Naturals brand) makes about 1½ cups of loosely-packed ground coconut.

Whirl ground coconut & hot water in the blender for 3-4 minutes.

Pour mixture through a nut milk bag into a bowl. Use an elastic band to attach the bag to the blender carafe to gently shake all the coconut slurry in. If your bag doesn’t have a drawstring, you can use the elastic band to hang the bag from a cupboard knob over the bowl until the contents are just cool enough to squeeze all the coconut milk out (just like milking a cow!)

Refrigerate the coconut milk for curries, smoothies or any recipe calling for full-fat coconut milk, or use it while it’s still hot to make Coconut Chai Lattes.

Use the damp coconut flour to make AIP-friendly Currant Tea Cake or Coconut Plantain Crackers.

Here are those recipes!

Coconut Latte (AIP-friendly)

  • Hot coconut milk (see recipe, above)
  • Rooibos tea (or green tea or black tea or coffee, as you like)
  • Ground cloves (optional)

Brew your tea or coffe. Whirl your hot coconut milk & cinnamon in a blender to froth. Fill mugs ½ or more with tea or coffee & top with frothy coconut milk. Optionally, dust with ground cloves.

Currant Tea Cake (AIP-friendly)

Preheat oven to 350

  • ¾ cup damp coconut leftover from making coconut milk (that’s how much is left when I make the coconut milk recipe, above)
  • 1 ripe plantain
  • ¼ melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mace
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup currants
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a food processor until a batter is formed. In a bowl, mix the batter with the currents & lemon zest.

Press into a greased 8×8 baking dish & bake for 45 minutes or until browned.

Coconut Plantain Crackers (AIP-friendly)

This recipe is adapted from the brilliant Plantain Cracker recipe by The Paleo Mom.

  • ¾ cup damp coconut leftover from making coconut milk (that’s how much is left when I make the coconut milk recipe, above)
  • 2 average sized green plantains
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 300

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whirl all ingredients in a food processor until a smooth puree is formed, 2-4 minutes.

Use a spatula to smooth the hummus-like batter as thin as possible without coming apart. Square the edges.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and score the crackers.

Place back in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown.

According to The Paleo Mom, greener plantains take longer to bake & taste better.

Hey! Let’s level up to an Extreme Autoimmune Protocol (X-AIP)

We’re on day 6 of our Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & unexpectedly we’re about to level up to an X-AIP (I just made that up) on January 1st.

But first some AIP observations:

Petra: On day 4 of our AIP I experienced a dramatic, disconcerting (almost obscene, in fact) increase in my energy. In my normal life I’m pretty paleo pure, so it’s intriguing that removing nuts, seeds & eggs (I usually avoid nightshades) & increasing bone broth makes such a noticeable difference to a person without an Autoimmune Condition.

I have this zingy vitality that I didn’t achieve on my first AIP until near the end of the 30 days, and gradually lost through the fall after reverting to regular paleo. I had no adverse reactions to reintroducing eggs, nuts & seeds, just a very slow return to my normal paleo tiggerishness. And my normal paleo tiggerishness is so much finer than my pre-paleo state that I didn’t mourn the loss of AIP-vigour.

But now that I have this vivacity coursing through my system again I’m wondering how I can ever go back. It actually feels like my electrical circuits have almost too much energy running through them, certainly more than they are accustomed to handling.

Matthew: Matthew is the one with the autoimmune condition. By the end of day 5 of our AIP (last night) Matthew experienced a sudden shift, too. He describes it as an ‘easing of the fracturing of consciousness’ that happens when he continually lives with pain and nausea. This fracturing is usually accompanied by a withdrawal from the world; I think it’s the same instinct that causes an animal to retreat into a cave, waiting to heal or die.

I have watched Matthew withdraw, and struggle against withdrawing, for years as he has tried to manage severe chronic pain & the side effects from medications. An alleviation of this fracturing of consciousness, even for a day, is interesting.

He has not experienced a reduction in pain or nausea, but an increase in his ability to manage both.

Based on the research I have done, we weren’t expect any noticeable progress for Matthew for months, especially as he noticed no improvement at all during our 30 day AIP last July. But, notably, since our 30-day AIP last summer his psoriasis has been markedly improved.

Levelling up to Extreme-AIP

In my ongoing quest for more information I’ve learned a lot about AIP variations, including that we’ve been tinkering with this AIP thing since our ineffectual 4-month stint on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet in 2009.

The Paleo Mom has a blog post specifically addressing psoriasis. Matthew’s most challenging autoimmune condition is psoriatic arthritis, a form of arthritis that develops in 10-15% of people with psoriasis. The Paleo Mom asserts that regular paleo is likely to make psoriasis worse (something Matthew experienced). She explains that “psoriasis is also an indicator of a severely leaky gut (that’s how we develop the autoimmunity in the first place), with a very high likelihood of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.”

After learning that just this week, Matthew decided to go Extreme-AIP. He concluded that there is no point in continuing to feed a Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth that may be at the root of his psoriasis & arthritis with the sugars & carbohydrates found in fruit, berries, plantains, squash & root vegetables that are still legal on the AIP. So he’s attempt to get a clean slate by starving out the bacterial beasties, before returning to the comparatively easygoing AIP.

Here’s a food pyramid (version 1.0) I built for our X-AIP. It’s a 1.0 version because I’m still just figuring this out (& this is an area of inquiry that is innovating rapidly) so I expect there may be mistakes & omissions.

X-AIP food pyramid

The Origin of Autoimmune?

Matthew’s psoriasis developed when he was about 8, after his dad left the family. He has always assumed that the onset of his psoriasis was stress related, but since doing this research I have a new hypothesis.

When Matthew’s dad moved out, his stay-at-home mum was left a single parent of 4 kids, and had to go back to shift-work as a nurse. Having been a cash-strapped single mum myself, I’m imagining there was interval (perhaps even an era) when money was scarce, and lots of cheap starches and less protein would have been the norm for Matthew’s family.

That sounds like a perfect recipe for leaky gut & an autoimmune response in a kid who had that genetic predisposition.

Paleo Nachos with Ground Elk & Green Apple Guacamole (AIP-friendly)

AIP Fiesta!
AIP Fiesta!

There is no need for deprivation on an Autoimmune Protocol!

Start by making the chips, then you can cook the meat & assemble the guacamole while they bake. Half an hour from start to fiesta!

Nachos

Nacho recipe from Well-fed 2 by Melissa Joulwan.

  • 2 green plantains
  • Salt
  • Turmeric

Preheat oven to 350.

Line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

To peel plantains, cut through the skin lengthwise with a sharp knife & remove the skin in strips. Slice the plantains on the thinnest setting with a mandolin slicer, and arrange in in slightly overlapping chips of 3 & 4 plantains each.

Sprinkle with salt & turmeric, then bake for 20 minutes until brown & crispy.

Elk

Of course you can use any meat…

  • Bacon fat or coconut oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1lb ground elk
  • Dried basil, oregano & thyme

Brown the onion in fat. Add the ground elk & herbs. Fry until cooked through.

Green Apple Guacamole

Feel free to add garlic if you like, but our AIP is garlic-free.

  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1 granny smith apple, finely diced
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro

Combine & serve with warm ground elk & crispy plantain nachos.

 

Emerald City Soup (AIP-friendly)

Emerald Soup

You know you need to eat your greens to get to the Emerald City. This soup gets you onto the yellow brick expressway… and it’s Autoimmune Protocol friendly!

Yield: 3 bowls full

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, including stems
  • 2 bunches spinach (or ½ of a 1lb bin of prewashed baby spinach)
  • 1 ½ cups chopped honeydew or watermelon
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • ½ cup coconut aminos

Whirl all ingredients in a food processor.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Feel great!

Why the #%^&* would you want to make your own coconut milk?

(*Note: Find my updated Coconut Milk recipe here.)

Even when I went through my raw vegan phase, I never made my own nut milk.

I bought pre-made almond milk, and then coconut milk when it became fashionable, in cartons. That was before I knew about the deleterious effects of carrageenan.

I kept drinking those tetra packs of watery milk-substitute throughout my first year of paleo. It wasn’t until I did my first autoimmune protocol (AIP) last July that I stopped needing something white in my coffee or tea.

But it turns out (I love irony!) that on the verge of my second AIP, I am reintroducing coconut milk.

Making coconut milk is easy.

And the result is divinely better than the stuff in cartons. And you get to make stuff with the leftover coconut.

I got the recipe for Coconut Milk from Phoenix Helix, but here’s my version:

Homemade Coconut Milk

  • 2 cups raw (dehydrated) coconut*
  • 2½ cups hot (not boiling) water

Buzz the coconut chips in a blender until you have about 1 cup of fine coconut meal.

Add 1½ cups of hot water and buzz on high for 3 minutes (I used the hot chocolate setting on my Blentec twice, scraping down the sides in between).

Pour the resultant slurry into a nut milk bag & squeeze the liquid into a bowl.

Return the coconut meal to the blender, add 1 cup of hot water & buzz again for another minute & a half.

Squeeze the milk a 2nd time.

Double the recipe as required.

*I used Wilderness Family Naturals brand Coconut Chips

Coconuts

The anticlimactic 1st batch

On my first attempt I used a sieve, but it obviously wasn’t fine enough, because I was able to push all the coconut through, so all I had was a bowl of well-sieved coconut.

So I went out & bought a nut milk bag.

The exhilarating 2nd batch (plus hot chocolate & pizza crust!)

The nut milk bag worked perfectly.

I made a marvellous AIP Hot Chocolate by whirling the still-hot coconut milk with a massively heaping tablespoon of raw cocoa powder, a little pinch clove & big pinch cinnamon in the blender. Heavenly.

Then I had a bagful of soggy coconut meal.

I popped it in a wee bowl, added eggs & salt, pressed it into a greased glass baking dish & baked a Pizza Crust.

It was totally plausible & ridiculously easy, but not AIP because of the egg.

The thrilling 3rd batch: the elastic band innovation

It was tricky to get the last of the coconut slurry out of the blender into the bag while the scalding hot coconut milk ran unsystematically out the bottom & onto the counter.

I solved that problem on my 3rd batch by securing the bag to the blender with an elastic band, so I could gently shake the coconut into the bag while keeping the milk (mostly) elegantly streaming into the bowl.

Then I used the elastic to cinch the bag at the top & hang it from a cupboard knob above the bowl so I could squeeze the remaining hot liquid out with my hands (like milking a cow) without burning my hands overmuch.

With my 3rd batch, I didn’t combine the 1st press (cream) with the 2nd press (milk). I refrigerated the so-called cream for 24 hours to see if I could skim the top off to make whipped coconut cream, but sadly, no.

Instead I used this batch of coconut milk in a Pumpkin Cocoa Coconut Parsely Smoothie, which was a little hardcore, even for me.

With the damp coconut meal I made a Currant Tea Cake, which was fantastic:

  • The meal from one batch of coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • a capful of vanilla
  • 1/5 of cup of currants (just a little less than ¼ cup!)

Press into a greased baking dish & baked until browned.

The gripping 4th batch: an attempt at an AIP Tea Cake

This time I tried to make an egg-free tea cake, using applesauce, which was marginally successful.

Next time I’ll try plantain.

Q: Why the #%^&* would I want to make my own coconut milk?

A: Because I’m starting an Autoimmune Protocol tomorrow!

9 Ways to Prepare for an Autoimmune Protocol

Here are the 9 ways I got ready for my impending Autoimmune Protocol:

  1. Organized our 1st bulk order of local grass-fed beef;
  2. Went to the thrift store to get baking dishes & bowls & pot lids in sizes I have often thought would be convenient but have always done without;
  3. Learned to make homemade Coconut Milk;
  4. Discovered that I cannot get sufficient whipped coconut cream from homemade coconut milk no matter how long I refrigerate it, so found a recipe for Coconut Butter on Mark’s Daily Apple which I’ll try next;
  5. Stalked AIP recipes online (the weekly AIP recipe roundtable on Phoenix Helix is a great place to start). I also modified my existing recipes to make them AIP-friendly & printed them all out & organized them in a binder, which is not even remotely the type of thing I usually do. It even has dividers!;

    Lunch is always leftovers & veg so I don't put it my meal plans. Also, I don't include sides like avocado, crudités & sauerkraut, because they just happen.
    Lunch is always leftovers & veg so I don’t put it in my meal plans. Also, I don’t include sides like avocado, crudités & sauerkraut, because they just happen.
  6. Made a basic 9-day rotation menu which is already out of date because I won’t make those pan-fried plantains ever again. Why a 9-day rotation? To save us from the institutionalized sensation of knowing it’s beef-stew-Tuesday again. Also 9 eventually becomes 45 & 90 which are nice round numbers to aim for.
  7. Helped my #2 kid move (because paleo happens in the stream of life). Full disclosure: He moved into my basement suite. And ‘borrrowed’ his 1st month’s rent from me…
  8. Had a cooking-free day. It was my 43rd birthday on the 19th so I indulged with breakfast out at Mo:Lé with my #3 kid. She even missed A-block to celebrate with me. I quizzed her for her Science test and we shared a pot of earl grey tea. I had the raw-vegan Caesar salad with a side of bacon. For dinner, Matthew & I went to Café Brio. He had the vension and I had pork loin with sunchokes (I’ve seen them carry whole pigs across the sidewalk into that place). We both had dessert. And I have to say, I would have liked my poached apples & apple sorbet better if they had been half as sweet.
  9. Bought plantains for the first time ever & prepared them 3 ways:

Recipe

My rating

AIP-modified version of Plantain Nachos from Well-Fed 2

5 stars!

Pan-fried Plantains from Well-Fed 2

Meh

Plantain Crackers from The Paleo Mom

A++

Top 3 tips for Paleo Newbs

Top 3 tips

I’ve been surprised by the number of people who have told me they are going paleo after reading my blog.

When I started, I thought that if it made a difference to one person I’d be thrilled.

I had lunch with a friend who was on Paleo day 11. She’d already lost 8 pounds but what she was really hoping for was the lifting of her ‘brain fog’. That takes time.

She asked me for my Top 3 Tips for people just starting out on the paleo path.

The first 2 were easy:

  1. Don’t stress about exercise. Learning to locate & prepare paleo food while dealing with withdrawal from sugars & starches is enough. If trying to fit in exercise is stressing you out, concentrate on paleo-purity until your energy levels soar and all you want to do is move.
  2. Plan & be prepared. Plan your meals, your food shopping & your food prep time. I always plan my meals 1-2 weeks in advance. I also keep bison jerky in my purse. Made from genuine Vancouver Island bison raised by genuine Vancouver Island Hell’s Angels. I rarely need it, but I always have it. Just knowing it’s there is enables me to do my thing out in the world without worrying about where I’ll find food I can eat.

It took me a minute to think of #3, but it might be the most difficult and the most important:

  1. Be gentle and loving with yourself. I know that sounds like an inane new-age cliché. But if you’ve been self-medicating with starches & sugars for years, (like I did for decades) going paleo is going to be an intensive whole-self healing process. Fatuous new-age clichés notwithstanding, the ONLY way to do that kind of healing work is to find self-love. Grrrr. That’s still my response some days: I don’t want to do self-love & healing today, I just want self-loathing & a brioche. And, irritatingly, it’s days like that when you need to be especially gentle and loving with yourself.

Extreme Paleo

http://arbroath.blogspot.ca
http://arbroath.blogspot.ca

Do you know the fable about the man whose house is too small? And he goes to the rabbi to ask for advice and the rabbi tells him to move his cow indoors. Then his goats. And his chickens? And then the rabbi tells him to take them all out again & his house feels totally spacious?

An Autoimmune Protocol is kind of like that.

In that it makes regular paleo seem like a cakewalk.

I’m going to start one in 6 days.

I did my first Autoimmune Protocol last July. In addition to regular paleo it also excluded nuts, seeds, eggs, nightshades, and almost all ‘bar codes’ (packaged foods).

Holy heckfire, it was labor intensive, but I felt supra human by the end of it.

But I’m not the one I was doing it for.

A harrowing experience

Me & Matthew in 2008, before it got bad

From 2009 until early this year, the love of my life was living with so much pain that he sometimes couldn’t get out of bed at all.

We tried everything to fix him: expensive supplements, weird diets, witch doctors, an infrared sauna in our living room, moving house way too many times (hmmm, maybe the feng shui still isn’t good here…)

But he stayed broken.

And while he was struggling to survive, I was doing my best to keep our life running.

Finishing my masters, working full time, herding and feeding the children, running the household, and taking care of him.

It was incredibly traumatic. Not the work, though that was pretty severe, but seeing someone I love in that much pain and feeling so helpless about it.

Losing my partner and gaining a dependant was pretty devastating, too.

It was part of what drove me to go paleo. I could not keep up with the demands of my life and was slowly sinking under the weight of it.

I’d like to tell you that paleo has already cured him and he’s now running up mountains with me, but it’s more complex than that.

He has psoriatic arthritis, an auto-immune condition that took decades to manifest. We’ve both come to believe that biology & psychology are entwined when it comes to his condition, and they’ve been entwining all his life.

It’s not a simple task to unravel something that is so tangled, especially as it continues to snarl as you try.

Also, he’s not been 100% committed to paleo like I am. But he’s coming around.

A solution, maybe…

Matthew has accepted that it will take more than 30 days on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) to fix him. Some people expect to stay on a modified version for life.

But if it works, it is so much better than the alternative.

At this point, Matthew’s liver has been so damaged by a decade of taking methotrexate, the toxic drug prescribed to treat his condition, that he is now as ill from liver damage as from the arthritis.

Living for the rest of his life on a severely restricted diet might be the equivalent of finding your tiny house is really quite spacious without all that livestock, if he can find health.

One of the resources we have been mining heavily as we countdown to our AIP is Phoenix Helix.

I’d really like to grow old with this guy, so I’m willing to do whatever it takes.

In which my hat is stolen & my faith restored with Coconut Pancakes…

I lost my hat.

I didn’t actually lose it. I hung it off a twig when I was running up the mountain and when I ran back down, it was gone.

That’s the first time in the history of my life that any of the items I’ve left trailside have disappeared.

In the beginning I just left gumboots.

When I was a kid, my feet had two modes: bare & gumboots. Sometimes my feet would be in gumboots but I wanted them bare, so I’d leave my boots.

They might have been full of water when I got back, but they were always there.

When I got older I’d leave coffee cups. Pretty rocks. Sweaters that got too warm. And hats.

I’d leave them & come back for them.

It was impeccable system, until now.

It wasn’t even a great hat.

It was navy blue. And acrylic. But Matthew put it on my head when we got caught in a snowstorm soon after we met & I’ve had it ever since.

He made me pancakes for the first time during that snowstorm, and we weren’t just acquaintances after that. We blended our kids & tried not to spend a night apart thereafter.

When I got back from my mountain run, dejected about my hatlessness, I wondered if its loss would change my attitude to my possessions.

But Matthew had Coconut Pancakes waiting for me, so I decided it wouldn’t change a thing.

Coconut Pancakes

Coconut flour gets very fluffy when wet, so no leavening is required.

  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries, or salal berries
salal berry
Salal berries

Mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients. Combine and add berries.

This will make a stiff batter.

Be sure your pan is sparkling hot before you melt coconut oil & fry up 4 plump little pancakes, browned on both sides.

Reduce the heat to medium-low once the pan is thoroughly heated.

Serve with maple butter & nut butter. Paleo indulgence!

Recipe notes:

  • This recipe is easy to remember. Use the same size measuring cup for the coconut flour, water & berries. Add 2 eggs for each ¼ cup measure.
  • This version (¼ cup measure) serves one moderately enthusiastic or moderately hungry person. For very enthusiastic or very hungry people, adjust accordingly.
  • I like maple butter rather than maple syrup, because syrup gets sucked right into these airy little pancakes, leaving me feeling bereft & syrup-less (& wanting more & then more syrup). Maple butter sits cheerily on top the whole time, so I can really have fun with it.

Ideal weight

My ideal weight (as I presently conceive of it) is 153lbs.

I haven’t used any formulas to find that number, it’s just what’s on the scale when I feel at my best.

Not coincidentally, it seems to be the weight my body wants to be when I’m paleo-pure.

If I get paleo-sloppy, my weight creeps. Sometimes it just slinks up to 158, which is probably not discernable to others, but I don’t feel as fantastic.

My intent is not to achieve an ideal weight, but to find patterns of living that result in an optimal experience of well-being.

I’ve learned from my paleo experiments so far that when I’m feeling optimal, I weigh just under 155lbs, so my weight is an indicator that helps me dial in peak condition.

SmileyScale

I monitor my weight because it is a quick and unbiased way of gathering data when life is busy. Because well-being is subjective (perhaps especially if you have more than one teenager at a time).

I can be crying luxuriously and still have well-being. I can be infuriated about finding all the bowls (dirty) in my kid’s bedroom, but still be at my finest in every other respect.

I weigh myself as a way to maintain well-being.

And I weigh myself because I am just as inclined toward sloth, gluttony (exactly how many dark chocolate bars can I get away with?) and type-A extremism as any other sinner.

Losing weight can get addictive. All I need to do is dial back my carbs a notch or two, and my type-A extremism can amuse itself by watching the numbers on the scale drop: 151, 149, 148…

But for what?

Although I don’t experience a reduction in energy at a lower weight, my knees clack together in an unpleasant way and I get cold really easily. And being cold makes me sad.

192lbs was my skinny

Before I went paleo, 192lbs was my skinny. If I starved myself and went to the gym five times as often as I wanted to every week, I could get to 192lbs. But being hungry all the time was exhausting and I could never keep it up.

When I started paleo my goal was to achieve the highest weight that would let me be in the healthy range on the body mass index (BMI) scale. That was 184lbs, according to the old BMI calculator. This seemed like a laudable goal, 8lbs less than my previous skinny and 46lbs less than I was at the starting line.

But paleo living changed me and I soon found I didn’t want to go back to my SAD old ways. Paleo took effort, but I was no longer spending all my energy worrying about being fat. That stress had been eroding my vitality for decades, and the absence of it was like having a band of benevolent angels at my back.

So I celebrated when I hit 192lbs, hardly noticed when 184lbs slipped by, and the first time the scale dipped below 155lbs I felt like I was home.

At 6’ tall, I now have a BMI in the 20-21 range, depending on whether I use the old or new calculator. Before I went paleo I had a BMI of 31-32, which made me obese.

But scales & BMI calculators only provide information. Weight in itself is not an indicator of well-being. If society crumbled and famine hit our land, we could all find ourselves at or below our goal weights without the strength we’d need to survive.

If you’re on a weight loss path, consider letting your ideal weight find itself.

One way to do that is to be paleo pure until your weight naturally stabilizes and you feel terrific. Then experiment with patterns of eating and moving that enable you to tweak the fantastick-ness that ensues:

Com, and trip it as ye go,

On the light fantastick toe.

~John Milton, 1645