Saturday, December 17, 2011

Travel Snacks

Max and I are headed to the East Coast for the holidays.  When I travel, I like to bring a plethora of snacks to help me stay on track while I'm away.  I bring a mix of nuts, dark chocolate and low-carb protein bars (see pg. 65 of the book for acceptable kinds).
Make no mistake, these items are high calorie and should be eaten in moderation.  But, they travel well and will help me to avoid slips while I'm on the go.  If I have a nut snack in my purse, I'm less likely to grab a soft pretzel on 5th Avenue from a street vendor.  If I eat a protein bar, I'm less likely to give into the urge to have one of those classic New York bagels.  And, with chocolate on hand, I can pass up nearly any dessert put before me.
I like packing my nut snacks in these cute, reusable, food-safe, dishwasher-safe bags, called lunchskins from 3greenmoms.  
For your holiday travels, plan ahead and bring some Gundry-friendly snacks that will keep you satisfied.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Seriously Tasty, Not So Pretty, Football-Watching Treats

For several years now, my family has been celebrating Thanksgiving on Friday.  We gather at my parents' vacation home in Central California for a weekend of family fun and, well, eating.  We decided a few years ago, that travel and gathering would be much less stressful if we just moved the big feast to Friday.  This year, a new tradition was born with our turkey day football potluck, to commemorate the first annual family fantasy football league - 8 teams compiled from Max's and my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and brothers. It's been a really fun experience (and humbling for veteran fantasy footballer Max) and a great way to interact with the family more than usual.  On Thursday, we watched football and each brought an appetizery, finger-foody, footbally item to share.
Max loves deviled eggs - so this is usually my go-to football day snack (for a Gundry-friendly version, you can omit mayonnaise or substitute plain yogurt).  But, when I came across a recipe for Scotch Eggs with Merguez and Charmoula that I had taken from Tasting Table earlier in the year, I thought, "Now what is more footbally than a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage and fried!?!?"  I had to try it.  The original recipe calls for a coating of flour and panko, but I've come to learn that almond meal is a delicious, Gundry-friendly, breading alternative (check out recipes here, here and here) and decided I'd do my best to make this indulgent snack Gundry-passable.  The result was a nearly-ridiculous, palm-sized dose of indulgent goodness.

I nearly doubled the recipe.  This is about 2 pounds of sausage.  
2 cups cilantro leaves
4 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt

Scotch Eggs
8 large eggs
1-1/4 lbs. fresh merguez sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (substitute almond flour)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups panko (substitute almond flour)
Oil, for deep frying

1. Place six of the eggs in a saucepan and fill with cold water until the eggs are just covered.  Over high heat, bring the water to a boil.  Lower the heat and let the eggs simmer for 1 minute, then remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 12 minutes.  Peel the eggs, pat dry and set aside.
I'm terrible at peeling eggs and end up losing part of the white itself.
I blame it on the organic eggs I buy. It seems I didn't always have this much difficulty. Also, I tend to cook my eggs for longer than most recipes suggest.  I like to make sure they are really cooked through.
2. Make the charmoula: Place all the ingredients for the charmoula in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Transfer to a serving bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
I made the charmoula at home the day before.

3.  Make the Scotch Eggs: Preheat the oven to 375.  Place the sausage in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground, about 30 seconds.  Form the sausage into six thin patties, then gently form one patty around each of the hardboiled eggs.
Don't forget to remove the casings first.

I was surprised at how much bulk the sausage layer added. They looked like dinosaur eggs!
4. Place the flour (substitute almond flour) in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.  In another bowl, lightly beat the 2 remaining eggs and season with salt and pepper.  Place the panko (substitute almond flour) in a third bowl.  Dredge the sausage-wrapped eggs in the flour, dusting off the excess.  Dip each in the egg mixture, then roll in the panko until coated.
Set up an "assembly line" near your frying pan.  Since I substituted almond flour for the flour and panko, I used only one bowl.  

5.  In a deep saucepan, heat 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees.  Fry the eggs until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes, turning if necessary.  Transfer the eggs to a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 8 minutes.  Cut the eggs into quarters (or halves if you have trouble like me) and serve (or top) with the charmoula.

My college-freshman cousin had the very creative idea of piping plain yogurt through a ziplock bag to turn the Scotch Eggs into little footballs with white laces.  
The recipe called for cutting the Scotch Eggs into fourths and dipping them into the charmoula.   My breading was a bit tenuous and cutting into fourths just wasn't viable.  I discovered that they sort of held up if I cut them in half.  I decided to spoon the charmoula onto the eggs, as attempting to dip would have been mostly futile except for the most experienced and skilled of dippers.
This was a really fun recipe to make.  It's definitely not something you want to try to throw together last minute.  It's a bit of a process.  Perfect for a casual weekend focused on cooking.