Safflower petals are a delicately floral and mildly earthy tasting gem of a seasoning that I keep around for those days when I need to give my taste buds a little jump start away from the ordinary. Safflower, aka Azafran and even Poor Man’s Saffron, is a “spice” made up of bajillions of dainty little thistle-like petals. It closely resembles the much more costly saffron in color and appearance, but is said to resemble the flavor of saffron not so much. I honestly have not tasted saffron since culinary school, which was many scores ago, and I cannot remember for the likes of me what it tasted like! Me thinks I will have to remedy this soon…so I know what I’m talkin’ ’bout.
Safflower is used in natural food coloring. It will give your culinary creations a nice yellowish-orange color, similar to the abilities of turmeric. Textile silks and cosmetics have also been known to tote the dying abilities of safflower petals. A flavorful tea can also be brewed using the flower. Apparently, there may be some health benefits related to safflower petal consumption and diabetes, dementia, tumors, and female health, but these claims need to be further researched.
(Safflower petals should not be confused with commercial safflower seed oil, which is inflammatory and neither a primal nor healthful food.)
(Guess what? Prepping this batch of pickles to brine will take less time than it will take you to read this post. Pinky swear!)
These pickles are definitely a staple in my kitchen. Their crunchy scrumptiousness makes for a great relish to put in tuna salad or deviled egg salad when whizzed up in a mini food processor. After they’ve been pickled I like to slice them in rounds for hamburger dilly toppers, or slice in quarters for dill spears. The best way is right out of the mason jar, though! Crunch!
The pickles were noticeably tart after 3 days in the fridge but still not pickled all the way through to the center. I found they were best after soaking in the brine after a full week.
Making your own pickles is a great way to control the ingredients so that you know exactly what you’re snacking on. Take a looksie at the label of pretty much any organic or truly natural jar of pickles you pick up at the grocery store and you’ll be bound to find that they include virtually the same ingredients:
In addition to those guys above, there are a plethora of not-so-natural brands of pickles which tend to have some pretty creepy-sounding ingredients:
High fructose corn sweetener
If you’re anything like me, I like to enjoy my food with as few unnecessary ingredients as possible, and I do not want to eat any chemicals or additives on a regular basis.
More often than not, I find that even Paleo-friendly convenience foods have ingredients in them that I personally cannot tolerate.
Let me get started with the type of vinegar used in most commercial pickles, organic/natural or not. Distilled white vinegar, aka spirit vinegar, lays on the border of the Paleo/Not-so-Paleo scale. This type of vinegar is almost always produced from grain. Although the distillation process is thought to remove the dangerous parts of the grain (gluten, phytic acid), some people prefer to abstain from grain-based products in any form. I am one of these people for sure!
I prefer to use good ol’ apple cider vinegar as the base for most of my brines and sauces. It’s neutral flavor, cost-effectiveness (I can pick up a half-gallon of the good organic stuff at Costco for under $5), and health benefits have me sold as a replacement to ingesting plain’ ol’ white vinegar. (I will, on the other hand, happily use it for cleaning purposes.)
As you may know, spices on an elimination diet are pretty much thin-pickin’s. The AIP omits many of the seasonings used in commercially produced pickles. Some of the common ones you will find swimming at the bottom of the jar are peppercorns, allspice, chiles and mustard seeds. You may not actually be consuming the spice ITSELF, but if you’re in the process of healing your gut lining even just the infusion of these properties can irritate your belly and set back your progress. With homemade pickles, I generally use AIP-friendly seasonings like garlic, dill, clove and ginger.
Now we have the issue of salt. Obviously the higher quality of every ingredient you put into a concoction, the higher quality the concoction will be as a whole. Processed pickles quite often contain a cheaper version of salt (think table salt or kosher salt). This version uses pink salt, my uber fave because MINERALS and because PINK! I alternate between using Himalayan and Utah Real Salt. Either one will do you right.
Lastly, we’re looking at you, sugar. To our bodies, sugar is sugar is sugar in terms of inflammation and insulin spikes. BUT if you are sparse with your amounts and you use higher quality versions of sweetener in your diet, my opinion is that a little bit can be a part of a Paleo diet. My favorite AIP-friendly sweetener is raw honey, my go-to ketogenic / low carb sweetener is monk fruit powder (recipe coming soon for corn-free monk fruit “extract” drops!). Another primal honorable mention with a lower glycemic index than honey is the earthy and delicious coconut nectar.
I’m grateful that we have a variety of high quality ingredients available these days to transform our favorite convenience foods into homemade healing powerhouses. Lately I’ve been experimenting with recipes for ketchup, BBQ sauce, dressings, and even more varieties of pickles like beets and carrots. (All recipes will be coming to the blog!)
I like that they don’t require cooking or fermenting. Cooking can tend to make them rubbery, and fermenting is prone to yeast growth. Yeasty foods have a tendency to be harmful rather than helpful for those of us recovering from SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). These pickles are better for patients following a low-FODMAP diet, as long as the ingredients you put into the brine are compliant with your diet.
I also experimented with re-using the brine. If you pour a little bit of brine out and add back in some extra vinegar / acidity, your pickles should do just fine with one more go-round. I don’t recommend reusing the brine more than once, though, due to potential non-beneficial-bacterial growth.
Feeling adventurous? Try out different vinegars, spices and herbs. Use different sweeteners and flavored salts to zest up your pickle jar.
Do you have a favorite blend that is your go-to? Tell me in the comments below if you have a favorite brine combo that you love!
Raw & Easy Paleo Pickles -AIP, Low-FODMAP, Keto
Making your own tangy, crisp refrigerator pickles is easier than trying to find a truly Paleo version at the supermarket. I like to make two different flavors at a time so I have an option between sweet and sour.
This post was originally titled, “I am Un-Diagnosed. And That’s OK, for Now” but things have changed since I first started writing this in June!
Blood tests. Breath tests. Physicals. MRI’s. Psychiatrists and counselors. More blood tests. Repeat visits to different physicians. (To name a few methods of seeking answers.)
Steroid tablets and shots and creams. Proton pump inhibitors. Pain medication. Anti-depressants. Sleep aid prescriptions. Mood stabilizers. Anxiety pills. (To name a few treatments offered.)
The only mention of diet by medical practitioners in these 17 years of repeat (and unsuccessful in the end) treatments was to eat “a low fat diet.” And recently a doctor explained to me what a gluten-free diet was (mind you, after I had already explained to him that I have been on a gluten-free diet, including grain-free, for a while now.) With my visit, I had brought in my copy of The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne to show him the Autoimmune Protocol and let him know I was preparing to take on the lifestyle. (This invoked no words from him. *le sigh*)
Oh me, oh my. Apple, pear and plantain cobbler pie. (Does that count as a poem? I’m counting it as one. My brain fog says its a poem, dognabbit.)
Speaking of brain fog, the last few weeks have been pretty crazy. I mean, I went on my first airplane-included vacation since going AIP! Prepping for that, then the actual travel, and the recovery afterward…whewwww. It was definitely a manageable trip, don’t get me wrong. I pre-planned and then planned some more so that the trip would not make me more sick, and I plan to concoct a post about some tips and hints for taking your chronic illness with you on vacation.
I love to snack. Who doesn’t, right? One of my favorite snacks has always been chips and salsa. Potato chips and corn chips are off the table for now, though, and I’ve made the switch to plantain chips for that crunchy, salty factor. But what about the dip factor?
For a while I did guac guac guac and then some more guac. Guacamole is yummy, but soon I needed something else. So along came this AIP Nacho Cheese Sauce and, of course, I put that on everything for a while. Yet something was still missing. SALSA.
So, yeah. Summer = hot. And hot weather = cold snacks. Ice cream, ice lollies, milkshakes, sorbets….its all good! Well, actually NOT so good if you’re on an anti-inflammatory or non-allergenic diet, because those store-bought treats usually pack quite the sugar punch. They are also well-known for containing not-so-Paleo ingredients disguised as “healthy” sugar substitutes, such as brown rice syrup, non-GMO corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, and agave nectar to name a few. Did you know that agave nectar acts similarly or even worse in the body as does fructose? (More on different sugars in a future post!) Continue reading “Cherry Carob Fudge Pops – AIP, Paleo”
Who doesn’t get a little ho-hum-drum bored of the same ole spices and seasonings Every. Single. Day? The Autoimmune Protocol sure does limit a lot of what we are used to flavoring our dishes with: Fruit-based spices, seed spices, and nightshade spices are all some of the most flavorful and aromatic cooking ingredients around. When we need to cut them out for a while during an elimination diet, the palette can get more than used to the small group of seasonings that remain. In those circumstances, I like to bust out the more exotic stuff to break up the routine and bring some zip into my recipes. I save flavors like mint, safflower (poor woman’s saffron), and tamarind for those occasions, to name a few.
I get the cookie-monsters sometimes. When I REALLY want crispy-chewy cookies. When a bowl of strawberries with a drizzle of honey just won’t do to satisfy my sweet tooth, or when a few slices of golden melon for dessert aren’t going to cut it, not even a bowl of my 5-Minute Carob Freezer Fudge *recipe coming soon!*…you know…one of those cookie-monster-moments.
You know that lovely melody of chewy/warm/crisp/sweet/salty that comes from a savored bite of a delicate cookie fresh out of the oven? That’s what momma needed! I wanted to make sure they weren’t too starchy though, as I’ve been having issues with tubers and the starches that I usually used in my baked goodies. Coconut flour was to be the base of this batter if I was to be able to nosh on the cookies without any bellyaching afterward! Coconut flour’s downside is that is tends to produce a dryer pastry, but when you need a cookie and your body doesn’t like starch, this minor imperfection can be easily overlooked during a cookie-craving-conundrum. Continue reading “Crispy Chewy Honey Cookies – AIP, Paleo”
Ah, brassica intolerance. This little food intolerance is something I discovered during my AIP SIBO-destroying adventure (an adventure which sounds a heckuvabunch more fun than it really is if you don’t know what all those letters stand for!)
In my 20’s I sure loved a trip to the local pub, where I would enjoy a Guinness or Murphy stout paired with a hot crispy plate of freshly fried fish and chips. Beer battered food with beer. That’s how I rolled.
Nowadays, there’s not so much rolling around in beer-slathered-nibbles happening anymore…but rather in veggies and coconut flour and and healthy fats.