Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cocoa caramelized onions, plus 10 ways to enjoy chocolate on Whole30!

Cocoa caramelized onions with grainy mustard on chicken andouille, along with some lacinato kale and a fried egg.
Apparently, whether or not to give unsweetened cocoa the Whole30 seal of approval was a subject of debate. You can read a detailed discussion of the pros and cons here, or you can read an elegant summation in this comment. It seems that the final verdict is that cocoa is fine as a spice, but not if it is used to duplicate chocolate desserts, even if said sweets are made using Whole30 compliant ingredients like fruit. Personally, I am crazy about chocolate, and I love learning to enjoy it as an ingredient that adds richness and depth to entrees instead of relegating it to dessert. Given that a lot of folks are doing a January Whole30 to ring in the new year, I present you with a new recipe, along with...

10 Ways to Enjoy Chocolate on a Whole30
  1. Cocoa caramelized onions (pictured above)
    I love the natural vegetal sweetness of caramelized onions. They take a while to cook, so sometimes I'll make a big batch on a Sunday to have around and add to eggs, meat, and other dishes. They marry perfectly with cocoa powder. You can serve these on a spicy sausage like I did, or they'd be great on steak, pork chops, burgers...pretty much anything!

    Directions: Just halve an onion pole to pole and thinly slice both halves. Heat a bit of coconut oil or ghee in a skillet on medium heat and add your onion. Sprinkle it with salt, cook until onions begin to soften, then turn down the heat to medium-low and cook until dark brown and sticky. When done, turn the heat to high, deglaze the pan with a tablespoon of water, then add a teaspoon of dark cocoa powder. Stir well and serve!
  2. Slow cooker chicken mole
    Make a big batch of shredded chicken meat, then keep it around to eat on taco salads, with Mexican "rice", or in fiesta bowls
  3. Chocolate Chili from The Clothes Make the Girl

    I've made this recipe dozens of times, and it never disappoints. Instead of simmering on the stove top, I put it in the crock pot on low, and just start with less liquid.
  4. Cocoa toasted cauliflower, also from The Clothes Make the Girl
  5. Brewed chocolate

    I found this when I was looking to cut back on my caffeine consumption but still wanted a hot coffee-esque drink. Brewed chocolate is to hot cocoa as wine is to grape juice. It's cacao nibs and husks brewed in a French press for a complex chocolatey flavor. It is NOT sweet, thick, and creamy like Swiss Miss, it's much more subtle. It's especially nice with a bit of coconut creamer. I've had Crio Bru but you can also buy it from Choffy or Chocolate Alchemy.
  6. Cocoa chili rubbed scallops with chocolate citrus vinaigrette

    If I made this as a meal instead of an appetizer, I'd probably just serve them over a salad instead of making endive boats.
  7. Cacao nib crusted steak
  8. Mixed green salad with whole citrus and cacao nib vinaigrette
  9. Seared pork tenderloin with cocoa spice rub
  10. Cocoa-infused sweet potatoes from PaleOMG

    If, like me, you don't really do sweet potatoes, I'm sure you could substitute some kind of orange squash.
  11. This is #11 because it is too close to a dessert to be Whole30 approved, but it is a nice "sensible indulgence" to have after the fact: frozen bananas pureed with cocoa for chocolate banana "soft serve"!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Chocolate cakes with sea salt and olive oil (grain/dairy/sugar free)

I don't post too many treat recipes on this site. When I do, it's generally because I get an idea that gets stuck in my head that I just have to try. I was inspired by this recipe; I love salted chocolate and olive oil seems like an interesting twist, particularly to eat after a Mediterranean-inspired meal. I love the fudgy texture of chocolate cake made with almond flour; in fact, it was my staple chocolate cake even before going grain-free. I used olive oil in place of butter, Truvia with unsweetened chocolate, and topped it with a dairy-free ganache. I also drizzled some additional olive oil on the warm ganache and sprinkled the top with fleur de sel.

If the idea of olive oil with chocolate grosses you out (though I assure you it was delicious!), you can certainly choose a different fat. Ghee, coconut oil, butter, or macadamia oil would all work well. Or, make a batch of bacon salt, reserving the bacon grease. Then bake the cakes with bacon grease and sprinkle the bacon salt on top, perhaps adding a tablespoon of espresso or Kahlua to the cake batter.

I thought the cakes tasted even better the next day after they had chilled, though I thought the ganache was better when it was warm and freshly-made. The ganache is easy enough that you can make it at the last minute, even when serving company. I do not recommend Truvia or erythritol for the ganache, as it can become gritty as it cools. I used stevia extract, though you could use powdered xylitol or just use regular sweetened chocolate.

Makes about 4 individual cakes or one 8"-9" cake


For the cake:
  • 1 bar (about 4 oz) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 5 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 Tbs Grand Marnier or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sweetener of choice to equal 1/2 cup sugar (I used Truvia). If you use any granular sweetener, powder it in a blender or spice grinder first.
  • 1/2 cup (56 grams) almond flour
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • Fleur de sel or other coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
For the ganache:
  • 1 bar (about 4 oz) unsweetened chocolate + stevia extract to equal 1/2 cup sugar, OR use 4 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1 mini 5.5 oz can Thai Kitchen coconut milk (or 1/3 cup coconut milk), stirred
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil or ghee
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease 4 ramekins or one 8"-9" springform pan. Measure out all your ingredients and have them ready to go!
  2. Melt the chocolate. I used the microwave, initially for 1 minute on high, then I stir and microwave on medium at 30 second intervals until smooth. Stir in the olive oil and Grand Marnier or vanilla. Stir in the sweetener and almond flour, then beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Set aside.
  3. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Vigorously stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest. Make sure it is thoroughly combined but take care to not deflate the whites.
  4. Pour the batter into the cake pan or divide among ramekins. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. This should be about 45 minutes for a single cake or about 15-25 minutes for individual cakes (check on them after 15 minutes). 
  5. For the ganache, chop up the chocolate. Bring the coconut to a boil on the stovetop or by microwaving for 1-2 minutes. Pour the hot coconut milk over the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth and melted. Stir in the coconut oil or ghee and the sweetener, if using. 
  6. To serve, slice a thin layer off the top of the cake(s) to form a flat surface, then invert. Pour some of the ganache over the top and either spread it with the back of a spoon or rotate the cake around to distribute it. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and sprinkle with sea salt.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Spanish frittata with caramelized onions

Seems that I'm back up and running :) I am all moved in to a new house with a new kitchen that has tons of natural light for great food photography! So here is my first recipe from my new location.

I love the simplicity of tortilla espanola. Just eggs and potatoes cooked in olive oil and served in chunks or wedges. When I went to Spain, I loved that you could go to pretty much any restaurant at any time and know that you could get a glass of red wine and a hunk of omelette. This is the version that I make at home. Instead of potatoes, I use caramelized onions. I got the idea from Nacho Rubio's primal blueprint recipe contest entry. His version is still potato-based, but I think it's just as good (maybe even better!) if you leave them out. 

You can eat this for breakfast or a light dinner, but my favorite way to serve it is to cut it into cubes, stick a few with toothpicks, and serve it chilled tapas-style.

Serves about 2 as a light meal or several as tapas


  • 4-6 eggs (I used 4 large duck eggs, use 5-6 for chicken eggs)
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  1. Heat a bit of olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just barely starting to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until sticky and thoroughly caramelized.
  2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with a generous amount of salt and pepper. When they are done cooking, add the onions to the beaten egg mixture and combine thoroughly. 
  3. Add some more olive oil to a nonstick or cast iron pan. Pour in the egg mixture, ensuring that the onions are distributed evenly. Cover and cook over medium-low until the bottom is lightly browned. You can use a silicone spatula to check underneath.
  4. If using a cast iron skillet, finish by running it under the broiler. With a nonstick pan, transfer it to a plate, then invert it back onto the skillet to cook the other side.
  5. Serve chilled or at room temperature cut into chunks or wedges.
  6. OPTIONAL: Since the onions are so sweet, I like to get some contrast by sprinkling the top with coarse salt. I used truffle salt since I had some, fleur de sel would be lovely but regular Kosher or sea salt is fine too!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Quick update

No recipe, but I wanted to give you all a quick update since I haven't posted in a while. As you may know if you have been following my Facebook page, I recently moved from Florida to California. This entailed packing up my kitchen, then driving cross-country, and now my kitchen is still not fully unpacked. I thought that I would be up and running sooner, but unfortunately sometimes life gets in the way. I will try to reply to the backlog of comments today, and I should start posting recipes this week :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A week of freeze-ahead crock pot meals (Whole30 approved!)

Back in October, I posted a menu with a month's worth of freezer meals. You can read about that here. However, a lot of people noted (rightfully so!) that it is an awful lot of work. So, I created a scaled-down alternative. This will give you a week's worth of meals, rather than a whole month. There's an added bonus, too: these meals require no cooking on your prep day. Each meal is cooked in the crock pot the day you want to serve it for dinner. Like the larger menu, all of these recipes are Whole30 compliant.

Once A Month Mom classifies these as "dump recipes". Essentially, these are recipes where you combine everything in a freezer bag and then just dump it into your slow cooker the morning you wish to eat it. You can thaw it in advance but I never do, I just increase the cooking time and put everything in there still frozen, stirring it halfway through.

I did not include breakfast or lunch, but you can feel free to add on from the full OAMC freezer menu. In particular, the meat and veggie mini-frittatas are a great way of using up any meat and vegetables that are left over after you do all your other prep.

This menu makes five hearty dinners with four servings each. You may have enough leftovers to stretch it to seven days for a family of four. Or, you may only be cooking for one or two people, and thus have enough for two weeks!


Instructions for your big cooking day are available in this Google Doc.
The grocery list for the entire menu is available at this Google Doc spreadsheet.

Are you a person who likes to see menus visually? Check out the menu on Pinterest.

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