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Nutty Bacon Bark...

Bacon and Chocolate - Yes please!

Bacon and Chocolate – Yes please!

 

When I went to visit my sister in Toronto a few months ago I was given a strict list of food do’s and don’ts. For starters there was to be absolutely no wheat or gluten related items within a 5-mile radius of her front door. Now that may seem a bit over the top, but she has had more than her fair share of dietary issues. Although she has been Gluten-free for 10-years she started having even more problems with her already tightly controlled diet. Some of these problems may stem from the fact she is a Type 1 diabetic (Juvenile onset) and there is evidence to suggest a link between Diabetes and Celiac Disease.

Feeling sick every time she ate prompted her to do some serious research into a variety of diets and eating plans. Fortunately she found Diane Sanfilippo’s book Practical Paleo. I think it’s safe for me to say it changed my sister’s life drastically. Basically a Paleo diet is eating the way our ancestors did before the modern practices of farming and processed foods came into being. It advocates eating plenty of lean-meat, fruits, and vegetables. While nuts, seeds, and starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes are allowed in moderation, dairy products, grains, soya, legumes, and processed foods are to be avoided.

Eating a more Paleo based diet, even for a short 2-week stay, made me feel better and I certainly felt more ‘balanced’ in terms of my blood sugar levels.  Although I’m not sure I can completely stick to it, I have decided to make 3 days out of the week ‘Paleo’ days. Well, it’s a start anyway.

This recipe for Nutty Bacon Bark has been adapted from the Practical Paleo book by Shelbi Brewer on the website The Paleo Cooking Lifestyle. I too have made a few minor adjustments; the cranberries were inspired by my sister, who often snacks on pieces of dark chocolate, nuts and cranberries (not in bark form – she just piles it all into a bowl). If the bacon makes you feel a bit funny just omit it and stick with cranberries (or other dried fruit) and nuts. This bark will satisfy even the most troublesome sweet tooth!

 

Nutty Bacon Bark

Ingredients

2 bars (150g each) of good quality cooking chocolate

4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup toasted mixed nuts (I used walnuts, pecans, cashews and hazelnuts)

 

Directions

Place bacon rashers on a cooking sheet lined with foil and cook at 200°C / 180°C fan / 400°F / Gas mark 6 for approximately 15-20 minutes or until bacon is crispy

Use a large frying pan and gently toast nuts over a low heat, once done set aside to cool

When bacon is almost done start melting the chocolate. You can use a microwave but as I don’t own one I used the double boiler method – see below

While the chocolate is melting cut the bacon rashers into small bite-sized pieces and set to one side (reserve any bacon grease)

When the chocolate has completely melted add whatever bacon grease you have. The original recipe says 3 Tablespoons but my bacon hardly had any grease so I used maybe 1/2 Tablespoon

Give the mixture a good stir and pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Sprinkle the bacon pieces, toasted nuts and cranberries over the top and set in the freezer for up to 2 hours

Remove from freezer and break into pieces

The bark can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but ours didn’t even last 3 days!

Enjoy!

 


Double Boiler Method:

You will need 1 saucepan and 1 glass Pyrex bowl that fits securely over the saucepan

Fill saucepan with just enough water so that the water doesn’t come into contact with the bottom of the bowl

Break up the chocolate into pieces as this makes it easier to melt

Heat the water until it begins to simmer

Turn off stove and add the Pyrex bowl with chocolate to the top of the saucepan

Give the chocolate a few minutes and then begin to gently stir it with a spatula

NOTE: be very careful that the chocolate does not come into contact with water as this makes it seize up. For more tips on how to melt chocolate Elizabeth LaBau has an excellent article.

Rocket Fuel: Healthy Iced Coffee With A Kick!...

A few years ago my husband and I were visiting my sister in Toronto. As a special treat she took us to a wonderful restaurant called Fresh and what a treat it was! This has become one of my all time favourite restaurants. Whenever we are back in Toronto a trip to Fresh is always top of our list.

The first thing I ever had at Fresh was one of their speciality espresso shakes called ‘Rocket Fuel’. This is a healthy (and much tastier) alternative to those incredibly sweet full fat iced coffee drinks you can get now at most coffee shops.

The original recipe calls for vanilla soymilk but as I was unable to find any I used a chocolate oat based drink instead. Although it does have a different taste to the Rocket Fuel I remember the addition of chocolate is never really a bad thing – is it?

So here is my slightly altered version of their recipe. This has been a much needed kick in the pants for my husband and I during these cold dark UK mornings.
(Please keep in mind this for 2 people so I have doubled everything.)

Ingredients

2 dbl. shot espresso or brewed coffee (My favourite is Kicking Horse )

10 oz Oatly Healthy Oat Chocolate Drink

2 bananas, peeled

2 tsp maple syrup (Canadian is best!)

1.5 shakes cinnamon

5 ice cubes

Directions

Brew up the coffee.

Add the oat drink and bananas to the blender.

Start the blender on a low setting and gradually add the coffee, maple syrup, cinnamon and ice cubes.

Put blender on a higher setting for 1-2 minutes to make sure all the ice is blended.

Pour into 2 tall glasses.

Enjoy!

About my first Visit to Fresh:

On that first visit I noticed a cookbook for sale by the main till. It was called Fresh At Home. I loved the variety of healthy recipes it offered and the photos were gorgeous! Unfortunately worries about being able to fit it in my luggage with everything else I had accumulated kept me from buying it. Damn my sensibleness! It was a decision that would haunt me until we returned to Toronto 2 years later. Sadly the book was no where to be found in the restaurant so I enjoyed my meal and put thoughts of the cookbook out of my mind.

Bring on Christmas and Santa had a very special treat for me this year. There, waiting under the tree, was the newest addition to the Fresh library – simply called Refresh. It has some of the old favourites as well as plenty of exciting new recipes to try. I am looking forward to getting stuck into some seriously healthy food!

If you’re interested in the original Rocket Fuel recipe from Fresh follow the Directions above but use the following ingredients instead. (Please note this is for a single serving)

1 dbl. shot espresso or brewed coffee

6 oz vanilla soymilk

1 bananas, peeled

1 tsp maple syrup

1 shake cinnamon

6 ice cubes

And of course – Enjoy!

If you are planning a visit to Toronto or you live in Toronto and haven’t been – then put Fresh on your to do list. You won’t regret it! Check out their site here for more information.

Rocket Fuel: Healthy Iced Coffee

Rocket Fuel: Healthy Iced Coffee

These are a few of my favourite things.

These are a few of my favourite things.