Rustic Apple Tart

Hello, everyone!  I hope all of my U.S. readers had a great holiday weekend, and I hope the rest of you are having a great not-Monday.  🙂  We had a nice time; I got to meet a friend I’ve known online for ten years this Saturday!  Linda, Beloved and I cannot wait to get together with y’all again!   Also, as you can see from yesterday’s post, we got to spend most of our weekend with (a very energetic) The G Man.  Jolly told us he’d spend all day outside if he could, so…we spent a lot of time outside.  Many photos are forthcoming.

We also did a great deal of cooking – we smoked a pork shoulder, a chicken and four racks of ribs and grilled enough brats on Monday to feed a small, third world country (or our family). (Can we say “leftovers”?)  And since it’s not a summertime cookout without some sort of a dessert, I made this.  The tart is neither low in calories or carbohydrates, but it contains fewer of both and is far more nutritious than a conventional apple pie – and it was absolutely delicious.  Jolly, who adores apple pie but is one of my “picky eaters,” ate two large slices – and she normally won’t eat nuts.

The crust is made from almond flour, coconut oil (you can use butter if you eat dairy) and coconut sugar; the filling is apples, spices, coconut sugar and arrowroot powder.  Coconut sugar is made from the sweet sap of coconut trees, processed at low temperatures just long enough for it to crystallize.  It has nearly half the calories and carbohydrates of regular granulated sugar, is only 1.5% fructose (as opposed to 50% in regular sugar) and is an abundant source of minerals, amino acids, vitamin C, and broad-spectrum B vitamins.  It also does not taste like coconut – the flavor is very reminiscent of brown sugar.

While this dish doesn’t fall into the “quick and easy preparation” category, it certainly isn’t any more time consuming or difficult than making an apple pie entirely entirely from scratch – and made with coconut oil, is completely gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free.

Note: If you want to make this tart using “conventional” methods, make a standard graham-cracker crust and replace the coconut sugar with about 3/4 the same amount of brown sugar.  If you must.

Rustic Apple Tart
Rustic Apple Tart Slice

Rustic Apple Tart

serves 10

Crust
3 cups almond flour
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

Filling
5 medium Granny Smith apple, halved, cored and cut into 1/4″ slices
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease an 11″ x 1 1/8″ fluted tart pan with removable bottom with butter or coconut oil. Set aside.

Place the apple slices in a large glass mixing bowl; toss with the coconut sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg until all of the slices are coasted and the sugar is beginning to dissolve. Let the apple slices macerate in the sugar for at least half an hour, but no longer than an hour. Stir occasionally.

While the apples are macerating, place the butter/coconut oil in a small microwave-safe bowl; heat on 1/2 power until melted (take care removing the bowl from the microwave – it will be hot). In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut sugar and salt; add the butter/coconut oil gradually, stirring with a fork until it has been completely incorporated and the mixture is damp and has a crumbly texture. Evenly press the crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the greased tart pan. Set aside.

Transfer the apples and their juices to a colander suspended over another bowl for about 15 minutes, capturing the juice. You should have between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of liquid. Return the apples to the original bowl and toss with the arrowroot. Once the apple slices are coated arrange them, overlapping slightly, in the tart pan in spiral pattern, beginning at the outer edges and working toward the center, until are the apples are used.
In a small saucepan over over medium-high heat, boil the liquid from the apples until syrupy and reduced by about half; swirl the liquid but do not stir it. Pour evenly over the apples arranged in the crust.

Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is browned and firm, and the apple slices are easily pierced with a fork.

Cool on a rack until room temperature, then refrigerate until cold before removing the fluted sides of the pan and serving. Cover any leftovers with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated.

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Posted in participation with Kelly the Kitchen Kops’ Real Food Wednesday

Why I Eat The Way I Do, Part I

I recently jumped into the fray of a debate about diet on Facebook recently, where a young woman who shall remain nameless was telling someone near and dear to me (no, not Beloved) that his high fat dietary ways were going to lead him into a great deal of trouble.  The young woman in question is the sibling of an athletic trainer, or so she claims, and has apparently swallowed the bunk about “carbohydrates fueling workouts” hook, line and sinker.

“Eat the food pyramid,” she said.

Good grief.  I can think of a great many things I’d like to do with the food pyramid, but eating it isn’t one of them.  We’ve been “eating the food pyramid” for better than 30 years and, as a population, we’ve just gotten fatter and sicker.  (I’d like to pause here and really drive home the point that the food pyramid is a dietary guideline issued by the United States Department of Agriculture.  How the damn USDA got into the business of telling us what to eat is an amusing story, but what we need to remember is that the ultimate goal of the Unites Stated Department of Agriculture is to promote United States agriculture.  Why wouldn’t they base the food pyramid on the most subsidized of commodity crops – grains?)

I’ve been writing about the evils of the Standard American Diet, so centered on grains, GMO soy, industrial seed oils and refined sugars, for about a year and now a study published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine has hammered another nail in the coffin of the dietary recommendations of the USDA.  The study is titled Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease: The detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet, and the abstract alone is extremely sobering (emphasis mine):

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating disease whose recent increase in incidence rates has broad implications for rising health care costs. Huge amounts of research money are currently being invested in seeking the underlying cause, with corresponding progress in understanding the disease progression. In this paper, we highlight how an excess of dietary carbohydrates, particularly fructose, alongside a relative deficiency in dietary fats and cholesterol, may lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A first step in the pathophysiology of the disease is represented by advanced glycation end-products in crucial plasma proteins concerned with fat, cholesterol, and oxygen transport. This leads to cholesterol deficiency in neurons, which significantly impairs their ability to function. Over time, a cascade response leads to impaired glutamate signaling, increased oxidative damage, mitochondrial and lysosomal dysfunction, increased risk to microbial infection, and, ultimately, apoptosis. Other neurodegenerative diseases share many properties with Alzheimer’s disease, and may also be due in large part to this same underlying cause.

The full text of the study is full of similar “OMG moments”:

Several researchers have noted a strong correlation between insulin resistance in the brain and early [Alzheimer’s disease], suggesting that [Alzheimer’s disease] might be considered a neuroendocrine disorder of the brain or so-called “type 3 diabetes.”

Recent population studies have confirmed a correlation between low blood serum cholesterol and both dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

It has been shown that patients with type-2 diabetes are at two to five times increased risk to [Alzheimer’s disease].

The depletion of cholesterol leads to loss of both myelin and membrane functions. The cell membranes in the brain will also become deficient in essential unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fats derived in the diet especially from fish oils, with further functional failure of important metabolic processes.

So, basically, consuming more carbohydrates and less fat and cholesterol kills your brain.

What was that you were saying, Mr. Ebert?  I don’t know about you but out of all the problems that come with growing old, the possibility of something like Alzheimer’s frightens me the most.  And here you are telling America that every human being on the planet needs to avoid dietary cholesterol at all costs and eat a vegan diet.  That is incredibly irresponsible at best, and downright criminal at worst.

At any rate, I suggest you take a moment and at least skim through the entire article – it’s really not at all difficult to understand.  Well, I don’t think so, anyway, but then again hanging out with the science/diet/fitness geeks over at PaleoHacks may just be rubbing off on me. 😛

Have a lovely weekend, y’all, and a great Memorial Day to all of my U.S. readers.  And while you’re enjoying your cookout, just put down the bread and eat some of those deviled eggs your Aunt Martha brought along.

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday

Spicy Tropical Salsa

Last night, we made a butt-load of burgers.

I was thrilled to be making a butt-load of burgers.  A butt-load of burgers means a certain teenage boy will actually eat a butt-load of dinner.  A butt-load of burgers means a butt-load of leftovers for lunch.  And if you’re planning a butt-load of burgers 3 different ways, it means a butt-load of yummyness.  But if you announce the plan to make a butt-load of burgers on Facebook, asking your friends which recipe they’d like to see the next morning, you’re in for a butt-load of embarrassment.

Because as sure as 13-year-old girls think their parents are the stupidest people on the planet, the minute you’ve checked the weather forecast to make sure the storms in your area are going to stay to the west and north of you, made the homemade barbecue and teriyaki sauces, lovingly patted out the burgers and wrapped a third of them in bacon and start the fire in the grill, it is going to rain.

Hard.

And it won’t stop until after 10 o’clock.  So you end up making the butt-load of burgers on the stove, where it takes twice as long and, while quite tasty, none of it looks nearly as pretty or nice as it would if you’d done it all on a grate over charcoal.

So no burgers today, butt-load or otherwise.

Instead, I pulled this recipe out of my archives.  This was destined to be a “cookbook exclusive” but there’s no lengths I won’t go to in order to cover up a colossal mistake nothing too good for my readers.

I love fresh, homemade salsas, and I love tropical fruits, so – voila!  One tropical fruit salsa. The only reason there’s no papaya in it is because they didn’t have any that were ripe at the store.  There is also no added sugar in the salsa – mango and pineapple are quite sweet on their own – which gives the salsa only 7 effective grams of carbohydrates per serving, well within acceptable limits for an indulgence on a low carb diet.  I usually serve this with seared, blackened ahi tuna but it would be excellent with just about any grilled fish, as well as chicken or pork.

Oh, and while I’m at it, my apologies to Jen, for posting recipes two days in a row that she can’t eat, especially after she specifically asked for teriyaki burgers.  My bad.

Spicy Tropical Salsa

Spicy Tropical Salsa

6 servings

1 large mango peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 large jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded (if desired) and minced
1/2 cup pineapple, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 large tomato, diced
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons Mexican-style hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate for at least half an hour to allow the flavors to blend.  Serve with grilled chicken or fish, or pan-seared tuna steaks.

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