Friday, 19 January 2018

Vietnamese Lemongrass Meatball Bowl

A beautiful healthy, fragrant meatball bowl - fully AIP compliant, low carb and paleo and packed with veggies. Try this for something different for lunch or dinner. 

This post contains some affiliate links. This means that if you decide to click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that goes back in to helping me meet the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support. 

I love fragrant, healing bowls of stuff. And so I made these. 

AIP Paleo Low Carb Vietnamese Lemongrass Meatball Bowl

You've got to love meatballs - and this was created one day when I was particularly missing my old favourite, pre-paleo Banh Mi baguette. I loved the vinegary carrots and daikon radish, the chicken and the crunchy veg. 


I've made this bowl with pork (use chicken or turkey - or even beef, if you prefer instead) - and it makes a great packed lunch option too. Chuck in an extra lime wedge for extra zing and you're good to go. 

AIP Paleo Low Carb Vietnamese Lemongrass Meatball Bowl

Vietnamese Meatball Bowl
Serves 3
500g pork mince
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped finely
half teaspoon dried chives
quarter teaspoon garlic salt
half teaspoon dried ground ginger
quarter teaspoon fish sauce
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly or cut with a julienne peeler
1 tsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaf/cilantro
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
pinch of sea salt
5-6 radishes, thinly sliced

steamed broccoli, asparagus, spinach leaves, chopped spring onions and extra coriander leaves/cilantro and lime wedge, to serve. 

First, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs - the pork mince, lemongrass, chives, garlic salt, ginger and fish sauce - until smooth. Roll into balls and place on a baking tray lined with foil or parchment paper. Roast at 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6 for 20-25 minutes. 

While the meatballs are cooking, make the carrots. Place the sliced or julienned carrots into a bowl and add the chopped coriander leaf, cider vinegar and the sea salt. Stir to combine and set to one side, until the meatballs are cooked through. 

Arrange the steamed broccoli, asparagus and spinach leaves in serving bowls and then place the cooked meatballs (check they're cooked through) alongside. Add the carrot mixture and serve with some extra chopped spring onions and coriander leaf on top. Include a lime wedge for squeezing over. If you have any leftover dressing in the bottom of the carrot bowl, drizzle that over the rest of the veggies too. 

Made this recipe? Tag me @joromerofood on Instagram or Twitter. I love to see recipes you've made! 

Have you seen my book SPICE? It's now out on paperback as well as in ebook form. Over 90 recipes to encourage you to play with herbs and spices and try out different cuisines on the autoimmune protocol. Find out more here!

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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Sticky, Buttery Buffalo Steaks With Sea Salt and Thyme

Wondering how to cook buffalo steak? Here's a tasty recipe for buffalo rump steak, pan fried simply with butter, sea salt and herbs. 

I received a contribution towards the cost of the ingredients, along with the buffalo steaks, from Farmer's Choice. We thank them for their ongoing support!

Ever cooked buffalo steaks? 

The first thing to know about buffalo steaks is that they're much leaner than beef, but have a really intense, rich flavour. You cook it just like a beef steak, but with a little bit of extra care. 

Buffalo Rump Steaks Cooked in Butter and Thyme

The second thing you need to know, is that if you have a really good quality buffalo steak, you don't need to do a lot to it to make it taste amazing. Because it already is. 

When Farmer's Choice sent me a pack of their buffalo steaks, I knew it was going to be good, and there would be no need for me to be drenching it in sauces or serving lots of complicated stuff on the side. Their buffalo are raised in straw-bedded yards or grassy paddocks and they're fed a diet of hay, straw GM free cereals and grass. There also also no routine antibiotics. All good. 

So I decided I would keep it really simple and serve up the steaks cooked up old-fashioned style, in a little butter, some sea salt and herbs. This makes it even easier for you too, if you're a bit nervous about cooking buffalo meat for the first time. And you'll get to taste how amazing the meat is without covering it up with other flavours. Perfect. 

But which herbs? I was thinking something woody, aromatic. And although I have huge great bushes of rosemary growing in my garden, I couldn't get the fragrant, almost-citrus flavour of thyme out of my head. Thyme it was. And it was epic. 

Buffalo Rump Steaks Cooked in Butter and Thyme

Sticky, Buttery Buffalo Steaks with Sea Salt and Thyme
Serves 2
2 x buffalo rump steaks, defrosted if frozen (mine are from Farmer's Choice)
1 tsp olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
good pinch of sea salt
30g bunch of thyme sprigs

First of all, leave your buffalo steaks out at room temperature for half an hour or so, to take the chill off. When you're ready to cook, heat a frying pan on the hob to about medium heat and drizzle the steaks with the olive oil. Season with the salt. Once the pan is hot, lay the steaks in the pan and leave to cook there for about 1 minute. Add the butter and half the thyme sprigs (leave them whole) and leave the steaks to cook for another 3 minutes.  After the three minutes, and when the underside of the steak is golden and caramelised, turn them over and cook for another 4 minutes or so, or until the steaks are cooked to your preference. As buffalo is so lean, it's recommended to cook the steaks up to medium, to keep them juicy. 

As they cook, allow the butter to bubble up the steaks. It will darken slightly and the thyme will infuse its flavour into the butter as it wilts down. Just before serving, add the rest of the fresh thyme sprigs to the hot pan and just swirl them around, to give a different level of flavour to the steaks. Serve with the buttery juices spooned over. Great with chips, mash or sweet potato wedges. 

Have you ever cooked buffalo steaks? How do you like them? Let me know in the comments below... 

Monday, 15 January 2018

Tips on How To Get a Good Night's Sleep

Some tips for a great night's sleep - a few simple things that everyone can try to help improve your snooze time. Zzzz.....

This post contains some affiliate links. This means that if you decide to click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that goes back into helping me meet the costs of running the blog. Thanks for your support! 

I didn't realise how important sleep was until I read Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. OK, so I'd seen that my psoriasis got worse if I hadn't slept well, and I craved sugary foods more often, but I never quite appreciated the fact that lack of good sleep affects us in the long term as well as a couple of days. 

Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash

We're talking Alzheimer's, obesity, cancer, the immune system and heart health. 


Armed with this info, I've managed to get my sleep routine to a fine art. Here are some of the things I do - as a result of the fantastic book Why We Sleep - for a great night's sleep. Remember, if you still struggle to sleep at night, get checked out by your doctor. 

Happy dreams! 

Skip the hot water bottle - and have a shower or bath
You might feel toasty warm after you're snuggled up in your onesie and have the heating turned up full blast, but this could actually stop you nodding off to sleep. The body naturally drops in temperature before and during sleep, and if you're too hot, it can't initiate sleep. The good news is that you regulate yourself during the night (ever wake up with one leg out of the covers on a cold night? - that's why). Walker suggests a room temperature of around 18.3ºC - much lower than many of our bedrooms once the heating's turned up. And another thing - every wonder why you feel sleepy after a hot bath or shower? Walker says that it's not the shower making you warm for sleep, it's actually cooling you down ready for sleep. Apparently the warm water brings blood pumping to the surface of the skin, cooling you down. Genius! 

No caffeine 
So if you're trying to improve your sleep, you might skip that coffee or tea at 8pm. But did you ever wonder if your afternoon cuppa could affect your ability to sleep seven hours later? According to the book, caffeine has a half-life of around 5-7 hours. So 50% of the caffeine from your 4pm cuppa could still be coursing through your bloodstream at 11pm, when you're trying to doze off. Try a camomile tea instead in the afternoon. I like a milky (hemp milk) cup of chicory coffee before bed. 

Me, not playing Cookie Jam at 2am

Turn off your devices
Ugh, the number of times I've woken up in the middle of the night, checked my phone for messages and emails at 2am, laid awake for a few hours and then decided I can't get back to sleep so ended up playing Cookie Jam until my alarm goes off at 6am. As well as your brain waking up processing what it needs to know about the emails and messages, the LED light in your devices tell your brain to wake up, because it thinks that it's daytime. In the final few hours before bed, try keeping LED lights off. We light a salt lamp, which produces a beautiful dim camp-fire glow, once the sun goes down. And we wear blue light blocking glasses if we watch TV. All of us, after dinner. TVs, mobile phones, tablets... keeping to an orange glow after dark would be a good idea, to help our hormones do what they're supposed to do and get us to feel sleepy. I know it makes a difference to me. 

Go to bed earlier
Something that shocked me in the book, and felt like a lightbulb going off above my head: if you need 7 hours sleep, and you need to be up at 7am, don't go to bed just before midnight. Matthew Walker suggests giving yourself a wider opportunity for sleep, if you want to get a proper night's sleep. I go to bed at 9.30pm and get up at 6.30am. But it doesn't mean I get 9 hours sleep a night. Sometimes I read, sometimes I lay there for a few minutes, waiting for sleep. It makes so much sense, but once you realise that time in bed doesn't always equate to time asleep, you can go to bed earlier and increase your chances of good quality sleep. 

Deal with your worries
If you have any worries, make a list of them before you go to your bedroom. Put off thinking about them, now is your time for sleep, which you need to function properly the next day. Be selfish with your sleep. If you need to, look into getting counselling if you suffer with depression or anxiety. One of the things I learned from Why We Sleep was that our dreams mirror not so much what happens in the daytime, but the emotions we feel in the day. So if you've spent a day worrying and being fearful, you could be more likely to have upsetting dreams or nightmares, as your brain processes those emotions from the day (I highly recommend the chapter of the book on dreaming, it's absolutely fascinating). Sometimes dreams like this wake me up in the night, and the cycle just goes on and on. When I wake up at 2am after a bad dream, I just consciously think of nothing - I don't even try to work out what day or time it is - and I drift back to sleep. Interrupted sleep isn't great, but staring at the ceiling for another 4 hours is worse. If worries still get to you, talk to a friend, try journalling - I find this helps me - or seek professional help if you feel that your worries and anxieties get you down. You might find my Anxiety download useful, too. 

If you're interested in why we sleep at all, why it's so important and what your body and brain actually do while you're sleeping (a lot of things) you will love Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. I've learned so much, and I've prioritised mine and my family's sleep because of it. 

Other things that might help...


What are your tips for a good night's sleep? Let me know in the comments below!