Paleo Week Test Day 6

The sixth and final day of the paleo test has been completed.  Why isn’t there seven?  I’m calling tomorrow my Sabbath so I’m going to have a day of rest, already!  Most of the day was a rehash of various meals from the week but the ending came in the form of a most delicious homemade paleo ice cream (yes you read that right)!

Breakfast was pretty much the exact same as the rest of the week: eggs, spinach, bacon and berries.  I hadn’t been measuring out the spinach exactly right. There was probably twice as much spinach in my egg and spinach omelet as there was on the first day.  That was after I dumped half a bag of frozen mixed vegetables into the skillet since I didn’t check which bag I had pulled out of the freezer.  I didn’t feel like, nor did I have time, salvaging it so there went a good half pound of vegetables into the trash.

After the typical hearty breakfast I decided to walk to work.  As I wrote last month, I believe that more intrinsic motion in my daily life is a big part of what it takes to have good health and nice loose legs for running.  While I live under a mile and a half walk along pedestrian trails to work, I rarely do it.  This was actually the second time.  Often I have to potentially take my car to a meeting so can’t do that.  Other times the weather looks like it’s going to be sucky in the morning or potentially the afternoon.  Today seemed like it would be perfect.  I didn’t have to take my computer in, it was already there.  The temperature when I left was 68 degrees and the forecast was for a partly cloudy day with a high in the low-80’s.  It was perfect weather to do this.  Unfortunately even at 68 there was enough humidity to make me sweating more than I wanted by the time I got into the office.  Nota bene, wear an undershirt on days you plan to do stuff like this.   The walk home was at much higher temperatures but lower humidity so I was actually less a sweaty mess than in the morning.  I look forward to trying that out again.

Lunch was my Paleo Chipotle Salad combination I put together earlier this week: lettuce, chicken (although today it was pork), tomatoes, hot sauce and guacamole.  Snacks were again the usual carrots, celery and homemade health bar.  Dinner was going to be bacon wrapped chicken thighs with sweet potato pancakes but we forgot to thaw the meat, so a trip to Houlihan’s for salmon with sauteed broccoli and asparagus it was.

During dinner I started talking about wanting to make ice cream to commemorate the end of my Paleo week.  We have been out of ice cream for some time and I’ve been meaning to make some.  Sure, it’s easy enough to buy some at the store, however once you start making your own ice cream you pretty much stick to doing just that.  It really does taste that much better, plus you know exactly what is in it.  The more I talked about that, the more I was flashing to thoughts earlier in the week.  I signed up for a paleo cooking video series and their first recipes included an Bacon Maple Ice Cream.  We were watching Chopped yesterday and for the dessert round one of the ingredients was bacon jam.  One of the contestants tried, unsuccessfully, to turn that into an ice cream too.  It seemed everything was pointing me to try to make this ice cream.  I therefore decided I would commemorate the end with making an ice cream, but I’d make a paleo ice cream.

I Googled for “Paleo Bacon Maple Ice Cream” and came up with many results.  All of them were similar but didn’t sound exactly the same as the one I saw on the video.  Luckily I was able to find the original guests’ website (Sex, Food & Kettlebells) and the recipe itself. If you’ve ever made ice cream you will find the steps mostly similar, but not exactly the same.  For the uninitiated, making ice cream is very simple.  You go get or buy an automatic ice cream machine (less than $80).  You then start with something as simple as some cream, some milk, a bunch of sugar and some vanilla extract.  You whisk that together well in a bowl to incorporate. Then you throw that into the ice cream maker and churn it for 20-30 minutes.  You basically get soft serve ice cream out of that, but if you put it in containers and freeze it you get a nice hard ice cream.  Ice cream making can get far more elaborate than that, but you can do a lot with just the most basic recipes like this.  I will include some actual detailed steps in future blog posts.

The Paleo version of Maple Bacon Ice Cream starts with coconut milk instead of dairy milk.  I’ve never tried making ice cream with anything besides dairy products.  I have heard nightmares about trying it with soy milk, which is supposedly difficult to impossible without all kinds of weird emulsifiers that you are making your own ice cream to avoid in the first place.  I therefore was skeptical about how the coconut milk would turn out.  The other substitution is maple syrup for sugar.  Let’s not delude ourselves that this is a healthy dish that can be eaten in mass quantities because the sugar source is different.  It’s still relatively high calorie and relatively high in sugars.  That’s what makes it an indulgence.  However it is dairy and gluten free as well as containing a source of sugar that is carrying along at least some additional micronutrients.  To all that you add some vanilla extract and two eggs.  That’s not too dissimilar to any other ice cream except they don’t have you cook the eggs.

Cooking eggs in ice cream is usually done for two reasons.  The first reason is to kill off salmonella.  Technically you are eating uncooked eggs if you make the ice cream as above.  Cooking the eggs eliminates this problem.  That sounds bad, but you’ve done the same thing if you licked the beater spoons when you made a cake or sampled your uncooked cookie dough as you were baking.  Cooking the egg/cream mixture also makes it turn into a custard.  It’s a very thin custard, not the kind you find in a doughnut, but it’s based on the same premise.  This custard, instead of just milk, is enough to add some extra creaminess to the ice cream.  Since I have no idea what cooking the coconut milk would do to it, and not fearing for my life with respect to eating this uncooked egg ice cream, I just made it following the directions.  At some future date I can experiment with trying to make this with cooking the egg/milk mixture or just leaving out the eggs.

With the mixture made and in the freezer I moved on to the crunchy bits, the candied bacon.  I didn’t quite nail this one, and it was a colossal mess to clean up.  You start off frying bacon in a pan.  When it is mostly done you pour some maple syrup on top and continue cooking until it candies.  The first problem was I couldn’t get the ends of the bacon to really crisp up the way they were supposed to.  The second problem was all that syrup made for one big sticky mess in the end.  As soon as you took it off the heat it solidified almost instantly: think the T-1000 robot from Terminator 2 in the liquid nitrogen.  The bacon instantly stuck to the plate.  The syrup on the spatula seemed integrated into it.  The pan itself seemed caked with the stuff and whatever moved created a slight drip that made light cobweb like strands of this material everywhere.  I had accidentally made a toffee of sorts, although this toffee was maple syrup and bacon fat.  I tried a bit, and despite it sticking to my teeth like juju bees,  it tasted great.

With the bacon candied and cooled down and the coconut milk mixture chilled I then put it into the ice cream maker while I started mincing the candied bacon for the filling.  It seemed that the coconut milk firms up a lot faster than the milk/cream ice creams did.  Within 15 minutes it was as far in as where it would take 20-25 minutes of a regular ice cream.  With a few minutes left I added the chopped up bacon so it could be incorporated.  After letting the machine run a little while longer I poured it out into two tupperware containers and put it in the freezer, but not before tasting it.

I was really afraid that the texture of this ice cream would be off.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  It seemed as creamy as some of the heavy cream laden custard based ice creams I’ve made.  I was afraid that the coconut would impart its distinctive aftertaste like it does in every other dish.  Again, I don’t sense that at all.  I think the other flavors dominate enough to avoid that.  I was afraid that the bacon would come across as too chewy and a bit weird.  It is a bit odd to run across some bacon in your ice cream, but when you are expecting it the whole concept is absolutely delightful.  I had to stop myself from wolfing down a whole cup of the stuff.  While I am looking forward to my slice of cheesecake and making Oreo Cheesecake ice cream tomorrow, I can honestly say I can see myself using this coconut and maple syrup combination as the base for many ice creams.

While I was able to stay totally paleo today as the past six days, I had more urges than I have previously.  Once again, like Pavlov’s dog I was seriously craving and had to stop myself from getting a Coke Zero when I got done with Chipotle food.  It is a trigger for whatever reason.  I also was really craving some stuff like french fries and bread.  I was looking forward to making pancakes this weekend because I was looking forward to eating them.  While a week isn&’ that long, I was hoping I would be somewhat beyond that by this point.  I&’ sure by the end of the first month of three that would be the case though.

I’ll do a write-up of a recap of the week tomorrow, however today (especially with the ice cream) was a good success.