I’m reaching the final stretch of my elimination diet, which that means desserts like these matcha panna cotta cups are just around the corner. But having the finish line in sight just made last night’s finger food spread that much more tempting.
Super Bowl feasting is far easier when you’re not temporarily taking corn, tomatoes and cheese off the table. Charlie and I posted up in front of the coffee table crudité section and performed some surgical-level guacamole dipping to avoid those flecks of nightshades. But my resolve started to slip when a passed bowl of jelly beans reached my lap.
Not even Gaga’s superhuman stamina and airborne musical talents could distract me from the urge to shovel those multi-colored, iridescent pellets of joy into my mouth.
Despite it being the food group I’ve had the most experience limiting in the last few years (aside from gluten), sugar has been my biggest “cheat” area these last few weeks. For one thing, I know taking it out of my diet temporarily has more to do with giving my gut a break than determining whether I’m intolerant.
Sugar isn’t good for any of us on the inflammation front, but it’s not exactly an allergen. That’s made me turn a blind eye to the occasional honey-filled Kind bar, dollop of slightly sweetened special sauce, or homemade chia pudding with a modest glug of maple syrup.
All of these items make sugar cravings harder to control, of course.
And they were a slippery slope that eventually led to the great jelly bean binge of 2017.
Overall, I’m feeling pretty good. My stomach was a little wonky in the beginning, but I chalked it up to the freakish quantity of cruciferous vegetables we were eating at every meal. I had to remind both of us that our guts require an incubation period as they become rewired to new tastes and more balanced as a result.
On night two, I made the beef and cabbage stir fry from The Wellness Mama’s new cookbook (which has lots of great paleo recipes, BTW) and Charlie and I spent the evening nursing a third trimester level bloat on opposite sides of the couch, our lower bodies swaddled tightly with separate throw blankets. But we crushed a double portion of slaw over the weekend like champs!
Some more thoughts and observations:
1. I’ve never given up all grains and legumes before, not even during clean eating month of The Wellness Project. As a card carrying carboholic, I was most stressed about these two omissions. But they turned out to be no big deal at home. I made cauli mash and rice, lots of baked root veggies, and kelp noodles. But out on the town, it meant I was eating MUCH more meat. And that made me feel borderline gross. Fellow Whole30 pioneer Adrianna had a similar observation.
2. When you’re dining at non-paleo friendly places, one of the easiest stand-by orders is a burger with no bun and salad instead of fries. Pretty much any restaurant, even McDonalds, can do this for you. But it means that I’ve been eating red meat a few times a week and waking up with the salty sweats at 5am.
3. There will always be times when I want to celebrate with a sweet. I think that’s where the jelly beans came in. The Super Bowl is an evening I look forward to all year. My best friend from college who now lives in SF comes back and his parents throw their annual party that’s been a tradition since 1972. I’ve come to associate this evening not just with friendship, but with martinis and Eli Zabar cheesecake. I satisfied two thirds of this combination. But in my attempt to resist the last, candy became my crutch.
If there’s ever another holiday besides the Super Bowl and my birthday that I crave sweets as a form of celebration, it’s Valentine’s Day! So to find a more suitable, natural solution than the jelly bean assault, I’ve come up with this 5-ingredient matcha panna cotta recipe. There’s only 3 tablespoons of maple syrup involved—less than 1 per serving—and coupled with the tangy raspberries and bitter green tea, it’s a good gateway dessert for my newly refined sugar-free taste buds.
If you’re not limiting your sugar, you can of course add a little more maple syrup. 1/4 cup is probably the right amount for the panna cotta. If you want to make it truly whole30-friendly you can also simmer the coconut milk mixture with 6 dates and then puree in a blender until smooth. Depending on how fancy your appliance is, you may still have to strain the mixture through a sieve to account for any lumps.
The best part about this romantic treat, besides the color, is that you can make it 4 days in advance. So get going my Romeo’s and Juliet’s! No excuses.
I’ll be starting the elimination diet reintroduction process this week and will be sure to report back on all the ingredients that my body decides to embrace again or flat out reject. Wish me luck!
From one healthy, jelly bellied hedonist, to another,
Easy 5-Ingredient Matcha Panna Cotta with Muddled Raspberries
- One 13.5-ounce can full fat coconut milk
- 1 ½ tsp grass fed gelatin
- 6 ounces fresh raspberries
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, divided
- 1 tablespoon matcha powder
Place the coconut milk in a medium saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin across the top. Whisk once and set aside to “bloom” for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mash the raspberries with 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup until a coarse puree. Divide between 4 glass jars or ramekins.
Over medium-low heat, warm the coconut milk mixture, whisking to help the gelatin dissolve. While whisking, sprinkle in the matcha and continue to stir until both gelatin and matcha are incorporated, and the mixture has a light foam on top, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to boil, you just want small bubbles on the surface.
Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.
Strain the matcha coconut milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a 4-cup liquid measure or pitcher with a spout. Divide between the jars or ramekins, cover tightly and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to 4 days. Garnish with fresh or crushed dehydrated raspberries and/or coconut flakes.
The fine mesh sieve is helpful for catching any clumps of matcha. You can skip that step, just be warned that you may have small pockets of tea.