This week we’re visited by Lisa Broccoli of www.swisspaleo.ch or www.swisspaleo.com. Lisa is an American ex-part living in Switzerland since 1996. She is a registered nurse and certified nutritionist, and is involved with Swiss Paleo for fun. A big fan of life in Switzerland, Lisa can be found hiking in the Alps and visiting her neighbors that are cows, but you will never find her yodeling. And yes, her last name really is Broccoli.
Today Lisa shares a recipe for a famous dessert from Switzerland, that has been paleoized and has a serious ooey gooey factor going for it!
One of my friends recently posted pictures on Facebook of a “Girls Weekend Away” that she went on and it really got me thinking. I came to the conclusion that my circle of friends is actually pretty small and I might even be a little lonely. We all understand the importance food plays in our health and well-being, and I think that most of us can agree that as important as food is, it’s not the only thing we need to think about when it comes to our health. There are many great articles and studies out there in the paleo community about things like the importance of good sleep, stress management and “Goldilocks” levels of exercise (not too much, not too little). But what about friendship? Is it just as important to our health and well-being?
My discovery that I might need to make a few friends led me on a quest. First, I wanted to find out what kind of an impact friendship (or lack thereof) might have on my health and second, I wanted to figure out how to work on this area of my life.
It’s pretty easy to feel like your life is full of friends with things like Facebook, Twitter, blog buddies and texting. Unfortunately, this kind of social connection is a little bit like fast food. It’s fast, it’s easy and it’s convenient. With fast food, you may be eating, but you aren’t nourishing your body. Real friendship, like real food, takes time and effort. You can’t really nourish your soul without some honest to goodness quality time with others. A status update just won’t cut it.
It turns out that friendship is actually pretty vital to our health. A 2010 study found that social integration improves a person’s odds of survival by 50 percent. Researchers found that having low levels of connection is comparable to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic, more harmful than not exercising and twice as harmful as obesity! Another study, this one of Australians aged 70 or older; found that participants with a large circle of friends were 22 per cent more likely to survive the next ten years than those with fewer friends. Having a spouse, close relatives, or even lots of loving children, had no impact on survival. Your spouse may be your best friend (as mine is), but that might not be enough.
Studies show that having more friends will help me sleep, improve my immune system and lower my blood pressure and cholesterol. Wow! Now that I know my health depends on it, it’s time for the second part of my quest…making more friends and spending time with the ones I already have.
Making friends was easier when my daughter was younger. I met lots of women with children the same age as we arranged play dates for our kids. Now that she is grown, I’m on my own when it comes to finding friends. The paleo and Crossfit communities are a great place to start. Hey, you worship grass fed meat (and bacon) just like me? You know what I’m talking about when I discuss things like WODs and burpees? Great, we could be BFFs! However, to get a friendship going, you might have to take the first step and actually invite your new potential BFF over. I’m not terribly outgoing, so this is the hard part for me. It’s one thing to chat with people at the gym or at work, but it can be a little scary to put yourself out there and invite them for a get together. Especially if you are living in a foreign country like I am, or you’ve just moved to a new town, and don’t always feel like you fit in with the locals.
In my efforts to get out of my lonely little comfort zone, I actually invited a complete stranger to dinner a few weeks ago (you can read about it here). His wife reads my blog and contacted me because they will be moving to Switzerland in a few months. I know how hard it is to move far away from family and friends so I figured it would help them out to know somebody here and it would help me on my quest to make new friends. Win-win!
Next up, I invited one of my favorite Swiss friends over for an afternoon coffee. I work with this friend and she is my favorite person to share gossip with. Although we have seen each other every day at work for the past 15 years, we rarely get together outside work. I’ll be leaving my job in December and I want to do everything I can to maintain my friendship with her. I figured inviting her over and feeding her a tasty treat would be a good start. There’s nothing like delicious food to lure people over to your house!
My friend is from a region of Switzerland called the Engadin. The Engadin is famous for a special dessert called the Engadiner Nusstorte (Tuorta da Nusch). It’s one of my all-time favorites and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to create a grain free version that would live up to the real thing. Since my friend grew up eating this dessert, I thought she would be the perfect taste tester! She said the taste was very authentic and she asked for seconds. Now there’s a friend that’s a keeper.
So, what are you waiting for? Put on your best smile and invite a new potential friend over. It’s good for you!
- For the crust:
- 1 ½ cups coconut flour
- ¾ cups arrowroot powder
- 1 cup (225 grams) grass-fed butter, coconut oil or lard, melted
- ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon honey
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- For the filling:
- 250 grams (about 1 1/3 cups) coconut crystal sugar
- 200 ml (just under a cup) of whole fat cream or coconut milk at room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 300 grams (3 cups) walnuts, halved and roughly chopped
- Start by mixing all of the ingredients for the curst together in a medium sized mixing bowl. The dough will seem a bit wet and oily at first, but the coconut flour will soon thicken it up. Mold the dough into a ball and wrap it in saran (plastic) wrap. If you don’t feel like you can get into a ball, you might need to chill it for 15 minutes first. Place the plastic wrapped dough in the fridge and chill for an hour.
- When your dough is nearly finished chilling, it’s time to start on the filling. Pour the coconut sugar into a dry sauce pan and begin to melt it over medium to medium-high heat. It takes a good 10-20 minutes for the sugar to melt. Stir it constantly to keep it from burning.
- Once the coconut sugar is melted to the consistency of a creamy frosting, slowly add in the room temperature cream a little at a time; stirring after addition. It may go a bit lumpy, but just keep stirring.
- Once all of the cream has been added and the mixture is smooth and lump free, add in the nuts and the Tablespoon of honey. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
- Get your chilled dough from the fridge and divide it into two parts. One part should be a little larger (slightly more than half).
- Place the larger portion of dough into a well-greased spring form pan and mush it into place with your hands to form the bottom crust. This portion of dough should be a little larger because you need to form it around the sides of the pan as well. The dough should be pressed up on the sides about an inch.
- Pour the nut filling on top of the bottom crust and spread it around evenly.
- Roll out the remaining portion of dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and place this over the top as your top crust. It should meet up with the crust sides. Use a fork to press down all the way around the edges to seal the top crust to the sides.
- Bake in a pre-heated 350F (175C) oven for 40 minutes. Cover with foil if your crust starts to brown too fast.
- Now you must be patient because this needs to cool completely before slicing. Cool on the counter and then place in the fridge to chill before slicing.