Category Archives: Baked goods

Coconut Fish Pie

Louise Yang and Jeremy Hendon blog at Ancestral Chef, and I had the pleasure of talking with them at PaleoFX. They share a lot in common with Shou-Ching and I; you can read about Louise’s eclectic background here. Like us, they combine busy professional lives with a love of food, and try to create simple and easy to prepare but delicious meals drawing upon all the world’s cuisines. Louise has also defended the honor of the potato, which endears her to us. Louise has kindly agreed to share one of her favorite recipes. Here’s Louise!

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Growing up in England, I was destined to love pies. 

For those of you who haven’t visited England or Australia, when I say “pies,” I don’t mean the typical American dessert pie (although I have to admit a fondness for gooey apple pies); I mean the savory pies filled with delicious meats and with sauces oozing out from their starchy coverings.

From steak and kidney pies, to cottage pies, to shepherd’s pies – there’s pretty much a pie for every food you can imagine!

Well, I didn’t want being Paleo/PHD to distract me from my obvious pie-eating destiny, and so the coconut fish pie was born.

Note: The full ingredients list and instructions are at the end.

Preparing Coconut Fish Pie

Start by boiling 3 or 4 sweet potatoes (or potatoes) until they’re tender (check by pushing a fork into them).  You can speed up the process by peeling and chopping the sweet potatoes (or potatoes) and then boiling them. 

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Blend the peeled sweet potatoes (or potatoes) in your food processor with 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 1/4 cup coconut milk until it turns into a nice mash.  Put the mash aside while you make the rest of the pie.

Boil 3 eggs, and preheat the oven to 350F (175C).

Chop up 1 cup of carrots.

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Chop up ½ cup of green beans.

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And chop up 1 leek (approx. 1 cup).

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Pour the rest of the 1 can (13.5oz or 400ml) of coconut milk (i.e., what you didn’t use for the mash) into a saucepan and heat on medium heat.  Add in the chopped vegetables.

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While the vegetables are cooking, cut approx. 1.5 lbs of white fish (I used tilapia) into 1-inch cubes/chunks (you can also substitute some prawns or scallops for the fish).

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Place the fish into the saucepan as well.

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Grate 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger into the pot (tip: store ginger in the freezer and grate some into your dishes when needed).  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Cook for 5 more minutes on medium heat and then pour into an 8 by 8 pyrex oven dish or else into several small ramekins or miniature casserole dishes (4-8 depending on how large the ramekins are).

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Peel the hard boiled eggs, and cut them into small pieces and place them into the dish as well.

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Gently spread the sweet potato (or potato) mash over the top of the fish mixture so that the entire mixture is covered (it doesn’t need to be a thick layer).  If the fish mixture has too much liquid, then spoon some of the liquid out.

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As an optional topping to make the pie just a bit prettier, mix 4 tablespoons of coconut flakes with 2 tablespoons of melted butter (omit this if you’re dairy-free).

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Gently sprinkle the coconut flakes mixture over the top of the mash.

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Bake in the oven for 20 minutes (you’ll see the sauce boiling and the coconut flakes will get a bit toasted).  Leave to cool for a few minutes and serve!

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Fish Pie Recipe

Makes 4-6 servings  Preparation Time: 40 minutes  Cooking Time: 20 minutes



  • 3-4 medium sized sweet potatoes (or potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (leave the rest of can of coconut milk for the fish mixture).
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes and 2 tablespoons melted butter (optional topping)

Fish Mixture:

  • 1.5 lb white fish (or prawns or scallops), cut into small 1-inch chunks
  • Rest of 1 can (13.5 oz or 400ml) coconut milk
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • ½ cup green beans, chopped
  • 1 leek (1 cup), chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped


  1. Boil the sweet potatoes (or potatoes) until they are soft (you can peel and chop them up if you want them to cook faster).  Food process with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and ¼ cup of coconut milk.
  2. Hard boil 3 eggs.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  4. Heat the rest of the can of coconut milk in a saucepan on medium heat.  When it starts boiling, add the chopped carrots, leek, and green beans.
  5. Cut up the fish into 1-inch cubes/chunks and add to the saucepan.
  6. Grate some fresh ginger into the saucepan and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Spoon the fish mixture into an 8 by 8 inch pyrex oven dish or into individual ramekins (4-8 depending on ramekin size).
  8. Peel and chop up the hard boiled eggs and drop them into the fish mixture.
  9. Spread the mash over the top of the fish mixture.
  10. For the optional topping, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and mix in 1/4 cup of coconut flakes.  Sprinkle the coconut flakes mixture over the top of the sweet potato mash.
  11. Place in oven for approx. 20-25 minutes.  Make sure after 20 minutes that the coconut flakes are not turning too brown.



Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas and the feast of epiphany, the day the three wise men presented their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Holy Family. As a day of giving and celebration, it’s a good day for treats and desserts, such as muffins.

The Place of Baked Goods in the PHD

Our PHD Food Plate has a section for “Pleasure Foods.” It occupies the stem and leaves of our yinyang apple, indicating that these should be relatively small parts of the diet.

Baked goods are not mentioned, but it would be appropriate to list “Gluten-free baked goods and fructose-free sweets” among the Pleasure Foods.

These foods are made of PHD-compliant ingredients – rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch in the case of baked goods – but they have a few defects:

  • Low nutrient density. As a purified macronutrient, gluten-free flour is unaccompanied by micronutrients.
  • Low water content. Whole food starches, like white rice and white potatoes, typically have less than 500 calories per pound due to a high water content. But flours and foods made from them, like noodles and pizza dough and bread, lack water and provide 1300-1500 calories per pound.

The lack of water is potentially a problem because water is crucial to digestion, especially digestion of proteins. In the stomach, food needs to be dissolved in an acidic water bath in order for protein-digesting enzymes like pepsin to work properly. Dry foods are just not digested well.

Flour-based foods may be problematic for more reasons than their lack of water. Last year, Ian Spreadbury proposed that “acellular carbohydrates” – carbohydrates that are not surrounded by cell walls and embedded within a cytoplasm – may be unhealthy because the carbs can feed bacteria in the upper digestive tract which can then infect important organs like the pancreas, gallbladder, liver, and small intestine. Cellular carbohydrates would be digested lower in the intestine, helping to maintain an antiseptic and healthy upper small intestine.

We included gluten-free spaghetti and lasagna as items in the meal plan template of our book, but only on one day per week, and only in combination with sauces that provide water.

Due to their dryness, baked goods are probably best eaten as desserts – in combination with fat and liquids, but not much with protein, as they may interfere with protein digestion.

This means they are not good for a weight loss diet, but are excellent foods for those who naturally eat a low protein, high-carb-and-fat diet: children!

Baked goods are kiddie foods. Children eat a lot of calories per unit body weight, so they generally aren’t going to be malnourished; a certain amount of empty calories is just fine. And children’s diets should be lower in protein (7% protein at infancy, rising gradually to 15-20% protein in adulthood) and higher in carbohydrate (40% carb at infancy, decreasing to 20-30% carb in adulthood) than adult diets. That means less meat and more dessert type foods for the kids.

So here’s a recipe to please your children: muffins.

Gluten-Free Muffins

For some reason, gluten-free flours sold in stores are often far more expensive than their ingredients purchased individually. They also tend to have anti-caking agents and stabilizers that are unnecessary if you mix your own.

For muffins, we start by mixing our own gluten-free flour. For 3 cups of flour we use:

2 cups rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch

We recommend combining dry and wet ingredients separately. In a mixing bowl, combine:

2.5 cups gluten-free flour
1.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (0.5 tsp each for us)
1 stick (4 oz / 113 g) butter cut into small pieces

With your hands, kneed this mixture until the butter has merged with the flour into a consistent texture; squeeze any buttery blobs until the butter is well mixed. At this point, mix in a cup of your choice of flavoring ingredient:

1 cup raisins or blueberries or chocolate or ground nuts

In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients:

1 1/3 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla

The final volume should be about 2 cups, add milk as necessary to achieve that.

After mixing the wet ingredients, combine them with the dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour the mix into a muffin sheet and bake at 350 F (175 C) for 20 to 22 minutes.

Eat the muffins with something fatty (butter, whipped cream, creamy cheese, or sour cream all work) and maybe a sweet topping (such as fruit, berries, jam, or honey). Note: the following photos don’t have enough butter!


Muffins are a great dessert or kid’s treat. Topped with 1-2 tablespoons of butter and accompanied by a drink to aid digestion, they taste great. They won’t help you lose weight, but they just may raise your spirits.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

We have little baking experience, so we’re just beginning to learn how to make Perfect Health Diet compliant doughs and baked goods. This recipe turned out very well — unexpectedly well considering it was our first try. And it’s so easy; it takes less than half an hour.


Dry ingredients:

  • Rice flour 1 cup (optional: sticky rice flour)
  • Tapioca flour 1/3 cup
  • Baking soda 1/2 tsp
  • (optional) Beef gelatin 1 tablespoon

Wet ingredients:

  • Butter ½ cup (1 stick)
  • Egg yolks 3
  • Rice syrup 1/4 to 1/3 cup
  • Vanilla ¼ tsp


  • Chocolate chips
  • (optional) pistachios
  • (optional) raisins
  • (optional) pomegranate seeds


Melt the butter (we used the microwave, about 20 seconds) in a mixing bowl. Add the other wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Mix in the dry ingredients until the dough has an even consistency. It will look like this:

Then fold in some flavorings. We broke up some bulk dark chocolate and included pistachios:

In another batch we tried chocolate covered raisins:

Place cookie-sized batches on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet:

The aluminum foil prevents the bottom of the cookies from burning.

Bake at 375 F for 10-12 minutes. Remove the cookies and let them cool for at least half an hour; after they are cooled, refrigerate them.

This was the chocolate and pistachio batch:

The chocolate covered raisins melted and produced brown cookies:


The cookies were good – we were surprised how well they came out on our first attempt.

Shou-Ching really loved them, and so did our guests, but I thought the texture was drier and more crumbly than I would like. (Of course, I used to prefer uncooked dough to cookies, so I like things chewy.) This is a general issue with rice flour – it doesn’t hold together as well as gluten-containing flours. We tried both sticky rice flour and regular rice flour; I think the sticky rice flour might be very slightly better but it was difficult to detect a difference.

Here are some tweaks we’ll try next time:

  • Add more egg yolks. A little more fat might give a moister texture.
  • Try potato starch in place of tapioca flour.
  • Experiment with the protein. Most recipes either have no protein or use egg whites. We like the idea of a balanced mix of macronutrients, so we wanted to include a bit of protein. We tried the beef gelatin, partly because we have some around, and partly because gelatin mixed with water makes a good glue. We wondered if this might help the rice dough cohere. As yet we haven’t tested enough variations to know whether this was a good or bad idea.

We’d love to hear tips from more experienced cookie chefs – and reviews from the most honest critics, young children!

Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Puffs)

PAJ: This is a guest post by Mario Renato Iwakura, who comments as “Mario” and is our resident authority on hypothyroidism. At chez Jaminet we’ll be placing an order for tapioca starch soon to give this recipe a try. Looks scrumptious!


400g (14 oz) regular or sour tapioca/manioc/cassava flour/starch

200g (7 oz) grated parmesan cheese

200ml (6.7 fluid oz) milk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons butter (30g/1oz)

1 teaspoon sea salt


1. Put the tapioca flour in a bowl.

2. Heat the milk, butter and salt together to just shy of boiling (90ºC, 194ºF).

3. Slowly blend the milk-butter-salt into the tapioca flour stirring constantly until thoroughly mixed.

4. Let the batter cool and then add the eggs.

5. Knead until smooth.

6. Add the cheese and knead again until smooth.

7. Form into balls of around 30/35g (1/1.2oz).

The recipe will make around 30 balls.

8. Bake in a pre-heated woven (200ºC/400ºF) unti golden brown (around 20min if not frozen).

9. Enjoy while hot!

Some tips, information:

a. The original recipe calls for “Queijo Minas Curado” (ripened Minas cheese), Minas Gerais is a Brazilian state.
b. If you think that parmesan is too strong, you can use a mix of parmesan with another cheese.
c. You can add little pieces of gorgonzola, bacon, garlic or parsley to the balls.
d. Sour tapioca flour makes a tastier cheese puff.
e. Tapioca/manioc/cassava flour or starch is all the same thing.
f. The balls can be frozen.