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Mexi-Cauli Rice Bowl

Thanksgiving last week was awesome, because I was able to spend time with my family, including my adorable nephew Tayo.  My family lives in Texas, while I live in Oklahoma, so I don’t see my nephew as often as I would like.  He is full of energy and spunk, and his laughter and smiles make everything better (but when he is hungry, you better watch out, cause he’ll let you know how he feels 😉 ).

Every Thanksgiving, my parents invite relatives and friends from their local church to celebrate Thanksgiving.  We have a large potluck at my parent’s house, and this year I  whipped up some of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, including a green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole.  My sweet potato casserole is a family favorite, and is usually polished off before the end of dinner.

I’m Nigerian-American, and we also have several Nigerian dishes as well, like Jollof Rice (rice cooked with tomato stew and spices), Moi Moi (a dished made from black beans), meat pies and fried plantains.

I love having family and friends come together to celebrate and give thanks for health, well being, and being able to gather together and celebrate the holidays.  However, one of the absolutely best parts about Thanksgiving in Texas, is that I don’t have to worry about finishing off leftovers!  By the time I make it back home, turkey (and any other leftovers) are the last things I want to eat.

If you’re also tired of turkey, ham, and casseroles, than I have a ground beef and vegetable dish that is sure to make your tastebuds happy!

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This dish was inspired by my desire for latin american flavored meal without being too carb-heavy.  With low-carb veggies like cauliflower and green and red bell peppers, and ground beef flavored with spices like cumin, chili powder and oregano, you are going to enjoy this flavor combination.

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Depending on your tolerance for spicy foods, you can also kick it up a notch by adding more red pepper flakes.

I’d love to know how your Thanksgiving went!  Feel free to leave a comment below sharing your favorite traditional (and non-traditional) Thanksgiving dishes.  If you make the Mexi-Cauli Rice Bowl, please let me know what you think!

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Mexi-Cauli Rice Bowl

Servings: serves 3-4


Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomato
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cooking fat (lard, tallow, coconut oil, butter, avocado oil)

Instructions:

  1. Process the cauliflower florets into cauliflower rice by using the shredding attachment on a food processor.  If you don’t have access to a food processor, you can “rice” the cauliflower by using a handle held food grater.  Pour the cauliflower rice into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the ground beef and all of the spices (but reserving 1 teaspoon of sea salt).  Cook the ground beef over medium high heat until browned, approximately 10-12 minutes.
  3. Once the meat has browned, add the diced tomatoes and lower the heat to medium-low, simmering the browned beef and diced tomatoes for 15-20 minutes.  Once the browned beef has finished simmering, remove from heat and set aside.
  4. While the beef and diced tomatoes are simmering, preheat a large pot over medium high heat.  Then add 1 tablespoon of the cooking fat to the pot.
  5. Once the cooking fat has heated, add the minced garlic and sautee for 20-30 seconds.  Add the diced onions and sautee an additional 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the diced red and green bell peppers to the large pot, and continue sauteeing for 6-7 minutes.
  7. Add the cauliflower rice to the large pan, and mix with the diced onions and bell peppers until combined.
  8. Continue cooking the cauliflower mixture, stirring the mixture periodically until the rice has softened, 8-10 minutes.
  9. Once the cauliflower rice mixture has cooked through, remove from heat.
  10. Mix the cauliflower rice mixture with the beef and diced tomatoes, and stir to thoroughly combine.
  11. serve immediately.

 

Notes:

  • This meal makes great leftovers.

 


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Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup with Sausage, Bacon and Kale

Now that colder weather has arrived, I’m in the mood for foods that make me feel warm and cozy.  I absolutely hate the cold, and wish I could live in pajamas and warm fuzzy bathrobes all day (fuzzy bathrobes are the best kind of bathrobes, just sayin’).  While pajamas and bathrobes are currently not part of the dress code at my job, changing the dress code at work is one of my top priorities 😉  Until then, drinking hot tea at work to keep my hands (and body) warm will have to do, along with wrapping myself in warm blankets and ignoring the stares of fellow co-workers when I’m wrapped up in my blanket like I burrito.  But I digress.

 This recipe for cauliflower soup is sure to keep you warm and cozy on a cool fall/winter evening.  It’s packed full of flavor (you’ll just have to trust me on this one), and the addition of bacon grease (crazy, I know) takes it to another level entirely!

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This recipe is a fan favorite among friends, and is recipe I like to make for anyone, regardless of whether they follow a Paleo/gluten-free lifestyle.

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You may get words of love and adoration from friends and family after you make this recipe for them.  If you don’t, I hope they at least say thank you for the flavor party that is sure to be happening in their mouths.

If you try out this recipe, please let me know what you think.  I’d love to read your feedback!  What are some things you like to do to keep you warm during the cold season?

Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup with Sausage, Bacon and Kale

Servings: serves 6-8


Ingredients (for the sausage):

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Ingredients (for the soup):

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 head of kale, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 slices of bacon, cooked, drained and chopped (reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (can sub with coconut milk to make dairy-free)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of cooking fat (lard, avocado oil, butter, ghee, tallow)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

For the Sausage:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the sausage until everything has been fully incorporated.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausage to the skillet, and cook over medium heat until  sausage has browned and cooked through, approximately 10-12 minutes.  Drain excess fat once the sausage is thoroughly cooked, and then set aside.

 

For the Soup:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower and onion.
  4. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of cooking fat onto the cauliflower and onion, and toss to coat.
  5. Place the vegetables on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  6. Trim the top off the head of garlic.  Place the garlic on a small piece of aluminum foil.  Pour two teaspoons of cooking fat on top of the garlic.  Wrap the foil around the garlic so that it is completely sealed.
  7. Place the garlic wrapped in foil on a small corner of the baking sheet.
  8. Roast the cauliflower, onions and garlic in the oven for approximately 1 hour until they have softened, (you should be able to pierce the roasted vegetables easily with a fork).  Toss the cauliflower and onions halfway the cooking process.  Once the cauliflower, onions and garlic have finished roasting, remove the baking sheet from the oven.
  9. Allow the roasted garlic to cool, and then peel once you are able to safely handle it.
  10. Place a large cooking pot on the stove.  Pour the roasted cauliflower and onion into the pot, and then add 7 cups of chicken broth.
  11. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium low, letting the vegetables simmer in the chicken broth for approximately 30 minutes.
  12. Turn the stove off, and pour the roasted vegetables, chicken broth and peeled roasted garlic into a vitamix, and puree until smooth, approximately 2-3 minutes depending on your preference level.  If you don’t have a vitamix, a large high powered food processor should work.
  13. After the mixture has  pureed, pour the mixture back into the large cooking pot.
  14. Place the pot back on the stove, and reheat the pot using medium heat.  To the pot, add the heavy cream, sea salt, thyme, oregano, paprika, pepper, sausage, bacon, kale and bacon grease and stir until all the ingredients in the mixture are fully incorporated.
  15. Cook the soup over medium heat for 8-10 minutes.
  16. serve immediately and enjoy!

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Supreme Pizza Egg Muffins

I’m a person who loves convenience when it comes to breakfast during the work week.  I typically workout in the mornings, and by the time I come home from the gym to get ready for work, the last thing I want to do is try and start cooking breakfast.  As a result, my go-to-meals for breakfast in the morning are usually egg muffins.

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They are easy to make, and packed full of flavor.   I like to make a large batch of egg muffins on Sundays while I am meal prepping for the week.  I portion the egg muffins into ziplock bags and then throw them in the freezer.  During the week, it’s a simple task of me throwing a pre-portioned bag of frozen egg muffins into my lunch bag before I head off to work.

When I get to work, I heat the egg muffins in the microwave in my company’s office (they re-heat really well).  I get several comments from co-workers about how wonderful the eggs muffins smell in the mornings while they are warming up.  Those comments also include strong hints to share my breakfast(which I ignore, because I’m hungry).  I may share my cookies with you, but don’t touch my breakfast 😉

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Although this recipe includes ingredients found as toppings on a supreme pizza, feel free to play around with ingredients and spices.  Try making taco egg muffins by using ground beef, cheddar cheese, taco seasoning, onions and peppers.  I’ve also made egg muffins with baked chicken, bacon, caramelized onions, mozzarella and artichoke.  Those were the bomb!

Please share some go to tips you have for making easy breakfasts during the week,and your favorite egg muffin combinations in the comments below!

Supreme Pizza Egg Muffins

Servings: makes approximately 24


Ingredients:

For the Muffins:

  • 13 eggs
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional, omit to make dairy-free)
  • 4 ounces pepperoni slices, chopped
  • 4 ounce can portobello mushrooms, drained
  • 2.25 ounce can black olives, drained
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cooking fat

For the Pizza Sauce:

  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 ounces of tomato paste (1/2 of a 6 ounce can)
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage to the skillet, and cook until the meat has browned and is in crumbles.
  3. After the sausage has cooked, drain the excess fat (reserving 1 teaspoon), place the sausage in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 teaspoon of fat from sausage over medium-high heat.  Added diced red onion and saute for 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Add the diced green bell peppers to the skillet and saute with the onions for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from heat, place the peppers and onions in to the bowl with the ground beef, and set aside to cool.
  7. In a small separate bowl, mix together the pizza sauce ingredients thoroughly until completely combined. Set aside.
  8. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, Italian seasoning, sea salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper.
  9. Once the peppers/onion/sausage mixture has cooled, to the large bowl add chopped pepperoni slices, black olives, portobello mushrooms and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and mix together.
  10. Line two 12 serving cupcake pans with liners (or grease the muffin cups with cooking fat).
  11. Fill each cupcake liner half way with the egg/coconut milk mixture, and then fill each liner with approximately 2 tablespoons of the supreme pizza topping mixture.
  12.  Dollop a tablespoon of pizza sauce over each cupcake liner.
  13. Take the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle a pinch of mozzarella cheese on top of each cupcake liner.
  14. Place the cupcake pans in the oven and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until firm (a knife inserted into the egg muffins should come out clean), rotating the pans half way through (and also making sure to rotate the pans from top to bottom).
  15. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.


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Spaghetti Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Basil Walnut Pesto

Sometimes I burn things.  Okay, what you read may have sounded somewhat creepy.  Let me clarify.  To be more specific, sometimes I unintentionally burn the food I’m cooking.  I may leave something on the stove and forget to check it, only to come back later and find said food “cooked” to an inedible crisp.  Or, I may overestimate how long something is suppose to bake, and cook it until its at a point where even my best guy friends won’t touch it.  It’s somewhat frustrating, but comes with the territory, at least in my world.  When I cook something, I look forward to sampling the different food combinations that make up a recipe.  When that meal happens to burn (sometimes a fiery flame of death), my heart hurts, and my soul gets crushed just a little.

On the other hand, I have somewhat of an unlikely love of “burnt” Brussels Sprouts and broccoli.  My favorite part when roasting these vegetables is the little extra crispy bites.  I don’t burn them until they are completely unrecognizable, but the vegetables are usually a lot more crispy then most people prefer.  Therefore, I usually only crisp them up in the comfort of my own home, in a meal that won’t be shared with others (mainly, because I don’t want to share 😉 ).

Why this long talk about burning food?  Well, it gives a little background for last week’s fiasco.  I invited my friend Olivia over for grilled steaks, Brussels Sprouts roasted with chopped bacon, and mashed sweet potatoes.  Olivia asked that her steak be cooked well-done (horrible, I know), which request I fully intended to comply with.  What I failed to realize is that by warming up the grill as the sun was setting, I wouldn’t actually be grilling the steaks until it was night time.  This wouldn’t be a problem, except that I have poor lighting in my backyard.  I wasn’t able to visually check the steaks because of the bad lighting, and they cooked longer than necessary, well past the point of preference for either one of us.

Olivia asked for a well-done steak, but I ended up cooking her steak so long that she couldn’t eat most of it because it was too tough.  It’s a good think she enjoyed the vegetables, because that ended up being the majority of her dinner for the night.

Thankfully, this recipe for Spaghetti Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Basil Walnut Pesto came out great, and no food was harmed in the making of this meal.

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I made chicken to go along with the spaghetti squash using my chicken marinade recipe, and these meal was made to rave reviews.

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Try it out, and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Spaghetti Squash With Sun-dried Tomato Basil Walnut Pesto

Servings: serves 5-6


Ingredients:

  • 1 large Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup shredded Manchego cheese*
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Chop spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.  Quick tip, to make the spaghetti squash easier to cut, microwave for 1-2 minutes.  This makes the shell a little softer, so that you don’t have to hammer away at it like your hacking down a tree.
  4. Place the spaghetti squash cut side down, and bake in the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes.
  5. Once cooked, take the spaghetti squash out of the oven, flip the halves over and let cool.
  6. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S blade, place the basil, sun-dried tomato, manchego cheese, walnuts, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
  7. Turn the food processor on, and pulse 5 or 6 times, for 2-3 seconds each time.  Scrap down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  8. Then turn the food processor on, and while the food processor is running, slowly pour in the extra virgin olive oil and continue running the food processor until the pesto ingredients have fully combined.
  9. Once the spaghetti squash has cooled enough to handle, use a fork to scrap the squash noodles into a large bowl.
  10. Pour the pesto over the spaghetti squash noodles, and stir the  pesto with the squash noodles until fully incorporated.
  11. Plate and enjoy!

 

Notes:

  • You can sub shredded Parmesan cheese for manchego cheese if this type of cheese is difficult to locate, or omit the cheese entirely to make the recipe dairy free and Whole30 friendly.

 


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Sausage Sweet Potato Hash

It seems that over the past couple of months, babies have been everywhere.  I have many friends having babies, friends who are pregnant, and friends who I have diagnosed with baby fever.  This is quite evident at my gym at CrossFit405.  Several of our female coaches, and the wives of our male coaches are pregnant (I think something is in the water, which is why I fill up my water bottle at home before I head to the gym 😉 ).

The first CrossFit405 bundle of joy to arrive was the son of Matthew and Lori Spaid, Gabriel River Spaid (Matthew is one of our coaches at CrossFit405)!

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It’s their first child, and they are completely in love with him (but who wouldn’t be, with such a stinkin’ cute baby?).  Several friends from my gym have volunteered to help out the Spaids by providing home cooked meals during the first couple of weeks while they adjust to parenthood.  The Spaids were open to a variety of meal ideas, but requested that the meals be gluten-free, and have tons of meat and veggies.  When I learned of the type of meals they would enjoy, I knew just the meal to prepare, my Sausage Sweet Potato Hash!  Loaded with tons of protein and veggies, this meal is a clean and healthy dish with loads of flavor.

I brought the meal over to the Spaids on Labor Day, and got to spend time with Lori and her adorable son.

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Now I’m excited to share this dish with you guys!

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This meal is especially great for those off you who are doing a Paleo Challenge, such as the Whole30 or the Lurong Challenge, due to its simplicity, and minimally proceeded ingredients.  I hope you guys enjoy!

Sausage Sweet Potato Hash

Servings: serves 5-6


Ingredients:

For the Sausage

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cooking fat
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

For the Sweet Potato Hash

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cooking fat
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

Sausage

  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, sage, fennel seeds, sea salt, pepper, thyme, garlic cloves, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using).
  2. In a large skillet, heat a teaspoon of cooking fat over medium heat (for cooking fat, you can use lard, butter, coconut oil, tallow, etc.).  Once the fat is heated through, add the chopped onion and cook until the onion is translucent, 8-10 minutes.
  3. Once the onion is translucent, added the meat to the pan, and brown the meat over medium heat until cooked through, approximately 15-20 minutes.  Drain excess fat once the meat has been cooked.

 

Sweet Potato Hash

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of cooking fat over medium heat.
  2. Once the oil has been heated, add the sweet potatoes, red bell peppers and green bell peppers to the large skillet.  Cook the vegetables over medium  to medium-low heat, stirring periodically until the vegetables are cooked through, 40-45 minutes.
  3.  Once the vegetables are done cooking, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. After the vegetables have been cooked, pour the sausage and veggie mixture into a large bowl, and stir to combine.
  5. Sprinkle  thinly sliced scallions on top of the  sausage sweet potato has before serving.

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Sweet and Salty Balsamic Chicken Marinade

I have a secret.  It’s not really a well kept secret (does that still make it a secret?), but I like to think I’m somewhat discreet about it. Actually, to be honest, it’s not really a secret.  When I say discreet, I really mean posting multiple pictures on Facebook and Instagram about it.  Okay, I’m blathering on.  Want to know what it is?

I have an addiction to kitchen appliances.  If it’s shiny, metallic, sharp, and can be used in the kitchen, I want it.  If it has a motor and needs to be plugged in, I want it even more.  I’m not going to admit exactly what gadgets I have (no need to face my addiction head on), but I will tell you that many kitchen drawers that were empty when I moved into my house last year have now been filled with new finds.

Here is a real secret, one I’m sure you can figure out pretty easily.  I don’t use all my kitchen appliances.  It’s kind of like that new shirt you thought you wanted, and then bought it and wore it a couple of times, only to relegate it to the back of your closet. That’s kind of how it was with one of my biggest purchases, an outdoor grill.  I spent months saving money, reading reviews, and researching the best grill to buy within my budget.  After I made my decision, I “volunteered” one of my friends to help me pick it up.  After I got it home, I then proceeded to let it sit in my backyard for several months without use.

I only ever used it when my friends came over to grill, and then someone else was always the one doing the grilling.  However, after visiting my family in Houston over Memorial Day weekend, and enjoying the yummy goodness my dad grilled for the family, I decided to utilize my grill more frequently, with pretty spectacular results.

One of my favorite things to grill this summer has been marinated chicken thighs.  They are flavorful, and the meat stays tender and retains its moister longer than white meat, even if you have the unfortunate experience of cooking them a little longer than intended (which I have a habit of doing).

I have created a marinade for chicken that is packed with different flavors, and the salty and sweet combination is sure to make your taste buds happy.  I hope you enjoy!

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Sweet and Salty Balsamic Chicken Marinade

Servings: serves 4-6


Ingredients:

  • approximately 2 pounds of skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients other than the chicken in a large bowl, and whisk to combine.
  2. Place the chicken thighs in a resealable bag.  Pour the marinade over the chicken thighs to coat.
  3. Remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing the bag closed.
  4. Marinate the chicken thighs for at least one hour in the fridge (can marinate overnight).
  5. Once you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the grill.
  6. Once the grill is preheated, reduce the heat to medium low, and place the chicken thighs on the grill.  Cook the chicken thighs approximately 10 to 12 minutes on each side until cooked through (the chicken should reach an internal temperature of about 180 degrees).
  7. Remove from grill and serve.

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Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m relatively new to food blogging, so I’m learning as I go along.  I’m used to making things on a whim when it comes to cooking, and everything usually ends up being pretty tasty, and sometimes even better than expected!  But as it turns out, developing recipes for gluten-free baked goods is a whole other animal.  The ratio of gluten-free flours (i.e., coconut flour, almond flour, cashew flour, etc.) to liquids (i.e. eggs, liquid sweetener, etc.) is not consistent across the board, and can vary wildly depending on what ingredients you want to use for a recipe.

Normally, I typically just follow a recipe when I bake gluten-free treats and breads.  But I wanted to create a brand new recipe for the blog, and to do that I need to experiment in the kitchen.  After much trial and error, and several batches of cookies later, I think I’ve come up with a recipe that will not disappoint!

This recipe for Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies tastes delicious, and has been a hit with all of my friends and co-workers.  I’ve had several people tell me they couldn’t tell it was gluten-free/Paleo friendly, and that it just tasted like a delicious chocolate chip cookie.

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I’ve had requests to make several batches of these cookies, so be warned that if you take them to a party, you may have people wanting to become your best friend so that you’ll whip up some more.

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CASHEW BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES inspired by Slim Palate

Servings: makes 18-20 cookies


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup creamy cashew butter
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk (room temperature), beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cashew butter, egg and egg yolk,  and vanilla extract, and stir until all of the liquid ingredients are well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut sugar, baking soda and sea salt.
  5. Add the coconut sugar mixture to the liquid ingredients in the large mixing bowl, and mix everything together until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated (you’ll need a little muscle to do this, but you want to make sure all of the ingredients are mixed throughly.  You can do it!).
  6. Add in the chocolate chips, and stir to combine.
  7. Place dough on the parchment sheet, about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons per cookie.  Don’t crowd the sheet with dough.  I would only do eight or nine cookies at a time on one tray, since the dough spreads on the pan while baking.
  8. Place in the higher rack of the oven, and bake for approximately 12 minutes.
  9. Take the cookies from the oven, and cool on parchment paper for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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Indian Spiced Roasted Cauliflower

I love brussels sprouts.  Weird, right?  The first time I ever ate this vegetable, they had been cooked by steaming them whole.  I took one bite, and spit it out in disgust.  I vowed never to eat them again, figuring there were plenty of other vegetables I could tolerate; although at the time, the list of veggies that I actually liked was small (turns out corn covered in margarine does not a healthy meal make).

After I  transitioned to a more Paleo/Primal lifestyle, I realized I needed to start loving veggies, since they would play a much bigger role in my diet.  I started of with simple things like salads and frozen green beans.  But that wasn’t doing it for me.  I needed more flavor and more variety.

A whole new world opened up for me when I started roasting vegetables.  Roasted zucchini, roasted spaghetti squash, roasted broccoli, roasted green beans, it seemed I couldn’t go wrong with roasting (probably because roasting brings out the natural sugars, and I admit to being somewhat of a sugar addict). Which brings me back to brussels sprouts.  I discovered a tip for cutting them in half before cooking them so that they are less bitter, and decided to give them another chance.  Roasting the halved brussels sprouts (before roasting them I tossed them in a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar) forever changed my world, and I now typically eat roasted brussels sprouts at least once or twice a week.

So what does that have to do with roasted cauliflower?  Nothing actually.  Okay, just kidding.  For people who don’t like veggies (or think they don’t like them), I would recommend finding different ways to prepare them.  It may not be about the veggies themselves, but instead it may be how they are prepared, since different cooking methods can greatly affect both taste and texture.

I initially felt the same way about cauliflower as I did about brussels sprouts.  But I’ve since learned a variety of ways to cook cauliflower, making such recipes as cauliflower mashed potatoes, cauliflower pizza, cauliflower soup, and cauliflower bread sticks.

Another secret to enjoying veggies is covering them in ghee (or butter, depending on whether you have any dairy sensitivity).  What is ghee, you may ask?  It is a type clarified butter, made by heating butter until the water has evaporated, and the milk solids have browned, which gives ghee its nutty flavor.  For more information about ghee and its benefits, check out Stephanie Gaudreau’s take on incorporating ghee  into a healthy diet on her blog Stupid Easy Paleo.

When I went to Paleo F(X) back in April of 2014, I checked out a booth hosted by Pure Indian Foods.  Pure Indian Foods is a company that makes several different types of products, but is known for its production of ghee.

They make grass-feed ghee,

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spiced ghees,

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and something truly unique, a mixture of coconut and ghee (a 50/50 mixture of organic grass-fed ghee and organic virgin coconut oil).

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After answering several of my questions about the company’s products, the owner of the company graciously provided me with a jar of ghee to try out.  And after seeing all of the different spiced ghees available, I went head and purchased a sample package of the different flavors – with flavors like garlic ghee and italian ghee, I just couldn’t pass them up!

Although I have learned many different ways to use cauliflower, roasting is usually my go to method for cooking them.  This simple recipe for Indian Spiced Roasted Cauliflower is a great addition to any meal.  I like to pair them as a side dish with chicken tikka masala.   I incorporated Pure Indian Foods grass-fed ghee into the recipe, and it did not disappoint!

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Indian Spiced Roasted Cauliflower – recipe adapted from Oroville Crossfit.

Servings: serves 4-6


Ingredients

  • 2 heads cauliflower, rinsed, chopped and broken into small florets
  • 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons Garam Masala
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place cauliflower florets into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Place the remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and stir thoroughly until combined.
  5. pour the mixture over the cauliflower florets (mixture will be thick), and toss to coat.
  6. Pour the cauliflower onto the lined baking dishes, and spread out evenly so that the cauliflower florets are not too crowded.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.
  8. remove from oven and serve immediately.

 

Notes

  • You can substitute melted butter for the ghee.


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Paleo Schmaleo – What the heck is it, and what in the world can I eat?

What is the “Paleo/Primal Diet”(note that I use the term Paleo and Primal interchangeably throughout this post)?  Is it a caveman diet encouraging people to eat copious amounts of red meat?  Or is it a diet in which people are forced to eat dry chicken and steamed broccoli, while fantasizing about never ending pasta bowls, or bread rolls slathered in butter? Are you thinking about flaky biscuits right now, because I may be 😉

There are many differing views on how to describe/define Paleo, like whether people should eat diary, whether potatoes are Paleo, or whether people should be eating low-carb vs. high-carb diets.  I’m not going to go over all of the different issues, since they are covered more extensively in blog posts of great Paleo bloggers that I’ll mention later on in this post.  However, for an overall view of the Paleo lifestyle, I think popular Paleo blogger Liz Wolf does a pretty good job of getting to the heart of Paleo and healthy eating with her take on what constitutes good nutrition:

“Seek real, nutrient-filled food, as close to its natural state as possible: whole, unprocessed, unmodified, and unrefined.  Pretend the modern supermarket doesn’t exist.  Choose foods that could be hunted or gathered-food that has ALWAYS been food; not factory-made products.  Support local, responsible producers.  Eat animals, eggs, seafood, vegetables, fruits and traditional foods.  Eat fats from pastured animals, seafood, coconut, avocado, olives, and cold-pressed oils.  Drink water.  Incorporate super-foods: fermented vegetables and beverages, homemade bone broth, and organ meats (if you dare).  Above all, ditch obsessive behavior and “diets.”  Question conventional wisdom.  Fuel with Real Food.”  Liz Wolf, Good Nutrition (in 100 words)

If you are just starting, and want to learn about the basics of Paleo, I would encourage you to start with Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson, two leaders in Paleo/Primal community.

Mark Sisson is the author of several books, including “The Primal Blueprint” and “The Primal Blueprint 21 Day Transformation: A Step-by-Step Guide Gene Reprogramming Action Plan.”  Mark Sisson has an amazing website called Mark’s Daily Apple.  The website has a wealth of helpful information including lots of charts, graphics, and Q&A blog posts, in which Mark Sisson answers many common questions people have about living a Primal lifestyle.  When I first learned about Paleo, I spent hours read through his articles.  The website archives blog posts by topic, so if you have a specific question on a particular issue, you can jump straight to those blog posts instead of having to click thorough years of posts.  Mark Sisson also recently started a podcast called the “Primal Blueprint Podcast” which you can download on itunes.  It has lots of information for beginners, and expands upon the information presented in his website.

Robb Wolf is the author of “The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet.”  Robb’s website is Robb Wolf, where Robb shares lots of tips, tricks and real world advice for transitioning to Paleo.  He also has a great podcast called the “Paleo Solution Podcast” that you can download on itunes with tons of helpful information.  His podcast is nice if you like to get into the geeky science stuff behind why the Paleo diets promotes certain foods (warning, he does sometimes use explicit language during his podcasts).

There are several other leaders in the Paleo/Primal movement providing information on living a healthier lifestyle.  My go to people for information and helpful guides are as follows:

Diane Sanfilippo, author of the book the New York Times Best Seller “Practical Paleo”, “The 21 Day Sugar Detox”, and “The 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook.”  Her website is Balanced Bites.

Chris Kresser, author of the book “Your Personal Paleo Code.”  His website is Chris Kresser.

Dallas & Melissa Hartwig, authors of the New York Times Best Seller book, “It Starts with Food.  There website is Whole 9 Life.

Sarah Ballantyne, author of the book “The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body”, and the upcoming companion book, “The Paleo Approach Cookbook: A Detailed Guide to Heal Your Body and Nourish Your soul.” Her website is The Paleo Mom.

Okay, that’s all well an good you say.  But the real question you may be asking is, “WHAT CAN I EAT?”  The thought of reducing the amount of processed foods you may normally eat might be freaking you out.  However, once you realize all of the foods you get to eat (bacon, anyone?), you’ll be amazed at some of the awe-inspiring recipes you’ll whip up that will rock you (and your family’s) taste buds. There are hundreds, if not thousands of amazing Paleo blogs and websites that provide lots of mouth-watering recipes.  I’ve spent several years researching and reading through these blogs, and want to share with you some of my favorites.

Here are several blogs/websites that will help you get started:

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Bill Staley and Hayley Mason

Primal Palate – Bill Staley and Hayley Mason are a husband and wife team that run their website, and they are also the authors of several cookbooks, including “Make it Paleo”, “The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking”, and “Gather.”  A big plus on their website is a feature that allows you to make grocery lists from the recipes posted to their website,  and you can also filter recipes to avoid specific ingredients (which can be very helpful, depending on what food sensitivities you may have).

Civilized Caveman Cooking – George Bryant runs this successful Paleo Blog.  His recipes are delicious, and his photograph skills are so good, they make me want to reach into the screen and take a bite (too bad this isn’t a reality yet).  In addition to providing a food blog, he also sends weekly meal plan for subscribers of his newsletters (signing up is free).  In addition, George has co-authored a cookbook with Juli Bauer of Paleoomg, the New York Times Best Selling cookbook “The Paleo Kitchen.”

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Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry

Paleo Parents – Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry are the husband and wife team behind this website.  Their website provides lots of yummy recipes, and is also a great resource for families with small children who want help transitioning their family to Paleo.  They are the authors of “Eat Like a Dinosaur”, “Beyond Bacon”, the ebook “3 Phase Paleo”, and the soon to be released “Real Life Paleo.”

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Michelle Tam

Nom Nom Paleo – Michelle Tam is the author behind this blog, and makes great mouthwatering recipes that adhere to stricter version of Paleo (helpful for those who are participating in elimination diets).  She is the author of the New York Times Best Selling cookbook “Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans.”

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Danielle Walker

Against All Grain – Danielle Walker is the blogger behind this blog, and creates recipes that are hands down some of the best Paleo recipes I have ever had.  It’s hard to go wrong making a recipe from her website.  Danielle is the author of the New York Times Best Selling cookbook “Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great”, and will be releasing a new book in September titled “Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple.”

Stupid Easy Paleo – Stephanie Gaudreau provides great recipes, along with tips and advise on Paleo living.  She is especially helpful for athletes who want to stick to a Paleo diet, but have issues with getting enough carbs from good food sources.  She has even written a book an ebook on this topic, “The Performance Paleo Cookbook: Recipes for Eating Better, Training Harder & Getting Stronger.”

For even more blogs with mouthwatering recipes, check out these Paleo blogs:

Paleomg

Paleo Cupboard

Urban Poser

The Healthy Foodie

Slim Palate

Zen Belly Blog

Paleo Newbie

The Clothes Make the Girl

Everyday Paleo

Brittany Angell

Taylor Made it Paleo

Multiply Delicious

There are lots of great health blogs/websites that are not strictly Paleo, but provide a lot of nutritious and delicious recipes, along with helpful tips and advise on leading a healthy lifestyle.  I refer to these types of websites as “JERF” (Just Eat Real Food).  Some of my favorites are:

The Domestic Man

Healthy Living How To

I Breathe I’m Hungry

The Iron You

Deliciously Organic

Inspiralized

As I mentioned earlier, the blogs and websites I have referenced are in no way an exhaustive list of all of the great Paleo blogs out there, and I am discovering amazing new Paleo/healthy food blogs all the time.

Here are several tips if you are interested in looking up even more Paleo/Primal recipes:

1. Many vegetarian and vegan blogs have recipes that are very Paleo friendly, so don’t feel you have to limit yourself to Paleo/Primal websites.

2.  Go to Food Gawker, which is a website that brings together amazing recipes from all over the internet.  You can type in “paleo”, “primal”, “gluten free”, “vegetarian”, “vegan” or any other combination into the search function to find great recipes that suit your dietary preferences.

3.  There are several websites similar to Foodgawker which cater to the Paleo community:

Stalkerville

The Foodee

5.  Finally, I have several pinterest boards you can follow to get even more recipe ideas:

Paleo/Primal Recipes

Whole 30 Recipes (an elimination diet)

Gluten-Free and Grain-Free Desserts and Baked Goods

Paleo Drink Ideas

I hope this post leads you to great recipes that will become family favorites.  With meals like Paleo Pad Thai, Pizza Spaghetti Pie, Chicken Sausage Sweet Potato Hash, and Mixed Seafood Paella, there is sure to be something that you and your family can enjoy.    If you have a favorite blog you read and would like to recommend, please feel free to share in the comments below!


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I’ve been on a baking kick lately.  In fact, I have been on a quest to make the perfect almond butter chocolate chip cookies.  I’ve tried several different recipes, and although each recipe created great cookies, I was hoping to create a version packed with flavor and chocolate goodness.

While experimenting in the kitchen last week in my attempt at almond butter cookie awesomeness, I accidentally ended up creating a new recipe for Almond Butter Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies.

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I was hanging out with my friend Rachel at the time, and convinced her to help me on my chocolate chip cookie quest for perfection.  I decided that the addition of pumpkin and cinnamon to the cookie batter would kick it up a notch.    However, it turned out that the addition of pumpkin to the cookie batter resulted in batter that was too thin.  I forged ahead, and stuck a small batch of cookies in the oven, hoping that the oven would work some kind of miracle on the cookies.  Rachel and I tasted tested the first batch of cookies out of the oven.  While they were tasty, the batter had spread very thin, and as a result, the cookies looked like chocolate pancakes.

Rachel mentioned that the cookies had the taste and texture of brownies.  That gave both of us the idea to take the rest of the cookie batter and bake it in a pan to see what would happened.  The cookie batter created brownies better then I could have hoped for.

It was a very happy accident indeed, and I am excited to share the results!

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Have you every had a “happy accident” in the kitchen?  If so, feel free to share in the comments section!

Almond Butter Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies

Servings: makes 12-15


Ingredients

  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raw almond butter (creamy)*
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda*
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate chunks*

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. grease an 8 x 8 inch (or 7 x 11) baking dish.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg and egg yolk, pumpkin and vanilla extract and mix well.  Then add the almond butter, and stir until all of the liquid ingredients are fully incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon.
  5. Add the coconut sugar/cocoa mixture to the liquid ingredients in the large mixing bowl, and mix everything together until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  6. Add in the chocolate chunk, and stir to combine.
  7. Pour the brownie batter into the greased baking dish, and spread evenly.
  8. Place in the lower rack of the oven, and bake for 30-35 minutes until done (to check if it is done, insert a toothpick into the brownies.  The toothpick should come out mostly clean).
  9. Let the brownies cool before serving.
  10. Brownies will keep in an airtight storage container at room temperature for 2-3 days.*

 

Notes

  • To make the recipe dairy-free, use the chocolate brand enjoy life chocolate chunks (they are diary, soy and gluten free).
  • If you want the brownies to be more cake like in texture, use 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda instead of 3/4 teaspoons of baking soda.
  • If you have difficulty finding raw almond butter, you can make your own.  Place 3 cups of raw almonds into a high powered food processor.  Process  the almonds for 15-20 minutes (scraping down the sides as necessary) until creamy.  This will yield approximately 1 cup of creamy almond butter.
  • How long these brownies last is my best guess, the pan is usually empty by the second day!