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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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Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

I love Brussels sprouts.  If you missed my ode to these yummy veggies, you can read about it here.  To make Brussels sprouts even better, I eat them with bacon.  It’s pretty much a given that adding bacon to any type of roasted veggies (or any other meal for that matter) will kick the flavors up a notch, keeping you coming back for more.  I originally created this recipe for roasted sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts by throwing together spices and veggies, hoping for the best.  It’s now become a staple in my diet, and I eat these veggies  at least once a week.  I use different types of vinegar and spices each time, but the basic recipe is as follows:

Preheat oven 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a backing sheet with parchment paper.  Rinse 1 1/2 pounds of Brussels sprouts.  Cut off the ends of each of them, and then chop the Brussels sprouts in half.

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Place the Brussels sprouts in a large mixing bowl.  Peel two large sweet potatoes, and then chop them into 1/2 inch pieces.

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Place the chopped sweet potatoes in the bowl with the chopped Brussels sprouts.  To the veggies, add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 2 teaspoons sea salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.  Toss the veggies in the bowl to coat.

Chop up 4-6 slices of bacon into thin strips (I typically cut the bacon in half lengthwise, and then chop it up into smaller pieces).

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Spread the veggies on the tray, making sure to turn over each of the Brussels sprouts cut side down.  Sprinkle the bacon on top of the veggies.

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Don’t be stingy with the bacon.  Sprinkle those pieces everywhere!

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Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 1 hour, until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.  then serve and enjoy!

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Recipe

ROASTED SWEET POTATOES AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Servings: serves 8-10 as a small side dish (serves 4-5 if this is your main/only side dish)


Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 4-6 slices of bacon (use sugar-free bacon to make the recipe Whole30 compliant)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Rinse the Brussels sprouts.  Cut off the ends of each of them, and then chop the Brussels sprouts in half.
  4. Place the Brussels sprouts in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Peel two large sweet potatoes, and then chop them into 1/2 inch pieces.
  6. Place the chopped sweet potatoes in the bowl with the chopped Brussels sprouts.
  7. To the veggies, add the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, sea salt,  black pepper, and  teaspoon garlic powder.  Toss the veggies in the bowl to coat.
  8. Chop up 4-6 slices of bacon.
  9. Spread the veggies on the tray, making sure to turn over each of the Brussels sprouts cut side down.
  10. Sprinkle the chopped bacon on top of the veggies.
  11. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 1 hour, until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.
  12. Transfer to a bowl, serve and enjoy!

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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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Creamy Avocado and Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

I like to live dangerously, on the edge of my seat.  I go where the wind takes me, and love to experiment and try new things all of the time.  I’m a true rebel, wild and free.  Okay, so those last three sentences were complete fiction.  Well, not complete fiction.  Sometimes, I like to live dangerously by going 4 miles over the speed limit in a 40 mile an hour zone, but only if there are several other cars going over the speed limit.  And when I say I like to experiment and try new things, I really just mean going through the grocery store in a different order than my usual pattern (but I don’t do that a lot, since it means getting out of my comfort zone.  I mean, what happens if they run out of avocados because I decided to go through the bulk section of the store first?  True story.  Okay, not really).

I know I have your rapt attention now, you’re probably just hanging on the edge of your seats waiting to see what else I’ll reveal, huh?

The one place I do like to experiment is in the kitchen.  I love whipping up meals, and making friends taste test my successful (and unsuccessful) recipe developments.  This particular recipe for Creamy Avocado and Cilantro cauliflower rice turned out to be very tasty, and I’m excited to share it with you.  I have mentioned the versatility of cauliflower in a previous blog post here, and decided to use it to create a delicious side to take with me as a contribution to a BBQ party with some friends from my CrossFit gym a couple of weeks ago.

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Does continuing to exercise for 2-3 seconds after the instructor calls time during a CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) seem dangerous to you?  If so, I’m bad to the bone.

Be a rebel, and try out this recipe 😉  Let me know how it turned out in the comments!

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CREAMY AVOCADO AND CILANTRO CAULIFLOWER RICE – recipe adapted from Girl Meets Paleo.

Servings: serves 8-12


Ingredients:

For the Rice

  • 2 heads cauliflower, rinsed, chopped and broken into small florets
  • 1 tablespoon ghee*

For the Sauce

  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, rinsed with 1-inch of the stems removed
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Place cauliflower florets in a food processor, and pulse until the cauliflower is the size of small grains of rice.  You will need to “rice” the cauliflower in several batches.
  2. Heat the ghee over medium high heat in large skillet.  Once the ghee is heated, add the riced cauliflower to the skillet, and saute  the cauliflower rice on medium high heat for 6-8 minutes until cooked through.
  3. Once the cauliflower is cooked, turn off the heat and set aside.
  4. Place all of the ingredients for the sauce In the food processor, and puree until smooth.
  5. Pour sauce mixture over the cauliflower rice, and stir to combine.
  6. Pour mixture in a bowl and serve immediately.

 

Notes

  • You can substitute coconut oil for the ghee to make the recipe vegan friendly.
  • I made this recipe for a large crowd, so it makes a lot of servings.  I would recommend cutting the ingredients in half (and using the same instructions) if you want to serve this for a smaller crowd.


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Mongolian Beef

I have many friends who eat a gluten-free and/or grain-free diet, either for weight-loss, medical reasons, or as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.  But I also have many friends that don’t, and within that subset are friends that seem dubious over the possibility of eating gluten-free meals that actually taste good.

Just so you know, when I cook for a non-paleo palate, my priority is serving meals that taste good.  I don’t ever plan on springing  organ meats and fermented foods to my dinner guests the first time they come over.  Let’s be real, even I don’t eat that kind of stuff (I have beef liver sitting in my freezer, and still don’t have the courage to actually make a meal out of it).  My goal is to make foods that are so delicious, no one questions whether or not it is “weird diet food.”

One of my go to recipes that never disappoints in flavor is Mongolian Beef from The Iron You.  This recipe is full of flavorful ingredients like fresh ginger and minced garlic, and the dish can be paired with white rice or cauliflower rice (if you want to keep it lower in carbs).

My friend Krystal and her boyfriend Josh were in town for the weekend, and came over Sunday afternoon for lunch.  Since I knew it had never failed me before, I figured Mongolian Beef would be the perfect meal to share with them.

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Krystal was in town this weekend for a wedding reception.  I always love hanging out with her and sharing about some of our favorite things (which include cupcakes and working out).  With a sweet personality and infectious smile, it’s hard to be in a bad mood when she is around.  She has her own blog Moving Wright Along which I recommend you check out, where she shares her adventures in healthy living while going back to school to become a Registered Dietitian.

As I knew it would, the meal did not disappoint.  Krystal’s boyfriend Josh doesn’t a eat gluten-free diet, but liked it so much that he hinted to Krystal that he wouldn’t mind this meal being included in their regular dinner rotation.  Recipe success!

I hope you like the recipe as much as Krystal and Josh did.

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Recipe

Mongolian Beef – recipe adapted from The Iron You.

Servings: serves 3-4


Ingredients

  • 1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus two teaspoons olive oil (divided)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly

Instructions:

  1. Combine the coconut aminos and water into a small bowl.
  2. Heat two teaspoons of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. To the heated oil, add the ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds, and then quickly add the coconut aminos/water mixture before the garlic scorches.
  4. To the saucepan, add the coconut sugar, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes (if using)
  5. Raise the heat on the mixture and simmer for about 4 to 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.
  7. Combine beef slices and arrowroot powder in a ZipLock bag (or in a shallow dish) and toss until all beef slices are evenly coated.
  8. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan (or wok), until it’s hot but not smoking. Add beef and saute/stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until it begins to darken around the edges, stirring every now and then so that it cooks evenly.
  9. Remove the beef from the frying pan and clean the pan (but be careful, since the pan will be hot).
  10. Return the pan back over the heat, add the meat and simmer for one minute.   Then add the sauce and cook for one additional minute stirring constantly.
  11. Add the green onions and cook for one further minute.
  12. Transfer to a plate leaving the excess sauce in the pan and serve.

 


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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!

 

 


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PaleoF(x) Part 3: Meeting Some of My Favorite Paleo Bloggers

If you have not checked out my earlier recaps of Paleo F(x) 2014, you can check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

I crammed a lot of experiences during that weekend, but my favorite part about the whole experience was being able to meet some of my favorite bloggers!  There are so many great bloggers who give tons of insight, encouragement, knowledge bombs, and much more as they share their stories and experiences living a healthy real food lifestyle.  These bloggers also post tons of recipes, which I am then able to recreate and share with friends and family!

I loved meeting some of the biggest names in the Paleo/Primal movement and finding out how nice and down to earth they were.  Mark Sisson is one of the top people in the Paleo/Primal sphere, and the writer behind the hugely popular Primal blog Mark’s Daily Apple.  His blog was the first one I started reading when learning about how to transition to the Paleo diet.  I spent hours reading through his articles and learning the ins and outs of eating for health and performance.

I found out how kind Mark Sisson was after trying to capture pictures of him without him noticing, since I didn’t want to bother him.  He caught me lurking near him (still trying to work on being more stealthy), and when I went over to introduce myself and let him now I wasn’t trying to be the creepiest person on the planet, he graciously posed for a picture.

 

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Another big name in the Paleo community is Robb Wolf.  His book the Paleo Solution has helped lots of people to get healthy, and he shares many knowledge bombs on his blog and through his podcast.

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I was able to meet the lovely Danielle Walker, the popular blogger from the website Against All Grain.

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She had a book signing for her cookbook of the same name during that weekend, a New York Times Best Seller, and when I went up to have my book signed, she recognized me from Paleo F(x) 2013 (which meant the world to me)!

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She has a new book coming out this fall, “Against All Grains – meals made simple.”  I am very excited to check out her new recipes once the book is released on September 2, 2014.

I met Diane Sanfilippo during her book signing event.  She blogs at Balanced Bites, and is the author of the Twenty-One Day Sugar Detox, The 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook, and the New York Times bestselling book Practical Paleo.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, she co-hosts a Paleo podcast with Liz Wolf of Real Food Liz, the author behind the book Eat the Yolks (I have not had a chance to read the book yet, but it is on my long list of books purchase).

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I meet the lovely, talented, intelligent, fierce and all around awesome woman Stephanie Rouper, the blogger behind the blog Paleo for Women.  Her blog tackles some of the issues women within the Paleo movement face, including struggles and issues that may not be fixed with just diet and lifestyle changes.  I met her at Paleo F(x) 2013 last year, and was so glad to catch up with her again.  She has a new book out, Sexy By Nature, which I look forward to reading.

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Juli Bauer, the blogger behind Paleoomg, also attended Paleo F(x) 2014. I watched her food presentation, and listened to her in a panel discussion about incorporating treats into a Paleo lifestyle (both of which you can read about in Part 1 here). Juli’s blog is legit awesome, with tons of amazing Paleo recipes, lots of pictures of her adorable new puppy Jackson, stories about her life as a CrossFit coach, and also discussions about the ups and downs she faces being in the lime light as a popular Paleo food blogger.

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Juli and George Bryant (the blogger behind the popular blog Civilized Caveman Cooking) have co-authored a new cookbook, the Paleo Kitchen, which releases on June 10, 2014.  I have already pre-ordered the book, and can’t wait to make the blueberry pancakes pictured on the front cover.  Whose ready for a pancake party at my house?

Finally, I met my ultimate Paleo blogger girl crush Stacy Toth.  Stacy Toth has lost over 100 lbs + while on a Paleo diet.  That type of success is amazing and very inspiring.  Stacy and her husband Matthew McCarry are the couple behind the popular blog Paleo Parents.  They use their blog to share not only amazing recipes, but also tips and advice as they raise their three boys using a Paleo template.  They have co-authorized several cookbooks together, including the cookbook Eat Like a Dinosaur and the cookbook Beyond Bacon.  They have a new cookbook coming out soon, called Real Life Paleo, which is scheduled for release on November 4, 2014.

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On her blog, Stacy shares about her journey starting Crossfit, and then discovering strongman training – competing in her first competition this year (and winning it!).   I find it empowering and encouraging as she shares her stories about lifting heavy and see her body transform, and using that strength not only in the gym, but also in her daily life.

When Stacy isn’t co-writing books with her husband, working on her blog, or training for strongman competitions, she finds time to co-host a popular Paleo podcast called the Paleo View with co-host Dr. Sarah Ballantyne.  Sarah is the blogger behind the popular blog The Paleo Mom, and author of the recently released book The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Health Your Body.  The podcast provides a wealth of information, and the friendly banter between Stacy and Sarah provide lots on entertainment on my way to and from work.

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I got to hear real life evidence of that friendly banter when meeting both of them at Paleo F(x) 2014.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Paleo F(x) 2014, and can’t wait to go back next year!  I hope you enjoyed learning about Paleo F(x).  If you’ve read this far, you are truly amazing 😉  Next up, yummy Paleo recipes!  Do you have any suggestions on recipes you would like me to test out?  Leave a post in the comments section and I’ll see what I can whip up!