Edible Paleo Cookie Dough

Edible Cookie Dough is all the rage now! They even have some gluten free version at the famous, DO¬†chain if you haven’t checked it out yet!

I’ve seen paleo versions of this using almond flour, which is awesome, but I can’t eat raw almond flour because of the nut’s oils. I can’t eat raw almonds either because I get a really itchy mouth!

This particular edible cookie dough recipe is my absolute favorite because it incorporates plain GELATIN, which does amazing things for our bodies! You have probably heard about the benefits of gelatin (which is mostly made up of collagen and water) for your hair and nails. Gelatin and collagen are also protein packed (they are animal products, so this recipe is not vegan!) and do really intensive work healing your gut. When it is soup season outside, I get tons of gelatin from my bone broths, which base all my soups and chilis, but for summer time (and pregnancy!) I can’t think of a better way to consume this gelatin super food ūüôā

Edible Paleo Cookie Dough Recipe

You will need a mixer, 5 minutes and….

1 packet of unflavored gelatin
2 cups of cashew butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup or coconut sugar
1/4 cup almond or coconut milk

1 cup of Chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients and blend or mix until totally incorporated and creamy intensity
  2. Stir in chips (or other add ins!) by hand
  3. Refrigerate and eat by the the spoonful for snacks!

This edible cookie dough definitely has a nutty flavor from all the cashew butter, BUT the consistency is SO perfect and ¬†the sweetness and chocolate are so well balanced, that your brain is really fooled into feeling like you’re eating raw cookie dough! Enjoy this protein packed snack!

 

We’re Back! Happy National Ice Cream Day! (Vegan, Dairy free)

I have been absent from my blog for the last 5 months, desperately missing my Paleo community! However, it’s not without good reason, because I’ve been cooking up my biggest success yet:¬†pregnancy announcement with dogs

 

The last 4 months of pregnancy have been brutal at times, and I have really struggled with my diet. I’ve lacked the energy to cook for myself, developed new aversions, allergies, and digestive problems, and I’ve only recently gotten over incapacitating nausea and vomiting. I’m hoping to begin working with an RD (registered dietitian) who can help me maintain a modified paleo diet throughout the rest of my journey with pregnancy and breastfeeding.

I believe that everyone, pregnant or not, should eat what makes them feel their best in mind, body, and soul. That looks different for different people. I’ve found, for me, that disconnecting with my paleo diet during my pregnancy has disconnected me from a huge part of myself and has thus: A) been detrimental to my energy and digestive health and B) not served me emotionally or spiritually.

Becoming a Mom means so many things to me. Right now, it means taking care of myself in a new, more profound way. First, so that I can nourish our little to be strong and healthy. Later, it will mean nourishing myself for optimal breastfeeding, and cultivating the energy I need to participate in my family fully. If you have recently been pregnant, raised an infant, battled food allergies, or autoimmune disease, you know how huge that energy play is for me!

I’ve learned a lot already, and I’ve still got a little over half my pregnancy to go. I’m excited to learn even more from my changing body, my baby, and my dietitian. Another great lesson in all of this: it’s so important to ask for help when you need it! I hope you will follow me on this journey! I promise to post candidly and (as) frequently (as a new Mom can). My goal is still to use this blog as a collecting space for the recipes that will comprise my future Cookbook. As a Doula, I’m excited to add new pregnancy and breastfeeding specific recipes to the repertoire!

Because eating for your best mind, body, and soul sometimes means indulging, I haven’t forgotten National Ice Cream Day! This is a special Paleo/ Vegan Ice Cream Recipe for all those celebrating on a special diet! Yes, I tried regular ice cream in early pregnancy (not with pickles) and it burned all the way down, so coconut cream it is from here on out!

Paleo/ Vegan/ Dairy Free Ice Cream

vegan paleo ice cream

  • 1 14 oz can full fat coconut milk – chilled for 30 minutes in freezer or 3 hours in fridge
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey if you are not Vegan and prefer a sweeter finish)
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 cup of your fruit of your choice
  • 4 t Tapioca flour if you are not using an ice cream machine.

With an ice cream maker: 

  • Simply combine your first 5 ingredients in a blender and blend well
  • Then process through your ice cream maker

Without an ice cream maker (like me): 

  • Blend all 6 ingredients thoroughly
  • Pour coconut cream mixture into a freezer safe container and cover
  • Let freeze for 2-3 hours, and then blend again (repeat this step 1-2 more times until your ice cream reaches desired consistency)

A great way to dress up your Paleo Ice Cream is to melt some dark chocolate and/or almond butter to drizzle on top!

 

Fudgy Paleo Brownies with almond butter

My husband said these taste like real fudge brownies with the “sugar sucked out.” “Like Magic?” I asked him. “Yes.” So now my cooking is magical!

Personally, there is plenty of sweetness in these little morsels- especially with the added richness of almond butter on top (if you choose to top them! They are also fine without) Matt just has an intense sweet tooth!

I really like cooking desserts in small batches because then I don’t over-indulge or get sick of the same thing. We had a tiny batch of these at home since we are working on fitness this month- I took the rest to my Staff at Cape Fear Academy and they LOVED them! I hope you do too!

 {small batch} Fudgy Paleo Brownies with almond butter

To make these, you will need 45 minutes and….

  • 1/2 cup 100% cacao
  • 1/2 cup of coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of carob chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, butter or ghee {clarified butter with no milk solids}
  • 1/2 cup of no sugar added, pure almond butter
  1. Preheat Oven to 300 degrees
  2. Cover a small loaf pan or 8×8 baking dish (I like glass) with sheet of parchment paper
  3. Combine all ingredients EXCEPT FOR AlMOND BUTTER, adding in the carob chips LAST
  4. Pour brownie batter into baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes
  5. Brownies will not look set immediately! They need to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Spread brownies with a thin layer of almond butter, cut into small chunks and enjoy!

Gravlax: How to Cure your own Salmon

Gravlax

I only wish I had started curing my own salmon earlier! Matt bought a beautiful 3 pound salmon filet for us last week. I divided it in half and baked one part with the traditional lemon, dill, and sea salt, which sustained us with 2 delicious dinners this weekend.

The other half rested in the fridge over the long weekend¬†before it magically became GRAVLAX (or salt cured salmon), which will comprise¬†my lunches for the week. The entire cost of these 4 indulgent salmon dinners and 4 healthy lunches for the week was $16- the affordable cost of the fresh salmon. That’s about the same price of the largest package of smoked salmon at Whole Foods.

If you’re not convinced yet, just look at how quick and easy the curing process is! I’ve included all the tricks and tips I’ve learned along the way below within parentheses. Get ready for melt-in-your-mouth salmon!

Gravlax

To cure¬†your own salmon gravlax you will need…

  • A 1-2 pound salmon flank
  • 1/2 cup of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup of coconut sugar
  • 1/8 cup of black pepper
  • a serrated knife
  • plastic wrap
  1. Take your raw salmon flank and cut it (longways) into 2 equal pieces. (Make sure the size is relatively consistent in thickness and width because the thinner pieces will get tough and overcooked, like salmon “jerky”)
  2. Mix all of your seasonings together (If you want the smoked taste, then use “smoked” salt. We prefer gravlax without smokey flavor, so we use regular coarse sea salt)
  3. Generously rub spice mixture into the meaty part of your salmon flanks and place one on top of the other (meat to meat; not skin to skin) Think, “orange on orange!”
  4. Wrap your salmon in plastic wrap tightly ( It’s easier to lay it in the middle of a large piece of plastic wrap on a table to begin wrapping like a gift)
  5. Once your salmon is wrapped, place it on a large platter that will not overflow as oils and juices collect under fish. On top of this platter, you will add another platter, plate, or cookie sheet that covers the salmon. (stay with me, friends!)
  6. Once the plastic-wrapped salmon is covered with two plates or cookie sheets (one on bottom, one on top) put it in the fridge and stack something heavy on it to create pressure. This is important because it drains the salmon of its raw juices. (I used cans of beans one time, and large glass pyrex containers of leftovers another time)
  7. Wait patiently for 3 days while your salmon “cooks” in the fridge!
  8. On the 3rd day, remove salmon from plastic wrap and slice thinly for your desired gravlax¬†thickness (I’ve found that a serrated knife works best for this!)
  9. Store your Gravlax in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week! Serve with thinly sliced red onion, capers, or this delicious

Paleo Dill Mustard Sauce

For an excellent addition to your Gravlax, Mix together:

2 Tablepoons of Dijon Mustard
3 Tablepoons of apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon of honey
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 Handful of fresh, chopped dill

Tasty Turkey Burgers with Apple and Fennel

tasty turkey burgers

Does the title of this post sound like an oxymoron to you? Then you are the perfect person for this recipe!

I don’t usually eat turkey burgers because they’re often dry or tough and sustainably/morally farmed turkey is hard to find in NC. However, turkey is such a fabulous source of lean protein that I made¬†an effort to find some good-quality ground turkey and create some of my own delicious recipes!

The first recipe¬†up is for a tender, juicy turkey burger. Dicing 1 apple and 1/2 a fennel bulb not only gets moisture into my turkey burgers, but introduces produce as well. These turkey burgers turn up a notch with the addition of a dried apple slice, caramelized red onions, spicy mustard, and brie or cheddar cheese (if you’re into that).

For my tasty turkey burgers, you will need 30 minutes and …

  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 1 apple
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper
  • your desired turkey burger “accoutrements” but I suggest aged cheddar or brie (if you can have cheese!) and caramelized onions (thinly sliced red onion, cooked slowly on the stove top in ghee)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Chop 1 apple ( I used fuji) and 1/2 a fennel bulb into small pieces the size of your pinky nail
  3. In a bowl, combine your ground turkey with chopped fennel and apple, and season with salt and pepper. You will use much more pepper to add a kick to your burgers and to limit salt. These flavors speak for themselves!
  4. Create patties the size of your palm or fist. 1 pound should make 4 patties.
  5. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or silicon
  6. Bake on each side for 10-12 minutes
  7. Top your burger as desired and eat over salad!

Vegan/Paleo Holiday Biscotti

vegan paleo biscotti

Vegan/Paleo Holiday Biscotti

It’s the week before Christmas! That means that I bought about a pound of chocolate “for my mother-in-law” (who loves chocolate) and promptly “ate most of it.” For some folks that sounds like a typical holiday season mistake, but for someone like me who rarely¬†consumes sugar, it’s painful afterward! I told Matt to try to pry it from my hands, but that’s not working. THUS, I’ve decided to create something that will encourage a healthy “after dinner snack” to replace my steady consumption of a tall glass of red wine and chocolate candy (which both nutritionally and calorically ruins my uber-healthy dinners!) So my plan tonight is to hide the rest of my mother-in-law’s chocolate, and enjoy this Holiday Biscotti alongside a peppermint tea! I’ll let you know how it goes….

Biscotti is Italian for twice baked cookie (just kidding, but that’s essentially what it is). In my opinion, biscotti is even easier to perfect than cookies, because it’s supposed to be burnt, so don’t let the fancy name deter you! We are hosting Christmas this year, and this is so great that I might make this holiday biscotti for my family, but add¬†some pistachios for that festive flash of red & green! Biscotti is also really delicious with almond extract flavor and/or orange zest!

Vegan & Paleo Holiday Biscotti (makes 8-10)

You will need 2 hours and….

1 cup of almond flour
1/4 cup of coconut flour
1/4 cup of cacao powder
1/2 cup of organic oats
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
1/2 teaspoon on cinnamon
1 cup of dried fruit of your choice- I did cherries for tart sweetness and Turkish apricots for deeper sweetness
optional nuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix together dry ingredients
  3. Add in Maple syrup and ix until thoroughly incorporated
  4. Stir in dried fruit and nuts by hand
  5. Use your hands to form a large rectangular slab of dough/log on cookie sheet topped with parchment paper
  6. Bake for 15 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and let cool completely (45 mins-1 hour)
  8. With a bread knife, slice on the diagonal and lay out biscotti individually
  9.  Bake again for 15 minutes or until crispy
  10. Serve with tea or coffee!

 

The Only Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie

paleo choc chip cookies

I have never baked a better cookie. Even when I consumed white sugar and bleached flour and god knows what else- never tasted anything better from my kitchen. These will be in my repertoire FOR-EV-ER, so I had to get the recipe down as soon as quickly as possible. These cookies are crispy and delightfully chewy, like every cookie should be!

Tis the season for decadence, right? ¬†And these are surely that (for me). I don’t EVER eat baked goods, paleo or not. I bake cookies twice a year, which I suppose is why it took over 4 years of eating paleo to perfect my chocolate chip cookie recipe! My point is, you should make these for your annual cookie swap or christmas party, for those who may be paleo or gluten-free OR you could just make them for your family and not say a word. You see, almond meal has infinitely more nutrition than white flour AND it’s way more filling, which is why after 3 cookies, I’m writing this absolutely stuffed. These are perfect for staying on a diet/regime, but they’re also fulfilling for those of us who want to walk on the wild side and indulge during the holidays.

I’ve annotated my recipe for those of you who may be like me, and not natural bakers. Thus, I’ve justified each ingredient and why you can’t sub it out– hope this helps!

PERFECT Paleo Chocolate chip cookies (makes about 18)

  • 1/2 cup of browned ghee (ghee is paleo butter because it lacks dairy and casein. Brown your ghee in a sauce pan on low heat or use butter if you are not lactose intolerant. To “brown” butter, you really just want it a shade darker than yellow/golden to achieve a caramel/nutty taste. Dark BROWN butter is actually burnt.
  • 1/4 a cup of coconut sugar ( I use trader Joe’s)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla ( I use Trader Joe’s Bourbon Vanilla)
  • 1/4 a cup of maple syrup ( I buy in bulk because I use it in everything)
  • 2.5 cups of almond flour ( I use Trader Joe’s. It’s 6.99 and great quality)
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • himalayan sea salt
  • ¬†1 egg and 1 egg white
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and use parchment paper to line your baking pan. Parchment paper never fails.
  2. Combine browned butter, coconut sugar, vanilla, and maple syrup
  3. Add 1 egg and 1 egg white to mixture
  4. Now combine almond flour and baking soda and stir until smooth. I hand stir because electric tends to over stimulate
  5. Add chocolate chips and pinch of salt
  6. Spoon Cookie Batter onto parchment and bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are brown
  7. I make 18 cookies in two batches
  8. I salt my cookies again right after they come out, so they draw in that salt while they are cooking, and have a very sea salt/ caramel taste from the browned butter.

You wont believe the chewiness you get in these paleo cookies! It’s incredible!

 

pumpkin, acorn, butternut, spaghetti, in that order: a catalogue of my favorite decorative (and edible) gourd recipes

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Acorn Squash & Bison Chili

Hey-O! The Blog went a little haywire while I was away from home celebrating our recent marriage with friends  & family in Chapel Hill, home of our alma mater UNC- Go Tarheels!

I’m back at home, settling in for some serious fall cooking-which is my favorite cooking- and some even more serious liver detoxing with fun, fall recipes! Fall is the best time to detox, because like the earth around us, we are shedding what is “dead” or no longer of use to our bodies. The best way to support general health, detox, and immunity is eating seasonally, which is why I support massive gourd consumption in the fall. I really try to limit alcohol, sugar, processed foods, and bad fats leading up to holidays. This produces¬†a more enjoyable holiday season, and a more creative New Year’s Resolution than “Lose 5 pounds” or “Get healthy.” ¬†I know that sometimes these large, tough, strong tasting autumnal fruits can seem overwhelming and impossible to cook, so I’ve catalogued some of my favorite recipes below.

FYI: Trader Joes sells by the gourd, not by the pound, so they are the best price I can find. The great thing about buying gourds and squashes is that you get to decorate with them until you eat them! They live for weeks as your table’s centerpiece!

Pumpkin

Enjoy a Pumpkin Smoothie, pumpkin chia pudding or a healthy PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) every morning this week!

Pumpkin Smoothie: 2 servings
1) Blend together: 1 banana, 1 handful spinach, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 2 cups of almond/hemp milk, generous cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 scoop macha powder or collagen for an extra boost!

Acorn Squash

Check out my Thanksgiving HIT, Acorn Squash Souffle 

And my Autumn staple, as published on Mind. Body. Green: Bison Chili in Acorn Squash

Butternut Squash

A big hit at any Friendsgiving is my Butternut Squash Sage Quinoa

My newest obsession is Butternut Squash and Apple Soup (Serves 4-6)

  1. Slice one butternut squash, 2 apples, and one onion
  2. Drizzle with coconut oil on baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes
  3. Remove from Oven and move into a pot with 4 cups/ 1 box Veggie broth and 2 inches of grated ginger
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes to incorporate flavors.
  5. Use immersion blender or food processor to blend soup until smooth!

5 steps to cooking your spaghetti squash in 10 minutes or less

  1. Stab with a fork 5 times and microwave for 5 minutes
  2. Remove Squash from microwave with oven mitts and cut it in half/remove seeds
  3. Place both halves in a dish with 1-2 inches of water in it and microwave for 3-5 more minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with baking soda to aid digestion and use a fork to scoop out spaghetti strands
  5. Season and serve with your favorite pasta sauce

 

 

 

Spaghetti Squash & Bison Meatballs with Pumpkin Tomato Sauce

spaghetti squash bison pumpkin meatballsIf you’re interested in a dinner that is completely different and delicious, I highly recommend this one. My spaghetti squash has been staring me in the face from its resting spot on our breakfast table for some time, so I had to bite the bullet this weekend and decided on good old Spaghetti & Meatballs. I had a pound of bison in the fridge, so I decided to use that for the meatballs. Bison has more protein and less fat than beef or pork, which is great for the waistline, but not great for keeping meatballs together. Breadcrumbs usually act as a meatball adhesive, but I had seen Joy Bauer, of morning show fame, use pumpkin puree as an alternative adhesive in turkey meatballs, so I decided to try it- and I’m s glad I did!

Everyone knows that you have to brown meatballs before cooking them in your pasta sauce, so I decided that if the pumpkin meatball was going to leach out its yummy contents, then the sauce might as well be deliberately pumpkin/tomato. This may sound like an unusual combination, but Trader Joe’s actually makes a pumpkin/butternut squash/tomato sauce called Autumnal Harvest.¬†

The result of mixing pumpkin and nutmeg with my traditional salty tomato sauce was incredible! It provides that salty/sweet umami flavor that I love. I buy pumpkin puree in bulk for all of its many purposes, since it has a high fiber content and delicious flavor, so it always excites me to find yet another use for it! We really loved this new sauce and definitely plan on making it again. You can eat it over Spaghetti Squash like we did, for a low carb option, or over regular pasta. If you do eat it over Spaghetti Squash, then I recommend a teaspoon of baking soda sprinkled on teach side of he squash to aid digestion! I really hope you try this recipe and enjoy something a little different and autumn flavored!

Spaghetti Squash & Bison Meatballs with Pumpkin-Tomato Sauce
Serves 4

1 Spaghetti Squash
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups of pumpkin puree1 lb. of bison
1 lb. of tomatoes (roasted)
6 carrots (roasted)
1/2 cup of olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
basil
2 tsp. Nutmeg
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Roast Tomatoes with garlic, and carrots, drizzle olive oil
  2. While Veggies roast, use your hands to mix 1/2 cup of pumpkin with 1 pound of Bison.
  3. Divide Bison into 4 equal parts and divide the 4 parts in half. This will give you 8 equal sized 1/8 lb meatballs. Roll them into balls between your palms.
  4. Heat a large skillet with olive oil on medium. When oil is hot, brown each side or your pumpkin meatball in the oil.
  5. After 30 minutes of roasting, puree your vegetables in a food processor. Add 1/2 cup of olive oil, basil, 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the mixture process until smooth and incorporated.
  6. Add the sauce mixture to your meatballs and turn heat to simmer.
  7. While your sauce and meatballs simmer together on the stove, puncture your spaghetti squash with a fork.
  8. Microwave your spaghetti squash is a glass bowl of water for 5 minutes so that it is soft enough to cut in half.
  9. Remove Spaghetti squash from the microwave, take out all seeds with a spoon and and your baking soda.
  10. Place each half of your spaghetti squash BACK in the microwave to cook for 5 more minutes until the squash is easily removed in strings with a fork*
  11. Serve with 2 large meatballs and heaping sauce on a bed of spaghetti squash! Enjoy!

*This is the fastest and best way to cook spaghetti squash. Letting in linger in the oven does nothing for the flavor or quality!

 

Superfood;Superwoman

Image result for pumpkin pie smoothie

Admittedly, the “superfood” craze is a little silly, but it still blows my mind that adding a little tablespoon of chia seeds to my morning smoothie can afford me enough protein and fiber to really keep me full through my strenuous workouts.

My newest smoothie addition is…

Maca, a root grown high in the Peruvian mountains, used by ancient Incas to increase both fertility and virility. Today, holistics prescribe Maca root powder for chronic fatigue syndrome, fertility issues, hormone imbalance, and low libido. It’s important to start off using Maca in very small doses since it IS a potent superfood. The really great thing about increasing energy and vitality via Maca is that it does not tax the adrenals the way that caffeine does. Your energy is much more slow burning and long lasting. This is great news for the large percentage of the population suffering with adrenal fatigue, which correlates with hormone imbalance in women and causes a lot of stress on our systems.

I’ve instagrammed my use of collagen and chlorophyll in fruit smoothies. To make my smoothies more “Seasonal” this fall, I use Maca in combination with 8 oz. of almond milk, 1 banana, 1/2 a cup of pumpkin puree, a slice of ginger root, a few drops of vanilla extract and 1 tbsp. of cinnamon to create a delicious pumpkin pie smoothie. I’m really looking forward to sharing more details with you about the direct effect of Maca on my quality of life!

Paleo Pumpkin Waffles with Warm Vanilla Bean Maple Syrup

paleo waffles

Wedding gifts are SO FUN- especially the totally impractical ones. Last weekend we used our waffle maker for the first time, and the result was glorious! Matt grew up making waffles, but this was my first time and I was shocked at the quality. It may just be the new waffle maker, but there are also a few nuances that improved our waffle game. We added 1/2 cup of pumpkin and some pumpkin pie spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, to a basic almond flour waffle recipe.  Then, I warmed the maple syrup on the stove in a saucepan with a vanilla bean to amp up the flavor. I also made a few pieces of turkey bacon to top it off and add that salty/sweet contrast that I need with brunch.

Paleo Pumpkin Waffles with Warm Vanilla Bean Maple Syrup

  1.  Preheat waffle iron and coat with butter/cooking spray
  2.  Combine dry ingredients
  3.  In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients
  4. Mix together and pour into the center of waffle iron

Vegan Balls of Energy

protein balls

I don’t know about you, but I am anything but a “ball of energy” this time of year. Every year around this time, Matt gets really excited about the giant bags of candy in super stores and buys one (or two) for our “trick-or -treaters.” I suspect (pray) being in a family-friendly neighborhood for the first time this year will bring us more than our previous record 4 trick-or-treaters.

Anyway, every year I also decide that having a bite-sized Butterfinger or a teeny-weeny Twix nightly wont bother my stomach or my monstrous aversion to sugar. Thus begins the slippery slope of the holiday season.

That’s why I am SO excited about my recipe for this perfectly nutritious snack-size “ball of energy.” You can eat 1 or 2 as a snack or dessert or have 2 or 3 for breakfast with coffee! It’s perfect for on-the-go energy and nutrition. I use plant-based protein, as opposed to whey, but I assume whey protein powder would work the same way, since this is a no-bake snack. The taste reminds me of those No Bake Oatmeal Cookies from my childhood, but these pack a punch of protein with no sugar, additives, or packaging! I made these this Sunday, so now I have a healthy go-to snack and dessert for the week. They also give me a small energy-packed morsel to enjoy before for my morning workouts!

I’ve got to be honest, it’s one week after I finished Whole 30, and almost everything in my fridge is STILL homemade! I may have the luxury of a great work schedule and no kids just yet, but I have really worked hard this year on what nutrition is right for me and my family and I’m proud of myself. Sometimes that includes a few store-bought brands, but more often then not, it involves a lot of whole food ingredients + meal prep. And I’ve happily mastered that… for now! I hope you enjoy this new recipe!

Vegan Energy Balls (Makes 20 +)

4 scoops of your favorite protein powder ( I use plant-based chocolate)
2 cups of organic oats
1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup of maple syrup or agave
1 cup of almond butter

  1. Mix all ingredients together with a wooden spoon in a large bowl.
  2. Form into balls by rubbing  both sides with your cup-shaped palm.
  3. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet
  4. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until set
  5. Now they are ready to eat and be kept in glass tupperware in your fridge!

The Best Chili I Ever Made: kale & butternut squash edition

best chli i ever made

The Chili with my newest stag head

It’s a rainy September day in Wilmington, and we are currently basking in bowls of the best chili I ever made. There are a few “secret” ingredients in this recipe that I think are important elements to the chili.

spicy sweet

Growing up, my mom made meaty spaghetti sauce that was delicious; both spicy and sweet. She used regular processed sugar in our sauce, but for mine, I used 90% DARK CHOCOLATE. I used 2 squares of an organic bar (about 1 oz.) and it added a rich, sweet element, especially in combination with the sweet BUTTERNUT SQUASH.

To achieve the spicy element that pairs so well with sweetness, I used 1/8 cup of RED CHILI FLAKES. I love these on everything: avocado toast, cauliflower pizza, ice cream (just kidding!) They really are one of my favorite cheap flavor punches. Additionally, I used a can of GREEN CHILIS to deepen the spicy note.

why bison?

Bison is a lean meat that has the flavor of beef, but is packed with less fat and more protein. See my OTHER bison chili recipe for more details! I also like that bison is raised in humane, sustainable practices.

mushrooms

Meaty mushrooms are the key to the texture of this dish. I DID NOT use beans in this recipe because I wanted there to be an easy Vegan Sub out for this chili. Thus, if you are not eating meat, you can simply sub in 1 can of Navy Beans and 1-2 cans of Kidney Beans for your Bison/ Beef. Because there are mushrooms in this chili, it tastes MEATY both ways! Mushrooms are essential to good vegetarian meals. Thank you, FUNGI!

kale

Because Kale.

And those are the secrets for the Best Chili I ever Made!

Butternut Squash, Kale & Mushroom Chili (6-10 servings)

1 butternut squash, sliced and chunked (I used Trader Joe’s pre-chunked)
1 bunch of kale (your preferred type)
1 pound of Bison or Beef (OR sub 2-3 beans as described above)1 can of organic tomato paste
3-4 cups of vegetable broth ( I use the 32 oz box when I don’t use my own which is about 4 cups, but 3 will suffice)
1 large zucchini
1 red onion
1 can of green chilis
1/8 cup of chili flakes
salt and pepper
1 oz. of dark chocolate
cooking oil

  1. In your large chili pot, use cooking fat or oil to saute your chopped onion on medium heat
  2. Add in the beef and dark chocolate
  3. Break down beef, browning in oil for about 3 minutes
  4. Add in butternut squash, mushrooms, chopped zucchini, tomato paste, vegetable broth, green chilis, and spices
  5. Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes, and then turn down to low heat for 1 hour. It will look soupy- That’s good!
  6. Stir in kale and cook until kale is softened and absorbs extra liquid

Cuddle up and enjoy!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

gluten free paleo chocolate chip pumpkin cookies

Arthur wants some!

Matt loves baking cookies with me, so it was the perfect hurricane activity for us on this blustery weekend. It’s our first hurricane season as coastal dwellers, so we both have a bit of cabin fever by now.

I also wanted to bake something and eat it up before Whole 30 starts on Wednesday. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but it’s impossible to resist a fresh, warm cookie! And I do love chocolate.

These cookies are perfect for Celiac and Gluten Free folks. I find that a lot of gluten-free flour mixes have weird after-tastes and a lot unnecessary filler, so I prefer using coconut or almond flour, as a purest.

It’s important to note when baking with Coconut flour, that it does not “rise” or “spread” so you will want to shape your cookies exactly¬†like you want the end result to look! Coconut flour also gives you a soft cookie, not a crispy one. So Matt really likes these cookies for making Ice Cream Sandwiches!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies
Makes 10 cookies

1/2 cup Coconut Flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I use target brand- it’s always in stock and has 1 ingredient!)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup melted, then cooled butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup molasses/ maple syrup for Paleo or Brown Sugar for Gluten Free
3 cage free Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Combine all Dry ingredients: Flour, Sugar (optional), baking soda, cinnamon
  2. Add wet ingredients: eggs, vanilla, pumpkin, syrup for paleo, cooled liquid butter
  3. Add chocolate chips and stir thoroughly by hand
  4. Roll dough to smooth and then shape cookies by hand, lay onto parchment paper or greased cookie sheet
  5. Bake for 15-17 minutes until bottoms of cookies are a rich golden brown

Enjoy! 

Irish Farmer’s Beef and Barley Stew

irish farmer's beef and barlefy stewI used to think I was going to marry an Irish Farmer. Even after my first few dates with my husband! And then I met an Irish Farmer, and it wasn’t all I dreamed of…but that’s another story for another time! When I was searching for Beef and Barley stew recipes, I started to find recipes that included things like celery, potatoes, and mushrooms. I was intrigued momentarily, since so often we think in terms of “the more ingredients, the better,” but for the sake of Irish authenticity, and a clean, hearty taste, I kept it simple.

Real Irish Beef and Barley stew only requires Beef, Beef stock, and Barley. Carrots are a delicious, natural, and nutritive addition. For extra flavor, I used one sprig of Sage and two Bay Leaves. The mingled smell of sage and beef stock might be my favorite cooking scent ever.

I’d love to give you a history of the barley crop in Ireland and Scotland (yawn), but suffice it to say: barley was the main crop until it was replaced by the potato, which has a lower blight probability since it grows underground. Barley IS a grain, and is therefore NOT Paleo or SCD. However, the organic barley I’m using is natural and nutritious. I really believe that I will do well with this grain in small amounts. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…

I think it’s confining to limit yourself to a prescribed diet for too long. Yes, AIP (autoimmune paleo) or SCD protocols are important when you are in recovery, but in the long term, I believe in branching out and testing your tolerance for all things to have optimum nutrition.

Irish Farmer’s Beef and Barley Stew (makes 4-6 servings)

  1. Heat 4-6 cups of Beef broth in a pot on medium heat
  2. While broth is heating, sear 1.5 pounds of  stew beef in olive oil or butter
  3. Add 1 cup barley, sage, and bay leaves to broth, let simmer for 20 minutes
  4. Turn heat on broth down to low. Add beef, carrots, and optional onions
  5. Cook on Low for 1-2 hours or as long as you want the smell of beef and sage to waft into your home
  6. Remove herbs and serve!

 

Paleo’s Greatest Hits

I feel a bit presumptuous coming out with my Greatest Hits so early. Sort of like Rihanna getting a lifetime achievement award at the MTV VMAs last night. I started compiling Paleo and SCD recipes to prep for my 30 day detox challenge starting next week, and I realized how helpful it is to have a stack of recipes to help you create shopping lists and plan meals when you’re majorly changing your diet. I hope this online compilation will be especially helpful to anyone joining me on this challenge. It’s also a great way for everyone to have a one-stop-shop for some of my favorite recipes. Gathering recipes also helps me to see what I’m missing in my Greatest Hits and what recipes I might want to experiment with in the coming months– so I have a great list for future posts!

You’ll notice that many of the recipes are also Vegan or at least meatless. You’ll also notice that there are several soups, and this is not by mistake! Using liquid as your source of nutrition and nourishment gives your digestive system a much-needed break. Broth and soups are also a vital part of restoring balance to your system in Chinese medicine.

Below are 14 posts and 16 recipes for you to experiment with! I hope this is a valuable source for everyone to pull from in the coming weeks! I’m excited to start with some of the more late summer recipes: the bouillabaisse, the salad, the almond butter pasta; then move into the squashes and soups into later September.

Guest Post: Butternut Fennel Leek Soup

sweet potato fries with curried ketchup

Butternut Squash and Sage Quinoa

Crispy Cauliflower Pizza Crust the right way

Paleo on the Go: 3 simple and filling lunch ideas for the woman on the move!

Bison Chili with Avocado

Video How To: Bacon Wrapped Dates

Anti-Inflammatory Detox Smoothie

Salad Sundays: Week 3 White Nectarine, Basil, & Prosciutto

lemongrass pumpkin soup

Boullabaise and Crispy Salmon Skin

Pumpkin Chia Pudding

Almond Butter Indulgences: Savory and Sweet

It’s Almost Soup Season: Creamy, Dairy-free Cauliflower Soup, 2 ways

 

30 Day Challenge 2.0

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Yesterday’s post got me thinking about what I can do to help friends to feel healthier, and how I can use that positive energy of people I love as a source to motivate myself. As¬†I continue to take charge of autoimmune disease and hormone imbalance, I find that companionship helps more than anything else. And unfortunately, now I’m many miles away from my cooking partner! So I’ve decided that we’re kicking off our annual 30 day challenge in 13 days, on September 8th. During this 30 days, we are going to reduce the following as much as possible:

  • processed foods (anything packaged or with multiple ingredients)
  • fried foods
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • sugar
  • gluten,¬†soy, and¬†dairy (the most common undiagnosed allergens)
  • And all of our meat products will be hormone/antibiotic free

I understand how overwhelming this can be, and it is extremely difficult in the first 2 weeks, but this is why I’ve created a Facebook group for support to share our daily recipes, inspirations, and struggles. You can request to join the group here:¬†https://www.facebook.com/groups/825156537605162/

Limiting the above listed foods can help you with various issues, far beyond weight control, including:

  • hormone imbalance
  • eczema and skin problems
  • digestive problems (Indigestion, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea)
  • mood swings and irritability
  • candida/yeast overgrowth
  • bloating and gas
  • restlessness and problems sleeping
  • headaches
  • lack of energy
  • low immunity

I will post some recipes on the blog, but most of the communication regarding the 30 day challenge will be in the Facebook group! Comment below if you are excited to join us!

Prevention is the Cure

Shell mandala

What you put into your body (food & drink), what your inner monologue is, and what your stress management techniques are determine your well-being. You can prevent many forms of sickness and disease if you change the negative parts of your routine and just commit to:

1) Creating a healthy microbiome through good nutrition and exercise, which means cutting down on alcohol, caffeine, and processed/packaged foods.

2) Loving yourself and creating an inner monologue that lifts you up

3) Making your common stresses manageable and avoiding unnecessary stress.

I have tried to narrow the focus of my blog to sharing healthy, homemade, whole food, paleo recipes, but the other aspects of prevention and optimal health are so intertwined with diet and nutrition that I feel compelled to emphasize the importance of nurturing your spirit in tandem with nurturing your gut!

If you are in a negative spiral, remember that “Your thoughts are not facts and your past is not your potential” – Kris Carr

the 5 pillars of prevention

  1. What you’re eating
  2. What you’re drinking
  3. What you’re thinking
  4. How you’re resting
  5. How you’re renewing

I began my health journey with a lot of help from Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy You and Crazy Sexy Diet. I recommend her books and her current FREE online Wellness program!

Crazy Sexy You Energy Video

Easy Bone Broth Recipe to Make Right Now

Supporting your gut health is INTEGRAL to having energy and vitality. Some of us naturally enjoy a more diverse Microbiome than others, but the truth is that everyone should¬†nourish their gut regularly. Recently, I wrote about the importance of probiotics and digestive enzymes in my own healing experience, but these things become¬†expensive! Bone broth is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to nourish your gut lining and reduce inflammation- so why aren’t you doing it yet?

Do you buy bone in meat? Why not? It’s cheaper and has more flavor.

Do you discard the bones? Why? Would you throw away a multi-vitamin or a cup of superfood like chia seeds?

The marrow inside the bones of animals is dense with nutrients and minerals that we can’t¬†find in any other source. Bone marrow, and thus bone broth, contains collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline, which reduce inflammation of all kinds– not solely gut inflammation. In short, our grandmother’s chicken soup cured our colds with more than just love and savory deliciousness.

If you take small, easy, cheap steps toward good health, then you’ll become addicted to the positive results. Remember, Hippocrates, father of medicine, told us: All disease begins in the gut.¬†

Easy Bone Broth Recipe

If you start buying (antibiotic-free, organic) bone in meat, then simply gather all your bones into a pot as soon as you are done.

Add filtered water to cover the bones X 2 (twice as much as you need to cover bones)

Add 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider vinegar to draw the marrow out of the bones

Season your broth with salt, pepper, one bay leaf, turmeric, sage, tarragon, or anything you might have in your spice drawer!

If you have carrots and celery, you can add those, but it’s not necessary– this is supposed to be convenient for you!

Bring to a boil and then let simmer for AT LEAST 4 HOURS to draw out nutrients.

what to do with extra bone broth

  • drizzle on dog or cat food for healthier pets
  • use as a base for homemade stews, or sauces– I’m making homemade enchilada sauce with it tonight!
  • freeze in an ice cube tray for later sauces or cups of broth

Weekend Brunch: Paleo Shrimp and Grits

Paleo shrimp and grits

I’m from the South, but I do not understand how anyone could love: vinegar based barbecue, humidity, or grits. So when I adopted an AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) regime, grits were not on my list of items I’d miss. HOWEVER, shrimp is probably my favorite food and everybody, even those of us who are doubtful about grits, loves shrimp & grits! In fact,¬† I’m often tempted to order it when it’s on brunch menus here in North Carolina (which it almost invariably is) so I was super excited when my Paleo Shrimp and Grits really hit the spot.

I got the idea for Paleo shrimp and grits when processing my cauliflower mashed potatoes from Nomnompaleo’s website. When very under-processed, the texture resembles hot and ready grits. For my Paleo shrimp and grits I used the recipe for cauliflower mashed potatoes from Nomnompaleo, available in the link, but I under-processed the same mixture until grainy (as opposed to smooth) and added a cup of grated, aged cheddar (optional- I eat low lactose cheeses on occasion), lots of black pepper,¬† and a tablespoon of grass fed butter. You already have so much flavor in these “grits” from the garlic and seasoning in the original recipe, so it doesn’t take much!¬† Actually, it takes LESS processing!

Additional ingredients and directions for Paleo Shrimp and Grits (serves 2)

Applegate Farms nitrate free/ no hormone added bacon
12-16 large or jumbo shrimp
3 green onions, diced
cayenne pepper
coconut oil

  1. While you are cooking and processing your cauliflower, fry 4 pieces of bacon in a cast iron skillet on medium heat
  2. After your bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan and let it drain on papertowels
  3. Add a small amount of coconut oil to your bacon grease and throw your shrimp into the same cast iron skillet
  4. While shrimp is cooking (2 minutes on each side), dice up your 3 green onions (green and light green parts) and crispy bacon
  5. When shrimp is cooked through (pink), stir those shrimp into your grits!
  6. Sprinkle Paleo shrimp and grits with diced bacon, green onions, and cayenne pepper.
    Bonus: Drizzle everything with rendered bacon fat

I didn’t say this one was lowfat, but I DID SAY that it hit the spot! Play around with your garnishes and let me know what you come up! I was so pleased with this brunch because with just 2 pieces of crumbled bacon, 6 large shrimp,¬† and some cauliflower, I still felt super light and ready to go for a run and hit the beach with my husband!