Archive for December 2015

100 posts and sweet and savory paleo treats for Christmas Eve Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! I’m so excited that this is my 100th post. I started blogging with WordPress  1 year ago, and my website was up 6 months ago, so I’m happy with my progress.

Today I’m sharing some fun and easy recipes that will help to keep me on track during the holidays. I plan on snacking on these tonight with a cocktail and my family.

Paleo Jalapeno PoppersPaleo Jalapeño Poppers

Processed Cream Cheese is a no go for me, so my poppers are stuffed with cheddar and pimientos and wrapped with Applegate’s humanely raised bacon. You will need 30 minutes and….

8 fresh jalapeños, halved and deseeded
1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese1/4 cup pimientos
half a package (or 8 pieces) of bacon

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. slice and de-seed jalapeños, careful not to touch your face! Wear gloves if necessary!
  3. fill each jalapeño half with shredded cheddar and top with diced pimientos
  4. slice your bacon in half and wrap each jalapeño half in 1/2 a slice of bacon
  5. bake for 20 minutes until bacon is crispy

Safin’s Paleo Peppermint Bark

You will need 1 hour, 30 minutes and….

1 cup Cream of coconut
1 cup 100% cacao nibs or powder
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
2-3 drops peppermint essential oil or extract

  1. Melt your coconut cream (not milk, you need the thick stuff) in a double boiler
  2. Simultaneously melt (or just after if you only have one double boiler) the other 4 ingredients together; cacao, almond milk, maple syrup, and peppermint extract
  3. Line a dish or pan with sides with parchment paper
  4. Pour both melted mixtures onto parchment paper lined dish or pan and use a knife to swirl it together. The cacao will be denser than the coconut cream and fall to the bottom, and that’s OK! The bark will look cool.
  5. Freeze in the pan for 1-2 hours until solid
  6. Remove from the pan and break apart with your hands to make edges looks rugged, use a knife if it is too hard
  7. Keep bark refrigerated for highest quality. It will taste like a crisp, cold, sugar free peppermint patty!

Paleo Peppermint Bark

Tart Cranberry Relish


This is an oldie but a goodie. I used to love having this at my grandmother’s house when I was little, and now it’s a staple for us around the holidays because it offers the acidity you need to cut those heavy holiday meals. Mine is my own 2015 version because A) it has no sugar and B) I use macadamia nuts instead of pecans because I’m allergic!

Tart Cranberry Relish
What you’ll need: 10 minutes and…

a bag of fresh cranberries
3-4 stalks of celery
1 orange (including peel)
1/4 cup of grapefruit juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup salted macadamia nuts (or a nut of your choice)
1/2 cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut

  1. Give orange and celery a rough chop
  2. Combine all ingredients into a food processor, adding liquid as needed. The orange peel is very important to the flavor! Don’t be shy!

Kale Stuffed Mushrooms

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I spent so much time testing new recipes in the kitchen on Monday that I missed a day of The 12 Days of  Christmas!  Rest assured, I have some fantastic recipes in store for you! These mushrooms turned out unexpectedly festive with a green filling, I’m sure due to the loads of kale I packed into these bite-sized party appetizers! I was happy with the result, and equally happy that this is such a flexible recipe. I threw in some smoked salmon to make mine richer and a little more nutrient-dense. You can also sub the kale for spinach if you find that more palatable (kale is actually more of a neutral flavor though).

Kale Stuffed Mushrooms

What you’ll need: 40 minutes and…

18-24 Baby portobellos
1 bunch of kale
3/4 cup of homemade yogurt or full fat organic yogurt
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp fresh dill
2 tbsp fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Clean mushrooms by wiping with a damp cloth, then remove the stems and lay them in a baking dish, top down
  3. Toss stems into a food processor with remainder of ingredients, measuring herbs liberally
  4. Process mixture and then spoon into mushroom caps
  5. Bake the filled mushroom caps for 30 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and dark

Matchstick Root Veg

Trader Joe’s!!! Why do you do this to me? Why do you come out with amazing, no additive, easy-peasy-just-pop-it-in-the-oven products and then remove them from your shelves “seasonally?” Root vegetables are still in season and I NEED these in my life. Why didn’t I buy 10 bags instead of 5 last time I was there?
As I’ve mentioned before, most of my recipes are comfort food recipes that are interpreted in a new, healthy way from my childhood or restaurants that I can no longer go to. In this case, Trader Joe’s has removed this product from their shelves because it is no longer fall. Sigh… so I have to make them myself now.
Root vegetables will make you more grounded and give you a since of stability. They are the best (and most seasonal!) way to get your carbohydrates. They are both sweet and perfectly bitter when roasted AND they look like fries. Ask your kids if they want vegetables for dinner. Now ask them if they want fries. See, we’re all kids at heart. I eat these with fish and shellfish (ala moules frites) and can’t recommend them enough–it’s  life changer.

Matchstick Root Veg

What You’ll need: 30 minutes and…

1 bunch of carrots
3-4 large beets
4 parsnips
1-2 sweet potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tbsp. rosemary
2 tsp. sea salt
3 cloves garlic
liberal paprika

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  2. Wash all root vegetables well. They can (and should)  be dirty. The grow underground.
  3. In order to get a GOOD crisp on these vegetables, you will want to cut them as thin as possible. I have found that the best way to do this is to cut them on a mandolin on a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch setting and then to hand cut (with a sharp knife) each mandolin slice into a “matchstick” or julienne style. This enables your vegetables to cook quickly and take on a consistency of a frite. I think the char of a thinner cut is very complimentary to the natural sweetness of the root vegetables. For me, it adds a bitterness that is necessary to cut the sweetness! YOU DO NOT need to remove skin. The skin is good for you and carries valuable antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine your oils and all your spices, including finely chopped garlic. Stir vigorously until well-blended
  5. Toss your matchstick vegetables into your oil and lay them out on a sheet pan
  6. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until crisp

 

Vegan Holiday Truffles!

This is my Vegan Truffle Recipe, in case you missed it featured on eatlivelife.com! For various reasons, we’ve decided to give our loved ones some delicious holiday treats as gifts this year, and I had to include these delicious truffles in that repertoire (spoiler alert, friends and family!) The best part is that I can give these to friends who can’t eat sugar and my lactose-intolerant friends, and especially excited for my granny, who is 94 and only really likes to eat chocolate these days, to try them!

To give my traditional recipe a little “holiday bump,” I’ll be rolling my truffles in 1) Macha green tea powder 2) crushed dehydrated strawberries from Trader Joe’s and 3) Unsweetened, shredded coconut. Everything else is the same! If you don’t have macha, or have concerns about the caffeine in green tea, then crushed pistachios are a similar color!

If you don’t have sugar or corn syrup restrictions like I do, then I’d highly recommend rolling your truffles in crushed candy canes! And if you’re not on my naughty list, then you can let me know what you think after December 25th!

broccoli cheddar soup & twice baked sweet potato with herbacious compound butter

Day 3 of the 12 meals of Christmas is coming to you with extra bang for your buck– 2 recipes in one, yes! This broccoli cheddar soup is as good as Panera’s, but without the MSG and if you need a little extra something on the side, then my twice baked sweet potato is perfect! For me, it helps fill the gigantic void in my heart left by crusty garlic bread when I bid wheat goodbye!

Soup

What you’ll need: 1 hour, a food processor or blender and….
2 cups of stock
2 cups of almond milk

1 white onion
2 tbsp butter
2 heads of broccoli
4-5 large carrots, shredded
cayenne pepper

  1. In a pot, melt the butter and cook the onion (finely diced) until translucent on medium-low heat
  2. Add stock, and coarsely chopped broccoli and carrots to the pot and simmer for 30 minutes
  3. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender. Do it in batches if you have to, hot liquid will expand when processed. Process mixture until vegetables become as finely grated as you prefer.
  4. Move the mixture back to your pot on medium-low and add grated cheddar cheese and almond milk,  then stir in until melted.
  5. Season with cayenne and black pepper to taste.

twice baked potato (you can make this is the oven while you make your soup)

What you’ll need: 1 hour and….
1 large sweet potato (for each person) 1 stick of softened butter (1/2 a cup)
a few tbsp. green onion
1 tbsp fresh sage
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup yogurt

  1. Preheat oven to 400 and cook potato(es) through until a fork enters easily (about 30 minutes)
  2. In your mixer combine the butter, green onion, and herbs to create your compound butter. If you don’t use it all on your potato you will have delicious herby butter left for other goodies!
  3. Remove most, but not all, of your sweet potato from its skin or  “jacket” but cutting in half long ways and spooning it out into a bowl. You want to leave some sweet potato on the skin so that they don’t fall apart after they’re baked again.
  4. Transfer 1/3 of the herbacious butter mixture into the bowl with the contents of 1 sweet potato and mash together with 1/4 cup of plain yogurt.
  5. Reheat in the oven at 350 this time, in a pan since butter will run, just for 10 minutes until warmed through

sweet potato fries with curried ketchup

This recipe is admittedly inspired by an appetizer at an iconic restaurant/bar in my college town, Chapel Hill. On my paleo/scd diet, I wasn’t getting enough carbohydrates to recover after personal training and weight-lifting, so I’ve had to get creative with the carbs I CAN eat, like sweet potatoes and squash and this is something that I really enjoy.

The best way to ensure your fries are crispy is to get them really, really thin, and I do that with my spiralizer, which is key for thin, crispy fries AND vegetable spaghetti.

What you’ll need: 30 minutes and…

1 sweet potato
natural, organic or homemade ketchup ( I make my own by mixing tomato paste, water, and maple syrup to taste)
curry powder
cayenne pepper
optional to bring it up a notch: 1/4 cup blue cheese and a 1/4 cup sharp cheddar

  1. Preheat your oven to 400
  2. spiralize or finely chop into matchsticks one entire sweet potato
  3. spread sweet potato onto a sheet pan and salt before baking for 25 minutes
  4. while sweet potato fried are baking, mix a pinch of cayenne and a tablespoon of curry powder into a small bowl filled with the amount of ketchup you might typically use for a platter of shared fries
  5. When 2-3 minutes are left you can add shredded cheddar and blue cheese crumbles to drive the fries up a notch and add some delicious fats!
  6. Serve your delicious fries on a platter with your spicy ketchup!

Butternut Squash and Sage Quinoa

I made this dish for the Friendsgiving we went to last month and it was a big hit. I attribute that to 2 things: 1) sage and butternut squash go together easily and naturally like old friends and 2) butter. This dish is frighteningly easy for how delicious it is and can be used as a hearty side to your holiday feast OR as a main dish for vegetarian friends and meatless nights. My one caveat is that you really brown and crisp up the cubed butternut squash, thus it’s important that you have even and equal knife cuts. This also make a great wheat-free, vegetarian stuffing

You will need 1 hour and:

1 bunch Fresh Sage
1 butternut squash ( they are sold by the squash and not by the pound at Trader Joe’s) 1/2 cup of grassfed butter
2 cups of water or vegetable stock
1 cup of red Quinoa (any color fine though)
1 tbsp rosemary
optional: 1 cup of macadamia nuts

  1. Preheat your oven to 400
  2. Chop butternut squash into even, bite sized cubes by slicing in half long ways, and then removing seeds and slicing each half. No need to removes skin. It will crisp up and be delicious!
  3. Place squash cubes on a sheet pan and season with salt and an olive oil drizzle. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until browned on edges
  4. While squash is baking, heat 2 cups of water or stock in a pot on the stove. Once it has reached a boil, cook your quinoa for 20-30 minutes or until most of the water is gone and quinoa seeds are fluffy.
  5. In a large skillet, heat your butter on medium, carefully stirring so as not to burn it. You want a golden-brown butter
  6. When butter is thoroughly melted, add finely chopped sage. It is important to give the sage a fine chop so that the soapy consistency is cooked off.
  7. When your butternut squash is done, transfer it to your butter-sage mixture and add rosemary, stir and fold to incorporate and cover squash with buttery mixture.
  8. Transfer squash and butter mixture to a serving dish and stir in your quinoa evenly
  9. Sprinkle with crushed macadamia nuts

12 Meals of Christmas

One of the big changes I’m making to my own daily diet and thus my blog is reducing animal protein and saving those valuable calories and nutrients for local farms, where I’m assured of the quality of life of the animals. This has added a new dimension to my recipe creation, and really challenged me outside of my comfort zone, so I’m excited to share a compilation of mostly vegetarian, and some vegan and pescatarian recipes.

I’ve been training really hard the last few weeks, and I’ve been replenishing with lean protein from wild-caught fish and shrimp, in addition to more carbs than were in my previous diet. These recipes reflect that nutrient shift,  as well as the seasonal quality of the starches and vegetables that I’m using in my dishes. I’m hoping to use the cohesiveness of these recipes {seasonal, varietal, mostly plant-based, healthy alternatives to comfort foods, and still allergen-free} to create a compilation or cookbook as I build on and test out these recipes. All these recipes are also grain, sugar, soy, and lactose free. So over the next 12 days, you can expect the following recipes:

  • butternut squash & sage quinoa
  • sweet potato cheese fries with curried ketchup
  • broccoli cheddar soup
  • Vegan Holiday Truffles
  • twice baked sweet potato with green onions and herbacious compound butter
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • tart cranberry relish
  • dressed up hearts of romaine
  • SCD/ Paleo Sticky Toffee pudding
  • curried spaghetti squash {with shrimp} and golden raisins*
  • paleo peppermint bark
  • Match stick root veg

I hope you’ll tune in and discover the 12 meals (or desserts)  that you can either enjoy during the holidays or put on the metaphorical “back burner” for next month when you’re trying to reset. And I hope this “plant-based paleo” movement really takes off.

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