Archive for WHOLE 30

Try something NEW: 10 Alternative Thanksgiving sides and accompaniments EVERYONE will love

Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away! Does anyone else’s family eat totally differently, with an array of allergies and preferences? One Vegetarian (or vegan), me, the token paleo, someone is always part-time gluten-free or Keto, various people have serious or subtle allergies to nuts (me and my cousins), or new restrictions like broccoli (also ME. I AM the problem). There is a lot to keep track of, and it’s hard to please everyone all the time. I hope that I’m bringing a solution to you in the following whole food, easy-to-make options for Thanksgiving. Whether you’re hosting, contributing to a potluck, or pulling together a “Friendsgiving” celebration, these dishes can help you to both please a crowd and branch out at the same time. It’s easy to dazzle tastebuds with loads of sugar coating or generous amounts of butter and cream, but you can also dazzle in a healthy way this holiday season. All my recipes are inspired by comfort foods and big flavors, so you can give the gift of a healthy side-dish that doesn’t “taste healthy” as my husband puts it!turmeric cocktail

For a spectacular and dazzling appetizer pair, try my Fall Turmeric Cocktail with Bacon-Wrapped Dates or shooters of Lori’s Butternut, Fennel & Leek Soup with a fennel garnish on top! For a different, but classically delicious Italian spin on traditional squash, try Acorn Squash Agrodocle, an uniquely delicious side that I recently posted.

Butternut Sage Quinoa

For a protein-packed vegetarian side (Vegan if you replace the butter with oil), try my very popular dish that everyone at Friendsgiving wanted the recipe for, Butternut Squash and Sage Quinoa with Macadamia nuts

For your sometimes gluten-free, one-time vegetarian, newly keto cousin, who you never know what the hell they might eat, try my spin on my Granny’s classic Tart Cranberry Relish.

Tart Cranberry Relish

Thanksgiving can also be stressful. Whether you’re hosting, spending time with the in-laws, or navigating your own colorful family, this holiday can be tricky. It can also get monotonous with everyone clinging to their favorite tradition. This is going to make me sound like a grinch, but it’s hard for me to endorse even the most sentimental traditions when they’re often made up of non-foods: canned cranberry sauce, marshmallow/sugary toppings, evaporated/condensed milk, instant puddings, the list goes on… Tradition is important, sure. It’s also important to have a balance, which is why I like to introduce new WHOLE food recipes that are totally homemade, but easy and with no artificial ingredients. THESE are the traditions that I want the children in my family to remember and adopt so that they can have sentimental favorites that also benefit their health.

In my mind, the most important Thanksgiving tradition is the Pumpkin Pie, and thus, I think it is my most important recipe for you to try. I encourage you to whip up some full-fat coconut milk, sweetened with a bit of vanilla extract and honey or maple syrup to top it! This recipe is dairy free, vegetarian, gluten free, and paleo.

If Pumpkin pie is not your thing, I encourage you to try my newest recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding (coming 11/11) or my crowd-pleasing and nut-free Sunflower Sesame Seed Cookies

And finally, you will need some nourishment in the morning as you prepare the day’s Thanksgiving meal and watch the Parade! My Pumpkin Coffee Cake is my best recipe to date! It is melt-in-your-mouth perfection and would be an EXCELLENT way to say “Thank you” to your Thanksgiving host or “Good Morning!” to your house guests!

If this was helpful to you AT ALL, please drop a comment and let me know. It would make my holiday to know that one of the recipes I’ve created has made it to another family’s precious dinner table!

paleo pumpkin coffee cake

BBQ Jackfruit Nachos {Vegan/Paleo}

This recipe is not only healthy for a comfort food like Nachos, it is also super cheap, at under $12 for the ingredients. I got everything from Trader Joe’s. I love their plantain chips, but they also have some great multigrain/ Quinoa tortilla chips. Jackfruit doesn’t really taste like chicken, but it has a similar texture and the flavor is neutral and covered completely by the BBQ sauce, so it is a great “imposter.” I fed these nachos to Matt and his friend, Jake, and they had no idea it wasn’t chicken until I told them. Those BBQ flavors are strong and that is what your palate focuses on, along with yummy fats like cheese and guacamole.

Eating meatless meals is often cheaper, and a good balance to my paleo diet. I love experimenting with vegan foods because, like paleo, it is such an anti-inflammatory diet, if you do it right! I know I suggest going without cheese for the Vegan version, and some people probably think that’s crazy for nachos. HOWEVER, I have been on a strict AIP paleo regiment and had nachos with sweet potato fries or plantain chips that are served just with veggies, pulled chicken, and tons of flavorful guacamole and THEY. ARE. DELICIOUS. If you opt out on the cheese, for either a strict paleo or vegan meal, I strongly suggest you double the guacamole and you will be absolutely satisfied on every front! Fat, protein, and carb!

You can find sugar-free BBQ sauces in stores, but if you prefer to make one at home, I combine:

  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp coconut aminos or Tamari
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon
  • 1 Pinch each of: all spice, salt, pepper, hungarian paprika, chili powder, cayenne, garlic

Jackfruit Nachos

  • Tortilla or plantain chips (paleo) (1.99)
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese (I use cheddar and pepper jack) (3.99)
  • 1 can of jackfruit, marinated in *paleo barbecue sauce (0.99)
  • 1 cup of black beans (0.89)
  • 1/2 of a thinly sliced red onion ( a few cents for all veggies)
  • 1 thinly chopped celery stalk
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 avocados, mashed, liberally salted, and topped with juice of one lime for a basic guac! (2.99)
  1. Preheat oven to 350. The only purpose here is to melt cheese and warm through jackfruit
  2. Spread chips out on a parchment lined baking sheet so that they are touching, but do not cover one another up
  3. Sprinkle on half of cheese first (this will help other ingredients stick)
  4. sprinkle black beans,onion and celery on
  5. evenly spread BBQ marinated jackfruit over chips, feel free to dump extra marinade on
  6. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cheese is melted and “BBQ” is warmed through
  8. If you used parchment, you can easily pick up nachos and transfer to a platter
  9. THEN top with your cherry tomatoes and avocado, so you don’t lose any to the sheet pan!
  10. I also top with some bonus PICKLED red onions, because I love them!

For Paleo Version

Sub out tortilla chips for Plantain Chips

For Vegan Version

No Cheese or sub with vegan cheese

More Guac Please!

Acorn Squash “Agrodolce”

Agrodolce is Italian for sweet and sour. This dish is just that, with a bit of spice at the end to round out the gorgeous flavor. It’s also super easy and completely paleo, accomplishing all those flavor bombs without sugar or starchy thickeners. This is on my list for Halloween and potlucks this fall. Its something that has familiar ingredients, so it won’t scare people away, but the taste is absolutely new and different. My friends and family get so excited about this simple dish! What do you think of the way I spooked it up with the black rice underneath? Happy Halloween Week!

Acorn Squash Agrodolce

Serves 2-4 Takes 30 minutes and…

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 pinches of crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. sage
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Microwave your acorn squash for 3-4 minutes to make slicing easier!
  3. Cut Squash in half, remove all seeds and pulp and slice halves into 1/2 inch half moon slices
  4. Place squash slices on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake for 25-30 minutes until fork tender
  5. While squash bakes, make your Agrodolce: combine maple syrup, red wine vinegar, butter/oil, red pepper, nutmeg, and sage in a saucepan, on med-high and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and continue to reduce Agrodolce until syrupy and think
  7. Add currants
  8. Remove acorn squash from the oven, plate it, and then pour agrodolce syrup over it!

Additionally, you could add chopped nuts as a topper. I plated my squash over black rice for a very Halloweeny look! What do you think? Spooky, spicy, sweet?

Turkey-Stuffed Acorn Squash Bowls

I love this recipe! And it’s super easy. Do I say that all the time? Ground turkey is so versatile and because it’s cheap and organic, we eat it a lot. There is also something I love about gamey meats in the fall. See these recipes using Bison and Bison/Elk, for this spaghetti sauce. Speaking of forest-dwelling animals, I have learned that good mushrooms enhance the woodsy flavor of such meats, and I love throwing them into my turkey for extra-earthy flavor and texture, so don’t skip that step!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. Like my Acorn Squash Chili Bowl, it is such a crowd pleaser (but much easier) and would wow for a dinner party or Halloween gathering. I am also thinking about using this recipe with our turkey or stuffing leftovers from Thanksgiving. Wouldn’t THAT be amazing? This recipe would serve 4 people with a salad OR it could be big dinner for 2 hungry people with some leftovers!

Lastly, I have to say that I LOVE edible fall decorations. Why spend money on a plastic gourd or inedible pinecones when you can dress up your house with acorn squash and then eat them all up in these delicious recipes before you get your Christmas decorations out!? They are $1.69 each at Trader Joe’s, so find a BIG one if you go because most grocery stores weigh them!

And if you’d like to make the pairing cocktail that is pictured with the bowl above, check out My Fall Turmeric Cocktail

Turkey-Stuffed Acorn Squash Bowls

Serves 4. You will need 45 minutes and…

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 1 pack/ 8 oz of Baby Bella (or other flavorful) mushrooms (so not white)
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 cup shredded aged or sharp white cheddar
  • 1/4 cup water or stock
  • 1 TBSP sherry vinegar (or any vinegar for acidity)
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic
  • salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste (have I mentioned we put red chili flakes on everything?) Yay capsicum!
  1. Add a small amount of water to a microwavable bowl and place whole squash inside. Microwave on High for 3-4 minutes and then turn squash over and microwave for 3 more minutes. Let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.
  3. In a large pan, use cooking oil (I use coconut) to brown turkey for 7-8 minutes until cooked through. While turkey is cooking, chop your onion and mushrooms into bite size. 
  4. Remove turkey and let drain.
  5. Add more cooking oil and cook onion until translucent.
  6. Add mushrooms, all spices, your water/stock, and sherry vinegar.
  7. Simmer this mixture for 5 minutes.
  8. While mixture is simmering, cut your squash in half, and use a spoon to remove all seeds and pulp. Remove 1-2 spoonfuls of flesh per acorn squash half and add that to your simmering mixture (so 4-8 spoonfuls total, depending on size of your squash)                                                 * If flesh is not removed easily, you can microwave for 3 more minutes.                                         ** Be careful not to remove too much of the flesh. You still want the squash to have a 1/2 inch of flesh to serve as a bowl.
  9. Use a baking dish or brownie pan to line your acorn squash halves up. To make them stay upright, you simply shave off a tiny bit of the round underside so it’s flatter.
  10. Add turkey back into the simmering skillet, stirring it in slowly, and turn the heat down.
  11. Once incorporated well, spoon turkey mixture into your acorn squash bowl, filling above the rim as pictured.
  12. Sprinkle on cheese!
  13. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly!

Can’t get enough of this one! One more!

Homemade Paleo Granola Bars

I’m going to be straight up with you. I wish I was a person who could grab a protein bar or granola bar off the shelf. It would make life a whole lot easier. Unfortunately, they make me feel bad because they’re often loaded with fillers or gluten and ALWAYS loaded with sugar. I am allergic to some nuts, so Rx Bars are a “No-Go,” and there is truly a limit to how many Lara Bars I can consume. In fact, I’ve sort of broken up with dates lately because I really can’t take that many! Unlike Maple Syrup, the date flavor gets old for me.

Thus were born my own granola bars. These can be made vegan by leaving out the egg as a binder, but without the egg binding them, they would likely turn out more like granola (so add nut milk or yogurt and grab a spoon!)

I know making your own granola bars sounds a little “extra,” but you literally just have to stir all ingredients together in one bowl and then level them off and bake in a 9X9 pan. If you are unsatisfied with store bought granola bars for any reason, give these a shot!

It’s also the giving season, and these would be a great, impressive, and HEALTHY addition to any homemade gift basket or Fall potluck. These can also be made safe and nut free by using sunflower butter 🙂

Homemade Paleo Granola Bars

You will need 30 minutes and….

  • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds/ pepitas
  • 1/4 cup currants or raisins
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life dairy free!)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup nut butter or sunflower butter
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 TBSP/ 1 Packet plain gelatin (make sure to sprinkle this evenly so it does not clump!)
  • 1 egg

Direction

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, being careful to sprinkle gelatin evenly
  3. line a 9 x 9 baking dish with parchment paper and pack in mixture evenly and tightly
  4. Bake for 30 minutes
  5. Let cool for 15 inutes before cutting into squares
  6. Go for a hike!

Autumn Favorites!

autumn favorites paleo

We had a rainy fall weekend here in NC, which is one of my favorite types of weather! We went on two long runs with our dogs and I finally got to whip up one of my favorite fall recipes: Bison & Acorn squash Chili. My recipe was featured on Mind Body Green this year, so go on over and check it out on my favorite health blog.2

We were supposed to go apple picking this weekend, but our outing and my paleo apple bread got rained out. Instead, I whipped up some Paleo Pumpkin bread. I went a little crazy with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, but this definitely tastes like fall, so I recommend to all! This is my own recipe, and if you haven’t noticed, I like to keep it simple with the measurements and ingredients.

paleo pumpkin coffee cake

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups Almond Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • Lots of ground pumpkin pie spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, cardamom and ginger ( i do 1-2 teaspoons each)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup organic pureed pumpkin

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Mix your first 4 ingredients in a bowl (dry ones)
  3. Mix your wet ingredients  in a separate bowl until smooth
  4. Combine all ingredients into one bowl and mix until all is incorporated evenly
  5. Pour into bread pan and bake for 45-55 minutes.
    Disclaimer: Know thy Oven!! And know thyself: I like REALLY moist bread that falls apart.

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

I can’t believe I haven’t written up this Paleo Pumpkin Pie recipe yet! Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite desserts, and this one mixes up in 5 minutes, then bakes for about 50. It is super easy, especially if you have a pre-made paleo or gluten-free pie crust readily available!

Most of my recipes are paleo remixes on traditional recipes. Converting pumpkin pie to paleo is a pretty basic swap, so I strongly recommend trying it during this fall season. It’s just overall much healthier for everyone! The first major health swap out is coconut milk for evaporated/condensed milk. And the most impressive swap is that I used LESS THAN 1/4 cup of maple syrup to sweeten my entire pie, which means that there is less than half a tablespoon of maple syrup in each piece of pie and that is the only sweetener. That’s likely less of a glucose spike than you get from morning coffee or a piece of gum! The key to getting that great fall taste is in using quality organic pumpkin puree, which is naturally sweet, and a generous mixture of warm spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, vanilla, and cardamom. You can make this crustless, and eat it like soufflé or you can sweeten it up by serving it with a dollop of maple syrup sweetened cream.

Pregnancy has me craving ALL the sweet things, BUT my glucose tolerance test is coming up so I’ve been trying to limit carbs. Of course,  I already know I have a low glucose tolerance! Insulin resistance was a part of my lab work up that led my doctors to check me for PCOS (which I fortunately did not end up having). A big part of the reason paleo recipes work so well for me is because they eliminate the sugar and carb content of the standard american diet. I actually read in my Natural Mamas Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth that women on a whole foods or paleo regime can often trigger the gestational diabetes tests because our blood sugar, kept stable by whole foods, is so sensitive to the high sugar content in the Glucola beverage. For THAT reason, I’m cutting back on the sweets and carbs, but not removing them totally because that would make me even more sensitive to the drink! Pregnancy is confusing, y’all. Enter my perfectly sweet Paleo Pumpkin Pie!

This pie is better after it cools completely or sets up in the fridge, even though I had a hot slice right out of the oven because I couldn’t resist 🙂 Try it out this year and see if anyone notices that you didn’t use processed milk and sugar!

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

You will need an hour and….

  • 1 15 oz. can or box of organic pumpkin puree. I use this one from Thrive
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (not can!) of full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp each of: ground clove, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger
  • 1 pie crust- I use this recipe from Elana’s pantry, but there are also some great frozen options at health food stores! Before I was SCD/Paleo, I made pie crusts from scratch A LOT with just cold butter, water and flour, which I learned from an actual pastry chef!  It was such a beautiful, meditative process that I miss sometimes! If your body can process organic wheat flour, then I absolutely recommend making your own pie crust! You can follow Martha Stewart’s directions here, but no need to add the teaspoon of sugar she adds!
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine eggs and pumpkin puree
  3. Add in remaining ingredients and mix by hand until well incorporated
  4. Pour mixture into pie dish
  5. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes until solid (it will still jiggle some, this is not quite as solid as a regular pumpkin pie)
  6. Let it completely cool before eating and store in fridge for best consistency/ quality

paleo pumpkin pie

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!

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

11990580_10103061083131688_8852628486602303272_n

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!

 

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!

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

 

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!

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Cauliflower Mashed potatoes

blackened salmon with asparagus, cauliflower mash, and roasted red pepper sauce

blackened salmon with asparagus, cauliflower mash, and roasted red pepper sauce

My mother-in-law visited last weekend and made Matt some good old fashioned mashed potatoes! I decided to try my hand at Cauliflower Mash one more time and….

It was SO amazing and flavorful! You don’t get that heavy feeing that comes with regular white potatoes and the cauliflower is so much easier to digest. Additionally, cauliflower is chock full of vitamins C and K and folate, which is especially important for pregnant/nursing women and for kids! Note, different people have different tolerances for cruciferous veg!

I made NomNomPaleo’s Garlic Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes” and they turned out perfect! If you want them to be totally smooth, you have to process in a good food processor for about 7 minutes. However, I took some puree out early, which I will use as “Cauliflower Grits” for Paleo Shrimp & Grits this weekend! Lightbulb!

saucy vegan

I was feeling decadent because of my Wednesday Orange Theory Fitness workout, which burned 600 + calories (plus after burn). So I grated my favorite cheese into the Cauliflower mixture and baked it for 15 minutes on 350. I really like getting a flavor burst out of natural foods, so I decided to use an aging red pepper to make a roasted red pepper sauce to pour over my salmon, asparagus, and Cauliflower mashed potatoes. It was incredible and would be delicious on pork, fish, or chicken and is a Vegan sauce for pasta & veggies.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce- makes ~ 1 cup

1 Large Red Bell Pepper

1/4 cup almond milk

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cayenne

salt and black pepper to taste

  1. The key step to this recipe is just slow roasting your pepper(s). I put mine in the oven on 400 for 30 minutes on each side. When I removed it from the oven, I cut off the stem and the seeds/membranes pulled out easily.
  2. Combine other ingredients with your pepper in a blender or food processor. Process until completely smooth.
  3. Should be warm enough to serve, but you can also prepare ahead of time and reheat!

 

Boullabaise and Crispy Salmon Skin

Boullabaise

I’ve been taking full advantage of the fresh seafood markets, and thought there was no better way this week than to try my own version of the Boullabaise we had at Galatoire’s in New Orleans in February. It was a rare unfried/ un-rouilled  seafood treat I could have there.*
The result was something fabulous, and also different from our regular old meals of salmon/sushi/cauliflower/steak/salad…repeat. It will definitely join the “fancy meal” repertoire!

One of my goals while we are living here is to learn how to filet my own fish. The fish market gentleman were flashing me grins, insisting I must want a filet of my Rainbow Grouper and head off shrimp, so I politely took them up on the filets and did the heads myself, saving a few for garnish!

I also used mussels in my recipe because we love them and eat them a lot! Clams are just as good! And if you have lobster, PLEASE throw it in! We had eaten all our lobster the night before, so I just had the stock.

Elisabeth’s Cajun Boullabaise (serves 2-4)

You will need 1 hour and….

2 tomatoes, rough chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 can organic tomato paste
6 cups of fish stock ( I used lobster because it’s what I had. NEVER throw away your shellfish shells or fish bones! They make super stocks!)
1 lb. white fish like Cod or Grouper
1 lb Shrimp (save some heads!)
3 lbs. mussels and/or clams
2 threads or pinch of ground saffron
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1 lemon
generous s+p
olive oil
red wine

Directions:
1. In a large mixing pot, combine tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil on medium heat for 5-7 minutes.

2. Add stock and tomato paste and bring to a boil, 5 minutes, then turn down to simmer.

3. Once on simmer, add all herbs and spices, fish and shrimp, let cook 3-5 minutes.

4. Add in 1/2 cup of red wine and shellfish for the final 2 minutes. They will open up when your Boullabaise is ready to serve!

I wouldn’t recommend this dish for a LARGE crowd, but it is a stunner for 4-6!

*Some Boullabaise recipes do have a rouille, which includes flour, but it’s not necessary for thickness or taste!

Here is a photo of me preparing the lobster that made our stock. Thanks for the Wedding gift, Auntie Anne 🙂

lobster stock

 

AND Check it out! I burned myself in the process, but I discovered the secret to REALLY crispy salmon skin!
Using coconut oil as your base, get your cast iron pan super hot on Medium-high heat.  Leave your salmon out while the pan heats and pat it as dry as you can, then score the skin in 5 swift motions with a sharp knife. GENTLY place your salmon in the hot oil and cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip over and finish! It’s PERFECT!

crispy salmon skin

crispy salmon skin

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions are good on just about everything. I love the brightness and acidity that they add to any dish, but Ive been using them lately on salads, burgers, tacos, steaks, and anything that is rich and can benefit from that “bite” of the vinegar. Eating fermented veggies is a cheap and healthy way to balance your gut flora and get probiotics into the microbiome. Also, I normally can’t quite handle raw onions on my sensitive stomach, so pickling them gets that oniony flavor I love back into my recipes and diet.

What you need: a few minutes and….

  • A mason jar or air tight jar and lid
  • 1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs. salt
  • 3 tbs. maple syrup or honey
  • 1 large red onion
  1. Slice your Red onion EXTRA THIN by using a sharp knife or mandolin
  2. Combine remaining ingredients into your jar and shake until sweetener is dissolved
  3. Add onions and let sit for at least 30 minutes. These get better the longer they marinate!
  4. ENJOY on Everything!!

Also great for a Antipasto Platter for a party….

IMG_3418

Winner, Winner! One Pan Chicken Dinner

I have discovered fennel. The reason fennel is the perfect one pan ingredient in winter is because it is abundant, seasonal, subtly flavors everything and takes on lemon and garlic really beautifully. My other 3 ingredients in this simple, one pan dish are chicken thighs, parsnips, and carrots. It would also be delicious to use fish in this recipe! Another great substitute would be sweet potatoes for parsnips.

I love cooking, but sometimes you just need dinner to be cheap, fast, substantive, and nutrient-dense. I know that combination sounds impossible, but you’ll get it with this. Getting an array of colors in your veggies is a basic way to ensure that. I also might add that this entire dinner is $8. It would have been cheaper, but I refuse to sacrifice my standards for happy chickens!

One Pan Chicken Dinner

You’ll need 45 minutes and…

Chicken (or fish)
2 fennel bulbs
1 bag baby carrots or 3 large carrots
2 parsnips or sweet potatoes
a few cloves garlic
2 lemons2 Tbsp. White wine

I marinated my chicken thighs overnight in plain yogurt, sriracha, lemon juice and herbs ( just some extra parsley and dill I had). This isn’t necessary, but it helped the tenderness and flavor.
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2) Slice fennel into fourths, from top to bottom, reserving fronds
3) Chop carrots and parsnips into bite-size
4) Mix together the following to create marinade: juice of one lemon, lemon zest from that same lemon, 5 large cloves of garlic (minced), a few tablespoons of olive oil,  and salt and pepper. And then pour some out for your homies…AKA sacrifice just 2 Tbsp. of white wine for the sauce!
5) Toss your vegetables in this mixture, coating thoroughly, spread them out on the pan and bake for 15 minutes.
6) While veggies are roasting, slice the other lemon
7) After 15 minutes have passed, remove the pan from the oven, add the chicken to the pan, place lemon slices all over and pour the remaining lemon/olive oil/ wine marinade on top. Roast for 25-30 more minutes or until Chicken thighs are done (internal temp of 155/160).
8) Garnish everything with chopped fennel fronds!

Guest Post: Butternut Fennel Leek Soup

Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold.

One of the best parts of being an adult is finding true inspiration and fulfillment from your friendships. I’m really proud and lucky to say that I’ve been friends with Lori and Far for 15 years now, and they each inspire me in different ways. I’m totally humbled to think that my recipes and health lifestyle have inspired some of their own cooking. Far designed this website and Lori created and wrote this recipe with (ME?!) in mind. I’m excited to share that it is delicious and the perfect healthy way to warm up your icy weekend! Go get your ingredients quick, before the storm! And enjoy being snowed in this weekend.


This took me about 1.5 hours to make from start to finish. It has a very good earthy flavor and I think the
ginger does kick it up a notch, so feel free to use less if you prefer. If you don’t have a hand mixer (immersion blender) you can use a blender but be careful because it will be hot, so only fill it up half way! Also, I have read other recipes that call for coconut milk to thicken it up. I decided against it because once it’s all mixed together, I feel like its rich and thick enough. Here is how I made this soup. I think this is a good base and you can add or subtract anything to suit your taste. I thought, “Liz would have some good input!”

Butternut Fennel Leek Soup- Paleo, Whole 30, Dairy and Gluten Free

You will need 1-1.5 hours and:

1 butternut squash (cut in half and seeded)
1 fennel (separate stalks and fronds from bulb- fronds can be used to garnish)
2 leeks
ginger root (as mush as you want) I used almost an entire root- but
you can use 1-2 inches)
juice of 1 lemon
3-4 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
smoked paprika
olive oil- just enough to coat the veggies and a little to cook the
fennel stalks and ginger
garlic powder

  1. Preheat over to 350
  2. Chop up fennel bulb into 8ths, and cut leeks in half (I barely cut the
    end off and then just up to where the green on the stalk gets super
    dark- about 5 inches)
  3. Combine in a bowl with garlic powder, salt and pepper and olive oil
    enough to coat.
  4. Then take butternut squash halves, drizzle with olive
    oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. put on greased baking
    dish and surround with leek and fennel and bake about 40-50 minutes or
    until butternut is soft and easy to scrape out and the edges of fennel
    and leek are brown.
  5. Thinly chop up the fennel stalks, ginger and mash the garlic,
    throw into a pan and saute with salt and pepper to taste until almost
    caramelized- add some smoked paprika to taste. Add in the lemon juice.
  6. Then add about 4-6 cups chicken stock, simmer until the veggies in the oven are done.
  7. Finally, take a spoon and scoop out all of the butternut squash -should
    come out very easily and have nothing left but the skin, discard skin
    and transfer everything into a big pot. simmer for about another 5
    minutes. Take a hand mixer and mix everything until smooth- taste test
    it and see if it needs anymore salt
  8. Scoop into bowls and garnish with fennel
    fronds. Enjoy!

I LOVE how Lori uses EVERY part of the Fennel in this. Very clever and professional. Let me know if you guys try this out!