Sunday, December 23, 2012

Paleo Gingerbread Waffles (and Merry Christmas!)

I made these gingerbread waffles as a treat for my family recently.  They are very filling and easy to make! 

This would not be something I'd eat every week.  However, I like these for a special reason or change from my usual eggs for breakfast especially around the holidays. 

Paleo Gingerbread Waffles
Makes 3 Belgian style or 4 regular waffles

olive oil for greasing waffle iron
2 cups of almond flour (such as Honeyville Farms blanched)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp of sea salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 pinches of ground cloves
4 eggs
1/2 cup of water
4 Tbsp of coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your waffle iron.  While it's warming up, mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl - almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. 

In a separate bowl, mix your wet ingredients - eggs, water, melted coconut oil, molasses, almond and vanilla extracts.  Stir well with a whisk.  Make sure all are combined well.  Some lumps are okay from the coconut oil but it should be blended. 

Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and mix completely. 

Lightly grease your waffle iron with olive oil.  I have a Waring Double Belgian style that cooks two waffles at a time and I can flip them.  It's really cool and fun! 

Use 1/3 of your waffle mixture per waffle.  Spread it out across your iron.  Like this (see photo below):

Cook using your iron's instructions and until your desired brownness or doneness.  I was able to make three Belgian size waffles with mine.  If you have a smaller waffle iron, you may get four.

Top with your favorite toppings. My five year old girl likes maple syrup.  My husband and I drizzle coconut milk with a bit of flavored extracts on top. 

Mmmm, mmmm!  Good stuff! 

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a great start to 2013 too! 

From my family to yours, happy holidays!  :-)

I Completed the 21-day Sugar Detox (And I'm doing it again in January!)

In early December I revealed that I was doing a 21-day sugar detox.  This is where I consumed no sugars for 21 days.  Not even fruit.  No alcohol.  No stevia packet in my coffee.  No squares of my favorite dark chocolate bar.  Nothing!  Well I did it!  I completed the 21 days.  And do you know what?  It really wasn't that hard. 

I can't say it was totally easy.  I had a few nights where I really wanted a glass of wine or a tiny piece of chocolate.  But I resisted.  What can I say?  I'm pretty determined and dedicated when I want to be.  I think it helped that I was seeing so many positive results along the way.

First I found that I could go hours without eating or feeling hungry.  I could eat breakfast at 7:00 a.m. and feel satisfied until 2:00 p.m. 

Second and best of all for me, I lost weight.  I had reached a bit of a standstill on my post-baby weight loss until I did this detox.  I lost 8 pounds and went from a size 6 pants to a size 4.  Can I get a "OH YEAH BABY!" on that one!  Yes, that was a definite nice bonus for me. 

Third and last of all, I realized that sugar doesn't control me.  None of the foods out there do.  I'm in control and that's what I wanted most of all from doing this program.  I wanted to see that I don't need it.  I may want it.  Occasionally I may have it in natural forms like honey and blueberries but I only need that in minimal amounts.  What my body and mind really thrives on is protein and fats.  I'm at my best mentally and physically when I stick to a low-carb lifestyle and that's how I want to spend the rest of my life.  I've been doing this Primal/Paleo "diet" for over six months now and I plan on making it a permanent fixture of who I am. 

Thanks to those at the 21 day sugar detox program for your encouragement and uplifting words.  It was great to be a part of a group who eats the same way I do in a community and world where most people think I'm crazy!  :-) 

I plan to indulge just a little bit for Christmas.  I want to make coconut sugar cookies with my five year old after all and have chocolate waffles for breakfast that morning too. 

After that though, I'm going strictly no sugar again for awhile.  I intend to do the detox program again in January to see if I lose another couple pounds that I want to shed.  I may extend that longer.  We shall see.  It will depend on how I feel.  I'm just going to listen to my body, mind and heart and let those guide me going forward. 

That's all any of can do really.  Follow your own instincts.  Don't let any doctor, friend or celebrity tell you how you should eat and live.  Determine that for yourself.   Then do what works best.  That's what I'm doing.  That's what my family is doing. 

Cheers and be well!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mexican Meat and Squash Casserole

I had one of my Mexican cravings over the weekend.  And since I couldn't have any dark chocolate or fruit since I'm doing a 21-day sugar detox, I needed to come up with some way to give into my fiesta urges.  I looked in my freezer - tons of grass fed hamburger beef.  I looked in my fridge - about six small yellow squashes just sitting in there all alone waited to be used up.  Surely I could come up with something that could blend the two together nicely. 

Challenge received and conquered with this delicious recipe!  I was even able to sneak in some eggplant too that almost got unnoticed.  It did get eaten though. 

Trust me, you'll like this one.  It will surprise you at how tasty and Mexican-flavored it is!

Mexican Meat and Squash Casserole

1 Tbsp of olive oil + more for greasing pan
1 pound of grass fed hamburger meat
6 yellow squash sliced into small noodles (about 4 cups)
1 can (14 oz) of diced tomatoes, mostly drained - read label carefully for no added sugar or salt
1 can (14 oz) of tomato sauce - read label carefully for no added sugar or salt
1 tsp of chili powder
2 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp of garlic powder
2 Tbsp of taco seasoning, homemade (like in this recipe)
2 dashes of sea salt
1 dash of pepper

Variations/Ways to Mix it up:
2 links of ground up nitrite-free chicken sausage, such as Aidells brand (optional)
1/2 of a small eggplant sliced into shapes like the squash (about 1 cup) - optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 2 Qt pan with olive oil.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, cook your grass fed hamburger meat (and optional chicken sausage if using it).  Season it with 1 tsp of the onion powder.  Drain and set aside in a large, separate bowl. 

Wash, slightly peel and slice up your yellow squash into 2-3 inch noodle size pieces.  (Or the size of a typical french fry).  Like this:

Wipe down your skillet.  Add in the 1 Tbsp of olive oil.  Cook your yellow squash (and optional egg plant slices if using them).  Sprinkle with the sea salt.  Saute them for about seven to eight minutes. 

Place the cooked squash (and optional eggplant) in the large bowl with the browned meat.  Open your can of diced tomatoes.  Drain almost all of it and toss over the meat and squash.  Now add in all your remaining ingredients - tomato sauce, chili powder, onion powder (the other 1 tsp), garlic powder, homemade taco seasoning and a final dash of salt and pepper.  Mix all ingredients well in the large bowl.  Scoop out into the greased 2 quart baking pan.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

We topped ours with a bit of all-natural Amish cheddar cheese.  This would also be great topped with avocado slices, salsa or all natural sour cream.   

Even my picky five year old daughter said she really liked this dish.  I ate it for three meals in a row and was disappointed when it was all gone.  Good stuff!  Who needs the tortillas or pasta when better-for-you vegetables like squash (or eggplant) work just as well?!  :-) 

Enjoy! And You're welcome (De Nada!)  :-)


Still craving more Mexican?  Check out my Mexican Meatza recipe too! 

What kinds of other foods do we eat within a month?  Here is my sample meal plan with recipe links!

Cheers and be well! 


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Roasted Mixed Veggies

I'm really into roasting these days.  It has quickly become my favorite ways to eat vegetables, especially a blend of them that I often collect in my fridge.  It's easy to throw together while you assemble or prepare a main dish.  Here was a delicious one we enjoyed a few weeks in a row.

Roasted Mixed Veggies

4 cups of various cubed vegetables, such as a color blend of eggplant, squash, tomatoes and cucumbers
3 Tbsp of olive oil + a little more for greasing pan
1 Tbsp of minced garlic
1/2 tsp of ground rosemary (optional)
about two dashes of salt and pepper, each

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a large baking pan with a little bit of olive oil.  Set aside.

Cut up your various vegetables into small squares or cubes.  I like to use a variety of color - red (tomatoes), yellow or orange (bell peppers), green (zucchini or cucumber) and purple (eggplant). 

In a large mixing bowl, place all your chopped veggies.  Pour in your 3 Tbsp of olive oil.  Toss in your minced garlic and sprinkle over your ground rosemary.  Put dashes of salt and pepper.  Now use a large spoon to stir and blend your vegetables.  Make sure each piece is coated with oil and seasoning. 

Place each vegetable in a single layer onto your greased baking pan.  Try not to let the veggies touch each other. 

Bake (or the term is roast) at 375 for 25 minutes.  Check to see if the veggies are your desired crunchiness or brownness. 

I love, love, love this way of eating vegetables! 

Personal Eggplant Pizza

This is one of my new favorite lunches I make just for me while my husband is working and my daughters don't require my attention.  It's simple, easy and delicious.  And it satisfies me with that "pizza craving" I still get from time to time since I've gone Primal/Paleo. 

I typically eat just three slices for lunch one day then enjoy the other three the next day.  I top mine with a little bit of all natural, Amish cheese but you can leave that out if you can't tolerate dairy. 

Personal Eggplant Pizza

a small bit of olive oil for greasing pan
1/2 of a large Eggplant, sliced into six pieces
1 small can (4 oz) of tomato sauce (read label carefully to find no hidden sugar or salt additives)
6 slices of uncured, nitrite free pepperoni, such as Applegate Farms brand
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian, all natural seasoning blend
2 Tbsp all natural, freshly grated cheese (optional)

Set your oven to broil.  If you can adjust its temperature, I put mine to about 400 or 450 so it doesn't burn my food.  Each oven is different so watch your carefully. 

Grease your pizza or round pan lightly with olive oil.  Place your sliced eggplant pieces on the pan and spread them out so they don't touch.  Like this:

Broil anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes depending on how you like them.  I like mine slightly brown. 

Remove from oven when you have your desired consistency to make your pizza toppings.  I place my tomato sauce on each eggplant slice first.  I spread the sauce across to cover the entire eggplant.  Then I sprinkle each one with the onion powder, garlic powder and Italian seasoning blend.  Lastly I add the pepperoni slices by Applegate farms.  They are the perfect size to cover an eggplant pizza.  Just one slice per eggplant is all you need. 

Now place back in your oven and broil for another 5 to 10 minutes.  Check it half way through to see if it looks done to your liking.

Remove from oven.  Top with your cheese of choice. 

Let it cool for two minutes.  Then eat and enjoy!

Mandy's Meat Loaf

My husband and I are one of those weird folks who happen to LOVE meat loaf.  It's such great comfort food.  We eat it at least once a month.  I love experimenting with different types of meat and making it in small or large loaf pans.  It never comes out quite the same.  But here is my basic, yummy recipe.

Mandy's Meat Loaf

Olive oil for greasing pan
2 pounds of meat (such as a combo of grass-fed hamburger meat and ground turkey or ground up chicken sausage)
1 cup of finely shredded carrots
2 eggs (from cage-free chickens)
1 Tbsp coconut aminos - (edited to add: this is an all natural replacement for soy sauce; see comments section)
1 Tbsp organic, all natural ketchup
1 Tbsp organic, all natural mustard
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp all natural Worcestershire sauce
dash of salt and pepper

Glaze topping (optional):
1/3 cup of organic, all natural ketchup
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
2 tsp of coconut sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease your regular bread loaf pan or a mini loaf pan with olive oil.

In a large mixing bowl combine all your ingredients listed in the order they appear above, beginning with your meat and finishing with your seasonings.  Use your hands to combine and mix until well incorporated. 

Press mixture into a loaf or into your mini loaf pan.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Set a timer so you can keep track of it.

About five minutes before the meatloaf is done, make your glaze topping.  Mix the ketchup, apple cider vinegar and coconut sugar in a small bowl.  Stir until all blended. 

Once you remove the meat loaf from the oven, spread your glaze topping above it.  Just a thin layer will do.  Then bake at 350 degrees for another 20 to 30 minutes. 

Remove dish from oven and let it cool slightly before cutting and serving.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm Doing The 21-Day Sugar Detox

It's been awhile since my last recipe post.  I will make some time to get something new up soon.  In the mean time, I thought I'd share what I've been up to lately....

I'm doing the 21-day sugar detox.  What's that you may ask?  It's this crazy thing where you give up sugar (and alcohol) for 21 days.  I mean no sugar, not even in the natural things like honey, maple syrup, etc.  Nothing.  Nada.  

And I'm doing it in December, during prime time holidays and sweet circulations and parties galore!  Yeah, I'm completely bonkers!  Those people who know me well are not surprised.  (They're thinking oh geez, here is another of Mandy's hair-brained schemes again!)

I read about this detox program through social media channels just after my Thanksgiving indulgences.  But I was a little bit inspired by my husband's stepmother who was doing a specific diet for weight loss.  She ate only chicken and fish and vegetables while she visited; she shared with me how she lost fifteen pounds in three weeks.  Wow, I thought.  If this 64 year old lady could be dedicated to do that diet for 60 days, then surely I could try this program for 21 days.  After all, I've been mostly Paleo/Primal for six months now.  I'd already successfully given up grains, legumes, many carbohydrates, all processed foods, soy and more.  I still indulge occasionally in dairy (just organic whole milk or cream or Amish cheese) since I can tolerate it but my husband cannot. 

Well I'm doing the detox for two main reasons:
1. Vanity
2. Control

Let me elaborate further now.

1. Vanity - I want to look better.  I have a seven month old baby and a five year old daughter.  I want to be that hot mom, not just someone who "looks good for having two kids."  I've got another 10 to 15 pounds I want to lose to be happy in my skin.  And I want to be sexy, not just happy.   There I said it.  I admitted it out loud.  For women, it's not easy getting older.... wrinkles, crow feet around the eyes, etc.  I'm 34 years old so I'm not too old.  But I want to have a trimmed and toned body because my skin and hands aren't getting any younger.  So I thought, maybe if I don't have any sugar at all, that will push me past this plateau I've seemed to hit with my post-pregnancy weight.  I was doing so great losing it steadily just eating Primal/Paleo foods.  Then I was stuck at the same number on the scale for awhile.  And I know I shouldn't be hung up on that scale but after nearly two months of the same, I needed a new tactic.  Something more now needed to be done.  I hope this is it. Or at least that jump-start to being a "loser."  :-)

2.  Control  - It may sound odd but I have little control over what happens in my day.  I have two small children. I mentioned them above, remember?  One of them is a high maintenance but adorable baby, just seven months old.  The other is a constant chatterbox but wonderful five year old.  So they keep my life interesting.  I start each day with good intentions.  I plan to clean, cook, run errands, work on homemade Christmas gifts, etc. etc.  I keep a calendar.  I organize our events.  I make lists.  Yet somehow, things more than often just don't go as planned.  The baby's naps are thrown off.  My oldest is whining and wanting my attention.  The dinner I hoped to make hasn't been started yet and I'm missing ingredients.  And that's just to name a few short things that come to mind.  So much of my life can change and go outside the normal.  But no matter what, I can control what I eat.  I take charge of what goes in my mouth.  I have the complete say-so and ending note.  So it seemed that in my current, crazy chaotic state, I could restore just a tiny bit of balance by controlling what I eat and getting rid of the sugar cravings I often have.  Even though the sweets I've eaten over the past six months have been the healthier, all natural, homemade kind, I still need to stop going to that dark chocolate bar or that honey-infused almond flour bread that I spread all-fruit jam over.   I can rise above that.  I don't need it.  I may want it.  But I don't really need it. 

So those are the reasons why I'm doing it.  And I am doing it.... 
Today is actually day 12 for me.  I'm half-way done. 

Looking back at my daily notes, I can share the following:

Days 3 and 4 - I had pretty bad headaches. 

Day 6 - This was a willpower kind of day.  It required a lot of willpower to say no to holiday cupcakes at  party I attended.  However, I realized I lost four pounds so that was the motivation I needed to say "No."

Day 8 - I lost five pounds total since starting this journey and my clothes are definitely looser. 

Day 11 - I felt really down on this day even though I didn't cheat and have stuck well with the diet.  Perhaps it was hormonal or weather related for me.  I really wanted a glass of wine with my dinner because I had a hard day with my two girls.  I didn't have one though.  I'm stronger/better than that!  (At least for now!)

Overall, I'm doing great.  I write down what I eat in a journal everyday.  I'm exercising five days a week and I've discovered the following about myself so far:

- I don't need more than one cup of coffee per day.  And I can still enjoy one cup of coffee without any sugar (not even Stevia).  I do like my whole fat, organic cream inside it though.

- I missed my 90% dark chocolate the first week.  But this second week hasn't been so bad. 

- Being strong takes work but I can do it.  I'm a strong, determined person. 

- I may want something sweet; however, more than I want that candy bar, I want to look and feel my best.  I keep telling myself that sugar is not worth it right now.  After all, I am working toward being that "hot mama," not that "mama going to coffee shops for holiday indulgences that my hips and waistline don't need." 

- I can still kick ass at a challenge and/or contest. 

And that's about it from me for now.  I've got only nine more days to go but I may do an additional week too.  I may go for a 28-day sugar detox.... Because I can! 

When I have more time and my baby actually takes a long nap during the day, I'll write down what I'm actually eating each day of the 21-day challenge.  I'll try to include any tips and thoughts that may have helped me along the way too. 

But for now, just call me crazy.  Call me nuts.  I'm used to it.  Plus, normal is boring anyway.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Paleo Carrot Cake (Or Carrot Muffins)

We love carrot cake and carrot muffins in our house.  All three of us.  Perhaps when the baby is old enough, she'll love them too.  She'd be crazy not to!? 

After going Primal/Paleo in May, I wasn't sure we could enjoy special treats like carrot cake.  But I searched through several recipes out there, tested out a few, tweaked them to finally created my own that is perfect for our family.  I don't even think this needs any cream cheese frosting.  It's perfect as is. 

Paleo Carrot Cake (makes one 9 x 13 size)


Paleo Carrot Muffins (makes 10 muffins)

Ingredients:olive oil for greasing the baking pan
2 cups of almond flour, blanched
1 cup of pecans, finely chopped
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3 eggs
1/3 cup of pure maple syrup
4 Tbsp applesauce, all natural and no sugar added
1 and 1/2 cups of finely shredded carrots (1 to 2 large carrots, steamed and shredded)
1/3 cup of pureed dates
1/3 cup of raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan OR a muffin tin with olive oil.  I don't measure it, just eyeball it. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine your almond flour, finely chopped pecans, baking soda, sea salt, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract and almond extract. 

In a separate mixing bowl, beat your eggs.  Add in the maple syrup and applesauce.  Mix well.  Pour the shredded carrots, pureed dates and raisins to the wet mixture.  Make sure it's all blended well. 

Pour the wet carrot mixture into the dry flour ingredients.  Use a soft spatula to mix well.  Scoop out into the cake pan or the muffin tin, depending on what you want to make. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly brown on top and mixture begins to pull away from edges. 

Such good, good eating!  Parent and kid tested and approved.  If a rabbit would try it, he would approve it too.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Giant Pumpkin-Custard Pancake

I love one-dish things.  Sometimes my mornings are a rush.  My daughter loves pancakes but we don't always have the time to make the individual little cakes.  So one day I was looking at pumpkin flavored pancake recipes and turned an ordinary idea into one giant winning dish.  Everyone loved it!   We will eat this year round, not just during October and November when the peeps are pumpkin-crazy. 

Giant Pumpkin Custard Pancake
(Serves 4 to 5)

olive oil for greasing skillet
1 can of puree pumpkin, all natural (or 15 oz of puree from your own pumpkin)
4 eggs
1/4 cup of coconut flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp of Enjoy life chocolate chips - optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a large skillet with olive oil.  Set to medium heat. 

In a large bowl, mix your canned pumpkin with the eggs.  Blend well.  Then add in your remaining ingredients - coconut, cinnamon, pie spice, baking soda and sea salt.  Stir until all is combined.  If ou want to sweeten it up or have kids who love chocolate, then add in about 2 Tbsp of Enjoy Life chocolate chips to the mixture.  Stir until combined. Pour into warmed, greased skillet on the stove.  Let it cook for about five to seven minutes on the stove.  Then remove from stove top and place in your oven.  No flipping required! 

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Or until the edges of the pumpkin custard pancake turn slightly brown and pull away from sides of skillet. 

Remove carefully from the oven.  Let it cool for about five minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve with pure maple syrup.  Or skip the syrup since it tastes great just as it is. 

You'll thank for me for this one!  It tastes like a cross between a pancake and custard.  In fact my husband eats any leftovers straight from the fridge like it's dessert.  I've made this every week for a month now!  :-) 

Kids love to help with this one too.  My sweet Vivian sure does!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Primal Berry Pie

American Pie.  No, not the movie.  Although I do like those slapstick comedy films. 

I'm talking about the taste of yummy pie without the carbs and sugar.  Could it be possible?  Could it still taste good?

Well I'm pleased to tell you that YES IT CAN!  My husband has already requested I make this several times.  And he's a picky dessert eater too.  My four year old also enjoyed it and didn't know it was sugar and dairy-free!  :-)

Primal Berry Pie
(Serves 8)

Pie crust
Crust Recipe is from Paleo Parents' Eat Like a Dinosaur Cookbook
Buy their book, it's awesome!

Berry Pie filling:

4 cups of mixed berries (I use a combo of strawberries, blueberries and cherries) - fresh or frozen is fine
1/2 cup of coconut sugar
1/2 cup of arrowroot flour OR tapioca flour
2 Tbsp of lemon or lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine berries, coconut sugar, arrowroot (or tapioca) flour and lemon (or lime) juice together in a bowl.  Make sure it's well blended.  Spoon out into the cooled, baked pie crust.   Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let it cool completely. 

Most of the time, I prepare the pie crust and filling the day before and refrigerate overnight.  If you don't have time for that, then just refrigerate it for about two hours. 

Pie topping:

1 can of coconut milk, all natural, no sweetener added
1 tsp almond extract

Once the pie filling and crust is completely cooled, you can prepare your topping.  To prepare the whipped topping, open up a can of coconut milk.  Scoop out the thick "fat" from the can and place into a bowl.  Leave the liquid watery part at the bottom.  Put your almond extract on top of the coconut milk. Using a hand mixer, whip your coconut milk on medium for about 3 to 4 minutes.  It should look like your typical whipped topping.  Spread over the cooled pie.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until your guests are ready for it. 

They will not miss the added sugar and preservatives in this delicious pie.  I've received nothing but praise and further requests to make this when I share it with friends.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Skillet Asparagus

Confession: I never used to eat asparagus.  In fact, I only really started eating it in the last three months.  Crazy, I know, right?  I suppose I just never had it cooked properly for me.  Now my husband and I both know how to prepare and serve it so that it's truly amazing.  Here's the simple way we make it:

Skillet Asparagus
(Serves 4)

1/2 bunch of asparagus
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup of cherry tomatoes
1.5 Tbsp butter, softened (all natural from grass fed cows, I like the Irish Kerrygold brand)
1 Tbsp olive oil + a little more for greasing pan
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Lightly grease the skillet pan with olive oil and place on low to medium heat.  Meanwhile, cut the ends off your asparagus - about 1/4 to 1/3 inch.   The best technique I've used is to start at the ends and work your way up....when the knife cuts through easily with no effort, that's where you need to trim. 

Place the cut asparagus in a medium size mixing bowl.  Add in your minced garlic, cherry tomatoes, softened butter, olive oil and sea salt.  Coat the asparagus well with all the seasonings. 

Put mixture in the skillet.  Spread out your asparagus and cook for about five minutes.  Then gently flip over or move around cooking for another two minutes.  Don't overcook.  You don't want your veggie too soft or wilted. 

Remove from heat.  Add in the 1/2 tsp of balsamic vinegar and mix around. 

Serve warm.  Good stuff!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes

I typically make pancakes twice a month for my family.  It's usually a weekend morning treat but sometimes we'll have them for dinner too.  My husband makes the eggs and omelets in our household;  I do the pancakes.  It's just how we roll. 

When we first started the Paleo/Primal diet, I wasn't sure we'd be able to have traditional pancakes again.  I missed them though and my almost five year old daughter loves them.  So I knew I had to find a replacement recipe.  I experimented with a half-dozen of recipes out there.  It took some trial and error and tweaking until I found one that worked best for us.  This is my current favorite one:

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes
(Makes 6 medium size pancakes)

olive oil for greasing skillet or frying pan
1/3 measuring cup for scooping out batter
very thin spatula or flexible turner (like this one) for flipping pancakes
5 eggs
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup of coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Grease your skillet (or use a griddle if you have one) with a bit of olive oil and turn on the heat to low while you make the batter.  

In a small bowl, mash your bananas with a fork until they are a liquid mush.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, beat your eggs.  Then add in the bananas, coconut flour, baking soda, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon.  Mix well.  Your batter may seem thick.  You can add a bit of water, like 1 tsp, to it if you like. 

Turn the heat up on your skillet to medium or medium low when you're about ready to cook the pancakes.  Grab your 1/3 cup measuring utensil to begin forming your breakfast. 

From my experience, the 1/3 cup is the perfect size for a pancake.  Use this to scoop out batter from the mixing bowl.  Place it in the skillet.  My pancake batter is almost like a cookie dough batter; therefore it doesn't "pour out."  You must scoop it out then use your spatula to flatten it out into a round pancake. 

Cook on each side for about 2 minutes.  This batter doesn't form bubbles like your traditional flour pancakes do.  So just watch until it puffs up and begins to lightly brown on the edges.  Then flip carefully and cook for another minute. 

Mine look like this:

Set the pancake aside and follow the same directions to cook the rest of the batter.  About half way through, I have to turn down the heat on my skillet so I don't burn them.  I made exactly six medium size pancakes with this batter.

Serve warm with all natural maple syrup or top with your favorite berries.  Delicious and good for you! 

Trust me, your kids will never miss the difference.  With these, they won't know that the pancakes aren't made with traditional flour!   Enjoy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Paleo Granola Bars

I used to make granola bars all the time in our pre-primal/Paleo days.  I didn't think I'd be able to eat them again since I always used oats and peanut butter in them.  How can you make granola without those two ingredients? 

Well I searched high and low, dabbled with a few recipes and finally came up with this one.  Because I live in such a humid climate, these tend to fall apart easily.  So sometimes I eat them as a stand alone but I mostly prefer them as a topping to my husband's homemade yogurt. They are really good though!

Paleo Granola Bars
(Makes 16 - 24 bars, depending on how you cut them)

1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp ground golden flax seed
1 Tbsp water
2 cups of shredded coconut
2 cups of sliced almonds
1/3 cup of sunflower seeds
1/3 cup of other nut of your choice (cashews, pecans - anything but peanuts!)
1/3 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of almond butter (or other nut butter like sun butter or cashew butter)
1/4 cup of honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup of almond flour, blanched
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup of Enjoy life chocolate chips (these are gluten free, dairy free, soy free and surprisingly tasty!)
1/2 cup of raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 inch cake pan with the olive oil.  Pat down any excess with a paper towel. 

In a small bowl, mix the ground golden flax seed with the water.  Let it sit for about five minutes until it thickens. 

In a separate large bowl, place your shredded coconut, sliced almonds, nuts and seeds.  Set aside.

In yet another separate bowl, combine your coconut oil, almond butter, honey, vanilla and almond extracts.  Spoon in your flax seed-water mixture, almond flour and baking soda.  Combine and stir well. 

Place your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients.  Stir or mix with hands. 

Lastly add in your chocolate chips and raisins (or whatever dried fruit you wish to use).  Spoon out your granola mixture into the greased 9x13 pan.  Pat it down firmly with your hands covering the entire pan and sticking it together so it will bake correctly.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until lightly brown on edges.  Let them cool before placing it in the fridge or attempting to cut. 

****In fact, I highly recommend putting them in the fridge overnight before you even slice them.  Cut into bars, whatever size you like.  I usually get about 24 bars with mine. 

I like to wrap my individual bars in the Press and Seal and freeze them for later use.  Like this:

Good stuff.  Enjoy this grain-free recipe and know that you're not putting any filler or fluff into your body!  :-)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Broccoli Chips

I wasn't sure what I should call this recipe.  It has many names out there on the web - roasted broccoli florets, baked broccoli bites, etc. etc.  After thinking of broc-corn (like popcorn but with broccoli), I finally settled on just broccoli chips.  Because for me, eating these reminds me of eating half a bag of potato chips in one sitting, like I've done as a teenager.

My husband and daughter weren't too particularly fond of this recipe but I really liked it.  In fact I cooked an entire head of broccoli and ate it all for my lunch, along with one hot dog.  Oh yeah, I'm not kidding!

Try it and see if you think it's like eating a bowl full of chips, broccoli chips....

Broccoli Chips
(Serves 2-3 or just me by myself! :-)

1 head of fresh broccoli, chopped with the stems cut off
2 Tbsp of olive oil + 1/4 tsp more for greasing your pan
1.5 tsp garlic powder (or use 1-2 fresh garlic pieces, minced)
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease your pan with the 1/4 tsp of olive oil

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix around.  Make sure the chopped broccoli is coated with the olive oil and seasonings.  Lay out in single pieces on the greased pan.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Broccoli will be dark in color and perhaps very brown on its tiny stems. 

Let them cool for just a minute before popping one into your mouth.  Oh man, that's good stuff!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Primal Jambalaya Stew (in the Slow Cooker)

I LOVE using my slow cooker.  I'm trying to challenge myself to use it once a week.  On busy days with my two girls, I feel so relaxed just tossing in a bunch of food and letting it sit for 6-8 hours.  Then magically it's done and ready to eat.  I didn't have to stir it, pay attention to it or best of all, worry about it. 

After going Paleo/Primal in May, I abandoned  many of the recipes from my Louisiana Cajun heritage.  Most of them contain gluten.  However, I've found a few new ways to still enjoy my favorite flavors.  This is a new version of Jambalaya that my family now likes - a jambalaya stew from the slow cooker.  I call it a stew because it's not dry with just rice and it's not as liquid-y as a soup.  It's somewhere perfect in between.  I serve it over cauliflower rice to keep it in line with our primal diet. 

Primal Jambalaya Stew in the Slow Cooker
Serves 6 to 8

1 cup of chicken broth or chicken stock, all natural and no MSG (whatever you have on hand)
1 onion, chopped
3 bell peppers, any color will do (I like to use red, yellow and orange to make it pretty :-)
3 to 4 cups of chopped, cooked chicken (I love using leftover grilled chicken from our outdoor grill)
5 links (1 - 12 oz package) of Andouille Cajun Sausage (or use other sausage of your choice) - chopped
1 - 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 Tbsp of minced garlic (or use about 3 garlic cloves)
2 tsp of dried bay leaves
1 Tbsp of Cajun seasoning or you can make your own (Use more if you like but I don't make mine too spicy since I have kids to feed!)
1 Tbsp of Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Place all the ingredients in your slow cooker.  If possible, put them in the order of the list above, starting with the broth and onion and then finishing with the seasonings.  Cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours.  Or cook on high for 4 to 6 hours.  Or do a combination of both high and low heat, whatever your schedule allows.

Taste and see if any additional seasonings are needed.  Serve over my easy Primal Rice.  You've got a great meal here.  Even my picky daughter, almost five years old, ate this all. 


Monday, October 8, 2012

Easiest Ever Primal Rice

On the primal diet, we don't typically eat rice except for a special occasion or cheat outing (A girl needs her sushi from time to time after all).  However, we discovered from various recipe sites out there that you can turn cauliflower into "rice" and use it in the same manner.  Because sometimes you want to eat a stew over "rice" or have your own stir-fry. 

My husband and I tried various different cauliflower rice recipes but finally I just figured out my own, extremely easy way to make it.  Depending on what you're eating, your kids won't even notice the difference or taste change.  It should just blend in with your soups, stews and more.  This one is primal approved and won't be carb heavy.  Your hips and stomach will thank you for it, trust me!

Easiest Ever Primal Rice

(Makes about 3 cups)

Here is what you'll need:
1 bag of frozen cauliflower (1 pound or 16 oz bag)
1 food processor
a microwave
a pretty serving dish

Directions, step by step with photos for your easy enjoyment: 

Take out your frozen bag of cauliflower.  If you have the time, let it defrost on your counter for 30 minutes to one hour.  If you're in a pinch, just run it under hot water in your sink for a few minutes to soften it a bit.

Pour entire contents into your food processor and blend.  DO NOT add any extra water.  You want it to resemble rice, not a liquid puree.  By keeping the cauliflower mostly frozen, you won't over-puree it.

Pulse in your food process for about two minutes or until your desired "rice" consistency. 

Then scoop out your "rice" and place it in a pretty, microwavable-safe serving dish.  Microwave on high for five to seven minutes.  Take it out and serve with your main meal. 

And hey, if you want "brown rice," then just place the cauliflower rice in a greased skillet with olive oil.  Saute until your rice becomes "brown," like this:


Sunday, October 7, 2012

No-Oat-meal Raisin Almond Cookies

OH.MY.GOSH. These were amazing cookies.  Even the Cookie Monster would be going crazy over these.  And they don't contain any gluten or any sugar.  Soo tasty!  My husband found this recipe online and this is the tweaked version we made with it. 

No-Oat-meal Raisin Almond Cookies

(Makes 12 to 18 cookies, depending on how big you make them)

1/4 cup of coconut flour
3/4 cup of almond flour
3/4 tsp of salt
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of baking soda
1/3 cup of almond butter (or use sun butter, cashew butter or any other butter of your choice; if using peanut butter, it won't be primal/paleo)
1 egg, cage free and all natural
3 Tbsp of butter, all natural from grass fed cows
1/2 cup of honey
2 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of almond extract
3/4 cup of raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Very lightly grease parchment paper and place on cookie baking pan.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine your coconut flour, almond flour, salt, ground cinnamon and baking soda.  Blend well. 

In a separate smaller bowl, combine your almond butter, egg, vanilla and almond extracts, butter and honey.  Blend well. 

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix all together really well.  Now pour your raisins into the mixture and gently incorporate them into the mix. 

Drop by either teaspoon or tablespoon onto the lightly greased parchment paper - whatever size cookie you prefer.  These will bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, until just lightly browned around the edges. 

Serve warm. None of us could only eat one! See you if can but I doubt it....  :-)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Berry Clafouti for Breakfast

Isn't the word "Clafouti" fun to say?  Cluh-fuu-tee!  Sounds like a music band from Europe perhaps? These little clafouti recipes pop up around the Primal and Paleo sites.  I can't recall where I found the first, original one but here's the one I now make for my family about twice a month.  My four year old daughter loves it. 

This dish has an egg-y taste since there is no flour in it.  Therefore, it's more like a berry quiche than a pancake or French toast consistency.  I just wanted to make sure you know that before you make it and bite into it.  Still, it's sweet without being too powerful and a nice change from our scrambled eggs we eat so often.

Berry Clafouti for Breakfast
(Serves 4)

olive oil for greasing pan
2 Tbsp melted butter, all natural from grass fed cows
6 eggs
1 can of coconut milk
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of almond extract
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
dash of salt
2 cups of mixed berries, your choice (I love including blueberries, strawberries and blackberries) - can be fresh or frozen

Grease a pie pan with olive oil.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Melt your butter in the microwave in a small bowl.  Be sure to cover it!  Set aside.  Beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Add in the melted butter, coconut milk, vanilla and almond extracts, ground cinnamon and dash of salt.  Mix all together with a whisk or electric mixer.  Pour into the greased pie pan.  Drop your berries down in the mixture, carefully spreading them around so you cover as much as pie plate as possible. 

Bake for 45 minutes or until your clafouti pulls away from sides of pan.  The dish will rise then sink a bit. Mmm, it's like the consistency of a fruity bread pudding but without the bread! 

Serve warm with pure maple syrup.  We like ours with a side of bacon or sausage and fresh fruit.

I say this is a breakfast dish but you can enjoy it anytime of the day.  We have had it for dinner and mid-day snack too.  Good stuff!