Thursday, January 24, 2013

Primal Skillet Garlic Shrimp

This dish is so easy to make and best of all it takes minimal time and ingredients.  Easy and Fast.  My kind of recipe.  Here you go....

Skillet Garlic Shrimp

1 pound of shrimp, wild caught
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/8 cup of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
1 Tbsp of real butter (optional) - you can substitute olive oil or coconut oil if you have dairy issues

Serve with or over about 3 cups of primal rice

Peel your shrimp completely.  I run mine under cool water as I peel each one.  Rinse them well.  Place them in a plastic storage bag.

Mince your garlic cloves directly into the storage bag with the shrimp.  I have a handy-dandy garlic press gadget.  :-)  Add in the olive oil, pouring it directly over the shrimp.  Sprinkle in the sea salt (about four or five dashes should do). 

Close your storage bag (or container or whatever you use).  Shake and mix up your shrimp with the seasonings.  Move it all around so the shrimp are coated well.

Marinate it for at least an hour.  Do several hours or all day if you have the time.  The longer the better, especially if you love the garlic flavor and smell.  I left mine out on the counter at room temperature for about three hours.  Like this:

Heat a skillet on your stove to medium heat.  Place the 1 Tbsp butter in your skillet.  Or if you're dairy-free, use olive oil or coconut oil instead to coat the pan.  Spread the butter or oil around.  Then place your marinated shrimp in the skillet. 

Cook for about four minutes on medium heat.  Then reduce heat to low and cook for about another 3-5 minutes or until shrimp are tender.

Serve this with or over the cauliflower rice I've shared with you in the past!  It goes perfect together!  We ate ours with sauteed spinach and sweet carrots.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cucumber Sub Sandwiches

On the days when I don't have leftovers from the previous night's dinner and I am forced to make my lunch, I want something quick and easy.  These are the moments when I miss having a simple sandwich -- just pull the bread out and your favorite condiments, meats, cheese, etc.  A sandwich is so simple and can be so satisfying if made right.  

Well rather than be depressed over not eating bread anymore, I decided to view all the available vegetables at my fingertips as my "bread" instead.  Enter cucumbers and zucchini.  Since zucchini isn't always available at my farmer's market or grocery store, I opted to make a cucumber sub sandwich a few days ago.  The end result was surprisingly good, surprisingly filling and surprisingly messy!   When I looked at my empty plate full of juices and condiments that fell off, I was reminded of my former days of chowing down on a roast beef po' boy or Philly cheese steak. 

Try it.  Your body will thank you.

Cucumber Sub Sandwiches
(Serves 1 adult OR two hungry kids)

1 cucumber, preferably from a farmers market or your own backyard
2-3 slices of deli meats - your choice (I love the Applegate Farms organic chicken, turkey and ham)
toppings of your choice - cheese, tomato, lettuce
condiments of your choice - organic mustard, mayo

There is no exact amount to this recipe.  It's just to show you that everything you could normally eat on sandwich bread can be placed on a vegetable like a cucumber.  Or a zucchini.

First peel your cucumber slightly.  Make it into stripes or strips.  Like this:

I wouldn't peel it all the way because then it will be too slippery to handle.  If you like all the peelings, keep them on.  It's just my preference to have it this way.

Now slice your cucumber in half, length-wise.  Then slice the halves into halves so that you have four equal (or as close to equal as you can make it) pieces.  Like this:

Then assemble your cucumber sub sandwich.  Spread on any condiments you like.  I enjoy an organic mustard and mayo that I buy at a whole foods store.  Place your deli meats on two of the sliced cucumbers.  My favorite type is the smoked chicken, roasted ham and herb turkey made by Applegate Farms.

Put whatever toppings you like on your "sub."  I added sliced roma tomatoes and hunks of all natural Amish Country cheese.  Here's what my sandwich looked like before I placed my cucumbers together:

I then placed the other slices on top to "sandwich" them together.  I warmed them in my microwave for about 35 seconds to melt the cheese and warm the meat. 

Then I ate every last dripping bite of the sandwich.  I was very full too.  It was at least three hours before my hunger came back. 


Monday, January 14, 2013

Sweet Carrot Fries

Sometimes let's face it, you just miss french fries or the idea of french fries.  Thankfully you can take other vegetables and turn them into "fries" so you don't feel like you are missing out.  They won't taste the same and thankfully they won't harm your body or clog your arteries either. 

We've made "fries" with sweet potatoes but since I'm watching my carb intake on a sugar detox, I decided to try it with carrots instead.  I was a little skeptical at first.  Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised at the end result!

These carrot "fries" were sweet and so tasty.  They really complimented the meatloaf I made for dinner over the weekend.  We all loved this simple side dish!  When you look at them, you almost think they are sweet potato fries.  I think I liked these even better though.  Who knew?!

Sweet Carrot Fries
(Serves 3 to 4)

4 cups of matchstick carrots (or about 4 medium size carrots that have been cut into "fries")
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut up your carrots into "fries" or long rectangles that resemble traditional "fries" as much as possible.  We have a french fry cutter gadget so we have it easy!  :-)  Our looked like this:

In a medium mixing bowl, place 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and 1/2 of the ground cinnamon at the bottom of the bowl.  I think this is critical.... to divide half the seasoning and place the first part in the bottom of the bowl.  Make sure you do this step! --

Then place your carrot fries in the bowl.  Sprinkle top with sea salt.  Now add the remaining half of your seasonings - the other 1 Tbsp of olive oil and the other 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon.  Sprinkle with more sea salt. 

Now your carrot fries have been coated on the bottom and the top.  Mix really well with a large wooden spoon.  (Or use your hands).  Make sure all the fries are coated well. 

Pour them onto an un-greased baking pan.  Since you coated the fries with olive oil, you shouldn't need to add any more to your pan.

Spread them out evenly where none of the fries touch each other.  Like this:

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes.  You can do them a little more or less depending upon the crispiness and crunchiness you like your "fries."  I found them perfect just after 18 minutes. 

Remove from the oven.  Let them cool for about two minutes.  Then serve and enjoy!

And hopefully you don't live too close to any rabbits.  They will come knocking on your door for these!  Good stuff.  :-)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meal Planning and What We Eat for a Month

I have been meal planning off and on for over three years now.  Even before I had children, I would cook in bulk on a weekend, trying to tackle 2-3 meals to last my husband and I half a week while working outside the home. 

Then I took it to another level when I became a full-time stay at home mom.  I planned meals for a week, two weeks and even a month at a time.  I admit that I don't do that much planning now with my active eight month old baby crawling around; plus I'm traveling more in the car with my five year old's preschool and gymnastics classes.  However, I do try to plan a few days in advance. I shop fresh and local whenever I can.  I bulk buy when I can too.  My deep freezer is my best friend. 

Since I was doing a sugar detox in December (and I'm doing another one now actually), I've been writing down all the foods I've eaten.  Unfortunately I don't have time to blog every day on what I'm eating; however, I thought it would be helpful for both me and anyone who happens to read this what I consume in a month's time.  It will help me see what my family enjoys the most and what helped me stay lean and full-of-energy.  Plus a few weeks from now when I feel stuck for a meal idea, I can come back to this page and look at my list.  I'll review my plan and say, Oh yeah, I need to make that again! 


So here we go: Here is a sample monthly meal plan of foods that my family and I have eaten:

Sample Monthly Meal Ideas

Breakfast ideas:
1. Honestly my breakfast meals will be boring to most.  Why?  Because we eat Eggs!  Eggs!  And More Eggs!  Plus meat and veggies. 

2. But once a week or so, I make my Giant Pumpkin Custard Pancake and we'll enjoy that too. 

Maybe once a month I will make something sweet like this:
3. Paleo Waffles 
4. Blueberry Clafouti or
5. Banana Cinnamon Pancakes

But that's about it.  We love eggs.  It fills us up.  We mix it up by using different vegetables and meats and making omelets but it's our staple!

Lunch ideas:
1. Lunch is typically leftovers for my husband and me. 
2. Or we have salads. 
3. Or just hot dogs by Applegate Farms wrapped in lettuce.
4. Or if I'm not real hungry, I will just eat a handful of almonds and my SCD Yogurt that my husband makes for me.  Often my eggs from breakfast fill me up until 2 or 3p.m. and I'll skip lunch and just have a snack.

However, here are a few other ideas for lunch for you:
5. Eggplant Personal Pizza - I eat on this for two days!
6. Skillet Salmon Burgers
7. Cucumber Sub Sandwiches
8. Deli meats (chicken, ham, turkey) topped with cheese, tomato, avocado and wrapped in lettuce
9. Sausage and Acorn Squash Stuffing
10. Easy, Creamy Tomato Basil Soup - from my old food blog, before I went grain-free, sugar-free and free from processed foods.  You can omit the dairy and use coconut milk in place of butter and creamer here!

Dinner ideas for a month:
1. Chicken from the barbecue pit or grill with roasted veggies or kebobs - we marinate our chicken in olive oil, garlic and spices for a few hours.  Then my husband grills until done.  We do kebobs with onions, bell peppers and squash. 

2. Sloppy Joes - like this delicious Grokky version recipe with broccoli chips and side salad

3. Sausage and Peppers with tomato sauce over "spaghetti" (spaghetti squash that is)

4. Blackened or grilled fish in the skillet with steamed mixed veggies - my husband makes this every Friday night for us.  He uses a fish rub and cooks the fish (usually Tilapia or Trout) in butter.  It's divine!

5. Pepperoni Pizza Pot Pie/Casserole - this is the best!  We eat with green beans usually.
*Note you can split the spaghetti squash between meals for day 3 and 5 to stretch your foods!

6. Leftover Buffet - you must have some leftovers at least one night a week.  Just enjoy it.  Sometimes the second time or third time eating it tastes even better after the flavors have sat awhile.  We try to make it seem more fun by serving it in colorful plates or different dishes.  Put on some fun music and enjoy the family time at the dinner table!

7. Balsamic Vinegar Pot Roast (I tweak this recipe) and serve with carrots and a sweet potato

8. Creamy, Sun-dried tomato chicken with mixed veggies and side salad

9. Meatloaf with a side of zucchini carbonara

10. Leftover Buffet again - wear some silly hats or create a theme to have the meal be more fun!

11. Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry with egg drop soup

12. Mexican Meat and Squash Casserole with green beans

13. Slow Cooker Lime Chicken Fajitas (omit the sweetener) served with guacamole and carrot chips

14. Sausage and Spinach Bake with spaghetti squash noodles - omit kale and use spinach

15. Blackened or grilled fish in the skillet with steamed mixed veggies - yes, again!  You should strive to eat fish once a week or a few times per month!

16. Burgers wrapped in lettuce, asparagus and side salad - I make my burgers different each time.  I use different meats but I always season it with onions, garlic, coconut aminos and other organic condiments. However, I will work on a recipe to post soon!

17. Chicken Marsala severed over cauliflower rice with a side salad and broccoli chips

18. Dinner Out - you've earned it!  Look for a meat-friendly or fish-friendly establishment that is top quality.  Stick with oil and vinegar for your salad and order some great veggies too.

19. Slow Cooker Primal Pumpkin Chili topped with cut up hot dogs and a side salad

20. Big Mixed Meat Salad - choose your favorite leaves; I like spinach and lettuce.  Then I load it with every meat I have in the house - deli meats, hot dogs, leftover beef or chicken, whatever I can find in the fridge.  I mix it up!  I top with tomatoes, onions, peppers and more.  This is loaded with so much meat you don't need a side!

21. Unstuffed Peppers Casserole with sweet carrots and green beans

22. Paleo Chicken Nuggets from Eat Like a Dinosaur cookbook and serve with sweet potato fries

23. Slow Cooker Jambalaya Stew over cauliflower rice, serve with side salad

24. Mexican Meatza with side salad

25. Orange chicken with steamed veggies

26. Skillet Sausage with sweet potato and spinach

27. Steaks (or make burgers again) with carrot fries and side salad

28. Dirty rice with sausage and green beans

29. Avocado and Cilantro Chicken Salad with sauteed yellow quash

30. Crab Cakes with asparagus and roasted veggies

31. Homemade Pizza using this pizza crust recipe - put your own sauce and favorite toppings!

32. Skillet Garlic Shrimp with cauliflower rice and mixed vegetables


So that is a sample of the kinds of food we eat over a month.  I hope this helps you discover some new dishes to serve your family.  If you've got other ideas that don't resemble anything I've posted here, please share them in the comments. 

We don't have access to a lot of game animals.  My husband and I aren't much for eating a ton of pork or on-the-bone meats.  He doesn't eat salmon either.  Yeah, he's crazy!  Therefore our meal plan will look differently than some other Paleo enthusiasts out there.  But they work well for our family and they feed our growing girls! 

Happy Meal Planning! 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Mandy's Mexican Meatza

I don't know what it is when I am on these 21-sugar detox programs, but I crave Mexican~!   When I completed the detox in December, I created a Mexican Meat and Squash Casserole which I shared here. My family and I loved it. 

Now it's January and I needed another fix that fell under the Latin American cuisine that I knew was homemade and healthy.  But hey, it's better that I crave this sultry, salty flavor over sugary snacks though, right?!  Right!  No problem! 

I have a bunch of grass-fed hamburger meat in my freezer so I'm always looking for ways to use it up.  I've seen a few Meatza recipes in the Paleo and Primal online sources out there while I browse the web.  But I didn't find one that was quite what I wanted.  So I decided to create my own meatza and give it a Mexican flare.  My first thought was to include my own guacamole as part of the sauce.  I placed a small amount of tomato sauce on top of the guacamole in efforts to sneak the avocado into my five year old's plate.  Thankfully Vivian, who normally notices everything, only discovered how great the flavor was.  My whole family LOVED it. This is definitely going into our monthly food rotation now!  Oh yes.

Mandy's Mexican Meatza
(Serves 4)

For the meatza base ("crust"):
1 pound of grass-fed hamburger beef
1 egg (cage-free, all natural)
1 Tbsp of homemade taco seasoning - I follow this recipe to make it
1/2 Tbsp oregano
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
4 dashes of sea salt
2 dashes of ground pepper

To make the guacamole:
2 avocados, seeds scooped out and mashed
1 small tomato
2 Tbsp of that same homemade taco seasoning - using this recipe
1 Tbsp of lime juice
1 tsp of garlic powder (or two fresh cloves of garlic, minced)

For the sauce and toppings:

1 can (8 oz) of tomato sauce - read label carefully for no added sugar, salt or preservatives
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, any color, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic and herb seasoning (optional)
1/2 cup of all natural cheese, shredded (optional) - leave out if you can't do or don't want dairy

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a pizza baking pan with olive oil.  Set aside. 

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine all your ingredients to make your meatza (crust) base -- pound of beef, egg, taco seasoning, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Form into a ball. 

Then mash and spread out that meat ball into your greased baking pan.  Press it down and out into one large patty ("crust").  Like this:

Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 17 minutes.  Then drain off any grease or fat that is there before proceeding.  Let it completely cool before you put the sauce and toppings and bake further.  It should look like this or similar:

While it's baking, make your guacamole spread and chop up your veggie toppings. 

To make the guacamole, scoop out and seed your two avocados.  Place them into a medium size mixing bowl.  Mash them with a fork until smooth.  Add in the diced tomato, 2 Tbsp of homemade taco seasoning, lime juice and garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic).  Stir and mix well.  It should look like this:

Once your meatza patty is comppletely cooled, put the guacamole spread over it.  My guacamole spread makes just enough to cover it all, like this:

Then put on your tomato sauce over the guacamole spread. Top with any additional seasonings.  I sprinkled about a tsp more of garlic and herb natural seasoning using my grinder.  Soon your guacamole will be covered and hopefully your picky children (like mine) won't even see the green stuff or question it.  Hee, hee!  Sneaky, sneaky!  It should look like this:

After that I added my veggie toppings.  In my case, I used 1/2 a chopped onion and 1/2 chopped yellow bell pepper.  Mmm, mmm!  It looked like this:

Then I baked my meatza for ten minutes.  It looked done BUT I wanted my meatza darker and crispier.  So I broiled it for seven minutes.  You decide how dark and crispy you want it.  Everyone loves their pizza/meatza a little differently. 

I then topped ours with about 1/2 cup of all natural, Amish Colby and cheddar cheese that I shredded while it was baking.  I placed it in the oven for about a minute more, just to let the cheeses melt.

 You can have it with or without the cheese.  It will still be amazing!  But look how pretty mine turned out:

Let it cool (if you can wait) for five minutes.  Then use a normal pizza cutter to slice it up.  Eat or inhale it.  

This is very delicious and a nice change from your ordinary dishes.  I hope you enjoy!


If you're looking for another Mexican style favorite unique dish, try this one - my Mexican Meat and Squash Casserole!  This is just as tasty and even easier to make!

Happy Eating!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Easy, Primal Unstuffed Peppers Casserole

I love stuffed peppers but I'll be honest, when I'm ready to eat (and feeling very hungry), I don't like sitting there and cutting up my food for the entire meal.  I'm lazy.  There I said it. 

So a few years ago I looked up ways to create that stuffed peppers flavor but do the "prep" work ahead of time so it can be eaten by the spoonful when my elbows hit the dinner table. 

Here is my modified, Paleo/Primal version of that recipe for your taste buds to enjoy! 

Easy, Primal Unstuffed Peppers Casserole
(Serves 4 to 6)

1 bag of frozen cauliflower florets, made into "rice" (Or use about 3 cups of finely chopped fresh cauliflower)
4 to 5 bell peppers, diced, use any color you like (I love to use a combination of red, yellow, orange and green)
1 pound of grass-fed ground meat (Or you can use ground up sausage, chicken, turkey or whatever you have on hand)
1 can (14 oz) of diced tomatoes, mostly drained - read label carefully for no added sugar or preservatives
1 can (14 oz) of tomato sauce - read label carefully for no added sugar or preservatives
3 cloves of garlic, minced (Or use 1.5 tsp of garlic powder)
2 tsp of onion powder (or 3/4 cup of fresh, diced onions)
1 tsp of Italian seasoning
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
optional - 1/2 cup of all natural, shredded cheese for topping (I buy the Amish brand with no preservatives and use sparingly)
olive oil for greasing

Let your bag of frozen cauliflower sit at room temperature for awhile or run some warm water over the bag.  Then follow these recipe directions to turn the cauliflower into rice.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 2 QT baking pan with olive oil and set to the side. 

Dice your bell peppers.  I used five since some were small and some were large in size. 

Grease a skillet with olive oil.  Brown your meat (I used grass-fed hamburger meat I purchase from a local farm and butcher) with your bell peppers, garlic and onion powder (or fresh onion).  Cook until you desired brown color.

Drain any grease if you wish from the cooked meat and peppers. Then pour into a large mixing bowl. 

In the large bowl, add in the cauliflower rice you already prepared.  Also toss in your diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, oregano, salt and pepper.  Stir well until all combined. 

Scoop out the mixture into your greased 2 QT baking pan.  Press down and make sure mixture is spread out evenly.  Bake for 30 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. 

If you wish and can tolerate dairy, top the casserole with shredded cheese.  Or just leave out.  It's great as it is even without the cheese! 

Serve and enjoy. 

This is good stuff and my lazy woman's way of enjoying stuffed peppers!  :-)