Easter 2013

Easter 2013 has arrived and with it came some much needed sunshine and slightly warmer weather (if you consider mid-40’s “warmer weather”). 😉 Kevin and I celebrated Easter together today. We walked to one of our favorite restaurants, Cafe Hollander, for brunch.

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After brunch we walked home and looked for the Easter baskets we hid each other. 🙂 Kevin put some Paleo-friendly treats in my basket, like mixed nuts and dried fruit, as well as a little chocolate.

After some relaxing and lounging around I made us a traditional Easter dinner. I chose to splurge and get a ham from Whole Foods because I knew we’d be eating it for a good 2-3 days and I wanted something delicious, nitrate/nitrite free, and without antibiotics and growth hormones. It was pre-glazed with natural spices and sweeteners like honey, which greatly simplified the ham-prepping process. I cut up some apples and pears, placed them around the ham, and sprinkled them with cinnamon before putting everything in the oven to warm-up.

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Next I made some deviled eggs with Earth Balance mayonnaise, roasted carrots, and a pretty amazing Paleo sweet potato casserole.

The Paleo sweet potato casserole was fluffy and sweet with a crunchy, crumbly topping. It was practically a pie! Here’s the recipe from http://deliciouslyorganic.net/sweet-potato-casserole-grain-free-paleo-primal-gaps/

For the Potatoes:

3 cups baked sweet potatoes (about 5 large potatoes)

1/4 cup honey

2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup unsalted (grass-fed, if possible) butter, melted
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

For the Topping:
1 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons (grass-fed, if possible) butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350ºF and adjust rack to middle position. Place sweet potatoes, honey, eggs, butter, coconut milk, vanilla and salt in a mixing bowl. Mash potatoes and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Pour into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.

Place almond flour, coconut flour, honey, salt and butter in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until combined. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle pecan mixture in an even layer over the sweet potatoes. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

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Here’s the whole meal:

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It was delicious! I’m definitely looking forward to leftovers for the next couple of days. How was everyone else’s Easter?! 🙂

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Its been awhile since I posted a recipe that didn’t involve dark chocolate, but here’s a pizza idea that is appropriate for this time of year: March Madness! Who doesn’t love a little pizza with their basketball? This pizza was inspired by Papa John’s Buffalo Chicken Pizza that I often ate in my pre-Paleo days. I had to post a picture to show how the original looks compared to the Paleo version.

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Was it delicious? Yes. How did I feel after eating it? Like I didn’t want to move from the couch. 😉 Also, one slice contains 1,050 mg of sodium. Dietary guidelines for Americans states you shouldn’t consume more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, so just one slice of that pizza is almost half of your daily intake. That would be great if you only ate one meal a day. I know I need more food than that though. 😉

So, I decided to create a healthier version that still had that hot sauce, chicken, and ranch taste with more vegetables and a lot less salt.

First, I made my usual almond flour crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees then combine the following ingredients in a bowl:

2 cups almond meal (flour)

2 eggs

3 tbsp olive oil

¼ tsp baking soda

1 tsp garlic powder

1 ½ tbsp rosemary (chopped)

Put it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Here’s what you’ll need for the toppings:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces

1/2 diced onion

1 head of diced cauliflower, steamed

3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (Frank’s Red Hot Sauce is made with aged cayenne pepper, distilled vinegar, garlic, and a pinch of salt)

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup of natural ranch dressing (you can also make your own ranch, I’ve just had bad luck making my own dressings in the past, so I used Annie’s gluten-free, organic ranch dressing this time). If you’re interested in making your own Paleo ranch here’s a link to a recipe: http://www.paleoeffect.com/recipes/paleo-ranch-dressing-paleo-effect/

Melt your coconut oil and combine it in a bowl with the hot sauce. Once your chicken is done, toss it in the hot sauce mixture and let it soak for a few minutes.

Spread your diced onion and diced steamed cauliflower on the cooked pizza crust then add your chicken toppings.

Once all of your toppings are on the pizza, drizzle on some ranch, and you’re done!

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This pizza had a great flavor and I didn’t find the hot sauce overwhelming. It had about the same “heat” as a jar of medium salsa, plus the ranch helped cool it down. Kevin was definitely a fan of this one!

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Also, the cauliflower was a good filler ingredient. It didn’t have a whole lot of flavor but added some extra texture (since this is a cheese-less pizza and all).

If anyone makes this pizza, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy!

Paleo Chocolate Chip “Cookie Dough” Bites

I’ve been on a Paleo dessert kick lately, which isn’t very healthy when you’re indulging all the time, but I’ve still been eating primarily Paleo meals! I have not consumed grains for almost three months (not knowingly, at least) and my refined sugar and processed food consumption has still remained very low. I’ve also continued to avoid caffeine. If I do consume caffeine it’s the little amount that’s found in dark chocolate, green tea, and decaf coffee.

Want to know what I may consider to be one of my greatest accomplishments? Not having McDonalds, Culvers, or Burger King since last December. Before I started Paleo I’d go to one of those three places every week. Now I rarely even think about them. Crazy!

Well, chocolate is still my vice though, which is why I was happy to find this Paleo chocolate chip “cookie dough” bites recipe. 🙂

It’s debatable whether chocolate is truly Paleo, but if it’s dark, high quality, dairy free, and gluten free, I count it. The percentage of dark chocolate is also important. The higher, the better. For example, Green & Black’s 85 % dark chocolate contains less sugar than a big bite of most fruit.

With that being said, let’s get to the recipe!

Paleo Chocolate Chip “Cookie Dough” Bites

1 cup cashew butter (almond butter may also work)

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/3 cup honey

3 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

1 package dairy free/gluten free dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)

1 tsp coconut oil

Combine all ingredients except the bag dark chocolate chips and coconut oil in a bowl. Sprinkle in a little (or a lot) of dark chocolate chips and melt the rest on the stove top on medium-low heat while stirring frequently. Add the coconut oil to the chocolate as it melts and continue stirring.

Form the “cookie dough” into bite-size balls.

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Once the chocolate is done melting, coat each “cookie dough” ball in chocolate (I stuck them right in the pot and rolled them around then scooped them out with a spoon).

Afterward, I stuck them in the freezer for about a hour then moved them to the fridge to stay cool but soften up slightly.

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These were pretty much awesome. The “cookie dough” could almost pass for the real thing too. And the best part is they’re 100% grain free, dairy free, and gluten free! Enjoy! 🙂

Quick and easy Paleo treat

I had a craving for something small, chocolate-y, and refreshing tonight so I decided to whip up a simple dessert for after dinner. I dipped fresh raspberries and banana slices in melted dark chocolate and placed them in a glass container.

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I then sprinkled unsweetened coconut flakes on top and popped them in the freezer for about 45 minutes. 

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These were so quick and easy to make. They’re the perfect way to add a little fruit to your diet while satisfying your sweet tooth. 🙂

 

Oprah’s 21 day meditation challenge – Day 1

Today is the first day of Oprah’s 21 day meditation challenge. I didn’t actually know about this challenge until yesterday after I happened to come across it online. It seems pretty cool though! Oprah teamed up with Dr. Deepak Chopra and created a 21 day meditation challenge for people to subscribe to through email for free. If you sign up late or miss a day it’s no big deal because all of the meditations are posted online to view later.

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I’ll admit that I love the idea and practice of meditation, but I think it’s a real challenge. Whenever I’ve meditated in the past I felt I was wavering between two extremes. I was either so calm and relaxed that I was falling asleep or so wired and anxious that I couldn’t stop thoughts from popping into my head. I think this challenge will help me quiet my mind and reflect on things I wouldn’t normally think about.

Today’s centering thoughts is:

“I commit to living perfect health.”

One of my favorite quotes from today’s meditation was, “There exists in every person a place that is free from disease, that never feels pain, that is ageless and never dies. When we journey to this place, limitations we commonly accept simply cease to exist.”

Isn’t that a beautiful thought? I truly believe that disease can’t take away the soul of an individual. “Soul” has a lot of connotations, but I believe it’s simply the consciousness deep within each of us that makes us unique, special, and aware. Whatever that is, disease can’t touch it. I find a lot of comfort in that.

Here’s the link in case you’re interested in the meditation challenge:

http://www.oprahdeepakmeditation.com/Bestsellers/LandingPage.aspx?BookId=178&af=850%20%20&utm_source=Oprah.comRRHomepage&utm_medium=20130218&utm_campaign=1

Also, I had to break out the yoga mat this week. 🙂

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If anyone registers for the meditation challenge, let me know! I’d love to hear about your experience!

Paleo chicken noodleless soup

After a busy past few weeks of acquiring a new job and getting less sleep than I probably should have, I woke up yesterday with a scratchy throat and stuffy nose. This is only my second cold of the winter season. I haven’t gotten the flu or anything more severe than a stuffy nose and slightly sore throat so I consider myself pretty lucky.

Cold symptoms are still pretty unpleasant though. Especially the extra tiredness that accompanies them. I was craving something warm and a nutritious to help me kick the cold and immediately thought of making chicken noodle soup. I wanted to put a Paleo spin on it and omit the noodles and add more vegetables and this is what I came up with:

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Chicken noodleless soup! I based it on this recipe and just changed some of the ingredients: http://www.columbian.com/weblogs/paleo-in-a-pinch/2012/dec/26/moms-homemade-chicken-soup/

My ingredients were:

  • Chicken breasts
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Green cabbage
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Chicken stock
  • (I forgot to add onion- I would highly recommend adding it if you decide to try this recipe) 🙂

I cut up the chicken and cooked it in a skillet while the chicken stock, vegetables, and seasonings boiled. Once the chicken was done I added it to the pot, reduced the heat, and let everything simmer until the vegetables were tender.

It turned out very well! The abundance of vegetables made up for the lack of noodles. I’m also happy I added radishes to this recipe; they paired nicely with the other ingredients. I thought the chicken stock tasted a little watery so I’d consider trying chicken broth next time. Does anyone have a preference for chicken stock vs. chicken broth when it comes to making soup? If so, I’d love to hear! 🙂

Reusable “green” bags

I’ll admit it took me awhile to pick up reusable bags for groceries. Kevin and I currently have a paper bag under our kitchen sink stuffed to the brim with dozens of plastic bags.
After my stint in retail, I can see how plastic bags accumulate so quickly. One trip to the grocery store and you’ve got enough plastic to cover five mini trash cans.

I decided to put an end to it after a recent trip to Whole Foods when I saw the prettiest reusable bags!

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Whole Foods bags are only 99 cents each, but that’s not even the best part! They practically pay for themselves because every time you bring your reusable bag to the store you can put 10 cents toward your total purchase or choose to donate it to their charity. Another great incentive to buy a reusable bag!

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I went back and bought a couple more with Kevin in mind. I wasn’t sure if he’d appreciate shopping with the pastel purple and green bags, so I got him some “manly” colored ones. 😉

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So far I’ve really enjoyed the reusable bags. They’ve proven to be pretty sturdy and durable. The material is also easy to wipe off if condensation gets on it. I’ve even gotten into the the habit of keeping a bag in my car for unexpected trips to the grocery store.

I’m pretty new to supporting the “green” initiative. Anyone else have reusable bags that have served them (and the environment) well?