Refreshing Paleo-friendly treats!

It’s the last day of April and finally starting to feel like spring! It’s currently 72 degrees outside and I plan on heading outdoors as soon as I finish this blog post. Do you ever feel like there’s not enough time in the day? That’s how I’ve been feeling a lot lately. I wake up and before I know it I’m back in bed thinking “wasn’t I just here?” I need to prioritize my time better. Less time spent in front of the TV and computer and more time outdoors. 🙂

As the weather gets warmer you’re probably going to want healthy, refreshing treat options. I’ve got some ideas for you! I recently came across a frozen dessert that is both dairy-free and soy-free.

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So Delicious Frozen Coconut Milk has the same texture as ice cream and it comes in a lot of different flavors. I decided to try the classic vanilla bean and was pretty impressed! The coconut flavor is not overwhelming. I actually taste more of the vanilla flavor than the coconut. In case you’re wondering what’s in it, here are the ingredients:

Organic coconut milk (water, organic coconut cream), organic agave syrup, chicory root extract, carob bean gum, guar gum, vanilla extract, natural flavor, vanilla bean specks

For a frozen dessert, it has a pretty short list of ingredients. And it’s fairly high in fiber: 6 grams which is 24% of your daily value for just a 1/2 cup serving. I’m not crazy about it containing agave syrup though because the body processes it just like it would table sugar. The only up-side is that agave syrup may have a slightly lower glycemic index (it may not raise blood sugar as fast as table sugar), but I guess there’s still not enough evidence to conclude that as a fact.

I think it’s okay in moderation though. Also, if you want to add toppings, it pairs nicely with fruit, nuts, and dark chocolate. I like topping it with blueberries. 🙂

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Next up is my newest obsession: mango salsa! I recently bought some from Whole Foods but this would be easy enough to make at home.

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It’s just diced mango, sweet onion, red bell pepper, chile pepper, lime juice, and cilantro. I usually eat it with sweet potato tortilla chips or unsweetened banana chips. It’s a nice change-up from regular salsa.

And last is an easy homemade fruit smoothie.

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All you do is throw a frozen banana, frozen raspberries, black berries, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and cinnamon in a blender (or any other fruit combination you’d like). I don’t add a lot of almond milk because I like my smoothies thick. I pretty much eat them with a spoon as if they were a sorbet.

Well, there are a few hot-weather treat options for you! What kinds of foods do you like to eat in the warm spring and summer months?

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

A few weeks back I decided to try making Paleo Buffalo Chicken Nuggets. If there’s one thing I’d recommend doing before trying this recipe, it’s to keep an open-mind on what the chicken nugget texture will be like. I don’t know what I expected but these certainly didn’t have the same texture as chicken nuggets I’ve had in the past, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Growing up I loved chicken nuggets, especially the deep-fried, breaded kind from McDonalds. 😉 These are definitely not that because they’re 100% hand-made and free of artificial fillers.

Curious as to what’s in a McNugget? Here’s the full ingredient list from their website:

Chicken McNuggets (6 piece):
White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning [autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil,
dextrose, citric acid], sodium phosphates, natural flavor (botanical source). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced
iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid
pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dextrose, corn starch.
CONTAINS: WHEAT.
Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane
added as an antifoaming agent.

Seriously, what is dimethylpolysiloxane? Can’t say I generally keep that on hand while I’m cooking. 😉 Turns out it’s a type of silicone typically used in caulks and sealants, and, as it clearly states on their website, an anti-foaming agent.

Well, if you want a chicken nugget alternative that is free of chemicals and artificial ingredients, look no further! These are spicy, buffalo chicken nuggets but I’ll also provide a link to a regular chicken nugget recipe as well.

Recipe adapted from paleospirit.com: http://paleospirit.com/2013/paleo-buffalo-chicken-nuggets/

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

  • 1 pound ground chicken (a little fat makes for a moister nugget)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons Frank’s RedHot Original Red Hot Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Paleo Chicken Nugget Coating

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt

Buffalo Chicken Nugget Sauce 

  • 1/3 cup Frank’s RedHot Original Red Hot Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or grass-fed butter

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

    1. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup coconut flour, onion powder, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well.
    2. In a medium bowl place the ground chicken, one egg, 2 tsp Frank’s hot sauce and the coconut flour mixture.
    3. Mix with hands until well-combined but do not over-mix.Scoop out 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture and roll into little meatballs. (You should end up with about 20.)
    4. Shape each meatball into a flatter, “nugget” shape.
    5. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup coconut flour, 2 tablespoons flax meal and 1/4 teaspoon salt and dip each nugget gently into the flour mixture until coated on all sides.
    6. Place the coated chicken nuggets onto a baking sheet (covered with a Silpat or parchment paper if you have it)
    7. Bake for 15 minutes.
    8. While chicken nuggets are baking, stir together 1/3 cup Frank’s hot sauce and 3 tablespoons ghee or grass-fed butter and heat until warm and combined.
    9. Once the chicken has baked for about 15 minutes, remove chicken nuggets from the oven and carefully dip each one in the butter mixture until coated on all sides. Place each nugget back on the baking sheet and bake for another 5 minutes.
    10. Serve hot with celery sticks and dip of choice.

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And here’s the regular chicken nugget recipe: http://www.multiplydelicious.com/thefood/2011/09/coconut-chicken-nuggets-with-paleo-bbq-sauce/

If you decide to try them, let me know how they turn out!

Paleo Orange Chicken with Cauliflower “Rice”

Most of the Paleo recipes I decide to try start with a craving. Recently I had a craving for Chinese food, particularly orange chicken. After some googling, I found an easy recipe from the blog Kate Eats Kale (http://kateatskale.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/paleo-orange-chicken/). I tweaked the recipe a little because I didn’t have all of the ingredients, but it still turned out amazing! Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut in to bite size pieces)
  • 3 T coconut oil
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • 3 T coconut aminos (or wheat-free soy sauce)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Steamed broccoli (to add on top)
  • Cauliflower “rice” (to use as a base)

Directions:

  • In a medium sized pot, mix together juice, zest, and the coconut aminos (or wheat-free soy sauce)
  • Set over medium heat and let simmer to reduce and thicken while chicken cooks
  • In a saute pan, heat the 3 T coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped chicken and cook until it has a light brown crust, about 6 minutes.
  • Add the chicken to the sauce pot and stir to coat the chicken.
  • Serve topped with green onions, steamed broccoli, and cauliflower “rice”

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So easy and so delicious! I also love that this meal packs a generous serving of vegetables. And who knew cauliflower could be so versatile? Kevin loves cooking with white rice and he even admitted the cauliflower “rice” could pass for the real thing.

So how do you make cauliflower “rice?” First, rinse off the cauliflower. Second, cut it into smaller pieces and put it in a food processor/chopper. Process it until it starts to look like rice. Finally, put it in a pan with some olive oil and garlic salt as a seasoning and stir until it’s tender. If you don’t have a food processor, chopping it finely by hand would work too.

I also have to say I really liked using Coconut Aminos in place of soy sauce. It has a great flavor that works well for Chinese dishes or skillets. 

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If anyone decides to try this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

“Faileo” Recovery

What exactly is a “faileo?” Quite simply, it’s when you’ve been following a Paleo diet and you have a cheat day and end up falling off the wagon…hard. Cheat days are not the worst things in the world. They allow you to indulge in a food you may have missed; it only gets bad when you overindulge, which I definitely did the past couple of days.

Holidays are notorious for letting not-so-healthy foods creep back into our diets. Yesterday Kevin and I got each other Easter baskets and mine was filled with some healthier treats, like mixed nuts and dried fruit, and not-so-healthy treats, like Hershey’s Pot of Gold chocolate. Bless Kevin’s heart for getting me one of my favorites, if only I had the will power to stop at one or two chocolates instead of eating half the box in a sitting! It was a definite “faileo” on my part.

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Well, last night I was reminded of why I started this Paleo journey to begin with. My body just has a low tolerance for refined sugar. I was restless during the first four hours of trying to sleep last night and kept waking-up feeling anxious after vivid dreams with my heart racing. Excess sugar has such a negative impact on my body. It’s like night and day.

That is why Paleo has been life-changing for me. Reduced anxiety, reduced worry, and a much calmer nervous system where I’m not waking up with adrenaline surges because sugar is coursing through my body.

If there’s any positive to this happening it’s that I was reminded of what I felt like before Paleo and why a diet change has proved to be beneficial for me. The funny thing is, this is only what happens after eating chocolate. Imagine what my body was going through before when I was eating all sorts of candy, drinking large lattes, and eating a carb-heavy meal of pizza (or something similar) everyday. No wonder my anxiety felt out of control!

By the way, these are some of the ingredients Hershey’s makes their chocolates out of: high fructose corn syrup (no surprise there), partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (the artery cloggers), diglycerides (added to make the chocolate appear “prettier” in the packaging so its moisture is retained and it doesn’t look like it’s separating), disodium phosphate (food preservative to slow bacteria growth), and PGPR (a “fake” chocolate that is added to reduce the need of real cocoa and therefore cut down on cost).

With all of those ingredients it doesn’t even sound like real food. It sounds like something that was created in lab.

Well, now that all of the Easter festivities are over, it’s time to put this behind me and do a gentle “detox.” I was reading up on ways to recover from a cheat day and came up with this list:

1) Drink a ton of water in combination with tea to help rid the body of toxins.

2) Take a fish oil supplement or eat fish to help reduce the inflammation that’s happening in the body.

3) Get back on track with your meals. Choose a heavy protein (like chicken), a leafy green (like kale), and max-out on vegetables.

4) If your brain is sending intense signals to eat more sugar, grab some fruit.

5) Get moving. No matter how icky your body feels go for a walk, do some cleaning, just do something active to speed up the process of letting the toxins exit your system. If nothing else it’ll be a great, healthy distraction from how you’re feeling.

Does anyone else have advice on ridding your body of toxins after eating not-so-healthy foods? I’d love to hear them!