Sunday, December 30, 2012

Clam Chowder

For Rem’s birthday we started out the day by making some paleo sausage gravy and biscuits from the Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook.  Thanks to my grandpa for getting us that cookbook for Christmas!  I highly recommend it.  The sausage gravy and biscuits were really delicious, filling, and what I thought would be the best meal of the day.  Well, I was wrong!  I asked Rem what he wanted for his birthday dinner and he said clam chowder sounded good.  After looking at several recipes, we decided which ingredients we wanted to use and headed to Giant Eagle, where we found everything we needed (except the bacon, which was already in the fridge at home).  We wanted to make a very rich soup so we were hoping to find grass grazed heavy cream, and we were in luck!  Giant Eagle not only carries Snowville Creamery whole milk, but Snowville Creamery heavy whipping cream as well.  Snowville is a local creamery that produces milk from cows that graze on grass and hay.  

Any meal that starts with cooking bacon (and fills your house with the amazing smell!) is bound to be delicious, so we had high hopes from the start that the chowder was going to be good.  In short, this was probably the best thing we’ve ever made.  It was insanely rich, creamy, and decadent. The bacon was also an absolutely essential ingredient in the chowder, adding a smoky flavor and crispy texture to the velvety soup.   The crispiness of the bacon, soft chunks of vegetables and clams, and creamy base provided a delicious contrast in texture in every bite. The heavy whipping cream really stole the show, making this a creamier soup than we’d ever had before.  In the past we had made chowder with skim milk, and I’m not going to lie, it just doesn’t compare to cream in any way.  We have since learned about the health benefits of grass grazed milk and cream, so while we know this dish is not a “light”, everyday dish by any means, it is very wholesome, using natural, high quality, and nutrient rich ingredients.  If you’re looking for a hearty and rich soup for a cold winter day, this is it.  I’m craving it as I type this.  Luckily there are still leftovers in the fridge.  Try it and tell us what you think! 

Clam Chowder

1 lb. applewood smoked bacon (we used Trader Joe’s applewood smoked bacon ends and pieces)
1 stalk celery, diced
1 onion, diced
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 large potatoes, diced (with the peel on)
Salt and pepper
1 heaping T arrowroot powder (or you could probably use cornstarch)
4 cups grass grazed whole milk (we used Snowville Creamery whole milk)
2 cups grass grazed heavy whipping cream (we used Snowville Creamery heavy whipping cream)
1 T dried thyme
1-8 oz. bottle clam juice (we used Bar Harbor all natural clam juice)
2-10 oz. cans whole clams, with juice (we used Bumblebee fancy)
1-5 oz. can chopped clams, with juice

Cook bacon in a large stockpot until crispy but not burnt.  While it’s cooking, dice the celery, onion, and carrot.  Remove bacon, chop into small pieces, set aside, and try not to eat all of it- you’ll need some for the soup!  Leave bacon fat in the pot and add chopped celery and onion.  Cook over medium high for about 5 minutes, then add carrots.  Cook 5-10 minutes more, stirring vegetables occasionally.  While these veggies are cooking, dice your potatoes.  Add potatoes and a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Cook for 10 minutes more, stirring vegetables around as they cook.  Next add the arrowroot powder and stir it into the veggies for about 1 minute.  Next add the milk, cream, clam juice, and thyme.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are cooked.  Once the potatoes are cooked through, add the clams (with their juice) and the chopped bacon.  Turn the heat up to return it to a boil, then turn down to low before you serve it.  Makes about 8-10 servings.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Take on "Jasmine's Favorite"

One place we really like to go when we’re visiting our families is a restaurant called Aladdin’s Eatery, which serves delicious Middle Eastern food (probably our favorite type of cuisine!) like hummus, baba ganouj, kebabs, and mujadara.  They have a delicious chicken, rice, bean, potato and vegetable dish called “Jasmine’s Favorite” that Rem and I have ordered on many occasions.  One night we decided to try our hand at making our own version of the dish.  Since my sister works at Aladdin’s, we called to ask her what vegetables were included and used that as our starting point.  Aladdin’s uses a special, top secret spice mixture and we’re not exactly sure what’s in it, but we approximated the best we could using coriander and cumin, two spices that are common in Middle Eastern cuisine.  Our first attempt turned out pretty good but we thought it could have used some more flavor from the cumin and coriander.  We made it again on Christmas Eve for Rem’s mom, dad, and sister.  It turned out even better than the first time and was enjoyed by all!   It is a very filling dish that is perfect for a cold winter night! 

Our Take on "Jasmine’s Favorite" 

Inspired by the dish at Aladdin’s Eatery

2 c long grain brown rice OR jasmine rice (cook according to time on package directions; in the pot with the rice and water add 1 T grass grazed butter and generous amounts of salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander)
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 lb. chicken breast
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 potato, chopped small (with skin on)
1 yam or sweet potato, chopped small (with skin on)
1-32 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, with the juice
1-15 oz. can organic kidney beans, drained but not rinsed
1-15 oz. can organic garbanzo beans, drained but not rinsed
2 handfuls baby carrots, chopped into small rounds
1-2 c frozen peas
Cumin, coriander, more salt and pepper

Combine rice, water, butter, salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander as described above.  Once the rice starts to boil, put the lid on, turn to low and let cook for 50 min (do not take the lid off!).  Pour 2-3 T extra virgin olive oil in large dutch oven and heat to medium-high.  Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, then place in dutch oven.  Season with salt and pepper.  When the chicken is almost cooked through, add the onion and continue to sauté the chicken and onion until very little liquid is left in the pan and the onions are soft.  Meanwhile, cut potatoes and carrots into small pieces.  Microwave the potatoes and carrots in a large bowl for 3-4 minutes, then add them to the dutch oven.  Sauté the potatoes and carrots with the chicken and onions for about 5 minutes.  Next, add the tomatoes (with the juice), beans, and peas.  There should be a fair amount of liquid form the tomato juice to simmer the mixture in.  Sprinkle on a generous amount of coriander, cumin, pepper and a little more salt. Cook with the lid on (taking it off to stir the mixture occasionally) until the potatoes and carrots are cooked through, about 15 minutes.  At this point the rice should also be done.   Stir the rice into the chicken and vegetable mixture and serve the whole meal hot!  Yum!  This also makes great leftovers.  Makes about 8 large servings.

*Note: The pictures are from our first attempt, which did not include a yam, had fresh tomatoes instead of canned, used minute brown rice instead of long grain rice, and had much less spice.  If you make it the way described in the recipe above, it will be thicker and a bit darker in color than the pictures.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Avocado Chicken Salad


This chicken salad recipe is adapted from one by my friend Mike.  It is easy, delicious, and a definite crowd-pleaser!  The avocado is the perfect simple, creamy alternative to mayo or dressing on a traditional chicken salad.

A few tips on buying and using avocados:
You have a few options when buying avocados.  You can buy avocados that are very hard when you squeeze them.  Store on the counter until they give a little when you squeeze them but are not at all mushy.  Then, either refrigerate them (for up to 4-5 days in my experience) OR use them right away.  You could also just buy avocados that give a little when you squeeze them but are not mushy.  Then refrigerate them for up to 4-5 days or use them right away.  I find the easiest way to cut up an avocado is to slice it longways down the middle, rotating the knife around the pit.  Then remove the pit with your fingers.  Hold one half of the avocado in the palm of your hand and (with a butter knife), score the avocado down to the skin in one direction and then again in a perpendicular direction.  Then use the knife to pop the chunks you have created out of the avocado skin.  Avocados are a great way to incorporate healthy fats into your meals.  I love to eat them in this salad, alongside eggs, mixed with salsa as a "dip" for raw vegetables, or in guacamole.

Avocado Chicken Salad

Adapted from Mike Lassak

2 lb chicken breasts or thighs
4 avocados
¼ cup lime juice
8 ribs celery, diced
6 green onions, diced
1 c dried cranberries

Prepare chicken however you would like- bake, sauté, grill, etc.  You could also shred up a rotisserie chicken.  Whichever way you choose, just make sure you have about 2 lb. of meat.  (We like to bake 1 bag of Trader Joe’s chicken breasts or thighs and then cut it up to use in the salad).  Cut up chicken and set aside.  Mash up 4 avocados.  Squeeze about ¼ cup lime juice (fresh or bottled) and a liberal amount of salt and pepper onto the avocados.  Dice 8 ribs of celery and 6 green onions, then add that to the avocados.  Then add 1 cup of dried cranberries.  Next add the chopped up chicken.  Stir everything well and refrigerate before serving.  This keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 days but tastes best when eaten within a day of making it.  

Pumpkin Ice Cream and Maple Candied Walnuts

As promised, here are the desserts we made for our holiday dinner last weekend: Pumpkin Ice Cream and Maple Candied Walnuts!  We own an ice cream maker, but I've only ever tried making ice cream once before.  I attempted making peach ice cream, but renamed it "peach dessert" since it didn't quite have the texture or consistency of ice cream.  It was a tasty dessert, but not quite ice cream per se.  This time around I wanted to make pumpkin ice cream.  I did a lot of research and reading to come up with this recipe.  I knew I wanted to use Snowville Creamery's whole, grass-fed milk, and local honey (that we got from our friend John!).  I also didn't want to have to mess around with adding eggs (which many ice creams require).  Finally I came up with the following recipe, inspired by many different pumpkin ice cream recipes out there.  I also learned that adding a bit of alcohol to ice cream keeps it softer and more "scoopable," so I tried adding some bourbon to my ice cream and it really did the trick!  The ice cream was easy to scoop, even after a few days in the freezer.  I recommend making this as a special holiday treat!

Pumpkin Ice Cream

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 c whole grass-fed milk
2/3 c honey 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp good quality bourbon

Mix all ingredients with the whisk attachment on an electric mixer until well combined.   Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions, 15-20 minutes.  I recommend pouring the mixture in to the ice cream maker slowly- that's what I did and it seemed to work well.  (Most ice cream makers require the main compartment to be frozen before churning ice cream, so plan ahead and freeze this piece at least 24 hours before you plan to make the ice cream).  After 15-20 minutes the ice cream should be the consistency of soft serve.  You can eat it just like this OR freeze it in a shallow container.  Mine kept well for 5 days in the freezer.  I haven't experimented enough to know how long it would stay good past 5 days, so let me know if you try it.  This makes about 3 cups of ice cream.  

Maple Candied Walnuts

These are amazing and incredibly addictive on their own.  I've made them twice already this week and have eaten more than I care to admit.  They are also a great topping for the pumpkin ice cream! 

1 cup walnuts
1/4 c grade B maple syrup
1/8 tsp coarse salt

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Once the pan is hot, add the walnuts, maple syrup and salt.  Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the maple syrup has caramelized (the walnuts will be completely coated in syrup and there will be little left sticking to the pan), about 5-7 minutes.  Spread walnuts out onto parchment paper and let cool.  Store in an airtight container on the counter (if they last long enough to put in a container- I'm telling you, these are addictive!)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Meal

Clockwise from upper left corner: cranberry sauce, turkey, sausage quinoa stuffing, white bean cauliflower mash, oven roasted sweet potatoes, oven roasted brussels sprouts, oven roasted green beans, salad.

During the holidays we travel to our parents’ houses and stay with them, which means we’re never the hosts of the traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas meals (although our parents do let us do a lot of cooking when we're up there, which is very fun!)  So we decided to make some of our favorite holiday dishes and eat this yummy meal with our long-time friends and fellow "foodies."  The measurements in most of the dishes are not very exact, so just trust yourself with whatever amounts of seasoning and vegetables you want to add!   Here’s what we made (everything is pictured on the plate above):


Clean and remove all unnecessary parts from a 14 lb. turkey.  Soften 1 stick of grass-fed butter (we used Kerrygold) and mix in salt, pepper, and chopped fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary (about 2 T of each).  Rub this mixture under the skin of the turkey, then sprinkle turkey with coarse salt and pepper.   Bake at 400 degrees on a rack in a roasting pan.   After about an hour, check the turkey and if the skin is browning a lot, make a tent over the turkey with foil and then put it back in the oven.  After 2 hours, begin to check the turkey about every 10 minutes to see if it is done.  When the turkey is done (either you've tested it with a thermometer or the timer in the turkey has "popped"), wrap it tightly with foil for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.  Then carve the turkey and serve! 

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes

          Wash 4 lb. sweet potatoes (which will fill a 13x9 pan and cut into small cubes (a bit smaller than a die), leaving the skin on.  Microwave the sweet potatoes for about 2 ½ minutes.  We did this in batches because there were so many.  Place in 13x9 pan and toss with olive oil, then sprinkle with cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, salt, and pepper.  We didn’t really measure this, just gave them a good coat with the cumin, a bit less cinnamon, just a dusting of cayenne and a good amount of salt and pepper.  Sorry for the inaccurate measurements.  Just experiment and trust yourself! 

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Oven Roasted Green Beans

                We used 1 lb. of thin, already cut green beans from Sam’s Club for ease of preparation.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees (375 or 425 would also be fine.  We cooked them at 400 because that’s what the oven was already at from the turkey).  Line baking sheet with foil and place green beans on sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then toss to coat.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until they have some good color.

Sausage and Quinoa Stuffing

                In a large dutch oven, brown 2 lb. sausage.  We used ground pork from the ½ pig that we just bought!  (This is the first dish we made with our pork!)  When the meat is almost fully cooked, add 1 diced onion, some mushrooms (about 2 cups), 1 diced stalk of celery, and about 2 cups of diced baby carrots.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and add about 3 T chopped fresh rosemary.  Cook until all vegetables begin to soften.  Then add 2 cups dry quinoa and 3 cups chicken broth.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until the quinoa absorbs most of the liquid. 

White Bean Cauliflower Mash

Cranberry Sauce

Salad with spinach, tomatoes, red onion, yellow peppers, cucumber, basil, walnuts, and hard boiled eggs.

This was such a satisfying meal.  Thanks to the many blogs I read for some of the wonderful recipes we used!  Thanks to Rem for making the meal with me, and thanks to our friends for making food and coming over to eat with us!  Stay tuned for my next post: the dessert we had after dinner!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Balsamic Mustard Chicken and Blog Recommendation

One fantastic blog I read often is Everyday Paleo.  The recipes are easy and very tasty.  The author, Sarah Fragoso, also has several books and cookbooks.  Check out her blog and recipes!  I like to make the Balsamic Mustard Chicken recipe on her blog, but I add a diced onion to the pan with the chicken.  So delicious!  The marinade is so flavorful, and the onion diced up in it is amazing because it soaks up all of the marinade flavor and becomes sweet and caramelized.  It is very good served with quinoa, steamed broccoli and green beans (as pictured).  I’ve also marinated the chicken and then baked it on a bed of chopped onions, carrots, and celery.  If you do this, make sure you pour the extra marinade over the veggies so they soak it up as they bake.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Turkey or Chicken Noodle Soup

When we still ate gluten, Rem and I used to make this chicken noodle soup a lot in the winter.  We made it with thick, Amish egg noodles, which tasted amazing.  Now we make it with brown rice penne pasta, which is also extremely delicious.  Either way, it is a hearty chicken soup that warms your soul on a cold fall or winter day!

Even though we typically make it with chicken, yesterday we used leftover turkey from a whole turkey my dad cooked on the grill.  Thanks, dad, for letting us cook at your house and for buying all of the ingredients!  Normally we roast a whole chicken in the oven and then shred some of it up to use in the soup.  You could also shred the meat from a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.   I highly recommend making this soup with your leftover Thanksgiving turkey, especially if you’re experiencing the first real signs on winter like we are here in Ohio.  I am not looking forward to the freezing cold weather that winter brings… but I do love making soup to warm us up, so maybe it’s not all bad!

One thing we learned from a few trials of making this soup is that it is best with regular chicken broth, not reduced sodium.  I like it best with Trader Joe’s Organic Free Range Chicken Broth.

I hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving!  What do you like to make with leftover turkey or other Thanksgiving leftovers? 

Turkey or Chicken Noodle Soup

Adapted from Tyler Florence

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into coins
4 celery ribs, diced
4 fresh thyme sprigs (sometimes I also age a little fresh sage and rosemary)
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken broth (regular, not reduced sodium)
8 oz. brown rice penne (I use Hodgson Mill brand
1 ½ cups shredded, cooked chicken or turkey (we like to roast a whole chicken in the oven just prior to making the soup and then shred up about half of the chicken to put in the soup)
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Coat a medium dutch oven or stock pot with oil and turn heat to medium.  Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme, and bay leaf.  Cook until the vegetables are softened but have not turned brown, then remove bay leaf.  Pour in the chicken broth and bring it to a boil.  Add the brown rice pasta and simmer for 4-6 minutes (or according to package directions).  Add the chicken and simmer for about 3 more minutes to heat up the chicken.  Taste, then season with salt and pepper if the soup needs it (it shouldn’t need too much salt since the broth has salt in it, but it may need some pepper).  Then stir in the fresh parsley.  Serve hot!  This makes outstanding leftovers, so don’t be afraid to double the batch if you want lots of yummy soup leftover.  The recipe as written makes 4-6 servings.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Brownie Bites

These brownie bites please any palate and are a perfect tiny snack that will satisfy your sweet tooth without any guilt!

Brownie Bites

Originally from Detoxinista

1 c almond meal
½ c cocoa powder
½ c honey
½ c coconut oil (melted and cooled a bit)
3 eggs (wait until the oil has cooled to add these)
1 T vanilla
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease mini muffin tins with coconut oil.  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until a gooey, thick batter forms.  Spoon batter into tins and bake 10-15 min or until brownies are puffed up and spring back to the touch.  Cool in pan 20 min then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling. 

These freeze well and can be eaten directly from frozen (as they do not harden too much).

I used a small cookie scoop to scoop the batter evenly into 24 mini muffin tins, then but the remaining batter (5 small scoops) in a ramekin.  I baked the ramekin for 10-15 min as well.  The center did not set, but remained incredibly fudgy!  It was amazing.  So, if you want to experiment with baking the whole recipe in ramekins and make very fudgy brownies, let me know how it turns out! 

Macronutrient Breakdown
For 29 brownie bites, each has approximately 84 calories, 6 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g protein, 6 g fat.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Oven Roasted: Brussels Sprouts, Spaghetti Squash

Believe it or not, I actually hated most vegetables up until part way through college.  It’s crazy for me to think back to what I ate at that time since now vegetables are a main focus of every meal and snack I eat.  I have come to love every vegetable I try and can’t get enough!  However, it wasn’t until recently that I started adding Brussels sprouts and spaghetti squash to our weekly dinner rotation.  I am so happy to have discovered these two tasty vegetables.  I’ve you’ve never tried them, you are missing out!  Go to the store and grab some today!  At this time of year you can find both at nearly every grocery store.  They are easy to prepare and are versatile enough to accompany almost any main meat dish.  

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts served with Cod.  We sauteed frozen (then thawed) cod pieces from Trader Joe's with an onion, garlic, some olive oil, and white wine.  Yum!

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

2 lb. Brussels sprouts
Olive oil (1-2 T)
2 cloves crushed garlic

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Thoroughly rinse Brussels sprouts under cold water and dry.  Chop the end off of each Brussels sprout (not too much, just the hard “stump” looking part), then chop each sprout in half.  Put Brussels sprouts on baking sheet then drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and also throw on two crushed cloves of garlic (for extra flavor).  Toss it all with your hands to coat the Brussels sprouts with oil and seasoning.  Bake for 20 min. or until they start to turn a nice brown color on the edges.  Enjoy!  

For Rem and I, a 2 lb. bag ends up being about 3 servings... but we eat them like candy, seriously.  So a 2 lb. bag should really make about 6 servings.  (A tip: I tried prepping the Brussels sprouts early by cutting them and putting them in a bag in the fridge with the olive oil and seasonings.  They were definitely not as good.  The flavor was just off.  So I recommend preparing these just before you are going to roast them!)

Oven Roasted Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line baking sheet with foil.  Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.  Be careful not to cut off your finger or hand.  The squash is very, very hard, so use a heavy, sharp knife but be cautious as you cut!  Then scoop out the pulp and seeds with a spoon.  Place both squash halves, cut side down, on foil lined baking sheet.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until you can easily insert a butter knife through the skin.  Let the squash halves cool for a few minutes, then scoop out the flesh!  I like to use a fork first to really separate the strands, but you will also need a spoon to get all of the flesh away from the skin (you don’t want to eat the skin).  Eat plain, or season with grass fed butter, salt, and pepper!  I like to eat it cold with cottage cheese, or as a side with any type of meat.  It’s also a great substitute for regular spaghetti.  Clearly it does not taste like regular spaghetti, but it tastes good with any type of normal pasta "topping" or sauce.  Makes about 4 servings.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sweet Potato Chicken Salad: Paleo Version

Last night I made a paleo version of our Tzatziki Chicken Sweet Potato Salad.  Instead of the yogurt based-dressing, I used the follow combination:
1/2 c olive oil
2-3 T dijon mustard
1 T lemon juice
salt, pepper, and dried parsley to taste

Depending on how "saucy" you want the salad to be, you might want to double the amount of dressing.  It's funny to think that not long ago I hated all types of mustard, but lately I've been adding dijon to a lot of my recipes.  I particularly enjoyed the zing the dijon gave to this dish.  It was also well received by some fellow CrossFitters!  For those of you who are vegetarians, you could leave out the chicken and add 1/2-1 cup of sunflower kernels, or even tofu.  Enjoy, and let me know if you try any new variations!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Paleo Apple Recipes and Things I'm Loving Right Now

Paleo Apple Recipes

When I went apple picking a few weekends ago I knew I would need tons of apples so that I could bake with them!  I love eating fresh picked apples, but I like them even more combined with cinnamon in baked apple dishes!  

The first recipe I made is a favorite of mine that I created this summer: paleo apple cinnamon muffins.  When I make these muffins I have to be careful not to eat the whole batch because they are that good.  Rem loves the Banana Blueberry Muffins we make, but these apple cinnamon ones are my favorite!  They are super simple to make and make your house smell heavenly.  

The second recipe I made was a new creation inspired by lots of research around the web on grain and refined-sugar free apple crisps.  My childhoood favorite had lots of oats, butter, and brown sugar.  It was delicious and highly addicting.  But I wanted a version that I could feel good about putting into my body, and even eat for breakfast!  This was the first time I made this particular apple crisp recipe and it turned out great!  Is it just me, or is the best part of making apple crisp eating the clumps of topping?  Somehow I managed to keep myself from eating all of the topping this time, but I did eat almost the whole pan of apple crisp.  I had to remind Rem to try a bite before it was gone, and I think one bite was all that he got!

Paleo Apple Cinnamon Muffins

1 c unsweetened applesauce
¼ c coconut oil
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ c coconut flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Brand)
1 tsp baking soda
2 T cinnamon
1 apple, chopped (with skin on)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line muffin pan with 12 muffin liners.  If your coconut oil has become solid, heat it in the microwave with the applesauce until melted (*don’t melt the oil by itself, because if you add cold applesauce to it it will harden).  Cool for a few minutes then whisk in the 5 eggs and the vanilla.  Sprinkle coconut flour, baking soda, and cinnamon on top and then stir with a spoon until well combined.  Then stir in chopped apple.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Spoon batter evenly into 12 muffin cups (I use a large ¼ c ice cream scoop).  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 min or until toothpick comes out clean.  As soon as you take the muffins out of the oven, drizzle a very small amount of honey on top of each muffin (*optional).  Cool in pan for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack.  Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week or freezer for up to 1 month. 

Paleo Apple Crisp

5 assorted apples (I used Jonathon, Jonagold, and Gala apples)
Lemon juice
Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
2 T coconut oil
½ c almond meal
¼ c ground flaxseed
¼ c unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ c slivered almonds
½ T vanilla
Drizzle honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use apple, peeler, corer, slicer to core and slice apples, then cut each apple ring in half OR if you don’t have a peeler, corer, slicer, cut your apples into thin slices.  Toss apple slices with a few tablespoons of lemon juice, a generous amount of cinnamon, and a few shakes of nutmeg and ginger.  Place apple in 8x8 pan greased with coconut oil.  Melt the 2 T coconut oil in a medium bowl, then stir in almond flour, flaxseed, coconut, almonds, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Mix until combined but still crumbly.  Spoon over apples then drizzle honey over the whole pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min.  I recommend serving this with plain Greek yogurt! 

Things I’m loving right now… 


Snowville Creamery Grass Grazed Milk

Based on a lot of our recent research and our values about the food we eat, we decided to be more proactive about buying and eating mainly grass fed beef.  In fact, we found a farm that sells grass fed beef and bought half of a cow!  In the same vein, we decided to start buying milk from grass fed cows.  We’ve been trying to find a brand of milk that is isn’t crazy expensive, and happily discovered that our local Giant Eagle carries milk from Snowville Creamery, an Ohio farm!  Milk from grass fed cows is better for the cows, for the environment, and for our health.  Visit the Snowville Creamery website to find out more about their company and the benefits of their grass grazed milk  



Dropbox is a free online service that lets you save your files so that they can be accessed from any computer or mobile device that you use.  You set up a “drop box” account, download the service to your computer and a drop box folder becomes available on your computer.  Then you can save any document in the drop box folder.  When you go to use a computer other than your own, just sign in on and your files are there ready to be opened!  This is amazing for me as a teacher because I previously found myself sending tons of e-mails with attachments of the files I needed to print or work on at school.  Now I can just save everything to drop box and it’s available anywhere! 


If You Care muffin liners

These are THE BEST muffins liners ever.  They are coated with silicone so your baked good won’t stick to them.  They are also unbleached and made from 100% recycled materials, which makes them very environmentally-friendly!  I originally found these at Whole Foods, but after my first box was gone I ordered them from  I decided it would be frugal to just order them in bulk, so I ordered a package with 24 60-count boxes.  Yep, that’s 1440 muffin liners.  I think I’m set for the next 10 years or so!  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tzatziki Chicken Sweet Potato Salad

We have a new favorite mid-afternoon/post-workout/whenever you’re hungry snack at our house - another weekend concoction that ended up being mighty tasty.  We have other sweet potato salads we like to make (if you still don’t know, we eat LOTS of sweet potatoes), but this one is refreshingly light with the tzatziki dressing and big chunks of veggies.  Also, the chicken adds enough protein to make it the perfect, well-rounded snack.  When Rem or I take it out of the fridge to eat, the other one usually sneaks over and steals a couple bites.  That’s usually how we tell a recipe is a keeper.
One tip when you make it: don’t cut the pieces too small.  Just smaller than bite size for each piece is good, so you can still eat the components together, but can enjoy each individually too (plus it maintains a nice texture that way).

Tzatziki Chicken Sweet Potato Salad

**Note: this was another one of our throw together recipes, so all measurements are approximate.  We went with the “that looks like a good amount” method of measuring.

2-3 lbs chicken (we use the frozen chicken thighs from Trader Joe’s)
4 large (2-3 lbs) sweet potatoes (skin on or skin off, your choice)
1 large cucumber
1 lb broccoli florets

1/2 c. plain greek yogurt
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. lemon juice
Salt, pepper, and parsley to taste

Bake the chicken until done (will depend on what type of chicken you use; we just follow the directions on the bag).   Chop sweet potatoes and boil until just tender.  Dice chicken once it’s done cooking, and allow sweet potatoes and chicken to cool.

Chop cucumber and broccoli. Combine with cooled chicken and sweet potatoes.   Combine yogurt, olive oil, and lemon juice with whisk (start with the yogurt, add lemon juice, then continue to add oil until it reaches dressing-like consistency).  Pour dressing onto mixture and season to taste.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Noodles with Tahini Sauce

The other day, I noticed that the big jar of tahini in our fridge expires soon.  I’m sort of a stickler for expiration dates.  In high school, I made pasta for my sister and I but didn’t realize the sauce was expired.  Well, we both got pretty sick.  And she never let me forget about it!  Ever since then I have been hyper aware of expiration dates on jars or cans of food. 

We use tahini to make hummus, but that’s about it!  I wanted to find a recipe to use more of the tahini before it expired, and I stumbled upon a delicious recipe for noodles with tahini sauce.  It would be a great cold side to take to a potluck.  It’s very good eaten with hardboiled eggs too.  You could use regular spaghetti or soba noodles in place of the brown rice noodles, and could certainly use traditional soy sauce as well.  The noodles soak up a lot of the sauce, so the dish isn't as creamy as you might expect, but has a ton of flavor.  If you want it to be creamier, double the sauce recipe! 

Noodles with Tahini Sauce

adapted from Vegan Yum Yum

8 oz. Tinkyada spaghetti style brown rice noodles
8 oz. coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
6 green onions, diced
¼ c tahini
2 T tamari gluten free low sodium soy sauce
3 T water
1 T honey
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 pinch salt
Lots of pepper

Cook noodles according to package directions.  While cooking, chop up green onions.  Mix up sauce.  Drain noodles, and while they’re still hot, mix together vegetables, noodles, and sauce.  Refrigerate.  Serve cold.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

1 lb. ground bison
1 onion, chopped
½ bag frozen peppers
2 lb. fresh mushrooms, chopped
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
1-30 oz. can organic diced tomatoes, with juice
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 c Minute brown rice
3 green peppers

Brown the bison in a very large stainless-steel (and oven-proof) sauté pan over medium high heat.  Keep an eye on the bison as it cooks, chopping and stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, chop the onion.  When only a little pink is left on the bison, add the onion and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring as necessary to prevent sticking.  As the onion cooks, clean and chop the mushrooms.  Add the mushroom and frozen peppers, then season the mixture with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, stirring as necessary to prevent sticking.  After the mushrooms have cooked down, add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano and rice. Stir the mixture well.  Turn heat down to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Now heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Clean the peppers then cut the tops off.  Chop the tops to use for something else later.  Cut each pepper in half.  After the bison, veggie, and rice mixture has simmered, nestle each of the 6 pepper halves into the mixture and fill each pepper half with the mixture, leaving some around the edges (as pictured).  Bake the peppers, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.

If you don’t have an oven-proof sauté pan, cook the meat, veggie, and rice mixture in a regular sauté pan.  Before baking, place the pepper halves in a 13x9 glass baking dish and spoon the mixture into the peppers.  Then bake the whole thing in the 13x9 dish. 

I have made and eaten countless versions of stuffed peppers, but this is the most recent version I’ve made and it was very delicious.  Feel free to change it up however you like!

Some variations include:
-Instead of bison, use ground turkey or lean ground beef.
-Instead of mushrooms, use black beans.
-Instead of green peppers, use red, yellow, or orange peppers for a sweeter flavor
-Top the peppers with feta, cheddar, or any or type of cheese you like during the last 15 minutes of baking.
-Add any other veggies you like to the onions, peppers and mushrooms.  Celery or carrots would be good!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pork and Sauerkraut with Sweet Potatoes

I have another very tasty fall recipe for you today.  I used to make pork and sauerkraut with white potatoes, but I have since found out that my body does not digest them very well.  I have discovered that sweet potatoes are a great alternative to white potatoes in many recipes (and have more vitamins and fiber!), but had never tried them with pork and sauerkraut.  They added sweetness and richness to this recipe and became extremely tender and delicious.  In fact, this is my new favorite way to make pork and sauerkraut.  I think I could literally eat it every day… 

Pork and Sauerkraut with Sweet Potatoes

3-4 lb. pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into 2 or more large pieces
3 large sweet potatoes
1 large onion
1 jar (2 lb.) sauerkraut
½ c unsweetened applesauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Celery seed

Wash and cut sweet potatoes into large chunks (1 cut them into 1 inch thick rounds, then in quarters).  Place in a layer on the bottom of a large crockpot.  Dice onion and put on top of sweet potatoes.  Put the pork in next and season with lots of pepper and celery seed.  Pour sauerkraut on top and tuck into open spaces on the sides of the pork.  Pour applesauce on top.  Turn crockpot on HIGH and cook for 6 hours.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pot Roast

We actually made this pot roast earlier in the summer.  Yes, it was probably around 90 degrees the day we made it, but that didn’t stop our taste buds from wanting to eat pot roast.   However, now seemed like a more appropriate time to post the recipe since it is getting a little cooler out.  I am excited that it is starting to feel like Fall!  Fall is definitely my favorite season.  I love being able to walk my dog without worrying about him overheating, wearing sweaters, making soups, stews, and roasts, going apple picking, smelling the fall air…  I’m happy just thinking about all of the things fall brings! 

Before making this roast I had never cooked with parsnips, but I’m glad I finally did!  Parsnips are root vegetables that are related to carrots.  They look like carrots but are a bit more waxy, like potatoes.  They become very tender when cooked in a crock pot and have an earthier, sweeter taste than carrots. 

There are so many variations on the traditional pot roast, but this is our favorite.  It will fill you up and keep you warm this fall and winter.  We hope you like it as much as we do!

Pot Roast

2-3 lb beef chuck shoulder
1 c red wine
1 c beef broth or stock (I use Trader Joe’s beef broth)
1 diced onion
1 T dried thyme
1 T minced garlic
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks

Rub the roast with salt and pepper.  Place in a crockpot along with the red wine, beef broth, onion, thyme, garlic, and a little more salt and pepper.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  *2-3 hours before you plan to eat, add the carrots and parsnips.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chocolate Paleo Snack Cake

Sorry I’ve gotten behind on my blog posts!  I got a new job and have been extremely busy over the past few weeks.  But I finally had some time this weekend to bake and to post!

When I started baking gluten-free, refined sugar-free recipes, I was eager to find “decadent” dessert recipes that were full of healthy ingredients.  This cake is that dessert.  I like to make it when I’m craving dessert.  I’ve made it many, many times but kept forgetting to take a picture.  I can’t believe it has taken me so long to post it!  

While I would certainly advise against sitting down and eating the whole cake in one sitting, eating a small piece as a snack fits perfectly into a healthy diet!  My favorite way to eat it is with a little bit of plain Greek yogurt.  It stays good in the fridge for up to 4 days.  I usually store most of the cake in the freezer, so I just microwave it and dollop some yogurt on top. 

The sweetness in this cake comes from a combination of unsweetened applesauce and dates, and the tender crumb comes from coconut flour.  The raspberries are a yummy, tart addition.  I hope you like it! 

Chocolate Paleo Snack Cake (gluten free, dairy free, paleo)

Adapted from

10 dates
1 c unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs
½ c coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
½ c coconut flour
½ c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ c strong brewed coffee (I heated ½ c of water in the microwave and poured in 1 packet of instant coffee)
½ c frozen raspberries

Make coffee and let cool.  Microwave a cup of water on the “beverage” setting.  Drop dates into the hot water for about 30 seconds and then drain the water (the dates should be soft).  Combine dates and applesauce in food processor (I use the magic bullet for this!) and pulse until pureed.  Put fruit puree in a bowl and add eggs and vanilla.  Mix on low-medium speed (with an electric mixer) until well combined.  Then add coconut oil and coffee and mix again on low speed.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then slowly add to the wet ingredients while mixing on low speed.  Scrape down the sides of bowl if necessary and keep mixing until batter is smooth.  Fold in raspberries.  Grease 8x8 pan w/ oil (or use parchment paper) then pour in batter, smoothing the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.  (I’ve underbaked this a few times, and it tastes amazing that way, so if you want to err on the side of underbaked, I say go for it!)  Wait until the cake cools completely to cut it.  Cut into 9 or 16 pieces.  It is very delicate, so don't worry if it breaks apart a little as you cut it.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Roasted Veggies

Today I have a super simple recipe for you that you can adapt to almost any type of vegetable!  There are many delicious ways to cook veggies, so we like to mix up the cooking methods and veggies so we never get tired of eating the same exact thing!  You can eat veggies raw, steamed, grilled, sauteed (in oil), sauteed wet (kind of like boiling), broiled, or my FAVORITE way: roasted.  I think you can roast just about any type of vegetable, but here are some combinations we have been enjoying lately:
1. zucchini, squash, eggplant, onion
2. broccoli and cauliflower
3. zucchini, squash, onion, and cherry tomatoes (pictured)

Roasted Veggies

2 lb of your favorite veggies
1-2 T extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
other spices to taste (cumin is really good with broccoli and cauliflower!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut up veggies into uniform pieces.  Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (this is optional, but makes for easier clean up) and pour veggies onto sheet.  Bake for 30 min. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Green Deviled Eggs

Another recipe I shared with friends at the Fit Club games on Sunday was these deviled eggs!  They were well received by all, and I even had strangers asking to try them!  I’m not usually a big fan of deviled eggs (mayo and mustard aren’t my favorite) even though they are a staple appetizer at many family gatherings.  These eggs, however, are something I will make again and again!  Instead of the traditional mayo and mustard base for the filling, these eggs have avocado.  Yum!  I won’t say this recipe is quick, because cooking, cracking and peeling the eggs does take some effort and patience, but making the filling is very simple if you have a food processor.  These eggs are also inexpensive and require only a few ingredients.

I have heard of about a thousand “best” ways to hardboil eggs and get them to turn out “perfectly.”  I am definitely not claiming this is the best way, but I do like how they turn out when I make them the following way: Place eggs in medium saucepan and cover with cold water to just above the eggs.  Place on stove over high heat and bring to a boil.  Once the water is boiling hard, cook for 3 minutes.  Then remove pot from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes to continue cooking.  After 10 minutes, drain the hot water from the pot and replace with cold water, and let the eggs sit in the cold water for about 5 minutes.  Then refrigerate the eggs to peel later, or peel immediately.  I can’t say I’ve figured out a great way to peel the eggs perfectly, but this method of cooking does provide good results in terms of the “doneness” of the yolk.  The yolks will be a nice bold shade of yellow and not chalky at all.  And they never have that grey/green tint to them. 
The original recipes called for 6 eggs, 1 avocado, and ¼ cup of cilantro, but I adjusted the ratios for this recipe.  I wanted to use 9 eggs because 18 halves fit in my deviled egg carrier!

Green Deviled Eggs

9 hard-boiled eggs
1 ½ avocados
½ c cilantro (I estimated here- just use a “good amount”)
Salt, pepper, cayenne to taste

Hard boil eggs, cut in half and remove yolks.  In food processor, pulse cilantro until finely chopped.  Add egg yolks, avocado, salt, pepper, and cayenne.  Process until uniformly smooth and creamy.  Scoop filling into eggs as desired.  (I used a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off and a star decorating tip inserted in the corner to make a pretty “swirl.”  You could use an actual pastry bag to pipe in the filling, or to make it even easier, just scoop the filling in with a spoon!)  Refrigerate.  These are best if served the day you make them.