Tuesday, February 26, 2013

3 Absolute MUST HAVE Kitchen Splurges

Three recent purchases have completely revolutionized the way I cook.  I could not be happier.  If you are not in possession of these items, go out and get them pronto.
Silicone Baking Mat:  I go through a ton of parchment paper.  I use every single time something goes in the oven, unless I'm broiling something.  And now that I have a silpat, I still use parchment for odd sized things (lining a loaf pan for instance) but this silpat is a game-changer.  Bake cookies, cakes, scones, chicken, fish, cauli pizza, vegetables, roasted whatever you got, it's amazeballsUSA.  When you're done, rinse it off and stow it away.  No more going through aluminum foil like it's going out of style, or spending oodles on pricey parchment.  It's a god send.  Stop wasting time scouring baking sheets and losing half your cookie because the bottom is stuck to the pan.  Get a silpat.

Big Bad Cutting Board:  I have a nice little collection of cutting boards.  A flexible plastic one that's nice for chopping veggies and then siphoning into your pot or pan, but that's seen much better days, a thick plastic board, a small wooden cutting board, and a medium cutting board.  But my new giant cutting board is on a totally different playing field.  It stays where it is, I don't move it.  I cut veggies on it, put eggs I'm about to bake with in the grooves so they don't go rolling around, roll out cookie dough, assemble seasoning mixes so I don't get my countertops dirty, cut fruit, make snacks for S, and pile things on so I can clean the rest of the kitchen.  It's big, so I don't move it around, which means cutting up healthy stuff is easier, more convenient, and requires less steps.  It is large enough to accomodate my biggest mixing bowl, so that when I'm stirring I don't get raw batter all over if it spills over the edge.  It makes prep work and clean-up so much faster and easier.  It also means that the rare instances when MKG is going to cut something up, he doesn't make an enormous mess and leave it for me to deal with.  Of course, if you are putting raw meat/fish/poultry on it you need to sanitize it, but other than that a quick wipe will do.  It's amazing.  And it was only $13 at HomeGoods.  Similarly sized boards at Williams Sonoma I recently saw for $98.  No thanks.

Extra Virgin White Truffle Olive Oil:  If you distill heaven into a liquid, you'd have truffle olive oil.  This stuff is gold.  It has made plain, steamed vegetables a delight and something I look forward to.  Boring steamed cauli, broccoli, green beans, in just a few minutes you turn a bland veggie into something rich and extraordinary.  You don't need a lot, just drizzle a bit and you're good to go.  It's incredible over plain, raw arugula and baby spinach.  With some sea salt sprinkled on top, you are seriously going to have a culinary meltdown.  So simple and so good.  It's not as expensive as you'd think.  Whole foods sells little bottles like this for $5.  I'm not quite sure how they bottle "truffle aroma" but they do and it's f*cking delicious.  Get some.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Seafood Soup

This seafood blend is a wonderful product.  Shrimp, calamari, and little baby scallops.  Throw in some fish, or some extra shrimp, and you have a ton of protein for an easy, quick meal.  I've made this seafood soup twice in two weeks now, and served it once to company.  It is a yummy and filling soup for any seafood lover.

Seafood Soup
1 32. oz container fish stock
1 can light coconut milk (or regular)
2 cans water
1 onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 large carrots, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup fish sauce, like red boat
salt and pepper to taste
1 bag trader joe's seafood blend
1 bag shrimp, chopped fish, langostinos, etc
1 bag frozen cauliflower florets

Saute your veggies in some EVOO until translucent, 5-7 minutes, in a large stock pot.  Pour in your seafood stock, coconut milk, and water, and add your garlic and salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Add your fish sauce, and taste.  Add more, or more seasoning, to taste.  When you've gotten it right, add in your frozen seafood and cauli.  Bring back up to a simmer and you're done!  This tastes great right away, and really good after a day in the fridge.   Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Paleo Banana Bread, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free, Grain and Gluten-Free

I am kind of weirded that I don't have a banana bread recipe up on the blog.  Banana bread used to be a staple chez GFG.  I would make it a few times a month, with regular SAD ingredients, or sometimes half whole wheat flour and half AP, or even a tablespoon or two of flax meal and think I was really badass.  Well, times have changed, and there's a new banana bread recipe in town y'all.  This recipe is so stinkin' easy and so stinkin' good.  It does not have a weird mealy coconut texture like so many coconut flour baked good can have.  It is delicious, and sugar free to boot.  It is sweetened with the bannas themselves, and stevia.  Think stevia isn't paleo?  It is.  Check out Mark's Daily Apple if you don't believe me.  And it is safe for diabetics.  I have tested it on myself, and I have pretty much no insulin.  So there.  This would make a great dessert, but frankly, I'll be giving it to S for breakfast, as it is perfectly healthy.

Paleo Banana Bread
2 medium bananas, mashed
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup walnut or coconut oil
3/4 cup nutmilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp butter extract (optional)
4 droppers nunaturals alcohol free liquid stevia
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup coconut flour

Mash your bananas in a large bowl, add in your eggs, extracts, stevia, milk, and oil, stir well.  Add in your dry ingredients (try to get coconut flour lumps out prior to adding) and combine well.  I lined my loaf pan with parchment, but you can grease yours if you prefer.  Pour your batter into the loaf pan and drop on the countertop a few times to get out any air bubbles.  Sprinkle the top with cinnamon if you like!  When a knife comes out just clean, take it out.  It will firm up a bit as it cools.  Mine was still pretty squishy in the center.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  This is now your go-to, easy peasy, one bowl banana bread recipe.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pizza Kale Chips

Kale chips are a fun, easy, delish way to shovel in lots and lots of veggies.  I like the plain old EVOO and salt kind as much as the next guy, but when I recently saw a recipe for pizza kale chips, I knew I had to try them out.

Here's the thing about kale chips though.  It bugs me that most recipes call for large quantities of cashews.  I eat enough nuts throughout the week, I don't want to drown my veggies in them too.  I get that the creaminess is needed for that cheesy coating that we all love, but seriously, I just don't need MORE nuts in my diet, trust me!  I get enough as it is.

So I decided to try the recipe without cashews.  It works great.  I imagine even better if you had a proper dehydrator.  But no matter, you can have nut-free pizza kale chips any time you like.

Pizza Kale Chips
1 bag washed/chopped kale, from Trader Joe's for instance
1 6 oz. can organic tomato paste
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup EVOO

In a mixing bowl, combine your paste and seasonings and EVOO.  Dump your kale onto a baking sheet, and then dollop the pizza sauce onto the kale by the spoonful.  Using your hands, work the sauce into the kale, making sure to coat all the leaves evenly.  Bake at 400 until crisp.  This will depend on how much you have, how big your baking sheet, etc.  Took me about 20 minutes.  These will taste even better the next day!

In other news, I decided to get a juicer.  I am primarily a 2 meal a day kinda gal, and I admit it can be tough to get in enough veggies in two meals.  Plus, I am hoping I can get my family to partake too, although I doubt either of them will drink straight veggies like I plan to.  But hopefully with a little apple or some berries thrown in food good measure, I can get everyone on board.

I researched juicers for about a week.  It was clear to me in the end that the best kind was probably the Omega J8006.  But for about $250 or so, kind of a steep entry point for someone that doesn't even know if they'll like the stuff.  Finally, I settled on a clearance juicer from BBB, and I figure, I'll learn on it and see if it's something I even want to do on a regular basis.  If it is, I will upgrade to a nicer one, and if not, it wasn't too big of an investment.

I had my first juice experience today, and it wasn't bad!  Actually, wayyyy sweeter than I was expecting.  I used too many tomatoes and too many carrots, because I was running low on veggies.  But it was fun and clean up wasn't too terrible.  Unfortunately S was not a fan, and spilled more than she drank.  Ahh well.

I also tried my hand at some stevia sweetened chocolate truffles this week, in honor of Valentines Day. Surprisingly, using nunaturals liquid (alcohol free) stevia produces a really decent flavor.  I am just as shocked as you are!  They are in the freezer right no, firming up for later.

I hope you all had a great vday and enjoyed no matter how it was spent!  Hallmark holiday or not, we could all use a little more LOVE in our lives amirite?


Friday, February 8, 2013

Paleo Sauteed Chicken Hearts

Hmmm...  Ok, so this pic is truly one of the most unappetizing pics I have probably ever posted.  Sorry about that.  The arugula looks tasty at least, right?  Yikes.

Anywho.  Chicken hearts are a fantastic source of nutrients.  They are HEARTS after all!  Containing very high quantities of the following nutrients, you really can't argue with 'em:

And for those of you who aren't big fans of liver, hearts have a much milder flavor and are also way less chewy and dense.  I suspect broiling or grilling them would be amazeballs.

I picked up about 1 lb and three quarters of the stuff at Whole Paycheck for about $1.40.  Certainly enough for two people, with leftovers for the dog.  At such a low price point, may as well give it a shot right?  Preparation is a snap.

I know it sounds weird.  But when you eat a paleo, primal, or ancestral diet, focusing on getting lots of protein, you really have to branch out sometimes.  And I am not a big steak eater, so that basically means poultry, fish, seafood, and some pork occasionally.  Sh*t gets old eventually.  So what the heck?  Try something new.

Paleo Chicken Hearts
1.5-2 lbs chicken hearts
1 yellow onion
garlic powder
EVOO, or ghee

Saute your yellow onion in EVOO until its translucent.  Season with salt and a bit of pepper.  Add in your chicken hearts, and season liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Cook for about 7-9 minutes until hearts are completely cooked through.

Easy peasy folks.  You've got nothing to lose! Try it out!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Paleo Spicy Asian Cole Slaw

I dig coleslaw.  I dig asian flavors.  I really dig cabbage.  Cabbage is cheap.  Do you agree with these statements?  Good.  Then try this yummy asian slaw.  We had ours with some of nom nom paleo's delish damn fine chicken, second time i've made it in as many weeks.

As you may have noticed, I am really not much for measuring, especially in recipes like this.  I'd rather eyeball everything and taste as I go.  So this is not so much a recipe as it is guidelines.  But spiceyness is such a personal thing anyways!

Paleo Spicy Asian Coleslaw
half a bag shredded carrots (about 1 1/2 cups)
small-med head of cabbage (or use red if you like)
1 small red onion, chopped/diced
3 tbsp EVOO
salt and pepper
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp (or more!) sriracha.  There are paleo varieties out there, or you could make your own.  Again, nomnompaleo.com to the rescue.  I probably used more like 2 tbsp sriracha, but I really like spicy foods.
10 drops alcohol free liquid stevia- NuNaturals is best

In a small bowl, mix your wet ingredients.  Taste it!  Is it yum? Want it sweeter?  Spicier? Tangier?  Adjust accordingly.  Now is the time to do it, before adding to your slaw.  Pour over your chopped/shredded cabbage, onion, and carrots.  Season, and mix well.  Depending on the size of your cabbage you may need a bit more liquid.  Let this sit in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors can come together.  It is really good folks.

I know I haven't been awesome in the full disclosure department.  January has been.... interesting.  Honesty and truthiness aren't at the top of my list right now.  Hope that's cool.

How has your January been?  2013 treating you right so far?  Anyone doing any cleanses or detoxes worth sharing?  I myself am dying to do one of those 3 day veggie juice cleanses, but the juice can be quite carby, and no protein, so I'm not sure it's a good idea.  Thoughts?

Thanks GFGs.  Much love!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crispy Paleo Pumpkin Seed and Almond Honey Cookies (Dairy free and egg free too)

Sometimes you just want to throw some ingredients in the food processor and make some cookies.  Minimal measuring, minimal ingredients, minimal bowls to clean.  Minimal.  It would be nice if life could be more minimal sometimes wouldn't it?  Well, with these cookies, you can start.

I've had a bag of salted pumpkin seeds in the pantry for awhile.  I snacked on them for a week or so and then got tired of them.  I'm more of a cashew kind of girl to be honest.   So into the food processor they went.  I've seen cookies made before with sunflower seeds, so why not pumpkin seeds? 

They came out great.  Thin and crispy, salty and sweet, the perfect snack or treat.

Try them!  Pumpkin seeds are much cheaper than nuts, and quite nutritive.

Crispy Paleo Pumpkin Seed and Almond Honey Cookies (Dairy and Egg Free)
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sliced and blanched almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3 1/2 tbsp raw honey
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3 1/2 tbsp walnut or coconut oil

Process your pumpkin seeds and almonds until you have a fine flour.  While the motor is running, pour in your honey, oil, vanilla, and pinch of salt.  Once the "dough" starts to form a ball, it's ready to be spooned onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  This will take a minute or two, perhaps longer, depending on the speed of your machine. 

Use a tbsp to form little balls, and flatten well with your fingertips.  These cookies will not spread, so flatten them out pretty good.  Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes, until the edges brown.  These will cook super fast!  Watch them carefully!

I am baking more with honey, since I don't eat baked goods anyways, may as well spare S and MKG all my sugar free concoctions and just feed them, whole, real foods, like molasses and raw honey, and dates.  I am quite sure you could sub dates for the honey in this recipe, 5 should do it.  Did you know that per tbsp, molasses has about 60 calories, and is a great source of potassium, B6, and magnesium?  It also has 15 grams of carbs, which may make a not so great choice for diabetics, but if you don't have any problems with sugar, this is certainly a better choice.

Were I to make these for myself, I would probably opt for about 20-30 drops of NuNaturals Alcohol Free Liquid Stevia, a wonderful, non-bitter, non-aftertaste giving sweetener that I just adore.  It has such a clean flavor. 

Hope you're all having a pleasant week.  Believe it or not, it got into the mid 70's here in KC yesterday, breaking all kinds of records.  I spent the day inside the office so don't have any fun outdoorsy stories to tell, but the weather sure is nutty right now.  I love spring as much as the next guy, but I can't say it isn't a little disconcerting. 


Friday, January 25, 2013

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins, Grain/Gluten Free

These muffins feel like dessert, but they're not!  No oil in these, no refined sugars at all, no grains, no gluten, and can easily be dairy free too.

PB&J Muffins, Grain/Gluten Free
1 3/4 cups peanut flour (mine is 12% fat, light roast, Protein Plus! from netrition.com)
2 tbsp coconut flour
2 eggs
1 6 oz container yogurt (I used plain full fat yogurt, but you can use greek, coconut milk yogurt, etc)
35 drops alcohol free liquid stevia
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup (nut)milk
about 1/2 cup no sugar added, just fruit jam

In a large mixing bowl, combine your flours, baking soda, salt and whisk well.  In a separate bowl, combine your eggs, yogurt, (nut)milk, stevia, and vanilla extract.  Pour wet into dry and spoon into lined muffin pan.  With a teaspoon, drop dollops of jam onto each muffin, and mix into the batter just a bit with a toothpick.  It's up to you how much jam to put in each cupcake, but don't overdo it.  A little goes a long way!  Bake at 350 until golden brown, about 25 minutes or so.  This made 9 cupcakes for me.  For a sweet, protein filled muffin, this is definitely a winner.  If you enjoy and can tolerate peanuts, give this recipe a try!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paleo Egg McMuffin! Grain and Gluten Free

The outcome of this experiment truly shocked me.  I cannot get over how this super lazy recipe came out!

Last night as I was browsing pinterest, I saw some paleo blogger put up a recipe for a grain free english muffin.  Her recipe called for 1/3 cup of almond flour, plus one tbsp of coconut flour.  I don't know about you, but the thought of ingesting 1/3 cup of almond flour just didn't sit well with me, and since I'd be making this for S, it just grossed me out entirely.  But what if I could make an english muffin in the microwave with just coconut flour?  Could it be done?

YES.  Yes it can folks.  I also microwave a beaten egg for some extra protein.  With a little smear of jam on the muffin, this little mcmuffin was a big hit with my little one.  This is so super easy, it's almost embarrassing to post.  But what a wonderful trick to have up your sleeve for a quick meal!  Throw some carrots on a plate and you've got lunch in like, 5 minutes.

Paleo Egg McMuffin
1 1/2 tbsp coconut  flour
1 egg
1 1/2 tbsp of milk, water, or nutmilk
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp honey

1 additional beaten egg
jam for spreading on the muffin, if desired
some oil, for oiling your glass/porcelain microwave safe bowls

In a microwave safe glass or porcelain bowl (like a ramekin), grease it lightly, and pour in your beaten egg.  Microwave your egg until fully cooked, about 90 seconds.  (depends on your microwave though, watch it carefully!)  In another bowl, mix together your coconut flour, egg, salt, honey, and milk.  Pour your batter into another greased ramekin and microwave for about 2 and a half minutes.  You want this to be cooked through and firm to the touch.  Add another 10 seconds or so if need be.  When fully cooked, slide it out of your ramekin and cut in half with a bread knife.  Toast in your toaster oven and then slather with jam, and top with your fluffy microwaved egg!  Crazy crazy.  S scarfed it down, which is miraculous because she will rarely eat an egg, or any protein other than bacon or cheese.  I think it was the jam that did it.

Did you ever eat mcmuffins growing up??  OMG I loved those nasty little things.  They were a very special treat on some weekends after we went to the orthodontist.  Gross right?  I know, awful.  But luckily, with these little guys, you can enjoy a mcmuffin once again.  Lots of protein, fiber, and very little carbs.  Did you know that 2 tbsp of coconut flour only has 62 calories?  And 6 grams of fiber?  Pretty wonderful stuff.  So if your diet will allow for a baked treat, please give this a try.

Enjoy GFGs! xoxo

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Paleo Thai Crab Salad

How is everyone doing this fine January day?  The days short enough for ya?  Cold enough?  How's the $$$ situation?  Do you sometimes wake up (while it's still pitch dark no less) and do a little face palm and blurt out a big GAHHHH?  Yeah.  It's that time of the year folks.  May be time for a little attitude readjusting.

I know I am definitely guilty of doing the January-Poor-Me routine from time to time.  This year is no different.  So today, I think, in addition to a bright and summery tasting Paleo Thai Crab Salad recipe, it's time for a little 'tude reset.  Join me, won't you?

It's dark out.  It's cold out.
Yes.  We know.  It's January for f*cks sake.  But let's turn this frown upside down shall we?

  • Dark and cold means lots of opportunities for sipping on nummy warm things.  Some organic decaf, chai tea, or homemade bone broth.  Curl up with your handy dandy e-reader and a steaming mug of tea or paleo hot chocolate, and all will be right in the world.  Or better yet, take a hot bath and light some candles!  Sounds delightful doesn't it?
  • Augment your workouts to take advantage of the sunlight.  Does your schedule afford you any flexibility?  Can you workout in the later morning or afternoon?  If not, there are other ways to spice up your workouts.  Download some fresh new tracks, get spotify on your iphone, buy some fun new workout clothes, a cute new waterbottle, or even just a cute headband.  I know I enjoy my workouts more when I am wearing fun accessories!
  • No Money Mo Problems.  Wait, that's not how it goes?  Mo money mo problems?  Whatever.  The same is true of the inverse.  There are about a zillion web sites now offering huge, crazy discounts on whatever you could possibly need.  Zulilly, and haute look are two of the sites I've recently begun browsing.  But if you truly are doing the no spend thing, or even partaking in #nospendmonth, then here are some suggestions for you:  1) Write every single thing you want down on a piece of paper to be evaluated in February.  Let's see how badly you really want that ironic monogrammed upcycled coffee cup sleeve with a smiling fox on it from Etsy after a few weeks.   If you are really and truly still dying for it, take the plunge in February.  Odds are most of the items you'll no longer want.  (Or maybe they'll be on sale by then!)  2) Take this time to do a little budget rejiggering.  What are you spending all your dough on?  Are you hoarding stuff unnecessarily?  Have a little addiction to sneakers, or shampoo, or socks, or something?  Get into the nitty gritty of it and see what you are really spending your pennies on.  Can you part with starbucks for a few weeks?  Maybe cut back on the Artisana coconut butter and macadamia nuts?  Paleo goodies can be pretty costly.  Instead, make your own coconut butter, and eat carrots instead of nuts.  How many gym memberships do you have?  How many are you using?  Do you have junk from the holidays that needs to be returned?  Do you have a freezer full of frozen meat and veggies you can eat up to same some $$$ at the grocery store?  Stay in for a few nights instead of eating out if you can.  Go to the library and stock up on some good books and DVD's and you'll be set.  Finally, take advantage of free trial offers and new client specials.  
  • Lastly- and this one has nothing tangible to it, but lets play opposites.  Often we get so accustomed to our usual, basic reaction to things.  So turn your reaction on its head.  I catch myself often thinking to myself, "why didn't so and so do this differently?  Why did he/she do it that way?  That makes no sense/is mean/hurtful/crappy.  While this is a natural tendency, it's also not very productive or proactive.  How can I help get the desired outcome in this situation?  What if instead of automatically getting upset about this situation, I think about it from the opposite perspective?  Maybe that won't be right either, but at least it's different, and it's retraining my brain to have a different default.  Something bothering you?  Someone bothering you?  What can I do to help that person NOT bother me?  How can I proactively change what's bothering me?  And if I can't change what's bothering me, how can I attempt to change how I feel about what's going on?  I might not always like what's going on in my life, sometimes you have to just get through things, but I certainly can try to change my perspective, and think about things in a more positive way.  Is there something eating away at you everyday?  What is it?  What about it is TRULY bothering you?  What is hurting you?  Why is it hurting you?  What advice would you give a friend that was going through what you are going through?  Can you think about it objectively and try to remove yourself from the situation?  Can you be unbiased and think logically about the best way to deal with it?  We get so wrapped up in our own problems and obstacles, we often forget that that's all they really are.  Obstacles and problems.  They aren't our whole life, they aren't our whole day.  They are small parts of our day.  We can't let them take over every waking moment.  
So go workout, preferably during the daytime hours, maybe somewhere you've never been, a new box, gym, or studio, try a new form of exercise, buy a fun pink sparkly headband (or make one if you're doing #nospend) or start thinking in opposites.  Try it for 2 weeks and see how you feel!

That's enough of that.  Let's make some Paleo Thai Crab Salad already.

1 head of napa cabbage
1 orange bell pepper
1 cup of sliced grape tomatoes
1/2 cup of cashew pieces
1 avocado
3 sliced green onions
2 cans crab meat
1 cup snow peas

1/2 cup light coconut milk
2 tbsp gf/wheat free tamari or coconut aminos
juice of one lime
6 drops alcohol free liquid stevia

Chop all your veggies and toss in a large salad bowl and serve in your salad bowl.  Top with cashew pieces and crab meat, and drizzle your dressing over the top.  Hard to stay in a funk with such a fun, flavorful, and bright salad like this!

Here is my #selfie of the day.  Why am I posting selfies?  Because they're fun, because they make going to work a little less mundane, and they get me excited about coming up with new outfits to wear. And they make me smile.  So why the hell not?  

Love you GFGs!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Paleo Cauliflower French Fries, or Cauli with Nooch

Do you desperately miss the taste of a crispy french fry?  If so, you are IN LUCK today peeps.  These cauli fries are in-cred-ible.  They have an amazing french fry flavor, are super easy to make, and are baked, not fried, so no messy grease spatter all over the kitchen.  And they are super nutritious to boot, made with nutritional yeast.  Don't have any?  Get some.  It's inexpensive, and packed with vitamins and tons of protein.  It's not like regular yeast, and it imparts a savory, almost parmesan-ish flavor.  In this recipe, it just tastes deep and salty like a good ol' french fry should.  

Cauliflower French Fries, or Cauli with Nooch
 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
couple tablespoons EVOO
1 tbsp garlic powder
kosher salt, to taste
2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Put your cauli florets into a very large mixing bowl.  Preheat your oven to 400.  Toss your cauli with EVOO, start with 2 tbsp and see if that's enough, and then add in your garlic powder, about 1/2 tbsp of kosher salt, and your nooch.  Combine well and taste.  Adjust seasonings accordingly.  You may want them saltier, more garlicy, and more noochy.  This makes a nice coating on the cauli and after baking for about 40 minutes the fries will be crunchy and have an almost breaded texture to them.

Seriously, double this recipe.  You will want to eat the entire thing all by yourself.  No joke!

These make a great side dish to any meal.  I baked mine off at the same time as some noochy chicken thighs.  Easy and no muss no fuss.

What else is going on?  Not a whole lot.  I am doing a two-week trial at Pure Barre right now, which I first learned about earlier this year on our Aspen trip.  It's similar to Bar Method, but a little less stuffy.  Not as "formal" if you catch my drift.  I'm liking it, though not as much as my beloved Fusion.  You don't really sweat much, though it is hard as f*ck, and I often feel like I need to go home and hop on the treadmill afterwards.  But I'll keep at it until the two weeks are up and make my decision then!

In other food news, have you ever made shakshuka?  It's an israeli dish that basically is just eggs baked in spicy tomato sauce.  Easy and yummy, especially if you can get your hands on some clean arrabiata sauce.  You simmer your sauce until it's warmed through, drop in your eggs, and bake at 425 for 10 minutes.  Easy!

I'm thinking of making my thai chicken soup again, but this time with shrimp.  And snow peas. Sounds good eh?

Alrighty folks.  I'll leave with you some goofy selfies from this week.  I am enjoying super bright nail polish and clashing weird outfits lately.  Anything to spice up cold and dreary January right? XoXoGFG

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Peanut Flour Banana Muffins, Grain/Gluten/Sugar/Oil Free

These muffins are definitely a departure from my usual coconut based recipes.  But sometimes you just have to switch it up!  Especially if you have some brown bananas hanging around.  And peanut flour you really dont't know what else to do with.  Since I no longer eat peanuts, just about the only thing to do with it is to bake muffins, since I don't eat those either, haha.  This is a useful recipe though, because it's gluten and grain free, is only sweetened with bananas and stevia, and is also oil free and can easily be dairy free by using any kind of nutmilk.

Peanut Flour Banana Muffins
1 3/4 cups peanut flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk of choice
2 small bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
30 drops SweetLeaf English Toffee Alcohol Free Liquid Stevia, or your preferred liquid stevia

Use a fork or whisk to combine your dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine your mashed bananas, eggs, milk, extract, and stevia.  Pour wet into dry and mix, but don't overmix.  Pour into paper lined muffin tin and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the tops are just starting to darken.  This made 10 muffins for me.  

These muffins have a decent amount of protein for such a small snack.  Almost 6 grams!  They'd be a decent choice for breakfast or for a snack, that is if peanuts don't bother you.  Certainly this recipe could be easily adapted with almond flour or using almond butter.  Chocolate chips would make this a great dessert too!

Enjoy folks.  XoXoGFG

Saturday, January 12, 2013

SUPER EASY recipe for Paleo Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Oy vey.  This week has been a little rough.  I got seriously worked this week!  Me, along with the rest of the country it seems, is plagued in a major way with either a cold, a virus, or some god-forsaken horrible strain of the flu.  Thankfully I only got a cold, but yikes getting sick is no fun is it?  So pardon me for not posting this week.

However, this post is a revelation.  Pulled pork in the slow cooker?  We've all seen and heard about it.  But really, can it be just as good as the pulled pork from the barbecue joint?  How could it be?  Without a smoker, rotisserie, or hours and hours spent marinating in a secret rub.  But it's true.  You can make incredible pulled pork in your slow cooker or crock pot.  It will be delicious, it won't take you ages to prep, it doesn't cost a fortune, you don't need any sophisticated gadgets, and you'll get quite a bit of delicious broth out of it too.  Still a skeptic?  Look at this pic of gorgeous, glorious, dark, shredded porky goodness.

Now do you believe me?  No?  Well, pork shoulder, or pork butt, is super cheap.  So try it anyways.

Paleo Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, Easy and Delicious! (serves 2-4)
2 1/2 lb pork shoulder or pork butt
1 yellow onion, sliced
enough veg of choice to cover bottom of your pot, carrots, brussel sprouts, peppers, etc (just keep in mind they will cook for quite awhile and become quite mushy)
Garlic Powder
Kosher salt

Toss your sliced onions and vegetables into the bottom of your slow cooker.  Trim excess fat from your roast (trust me, there is enough fat as it is, you won't miss it) and then cover with generous amounts of garlic powder and kosher salt.  You want the roast to be thoroughly covered.  I purposely did NOT marinate the roast because I wanted to see if it would be good without it.  It was.  Feel free to skip that extra step too!  Place the roast on top of your sliced onions and veggies, and turn your slow cooker on to high.  Let your roast cook for about 5-6 hours on high.  At this point, carefully pour off all the stock (it will probably be about 1/4 to 1/2 way full of juice) and put it in the fridge so you can skim the fat off later.  I think this step is crucial to creating a nice crunchy outer layer on the roast.  It will be super moist even so, so don't worry about it drying out.  Put the pot back in the slow cooker and set it to low for another 5 hours.  When it's finished, remove all the veggies and use forks to shred the pork.  It will be falling apart at this point.  I ate mine sprinkled with a bit of sea salt, but if you have some paleo bbq sauce, go for it!  It is sooooo freaking good peeps.  And you've got your veg and protein all in one pot, no extra work required!  Can't complain about that!?

Most recipes I saw for pulled pork called for roasts about twice the size.  As it is, this amount could have fed 4 people, or three very hungry people.  But if you want to use a larger roast for lots of delish leftovers, you will need to cook it longer.  About 14-16 hours total.

I know changing the temperature halfway through might be a pain.  But IMO it really helps get a nice sear on the outside.  It probably would not matter much if you cooked it on low the entire time, but again, you'll need to increase the cooking time by about two hours or so if you're going this route.  Who cares though?  It's in the slow cooker.

Many of the recipes I found took the extra time and care to stuff garlic cloves into little slits in the meat. Again, not necessary.  Get some good quality garlic powder and coat it liberally and you're good to go.

Need a good paleo bbq sauce recipe?  Here you go!

In non-pork, non-illness related news, S hit a major milestone this week, all by herself and without me even in sight!  She used the potty at preschool!  This came totally out of left field.  We have been working on going potty for months and she sits on it all the time but has never used it.  Not only did she use the potty, but she specifically asked the teacher to take her to the potty first.  Unreal.  Of course, the event has not been replicated, but I am overjoyed and full of pride nevertheless.  I wish I had been there to see it.  Does that sound idiotic?  I'm sure any mom reading this would share my excitement!

Lastly, after falling off the bandwagon last week pretty badly with off-limits food choices, I am finally now, a week later, feeling back to normal in terms of digestion.  Cutting out sugars/sweeteners has really helped.  Yup, it seems being on some kind of permanent detox is what works best for me.  I wonder if I will ever be able to have fruit or treats again.  sigh.  I guess in the grand scheme of things there really is no comparison between feeling your best and eating a little sugar.  

I'll bet a bunch of you are doing detox/diet clean ups right now too.  How's it going?  Any tips or recipes to share?


Monday, January 7, 2013

Macaroon Muffins- Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free

Macaroons are delish.  Muffins are delish.  Muffins are easy and convenient, portable and have a decent shelf life.  These macaroon muffins are amazeballs peeps, and a complete and total accident.  I had just about nothing in the house to make my weekly batch of muffins for S and MKG.  Some leftover apple sauce that needed to be used up, and a sad old carton of plain greek yogurt.  No veggie purees, no diced fruit, nothing.  Oh well, experimenting is fun amiright?  YES!  Especially when it yields crazy good out of this world results like this.  These muffins have an amazing, buttery macaroon like flavor.  That is due to the butter extract in these.  Kind of a weird oddball ingredient, but so many other bloggers are baking with this stuff I had to try it for myself.  Without it, I doubt these muffins would taste so macaroon-y.  Try it and you'll see.  Imitation Butter Extract is inexpensive and lasts forever.

Macaroon Muffins, Free of Gluten, Grains, and Sugar
1 package Let's Do Organic Creamed Coconut (a package is 7 ounces, or use 7 ounces coconut butter, it's the same thing)
6 ounces plain greek yogurt (one individual carton.  Or, 6 ounces full fat coconut milk would probably work as well.)
4 ounces applesauce (which is equivalent to one baby food container if you like to keep these on hand for baking)
2 eggs
3 droppers NuNaturals Alcohol-Free Liquid Stevia (the dropper will not fill all the way, probably only halfway, that is what I mean by a full dropper)
2 teaspoons butter extract
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions are simple.  Mix all your ingredients together in a bowl.  Spoon into paper lined muffin tin.  Bake at 350 until nice and golden brown, as shown.  They will need to set up for a bit after you take them out, since they're so moist.  The creamed coconut will be hard, microwave it for one minute to melt it.  These muffins are awesome because you don't need to add oil, there is plenty from the coconut butter.  And no crazy amounts of liquid to deal with from coconut flour.  The batter will be very wet, and they'll need to bake awhile for that reason.  These aren't sturdy, big dense muffins, but rather light, spongy, and macaroony.

I hope you try them!

In other news, DOWNTON ABBEY starts tonight!!! Yayyyyyyyy!  I can't wait!  I originally wanted to make a fun British themed meal to commemorate it, but then remembered that a) I hate English food and b) there are two asian-inspired dishes I have been wanting to try. So nevermind the themed meal.  It will still be yummy and fun though!

On the menu this week are Asian Salmon with a Ginger and Sesame Broccoli Slaw, and later this week my first attempt at slow-cooked pulled pork.  I will basing my recipe off NomNomPaleo's kahlua pig, sort of, not really.  What else, I'm not sure yet.

Lastly, after taking a week or so off, I've decided to dive right back in to another detox.  Not a Whole30, since I need a bit more leniency than that, rather something in the middle of my sugar/sweetener detox and a Whole30.

4 Weeks, January 7 to February 4
1. No sugar
2. No fruit
3. No sweeteners
4. No treats/baked goods
5. No cheese
6. As always, no beans, legumes, peanuts

In addition to my usual no starch.  These are parameters for me and help keep me in line and hopefully will help keep my blood sugars under control.  Perhaps these parameters seem a bit strict for everyday life to some, but honestly, if I stray from this, my blood sugar goes crazy.  I am still not on insulin, so this is my life right now.  I HAVE to adhere and I have to be ok with it.  No crying!  This is life.  I can enjoy it with or without this stuff.  However, if I want to taste the batter for some muffins I'm making or take a bite of someone's food that has goat cheese in it, I won't fret over it either.

Enjoy your Monday folks!  XoXoGFG

Friday, January 4, 2013

Family New Years Celebration + Very Vanilla (Squash) Cupcakes, Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free

Our family New Years celebration was a hit!  I decided to use my china and make the table look pretty for once.  I have not one but three sets of china.  Crazy.  And none of them are from my wedding!  I was just lucky to inherit quite a lot of china.  I also have four sets of dessert place settings.  Cray cray.  I loooove  dishes though so I am not complaining!  Here is my "tablescape" if you will:

Steamed lobster tails couldn't be easier.  To prepare that is.  I put 4 tails in my steamer and covered them for exactly 7 minutes.  They were perfectly cooked.  Pain in arse to get out of their shells though.  Geez.  Worth it though!  They were delish.  With steamed cauli doused with  sea salt and truffle oil and a simple herb salad, dinner was done in relatively short order.  Dessert for MKG and S were Very Vanilla Cupcakes, grain/gluten/sugar free and made with an entire can of pumpkin puree for good measure and extra vitamin A.

Very Vanilla (Squash) Cupcakes- Free of grains, gluten, and sugar
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 cup milk of choice, coconut, almond, etc
1 tbsp vanilla extract
5 droppers SweetLeaf English Toffee Liquid Stevia

Whisk your dry ingredients together well, breaking up any clumps.  Combine your wet ingredients in a separate bowl, and then add wet to dry.  This will be a very wet batter and may take a bit longer than usual to cook.  However, as you can see, it is super clean and super healthy.  Feel free to eat these for breakfast!  Bake at 350 in paper lined muffin tin until the tops are golden brown.  The frosting is simply coconut cream whipped with a few drops of stevia and some cinnamon.  Easy peasy folks!  This made 12 cupcakes.  I left a few unfrosted for S's breakfast.  Although who could argue with eating one of these cupcakes for breakfast! I mean really!

Once again, happy 2013!!  Here's to a lobster and cupcake filled year for us all!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Welcome to 2013!

I know every blogger worth their salt is doing a 2013 dedicated post.  Goal setting, resolutions, etc etc.  This is all well and good and I've really enjoyed reading them.  I don't have goals or resolutions so much as projects, hopes, ideals, that maybe 2013 will bring.  I am also just getting back into the swing of normal life after a very fun (and long) vacation in Chicago.  My cousin got married on December 29 so S and I spent the week prior in Chi-town with family celebrating the holidays and getting ready for the big day.  The week was full of fun, laughter, some aggravation, lots of family time, lots of pampering (including S who got her first manicure! She picked hot pink WITH an extra coat of sparkles!!  LOVE HER!), trying out an excellent new barre studio called FitGirl Studio (with locations in Evanston and Lincoln Park) and best of all, not much cooking or cleaning!  It was a great week, and I was sad it was over.  Here a few pics from my week away:

We had a beautiful white christmas.

Bridesmaids!  And bride!
I got my eyes done at the MAC counter for the rehearsal dinner. 
S in her going out outfit Friday night at Hub51- skinny jeans, hot pink lace top, and silver sparkly Toms!
As you can see I went for a dramatic look.  We all wore mismatched black dresses.   Mine was a simple sleeveless peplum, with a chignon and lots of makeup! 
The bride and grooms Ketubah- a traditional Jewish marriage contract.  

We had such a lovely time.  I'm grateful for the super fun and special memories, and even more thankful for the sweet, happy, and uneventful end to the year.  2012 was a doozy.  Honestly, looking back, I am thrilled just to have made it to the end.  I can honestly say 2012 was the most difficult, challenging, and hard years of my life.  So many struggles, so many tests of faith and will, so many obstacles and hurdles.  But I made it through, stronger and sooooo much wiser.  The knowledge I have gained this year is more than the last several combined.  I feel empowered, liberated, and lighter, now on the other side of it.  I don't know what 2013 will bring.  Hopefully more laughter and light, fun and happiness, and probably a few more lessons along the way.  I can only hope and cross my fingers that it will be gentler and kinder, but you just never know.

What I do know is that I am a changed person.  I can't go back to who I was a year ago.  This is a good thing.  I have spent so long wanting wanting wanting, wanting more, wanting to "catch up," wanting better, but when you live like that you are never ever just content with what you have.  I'll never get anywhere if I don't appreciate what is here and now.  I have to be content with my life as is.  I have to be grateful for my life as is.  No more if onlys and somedays.  This is what you got, today, this moment.    We don't know what tomorrow brings.  It might be great, it might be bad.  So love your life today.  Super cliche I know, but I guess something in me just finally clicked.  I HAVE to just love life, the way it is, in this exact moment.  I can't sit and dream about tomorrow and some idea in my head of the way things are supposed to be.  That day may never come, and it's a waste of time.  Time you could spending appreciating your life, in the present.

So I guess that is kind of a resolution.  I want to live in the present, and appreciate today.  I don't want to spend my life hoping and dreaming.  You'll never get what you want if you can't be happy in the here and now.  The endless hopes and aspirations are such a burden to me, and so much self-imposed pressure.  Always stressing and worrying and spending anxious nights wondering what is going to happen, so many things dangling above my head that are totally beyond my control.  ENOUGH!

As for more tangible goals, sorry, I've just never been one of those people.  I don't really have any fitness/body goals.  I am grateful I've found a form of exercise I love (barre classes) and thanks to a (mostly) clean and low-carb, low-glycemic, grain/gluten/sugar/starch/alcohol free diet, I don't feel my eating habits need to be overhauled or called in to question.  Did I overdo it over the wedding weekend?  Yup, sure did.  I ate poorly and paid for it, am still paying for it.  Yikes my tummy just cannot handle SAD crap anymore.  But I am back home, making bone broth for the first time and enjoying being in my own kitchen, where there are no gluten bombs, sugary treats, or other off-limit items to tempt me.

Some small things I'd like to accomplish this year would be getting out of the country to visit a new place, continuing to get a handle on my health issues, hopefully getting better control of my blood sugar, maybe a little bump in energy due to better thyroid management, making bone broth a REGULAR and ROUTINE part of my diet/day, relaxing a little bit when it comes to cleaning the house, and enjoying and appreciating my upcoming 30th birthday and 5 year wedding anniversary this summer!  That's it really.  Live in the moment.  Love today.  Make bone broth.  Stay fit, get fitter.  Potty train S.  Help MKG go gluten free for good (he is GF at home, of course.)

As for a Whole30 recap, I am going to do one eventually, but I am reluctant to for a few reasons.  The primary reason being I really did not follow it as closely as I would have liked.  Sure, all processed foods, with carageenan etc were off limits.  I had no cheese (but did have cream/butter) or legumes or peanuts at all.  I did however occasionally have some dried fruit towards the end, and once I got to the wedding weekend, all bets were off.  So really, I don't know if calling it a Whole30 is appropriate.  It was what it was.  I successfully weaned myself off artificial sweeteners, peanuts, legumes, and cheese, but have a ways to go when it comes to dried fruit.  My biggest triumph remains the unsweetened coffee.  I am still shocked I managed to swing that one.  But now the thought of putting sweetener in my coffee is repulsive.  A little cinnamon and some organic cream and I'm good to go.

Please excuse the length of this post, if you're still with me that is.  I decided that due to our travel schedule, that we'd celebrate New Years tonight (January 2nd) as a family.  I bought lobster tails and made vanilla pumpkin cupcakes, so stay tuned for recipes this week.

I hope 2013 is a kind year to you and yours.  I hope if you had troubles, in 2012 or in years past, you can leave them behind and start fresh.  I hope its a bright and light year, this year and all the years to come.  And I hope you stay grain-free with me!  XoXoGFG