Pecan Pie Cookies

ImageWhile looking for a yummy paleo dessert idea for my husband’s birthday, I stumbled on this recipe for Pecan Pie Cookies from Allergy Free Alaska.  I finally made them this morning, and they were amazing!  I have never been a big fan of pecan pie, always thinking it was way too sugary sweet.  These cookies, though, are not sickeningly sweet at all!  They taste like shortbread filled with pecan pie filling, and they are the perfect amount of sweet.  I think I am really starting to prefer paleo baking over regular baking.  Treats aren’t overly sweet, and they don’t leave you feeling icky after eating a whole plate of them.  Win win!!

My batter ended up making 13 cookies, and they were huge when they came out of the oven.  These will double in size after baking, unlike many other Paleo recipes.  I used a heaping tablespoon of batter per cookie, so I would recommend making them smaller – maybe use a teaspoon to portion!

Here is the link to the recipe: http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2012/12/06/guilt-free-pecan-pie-cookies/

 

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Getting Started: Grocery Shopping Guide

This is a guide to grocery shopping when you are trying to start eating paleo.

Step 1: Meal Plan.  Look up paleo recipes online and look at the lists of what foods you can and can’t eat.  Figure out what you will be eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for a week.  Your meal plan can be as detailed or as simple as you want.  Remember to account for everyone in your household who will be eating the food.

Step 2: Create a grocery list based on your meal plan for the week. Account for how many servings will be needed for each meal to get an idea of how much you will need to buy.

Grocery List Categories: [fresh] vegetables, [fresh] fruit, [fresh] meat / seafood, frozen meat/seafood, frozen vegetables & fruit, eggs/almond milk, sausage/bacon, baking/spices, condiments, canned goods

Separating your list into categories will make it easier to find items and figure out if the store does not have certain things.

Avoid processed foods.  If you need to buy something that comes in a package, always read the ingredients list before buying.  You will basically be shopping around the edge of the grocery store and bypassing the middle.  You will need to go down the baking aisle for spices, natural oils, nuts, vanilla, cocoa, and other baking items.

Vinegar is usually in the condiments aisle alongside salad dressing.  Honey is usually next to the peanut butter and jelly.  Pure maple syrup can be in the baking aisle alongside agave nectar or by the other syrup, usually by peanut butter and jelly.  Almond butter will also be next to peanut butter, but I have yet to find a paleo version and simply make my own.  Almond milk is with silk in a case next to regular cow’s milk.

Coconut milk comes in a can and is in the ethnic/asian food aisle.  A higher fat content means it is “full fat” and will naturally separate into coconut water and coconut cream.  A lower fat content is not full fat, and will more likely stay homogenized.  If you buy the full fat coconut milk and need it to be mixed together, simply shake the can vigorously right before opening.

I also buy canned tomato products like tomato puree and tomato paste for making tomato based soups and sauces.  If you need to buy canned goods, make sure to always check the ingredients list.  There should only be a few ingredients listed, and you should be able to identify them all as natural foods.  If you can’t, find a different brand.

Give yourself time to adjust into eating paleo.  It will take a while to figure out which stores carry the different items you will be eating regularly.  A natural food store or a grocery store that offers a bulk option may be the best place to go to buy nuts.

Try not to buy more than a week’s worth of vegetables.  Don’t go overboard, or you will end up throwing away fresh vegetables at the end of the week when they go bad.

Getting Started: What Can I Eat?

The main point of eating paleo is to eat only natural, whole foods that have not been processed or genetically modified in any way.  Paleo also cuts out foods that can cause allergies and other similar issues, even though they are a whole food.  For more information on this, check out Beginners Guide to the Paleo Diet.  The paleo diet is based off of what humans living in the paleolithic era would have been able to eat.  They were hunter/gatherer cavemen, and literally lived off of the land.  They could only eat natural foods.  So basically, if you could grow or hunt it, you can eat it.

So, what can you eat?

Meat & Poultry: all meat is fair game, as far as I have seen.  Grass-fed meat is the best choice if you have the option.

Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, venison, bison, duck, etc.

Seafood: all fish and seafood are excellent as well.  We try to buy wild caught rather than farm raised fish, but that is not always an option.  Catching it ourselves is our favorite, though not always practical.

Shrimp, lobster, scallops, crab, salmon, tilapia, bass, flounder, swai, grouper, catfish, clams, oysters, etc.

Eggs

Breakfast Meats: Sausage and bacon.  Look for brands that do not contain any nitrates, nitrites, sugars, MSG, or chemicals.  The ingredients list should only include meat, spices, and water, and you should know what everything is.  If there are ingredients you haven’t heard of, it is likely not paleo.  This is very hard to do, and I end up cheating here.  I do not buy anything with nitrates/ites or chemicals in it, but I do buy bacon and sausage with sugar in it – as long as it is plain sugar and not corn syrup or another chemically altered sugar.  Ideally I would be making all of our sausage from scratch with ground pork, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.

Vegetables: These are very important, and best if included in every meal.

Lettuce, romaine, spinach, cabbage, kale, bok choy, watercress, greens, peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, green beans, zucchini, carrots, avocados, eggplant, squash, brussel sprouts, asparagus, sweet potato, sugar snap peas, snow peas, water chestnuts, turnips, beets, celery, etc.

Fruit: All fruit is paleo, but it is high in sugar, so limit how much you eat if you are trying to lose weight.  Berries are lowest in sugar content.

Nuts: Nuts are very versatile and can be used to make many things.  They are high in calories, so eat them in moderation.

Almonds, almond milk, almond butter, pistachios, coconut (unsweetened), coconut milk, cashews, etc.

Oils: Natural oils are great, healthy sources of fat.

Coconut oil, olive oil, bacon grease, avocado oil, sesame oil, etc.

Natural Sweeteners: Eat in moderation.

Pure maple syrup, honey (local & unpasteurized is best), agave nectar, molasses

Other: Flavorings.  I use these in every meal!  Instead of table salt, switch to sea salt and use it sparingly.  Too much salt can lead to health problems.

spices, herbs, roots, garlic, lemon, lime, vinegar, pure extracts (such as vanilla), cocoa, etc.  Fresh herbs and roots are in the produce section (ginger, horseradish, parsley, basil, etc.), while dried roots and herbs are in the baking aisle with the other spices.  Be careful to check ingredient lists of anything packaged.  Make sure seasoning mixes do not include anything besides spices, and extracts are pure.  You don’t want any additives like sugar, corn syrup, or mono-sodium glutamate.

What Can’t You Eat?

Grains:  No grains are allowed on the paleo diet.

Dairy: No dairy, though some people eat whole, all natural dairy like butter that has not been processed or pasteurized.

Legumes: Because these can cause food allergies, they are excluded.  Peas or beans that come in a pod like snow peas and green beans are more pod than legume, so some (like me) say that they are okay.  For more information on legumes, check out what Ultimate Paleo Guide has to say here.

peanuts, peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, etc.  Anything made from these, then, is also not paleo.

Unnatural oils: All refined oils.  Soybean oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, etc.

Unnatural sweeteners: sugar, cane sugar, palm sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, etc.

Other: potatoes

Avoid processed foods.  If you need to buy something that comes in a package, always read the ingredients list before buying.

Give yourself time to adjust into eating paleo.  It will take a while to figure out which stores carry the different items you will be eating regularly.  A natural food store or a grocery that offers a bulk option may be the best place to go to buy nuts.

Nutritionator offers a great food list here.

Chocolate Almond Butter Fruit Dip

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp Almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp honey

Place almond butter in a microwave safe bowl and warm for 30 seconds or until almond butter melts.  Stir in cocoa powder and honey, and enjoy with fresh sliced apples or other fruit.

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Note: as the dip cools it will firm back up and be difficult to dip softer fruits like bananas and strawberries.  Microwaving for another 30 seconds or so should soften it back up!

Coffee Mocha Smoothie

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  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup (8oz) chilled coffee
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, vanilla or original
  • ice as needed

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

Tip: pour a cup of fresh coffee in a measuring cup and stick it in the freezer about an hour before you will want to make your smoothie.  If it is still warm, add ice cubes.

 

 

Simple Homemade Chicken Soup

This recipe is adapted from the Chicken Stock recipe in the cookbook, How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  When my husband and I are sick, we eat mostly chicken soup and clementines for lunch/dinner and smoothies for breakfast.

Chicken Stock

Total Time: 5 hours or more, largely unattended

The longer your stock cooks, the better and more nutritious it will be.  I aim to cook the stock for at least 3 hours, and that’s before turning the stock into soup.  You can make your stock ahead of time, and it is very nice to keep some on hand in the freezer.  If you are freezing it, Put in in the fridge for the first day.  After the stock has fully cooled, scrape the fat off of the top and then freeze.  If you do not freeze your stock, boil it every 3 days.  This will keep it from spoiling.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds raw chicken parts and bones.  I use breasts with ribs and/or thighs, bone-in.  You could also use a whole chicken, but it is more work to clean the carcass.
  • 1 roughly chopped onion, peel and all
  • 3 roughly chopped carrots
  • 2 stalks roughly chopped celery
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4+ quarts water
  1. Put meat, vegetables and seasonings in a stockpot.  Fill with water and cover.
  2. Cook on medium for at least 2 hours.  I generally cook for at least 3.
  3. Turn off the heat and let cool
  4. Strain.  Put a large pot or bowl in the sink and rest a strainer on top.  (The kind used for pasta is fine.)  Carefully pour the contents of your stockpot through the strainer.
  5. If you are making soup now, pour the stock back into your stock pot.  If not, set it aside to cool, and then pour it into containers for storage.
  6. Toss out the vegetables and bones, saving your chicken.

Chicken Soup

Any vegetables can be used in this soup.  We are not big on carrots, celery or onions in our soup so we use greens, but you can use any vegetables you have on hand.  Next time I make this, I’m planning to try watercress.

Ingredients

  • Prepared stock
  • cooked chicken, de-boned and shredded
  • 1 head bok choy
  • 1/2 head green cabbage
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 Tbls poultry seasoning
  • 1 heaping Tbls herbed poultry seasoning
  • 1 Tbls black pepper
  • 2 heaping Tbls dried parsley
  • 1 tsp savory
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • salt to taste
  1. Pour strained stock back into stockpot.
  2. De-bone chicken and shred, add to pot.
  3. Chop vegetables and add to pot
  4. Turn heat to medium and add seasonings, adding more if desired.
  5. Cook for at least 30 minutes
  6. Eat within 5 days or freeze

Berries & Cream Smoothie

This makes one smoothie.  I made it in a single serve blender, but you can of course use any blender you have.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries. 
  • 2 Tbl coconut cream
  • 1/2 – 1 cup almond milk
  1. Add your frozen berries to your blender.  If using a single serve blender, fill up the blender cup to about half an inch below the “max fill” line if yours has one.
  2. Pour in enough almond milk to almost cover the berries.
  3. Open a can of full-fat coconut milk.  Do not shake the can.  The milk should be seperated with coconut water on the bottom and coconut cream on the top.  I like to scrape all of the cream off the top and store it in a container mixed with a tsp of vanilla extract and cinnamon.  You can use plain cream straight from the can or the flavored cream that I keep on hand.  NOTE: This is the same cream I use for crepes, and you can use it as a substitute for cream cheese and whipped cream.
  4. Blend, adding more almond milk if needed to obtain desired consistency
  5. Enjoy!