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.

Almond Butter

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I use almond butter as a binding agent in granola bars, in paleo baking, and in smoothies in lieu of peanut butter.  I also love it as a snack with fresh fruits like apples and bananas.  I have an amazing recipe for “Paleo PB&J” that is essentially a mixture of almond butter and berries.  It would probably be great on celery, too!  As I mentioned before, I have yet to find a paleo almond butter in a grocery store.  But that’s ok, because almond butter is easy to make!  You will need a food processor or a high power blender.  I have a Ninja, and I use it for every food processing and blending need I have.

Almond Butter

  • 1 lb almonds (About 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups)  Note: I like roasted best, but raw is also good.  It doesn’t matter what style they are as long as there are no added ingredients, like salt.
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  1. Blend almonds & oil in a food processor on high for about 2 minutes.
  2. Remove lid & scrape down sides.  Replace lid and blend until mixture becomes runny.
  3. Add salt & pulse a few times to evenly distribute.
  4. Place in a glass jar and store in refrigerator.

Fruit Smoothies, Ice Cream, & Green Smoothies

First, let me say.. yum!  We love smoothies at any time of day, and with me having jaw issues recently I have been making them a lot.

Here is a basic recipe for frozen fruit smoothies: (Recipe makes 1 serving)

  • 1 cup frozen fruit
  • 1/3 cup fresh fruit or unsweetened coconut (Note: I have not tried coconut yet in a smoothie)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • ice as needed

Blend, placing the fresh fruit directly against the blade (as opposed to the frozen or ice).  This will make your life much easier, as blenders usually have a hard time blending hard frozen fruit all by itself.

Some smoothie combinations we frequent:

Berry: You can use any berries you have on hand, in any combination of fresh and frozen.  If you only have frozen, add extra almond milk.  If you only have fresh, add 1/2 to 1 cup of ice.  I like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.  My favorite are black raspberries but I have never seen them in a grocery store, so I probably need to grow my own if I want them.  If you have access to other berries, give them a try – and let me know how it goes!

Strawberry Banana: Strawberries, one banana, and almond milk.  One fruit frozen and one fresh, or both fresh plus 1/2 – 1 cup ice.

Here are some more ideas that sound good to me: Strawberry Kiwi, Strawberry Orange Banana, Strawberry Orange, Strawberry Pineapple, Raspberry Banana, Mango Pineapple, and Strawberry Peach.  I usually just throw in whatever we have on hand, and will continue to post recipes as I make them!

Paleo Ice Cream

Paleo Ice cream (at least how I make it) is basically a smoothie with little to no milk.  Start out with frozen bananas, and add any fruit you are in the mood for.  The bananas give your smoothie a rich, creamy consistency that is very similar to dairy ice cream. You really can make any flavor you want, it does not have to be fruit.  I did not come up with the deliciousness that is ice cream made from frozen bananas.  It has been circulating the internet for a while now, but one of the first places I heard of it was here.

Here are a few I have [successfully] made so far:

Raspberry Ice Cream

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • Almond milk as needed

Add all ingredients to your blender and blend.  Only add milk as needed to get the fruit to blend together.  When you are done, it should be creamy and look like a smoothie but be too thick to pour.  Scrape it into a bowl and enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

  • 2-3 frozen bananas
  • 1 Tbls cocoa powder + more as desired
  • Almond milk as needed

Blend the bananas, adding milk if necessary. After a few minutes add in the cocoa powder and blend until thoroughly incorporated.  Taste and add more cocoa if you like.  My bananas were super ripe when I put them in the freezer, so my ice cream had a definite banana taste to it.  If you freeze your bananas while the peel is still yellow your ice cream won’t have as strong of a banana flavor.  The natural sugars in the bananas should be enough to sweeten your treat, but you can add honey, pure maple syrup, or pure agave nectar if you need more sweetness.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

  • 2-3 frozen bananas
  • 1 Tbls cocoa powder (Tip: Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder is REALLY good)
  • 1 Tbls almond butter
  • almond milk as needed

Blend the bananas, adding milk if necessary. After a few minutes add in the cocoa powder and almond butter and blend until thoroughly incorporated.  Taste and add more cocoa and/or almond butter if you like.

My measurements are estimates because I never actually measure anything when I’m making my own recipe. I just throw it in until it tastes good!  This actually makes it harder to replicate not only for you but for me, too, so I probably need to start paying better attention.

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Green Smoothies

I went through a green smoothie phase while I lived in Florida and wanted to lose weight quickly.  Unfortunately I never wrote down any recipes, which would come in handy now as I am bringing green smoothies back into my life.  Here is a delicious one I made yesterday from Incredible Smoothies.  And thanks to this website, I may never need to make a green smoothie recipe again!  Seriously, they probably have every combination you could dream of.

Apple Green Smoothie

  • 2 apples, cored & sliced
  • 1 cup kale leaves, removed from ribs (hard white part running down the middle)
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1/2 cup water

Put everything in your blender and press play.  And if you can get all of this to fit in your blender, yours must be huge.  This did not all fit in mine at first, but greens decrease majorly in size as they blend.  I added as much as I could, blended, and then kept adding more until I could get everything to fit.  Surprisingly this did only make one serving.  I had to blend for quite a long time until I was happy with the consistency.  Also, apples and celery are super delicious together!  This smoothie was VERY good.

I have learned that to make a true “green” smoothie, only add light colored (yellow, white, and green) fruits to your green vegetables.  If you add red fruits like strawberries, your smoothie will be brown, though still very tasty.  It’s the same idea as mixing paint colors.  I don’t know about you, but a brown smoothie does not look very appetizing to me if I know it’s made of vegetables and not chocolate.  My grandmother once told me that a healthy meal includes at least 5 colors.  I definitely agree with the importance to eat a colorful diet, but I would rather enjoy the beautiful colors on their own instead of mixing them together into brown.  But that’s just me.

Fruits I think would be great in green smoothies: orange, mango, pineapple, banana, apple, pear, peach, kiwi

Delicious Vegetables I have successfully put in a smoothie: kale leaves, spinach, celery, carrot

I am exited to keep trying new combinations.  Let me know if you come up with a delicious mixture!

Candied Butternut Squash Recipe

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The week I wrote this, I was working on recreating leftovers into delicious meals. Ok, maybe not always delicious, but at least good meals.  That night I was in the mood for a homestyle type dinner. We had dinner at a friend’s house the night before, and it had been amazing. Our friend’s mother made a simple but delicious salad with leaf lettuce, hard boiled eggs, bacon bits, and diced tomato. It didn’t even need dressing. It was that good. And with eating paleo, there are few if any bottled dressings I can trust. So. I was excited to try the salad at home. Plus we had some hard-boiled eggs that were about to go bad and needed used up, so it was perfect!

I decided to heat up my leftover chicken from when I made chicken broth a few days prior, so I just needed one more side dish to finish the meal. I rummaged through the fridge searching for which vegetables needed to be used up first. I first wanted to do spaghetti squash but all I could think of was an Asian inspired meal using the squash as noodles, because we had some homemade terriyaki sauce that needed eaten. My husband cheered for the Asian dish with the chicken added, so I started dicing red peppers. Then I decided no, I really wanted sweet squash in more of a homestyle style so I added some diced bacon to my skillet.  Can’t go wrong with bacon, right? I’m learning that bacon and bacon grease really do make many things better. I was going to put my leftover spaghetti squash in the oven with some cinnamon and sweetener to try to make it taste like a cinnamon brown sugar butter type of thing and then remembered I had butternut squash that was already sweet, and had been cooked with oil and the pumpkin pie spices. I had been saving it to make into gnocchi with a rich and spicy fra diavolo sauce, but it didn’t look like it would last that long.  So I popped my squash in the oven with a little water to help bring it back to life. After plating the warmed squash the crispy bacon and peppers made a great crunchy topping.

 

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Candied Butternut Squash

I used leftover butternut squash that had been baked with coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, and maybe some nutmeg. If you are using leftovers that don’t have the spices on it, sprinkle some on before heating it up.

  • Baked butternut squash (leftovers work great!)
  • water
  • Cinnamon
  • 100% Pure Maple syrup
  • 1 Red bell pepper, diced
  • Bacon, diced
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat up your frying pan and add a drizzle of olive oil.  Dice the pepper and add to skillet.
  3. How much squash you have and wish to make will determine how much red pepper you need.  I had about half a cup of squash and was only cooking for my husband and I, so I used a little less than half of one pepper.  I would recommend using two peppers per squash.
  4. Dice bacon and add to peppers.  Again, the amount depends on how much you are making but you want as much as or more raw bacon than raw peppers.  I used three thick cut strips of bacon, but if your bacon is thin you may want more.
  5. Continue to saute until sufficiently crispy.
  6. Place your leftover squash in a baking dish and put a little water in the bottom if the squash looks like it could be rehydrated.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is completely heated.
  7. Skin & Cube squash and plate or place in serving dish.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with real maple syrup.
  8. When the bacon pepper mixture is finished, sprinkle on top of the squash.

This was my first time making this dish, but I think it might also be good without the peppers or with toasted pecans, with or without bacon bits if you are going for a dessert dish.  If you try it, let me know how it goes.  I would love to hear from you!

Crepes!

Lately I have grown tired of plain eggs and my typical omeletes, so I decided to make crepes. Yum!  So far I have made a savory crab cake (that recipe still needs tweaking), blueberry and cream, and pumpkin pie and cream, but the filling options are limitless!  Here’s how:

Crepe Shell

Ingredients:  1 egg & 1 tsp tapioca starch per crepe.  We usually eat 2 crepes per person.

  1. Heat a small (8 or 10 inch) non-stick pan on low.  I use the number “2” for frying eggs.
  2. Mix up your batter.  I think it is easier to mix each crepe individually as I go, that way I know they will all be the right size.  For each crepe, scramble 1 egg together with about a teaspoon of tapioca starch.  You could also add almond flour and/or any seasonings you like, but this is my base.
  3. Pour batter into your hot non-stick pan and swirl to coat the entire bottom of pan.
  4. When the egg batter has set on top, the bottom should be done and it is ready to flip.
  5. After another few minutes, your crepe should be done.  The first crepe usually does not come out right.  So if your first crepe is a mess, don’t give up! Clean off your pan and try again with fresh batter.  You may need to add some oil or melted bacon grease if your batter continues to stick.

FILLING: Pumpkin Pie & Cream

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 c almond milk
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten

Mix pumpkin, honey, and spices in a medium saucepan.  Scramble the eggs and stir in with milk.  Cook on the stove at medium temperature until fully set (to guarantee eggs are fully cooked).

Blueberries & Cream

Adapted from PALEOMG’s Cherry Jam Crepe Stack

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 Tbl Agave nectar (you can use any sweetener, like honey or pure maple syrup)
  • 1 Tbl coconut oil
  • 1 – 2 Tbl tapioca starch
  • water

Add fruit, agave and oil to a saucepan and heat until all ingredients are thoroughly combined and berries are fully cooked, having turned into a blueberry syrup.  In a small cup or measuring cup, mix an equal amount of tapioca starch and water.  Stir into blueberries and watch as the filling begins to thicken.  Add more starch-water mixture if needed for desired thickness.  It should look like pie filling when you are done.

Cream:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla

Open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the cream on top.  Save the water for another use.  Mix in cinnamon and vanilla, and enjoy!  The cream will set nicely if chilled, but it will melt on hot crepes.

Assemble your crepes and enjoy!

Soft-Diet Paleo Foods

Hello All!  Living with TMJ, I sometimes need to eat a soft-food-only diet, which is the same thing I did when wearing braces after getting them adjusted.  Now that we are eating paleo, I have found that I can’t eat most of the soft foods I used to.  Hence this list!  Stay tuned for recipes off of the list.

BREAKFAST

  • Eggs, cooked any way
  • Eggs with spinach and avocado
  • Crepes
  • sweet potato / squash mash
  • smoothies – I like to make them thick and eat them like ice cream, out of a bowl with a spoon.  Yum!

ENTREES

  • SOUPS:
  • Tomato Basil Soup
  • “Pizza” soup
  • chicken soup (this has chunks, so not as soft)
  • roasted red pepper soup
  • chili (this has chucks, so it is not as soft)
  • Fish
  • Paleo Spinach Quiche
  • Spaghetti Squash & Tomato Sauce

SIDES

  • sweet potato or squash, cooked anyway besides chips
  • mashed cauliflower
  • French Cut Green beans
  • sauerkraut
  • Cooked greens (spinach, collards, mustard, turnip…)

SAVORY SNACKS / APPETIZERS

  • deviled eggs
  • avocado
  • Hard boiled eggs

DESSERTS

  • Paleo Ice Cream: blend frozen bananas and almond milk for your base.  The less milk, the more your finished product will resemble ice cream.  Add any other ingredients depending on what kind of ice cream you are in the mood for!  Frozen fruit, cocoa,  & nut butters will be my first to try. For chocolate ice cream, use cocoa powder and only add a sweetener (like honey) AFTER taste testing.
  • Paleo pie fillings
  • citrus fruit, skinned
  • cooked fruit & coconut cream
  • Smoothies