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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Roasted Roots

Sundays are my favorite day for working on new recipes. I tend to be the first one up, which gives me a few hours alone in the kitchen to bring to life whatever has been swirling around in my head all week. Also, that pesky job of mine doesn't get in the way on weekends. :) It is for this reason that Mr. What I Gather was stuck eating carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes and onions for breakfast this morning.

I'd been thinking all week about a huge, overflowing pan of roasted root veggies. Warm, crispy, smoky veggies....this would be great as a side dish or atop a bed of mixed greens and grilled chicken. I never particularly planned to serve this for breakfast, but this dish was coming out of the oven as Mr. What I Gather was coming down the stairs this morning, so breakfast it became. 

It is funny how the switch to Paleo makes pretty much any food fair game any time of day. Breakfast no longer means a bagel with cream cheese. Snacks can be jerky, fresh veggies or even avocado, instead of Twinkies or even seemingly healthy 100 calorie packs of cookies or crackers. Full disclosure, it probably didn't hurt that I served it alongside this Cinnamon Apple Creamed Cereal from Paleo Parents.

Roasted Roots
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Total Time: 60 Minutes

1 medium red onion
2 parsnips
4 carrots
1 large sweet potato
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F

For onion wedges: Slice onion in half from root to tip. Peel back the onion skin and discard. Trim hairy part of the roots off of the onion, leaving the root end intact. Hold the onion with the root end facing up and cut into 6 equal wedges, making sure to keep a small portion of the root end in each wedge (this will keep the wedges intact). Repeat with second onion half, you should have 12 wedges total.

For parsnips and carrots: Wash and peel parsnips and carrots. Next, cut each into thirds crosswise (for a medium parsnip or carrot, each piece should be about 3 inches long). Then, cut each of those pieces in half lengthwise so they look similar to large french fries.

For sweet potatoes: Wash and peel (optional) sweet potatoes. Cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise so you have four equal pieces. Cut each piece lengthwise into four sections. Lay each of those pieces flat and cut in half. You should end up with 32 pieces, similar in size to your parsnips and carrots.

Add onions, parsnips, carrots and sweet potato to a bowl.

Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper until everything is well coated.

Transfer to a roasting pan and spread out into a single layer. Roast for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Paleo Stuffin' Muffins

Okay, lets be honest. The only reason I created this recipe is because I wanted to make something called Stuffin' Muffins. Upon further research (thanks, Google), I learned that I am not the first to have this brilliant idea. But I don't care, it is still cute. I hate to admit it, but that is the one and only inspiration for this dish.

I tried to incorporate traditional stuffing flavors into these little "meat muffins" (as Mr. What I Gather likes to call them), minus the actual stuffing, by using carrots, celery and onions with spices like thyme and sage that are reminiscent of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I served these alongside a big salad with caramelized onions and celery, carrots, walnuts and dried cranberries.

Going into the oven...

While I am aware Thanksgiving is months away, the weather has taken a turn for the worse around here and the dreary forecast has put me in the mood for heartier fare. Plus, Thanksgiving is the best. It is the start of the holiday season and my favorite time of year. So put on your best holiday sweater and give this recipe a whirl.

Paleo Stuffin' Muffins
Yield: 12 Muffins
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

1/2 lb ground italian sausage
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
4 button mushrooms, finely diced
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease a 12-muffin tin with cooking spray or olive oil.
Add all ingredients to a bowl. Using your hands, mix everything together until well incorporated.
Scoop about 1/3 of a cup of the mixture into each tin. Should fill 12 tins.
Bake for 30 minutes or until muffins are cooked through.

My favorite Paleo recipes

Things have still not quite calmed down since the move. I'm not sure they ever will, but the unpacking and the little projects we have taken on around the house haven't left me much time to get creative in the kitchen. I have been working on a few new recipes, but they aren't quite there yet and you deserve nothing less than perfection!

Look how happy I am when I have time to spend in the kitchen!

So, instead of forgoing sleep, exercise and my sanity in order to share a new recipe with you today, I am going to show you some of my favorite Paleo recipes. These are the meals I make pretty much every week. It is great to have a bank of recipes that I know I can throw together quickly and that I always have the ingredients on hand for. It really helps out during those times (such as now) when my free time is about zero. Besides, if I stayed up until 3:00 in the morning cooking for you, you would probably end up with some kind of chocolate covered caramelized celery sausage patties or something like that. Wait, that actually sounds kind of good...

Oh She Glows - Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie - I omit the oats and chia seeds, but this smoothie is great even without them!

Our Life in Food - Brussels Sprouts with Mexican Chorizo - I mix this up and sometimes make it with bacon instead of chorizo, a tasty breakfast either way.

What I Gather - Chipotle Salsafied Breakfast - I had to throw in one of my own. :) We make this at least twice a week. I've made it so many times that when my brain is really still sleeping in the morning I can still cook this without burning the house down.

Fresh Habits - Poblano Breakfast Hash - Paleo has really taught me to appreciate savory breakfasts, and this recipe taught me to love cabbage. Now I throw it in practically everything I make.

PaleOMG - Cranberry Sweet Potato Breakfast Cakes - OMG! I had to say it...these are amazing.

What I Gather - Quick and Easy Zucchini Breakfast - This is another that I keep coming back to. Anything to save time in the morning. This one comes together pretty quickly because you can shred the zucchini in the food processor.

Family Circle - Moroccan Beef Stew - I omitted the flour and the couscous, but we barely noticed. It was delicious without it. It is sweet and savory and warm and...I'll stop there.

What I Gather - Jamaican Jerk Stir Fry - We make this stir fry, or some variation on stir fry, every week.

Chow Bella - Beef Taco Salad - I love making huge salads for dinner and this one is perfect if you are craving Mexican food!

What I Gather - New Mexico Paleo Pork - Mr. What I Gather takes over the kitchen for this recipe. He makes a big batch of pulled pork that we can use for breakfast or dinner. It works in a ton of other recipes.

Health Bent - Paleo Butternut Squash Lasagna - This was better than any "real" lasagna I have ever had and I will definitely be coming back for more.

What I Gather - Taco Soup - We LOVE Mexican food, which you have probably put together already looking at this list of recipes. This is a great recipe because it makes so much and you can enjoy it all week!

And when I am in need of some major inspiration, I always turn to my favorite Paleo recipe sites. If you aren't already following these guys, you should be. They all post multiple recipes every day from all over the web. You might just find your new favorite dish...

Fast Paleo
Foodee Project

Monday, April 16, 2012

Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup

I have been a bit fennel-obsessed lately. It started with this salad that I saw on an episode of Giada at Home. I love the crunch and light licorice flavor of fresh fennel in a salad, but also the deep, slightly sweet flavor it takes on after roasting. I am a little disappointed in myself for waiting almost thirty one years to give fennel a shot, but seeing as it finds its way into our grocery cart every week now, I think it is safe to say I am more than making up for lost time.

This particular soup was inspired by new love for fennel and my long-time love of any vegetable that has been roasted to golden, smoky perfection. For this soup, I also threw in some onions, herbs, chicken stock and coconut milk to make it nice and creamy (Guess what? You don't need heavy cream or milk to add creaminess to soups). I served this alongside a fresh garden salad for a perfect Sunday afternoon lunch to fuel the somehow growing list of to-do items around the house!

Note: This recipe could easily be doubled if you are cooking for a large crowd.

Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes


-1 fennel bulb, sliced
-1 medium white onion, sliced
-1.5 lb medium roma tomatoes (about 6), sliced in half
-1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-7 oz coconut milk (half of a standard 14oz can)
-1.5 cups chicken stock
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1 tsp dried oregano
-salt and pepper to taste
-2 tbsp fennel fronds, chopped (for garnish)

-Preheat oven to 400 F

-Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place fennel slices, onion slices and tomato halves on the baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over fennel and onions. Place in the oven to roast.

-After 30 minutes, remove the onions and fennel from the oven and place them in a large saucepan or pot. Continue to roast the tomatoes for another 30 minutes.

-When the tomatoes are roasted, add them to the pot with the onions. Add coconut milk, chicken stock, garlic, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Turn the pot to medium-high heat and bring the soup to a boil. Once soup is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

-Transfer into a blender (or use an immersion blender) and pulse a few times until the soup reaches your desired consistency. I like mine to be pretty thick and chunky so I don't blend it for long.

-Transfer soup into serving bowls. Top with chopped fennel fronds.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Paleo Life - One week journal of diet, sleep and exercise

Last week, Neely over at Paleo Plan posted a week's worth of her diet, exercise and sleep and put out the call for other Paleo bloggers and authors to do the same. I have to admit that I was happy to get a peek into the life of someone else who is following a Paleo lifestyle. Mr. What I Gather and I don't know many other people who eat this way so we have gone through a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for us. I decided to man up and track my diet, exercise and sleep for a week for the rest of the Paleo world to see.

My biggest struggle is sleep. I don't think I get nearly enough sleep, but there are always other things I would rather be doing, especially since we are still trying to get settled into this new house. My food intake is a bit higher than normal because we have started riding our bikes to work (15 miles round trip) and I am training for a half marathon (only two more weeks to go, I can't wait) - both of those take quite a lot of fuel! I wish there were some Paleo replacement for the GU gels that I take during my long runs, but I haven't found a good alternative yet. I have thought about trying honey packets, but that just sounds like it could get messy.

So, here it is...I wish I had taken more pictures of what we ate, but I never thought about it at the right times. I did try to link to the recipes we used, though.

Saturday, April 7
7:00am - Wake

7:30am - Lara Bar

8:00am - 10.75 mile run (ate 2 GU gels along the way)

10:30am - Square of dark chocolate while cooking breakfast

11:30am - Everyday Paleo Southwestern Frittata with pulled pork in red chile sauce instead of ground beef

12:00pm - Pumpkin Pie Smoothie - almond milk, canned pumpkin, ice, spices, banana

3:00pm - Salad with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, olives, green onions, jalapeno, almonds, dried cherries 
and homemade vinaigrette

6:00pm - Iced Americano

8:00pm - Handful of Trader Joes plantain chips (this is kind of our post Trader Joes ritual to eat our freshly purchased plantain chips on the way home)

9:00pm - Salad with spinach, pork chops, broccoli slaw, roasted broccoli, roasted asparagus, almonds, homemade Asian vinaigrette

11:00pm - Two glasses of wine, plantain chips and almond butter (while doing our taxes, ugh!)

12:00am - Bed

Sunday, April 8
6:30am - Wake

9:00am - leftover Everyday Paleo Southwestern Frittata with pulled pork in red chile sauce
              Cinnamon Apple Creamed Cereal (a very special treat, we don't eat this often)

11:30am - 40 mile bike ride, ate a Lara Bar at the halfway point

3:00pm - Sunny California Salad, bowl of curried sweet potato soup Paleo-ized from this recipe

7:00pm - Giada's Caramelized Onion and Grapefruit salad, topped with chicken and a side of roasted asparagus, broccoli and mushrooms

8:30pm - Banana Softserve made with bananas, almond milk and cocoa and topped with almond butter and strawberries (another special treat that I only indulged in because we were so active over the weekend)

11:00pm - Bed

Monday, April 9
6:00am - Wake

6:30am - 3.5 mile run

8:00am - Stir fry with with bell peppers, cabbage, ground beef, onion and avocado
              Mixed berry smoothie - almond milk, frozen mixed berries, banana, ice

12:00pm - Leftover Giada's Caramelized Onion and Grapefruit salad, topped with chicken, leftover curried sweet potato soup

3:00pm - Snacked on grapes, dried figs, pistachios

6:00pm - Panera Mediterranean Salmon Salad (no feta), apple, Iced Americano

7:00pm - Tennis with friends

9:00pm - Sampled an apple skillet cake recipe I was testing (side note: it was a major fail)

10:00pm - Bed

Tuesday, April 10
6:15am - Wake

6:30am - 30 minutes Core Secrets

9:00am - Iced Americano

12:00pm - Chicken Apple Curry (without the rice), Salad with spinach, olives, onion, sun dried tomato and balsamic vinaigrette

2:00pm - Snacked on apple, cashews, and raisins

9:00pm - Sampled another (failed) attempt at an apple skillet cake (a.k.a - you will not be seeing this recipe on the blog anytime soon)

11:00pm - Bed

Wednesday, April 11
6:30am - Wake

7:00am - "Green" Smoothie with spinach, frozen pineapple, banana, coconut milk and cinnamon

7:30am - 7.5 mile bike ride to work

12:00pm - Chicken Apple Curry (without the rice), Salad with spinach, olives, onion, sun dried tomato and balsamic vinaigrette

3:00pm - Apple and a Lara Bar

5:30pm - 7.5 mile bike ride home from work

9:00pm - Chinese takeout - steamed chicken and vegetables

10:00pm - Bed

Thursday, April 12
6:00am - Wake

6:30am - Sweet Potato Fritters (mashed sweet potato, onion, dried cherries, and egg whites) topped with onion and sausage

12:00pm - Leftover steamed chicken and vegetables

3:00pm"Green" Smoothie with spinach, frozen pineapple, banana, coconut milk and cinnamon

6:00pm - Salad with lettuce, pulled pork, avocado, tomatoes, peppers and olive oil

8:00pm - Iced Americano

9:30pm - Bed

Friday, April 13
6:30am - Wake

7:00am - Scramble with eggs, sausage, pistachio pesto, onion and spinach

7:30am - 7.5 mile bike ride to work

10:00am - Banana

2:30pm - Apple, Lara Bar

5:30pm - 7.5 mile bike ride home from work

7:30pm - Everyday Paleo Puerto Rican Beef, glass of wine

10:00pm - Bed

Your turn! I would love to see a sample day or week from others out there who are following a Paleo lifestyle.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chipotle Salsafied Breakfast

I get obsessed with certain foods and manage to sneak them into almost everything I cook until I am completely sick of them. Right now, one of those foods is chipotle peppers. I adore chipotle peppers. I will suffer through a dish that is almost painfully spicy just for the taste of chipotle. However, I promise that someday I will forget to buy chipotle peppers at the grocery store and I will go a few weeks without posting a chipotle recipe, because I don't see myself getting tired of them anytime soon. For now, though, just go with it. I can't help it, I love chipotle!

We make this for breakfast all the time. I love the combination of the warm salsa with the cool, creamy avocado. And, of course, there is the bacon. I take every opportunity to make dishes that involve cooking something in bacon grease.

The awesome thing about this recipe is that the taste is completely up to you depending on which type of salsa you use! There are so many out there. I haven't tried it, but I think this would be really tasty with salsa verde.

This breakfast does take a bit of time to cook so I usually save it for a leisurely weekend meal or one of those rare mornings where I have an abundance of time in the mornings.

Chipotle Salsafied Breakfast
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 30
Total Time: 40

-4 slices bacon
-1 red onion, thinly sliced
-1 tbsp chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
-2 cups of salsa (store bought or homemade will work)
-dash of salt and pepper
-4 eggs, beaten
-1 avocado, sliced

-Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, flipping often, about 5 minutes
-Remove bacon from pan and set aside on a paper towel covered plate
-Add onions to pan and cook in bacon fat until translucent, about 3 minutes
-Add chipotle peppers, salsa, salt and pepper to pan with onions
-Turn heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes, until mixture thickens
-Divide mixture evenly between 4 bowls
-Spray a separate pan with cooking spray and turn to medium heat
-Add eggs and cook until scrambled, top each bowl with some of the scrambled egg
-Crumble bacon and top each bowl with avocado slices and bacon crumbles

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Paleo Banana Chocolate Surprise Muffins

This is what our new house looks like. 

This is what our car looks like when we go to Ikea.

This is what breakfast looks like when I finally locate and unpack my pots and pans.

And this...this is what paleo banana muffins look like when you throw in a chocolatey surprise!

I am not going to act like I am the only one around here with a life, but "Whew!" things have been BUSY! Unpacking, furniture shopping, furniture assembly, cleaning, seems never-ending. But, such is life. 

Things are starting to resemble a normal house around here. Room by room, we are slowly getting things put away, but it is not a speedy process. I am learning to accept it, though. :) Onto the good stuff...

The husband's parents were here with us last weekend to help us move and I wanted to cook them a big ol' thank you breakfast before they headed home. I would like to say a lot of thought went into these, but I kind of made them up as I went along. There are not many things that go better together than bananas and chocolate (except maybe bananas, chocolate and almond butter) and these muffins did not disappoint in that arena. But I think what makes these muffins really special is that on the outside they just look like regular banana muffins. Not until you bite into it do you find the chocolatey surprise waiting inside. We mostly stick to veggies and protein for breakfast so this was a nice treat on a Sunday morning after a day of packing and moving. 

Paleo Banana Chocolate Surprise Muffins
Yield: 12 Muffins

Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 25
Total Time: 40

-2 1/4 cups almond flour
-1/4 tsp sea salt
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 tbsp cinnamon
-1 tsp nutmeg
-2 ripe bananas
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tbsp honey
-3 tbsp coconut oil or ghee, softened
-3 eggs
-2 tbsp cocoa powder

-Preheat oven to 350 F.
-In a large bowl, add almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well and set aside.
-In a separate bowl, mash the bananas. Add vanilla, honey, softened coconut oil or ghee and eggs into bowl with bananas. Whisk until large clumps disappear and mixture is mostly smooth.
-Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and mix well.
-Transfer 1 cup of the muffin batter to a small bowl. Add cocoa powder and stir until well incorporated.
-Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with cooking spray.. I also spray the liners just for a little extra insurance that the muffins won't stick.
-Using a spoon, scoop about two tablespoons of the regular muffin batter into each tin. Top each with a spoonful of the chocolate batter. Finish by topping each muffin tin with an even amount of the regular batter until you have used it all up.
-Pop the muffins into the oven for 20-25 minutes (until a toothpick entered into center of the muffin comes out clean).