Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hauswarming Sweet Potatoes and Apples

I am not big on German foods. I don't eat bratwurst because I was deeply scarred by the number of bratwurst I had to thaw out for weekend golf scrambles when I worked at the golf course. I don't care for sauerkraut, although I keep reading I should be eating it.

But there are a few German flavors I am a big fan of! This dish incorporates sweet potatoes and apples with a little bit of sweetness from cinnamon and clove. The combination is like a big warm, inviting hug. That would be a really messy hug so I suggest just eating it curled up on your couch with the fireplace roaring in the background.

Chiquita LOVES being featured on the blog!
Hauswarming Sweet Potatoes and Apples
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


Ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
1/2 lb ground beef
1 apple, cubed (Granny Smith or Golden Delicious work best)
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clove
dash of salt





Directions
Add sweet potatoes to a pot of boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes, until they become tender.

Drain and set aside
Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat, until it just begins to brown, 3-4 minutes

Add sweet potatoes, apples, cinnamon, clove and salt to skillet with ground beef. Mix well and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes, until apples and sweet potatoes are cooked through


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hatch Green Chile Burgers with Fried Egg


When I expressed my jealousy over Brittanie from Three Diets One Dinner's easy access to Hatch Green Chiles, she graciously offered to send me a few! She used them to make these tasty looking Hatch Chile Meatballs.

Hiking in Sedona on New Year's Day!

Kevin and I LOVE the Southwest. We just love the beautiful, scenic views and the hiking and mountain biking and...everything! I may have mentioned before that we took a road trip out west about a year ago to celebrate our first anniversary. We also traveled to Phoenix, AZ. with Kevin's family for the Fiesta Bowl earlier this year. Other than watching the OSU Cowboys stomp Stanford, we enjoyed some amazing meals and got down and dirty on some mountain bikes.



When the green chiles arrived, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them - Hatch Green Chile Burgers! Before our Paleo days, Kevin and I loved us some green chile cheese burgers. Green chile burgers are one of our favorites, but without the cheese or the toasty bun, they just aren't the same (trust me, I tried it).

Now that my idea of food has changed so drastically, I was ready to give green chile burgers another try. This time, though, I topped each of the burgers with diced, roasted green chiles and a fried egg. We served these burgers with a small salad and sliced avocado. It was delicious!  If you love the flavors of the Southwest as much as we do, you should definitely try these out.

FYI - I was nice enough to return Brittanie's favor - I mailed her a bottle of Southern Indiana Maple Syrup. She will be posting a recipe made with the maple syrup...I can't wait to see what she comes up with! Our little food swap was so much fun!


Hatch Green Chile Burgers with Fried Egg
Serves: 4
Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients
6 Hatch Green Chiles
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp paprika
Red  pepper flakes, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp olive oil
4 eggs

Directions
Preheat oven to broil.

Place chiles on a baking sheet, broil for 12 minutes, turning halfway through. Peppers should be starting to blacken and blister. Remove from oven, let cool enough to handle and remove stems (if heat isn't your thing, you can also remove the seeds).

Add chiles to food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.

Mix ground beef and all spices in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix the spices in with the ground beef.

Form the beef into four patties.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Once hot, place burgers on the grill pan and cook for ten minutes, flipping after five minutes. 

While burgers are cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat and coat with olive oil. Crack eggs onto skillet, two at a time so they don't touch. Cook until yolks are firm, but runny on the inside, about five minutes.

Top each burger with a spoonful of the green chiles and a fried egg.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fennel and Brussels Sprouts Sirloin Rolls

A few weeks ago, Cavegirl Cuisine hosted a Mystery Basket Challenge contest and this dish was my entry. She provided us with a list of ingredients and we had to create a dish using at least four. 

I chose sirloin, bacon, fennel, and brussels sprouts. I started by adding the bacon, fennel and brussels sprouts to the food processor to create a paste. I spread the mixture onto sirloin steaks that I had pounded thin with a mallet. I then rolled the steaks up so they looked like little pinwheels and put them in a baking dish. I surrounded the steaks with the remaining brussels sprouts and fennel slices and roasted everything in the oven.

Kevin and I both LOVED this meal...until we saw the dish that actually won! These peaches with bacon and maple syrup are pretty much the best thing I have ever laid eyes on (sorry, Kevin). Despite my loss, this was a tasty dinner - who doesn't love bacon-filled steak pinwheels? 

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Before I share the recipe, I wanted to share an awesome resource that I came across while browsing Facebook this morning. Bill and Haley from The Food Lovers Kitchen created a user-curated Paleo by City guide. You can find restaurants, grocery stores, physicians and more, all in your area and recommended by other healthy living enthusiasts. I even created a guide for Louisville, Ky and Southern Indiana! Check it out and add your city if it has yet to be added. If your city has been added, you can throw in your two cents if you favorite restaurant is missing.

Now, it's dinner time!!


Fennel and Brussels Sprouts Sirloin Rolls
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes


Ingredients
For the Filling:
2 slices bacon, chopped into 4 or 5 large pieces
½ fennel bulb, roughly chopped
1/2 cup brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed off and halved
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp each of dried rosemary, sage and oregano

Additional Ingredients:
2, ½ lb sirloin steaks
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups Brussels sprouts (about ¾ lb), bottoms trimmed off and quartered
½ fennel bulb, cut into thick slices
1 tsp olive oil
2 or 3 fennel fronds

Directions

Preheat oven to 375F.

Add all filling ingredients to a food processor. Process until it forms a thick paste.

Pound out steaks using a mallet until they are about ½ inch thick.

Spread half of the filling on each steak. Roll steaks up, using a few toothpicks to secure.

Place sirloin rolls in a large roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Toss Brussels sprouts and fennel slices in a large bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Spread brussels sprouts and fennel slices around sirloin rolls in the roasting pan.

Roast for 35-40 minutes, until steak is cooked to desired level and vegetables begin to brown. If steak is done and veggies need to cook a bit longer, remove the steak from the pan and let it rest while you cook the veggies for an additional five minutes or so.

Let steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Garnish with fennel fronds.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mexican Chicken Salad




Before I get into today's recipe, I am very happy to announce that my second Paleo Nutrition Seminar is being held next Monday, September 24th at CrossFit Blue Grass in Louisville, KY. If you are in the Louisville area and would like to attend, you can view the Facebook event invite here. I am super excited because this is a fairly new CrossFit affiliate and a lot of the members are new to CrossFit, as well as Paleo. I only just hosted my first Practical Paleo Nutrition Seminar at ClarkFloyd CrossFit a few weeks ago and I posted a full recap here. I plan to update it with some of the new information I will be reviewing at my next seminar, I'll let you know when I do.

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Okay, if you have a food processor, this could be one of the easiest meals you'll ever make. If not, don't fret! You can still make this zesty chicken salad, it'll just take a bit more elbow grease. Also...you should get a food processor. Seriously, I don't know how I went through nearly thirty years of my life without my food processor. Now, I use it almost daily to shred veggies, mix soups and sauces and concoct new recipes like this Mexican Chicken Salad!

For the basic recipe, I used shredded, baked chicken breasts mixed with a simple tomato, pepper and onion salsa that I made in the food processor. This chicken can be enjoyed warm or chilled and served over a bed of salad greens, wrapped in a big romaine leaf or in a bowl topped with sauteed peppers and onions and diced avocado.

I know that when I find a recipe I really like, eventually I will put my own little spin on it and make it my own. I'll substitute ingredients or use different spices based on what I am craving at that moment or just what is lying around the kitchen. I try to keep that in mind when I am creating new recipes for this blog, too. Most of my recipes can be altered in some way depending on your tastes or the contents of your pantry. By cooking this way, you should never be stuck in a rut eating the same meals day after day. 

This Mexican Chicken Salad is a great example of that way of thinking! You can take the basic recipe I am using here and give it a little unique flair. Maybe you love chipotle - just throw a chipotle pepper in the food processor when you make the salsa. Or you could substitute shredded turkey for the chicken. There are tons of possibilities!


Mexican Chicken Salad
Serves: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes


Ingredients

For the Chicken:
1 lb boneless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Salsa:
1 large tomato, quartered
1/2 red onion, cut into large chunks
1 jalapeno pepper, stem and seeds removed and halved
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 small bunch of cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 F.

Brush chicken breasts on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake on a baking sheet for 35 to 40 minutes, until no longer pink in the center.

While chicken is baking, add all salsa ingredients to a food processor and pulse using the chopping blade until finely chopped. Transfer the salsa to a large bowl and clean out the food processor. You will be using it to shred the chicken. (If you don't have a food processor, just dice the tomato, onion, pepper, cilantro and garlic and add to a bowl with the lime juice, salt and pepper)

Remove chicken from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, cut each breast into three or four smaller pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse using the chopping blade until shredded. (If you don't have a food processor, the chicken can also be shredded using a fork)

Add chicken to bowl with salsa and mix well with a fork.

Refrigerate for at least two hours until chicken salad is chilled.





Sunday, September 16, 2012

Orange Molasses Pork Chops with Skillet Roasted Sweet Potatoes

First off, I wanted to announce the winners of my PaleoViz iPhone app giveaway! This was my method for choosing the winners, just so you know I was fair and bipartisan. I wrote down a number for each entrant and then had Kevin choose three numbers at random for the three free copies I had to give away. The winners are Miranda, Heather and Arlene! I'll be emailing you with instructions on how to download your FREE copy of the PaleoViz iPhone app. I'd love to hear from you on how you like the app after you have used it for a bit.

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I feel so blessed to have access to the organic, grass-fed, free range meat from GrassCorp! I just place my order during the week and pick it up from the Steckler family on Saturday mornings during my weekly trip to the New Albany Farmers' Market. There are a few items I get almost every week, like eggs and ground beef, but I try to throw in a few new items every once in a while so that I can try out some new recipes.

This week, I ordered pork chops! With fall on the horizon, I have been craving rich, warm, hearty meals. In the summer, I eat a lot of salads with crisp, raw vegetables, but in the fall I start to crave heftier fare like roasted meats and vegetables and soups.



For this dish, I started by marinating the pork chops in a mixture of orange juice and molasses. The chops are then seared in a cast iron skillet along with sweet potatoes and onions. It is all finished off in the oven for a delicious meal, all in one pan!




Orange Molasses Pork Chops with Skillet Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Serves: 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 pork chops, about 1/3 lb each
Juice of 1 orange, divided
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp dried basil
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp allspice
Drizzle of honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 white onion, sliced


Directions
Place pork chops in a freezer bag with 1/2 of the orange juice, molasses, basil and a dash of salt and pepper. Shake well to evenly coat pork chops. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Heat 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. 

While the skillet is heating, toss the sweet potatoes in a large bowl with remaining orange juice, olive oil, cinnamon, garlic, allspice, honey and a dash of salt and pepper.

When skillet is hot, throw in onions and sweet potatoes. Cook, stirring often, for 10-12 minutes, until softened.

Clear a space by pushing the sweet potatoes and onions to the outer edge of the skillet and place the pork chops in the middle of the skillet. Sear the pork chops for about four minutes, flipping after two minutes, reserving the marinating juices in the bag.

Add the marinating juices to the skillet and carefully transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender and pork chops are cooked through.







Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Paleo Zucchini Bread with Ginger and Golden Raisins and My First Triathlon (not necessarily in that order)


With my first triathlon quickly approaching, I was feeling the nerves more and more each day. Because Kevin and I entered this triathlon to celebrate our second wedding anniversary, we decided to plan a little getaway the day before the race so we could be calm and relaxed when race day came.

We started the day in Bardstown, Kentucky. We stopped into Mammy's Kitchen for breakfast and then strolled the streets of historic downtown Bardstown. It is such a cute town and there were a lot of fun shops to peek into. 

Is this not the cutest town ever?

Before leaving Bardstown, we toured My Old Kentucky Home. The house was beautiful and the docents shared a lot of interesting historic facts about the home and the family that once resided there.

On the porch of My Old Kentucky Home

We drove about another 30 minutes south and came to Glendale, Kentucky, our final stop for the day. Glendale is a popular destination for antique lovers - they had about 8-10 antique shops with a lot of fun finds. We bought a few records and some old advertisement prints straight out of Mad Men.



The train runs right through the center of town!

We ate our pre-race meal at one of the two restaurants in town, The Whistle Stop. I wouldn't exactly call it "Paleo Friendly", but we made it work. I had the chopped steak with salad and a size of mixed veggies. After dinner, we walked back to our room and turned in early to get some rest before our big race!

Look at all that meat and veggie goodness!
The alarm went off at 5:15 Sunday morning, but I was already half awake thinking about the race. We got ready, ate a little pre-race breakfast of fruit and almond butter and loaded up the bikes. The reason we chose to stay in Glendale is that it is only 15 minutes from Elizabethtown, which is where the race was being held. We arrived in Elizabethtown by 6:00, which gave us plenty of time to set up our gear, get checked in and do a little stretching!
Getting my timing chip on

Gettin' all marked up

Look how bendy Kevin is!

Touching my toes
Around 8:00, they called us to line up at the doors of the gym. They would file us out to the outdoor pool in a single file line and start each swimmer in ten second intervals. Kevin was in the first group to go out so I had to wish him luck in the gym before he started. My Mom, my friend Heather and her daughter Savannah were all there to cheer us on..and take pictures!

I could see Kevin swimming as I waited in line, which distracted me from getting too nervous. I kept moving up in line waiting for my turn to jump in and swim.


Kevin nearing the end of the swim

When it was my turn, I jumped right in and started swimming. I thought it would take me a lap or two to calm down and get in the zone, but I immediately felt awesome on the swim. I passed a few swimmers and was only passed by one person near the end of the swim. I thought it would be freezing since we were outdoors and it was only about 60F that morning, but once I got going I felt fine. The swim went by pretty quickly and it was time to jump out and run to my bike.

Swimming my little heart out
I felt good coming out of the water so I ran to the transition area and got my gear on for the bike ride. My Mom and friends were there cheering me on so I chatted with them a bit while I was getting my helmet and shoes on. It was a 13 mile ride so I took one GU when I first hopped on the bike and carried one water bottle, which I didn't even finish. I ate a second GU as I was finishing up the bike ride. When will there be a Paleo friendly GU?

Safety First!

I saw Kevin coming back from the bike ride as I was headed out and shouted a quick hello to him. My Mom got a couple of great pictures of him as he finished up both the bike ride and the run.





The bike course was VERY hilly so it was tough to get a good pace going, but I just went as fast as I could and tried to push myself up the hills. I even passed a few guys, which is always a good confidence booster. :)

Approaching the bike transition area

By the time I finished the bike ride, Kevin had already completed the race so I got to see him and my Mom and friends as I transitioned to the run. I was still feeling great and was really excited to start the run. I pulled on my running shoes and my pink Buff and got right back out there. Kevin bought me Lock Laces for my running shoes for my birthday this year and I love them. They are elastic bands that you use on your shoes instead of laces and you can pull your shoes right on without having to tie them.

It was in the mid-70's by the time I started the run so it still felt good, but was definitely getting warmer. The run course was pretty flat and weaved through some neighborhoods near the swim center. It was a fun course. I noticed my calves tightening up during the run, but luckily it never got that bad. Before I knew it, I was coming up on the finish line. Everybody was there at the finish line cheering me on so I sprinted to the finish...I had to look good for the crowd. :)


Almost at the finish

I had no idea what my time was, but I knew that I felt great! I was so proud of my accomplishment and overcoming my fear of trying something new. I was ready to sign up for another one!


Celebrating a job well done with my hubby

A friend of ours had come in first and we knew Kevin had done pretty well so we decided to hang around for the awards ceremony. As they were announcing the winners for my age group, I heard them call my name. I had gotten second place in the 30-34 age group! I couldn't believe it. I was so surprised. Kevin also got second place in the 30-34 age group for males, but I wasn't surprised. He is fast and he works hard for it!

I got an even bigger surprise when I learned they had calculated the times incorrectly and I was actually FIRST in my age group! I was just so happy to have completed the race, I really was not expecting anything like this. I couldn't be happier with how the whole race went.

Here are my official times -

400 Meter Swim - 9:30
T1 - 2:34
13 Mile Bike Bike - 47:16
T2 - 1:21
5K Run - 27:22

Showing off our bling!

We drove back to Louisville for a BIG post-race brunch at Ramsi's. They do a buffet on Sundays and it is possible that I had three plates of food. Those plates were piled high with fruits, veggies and healthy proteins like chicken and fish so I felt zero guilt about my meal. There may have also been a few slices of bacon and some sausage links in there, but hey...I earned it!


This is what winners eat.

We celebrated by making the Paleo Zucchini Bread with Ginger and Golden Raisins recipe that I entered into the Kentucky State Fair this year. I didn't win a blue ribbon at the fair, but snacking on this bread sure made Kevin and I happy. This bread is so moist, which is something I have struggled with when making Paleo baked goods. The ginger and raisins give each bite a burst of flavor and the molasses gives it just a hint of sweetness.




Paleo Zucchini Bread with Ginger and Golden Raisins
Yield: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Ingredients
7 eggs
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sifted coconut flour
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
1/2 cup golden raisins

Directions
Heat oven to 350F.

Spray a  9’’x5’’ bread pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until smooth. Add molasses and coconut oil and beat until well combined.

Add in vanilla and all spices to egg mixture and beat again.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour and baking soda with a whisk until combined.

Stir zucchini into egg mixture.

Add flour to egg mixture and stir until combined. Pour in raisins and stir until evenly incorporated into batter.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool for one hour, remove from pan, slice and serve.







Friday, September 7, 2012

PaleoViz iPhone App Review (and giveaway!!) and Squashy Eggs Recipe


For the past couple of weeks, I have been testing out a new Paleo food diary app on my iPhone called PaleoViz. PaleoViz was developed by Lou Franco and (full disclosure) he provided me with a free test copy of the app so I could try it out and share my thoughts with you. I want to start out by reviewing my experience using PaleoViz, but I couldn't leave you hanging without a recipe so I'll have a recipe for Squashy Eggs at the end of the post. You must be wondering what Squashy Eggs are, so read on...


PaleoViz has a lot of great features and it is very simple to use. Each day you take a photo of your meals and/or snacks using the app. You can then write a short description of what you ate and rate it between 1 and 4 stars in both Taste Rating and Paleo Rating. What is a Paleo Rating, you ask? Based on your personal standard of Paleo, you can rate how Paleo you felt your meal to be. 4 stars would be considered strict Paleo, 3 would be considered acceptable and anything less than that would be considered a cheat. Once you rate your meal, you can also enter the macronutrients if you are also tracking your carbs, protein and fat. You can even share your meals on Twitter for that extra bit of accountability.


PaleoViz also has a Stats tab that gives you more of a summary of how you are doing each day. You can see your Paleo Score for the day and also your Paleo Streak. Both the Paleo Score and the Paleo Streak are based on the Paleo rating you gave each of your meals. If all of your meals are rated as three or higher, you will continue your streak for that day. 


You can also browse through previous meals and snacks if you are in need of a little inspiration at dinner time. PaleoViz saves all of your stats so you can review your previous meals and see how you rated them and even reminisce on how tasty they looked.


I used the app for about two weeks and, honestly, I had a difficult time remembering to photograph and track my meals before scarfing them down. That might just be a personal problem, though. :) I think this app would be best suited for those just starting out on the Paleo diet and want a little guidance and accountability. Tracking your meals does make you more mindful of what you are eating and seeing that you reached your goals each day can be encouraging. 

For someone like me who has been eating this way for well over a year I don't feel that it is totally necessary for me to track my meals. One thing I love about a Paleo way of eating is that I know everything I consume is healthy and nutritious and I don't have to worry whether I am getting too much or not enough of certain nutrients.  

Overall, if you are new to Paleo or just prefer the accountability of tracking your meals, I would definitely recommend PaleoViz. Entering your meals is quick and easy and you can review your stats at the touch of a button.

Now for the fun stuff! If you are interested in trying out the PaleoViz app, I am giving away free downloads of this app to three lucky readers! Just leave a comment below with your first name and email address and you will be entered to win. I'll choose the winners at random on September 14th and email you directly with instructions on how to download your free copy of PaleoViz.

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Recipe time! Have you ever heard of a better recipe name than Squashy Eggs? I know I haven't, but I can't take credit for it either. Kevin spied me cooking this up last week and immediately dubbed it Squashy Eggs.


As you may have guessed, squash is the main ingredient here. I used both zucchini squash and yellow crookneck squash, sauteed them with onions and tomato sauce, and then baked them in the oven with scrambled eggs to make a big ol' egg and veggie bake. This was a perfect summer breakfast! It would be a great meal for brunch guests or if, like me, you like to make a huge breakfast one morning and have leftovers the next morning so you can sleep in or get in an early morning workout. I'm proud to say that I usually opt for the early morning workout, but in my old age I have finally learned that if my body needs sleep I should give it what it wants. If not, it can get kinda cranky and nobody wants that.


Squashy Eggs
Serves: 6 to 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup tomato sauce (whatever you have on hand)
2 medium zucchini squash, sliced into 1/2'' slices
1 yellow crookneck squash, sliced into 1/2'' slices
1 California Red Chile (or similar sized chili), seeds removed and sliced
10-12 black olives
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried or freshly chopped basil
dash of salt and pepper
8 eggs
2 green onions, chopped


Directions
Heat oven to 400F.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Once hot, add onions to pan and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Stir occasionally so they don't burn.
Add squash, pepper and olives to pan and heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Add tomato sauce and all spices to pan. Stir well to incorporate.
Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in chopped green onions.
Pour squash and onion mixture into a large glass baking dish (about 11''x7''). Pour eggs evenly over squash.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until eggs are cooked through.




Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Paleo Brownie Bites

I will start this off with a word of warning - do not make these Paleo Brownie Bites unless you have a room full of friends to share them with because they are dangerously addictive! These should definitely be filed under "Paleo Treats" and enjoyed sparingly, but there is always room in life for a few treats if you ask me.

I brought these to my presentation at Clark Floyd CrossFit last week and also entered them in the Kentucky State Fair. My blue ribbon must have gotten lost in the mail, but they disappeared pretty quickly between my presentation and the few extras that Kevin and I brought home with us (I may have had a few with my breakfast the next morning).

These brownie bites literally have six ingredients. SIX! That is amazing to me when you compare it to the ingredients in most of the treats you see at the grocery store. I think they call dates "nature's candy". I don't know who "they" are, but they were right. Dates are naturally very sweet and when you cook or bake with them, no additional sweeteners are needed. But their high sugar content and extreme addictiveness is why I advise you to enjoy them only on occassion.

Consider yourself warned...



Paleo Brownie Bites
Makes about 24 balls
Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients
14 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

Directions
Add dates, vanilla and cocoa powder to the bowl of a food processor.
Process on high until the mixture forms a paste.
Add nuts to food processor and process until roughly chopped and well incorporated into the date mixture. (You may need to break the mixture up with a fork if it starts to form a ball)
Using your hands, roll the dough into 1-inch balls.
Spread the shredded coconut onto a large plate. Roll each of the balls into the coconut until evenly coated.
Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.











Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vote for me (or someone else)!!


Paleo recipe contests seem to be taking over the Internet these days :) I have entered two recently and this post is my humble request for your votes. But I would never ask you to vote for me if you didn't truly believe I deserved it, so check out the other entrants and vote for your favorites! The best thing about both of these contests is that they are driving so many people who are potentially new to Paleo to these awesome recipe sites.



Cavegirl Cuisine Mystery Basket Challenge


 I entered a rolled beef sirloin stuffed with bacon, brussels sprouts and fennel. I thought it was pretty tasty! If you agree, head over to the Cavegirl Cuisine site and leave a comment to vote for my entry, Entry #3!


Click here to vote!


Fast Paleo Slow Cooker Contest


I entered my Paleo Pumpkin Chili, which I have been making a lot of lately. The winner gets a fancy, programmable slow cooker, which would make me a very happy girl. :)

Click here and "Like" my recipe through Facebook to vote.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Paleo Pumpkin Chili

I made this Paleo Pumpkin Chili last week to share with the attendees of the Paleo seminar at Clark Floyd CrossFit. I wanted to bring a dish that has tons of flavor, but is also quick and easy to throw together. I also brought veggie sticks and Kevin's Spicy Tomatillo Sauce and some Paleo Brownie Bites that I plan to post the recipe for later this week.

You know I am a sucker for any meal that involves throwing everything into a crock pot and letting the slow cooker do all the work for me. The addition of pumpkin to this chili gives it a really unique flavor and, with Fall just over the horizon, I am sure I will be making it quite often.



Paleo Pumpkin Chili
Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 7 Hours
Total Time: 7 Hours, 15 Minutes

Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1, 14.5 oz can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
2, 4 oz cans diced green chiles
1, 15 oz can pumpkin
1 cup chicken or beef broth
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Set your slow cooker to the low setting.
Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir well.
Cook on low for 7 hours, until meat is cooked through.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Practical Tips for a Paleo Lifestyle - Complete with Meal Planning Guide and Shopping Lists



Discovering Paleo is what introduced me to a life of healthy eating and even inspired me to go back to school for holistic nutrition and I will be forever grateful for what I am learning. Kevin and I have been at this healthy eating thing for a couple of years and recently we've started to experiment with more of a real food approach to eating, while keeping the focus on the healthy, nutrient dense foods that our ancestors would have eaten. I feel like we all have our own personal definition of "paleo" and mine has come to be this: I eat real food that nourishes my body and makes me feel good inside and out. I eat whole foods and avoid refined foods. I eat local, organic, grass fed and pasture raised whenever possible. Vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts and seeds make up 99.9% of my diet. The other .1% is probably chocolate.

We've added in some new foods here and there and I strongly believe that a diet of real, whole, nutritious, unrefined food is the secret to a healthy life. The majority of our diet and the recipes you will see on this website are 100% A-OK Paleo approved!

We are all different and you may have your own methods for applying ancestral nutrition to your life. If you have any tips, tricks, websites or books you have picked up along the way, I would love for you to leave a comment and share them with everyone because you can never have too many helpful resources!

So, here goes....

  •  Paleo in a nutshell
A lot of people in the Paleo world are now putting the focus on nutrient density and re-introducing foods that they may have once thought were off limits. This boils the strict Paleo diet down to its most basic level. Sound crazy? Read on through this post for resources to learn more about why this way of eating can improve your health inside and out!

Eat These

    • Vegetables
    • Fruits
    • Meat
    • Seafood
    • Nuts and Seeds
    • Healthy Fats
    Avoid These
    • Grains
    • Legumes
    • Dairy
    • Refined Foods and Sugars
    • Vegetable and Seed Oils

    •  Books and Websites to check out if you are just getting started 



    After Kevin brought up this whole Paleo business many, many times, my curiosity got the best of me and I started doing some research of my own. These are some of the resources that informed and inspired me in those first few weeks.

    Robb Wolf - What is the Paleo Diet? A GREAT introduction to Paleo! Robb has ideas for how to get started, a quick-start guide, meal ideas and so much more. A really good place to start.

    Paleo Plan - Another good site to check out if you are just getting started. Awesome recipe database and if you sign up for their monthly service you will receive meal plans and shopping lists delivered straight to your inbox. Really takes the guesswork out of Paleo if you are feeling confused on what to eat each day.

    Paleo Diet Lifestyle - This one was a lifesaver for me when I was trying to figure out what Paleo was all about. This website has a food list, two-week meal plan and tons of yummy recipes.

    The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf

    The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Paleo by Neely Quinn and Jason Glaspey

    Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso

    It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig


    • 1,000,001 Real Food Recipes



    The following sites pull recipes from Paleo and Primal blogs all over the interwebs, which makes it super simple for you to find exactly what you are looking for. Turn to these if you have a pound of ground mutton and a bushel of apples on hand and no idea what to do with them, or if you want to satisfy that craving for grass fed bison jerky. You'll start to find some favorite blogs through these aggregator sites. Bookmark these blogs, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter so you will never miss one of their tasty treasures!


    Fast Paleo


    Now you can purchase the Fast Paleo Top 100 of 2013 eBook! This eBook includes the top 100 recipes featured on Fast Paleo in 2013, as well as bonus eBooks with the top Cookie, Ice Cream, Muffin and Smoothie recipes from 2013! Click the banner to learn more.



    Chow Stalker

    • Dive Right In!

    Obviously, I liked what I found and we jumped right off the deep end and into a sea of Paleo. After hours and hours of research, Paleo just made so much sense! We would only eat whole, fresh foods that supported our health and cut out all of the processed crap that promotes disease and makes you feel like a bloated, lethargic whale after eating it. We would eat a wide variety of foods to get the widest variety of nutrients. And we would feel good about every single food we put into our bodies.

    1) Clean out your fridge and pantry - Just do it. Go through everything and if it has grains, dairy, legumes, added sugars or ingredients you couldn't spell correctly in a spelling bee then throw it out. Your kitchen might look pretty naked afterwards, but don't worry, you are about to give it a beautiful makeover!

    2) What do I eat now - Spend some time with the multitude of books and websites (ahem, like the one you are on right now!) out there and choose some meal and snack ideas that you like. Bookmark your favorites for later use. Eventually, you will have a large database of tasty recipes that you can turn to and you should never have to turn to the drive thru or Hot Pockets ever again!

    3) Let's go shopping - Once you get an idea of what your meals will look like for the week, you are ready to make a shopping list and hit the grocery store. Better yet, stop by your local farmers' market!

    Now, go forth and bask in the glory of your bright, colorful, fresh, fully-stocked kitchen and get ready to be the healthiest you that you can be!


    • Work it!

    For those first couple of months, we stuck pretty closely to the recipes that were already out there. This was all so new to us and I had never cooked this way in the past. After a while, though, we started to come up with our own meal ideas. We felt confident enough to get creative in the kitchen and put our own spin on things. Start out by just taking a favorite meal and switching up the protein or spices. You can sub shredded chicken for ground beef or use different seasonings to totally change the flavor of the meal!

    We also got into making a weekly meal plan so that we could purchase only the foods we needed for the week. It also stopped us from standing in the kitchen after work wondering what to make for dinner. This way, we are never tempted to take the easy way out and stray from our healthy eating plan. Here is how we do it...

    1) Scan the kitchen - Do a lap around your pantry and fridge to determine what you have on hand and what is in danger of spoiling if you don't use it up. 


    2) Choose your recipes for the week - I pull out my favorite Paleo books and go through the recipes I have bookmarked from the web and choose a few I'd like to make that week. I also think about any new recipes I want to try out (in hopes of sharing them on the blog). Keep in mind how many people you are cooking for. Try to make enough so that you have leftovers that can be used for lunches or busy evenings when you may not have time to cook.


    3) Get your meal plan on - I use my handy meal planning calendar (see below to print or download) to plan out my breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners for the week. Maybe you go out to lunch everyday and just want to plan your dinners. You can also record meals you know will be eaten away from home. Using the meal plan gives you a big picture view of the week ahead. If you know you will be getting home late one night, you can throw something in the crock pot in the morning.

    You can save or print the following PDF's for easy access!






    If you are all tech savvy and prefer to do your meal planning online, PrimalPal is another awesome resource. You can pick and choose your meals for the week from their database and it will generate a customized shopping list for you!

    4) Head to the grocery store  - Once you know what you will be cooking and eating for the week, you can make your grocery list and head to the store. I even have a helpful shopping list with many of the staple items that are in a lot of Paleo recipes. There is also space on the shopping list for you to add in some new foods you want to try.


    NOTE: The meal planner and grocery list I provide do have some options that are not considered hardcore Paleo, but they are all real, whole foods. Listen to your body and eat what makes you feel good. If you are including grains, legumes and dairy in your diet, it is important to look for high quality, nutrient dense sources like organic and/or raw dairy and whole grains and focus on proper preparation for maximum nutrient absorption while minimizing anti-nutrients.

    5) Weekly Prep/Cook Ahead - Every Sunday, I like to spend a few hours in the kitchen prepping and cooking as much food as I possibly can to save a little time during the week. Take a look at your meal plan and see which items you can make ahead of time. A couple pounds of roasted pork in the crock pot can be shredded and used throughout the week in egg scrambles or to top salads. By having various proteins and vegetables ready to go, your weeknight meals will come together much quicker! Here are some other ideas...
    • Grill a batch of chicken breasts or thighs
    • Grill a batch of burgers or mini burgers
    • Bake whole and cubed sweet potatoes
    • Cook a large roast in the crock pot
    • Make a stew in the crock pot
    • Shred or chop veggies to be used in various meals
    • Make any sauces, dips or dressings you plan to use
    • Cut up veggie sticks for snacks
    • Make apple sauce in the crock pot

    6) Have a few "quick meals" on hand - We all have those mornings where we sleep straight through the alarm and wake up with 30 minutes to get ready and be at work. Or maybe you get stuck in traffic on the way home and are in no mood to cook when you finally get to the house. It is good to have some ready-to-eat foods on hand when these situations arrive. These are a few of the items we always keep stocked in our kitchen...
    • Canned Tuna and Salmon
    • Sun Dried Tomatoes
    • Black and Green Olives
    • Frozen Peppers and Onions
    • Shredded Cabbage
    • Nitrate-Free Deli Meats
    Any (or all) of these items can be thrown on a bed of spinach or lettuce for a quick and easy meal.

    • Brave New World - Visiting a Restaurant


    Going out to eat can be a bit intimidating when you are trying to stick to a healthy eating plan. Below are a few things we have learned that make restaurant meals an enjoyable, instead of a nerve-wracking, experience.

    1) Research the menu before you go - Get online and check out the menu before your visit. This should give you a good idea of what they have to offer and what you can make into a healthy meal.

    2) Ask questions - Not sure what is in a certain dressing? Want to know how the chicken is prepared? Just ask your server. They should be very knowledgeable about the menu and will help guide you to a meal that meets your needs. Let them know if you are avoiding grains, dairy, legumes and added sugars and they should be able to suggest some items for you.

    3) Get creative - You might have to get a little creative with the menu. I'll sometimes see a tasty looking sandwich and order it without the bread. Or I'll order barbecue pork and a side salad and just mix them together into a giant salad. You can almost always substitute fries for steamed or grilled veggies. You just have to ask!

    4) Know the lingo - You pretty much always want to avoid words like fried, battered, creamy, crispy or breaded. Anything that is poached, roasted, grilled, pan-seared, steamed or roasted should be good to go.

    5) Order your salad without cheese or croutons and get the dressing on the side - Even if the menu doesn't say a salad has cheese or croutons, I always order it that way. If I don't, I usually end up with a salad that has both cheese and croutons.


    • Time to Get Away - Taking Real Food on the Road


    Kevin and I have been on a weeklong road trip, as well as a few vacations since we started following a real food way of eating. Here are a few of the tips we have learned that stop us from pulling over at the nearest McDonald's when hunger strikes.

    1) Look for hotels with full kitchens. Bonus points if it is within five minutes of a grocery store - We always look for accommodations with full kitchens and easy access to fresh groceries. This really makes it no different than being at home. We can still cook all of the same meals we are accustomed to cooking at home.

    2) Make use of what you have - If you can't get a hotel with a full kitchen, try to make sure they at least have a mini fridge and microwave. You can keep the fridge stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, nitrate-free deli meats and even pre-cooked meats and veggies that you can bring from home. Baked sweet potatoes, roasted chicken, and pre-cooked ground beef can be combined with any combination of vegetables and heated in the microwave to make a wholesome meal.

    3) Get a HUGE cooler - Kevin and I have a fairly large cooler that we will pack up for long days in the car or even days when we just know we will be away from our hotel all day doing some site seeing. We pack the cooler full of water, deli meat, veggie sticks, salsa and guacamole, jerky, fresh fruits, almond butter, nuts, and even a few Lara Bars or squares of dark chocolate for a treat. If you freeze the water overnight, it can be used to keep everything else cool for most of the day.

    4) Research the local fare - Just like at home, you can research restaurants online before you go. One of our favorite things about traveling is finding fun, new places to eat!

    For additional information on sticking to a paleo diet when you are away from home, you can also check out the following posts -

    Paleo Eating at Walt Disney World

    Paleo Eating at a Music Festival


    • Local Southern Indiana / Louisville Resources


    This presentation was geared toward my Southern Indiana / Louisville area friends so I wanted to list some of the local stores, restaurants and farmers that I mentioned.

    • Grass Corp -  owned and operated by the Steckler family, Grass Corp is a small pasture-based farm located in beautiful Southern Indiana. You can pre-order meat, eggs and even animal bones from their online store and pick them up at the farmers' market on Saturday.
    • Foxhollow Farm - If you are closer to the Crestwood area you HAVE to stop by Foxhollow Farm. In the Farm Store, they sell grass fed beef and biodynamically grown fruits and vegetables. You can also pre-order your beef online. Check the website for store hours.
    • New Albany Farmers' Market - Speaking of farmers' markets, New Albany has an awesome one. Not all of the farmers grow their veggies organically, but ask around and you will find the ones that do. We are able to get the majority of our fruits and veggies there for the week.
    • Trader Joe's - I am so happy to have a Trader Joe's in the area! We do the majority of our grocery shopping here. They have a decent selection of organic produce and a whole aisle of nuts and dried fruit without added sugar, salt or oil. They also have coconut milk with two ingredients - coconut milk and water.
    • Whole Foods - A little on the pricey side for us, but lots of organic produce, grass fed meats and an awesome salad bar if you show up hungry.
    • Earth Fare - Similar to Whole Foods in both price and selection...and the presence of an awesome salad bar.
    • Rainbow Blossom - Rainbow Blossom is my favorite local resource for supplements like fish oil, tasty, all natural treats and a few good seasoning alternatives (like coconut aminos vs. soy sauce). They also have a good selection of grass fed meats from local producers.
    • Feast Barbecue - A recent addition to the New Albany dining scene, Feast has a nice selection of barbecued meats, salads, veggie-based side dishes and even a vinegar slaw. We have been a few times since they opened and always enjoy it.
    • Havana Rumba - If you are looking for a meal with a little Cuban flair, this is a great option. Havana Rumba has chicken, beef and pork dishes and you can sub steamed veggies for the sweet potato fries or rice and beans that come with most meals.
    • Silver Dollar - Another good barbecue joint. Located on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, Silver Dollar has some of the best brisket we have ever tasted. They also have greens or mixed veggies available as side dishes.
    • Qdoba - Always right around the corner if we are out and about and need a meal. I stick with the naked taco salad, sans dressing, topped with chicken, grilled fajita veggies, pico de gallo and salsa verde.
    • Addis Grill - Kevin is a regular here. Literally. They know exactly what he wants when he walks in the door. He orders the chicken kabobs and subs a side salad for the rice. 
    • Ramsi's Cafe on the World - Ramsi's has a huge menu. The menu has designations for vegetarian, vegan and gluten free items. Plenty of salads, stir fries and veggie-based dishes to choose from.
    • Gordon Biersch Brewery - Kevin discovered a hidden gem on this menu. We typically avoid the 4th St. area, but when we have had a tough training day and feel we earned a special treat, we will head to Gordon Biersch and order the Farmhouse Burger (without the bun, veggies on the side). This is a burger topped with bacon jam and a fried egg. Sadly, I think the bacon jam must have some amount of sugar or molasses in it, but nobody's perfect and there isn't much of it on the burger anyway. This is an occasional treat for us and I am willing to live with it for the egg and bacon-y goodness atop this burger.

    Obviously, there are tons of other local restaurants in Louisville and we have never had trouble finding something to eat no matter where we go. These are just some that we visit frequently.


    • Time to Spread Your Wings!


    I think the common theme here is planning and preparation. By putting a little effort into things up front, you will be prepared for anything that comes your way. And the best part is that the longer you do these things, the easier they will become. You are breaking your old habits and creating new ones. After a while, it will be like second nature and you will be happier and healthier than ever before!


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    Note-Some links on this page are affiliate links. I only promote items I believe in, already own, or would purchase myself. I wouldn't steer you wrong. Obviously.