Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 2012 Paleo Pen Pals Roundup and a Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Guest Post from Christin



Hi there! You may remember from my earlier post that me and my Paleo friend Brittanie (from Three Diets One Dinner) recently started a fun Paleo food swap called Paleo Pen Pals! The first month was a huge success and today I am going to share with you all of the tasty recipes that were made after the pen pals shipped their Paleo goodies all across the country.

We welcome EVERYONE to join Paleo Pen Pals...you don't have to have a blog. Your pen pal can post your recipe on their blog, or Brittanie and I would be happy to post it on our blogs, as well. This month, Christin submitted an awesome recipe for Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies made with honey that was sent by her pen pal, Rachel of Cutting Out Carbs! See below to get the recipe and see the other Paleo goodness our pen pals had to show off!

To sign up and join in on the fun, simply visit the Paleo Pen Pals Facebook page and fill out the Contact Form!

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Everyone loves cookies and paleo cookies not only taste wonderful, they are very good for you as well! There are many paleo recipes for chocolate chip cookies online, but not all of them are that great. The following recipe happens to be delicious and a lot less fattening than traditional chocolate chip cookies. Give the following recipe a whirl and see if you don’t agree that these cookies are extra special!

Paleo Cookies Ingredients:
5 ounces of blanched and ground almond flour
¼ teaspoon of baking soda
¼ teaspoon of salt(very important)
1/8 of a cup of macadamia nut oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla or vanilla extract
¼ of a cup of raw honey or raw agave
¼ of a cup of chocolate chips (These chips need to be at least 63 percent cocoa)

Cooking Instructions:
Preheat your oven to a 325 degree temperature

Thoroughly mix the baking soda, salt and almond flour. In a small bowl combine the agave (or honey), macadamia oil and the vanilla. Thoroughly combine the wet and the dry ingredients until completely mixed.

Add the chocolate chips to the mixture. Take note: the consistency of the batter should be thick so when your palms roll a small ball, it doesn’t droop or lose any of its shape.

Make 16 to 20 of these small “balls” and place them onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Remember to flatten the cookies. This is extremely important because if you don’t, the cookies will not cook properly.

Bake the cookies for about 4-8 minutes. The amount of time it takes for them to get done will depend on the reliability of the temperature sensor in your oven.

After removing from the oven, let these cookies cool completely, and then enjoy these tasty morsels as they fill your palate with a burst of flavour.



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November Paleo Pen Pals!

Paleo Hummus from Cari











Smashed Banapples from Katie



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Paleo Stuffed Mushrooms

Happy Holidays everyone! This is my absolute favorite time of year. This time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is filled with celebrations, decorations, and lots of yummy food and happy memories shared with friends and family...and I just can't get enough of it. Obviously, I don't have a scrooge-y bone in my body!  :)

Today I am going to share a tasty stuffed mushroom recipe! I love stuffed mushrooms because you can serve them individually as appetizers or eat a couple as a full meal. I started with a simple base of sausage, onion, celery, and spinach and added a little holiday flair by throwing in dried cherries and spices such as thyme and sage.

What are your favorite holiday recipes? I still need more ideas for Christmas!




Holiday Paleo Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves: 2-4
Time: 1 hour

Ingredients
4 portabello mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1/4 cup dried cherries, diced
1/2 cup spinach, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb Italian sausage
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
1/4 cup almond flour

Directions
Heat a large skillet over medium heat.

Clean mushroom caps by gently wiping them off with a damp paper towel. Remove the stems, dice and set aside. Scoop out the "gills" and set aside.

Brush mushroom caps with olive oil and place in a large glass baking dish.

Add onions to skillet and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add celery, cherries, mushroom caps, spinach, garlic and all spices to the skillet along with the onions. Stir well to incorporate and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

Add sausage to the skillet and cook until completely browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.

When sausage is completely browned, transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the egg and almond flour until well combined.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned on top.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Paleo Pregnancy - Breaking the News to my Midwife..."I'm Paleo"

I had my first prenatal appointment when I was exactly seven weeks pregnant. I walked into my midwife's office with a ton of questions, but most of them seemed to float right out of my head after we started talking. Luckily, Kevin was able to join me so we did get a few important questions answered.

I felt it was important for my midwife to know the details of the diet we follow because I know that diet and nutrition is huge during pregnancy. I was so happy that she was totally on board. While pregnant women are typically steered toward fortified whole grains and dairy (for iron and calcium, among other minerals), my midwife assured me that as long as I was eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and protein, I would be getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals I need. This, of course, was something I already believed or I wouldn't have been eating this way in the first place. :)

A well-balanced Paleo pregnancy meal!

I also asked her about the fish oil pills that I take on a daily basis. She said fish oil was a good supplement to take all throughout pregnancy because even though many prenatal vitamins contain DHA, they do not contain EPA, which is the other important Omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil supplements.

Speaking of prenatal vitamins, I have read that many pregnant women following a Paleo diet choose not to take prenatal vitamins, feeling that they are taking in all of the vitamins and minerals they need from the foods they eat. I feel that it is totally a personal decision and my decision was to take them. It may very well be true that I am getting everything I need through my food intake, I do think prenatal vitamins provide some good "insurance" that I am meeting my daily needs. One thing I love about the Paleo diet is that I don't have to track every bite I put into my mouth because, in theory, it should all be healthy and nutritious. Each day is different, though, and by taking my vitamin each day I don't have to worry.

We also discussed the symptoms I have been experiencing and, so far, I seem to have all of the classics. Fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness and extreme hunger. She suggested Vitamin B6 for the nausea, but I can't say that it has made a huge difference. I'll talk more about morning sickness in another post, but I am definitely trying any and all home remedies I come across looking for that magic bullet. :)

Kevin's biggest concern was about whether or not it was safe to continue my CrossFit workouts. Yes, CrossFit can be intense, but my midwife said as long as I am not introducing any new workouts and doing things my body is already used to then I should be good to go. I plan to just stick with the weights I am currently able to lift comfortably and keep the intensity low. My midwife just told me to listen to my body and do what feels right. Obviously, as my belly grows I will need to modify certain exercises, but my CrossFit coaches are already in on the secret so I feel safe that they will be able to make recommendations for me when the time comes.

Hopefully I'll still be running a few months from now...

I also plan to continue running, swimming and cycling as long as possible. My runs have been shorter, though, not more than four miles. This is mostly due to the fact that my energy gauge seems to be stuck on empty lately and it takes a huge internal pep talk to even get my shoes on my feet and get out the door. I have heard that for most women this fatigue passes after the first trimester so I have my fingers crossed for an energy-filled second trimester.

Our first look at our growing little baby

I won't get into the details, but we were not exactly sure how far along I was when we came in for the first appointment, so we made an appointment to come back the next day for an ultrasound to date the pregnancy. I was anxious and excited all day leading up to the ultrasound. I thought I would cry and be very emotional, but when we saw that little heart fluttering on the screen and got to hear the heartbeat for the first time, I just felt such a relief that everything seemed to be okay in there, my only emotion was pure joy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Green Chile Salmon Muffins

Hey there party people! So I don't want to turn every post into a pregnancy post, but this is about to become one, so consider yourselves warned.

I know fish is an important part of my pregnancy diet. The protein and omega-3 fatty acids are good for both myself and my growing baby and the DHA promotes baby's brain growth (source). There is just one problem...when I made this Broiled Salmon with Warm Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad, I was smack in the middle of my first trimester all-day-long nausea and I could barely choke it down! I am usually a member of the clean plate club at every meal, but I just couldn't do it. I haven't had fish since, but I really wanted to find a way to work it back in now that I am feeling a bit better.

I thought if I could somehow mix the salmon with a bunch of other ingredients so it wasn't so "fishy", I could make it work. I've made other forms of meat muffins in the past that incorporated meat, veggies and spices so I decided to go with that idea and build from there.

I started by removing the skin from the salmon and adding the salmon to my food processor along with an egg, some diced green chiles, onion, celery and a bit of spiciness thanks to some chipotle chili powder. I scooped the mixture into my handy muffin tin and baked them until they were just beginning to brown around the edges. I served these with a side of roasted broccoli, and you know what - it worked! I rejoined the clean plate club and even took the leftovers for lunch the next day.  Pregnancy food aversions are no match for me (unless you ask me to eat lettuce or raw carrots right now...I would sooner starve)!



Spicy Green Chile Salmon Muffins
Serves: 4 (2 muffins per person)
Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients
1 lb salmon filets, skin removed
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
½ onion, roughly chopped
1 egg
1 4oz can diced green chiles
¼ cup almond flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tbsp parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease a muffin tin with cooking spray or olive oil. Set aside.
Add all ingredients to your food processor and process until everything is well mixed.
Scoop about 1/4 cup of the salmon mixture into each muffin tin (this made about 8 muffins for me).
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until muffins are cooked through and just beginning to brown around the edges.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

To expand upon my big announcement (along with my expanding belly)...

Obviously Kevin and I had some big news to share this week and we couldn't be more thrilled! That being said, I feel that the focus of the blog may change a bit over the coming months as my body and life are changing in so many ways.

Kevin and Foster are both very excited!

The biggest change so far is that morning sickness is in no way conducive to recipe creation. Unfortunately, it has been a bit of a hindrance. It is difficult to play with food in the kitchen and then write about it when almost everything makes you want to puke. Luckily, I had a few posts ready and waiting to go for those weeks when I just couldn't stomach it.

I think it looks like me!

There are some great resources out there regarding Paleo and pregnancy and I am hoping to join their ranks. I'll still be sharing tasty recipes as my appetite returns, but I'll also be writing about pregnancy related topics such as (surprise) morning sickness, diet, exercise and whatever else comes up along the way.

No belly yet...but it's on the way

I hope you will hang on with me during this wild ride through pregnancy and parenthood!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Baking Success!


In my pre-Paleo days, I LOVED baking and I like to think I was pretty good at it (ask my friends, they loved it when I brought fudge over)! Unfortunately, I have had some major fails with Paleo baking. I've made squishy brownies, soggy zucchini bread and hard-as-a-rock muffins. But I think I've finally figured it out!
Every true baker should have an apron!

I'm not gonna lie, this particular recipe takes quite a long time to bake, but it is SO worth it. Kevin had to help me out with this one, but I think he enjoyed it. :) Our special treat is baking right now and I can't wait to get a look at it.


Here is a sneak peak...






We're having a cave baby! 
Fully baked next June!





Thursday, November 8, 2012

Broiled Salmon with Warm Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad

For some reason, I don't usually associate seafood with fall and winter cooking. I always imagine seafood being serves with grilled veggies or a crisp, green salad, but salmon was half off at the grocery store so what did you expect me to do?

I wanted to make this meal a little more fall-focused so I paired it with a shredded brussels sprouts salad mixed with lemon juice, dried cranberries and pistachios. The flavors were absolutely delicious together!

Do you cook seafood in the fall/winter? How do you typically prepare it?



Broiled Salmon with Warm Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad
Serves: 4
Time: 50 Minutes

Ingredients

>>For the Brussels Sprouts
1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/4 cup pistachios
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste


>>For the Salmon
1 lb salmon filets
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste


Directions

>>For the Brussels Sprouts

Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat.

While oven is heating, shred brussels sprouts using the shredding disc on your food processor (if you don't have a food processor, you can cut the sprouts very thin to shred by hand).

Pour brussels sprouts into a large mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, cherries, pistachos, 2 tbsp of the olive oil and salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.

Add remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil to the skillet. Once hot, add brussels sprouts mixture to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Brussels sprouts should be tender.

>>For the Salmon

Heat oven to broil and set the rack about 4 inches away from the heat source.

Place salmon on a baking sheet and brush generously on both sides with olive oil to keep it from sticking. Leave salmon skin side down on pan.

Squeeze lemon juice over salmon filets and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place in the oven to broil for five minutes.

After five minutes, remove salmon from oven and flip to other side. Broil for and additional five minutes.

At this point, check the salmon with a fork to see if it is cooked through and flakes easily (this will depend on the thickness of your filets). If necessary, flip again and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Remove the salmon from the oven and cut into individual filets if necessary. Salmon can be eaten with or without the skin. Serve with brussels sprouts salad on the side.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Parsnip Piped Poblanos


Like the alliteration there? I know I enjoyed it.

Mr. What I Gather and I were in Arizona around New Year's and had dinner at this really nice little Mexican restaurant in Phoenix. One of the menu items was a mashed potato filled poblano. It looked kind of like a twice baked potato, but the poblano served as the potato skin.





I knew there must be a way to pack some more nutrients into those poblanos so when we got back home we decided to go with parsnips. I actually had never eaten a parsnip before, but I have been feeling so adventurous with food lately that I didn't think it would be a problem.

It was the opposite of a problem. They were delicious! We added some coconut milk for creaminess and spices to give it a little kick. I do have to admit that watching Mr. What I Gather heat the peppers over an open flame on our stove gave me major anxiety. I had just cleaned the stove and little charred pepper pieces were flying everywhere. I had to leave the room. I immediately cleaned the stove again when we were through cooking.



Parsnip Piped Poblanos
Serves: 6-8
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients
-3 parsnips
-4 poblano peppers
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp onion powder
-1/2 tsp chili powder
-1/2 tsp oregano
-1/2 tsp paprika
-1/4 tsp cumin
-dash of salt and pepper

Directions
-Preheat broiler on high

-Chop each parsnip into 3 or 4 large pieces

-Add parsnips to a pot of boiling water and boil for 15 minutes, until soft

-While parsnips are boiling, place poblanos on a baking sheet under broiler on high for 5-7 minutes, turning halfway through. If you have a complete disregard for the cleanliness of your kitchen, you can also heat the poblanos over a  stove burner on medium/low heat until skin of pepper blisters and turns black.

-Set broiler to low setting

-Drop poblanos in a bowl of water and let cool for a few minutes

-After peppers have cooled, rub skins off using fingers or a paper towel

-Slice peppers in half lengthwise and remove as many seeds as possible. Lay peppers flat on baking sheet

-Transfer parsnips to a food processor and add coconut milk and spices. Process thoroughly until mixture is smooth. You can add a little water if necessary to help move things along.

-Pour parsnip mixture into a piping bag (or freezer bag with a hole cut in the corner, as I have done in the past) and pipe evenly into poblanos.

-Put pan in oven and broil for 6-8 minutes, turning pan after 3-4 minutes, until tops just begin to brown. Remove from oven and serve! We had this as a side to some shredded beef with red chili sauce that we made in the crock pot.