Saturday, May 25, 2013

Paleo Pen Pals May 2013 - Cherry Fried Chicken with Whipped Sweet Potatoes

My Paleo Pen Pal this month was Jason of Human Powered Fitness and the soon to be Primal Crazy. Jason hails from Michigan and sent me a bottle of Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate...straight from Michigan! We drink a lot of cherry juice, but I've never cooked with it. The juice sat in the refrigerator while I pondered what to do with it.



I chose a cherry marinated chicken dish of fried chicken paired with whipped sweet potatoes. I honestly wasn't sure if the cherry taste would come through in the chicken, but the marinade gave the chicken a delicious flavor. The sweet potatoes were whipped with coconut milk to give them a creamy consistency and spiced with parsley, salt and pepper. This recipe takes no time to make if you have a team - Kevin was in charge of chicken frying and I made the sweet potatoes.

Have you ever cooked with tart cherry juice? I'd love to know how others use this tasty cherry treat!




Cherry Fried Chicken with Whipped Sweet Potatoes
Serves: 2
Time: 8 hours, 25 minutes

Ingredients
2 tbsp tart cherry concentrate
3/4 cup water
6 chicken tenders (about 1 lb)
2 tbsp dried thyme
Dash of salt and pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
3 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp coconut milk
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/4 cup dried cherries

Directions
Mix cherry juice and water in a large bowl or in a freezer bag.

Add chicken tenders, thyme, salt and pepper to bowl or bag with cherry juice. Let marinate in refrigerator for at least eight hours.

When ready to cook, remove chicken tenders from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel.

Boil a medium pot of water over high heat. Once boiling, add cubed sweet potatoes and let boil until tender, about 10 minutes.

While sweet potatoes are boiling, heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Once oil is just beginning to sizzle, add chicken tenders to skillet. Cook for three minutes per side. A nice, crispy crust should form on both sides. Remove chicken from skillet and place on a paper towel covered plate.

When sweet potatoes are cooked through, drain water and place sweet potatoes in a food processor along with coconut milk, parsley, salt and pepper. Process until smooth and stir in dried cherries.

Serve chicken alongside sweet potatoes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Paleo Pizza Stuffed Bell Peppers


FastPaleo Top 100 of 2013Looking for more healthy and delicious Paleo recipes? Look no further than the FastPaleo Top 100 of 2013! This ebook has 100 of FastPaleo's top contributor recipes from the past year (mine included) and it is available RIGHT NOW for only $14.97 - a $40 value! Tons of breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes chosen from the thousands of recipes submitted to FastPaleo throughout the past year. You'll also get FOUR BONUS ebooks for free - the Top 10 Muffin, Cookie, Smoothie and Ice Cream recipes of 2013 - and all Paleo! Now, on to the recipe...


Kevin and I went to see Ironman 3 this weekend and by the time we chose a showing we had about an hour to cook and eat before the movie so I needed to put together a quick dinner. This recipe is one that had been in the back of my mind for some time and I finally got a chance to try it out! It was delicious AND we almost made it to the movie on time (we just missed the previews).

With less than two weeks until my due date, we don't have many date nights left, so it was nice to get out of the house and spend some time together. I doubt I'll be visiting the movie theatre again before the baby gets here, though - I was shifting around in my seat the entire time! They should have special recliners for expectant mothers because I could not get comfortable in that seat. Oh well, the movie was great and so was my company so I can't complain too much.


These peppers are super easy to put together and have a lot of the same toppings as a traditional pizza would, but they are much better for you! Sausage, tomato sauce, mushrooms, peppers, onions, garlic and fresh herbs from the garden - sounds like a supreme pizza to me!

Does anyone know how you are actually supposed to eat stuffed peppers? Do you eat the filling with a fork and then eat the pepper or do you just cut it up into pieces and make a big ol' mess? I am of the make a big mess camp...what about you?



Paleo Pizza Stuffed Peppers
Makes 4 Stuffed Peppers
Time: 1 hr, 10 minutes

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground Italian sausage
4 bell peppers, tops cut off and seeds removed (reserve and dice tops to be used in filling)
4 button mushrooms, diced
10 black olives, sliced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp crushed red peppers
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, oregano and rosemary (or 1/2 tsp of each, dried)
Dash of salt and pepper

Directions
Heat oven to 400 F

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.

Once oil is hot, add onions to pan and cook until translucent, stirring often (2 to 3 minutes)

Add garlic and cook for an additional minute, while continuing to stir

Add Italian sausage, peppers and mushrooms to pan, cook until meat is browned, about 10 minutes

Drain meat mixture and add to a large bowl along with olives, tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed red peppers, herbs, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.

Scoop the filling evenly into each of the four bell peppers. Place peppers standing up into a small glass baking dish.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until peppers are tender and filling is heated through.


This post is linked to Party Wave Wednesday at HolisticSquid.com!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Paleo Pregnancy - Preparing for our new arrival

The countdown has begun! We are T-Minus 3 weeks (give or take) and spend most of our free time preparing for the arrival of this new little person into our lives. I wanted to share some of the things that we are doing that should make the transition to parenthood a little less bumpy (yet still extremely bumpy...I'm not delusional).

Building a Cloth Diaper Stash

We decided from the very beginning that we wanted to do cloth diapers. The way most disposable diapers are made (sodium polyacrylate beads) really freaks me out. Not something I want near my baby's bottom day in and day out for the next couple of years. Not to mention the waste they create in our landfills. Plus, have you seen the new cloth diapers that are out there? There are some adorable colors and patterns and you put them on just like a disposable diaper!

A lot of people shy away from cloth diapers because of the extra work they create and the extra laundry. First of all, if you have ever read the instructions on a package of disposable diapers, you should be removing the poop from the diapers before disposing of them anyway (though most people don't do this). We may get one of those fancy diaper sprayers to help with this step, but for now we are just going to shake it into the toilet I guess? We'll see how it goes. As far as laundry, I figure I'll be doing laundry every few days anyway, so as long as we have a big enough cloth diaper stash to do laundry every other day or so I don't think I'll be spending too many extra hours in the laundry room. I found this recipe for homemade cloth diaper detergent that I plan to use, as well.

Another obvious benefit is the cost savings. Yes, it is a big expenditure on the outset, but these diapers should last us through this child and hopefully the next. It won't take long for us to hit our break even point and we won't be running to the store to stock up on diapers every week.

We are going with the Bum Genius Freestlye and, based on a tip from Jules' Fuel, Smart Bottoms. Both are All in One style diapers, which means the absorbent insert and the waterproof shell are all one piece that you just throw in the washer together. This seemed like the most convenient option for us.

We are also using cloth wipes. I'll probably keep disposable wipes in the diaper bag for convenience, but at home we plan to do cloth wipes. My reasons are very similar to those for using cloth diapers. I am not comfortable with all of the chemicals in most disposable wipes and they create a lot of waste. Our plan is to keep a spray bottle of water near the changing table and use that along with a cloth wipe to clean up our baby during diaper changes.


Baby Carrier Practice

My sweet sister was nice enough to gift us a Baby K'Tan, the same carrier that she has. It looks easy enough, but it can be used many different ways and I really want to be comfortable with it before I put a little person in there. So I've been reading the manual and practicing the different carrying styles with a stuffed animal. Grover isn't quite the size and shape (or color!) that our baby will be, but it is helping to raise my comfort level with using the carrier.


We also plan to get this carrier because the Baby K'Tan is a size Small for me, and Kevin, being over a foot taller than me, can't really use it. We can both use the Becco Butterfly II Baby Carrier and it'll be nice for hiking, etc. when the baby gets a bit older.


Packing Our Hospital Bags


I have had my bag packed since about 35 weeks. A little early, I know, but I am a planner. I 100% do not want to be in labor running around the house trying to pack my bag! Certainly I would forget something...or many somethings. So my bag is mostly packed, other than a few last minute items. Here is what I am planning on bringing:

Snacks - Most practitioners do not recommend eating during labor so I imagine I'll be famished and I doubt I'll be eating anything from the hospital cafeteria. I plan to bring along some trail mix, fresh fruit, nutrition bars and maybe some beef jerky.

Money - Again, I doubt I'll be heading to the hospital cafeteria during my stay, so we stashed a bit of cash into the hospital bag so we can send a willing loved one to pick us up some food when we get hungry.

Electrolyte Drink and Water - Our birth class instructor gave us this recipe for an electrolyte drink that I can drink during labor to keep up my energy. It is a nice alternative to water and I plan to freeze some in ice cube trays. I've also packed a couple of Nalgene bottles so that I can have plenty of water nearby to stay hydrated.

Sports Bra or Swimsuit for Tub - Some of the rooms at my birth center have tubs that you can use during labor. I love being in the water and I've heard that the warm water can be very relaxing so I packed a top that I can wear in the tub, though modesty may have gone out the window by that point!

Everything Else
  • Birth Plan - I'll share more on this later...when I can compare my birth plan to my birth reality!
  • ID and insurance card
  • Nightgown
  • Robe
  • Nursing bra
  • Slippers
  • Outfit to wear home
  • Toiletries
  • Phone - complete with labor playlist
  • iPad
  • Chargers
  • Baby book - for footprints and handprints
  • Clothes, burp cloths, medicine/grooming kit and a blanket for the baby
  • Infant car seat
  • Clothes and toiletries for Kevin


Stocking the Freezer

Our freezer is usually pretty much empty, save for some frozen fruit and any meat that we don't plan to use in the next day or two. Well, look at it now!


I've been preparing two or three freezer meals every week for the past few weeks. I don't have an exact plan for how long these meals will last us, but I figure even if they get us through only the first two or three weeks it will be a HUGE help. Less trips to the grocery store, less time in the kitchen and NO time figuring out what to cook!


I have mostly been relying on this ebook for our dinners which is full of easy to put together crock pot meals. You just prep the ingredients, throw them in a ziploc bag, and freeze until you are ready to cook. Some of the meals include foods we wouldn't normally eat, but they were all easily adaptable. The serving sizes are fairly large so we should be able to eat the leftovers for lunch, too.

For breakfasts, I have made a few batches of Everyday Paleo's Egg Cupcakes that we can easily thaw and eat with some salsa and avocado and I also made and froze a double batch of my very own Zesty Italian Brunch Bake. I think most mornings one of us will be able to handle making breakfast, but I am sure there will be mornings where it will be nice to have something already prepared that we can pop into the microwave.

If I have time, I also plan to make a few soups and chilis like this Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Swirly Basil Oil and this Chipotle Chili and freeze them in large tupperware containers.


Growing Some Veggies

Kevin and I have had a vegetable garden for the past three years. I love growing our own veggies and herbs at home, but this year I have a whole new reason for loving it! In about six months our baby will be able to start eating some of the vegetables that are growing in our garden right now. And in the coming months and years, we can teach our baby about real food and the importance of knowing where your food comes from. Plus, gardening is just fun! Our baby will be able to help us in the garden and discover all kinds of little worms and bugs and things.


Exercise

Until this past week when my back/hip/pelvis pain has turned me into a hobbling mess, I have been able to keep up with a couple of CrossFit classes each week, along with some walking/jogging, swimming and yoga. Now that I am getting so close to the end of my pregnancy AND experiencing so many new aches and pains, I am focusing on workouts that will help move my baby into the right position, keep my muscles strong, toned and flexible for labor, and help to alleviate some of my ailments.

Swimming is supposed to be great for helping baby move into the right position for labor and the weightless feeling is awesome! I swim laps once or twice a week and have also started attending water fitness classes, which are a lot more intense than you might think!

I've also been doing a prenatal yoga video a couple of times each week. The video includes a lot of pelvic movements, which feel really good and give baby a little room to move around. This video has been my favorite.


On top of all of this, we've been getting the nursery together, installing carseats, attending childbirth classes, and trying to see all of our friends and family before our lives change forever. I also consciously try to spend some time on the couch just being lazy...watching movies or reading books and magazines because I know my me-time is about to go out the window and I want to soak up every last drop!

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If you would like to learn more about following a Paleo lifestyle during pregnancy, check out my new book, The Everything Paleo Pregnancy Book. I cover everything from which healthy, Paleo foods to focus on to get the most important nutrients for pregnancy, how certain foods can alleviate common pregnancy ailments, how to modify your workout plan during pregnancy, tips and tricks for spending less time in the kitchen, and over 100 healthy recipes! The book is currently at print and will be available in January 2015, but you can preorder NOW through Amazon and Barnes and Noble to lock in early low prices. Both paperback and Kindle versions will be available.

What are some of the things you did/are doing to prepare for your baby's arrival?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

April 2013 - Paleo Pen Pals Roundup



Welcome to the Paleo Pen Pals Round-up for April! If you still haven't heard the buzz about Paleo Pen Pals, it is a network of like-minded paleo bloggers who swap ingredients each month, create a recipe and share their creations in the blogosphere. Check out our Facebook page to see what we are all about and to sign up. You can also read about Paleo Pen Pals on Three Diets One Dinner intro post or my intro post.

Co-Founder Brittanie, from Three Diets One Dinner, and I were so excited to see all of the tasty recipes that came through this month and I am happy to share them with you today. If you would like to become a part of Paleo Pen Pals and sign up for next month's food swap, click here to learn more.

Before we get to the recipes, I want to mention that Paleo Pen Pals is looking for sponsors. It takes a lot of effort and time to keep this running, and we have opened up an international network of Paleo bloggers, cooks and eaters. There are thousands of eyes on this network and they are all hungry for the caveman lifestyle. If you have a Paleo product that needs a voice, let's talk! Send us an email.

Read on for a roundup of April's recipes!!

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