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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sweet Sesame Dressing - Paleo Pen Pals August 2013

My Paleo Pen Pal this month was Tanya of Feed the Clan. She writes all about how she feeds her family a healthy Paleo diet on a budget. She sent me a bottle of fish sauce! I was SO excited to receive this because Kevin and I threw out our fish sauce when we switched to Paleo because it had all kinds of nasty ingredients in it. The fish sauce Tanya sent me is authentic and CLEAN! Just fish, water and salt - no added ingredients.

It took Kevin a long time to even convince me to try fish sauce. a bottle. Did not sound good to me. But, eventually, I tried it and we have added it to pretty much every stir fry and Asian dish we have made since so I was pretty sad when we had to throw it out.

I decided to use it to make an Asian inspired salad dressing and it was so delicious. I added a bit of honey for sweetness and a sprinkling of sesame seeds for texture. I served this with a salad of diced chicken, spinach, romaine, green peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, shredded carrots, dried pineapple strips, toasted almonds and sesame seeds. The dressing made this fresh and flavorful salad even better and I think it would work well with so many other salad combos!

Sweet Sesame Dressing
Serves: 4
Time: 10 Minutes

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame seed oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp honey
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp grated ginger
Dash of black pepper

Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl until honey is dissolved and all ingredients are well combined. Store any unused dressing in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Peachy Pecan Chicken Salad

This peachy keen chicken salad starting out innocently enough. Our Saturday routine has become pretty predictable since having a baby. We take Baby A to the gym and take turns watching him and working out. Then we go to the farmers market together and Kevin heads to the grocery store while I watch the baby and make lunch. I have gotten in the habit of making a huge salad of some sort that we can eat over the course of the weekend. And now that I have mastered the art of homemade mayo (no easy feat, let me tell you), I have been making a lot of chicken and turkey salads.

As I've mentioned, we always have peaches on hand in the summer, so as I was foraging in the refrigerator for chicken salad ingredients I decided to grab a couple peaches. I forgot to mention that most of my chicken salads are made with any and every fruit and veggie I can find in the crisper. So today's lunch turned into a chicken salad with toasted pecans, peaches, cucumbers, carrots, red onion, grapes and some fresh herbs from the garden all mixed together with a dijon mayonnaise. I then topped it with a smattering of fresh from the farmers market blackberries. I just really wanted to use the word "smattering" right there. Don't ask me why.

This one was a HUGE hit in our house. It was sweet, but not too sweet, and there were lots and lots of veggies in there and a good serving of protein from the chicken. A perfect post-workout lunch! We served this over a bed of spinach and shredded cabbage, but you can use whatever greens you have on hand. This made four big lunch servings for us. If you used it as a side dish, it would be closer to six servings, making it a great dish for a summer potluck or picnic!

Peachy Pecan Chicken Salad
Serves: 4 to 6
Time: 20 Minutes

For the dijon mayo:
1 Egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Lemon juice
Dash of salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

For the salad:
1 cup pecans
2 cups cold, shredded chicken
2 peaches, diced
1 medium cucumber, diced
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 small red onion, diced
1 cup grapes, halved
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

For the dijon mayo:
Add egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a blender. Blend on low until well combined.

Very slowly add the olive oil while still blending on a low setting. Start just drop by drop adding the oil and as you go you can start pouring faster ONLY after it emulsifies.

Once the olive oil as been added, the mayonnaise should be a thick consistency. Add the coconut oil, while still blending on a low setting. You can pour the coconut oil in more quickly.

Continue blending until all of the oil has been combined and you have a nice, thick mayonnaise.

For the salad:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Spread pecans evenly over a baking sheet. Toast in oven for five minutes. Remove from oven and let cool while you assemble the remaining ingredients and make the mayonnaise.

Add chicken, peaches, cucumber, carrots, red onion, grapes and herbs to a large bowl.

Stir in mayonnaise until everything is evenly coated.

Top with fresh blackberries and serve over your choice of greens.

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Favorite Baby Products at Two Months

We are two months into this parenthood thing and I am by no means an expert, but there are some baby items that have been super helpful for us as we adjust to our new lives. We promised each other before Baby A's arrival that we would not let our house be overrun by baby items, but you may be able to tell from this list that our plan went right out the window!

Summer Infant SwaddleMe 2-Pack - You know how you see those perfectly swaddled babies in the hospital, so cozy in their blue and pink striped blankets? Well, swaddle skills must be a super power possessed only by nurses because we could not properly swaddle Baby A to save our lives. He always wriggled right out of it, limbs flailing about wildly. These handy blankets wrap around your baby and are secured with velcro - no swaddle skills needed. Since he was a summer baby, we put Baby A in a diaper before bed and wrap him up in this swaddle blanket.

Baby K'tan Baby Carrier - My sister has this carrier and recommended it to me. I was intimidated by wrap style carriers, but read so much about the benefits of baby wearing so I knew I wanted a baby carrier. The Baby K'tan allows you to use all of the same carries that you would with a wrap style carrier, but without the wrapping! It is two loops of fabric that you put over your head and arrange in different ways depending on how you want to carry your baby. I put Baby A in it every day for trips to the store or the farmers market and to bounce him on the exercise ball and help him fall asleep.

Jillian Michaels Stayball - This brings me to my next item, an exercise ball. I bounced on the exercise ball every night late during my pregnancy. It relieved some of the constant pain and pressure in my back and I had secret hopes my bouncing might jump start labor. It wasn't until Baby A was five or six weeks old that I heard someone say they bounced on the exercise ball while they had their baby in the baby carrier to put them to sleep each night. Baby A can get a little fussy when I am trying to put him down for a nap so I decided to give it a try. I wrapped him up in his baby carrier and bounced on my exercise ball. He was out within a few minutes and I could easily take him out of the baby carrier and lie him down without even waking him. I love this exercise ball because it is weighted and has a textures surface, which stops it from rolling all over the place.

Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym -  I definitely don't think babies need all kinds of fancy toys, but with two dogs and no time to vacuum, I do appreciate having somewhere to lie Baby A down other than the carpet. He loves looking at himself in the mirror and kicking around as I show him the little animals. As he grows, Baby A will be able to grab the animals and hear them rattle and crinkle all by himself. I love that this play mat easily folds up so we can hide it away when we want to look like grown ups. It also comes with a little pillow that Baby A can prop himself up on while he plays.

Leachco Safer Bather - I knew we couldn't just throw our teeny baby in a giant bathtub, but I hate most baby bathtubs. They are big and awkward and there is no good way to store them. I happened upon this bath pillow during my exhaustive baby tub search and it was the perfect solution. It keeps Baby A nice and comfy during his bath and it has a hook so you can just hang it up on the shower wall to dry.

GroVia Reusable Cloth Wipes - Because we planned to use cloth diapers, it only made sense for us to go all in and use cloth wipes, too! These are fairly inexpensive and super soft on baby's bottom. We keep a spray bottle of water in our diaper caddy and a big stockpile of these wipes. We just spray some water on the cloth wipe and we can usually clean him up with just one cloth (two for big messes) and we wash them right along with our diapers.

Smart Bottoms Cloth Diapers - We have a few brands of cloth diapers in our rotation and these are some of my FAVORITES! This is a One-Size diaper, which means Baby A will be able to wear the same size the entire time he is in diapers (the packaging says they can be used from 8lbs - 35lbs). They are also an All-In-One diaper, which work the best for us because there is no insert to stuff and no pins or clips to mess with. What I really love is that the absorbent lining is 100% organic chemicals on my baby's bottom! :) Oh, wait, what I really, really love best is how freaking cute Baby A looks in Smart Bottoms! They have solid colors and some adorable prints to choose from. I have to say the tie dye is my absolute favorite. I mean, how cute is this??

And guess what? The folks at Smart Bottoms want to give you a chance to try them out for yourself! The giveaway will run until 11:59pm on Monday, August 19th and one lucky winner will get their very own Smart Bottoms All-In-One diaper! Just follow the instructions below to enter.

So, tell me, what are your favorite baby items?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What I Gather New Mom Meals - Freezer Fare, Slow Cooker Favs and Quick Meals

Problems I am having right now:

1) The part of my brain that used to create recipes has been reassigned to creating ways to make my baby boy smile all day.
2) The amount of time I have to cook went from THIS MUCH to this much over the past two months.

3) My maternity leave stash of freezer meals has long been depleted.

4) I don't have a personal chef. do I solve these problems? Especially the last one. If you have a strong desire to cook all of my meals for me, come on over. I'll pay baby smiles. Until I get that one worked out, I've been relying on quick meals and anything that can be made in the slow cooker to keep our bellies full.

Baby smiles just for you!

These are a few of my favorites:

Slow Cooker Meals: What I like about slow cooker meals is that they make large enough portions that Kevin and I can usually get two or three dinners out of each one. So while I do have to take the time to prepare all of the ingredients, I don't have to do any cooking for the next day or two. Score! You can also freeze any of these meals and thaw as needed.

Chipotle Chili

Taco Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Swirly Basil Oil

Okra Beef Stew

Paleo Pumpkin Chili

Kevin's Famous Chocolate Chili

Freezable Breakfasts: Any of these breakfasts can be made ahead of time in a big batch - just double or triple the recipe (if you have a big enough pan!) and freeze in individual portions. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and you'll have a quick, healthy breakfast waiting for you in the morning. Smoothies can be made ahead of time and frozen in air-tight containers or freezer bags and thawed overnight in the refrigerator. They should be the perfect consistency by morning.

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash

Zesty Italian Brunch Bake

Salsa Verde Sweet Potato Hash (I would cook the eggs separately when you are ready to eat instead of freezing them)

Hauswarming Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Pumpkin Blueberry Protein Smoothie

Peachy Keen Smoothie

A Trio of Super Paleo Smoothies

Quick Meals and Snacks: All of these can be thrown together fairly quickly and, again, you can make large portions that will last throughout the week. I like to make a large salad early in the week and have it for lunch all throughout the week. I'll do the same with stir fry so that we can have leftovers for a few nights. If I want to mix it up, I'll add chicken one night and fish or shrimp the next.

Jamaican Jerk Stir Fry

Mexican Chicken Salad (can be made with jarred salsa instead of fresh to make and even quicker meal)

Sunny California Salad with Strawberries and Avocado

Paleo Brownie Bites (a great on-the-go snack)

Now it's your turn! What are your tips for finding time to cook as a new parent?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Paleo Pen Pals Roundup - June 2013

Welcome to the Paleo Pen Pals Round-up for June! What? But it is the end of July...well Paleo Pen Pals went on the back burner for a bit as co-founder Brittanie has some exciting projects in the works and I am adjusting to life with my new little baby.

But, there is good news! Paleo Pen Pals will live on, after all. We are passing the torch to our friend and fellow blogger, Rachel of Grok Grub.

Before I get to that, if you still haven't heard the buzz about Paleo Pen Pals, you should get in on this party. 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 my intro post or Brittanie's intro post. And now, Rachel has joined the party!

Before we get to the recipes, I want to mention that Paleo Pen Pals is always 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.

If you participated in this most recent swap, please sign up again! Any if you love us, which you do, please show it by putting a Paleo Pen Pals Badge up on your site. Instructions can be found here.

Check out all these beautiful recipes by clicking on the links below each picture.

A big thanks to all our Paleo Pals!



I am so happy that the Paleo Pen Pals fun is going to continue with the help of Rachel! If you want to sign up for the next swap just check our Facebook page.

Paleo Pen Pals is on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Sunday, August 4, 2013 - Cloth Diapers, Cloth Diapers and MORE ClothDiapers!

I started building my cloth diaper stash while I was still pregnant, but even at 8lbs 9oz, Baby A was too teeny for his cloth diapers until he reached about six weeks old. We didn't plan ahead for this so we used disposables for the first six weeks and then we decided to just give it a try and see how they fit and after a couple of days with no major accidents we knew we were ready to make the switch to cloth.
A small portion of our stash!

We have a few different brands of diapers in our rotation, but one of my favorite places to buy our diapers is! They have a huge selection of cloth diapers - whether you prefer All in One Diapers, Pocket Diapers, Fitteds or Hybrids, DivaDiapers has got you covered. They also have a huge selection of cloth diapering extras like wet/dry bags that you can use for your dirty diapers, flushable liners, laundry detergent and diaper rash cream.

What I really love about DivaDiapers, though, are all the special deals and discounts. You earn a 5% credit on every purchase, every day and if you follow them on Facebook and Twitter they have tons of daily specials, too, such as Freebie Friday when they will refund one item in one customer's order. They also have Two For Tuesday when they will double one item in one customer's order. If you subscribe to their newsletter you'll get a one time $5 gift certificate AND 10% off every order. Can't beat that!
Rockin' the cloth!
So what are you waiting for? Head on over to DivaDiapers and check out their awesome cloth diaper selection. If you place your first order by clicking the banner below, you can get $5 off your order when you use the code REF10

Take $5 off your first order with coupon  REF10

$5 off is great, but how about a FREE $20 gift certificate! That's right - DivaDiapers has graciously agreed to give away a $20 gift certificate to one lucky reader. To enter, just follow the instructions below and I will choose a winner at random on Friday, August 9th. You must enter by 11:59pm on Thursday, August 8th. I will email the winner to let them know they've won! Open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Links are affiliate links. All opinions are 100% my own and I would never share a product or service with you that I haven't purchased or used myself.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back to School with eMeals! Healthy Snack Recipes, Back to School Checklist, 15% Discount and more!!

I've written about eMeals before, but here is a quick refresher (in case you missed it)! eMeals is a handy-dandy meal planning service that provides you with weekly recipe calendars AND personalized shopping lists. There are tons of ways to customize your subscription - you can include breakfasts, lunches and/or dinners, adjust quantities based on your family size and choose from a wide range of meal plans...including Gluten Free, Clean Eating and Paleo!

This month, eMeals wants to help you get your little ones ready for school with a bunch of Back to School deals! If you sign up for eMeals during the month of August you'll get the following:

  • A FREE 31 Days of Snacks calendar when you purchase any new eMeals plan
  • A 15% discount off of your purchase when you use the code SCHOOL15

And, because eMeals loves you so much and knows how much you will love them after you give it a try, they have provided you with a FREE Back to School PDF which includes:

  • A Back to School Checklist
  • Super Cute Printable Lunch Notes for your kids' lunchboxes
  • A 1 week FREE trial of an eMeals lunch plan

Click HERE to get your free PDF now! The lunch plan provided is not part of the Paleo meal plan, but it gives you a great idea of how the program works and I like to find ways to modify the non-Paleo recipes and make them work for us.

This tasty looking meal is TOTALLY Paleo, though and I've even included the recipes for each dish, courtesy of eMeals.

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp With Garlic Oil    
18 slices of bacon, halved
36 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon water
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sliced garlic
  1. Cook bacon in a pan until it is cooked but still soft and pliable.
  2. Combine honey and water in a large bowl. Add shrimp, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with pepper.
  3. Wrap one piece of bacon around each shrimp. Divide shrimp evenly among 6 skewers.
  4. Preheat broiler. Place skewers on a baking sheet; broil 3 minutes per side or until done.
  5. Combine oil and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 4 minutes, or until garlic begins to brown. Drizzle over cooked shrimp, and serve additional oil alongside shrimp for dipping.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cider Vinegar    
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine squash, honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper on a jelly-roll pan; toss to coat.
  3. Bake 30 minutes or until browned and tender, stirring once.
  4. Sprinkle with vinegar before serving.

Sautéed Rapini with Walnuts  
1 lb broccoli rabe (rapini), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe and boil 2 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Add broccoli rabe to pan, and cook 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and walnuts before serving.

Ready to try eMeals for yourself? Click the banner below to sign up now...and don't forget to enter the code SCHOOL15 for your 15% discount.