Archives for the month of: December, 2011

Just a quick little breakfast item.

I like frittatas for multiple reasons:

  1. You can load them with things like meat and veggies.
  2. They are great as leftovers for when you don’t have anytime to cook but you need a quick snack that’s paleo-friendly
  3. You don’t have to flip it like an omlette.

This one started with some caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms. I used frozen spinach and all natural, nitrate/nitrite free bacon. My cast iron was small so I only used 6 eggs, so if you have a bigger pan, use more.

Bacon, Mushroom, and Spinach Frittata

1/2 lb. bacon
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 c. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
6 eggs
sea salt and pepper to taste
grass-fed butter or bacon grease to oil pan
OPTIONAL: some organic, grass-fed cheddar to top. and avocado

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Over medium heat, with some butter begin to caramelized the onions with  the mushrooms until soft.
  3. You may cook the bacon in the same pan or a different one depending on your preference. (I combined  to limit my pan usage). Once cooked, turn off heat and set aside.

    Bacon, onions, and mushrooms

  4. In a medium bowl, whip eggs with some salt and pepper
  5. In a cast iron or oven safe skillet, heat butter over medium heat . Add egg, then spinach and bacon mixture.
  6. Cook over heat for a while until the egg looks half cooked and half runny.

    Pre-oven frittata

  7. Put the skillet in the oven to bake for about 30 mins or until the middle of the frittata is set. To check, just give the pan a shake and its done when it won’t “jiggle” anymore.

Out of the Oven

Tasty Bark

Another great inspiration from Mark’s Daily Apple. My father LOVES mac nuts and dark chocolate. So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it for him. Actually, I brought a batch to a Christmas party cause I knew he would be there. Needless to say, I’m glad I set aside a few pieces at home because they were gobbled up at the party.

Salted Macadamia Nut Bark

9-10 oz. DARK chocolate (I used Endangered Species 88%)
1/2 – 3/4 c. macadamia nuts
sprinkle of sea salt

  1. In a double boiler (one pot of boiling water, with a pot or metal bowl on top) Melt the chocolate.
  2. Add macadamia nuts to the melted chocolate (you can crush the nuts or have them in larger pieces depending on your preference)
  3. Pour mixture into a square dish lined with parchment paper. The smaller the dish, the thicker the bark.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate until solid. Cut into even pieces and share!

When I found out that Tropical Traditions had a great recipe for a coconut flour-based pizza crust, I had to give it a whirl. So I did.

Unfortunately, my first experience with coconut flour pizza was kind of a bust, so the opportunity to redeem the dish was quite exciting.

My fiance and I give this dish two thumbs up. It’s not Dominos, or Caesars or Round Table. So don’t be expecting classic gluten-pizza taste and texture. However, the crust is flavorful with herbs and garlic, it holds up under the weight of pesto and toppings, and the edges get crispy. So I call that a success in the world of Paleo-Italian fusion cuisine.

Herbed Pizza Crust

3 eggs
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
1 cup whole coconut milk
1/2 c. coconut flour, sifted
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Beat eggs in a medium-sized bowl, mix in milk and garlic.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and beat into the milk mixture. The batter needs to be thin enough to spread but not watery.
  4. Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ( NOT WAX PAPER!)
  5. Bake 12-20 mins. until bottom edges begin to brown.

    browning on the sides

  6. Remove crust from the oven and carefully turn over. Could be achieved by placing a cutting board, face down, over the crust and flipping. Put the flipped crust back on the baking sheet
  7. Cover with your sauce and toppings. Bake for 5 -10 mins depending on your topping choice.

Nutrition Facts for the Pizza Crust

I made ours with a sun-dried tomato pesto.

The Sauce

Not a lot of measurement in this pesto… just get out your food processor and add these ingredients to your taste:

garlic cloves
sun-dried tomatoes
olive oil
walnuts, pine nuts, or pumpkin seeds
parmesan cheese
sea salt

I think I like this type of crust with a sauce/spread like a pesto instead of a more watery pizza sauce.

Our toppings were:

italian sausage, red onion, raw shaved parmesan, mushrooms, and zucchini.

Fully Loaded

A friendly little recipe from Elana’s Pantry. I loved these dearly, mostly because I’m a breakfast sandwich fanatic. Give me a fried egg with tomato, avocado, and bacon between two slices of gluten-free bread, and I am one happy chef. Since going paleo, I hadn’t really found a good sub for my occasional breakfast sandwich (which, by default, means I had not had a breakfast sandwich in a year and a half).

I was in the mood for a biscuit and stumbled upon this paleo-friendly version. It doesn’t really rise like a regular biscuit and doesn’t have layers or anything. Also, because of the almond flour, has a sweeter taste than traditional biscuits. That being said, this recipe could be used in a savory or sweet context. I did, in fact, make a breakfast sandwich with them (I could slice down the middle without the halves breaking from lack-o-gluten).

Note the cute little leftover dough "leaves" on top!

Almond Flour Biscuits

2 ½ cups blanched almond flour, plus about 1 cup for dusting the dough
½ teaspoon sea salt 
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup grass-fed butter (like Kerrygold)
2 eggs
note: Elana’s recipe calls for a sweetener like agave or honey, I omitted it.

  1. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, salt and baking soda.
  2. In a large bowl, blend together buttery spread, eggs and agave.
  3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until a nice dough forms.
  4. Roll out dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper to 1 ½ inches thick.
  5. Dust dough with extra almond flour if it is sticky and/or misbehaving.
  6. Cut the dough into biscuits using a mason jar with a 3-inch wide mouth.
  7. Using a spatula, transfer biscuits to a parchment lined baking sheet.

    Buns in the Oven.

  8. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, until biscuits are browned on the bottom edges.

Bonus Feature: Nutrition Facts for the Biscuits

This one is from the hallowed Paleo grounds of Mark’s Daily Apple. In fact, it’s one of the recipes from the Primal Blueprint Reader Cookbook. I’ve made this dish a couple times. It’s so lovely and aromatic as welll as FILLING. This last time I only dished it over a 1/4 of the acorn squash. But for those with hearty appetites, go ahead and serve it in a half a squash. It’s a beautiful presentation either way.

For the folks who are uber-sensitive to dairy: swap out the butter for coconut oil and omit the yogurt. Enjoy!

It's a spice extravaganza!

Butter Chicken

4 lbs. chicken thighs, chopped into 1 inch cubes
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons garam masala
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 cup Greek-style (thick) yogurt
7 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 can diced tomatoes, unsalted)
6 cardamom pods (crush pods slightly to release seeds and more flavor)
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 cup cream or coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh coriander, coarsely chopped

  1. Combine chicken, garlic, spices and yogurt in a covered container. Refrigerate for an hour or two.
  2. Melt butter in a deep pan. Add vinegar, tomato paste, tomatoes, cardamom and cinnamon. Boil rapidly, stirring until sauce is thick (approximately 20 minutes).
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and add chicken. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through. Add cream or coconut milk, simmer a few minutes more, and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Roasted Acorn Squash

2 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
Coconut oil to grease baking sheet

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil.
  3. Place squash halves face down on the sheet.
  4. Bake for 30 mins, until the squash is tender and the lip of the opening is browned.

An unfortunate picture of a delicious dish!

This cake was a gift for my friend and Crossfit High Voltage gym owner, Tim Thackrey.

Here’s the man himself and your’s truly:

A happy birthday, indeed.

 
Armed with a chocolate cake recipe from Elana’s Pantry (with a few modifications) and my own chocolate ganache, this cake was dressed to impress. It was pretty much a chocolate bomb to the face. Fortunately, it’s dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, and DELICIOUS.
 
Warning… I will not label this cake, PALEO. It qualifies in the sense that there’s no grains, legumes, or dairy. But there’s a ton of sugar and it should not be eaten as a snack food. This is definately a rare TREAT.
 

Chocolate Cake

 ¾ cup coconut flour, sifted
¼ cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 eggs
1 cup coconut oil
1 ½ cups coconut sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon orange zest
 
  1. In a small bowl combine flour, cacao, salt and baking soda
  2. In a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, blend eggs, oil, coconut sugar, vanilla and orange zest

    The Wet

  3. Add dry ingredients into large bowl and continue to blend
  4. Oil (2) 9 inch round cake pans and dust with coconut flour

    Ready for some oven action!

  5. Pour batter into pans and bake at 325° for 35-40 minutes
  6. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely then remove from pans
  7. Frost

Vegan Chocolate Frosting – Filling

1 cup dark chocolate
½ cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch celtic sea salt   
 
  1. In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and grapeseed oil
  2. Stir in agave, vanilla and salt
  3. Place frosting in freezer for 15 minutes to cool
  4. Remove from freezer and whip frosting with a hand blender until it is thick and fluffy
  5. Frost in between two cake layers.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

12 oz. dark chocolate
12 oz. full fat coconut milk 
 
  1. Heat coconut milk in a saucepan, bring almost to a boil. Stir constantly so it doesn’t burn.
  2. In a heat-safe bowl, place the broken pieces or chips of chocolate.
  3. Pour heated milk over the chocolate and stir until smooth.
  4. Place cake on a baking rack over some foil or a baking sheet.
  5. Pour ganache over cake starting from the center of the top.
  6. Let the frosting spill over the sides onto the foil or baking sheet.
  7. If some areas of the cake are not getting “ganach-ed”, try pouring directly over them, but keep the coating smooth over the entire cake. Don’t use a spatula. Oftentimes it will stick and mess up the ganche.

    Post Workout Nutrition... sort of.

Here’s a simple one for those chilly Southern California nights (wink, wink). Soup is a great way to stretch your dollar and incorporate some really healthy items into your food rotation. BONUS: there’s usually leftovers which means for very little time investment, you can have a few meals for the next few days!

Butternut Squash is a seasonal vegetable. It comes around in the harvest time so it’s best eaten in the fall and winter months. It has a delicate and mildly sweet flavor, similar to an acorn squash. Good for soups because it’s not as heavy as sweet potato or pumpkin. Butternut’s versatile flavor pairs well with savory elements like rosemary, bacon, and brussel sprouts as well as sweet ingredients like cinnamon, apples, and golden raisins.

 

Good in a mug or a bowl

 
Butternut Squash Soup
 
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 c. water
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
3 c. organic chicken stock
1 inch ginger root, diced
1 honeycrisp apple, peeled and diced
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt to taste
 
  1. In a large pot, saute the yellow onion until soft.
  2. Add water and butternut squash, heat on med-high until squash becomes tender.
  3. Add ginger, apple and 2 c. chicken stock. Simmer for a bit until the squash is really soft.
  4. Using a blender or immersion blender, begin processing the soup to desired thickness, adding additional stock when necessary.
  5. With the blended soup in the pot, stir in spices.
  6. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some Plantain Chips.

Today we are going to wander a bit off the culinary path. I want to talk about something more related to the natural living side of Paleo. If you’re the type of person who’s interested in healthy eating, chances are, you’ve probably been introducing a more natural approach to other aspects of your life. Maybe you switched to a biodegradable laundry detergent or perhaps an aluminum-free deodorant. All good things. Whatever you can do to minimize you and your family’s exposure to harsh chemicals and destructive consumption of the Earth’s resources is a big step in the right direction.

Something that tends to be the last thing to change in a “naturally” focused lifestyle is skin and hair care products. Especially with women, we tend to be “married” to our favorite products. We claim that nothing works quite like Maybelline, Pantene, or Clearasil. For today, I will be discussing facial cleansing.

Acne, it sucks. ‘

A lot.

And just cause you’re not 17 anymore does not mean you no longer struggle with acne. It’s causes range from hormonal to genetic to dietary and it usually is a combination of all three. We all have friends who have never had a zit in their lives and others who face a constant battle with blemishes.Unfortunately our cultural context doesn’t help this problem in the least. Our society constantly supports our obsession with clear skin at every turn. “Radiant Skin!” claims the latest magazine cover, “Reduces redness and moisturizes!” says some new teeny bopper in her Neutrogena advertisement on TV. Let’s just have a reality check for a second… all those ads, pics, and commercials have been to the Photoshop Fairy and back. As a soon-to-be wife of a designer, let me say that Photoshop is amazing at altering reality. Faith Hill’s skin is not that perfect and Kate Winslet is not that skinny. And by buying all those chemical and paraben laden products, all you’re doing is putting money in the pockets of weird science and marketing executives. Not to mention, you are robbing your skin of vital nutrients and encouraging more harm than good.

That being said, here’s my new favorite face washing technique. Be warned, you will need to overcome the conventional wisdom that you need to wash your face twice a day with store-bought face products (hey, you had to overcome it to realize that you don’t actually need whole grains in your diet and that saturated fat is okay. So what’s one more commonly held belief falling off your radar?)

It’s called the OIL CLEANSING METHOD. See, you’re scared… skeptical even. Basically unwilling to try. Well, you might want to reconsider.

Here’s my testimony in a nutshell:

I am a girl (duh). In my teens, I struggled with acne here or there. Never had a huge problem that dictated Accutane or some other dramatic intervention, but my skin wasn’t perfect either. As I got older and began to clean up my diet, I noticed an improvement in the clarity of my skin. Not a total solution though. Oftentimes, my face would misbehave during menstruation, or right before to be accurate. According to the doc, I would see improvements by taking birth control (yay for currently accepted medical solutions…NOT). So I took it, for years and years. There was a definite improvement, but I could never totally get rid of it.

Knowing that my acne struggle was mostly hormonal (whether it was during my monthly cycle or stress related was never totally clear, but both situations are hormone induced) was a blessing and a curse. Sometimes you just feel powerless over it. When I decided to go off the pill, I feared for my face big time. I knew that choosing to stop taking synthetic hormones was the right choice for me especially since I want to be natural, paleo, fertile…etc. I did, however, have serious concerns that the acne would return with a vengeance. Fast forward a year and a half of trying to get my hormones back to normal levels (after quitting birth control, it took me 8-9 months to have a menstrual cycle again, and even longer for it to happen every month… yeah, not cool. ) my skin did certainly take a hit. Not terrible, but once you have adult acne, even just a little, it really throws off the self-confidence.

I used all kinds of cleansers as a kid and into adulthood. I really liked the Desert Essence tea tree cleanser (now sold at Trader Joe’s under the TJ’s label.) and had stuck with that for the past few years, believing that it was a good compromise between natural and synthetic.

Then I recently stumbled upon an article about the Oil Cleansing Method. So I decided to try it. Throw caution to wind and slather my face with oil. No soap, no toner. Just oil and steam and a washcloth.

It’s been working out great. I encourage you to try it, experiment with oil types and ratios. Please just try it, and don’t dismiss simply because you’ve always heard that oil causes acne.

oil is good

Here’s the bare bones of the method:

Do this at night. Don’t wash your face first with soap. Just use your regular face, as is.

Get a washcloth or a basin with really hot water (at-home facial style).

Take some oil.

  • extra virgin olive oil or jojoba oil
  • castor oil
  • coconut oil

Make a mixture of some of these oils. I use olive oil and castor oil. It’s about a 2:1 ration, olive to castor, with a bit of jojoba mixed in.

Put a nickel size puddle in your hands or dip your (clean) fingers into the mixture.

Massage your face with the oil for about a minute, rubbing it all over. (If you have eye makeup on, take a cotton round with some jojoba oil and use that to remove the makeup. It doesn’t irritate at all and jojoba is super great for the skin.)

After your minute of rubbing, steam your face for about a minute, either over the steamy basin or with a steamy washcloth. Once the minute or so is up, use the washcloth to lightly rub off the excess oil from your face.

THAT’S IT. nothing else. Your skin will feel great and if you keep it up, you should notice a lot less blemishes popping up. Honestly, I still don’t look like I’ve been photoshopped into perfection. It’s not a miracle cure. But here’s what I know:

  1. My skin looks and feels better
  2. I have less blemishes and zit outbreaks (I’ve maybe had  2 or 3 pimples in the past month)
  3. I’m not buying face products and inundating my skin with gross, chemically stuff.
  4. I no longer strip my skin of its natural oils, it’s always healthy looking and retains a glow.

There’s a pretty good amount of info on the OCM online if you are interested in other people’s experiences and other types of oils and ratios to use.

Note:

You should make sure you are drinking enough water.

 You should try a complete 30 day Paleo challenge (no sugar, dairy, grains, or legumes). I know that many dermatologists are recommending cutting out dairy because so many people respond well to that change.