Monday, July 1, 2013

Watermelon Margarita "Sno-cones"

Sorry kiddos, this one is for the adults. You see, one day my friend Clare and I were wandering the local Walgreens on Las Vegas Blvd looking for some tequila for margaritas. Clare exclaimed "Oh my! Coconut tequila?!" My thought: this could be really bad or really, really good. Just in case, we bought another plain silver tequila and we headed back to our hotel room.

Of course, we popped open the 1800 coconut tequila first. The smell? Heavenly. The taste... stupid good. We were sad to see the bottle empty and were wondering if Walgreen's did alcohol exchanges...

Once back home, Clare hunted that tequila down in the Los Angeles area within 6.2 seconds. I, on the other hand, would just keep an eye out every time I passed through an alcohol section. MONTHS LATER I finally decided to hop into my local Total Wine and there it was. Like a long lost liquid friend. Reunited. And it felt so good.

Now Clare is a genius in thinking up some off-the-wall recipe ideas and sometimes we'll rapid fire text back and forth and come up with some good ideas. This was a result of one of those texting sessions. It's so ridiculously easy I am sure the idea is somewhere out in the web-iverse, but you didn't find it there - you found it here.

Note: If you can't find the 1800 brand coconut tequila, I am sure any 100% agave silver/plato tequila would work just fine. But I don't have time to test an inferior recipe like that, so you're own your own. Oh, and for those crazy enough to make this without the tequila (why on earth??!), I imagine you could sub some sort of fruit juice. Again, I'm advising against it, because tequila is Paleo in my universe. I also won't guarantee the texture is the same.

Watermelon Margarita "Sno-cones"

1/2 seedless "personal size" watermelon (about 2 cups of watermelon flesh)
1/4 cup 1800 brand coconut tequila
Juice from 1/2 lime

Blend all of the above ingredients in a food processor blender. For quicker freezing, put in ice cube trays. But you can put in a freezer safe bowl, or heck, a freezer ziploc bag and wait until that stuff freezes up. When you're ready to serve, break it apart with a fork and it's like insta-sno-cone goodness without having to "shave" anything.

It's almost too easy, I know.

The best part (other than the tequila)? No sickly sweet syrup that ends up at the bottom of the cone as you eat plain ice at the top.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Paleo Pro Protein Powder - Whey & Soy-free!

I'll start off by saying I don't condone drinking protein shakes or recovery shakes just because you're too lazy to cook and eat real food. NOTHING is a substitute for that if you have the time and ability to eat immediately post workout. However, I am one of those people who doesn't get her appetite back until at least an hour and a half post workout and by that time I've lost the point where my body will best recover by having some good carb and protein sources fed to it immediately.

Every other protein powder I've seen that is marketed towards people who don't do refined sugar, soy, wheat, etc. is usually a whey protein powder. As much as I love heavy cream and cheese, I know my body does not. I just couldn't justify any of those powders for myself.

Enter: Paleo Pro - the naked flavor has only 3 ingredients: egg white protein, whole egg protein and beef protein. That's it. If you feel you need the vanilla and chocolate flavors, you get some cocoa and stevia added in the mix.

Below is my favorite recipe.. and keep in mind, this won't taste as sweet as some recovery shakes on the market. This is just meant to get down fast and taste good enough that you don't have to gag it down. Which doesn't mean you WILL need to gag it down, I just don't want something that tastes so good that I find myself replacing real meals with it on a regular basis. The purpose is purely functional, not for enjoyment :)

Sweet Potato Pie Recovery Shake

1 scoop naked PaleoPro protein powder
1/2 cup cooked sweet potato
1/2 banana
1/4 cup full fat canned coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup crushed ice
dash of cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
dash of vanilla

If you want to prep this before your workout, blend it up and then throw in a few whole ice cubes into a blender bottle. After your workout, shake it up and drink!

To order and get 15% off your purchase, click here and enter coupon code: TJF15

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fudgy Paleo Brownies (grain-free, date-sweetened)

Oh how I love dates. Before Paleo I don't think I had ever had one - they aren't very appetizing looking, but boy oh boy have they made making desserts awesome. I consider them along the lines of using honey or maple syrup, as all are better sugar options than cane sugar (in my opinion). BUT, they are STILL sugar! You can over-do these just as easily as you can cane-sugar and flour-filled brownies and I happen to think these taste better. So for a treat, go for it!

This recipe was only slightly changed from a recipe on Elana's Pantry.

Fudgy Date-Sweetened Paleo Brownies

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
14 Medjool dates, pits removed
6 large eggs
1 cup coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse together almond flour, salt and baking soda. Add in the dark chocolate and then the dates. BE CAREFUL! My food processor went a rockin' and a rollin' with the addition of these two! Add in the eggs and coconut oil and process until everything is well incorporated. Transfer to a 8x8" baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula as the mixture will be very thick.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes - if you want super fudgy, take out when the center still comes out a little moist when you check with a toothpick - this is the way I prefer them!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Chocolate and Caramel-Vanilla Bean Pudding and Benefits of Gelatin!

Haven't you heard? Gelatin is all the rage these days! At least in my neck of the woods. I admit, I am feeling more like a hippie as the months go by and I am sure some of my friends and family might be raising their eyebrows at me when I mention some of the new things I am consuming.

The newest thing is gelatin. Most of the "real food" movement has already been making their own broth at home from marrow bones because we know of the good benefits. That broth is the powerhouse behind chicken soup curing the common cold, NOT the Campbell's soup (or any other variety you can buy ready made in your local grocery store). Why the hype? A lot of it is for the gelatin. I have yet to make a batch of bone broth that doesn't gelatanize (that's a word, right?), but I have heard the horror stories out there of that happening!

So what's the big deal? According to the Weston A. Price Foundation (as taken from one of my favorite websites, Wellness Mama), there are various health benefits of gelatin, including:

  • Supports skin, hair and nail growth
  • Good for joints and can help joint recovery
  • Can help tighten loose skin
  • Can improve digestion since it naturally binds to water and helps food move more easily through the digestive tract
  • Rumored to help improve cellulite (!!!)
  • Great source of dietary collagen (which is a lot more effective than topical!)
  • Great source of protein at 6 grams per tablespoon, collagen, and amino acids. Of the amino acids, Glycine is reported to help liver function and Lysine is utilized in muscle building and calcium absorption. 
How do you get this wonderful gelatin? The best source out there seems to be Great Lakes Kosher Gelatin - it is sourced from grass-fed cows (which we all know is the way to go, right?) and comes in convenient canisters that make it easy to add it to just about anything you are making.

And what was I making? PUDDING! A throwback to the instant Jell-o pudding days of my youth. However, the amount of gelatin used in this recipe doesn't necessarily constitute enough in your daily intake to give you the benefits above, so Wellness Mama suggested a tablespoon mixed in warm water upon arising and just before bed - or adding to your favorite smoothie! But in the meantime.. have some pudding!

Chocolate Pudding

4 tsp Great Lakes Kosher Gelatin
1 (13.5oz) can Natural Value coconut milk*
1/2 cup blonde coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp sea salt
3 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel-Vanilla Bean Pudding

4 tsp Great lakes Kosher Gelatin
1 (13.5 oz) can Natural Value coconut milk*
1/2 cup blonde coconut palm sugar
1 whole vanilla bean
1 tsp sea salt

(* I use this brand because the only ingredients are coconut and water - this means it is a VERY thick coconut milk. If you use another brand that is thinner - maybe Trader Joe's light coconut milk - you might just need to use a couple of cans instead of thinning it out with water as I say to do below)

In a measuring cup that measures beyond 24 ounces, pour in the can of coconut milk and whisk to make sure the coconut water is fully combined with the solids. Add in enough water to bring the mixture up to 24 ounces.

In a medium bowl, combine the 4 teaspoons of gelatin to 4 ounces of the coconut milk mixture and whisk until no lumps remain - set aside.

In a small sauce pot, combine the sugar, salt and remaining milk over a medium-low heat. Depending on the flavor you are making, also combine either the cocoa powder or the vanilla bean. To add the vanilla bean, take a knife and slice the bean halfway through all the way from end-to-end and open the bean up - all the good stuff is inside! Use a sharp knife and scrape from one end to the other to get all that good stuff out to put into the sauce pot. And why not, throw in the leftover whole bean skin too. Whisk this mixture until smooth and let it come to ALMOST a boil - once some bubbles start going steadily around the edges you are good.

If you are one of those people who feels they must, go ahead and strain the hot mixture into the reserved milk/gelatin mixture - I just dumped it in and only removed the whole vanilla bean. Whisk until everything is fully combined and add the vanilla extract to the chocolate flavor and combine well.

Set the bowl, uncovered, in the refrigerator. After about 15-20 minutes, cover the pudding with a sheet of plastic wrap that you press against the entire surface of the mixture. This is where patience comes in... mine didn't fully set for many, many hours - so making this the day before is probably a good idea. This ain't your mother's instant pudding, folks.

Another way this is different than instant Jell-O pudding? It definitely doesn't hold that creamy texture - more like actuall Jell-O than pudding. So, to serve, take a hand or stand mixer and beat it well for several minutes. It even helps to let the mixture warm up a tad before doing so. Do this RIGHT before serving - whipping and then refrigerating will bring it back to the Jell-O texture - which I didn't mind, but some people will.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Costillitas (Cuban Baby Back Ribs) from "Gather"

I feel like I've finally made it in the Paleo community when I am blessed with a preview copy of one of the books from some of the lovely people I consider the "pioneers" of mainstream Paleo-ism - at least as far as cookbooks and amazing food go. I am approaching my two year "Paleo-versary" and it is kind of crazy to me to think it has been that long already. I've learned so much and have felt like part of an ever-growing family - even if I have never met a single one of them in person (yet!). 

Bill and Hayley of The Primal Palate first introduced themselves to me when I purchased a copy of their first book "Make It Paleo." That cookbook has since multiplied in my house and I loan out copies to people interested in the lifestyle and needing inspiration for what to cook. Not a single recipe in that book failed to make my stomach happy.

Then I heard about this fancy schmancy book of Paleo recipes geared towards entertaining - months of teaser pics on Facebook slowly entered my dreams and started to taunt me. A baguette recipe here, General Tso's chicken recipe there. How was I suppose to wait until the end of April to get my hands on this beautiful book?

Enter, the preview copy:

If anything, just buy it to put it on your coffee table. It's that pretty.

I wanted to cook a couple of recipes from it so I didn't just give you a review that sounded something like "ooooh. aaaah. purdy photos. droool. fabulous menus. drool. drool. drooooool." I am sure you are thankful.

This is where it got tricky. What to cook first? The No'tato Salad caught my eye because it doesn't use cauliflower. And I am a big fan of ribs of all kinds, so I settled on the Cuban Baby Back Ribs and No'tato salad. I seriously thought I'd be posting a recipe of the No'tato Salad - in fact, I even asked if that was ok a few days prior. But then those ribs happened. Oh boy they happened.

No'tato Salad from "Gather"

Costillitas (Cuban Baby Back Ribs) from "Gather"

To be honest, the marinade for these ribs seemed too simple. And cooking entirely on a grill? This girl was taught to slow cook ribs for hours and then throw them on the grill at the end. I figured the No'tato Salad would be the hit of the meal. And then I get slapped in the face with ribs who seemed to say "Who you callin' SIMPLE!?!?" My only regret? That I didn't trust that recipe enough to make like 4lbs of those suckers. Instead I bought and made only HALF of what the recipe called for. Lesson learned. Do not doubt those Lovers of Food.

With that said, you really need to own this cookbook. It isn't just for those people who like to do dinner parties (me! me! me!), but for anyone who enjoys good food and maybe wants to knock the socks off a few dinner guests who AREN'T Paleo - perhaps the parents? I have a dad who says he only eats two vegetables - corn and green beans (nevermind corn isn't a vegetable, I don't even go there with him). Well, the recipes in Gather I'd almost guarantee wouldn't have him suspecting any "funny business" at all with his beloved food. Now THAT is a glowing review!

Beyond just recipes, they include several menus for each season and include specific ones for holidays like Easter, Halloween and New Year's Eve. Each menu gives you a preparation countdown on what you should do to prepare for the meal for up to a few days prior. This isn't your typical cookbook, folks!

Remember when I said at minimum just buy this book to go on your coffee table? The photography is amazing and I can only hope to reach that level one day... in the meantime, you get my meager attempts at photographing food. If you want to help the process, you can purchase me a Memorial Day present here. :)

Pre-order your copy of "Gather" here.
Follow The Food Lovers' Primal Palate on Facebook here.
Find more amazing recipes from them here.

Costillitas (Cuban Baby Back Ribs)
Serves 8 (or 1 hungry me for 3 meals)

2 racks baby back pork ribs
8 cloves garlic, pressed
Juice of 3 large lemons
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt

Cut each rack in half, rinse them thoroughly under cold water and pat them dry.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the pressed garlic, lemon juice, orange juice, lime juice, oregano, and salt. Whisk until combined.

Place ribs in a large container or plastic bag and pour the marinade over the ribs. Cover the ribs and refrigerate them for 2-3 hours (mine ended up around 5-6 hours).

Just before cooking, preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Place the ribs on the hot grill and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Coco-Peppermint Patties (Paleo, 21-Day Sugar Detox Recipe)

In the Paleo-sphere I think us die-hard followers all have that one person who immensely helped and inspired us with the in's and out's of this lifestyle. For me, it's Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites. I am not exactly sure how I ran across her page on Facebook, but it may have been because of her 21-Day Sugar Detox. Either way, I am glad that I did.

You see, I have a big sugar addiction. I thought it was just a FOOD addiction, but then I realized most of the foods I was over-consuming were sugar. Bread, pasta, baked sweets, chocolate, french fries, etc. Yes, all  basically sugar once it's eaten. I did the detox for the very first time about 6 months in of eating Paleo - January 2012. I was successful, but was out celebrating with good friends on the 21st day and did allow myself a glass of wine. Since then I have completed it a few more times and each time I am surprised at how much sugar STILL has a hold on me. It's everywhere. In everything. And even after a few weeks, once little taste of that sweet stuff and I am in a downward spiral. Basically, my life should be a sugar detox 24/7.

The good news?! Diane is putting out another book and this one is dedicated to The 21-Day Sugar Detox! Her first one is New York Times bestseller (I think 19 weeks at the time of this posting?!) Practical Paleo - this is the book I tell people to get when they are starting out. It explains everything in simple terms, gives a ton of meal plans and recipes and being a lover of all things design, the layout is awesome. Can we say lamb dolmas? I dream about those things.

So go pre-order her new book, order her last one if you haven't and head on over to her Facebook pages (here and here) and show her some love.

Now on to the recipe - the ingredients marked with asterisks are my suggestions if you are not on the detox. I haven't made them with any sweetener, so you are on your own if you try my suggestions. As I made them, they are definitely NOT sweet to the average person. Just warning you!

Coco-Peppermint Patties

1/2 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tsp peppermint extract
1-2 tsp pure stevia extract* (omit for 21DSD)
4 oz unsweetened chocolate (use equivalent Enjoy Life chocolate chips if not on The 21DSD)

Just barely melt the coconut butter and coconut oil (you just dont want it rock hard) and then put in a food processor and blend well. Add in the peppermint extract and stevia (if you're using it) and blend again. Pour in the shredded coconut and pulse a couple of times to make sure it's evenly distributed.

I used a mini cheesecake pan** and poured the mixture so about 1/2" tall in each cup. Put the pan in the freezer until hardened.

Once the patties are hardened, heat up the chocolate/chocolate chips in the microwave - only heat 30-45 seconds at a time to make sure not to burn the chocolate, stirring each time. Once melted, dip each patty into the chocolate and put on a flat baking sheet or plate covered in wax paper. Put the peppermint patties in the refrigerator to harden the chocolate - and then enjoy!

If you make them as above, with the sweeteners, please let me know how it came out!

**a mini cheesecake pan has bottoms that come out so you can just push from the bottom of the pan and it will release the patty once hardened - alternatively you could use candy molds or put the bowl with the mixture in the refrigerator, stirring now and then, until you have a consistency you can roll into balls and flatten into the desired shape

Monday, April 1, 2013

Enchilada Bake (Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free)

I love me some mexican food. Almost a little too much for a white girl with English and German heritage. I can even stand my ground with the best of them when it comes to consuming spicy food. Did you know some people sweat like crazy when they eat spicy food? Does this mean they're out of spicy-food-eating shape? If so, I am a champ and could whip anyone's butt because I don't sweat at all.

So mexican food is lots of corn and cheese. I can do without corn on a daily basis, but I do love some corn tortillas and tortilla chips... and, well, cheese? Infatuated. But this recipe has neither. Corn doesn't bother me when I eat it, but I try to limit it due to it basically just being sugar and the fact that non-GMO corn seems to be almost be non-existent. Well, and the fact that I am doing a Whole30/21-Day Sugar Detox/Whole Life Challenge thingie right now. Cheese is off the menu due to the the last reason and because of its direct effect on throwing me back to being 16 and a face covered in pimples. Not attractive. But if you can tolerate dairy, PLEASE throw some on top and tell me how it tastes. I know it would be fantastic and I want to live vicariously through you.

Enchilada Bake

For the enchilada sauce
3 dried ancho (or pasilla) chiles
Enough water to cover chiles
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp mexican oregano
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt

Rest of the ingredients
2 small spaghetti squash
1 rotisserie chicken (I purchase it at Whole Foods since the plain one only is seasoned with salt. Alternatively, you could cook up some chicken breasts and thigh meat)
2 eggs, whisked
1-14 oz can of black olives, sliced
1 small can diced green chiles
Green onions, diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup cilantro, chopped
Any veggies you might want to "hide" inside (spinach, kale, etc)
salt and pepper, to taste

Chiles getting cozy in the pot
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut each spaghetti squash in half and lay cut side down on a oiled baking sheet. Cook for approximately 30 minutes or until you can easily pierce the skin side of the squash with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Using a fork, scrape out the insides of each of each half and place in a large mixing bowl.

While your squash is baking, put the dried chilis in a small sauce pan and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the water, but reserve the boiling water. Pull out the stems and if you don't like heat, cut open the chilis and remove the seeds. I didn't remove any seeds from my peppers and it actually wasn't too spicy, but I don't want to be blamed if you happen to get spicier peppers!

Add the boiled peppers and the rest of the enchilada sauce ingredients to a blender and mix well. If the sauce seems to thick, used the reserved boiling water and add a little at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

The final product
Now on to assembling the "bake" (I don't like the word casserole)! Grab the bowl with the spaghetti squash and pour out any water that may have collected at the bottom (the drier the squash gets, the more your "bake" will hold together). Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Feel free to be adventurous and add in all sorts of veggies. To be honest, I had bought some kale that I was going to chop up and throw in and I completely forgot! Last, add about 1 1/2 cups of the enchilada sauce you prepared - feel free to add more or less depending on your tastes!

Once everything is mixed thoroughly, pour into a casserole (bake?) dish. I used one that was approximately 10"x7"3". Smooth out the top and add more enchilada sauce if you desire. And oh how I wish I were allowing cheese in my diet right now, because some shredded Kerrygold Dubliner added into the mix would be FANTASTIC. If you are using cheese, I would add it with about 10 minutes of cooking time left.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven and let sit about 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with more cilantro and avocado.


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