May 14, 2013
When removing all grains and almost all dairy from your diet, there’s sometimes that initial shock of, “Oh my gosh, what do I do now?!” After living your whole life eating cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, pretzels for snack, and pasta for dinner, there can often seem like there’s nothing to eat.
Happily, there’s actually a boatload of tasty, healthy foods that are perfectly Paleo! Here are 4 tips that will help you stay on track whether you’re new to or familiar with this eating style.
#1: Get the right ingredients.
A lot of “Paleo” foods are things that you already eat. Vegetables. Fruits. Meat. Poultry. Nuts. The only big changes in any of these areas are buying organic produce and pasture-raised/grass-fed protein.
Snacks and treats are where it gets tricky. Without wheat, man-made oils, and a lot of excess sugar, most, if not all processed fare is out. And at home, how are you supposed to make a cake without flour?
To create a seemingly “normal” product, you’re going to need to visit Whole Foods and/or Trader Joe’s and seek out some unusual ingredients. Here are three of my baking staples:
- Refined Coconut Oil: When I first started making Paleo desserts, my parents and I noticed that everything had a coconut-y taste. This was because we were using extra-virgin coconut oil, which is bottled with pieces of the coconut meat in tact. Refined coconut oil, however, has no coconut-y taste and holds up well to high temperatures. Make sure you’re buying an organic, non-hydrogenated product! My favorites are Spectrum and Whole Foods’ 365 house brand.
- Raw Honey: If you’ve ever perused the internet in search of Paleo recipes, you’ll notice that the majority use maple syrup. Mine, however, usually do not. I have nothing against maple syrup—really, sugar is sugar once it’s in the body—but my family prefers the lighter, less-noticeable taste of honey. Try to find a local seller in your area for the best quality product.
- Blanched Almond Flour: Yes, Honeywell Almond Flour is really expensive and the bag is huge, but I promise you, it’s worth it. Why the high price? Unlike wheat flour, which is made in massive quantities from a cheap product, almond flour is manufactured on a smaller scale…and because almonds are pricier than wheat, the flour is naturally more expensive. You’ll be amazed at how well your gluten-free desserts turn out.
Be sure to visit Living Healthy with Chocolate, Elana’s Pantry, and The Spunky Coconut for some great dessert ideas!
If you’re a newbie to Paleo desserts, I’d suggest trying my Chocolate Chip Banana Cake or Chocolate Mousse.
#2: Prepare meals ahead.
There is nothing more frustrating than being hungry and not having anything to eat. We’ve all been there…and what’s most likely to happen? You’re going to pig out on something you probably shouldn’t.
To prevent this problem, it really helps to prepare meals in advance. These Juicy Pork Wraps, for example, take 10 minutes to put together and will yield at least 5 or 6 servings for lunch, dinner, or even breakfast.
The night before you want to eat your “in-advance” dinner, combine a little over 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of chipotle chili pepper, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a little less than 1 tablespoon of raw honey, 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke, and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but if you already have everything in your pantry, it’s not a big burden.
Rub everything all over a 4 1/2 to 5 pound piece of pork shoulder and stick skin-side up in the slow cooker for 16 hours. Yes, 16 hours, folks.
No slow cooker? Grease a large Dutch oven with about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, put in the pork, cover tightly, and let braise at 300 degrees for 4 to 6 hours. (However, I recommend the former preparation.)
When you’re ready to eat, simply remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred it with two large forks. Serve with cut up jicama, guacamole (I just mixed together 1 1/2 avocados with about 1/4 cup of my favorite salsa), and Boston lettuce leaves for wrappers.
That wasn’t too hard now, was it?
For more great ideas, I highly recommend reading The Paleo Slow Cooker by Arsy Vartanian and visiting her website, Rubies and Radishes.
#3: Buy good meat.
You are looking at probably one of my favorite places on Earth: The Saugatuck Craft Butchery.
Every week, my dad and I venture to this magical land of meat to pick out our meals for the coming days. They’ve got EVERYTHING…and the best part? All the meat is sourced within 150 miles, so you know its fresh.
Sure, you can buy good quality meat at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but it’s nothing like at the butcher. I’ve been able to experiment with so many different cuts of meat: tri-tips, spare ribs, whole ducks, quails, ground goat, oxtails, lamb sirloins…things you just can’t get at the supermarket. And I promise, it just tastes so much better.
If you’re looking to satisfy the carnivore in your family, try my Crisp Roasted Duck with Cherry Sauce or Sweet Braised Pork Hocks.
#4: Eat a well-rounded breakfast.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Think about it this way: if you eat dinner at 6:30 P.M. and wake up at 7:00 A.M., you haven’t eaten in over twelve hours! Even if you aren’t hungry when you wake up, it’s critical to at least eat something.
Your morning meal should include a good amount of protein and fat, plus some carbohydrates. You don’t necessarily have to eat “breakfast food” for breakfast! Take today, for example: I had salmon and cauliflower rice instead of my usual eggs.
Here’s my recipe for the tastiest granola EVER. Make sure you limit yourself, though: it’s so delicious, you could easily go overboard!
In the bowl of a food processor, chop up 1 cup of raw almonds and 1 cup of raw cashews until small, but not powdery, about 30 seconds to 1 minute total. Then, pour into a bowl and mix with 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil, 1/4 cup of maple syrup or raw honey, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.
Spread the mixture out onto a greased baking sheet, and place in a 350 degree oven until brown and crispy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Give a good stir every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning.
Stir in 1/3 cup of dried raisins or cranberries, if desired, and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes before storing in a large ziploc bag at room temperature or in the fridge.
The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easily customizable. Feel free to use macadamia nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, cacao powder, or other dried fruit in the place of or in addition to some of the ingredients!
For some other tasty breakfast recipes, try my Carrot Muffins or Pumpkin Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce.
And there you have it! What are your best Paleo tips? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!
Tags: breakfast, dairy-free, delicious, dessert, dinner, gluten-free, granola, healthy, paleo, pork, snack, tips
April 22, 2013
OK, I’m not going to lie: dessert is probably my favorite part of the day. I love closing my eyes and feeling the creaminess of a mousse against my tongue or smelling a batch of freshly baked cookies.
Unfortunately, decadent desserts probably shouldn’t be enjoyed daily. But what happens if you’ve got that hankering for something sweet?
My solution: pumpkin. It not only is a nutritional powerhouse with nearly 400% of your RDA for Vitamin A, but also needs very little added sweetness to satisfy your craving. Both of these recipes can easily be enjoyed for breakfast, snack, or even dessert without any guilt. How sweet is that?
First up are my pumpkin pancakes with blueberry sauce. You can ZipList the recipe here.
In the bowl of a food processor, puree 1 ripe banana until the consistency of a light batter, about 2 minutes. Then, add 1 cup of canned, pureed pumpkin and process to incorporate, 1 minute longer.
Next, add 6 eggs and process for another 2 minutes. It seems like a lot of eggs, but it’s worth it. This recipe yields a dozen pancakes, so by eating 4, you’re getting the nutrition of 2 eggs inside a little treat. Score!
Pour in 3 tablespoons of coconut flour, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. The combination of the baking soda and vinegar helps “fluff-ify” the pancakes, which would otherwise wind up pretty flat.
If the batter isn’t sweet enough for you, feel free to add an additional tablespoon of maple syrup or raw honey.
Process for another minute. Your batter is ready to be pancaked!
Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or refined coconut oil a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. With two large spoons, pour a little less than 1/4 cup of batter into the skillet to form a pancake. (If you want bitty pancakes, use less; if you want jumbo pancakes, use more.) Let cook until brown on the other side and beginning to bubble, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Flip your pancakes over and continue cooking until no longer gooey in the center, about 4 to 5 minutes longer. If desired, cover the pan with a lid to “steam” the pancakes, creating a firmer texture.
Today, I made a basic blueberry sauce to go on top. Simply combine 1 cup of blueberries and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil, and allow to reduce, about 15 to 20 minutes in total. Sprinkle with a pinch of coconut sugar for added sweetness.
These also taste awesome smothered in nut butter or with some sliced fresh fruit.
Store leftover pancakes in an airtight container in the fridge. Pop them in the toaster on a busy morning for a quick, ready-made breakfast!
Next up is my Hawaiian Pumpkin Trifle. You can ZipList the recipe here.
In a small saucepan, toast about 1/4 cup of flaked (or shredded) coconut with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon over medium heat until golden and fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a separate bowl, then add a handful (approximately 1/4 cup) of raw, finely chopped macadamia nuts to the pan. (By the way, here’s a great article on the nutritional power of macadamia nuts.) Toast until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1/2-3/4 cup of canned, pureed pumpkin in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of full-fat coconut milk, 1/2 tablespoon of coconut butter, and 1/4 cup of water over low heat. If you’d like, you can also stir in a teaspoon of vanilla, almond, or coconut extract or two teaspoons of maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar. The pumpkin mixture is done when it’s warm but not scalding, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Here comes the fun part: assembling the trifle! Scoop out a little less than 1/4 cup of the pumpkin mixture and place it on the bottom of a small bowl or cup. Add about 2 tablespoons each of the coconut and macadamia nuts, then top with the remaining pumpkin. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the coconut and macadamia nuts and douse with a scoop of creamed coconut.
All that’s left to do is dig in. Yum!
If you could have anything for breakfast, what would you have? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!
Tags: breakfast, dairy-free, delicious, gluten-free, healthy, paleo, pancakes, pumpkin
April 12, 2013
Apples are probably my favorite fruit. There’s truly nothing like biting into the juicy, crisp flesh and feeling the little dribbles of fruit juice run down your chin.
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, so why not start your day with some extra immunity? Low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats, these muffins will keep you full and alert until lunch time. Pair with some scrambled eggs and some avocado for a tasty, nutrient-packed breakfast!
A special thanks to Elana’s Pantry for the inspiration.
First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with 12 parchment muffin liners. (I love If You Care baking cups!)
In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups of blanched almond flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/4 cup of arrowroot powder, and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Mix together with your hands to break up the clumps in the almond flour and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup melted refined coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of raw honey, 1 egg, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. If you don’t use refined coconut oil, your muffins are at risk to be completely overpowered by the tropical flavor.
When incorporated, add to the almond flour mixture and mix together with a spatula. Peel and chop 1 large or 2 small apples into petite cubes and fold into the batter.
With two spoons, evenly distribute the batter among the 12 muffin tins and top each one with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Bake until a toothpick comes out clean in the center and the tops are golden brown, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool in the muffin tins for at least an hour, then serve.
What breakfast treat should I attempt next? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!
Tags: apples, breakfast, delicious, healthy, muffins, paleo