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Easy. Peasy. Paleo! (Featuring two new recipes!)

May 14, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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!

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Yum-Yum Bars (gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo, vegan option)

May 12, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page


There’s a reason why obesity is such a problem in this country. It’s because candy bars happen to be so. Freaking. TASTY.

Although I love a good piece of chocolate, my favorite kinds of candy are always the ones that have the perfect mix of sweet, salty, and crunchy. These Yum-Yum bars are kinda a combination of Snickers and Twix bars, with a crisp shortbread base, creamy sunbutter filler, and a drizzle of dark chocolate on top. 


To ZipList this recipe, click here.

You’ve gotta start from the ground up. Here’s how to make the cookies!

In the bowl of a food processor, combine 1/2 cup of melted refined coconut oil, 1/4 cup of raw honey OR maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Blend just to combine, about 1 to 2 minutes.

To the wet ingredients, add 2 cups of blanched almond flour, 1/2 cup of arrowroot powder, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Process until a sticky, slightly crumbly ball, about 3 minutes longer.


Gather the dough and squeeze it into a ball. Your hands are going to get REALLY GREASY, so have some soap ready to wash off the excess  coconut oil afterwards.

Wrap the ball tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably 2.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap the ball and roll it out until it’s about 1/4-inch thick.


Cut off the crumbly stuff along the sides to form a perfect rectangle. (You can squish the scraps back together and make more cookies!) Cut it into 7 or 8 pieces, then bake until crisp and golden-brown, about 15 to 17 minutes.


Once out of the oven, feel free to slice each piece in half or leave them whole. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a plate and put in the freezer to chill out for about 15 minutes. DO NOT skip this step: if you do, the filling will melt all over your cookies and not stick at all. 

To make the closest thing you can get to the most awesome peanut butter ever without peanuts, simply combine 1/2 cup of palm shortening and 1/4 cup of sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of raw honey OR maple syrup a generous pinch of salt. Stir to combine and let sit in the fridge until the cookies are cool.

image Once the cookies are frigid to the touch, top each with about 2 teaspoons of the filling. Spread gently with a knife, then pop back in the freezer to firm up for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, melt 3 ounces of dark chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, then cool in the fridge for about 10 minutes until the consistency of soft butter. 

When the Yum-Yum bars are solid, take them out of the freezer and top with a spoonful of the chocolate. Let freeze for another 15 minutes, or eat right away, like I did.


What’s this magical pile sitting atop some of these Yum-Yum bars? Stay tuned to find out my secret ingredient. 🙂

All I can say is YUM. YUM. 

What candy bar would you like to see recreated? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!

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Chocolate Chip Biscotti with Chocolate Mousse (gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo)

May 7, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page


Sometimes, you just need dessert. No, not want, NEED.

Pizza? Eh, I can live without it. Chips and Cheetos? No problem. But dessert, especially chocolate…? Uh, I’m not giving either up anytime soon.

The quantity of sugar I used to eat was really what caused my weight to swell. Instead of having a little piece of candy or a bite of someone else’s dessert, I’d eat half a bag of those Dove dark chocolate squares or multiple slices of cake at sleepovers and parties. I craved the sweetness…and bad.

I went many months without eating dessert, saying no to squishy cafeteria cookies and pie at Thanksgiving. Eventually, I weaned myself off of sugar, like the good healthy disciple I am.

But that was no fun. I’d bake cookies or brownies for my parents or friends and never taste a bite! One day, I decided that enough was enough—I wanted dessert again.

Now, however, I consume my sweets healthfully. I bake completely gluten-free and mostly dairy free, sweetening only with small quantities of raw honey or coconut sugar. I have a reasonable portion on Saturdays and Sundays and save really decadent treats for vacation and special occasions. 

I love making my dessert and enjoying it, too. And you know what? So can you! In my opinion, a homemade baked good here and there is an important part of any diet…just in moderation. So, if you’re looking for a tasty weeknight or weekend project, try recreating these two incredible desserts. 


The biscotti were inspired by Gather, one of my new favorite cookbooks. (Yes, I chased the UPS truck to attain my copy.) If you haven’t already taken a peek, definitely check it out.

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Do not use tinfoil, or else you will have crunchy silvery bits in your cookies.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1 egg, 1/3 cup of raw honey, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract on medium (for me, about setting 4) until homogeneous, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 2 cups of blanched almond flour, 1/3 cup of arrowroot flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. Break up any clumps with your hands.

Using a scoop or measuring cup, add about 1 cup of the dry ingredients at a time to the wet ingredients and mix until well-incorporated, about 3 minutes. Then, with a spatula, fold in an additional 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder and 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips. (I used Enjoy Life, but you can also use 3 ounces of chopped dark chocolate.) 


Dump all of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and with your hands, flatten it into a 1-inch thick circle-ish-rectangle-thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

Bake until golden brown on top but not solid as a rock, about 20 minutes.


Allow the circle-ish-rectangle-thing to cool for at least 15 minutes, then slice it into eighths. Flip the cookies on their sides so the inside is facing up, and bake for another 15 minutes.

Once beginning to brown on the insides, decrease the oven temperature to 250 degrees. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want your biscotti.


Immediately upon exiting the oven, drizzle the cookies with some melted dark chocolate (I only needed about an ounce to give them a proper coating.) Don’t be stingy…be like Jackson Pollock!

You could always eat these biscotti with a strong espresso and call it a day, but I don’t recommend eating one without this chocolate mousse. It’s insanely easy to make; just do it!

In the bowl of a food processor, blend 4 eggs until airy and pale yellow, about 3 to 4 minutes. Because you’ll be eating the eggs raw, buy the freshest product possible, even if it costs a little extra.

While the eggs blend, melt 4 ounces of dark chocolate in a small saucepan or in the microwave with 30-second intervals. I used Alter Eco Blackout Chocolate, which is gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.

To the eggs, pour in the melted chocolate, 2 tablespoons of strong decaf coffee (not caffeinated, or you’ll be bouncing off the walls), and 1/3 cup of palm shortening. Blend until the consistency of a thick sauce, about 3 minutes, then drizzle in 2 teaspoons of raw honey. Mix for 1 minute more before evenly dividing it between 4 6-ounce ramekins.

Let chill for at least 2 hours (preferably longer) before serving. Top with a dollop of coconut cream and/or fresh fruit to serve.

What dessert is your weakness? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!

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Fudgy Chocolate Banana Brownies (gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo)

April 28, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

Hi everyone! Wondering why nothing’s been posted in the past few days?

Well, I was on a trip with my school’s music ensembles to Six Flags. Fun? Yes. I went on the ride pictured below, Batwing, with my friends—it was pretty awesome. I think I screamed the entire time.


So was healthy food available? Unless you consider a double bacon cheeseburger and fries nutritious, uh, no. I am unbelievably happy to be in contact with real food again.


OK, I know what you’re thinking: that’s not real food! I wish. Although I don’t recommend eating brownies every day, these are about as close to nutritionally sound as you can get. Save a little room after dinner and allow yourself a moist, fudgy treat.

To ZipList this recipe, click here.

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8 x 8 baking sheet with parchment paper, then grease with coconut oil. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. I have made brownies too many times to count, and I’ve learned the hard way that if you don’t effectively prepare the pan, you’re going to get a big crumbly mess. Please spare yourself from the extra cleanup. 


In a small saucepan, melt 4 ounces of dark chocolate over low heat. I used about 3.5 ounces (one bar) of Green’s Organics 85% Dark Chocolate and .5 ounces (one square) of Ghiradelli 100% Baking Chocolate, but feel free to use any chocolate between the 70% and 100% cacao mass range.

While the chocolate melts, puree 2 ripe bananas in the food processor until smooth and the consistency of pancake batter, about 3 minutes. Set aside for later use.


In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 3 eggs on medium (for me, about setting 6) until light and airy, about 4 minutes. Then, gently pour in 1/4 cup of palm shortening (I buy Spectrum—you can get it at Whole Foods), 1/4 cup of refined coconut oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of raw honey. Mix until combined, about 3 minutes. It may seem a little clumpy, but fear not!


Scoop in the melted chocolate with a spatula, and mix for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Once combined, add in 1 cup of blanched almond flour, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Mix until thick and homogeneous, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour your batter into the readied pan and smooth with a spatula to evenly distribute. Top with the pureed bananas and swirl with a toothpick, if you like.


Bake until a toothpick comes out clean in the center, about 20 minutes. If you’re like me and you like crunchy corners and tops, broil on low for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Don’t go overboard, or you will have desert-dry brownies.


Immediately upon removing from the oven, dust the tops with about a tablespoon of raw cacao powder. Allow to rest in the pan for 30 minutes before flipping onto a cutting board, slicing, and serving.


YUM. Nothing like a brownie, eh? 

What dessert should I try next? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!

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Guest Post: Strawberry-Almond Cupcakes (gluten-free, Paleo)

April 24, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page


Here’s the link!

Cupcakes are a great way to enjoy a treat in a pint-sized portion. Unfortunately, many gluten-free cupcakes are dense, flavorless, and/or filled with “fake” ingredients. Who wants to eat that?

These, however, are fluffy, pleasantly sweet, and made with only the best; perfect for a spring or summer party. No fancy Honeywell almond flour? No problem! These only use coconut flour, which I’ve found at a variety of supermarkets, including Stop and Shop, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s.

To see these fabulous cupcakes, head on over to Living Healthy With Chocolate, one of my favorite food sites. Adriana, the confectionery genius behind the blog, makes mouth-watering Paleo desserts that are super easy to make. Paleo Marble Cake? Coconut Cream Pie? Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies? Yes, please! 

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