Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Paleo Bread + Pumpkin Applesauce

You read that right--you're getting 2 recipes in this post, to make up for my lack of culinary inspiration the past couple weeks.  Besides these two things, the new dishes I've tried lately have just been meh, and my only kitchen successes have been the oldies I've already shared with you.  For those of you who know me, the fact that these recipes include both a baked item and a dessert dish is probably mind-boggling.  But I have to keep you all on your toes, right?

In sweaty-mess news, I've decided to take this week off from the gym.  I've been getting up at 5AM to work out for about a year and a half now, and I think I just need a break from the grind.  This week I'm going to enjoy sleeping in and maybe taking a stroll around the neighborhood to enjoy the crisp fall weather I've been so anxiously awaiting.  My efforts in the gym have been less than inspiring the past couple of weeks, except for one gloriously sweaty tabata workout: alternating kettlebell swings and jumping rope.  Simply jump rope for 20s, rest for 10s, then do kettlebell swings for 20s (I used a 12kg kettlebell), rest for 10s, and repeat.  I did 6 rounds twice through for an effectively sweaty 15 minute workout.  Quick but intense, just how I like it.

I impulsively took today off to catch up on some errands, and it turns out there's a Top Chef Las Vegas marathon on the Esquire Network.  This raises two questions: 1) When did the Style Network become the Esquire Network, and 2) How will I ever tear myself away from the TV to get anything done?

Okay, now let's get to what you've all been waiting for: the food.

First up, paleo bread.  I saw this recipe on Elena's Pantry, a fun website to peruse through for whole food inspiration.  Now I really hate baking--I'm not a precise cook, and don't like the idea that you can't taste as you go like you can with savory dishes.  But for some reason, this recipe just screamed out to me.  The only ingredient I didn't have was flax meal, so I ran to Trader Joe's to buy some and didn't realize until I got home that not only did I not have a 9x5" loaf pan (thrown away after a tragic burned meatloaf incident), but the recipe actually calls for a 7.5x3.5" pan.  Who has that?  So I cooked mine in a 9" round cake pan (for all those layer cakes I've never made).  It ended up looking more like a cornbread, which doesn't bother me since I'm not slicing this bread for sandwiches anyway.  I've used it for a post-workout snack, and as a breakfast with some sunbutter or apple butter (or both) sprinkled with shredded coconut.  Holy yum. 

Paleo bread
Ingredients:
2c almond flour
2T coconut flour
1/4c ground flax seed
1/4t salt
1/2t baking soda
4XL eggs (or 5 large eggs)
1T coconut oil (no need to melt it, solid at room temp is fine)
1T honey
1T apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place almond flour, coconut flour, flax, salt, and baking soda in a food processor and pulse ingredients together.  Add eggs, oil, honey, and vinegar and pulse until combined.  Pour batter in to a 9" round cake pan greased with coconut oil (or 7.5x3.5 loaf pain if you have one), bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool before serving.

 
Source

So easy right??  I've made this 3 weeks in a row and I love it more every time.  Now the Coach thinks it has a "Passover-food" texture, which is not a compliment if you've ever been unlucky enough to sample some Kosher Passover baked goods, but when you heat it up and add some delicious toppings it doesn't taste dry at all.  It's light and fluffy, with a nutty flavor from the flax and a touch of sweetness from the honey.  This feels like a real treat in this grain-free household, but it's healthy, so that's pretty fun right?

Alright, on to the next one...

It's apple season in upstate New York (or everywhere I guess), which means the Coach and I have approximately 2 bushels of apples in our refrigerator.  I realized over the weekend that we couldn't possibly eat all of them in a timely fashion, so I decided to make them in to applesauce.  I've never done this before, but I saw so many mouth-watering recipes on Pinterest that I couldn't resist trying one of them.  Naturally I settled on the one that included pumpkin.  I am officially on the pumpkin bandwagon.  Now the original recipe called for the juice of 1 lemon, which I did, but having used tart apples as the base this yielded a pretty tart sauce.  Which I LOVE, but if you're looking for something sweeter, either use sweet apples or omit the lemon juice.

Pumpkin applesauce
Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds apples, cored and chopped (skins on)
2t ground cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon (optional, for a tarter applesauce)
3/4c water
 1/2c pumpkin puree
1t vanilla 

In a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, combine apples, cinnamon, lemon juice, and water.  The liquid will not cover the apples.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat.  Simmer the apples for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally, until apples are super soft.  Once apples are nice and tender, remove the pot from the heat.
For chunky applesauce, add pumpkin puree and vanilla.  Smash apples with a potato masher until you reach the desired chunkiness.
For smooth applesauce, use an immersion blender or carefully transfer everything to a food processor or vanilla.  Add pumpkin puree and vanilla. Puree until desired consistency.

Source

 As long as you wash your apples before, it's OK to leave the skins since they don't change the texture at all and have a ton of good-for-you nutrients.  Also, I'm lazy so I enjoyed skipping the peeling process.  This recipe is SO EASY and makes your house smell heavenly.  The pumpkin adds such a yummy sweetness without having to add any sugar to the sauce.  This sauce tasted best after sitting in the fridge for a few hours.  It will stay good in the fridge for 1 week, or for 3 months in the freezer.  Want a good breakfast idea?  Applesauce with crumbled paleo bread nuked for a minute and topped with a dollop of nutbutter and shredded coconut.  There are no words...

Hope you guys enjoy these treats, let me know how they turn out if you try them!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Paleo Spaghetti and Meatballs

It's too hot out to exist.  Since moving out of the city, I've tolerated summers a lot better thanks to air conditioning in my home, car, and work.  So basically I can avoid being outdoors if I want to.  Nothing like being baked from your feet up on city sidewalks.  But even though I'm not in a full-body sweat from June to September, I still prefer fall in all its apple-picking glory (the Coach and I went to our local orchard this weekend and 203859048 apples later, I'm a happy camper).  So anyway, I did not enjoy the 95 degree weather we had today.  Yuck.

It was so soupy out this morning that my gym was already hot and humid at 6am.  Supposedly it's air conditioned, but the insta-sweat I acquired by stepping through the door indicates the opposite.  So by the time I got settled and was ready to do my thing, I honestly didn't think I'd be able to hold on to a kettlebell because my hands were already slick.  And the mirrors were fogged up.  So I loudly groaned and hopped on the treadmill with the latest Women's Health and did my old standby walk/read routine that looks like this:

0-5 minutes 3.5 mph, 4.0 incline
5-10 minutes 4.0 mph, 6.0 incline
10-15 minutes 3.5 mph, 10.0 incline
15-20 minutes 4.0 mph, 8.0 incline
20-25 minutes 4.0 mph, 6.0 incline
25-30 minutes 3.5 mph, 10.0 incline
30-35 minutes 4.0 mph, 8.0 incline
35-40 minutes 3.5 mph, 6.0 incline

I like this workout because I can flip through a magazine since the intervals are long enough for me to take my eyes off the clock, but I'm still huffing and puffing at the end.  And you know I love me some people watching at the gym--makes the time fly!

In other exciting news, I conquered my fear and made spaghetti squash last night.  Well, I really didn't conquer anything because I still came pretty close to slicing a finger off.  BUT I did take the advice of my good friend Ray and nuked the whole squash for 3 minutes before cutting it which definitely helped my knife work.  Even so, I need to just get 2 small squashes next time instead of being so entranced by the ginormous one.  But this recipe made me a believer, let me tell you!  I found this recipe in Living Paleo for Dummies and it was a total winner.  I usually avoid spaghetti squash but this dish intrigued me because you cook the meatballs in the oven with the spaghetti squash.  Gotta love cramming the oven full of food!

Paleo Spaghetti and Meatballs
Ingredients:
1 large spaghetti squash
3T water
1lb ground beef
1 large egg
3 cloves garlic, minced
28-oz diced tomatoes
8 large basil leaves, julienned
s&p

Preheat the oven to 375.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Place the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet and sprinkle water around the squash.  In a large bowl, mix the meat, egg, 1 clove of garlic, s&p.  Roll in to meatballs (I got about 12) on another baking sheet.  Place both baking sheets in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat some cooking fat on the stove over medium heat and cook the other 2 cloves garlic until fragrant, about 60 seconds.  Then add the tomatoes and basil, season with s&p.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
When the timer goes off, the meatballs should be golden brown.  Leave the spaghetti squash in the oven for 10 more minutes.  Put the meatballs in the sauce to stay warm.  When the squash is done, scrape the inside with a fork to shred the squash in to spaghetti-like strands.  Mix it also together and, voila!  Paleo spaghetti and meatballs!


Source


This meal was so good and reminded me more of real spaghetti and meatballs than my beloved zoodles do.  But more dangerous in a dismemberment sort of way...anyway the Coach and I slurped it up!  The meatballs were really moist and tender, not dried out like the ones I've tried that use coconut flour, or crumbly like ones with almond flour.  Definitely a hit in our house!

Hope everyone survived the heat today!



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Barbacoa Meatballs

Football is back!  I'm so happy to have Tom Brady back in the house again, it just feels right.  The only thing that would make this Pats game better would be a nice fall-ish beer, but my stomach is NOT happy with all the birthday food I've been eating lately, so that will have to wait.

The Coach took me out to a delicious pre-birthday dinner at a new-to-us restaurant on Friday (Tala Bistro for the locals), where I had possibly one of the greatest bites of food of my life.  It was called "ham and eggs", and was a piece of barbecued pork belly sitting on a mound of the smoothest sweet potato puree, topped with a fried egg.  Holy yum.  And very kosher.  It basically required a moment of silence.  After that, the rest of the meal was pretty good, but nothing could compare to that plate of utter heaven.

Yesterday we spent my birthday with my family, chatting and laughing, and enjoying my mom's chocolate chip cheesecake (are you starting to see why my belly is unhappy).  We stayed over night with my parents, planning on going for a hike this morning but it was drizzly out so instead we opted to cozy up with coffee on the couch and relax.  Definitely a good call.  I had a great birthday, full of quality family time and the sweetest messages from my friends :)  It almost makes me excited to officially be in my late 20s...

I'm happy to have a fridge full of healthy eats right now.  Nothing like a weekend full of sugar foods to make you excited to eat a salad.

I made this recipe a few weeks ago and the Coach and I agreed that this was a really fun twist on your standard meatball.  I've become a huge meatball fan recently but I'm on a perpetual hunt for something different, so this dish was right up my alley.  The original recipe calls for lime zest, but I didn't have a lime on hand so used an orange instead and loved the interesting flavors.  I also eliminated the coriander and cinnamon because, well, I just can't get in to the flavor of coriander, and without that spice I figured the cinnamon was unnecessary.

Barbacoa meatballs
Ingredients:
1lb ground beef
1t granulated garlic
1t cumin
1t chili powder
1t paprika
1t oregano
1/2t salt
1/2t cayenne
zest of 1 orange


Preheat your oven to 400.  In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together all the meatball ingredients.  Roll the meat in to 12-15 meatballs and put them on an oven-safe baking dish.  Bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

barbacoa meatballs
Source
I mean, how easy is that recipe?  You have no excuse to not try this one out.  I served the meatballs with carrot-flower puree and the Coach and I couldn't get enough.  The meat was tangy and spicy while the puree was deliciously sweet and smooth.  These meatballs would also be good served with a nice salsa or gauc on the side, or even just cooked up as ground beef on the stove top for taco salads.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Crockpot Asian Carnitas

I can't believe how much more motivated I am to keep a clean kitchen since we moved in to the new house.  I actually wipe down the counters every night.  With spray.  And sweep most nights too.  Who am I?  The kitchen isn't even substantially bigger than the apartment, but it's more open so the TV is in earshot while I clean.  Nothing makes me want to get down and scrub like Project Runway, let me tell ya.

The Coach and I finally got a grill yesterday--wahoo!  We (a.k.a. I) have been talking about it ever since we upgraded to a porch that doesn't overlook a parking lot.  With wonderfully generous housewarming gifts from our parents, we finally splurged.  So get ready for some grilling recipes!  That is, once we get propane.  Because it turns out that when you buy a grill it doesn't magically come with fuel.  Or instill in you an instant knowledge of all things charred.  But don't worry, I got a wok on super-sale at Macy's yesterday so once I learn how to turn this beast on, I will at the very minimum be able to tell you how to stir fry some veggies.  I know you were worried.

In sweaty-mess news, my gym is being renovated.  And by renovated, I mean the carpet was torn out of the locker room 3 months ago.  And until this weekend, the transition had pretty much ended there.  Now they're replacing the carpet in the gym itself (still naked floors in the women's bathroom), and in the process squished basically every machine in the gym in to a 10' x 10' space.  Which doesn't bother me because I only use free weights and barbells, but I have to say watching the people who normally use those machines exclusively wander aimlessly this morning was pretty amusing.  I know, I'm mean, but seriously if the bicep machine is pushed up against the calf raise gadget and you don't know how to survive, then your gym membership should be cancelled.

So as you may remember, the Coach dislikes the crockpot.  For that reason, I basically save the slow cooker for preparing protein for my weekday lunches.  I typically toss some chicken and Frank's in there and call it a day, every now and then throwing in cocoa coffee chili rubbed pulled pork for a change.  And then I met this recipe from TGIPaleo and my world was effectively rocked.  This is hands down the best crockpot recipe I've ever made or tried.  And it's so so so easy!  I know what you're wondering...did the Coach like it?  I'd like to say he did, but he's a crockpot snob and said it was dry.  Which it isn't.  So ignore him and listen to me, ok?

Crockpot Asian Carnitas
Ingredients:
3-5 lbs pork shoulder or butt (I've tried boneless and bone-in and thought the bone-in kept it juicier)
1/4 c Sesame Oil (I did half sesame and half olive oil because sesame is a bit too strong for me)
6 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 c Rice Vinegar
2 T Fresh Ginger, grated
1/4 c Low Sodium Tamari (soy, aminos, etc)
1/2t Cayenne

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients and pour over the pork in the crockpot.  Cook on low for 10 hours.

The pork should be fall apart tender at this point.  Now put it on a large baking dish and break it in to smaller pieces, however you like.  Broil for 8-10 minutes until each piece is browned and slightly crispy.  You might be tempted to skip this step, but trust me it's worth it for the crispy result.

Source

Your kitchen will smell amazing.  And if pork weirds you out, I've also made this with chicken and it turns out almost as delicious.  Are you drooling yet?  Because you should be.

That's all for today folks!  Hope everyone had a nice Labor Day!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I'm Baaaaack + Chinese Fried Rice


It's officially the end of summer, so I am officially back in action.  See what I did there--made it seem like I intentionally took a warm weather hiatus from blogging?  In reality, the Coach's summer schedule allowed him to get home from work by 6 every night, and his presence made the whole "I'm going to blog in order to keep myself from snacking until my husband gets home" routine unnecessary.  So instead I spent the summer stockpiling some delish recipes to report on once I'm once again twiddling my thumbs until it's time for family dinner.

Today is the perfect day to start, as the Coach is away for the weekend...at a bachelor party...in Vegas.  I'm a pretty cool wife, no?  Really, I was also invited since it's a joint bachelor-bachelorette deal but I had to work this weekend so it was a solo trip for my better half.  I'm trying not to dwell on how ridiculously jealous and painfully bummed I am not to not be partaking in the celebration.  

In other masochistic news, I'm finishing up my second Whole30.  I'm actually on Day 29 of a Whole35--I added some extra days because my birthday is next week so why not honor 5 weeks of no grains, dairy, legumes, sugar or alcohol with birthday cake?  If you recall, I kind of went bananas after my first Whole30, celebrating my last day with lots of sweets and booze and basically flushing all my hard work down the toilet.  Looks like I'm heading down that road again...but I'm too excited for dinner out with the Coach followed by my mom's cheesecake the next day to responsibly modify my plans by slowly exposing myself to those sinful foods.  Gluttonous indulgence it is then!

As I still have 5 days remaining between me and a slice of gluten-free pizza, this recipe is Whole30-approved.  The Coach and I used to get Chinese take-out all the time when we lived in Boston, and even though we have yet to find a restaurant that rivals the whole-in-the-wall joint on the BU campus we frequented post-bar so many times in our youth, we have narrowed in on a few contenders since moving to upstate NY.  Since adopting a mostly Paleo lifestyle however, eating greasy takeout usually leaves me feeling ill 100% of the time, so this fried rice recipe has come in handy when I'm trying to quench the craving without having to lie down for an hour afterward.

Chinese fried rice
Ingredients:
1lb ground chicken
1 head cauliflower
3 eggs
1T fresh grated ginger
1 large garlic clove minced
1 large onion, diced
1 pepper, diced
3 carrots, diced
1/2t cayenne
3T low sodium tamari (or soy, aminos, etc)
1t toasted sesame oil 

First, rice your cauliflower.  I prefer this method: chop up the florets in to chunks small enough to fit in to a blender.  Then fill the blender with water and pulse until you get tiny, rice-sized pieces (for me it's about 10 pulses).  Drain, and then steam your cauliflower in the microwave until nearly tender.

While the cauliflower is going, heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the sesame oil, and scramble your eggs.  Take your eggs out while they're still soft and not completely done, they'll continue to cook when you add them back in.

Add some cooking fat to the skillet (I used coconut oil) crank the heat up to medium high.  Brown your chicken and season with s&p.  Once that's done, add your veggies (feel free to change these up, broccoli slaw would probably be a nice sub) and cook until tender.

Once your veggies are cooked, add the tamari, cayenne, garlic, and ginger.  Add your cauliflower back to the pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and let everything hang out for 5-10 minutes.  Throw your eggs in to the mix, and taste for seasoning.  Enjoy!

DSC_0996
Source


This meal really is pretty killer.  The Coach picked out the biggest head of cauliflower I've ever seen so we had massive amounts of leftovers, which I am still enjoying.  And I'm not one to partake in leftovers, really at all.  It seems like a lot of steps but aside from having to clean an extra piece of equipment (the blender), this meal is pretty cinchy.  And a pretty good fake-out.  So make it and let me know what ya think, ok?

Hope everyone is enjoying their Labor Day weekend!  Back to work for the holiday for this girl though.  I've had two days with lots of rest + shopping, a good combo considering the crummy weather so I can't complain.  Thanks for coming back and checking out the blog!