Omega-3 Almond Butter Cups

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These little treats are quick, easy, a real crowd pleaser, and, with the addition of flax seed meal, even provide a little Omega-3 boost!

Makes 24 mini cups

Ingredients

3/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup pecans

1/4 flax seed meal

4 tbsp. coconut oil, melted and divided

2 tbsp. maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Equipment

Food processor

Mini muffin tin

Mini muffin parchment paper cups 

Directions

  1. In a food processor, begin to process the almonds and pecans. Let it run for several minutes until the nuts become creamy. Add in the flax seed meal, 2 tbsp. of coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and process for another 20-30 seconds.
  2. Line a mini muffin tin with parchment paper mini muffin liners. Scoop 2 teaspoons of the nut mixture into each liner and press down along the bottom.
  3. Wash out the work bowl and return it to the base. Process the chocolate chips until they become small, soft lumps. Add the last 2 tbsp. melted oil and continue to process until the mixture is a creamy liquid.
  4. Pour 1 teaspoon of the chocolate mixture on top of each nut patty.
  5. Place the entire tray in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Eat them soon after removal from the freezer and store them there, since they will soften quickly at room temperature!

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Fancy Quiche with Caramelized Onions, Sausage, and Sweet Potato Crust

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This recipe doesn’t require too much of an introduction. It was amazing. We had an early “Christmas Day” at our house today, since actual Christmas Day will be somewhat unpredictable and on-the-fly this year. In honor of the occasion, I wanted something extra special for breakfast, and that’s exactly what we had!

Fancy Quiche with Caramelized Onions, Sausage, and Sweet Potato Crust

Serves 4

Cook Time: 70 minutes (the caramelized onions can be made ahead of time to speed up morning cook time)

Ingredients

2 tbsp. butter

1 yellow onion

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. thyme

1 large sweet potato

2 tbsp. butter

1 lb. sausage

6 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 350.

Melt the first 2 tbsp. butter in a pan over medium heat. Cut the top and bottom off the onion, then cut in half from top to bottom. Cut into 1/4” slices, then add to the pan, stirring to coat with butter. Continue to cook until the onions become translucent. Add the salt and thyme and stir to mix. Turn the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 40 more minutes. The onions should be brown, but not crispy.

While the onions are cooking, peel and chop the sweet potato. Steam or boil the pieces until soft, about 10-15 minutes. I used the steamer basket in my rice cooker.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat up a second pan on the stove to medium, and brown the sausage.

When the potatoes are done, put them in a food processor with the second 2 tbsp. butter, and season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth.

Scoop the potatoes into a glass pie dish, and spread them evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the dish.

Combine the sausage and onions in one of the pans, then spread it all evenly into the pie shell.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs with salt and pepper. Pour the mixed eggs evenly over the sausage.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the egg is firm and no longer runny. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Cut into pie slices and serve to anxiously waiting guests!

Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash Soup

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I love butternut squash all year, but they are extra-perfect in fall.  I have a few recipes for them that I’ve been working on and aren’t quite ready. This one I threw together a year ago, and it was wonderful on the first try.  Because of the apples, it’s even more fall-ish, which might be why I waited an entire year to bring it out again.  The addition of chicken or turkey makes it a nice hearty main course, but you can leave that out to make it as a side dish.

Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 4, with leftovers

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash

3 green apples

1 yellow onion

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp avocado oil

1 can full-fat coconut milk

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. sage

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 lb sliced or chopped turkey or chicken breast

Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

4 bacon slices

Directions

Preheat oven to 425.

With veggie peeler, peel squash.  Cut in half, scoop out seeds, and chop into 1 inch chunks.  Peel, core, and chop apples.  Chop onion.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cover with chopped squash, apples and onions.  Drizzle with avocado oil, season with salt and pepper, and mix gently to coat.

Roast for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.  Edges of squash should be just browning.

Blend squash mixture with 1 can coconut milk in a food processor or blender in batches, if needed.

Pour in saucepan on medium low.  Season with garlic powder, thyme, sage, nutmeg.

Melt the 1 tbsp coconut oil in a pan.  Add the chopped turkey or chicken breast, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and cook through. Add to soup. Thin with water if desired.

Crisp 1 slice bacon per planned bowl.  Dish up and crumble bacon on top to serve.

Chocolate PB&J Bars

These date bars are easy, versatile, and travel well. I started experimenting with making bars two years ago as fuel for long trail runs and races. It turned out everyone in the family loved them, so we’ve made quite a few since then.  Beyond just squishing a handful of dates together, the possibilities are endless as far as tweaking the additional fruits, flavorings, and seasonings.  This particular recipe came out really well.  It calls for dried blueberries, which always come sweetened, but you can easily dry your own.  Spread a package of fresh blueberries on a cookie sheet, and bake at 200℉ for 4-6 hours until the berries are shriveled.

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Chocolate PB&J Bars

Makes 8 bars or 16 bites

Ingredients:

2 cups medjool dates

1 cup dried blueberries

1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup almond butter

Directions:

1. Cut each date in half and remove the pit.  Place all the dates in a food processor and process until they become a uniform ball.  Remove the clump of dates to a mixing bowl.

2. Pour the blueberries, chocolate chips, and sea salt to the food processor and process until well chopped and mixed. Place these in the mixing bowl with the dates.

3. Add the almond butter to the mixing bowl and combine it all with a wooden spoon.  It will be very thick, so spreading the mixture out then folding it back on itself can be effective.

4. Place a sheet of parchment paper over an 8×8 glass dish, then drop the mixture from the bowl into the middle of the paper.  Use the spoon to spread the mixture into an even layer in the dish.

5. Refrigerate until firm, at least half an hour.  Lift the entire thing out of the dish by the parchment paper, and cut into bars or bites.  Store in the fridge to keep solid.

Smoked Salmon Omelets with Bacon, Artichoke Hearts, and Mushrooms

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A successful fishing trip a week ago led to piles and piles of salmon filets, which led to a week long extravaganza of marinating, smoking, and vacuum sealing. As an end result, we have an obscene amount of smoked salmon, which is nothing to complain about.  My first impulse was to poach a few eggs and whip up some hollandaise sauce to smother the eggs and fish in together, but I was out of lemons, so these omelets were my backup.  There were no complaints when I served them up Saturday morning!

Smoked Salmon Omelets with Bacon, Artichoke Hearts, and Mushrooms

Serves 3

Ingredients:

4 slices bacon
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup smoked salmon
1/2 cup artichoke hearts
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tbsp. butter, ghee or coconut oil
9 eggs
Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Cut bacon into bite sized pieces, and place in pan over medium heat.
2. Allow to almost crisp on one side, then give them a quick stir and add the mushrooms. Stir occasionally until mushrooms are soft.
3. Break the salmon into bite sized pieces, making sure all bones are removed.
4. Add salmon and artichoke hearts. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic powder and stir.
5. When salmon and artichokes are just warm, turn off heat.
6. In a second pan, heat 1/2 tbsp of the butter or coconut oil over heat just below medium.
7. Beat 3 eggs in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture into pan.
8. Allow to cook undisturbed until about half the thickness of the egg is firm, about 2 minutes.
9. Top half of the egg with 1/3 of the salmon mixture and fold the egg in half over the salmon. Cook a minute more, then flip the omelet over to the other side and cook for an additional minute.
10. When egg is firm throughout, remove to a plate, and repeat steps 6-10 for remaining two omelets.

Paleo Kitchen Basics: Mayonnaise

 

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Among mainstream nutrition circles, mayo is often seen as one of the greatest evils, and store-bought mayo truly is.  While composed of mainly benign-sounding eggs and oil, it’s the type of oil that makes all the difference.  Pre-made grocery store mayo is made of soybean oil, which is highly problematic.  At the top of the list are the inflammation-inducing properties of the high omega-6 content, which is a common characteristic of all vegetable oils.  On the wider scale, soy is a huge agricultural product, and is subject to the group of problems associated with all that is Monsanto: genetic modification, industrial refining processes (including solvent extraction with hexane; more about that here), and pesticide contamination. It can be mentioned that there are also hormone disrupting properties of soy, courtesy of phytoestrogens; however both soybean oil and soy sauce contain nearly unmeasurable quantities of those isoflavones. 

If you’re thinking, “I don’t eat mayonnaise by the spoonful.  How much damage can a little spread of soybean oil do?”, then take a look at this graph. Even if you don’t have a bottle of soybean oil in your pantry, you are likely consuming much more than you think.  Like to eat out?  You’ll be taking a hit of “vegetable oil blend” every time, usually a mix of canola, corn, and soy.  Use bottled salad dressing?  All soy with a dash of canola.  Some packaged foods claim they are “made with olive oil”, but they usually only contain a token amount of olive oil and are still overwhelmingly soy-based.  And if all that isn’t enough, mass-produced mayo includes added sugar and preservatives to increase shelf-life, appearance and texture.

So overall, unless you exclusively eat only homemade foods from scratch with the piety of a Buddhist monk, you’re probably getting veritably doused in this nasty stuff.  Taken with that point of view, every little thing you can do to minimize your exposure is a win. 

On to the good news! Mayo is super easy to make at home with the right tools.  The first time I made mayo years ago, I used olive oil.  It works well, but leaves the mayo sort of greenish, and has a strong flavor.  Now I use avocado oil, which is available at Costco for a steal. Most importantly, I use my awesome Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor.  Many appliances can be used: regular blenders, immersion blenders, different food processors, even a bowl and a whisk (though I wouldn’t even use that task as punishment).  The most important quality is that the mixture doesn’t heat up during the process, or you’ll end up with a slimy, runny mess.

The mayonnaise is not only good for old standbys like using with tuna, egg-salad, or deviled eggs, but is a great base for sauces, dips, spreads, and creamy salad dressings. 

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Homemade Mayo

Yield: About 1 cup

Ingredients

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

1 tsp. dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup avocado oil

Directions

  1. Add the egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice, mustard, and salt to the food processor or blender and turn on to blend.
  2. With the appliance still running, begin slowly adding the oil in a very thin stream.  If you have the same food processor I have, you can just fill up the small push tube with oil.  It will drain into the work bowl through the small hole.
  3. After 1/4 cup or so, you should notice the emulsification beginning.  Continue to slowly pour in all of the oil.
  4. Once all the oil is in, turn off your appliance right away. Your mayo is done!  Store it in a glass jar in the fridge.  

 

Troubleshooting:

I have a nasty looking yellowish liquid that looks like…oil mixed with egg.

The mixture didn’t emulsify.  Check for heat.  Is your appliance hot, or is your house very warm? Try cooling the mixture in the fridge for a few minutes, then start again from step one with new eggs, vinegar, mustard and salt, but this time use the chilled mixture as the oil.

It mostly looks like mayonnaise, but there’s a layer of oil and egg at the bottom.

Just use a spatula to scrape up the layer and mix in with the mayo, then give it another whirl in the food processor for a few seconds to blend it in.

The mayo is really firm and a little chunky.

It’s overblended, but can still have purpose in life!  Store it in the fridge and use it for dips and sauces that call for mixing with creamier ingredients like coconut milk.

 

Paleo Alaska Jambalaya

We drove up to Talkeetna a few weeks ago to visit Denali Brewing for lunch and do a little fishing.  While we didn’t have much luck fishing, lunch was definitely a success.  I decided to venture away from my usual chicken salad or lettuce wrapped burger and tried their Creamy Cajun: white rice with a creamy tomato sauce topped with chicken, shrimp, and reindeer sausage.  It was so good I had to try my own, and I’m pleased to say the first attempt hit the mark!

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Paleo Alaska Jambalaya 

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs

1 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided

1 head cauliflower

2 tbsp. coconut oil, divided

1 can full-fat coconut milk

6 oz. tomato paste

1/2 tsp. each sea salt, pepper, onion powder, oregano, thyme, smoked paprika

3/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

12 oz. kielbasa-style reindeer sausage

12 oz. rockfish, other firm white fish, or shrimp

Extra sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, pour in 3/4 c. of the chicken broth.  Add the chicken thighs, cover, bring up to a boil on medium heat, then turn down to a simmer. Turn off heat when just cooked through.

2. While the chicken is simmering, grate the raw cauliflower into “rice” using a box grater. Melt 1 tbsp. of the coconut oil in a pan over medium heat, add the cauli and stir to mix the oil through, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the remaining broth to the cauli 1/4 cup at a time, stirring each until absorbed before adding the next.  Turn to low to keep warm.

4. In a small saucepan, whisk the coconut milk and tomato paste together over medium heat.  Add all of the spices (sea salt, pepper, onion powder, oregano, thyme, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper) and continue to whisk until just bubbling.  Pour the sauce into the cauliflower and stir well.

5. Remove the chicken to a cutting board.  Using two forks, shred the meat and separate it from the bone and skin (discard them or stick them in the freezer to use for making chicken broth later).

6. Cut the fish into bite-sized pieces and slice the sausage into rounds.

7. Melt the last 1 tbsp. of coconut oil in a pan (last one!) over medium.  Add the fish and stir until just cooked through. Add the chicken and sausage and cook until the edges of the meats just begin to crisp.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

8. To serve, scoop about 3/4 cup of the cauliflower mixture in a bowl and top with about 1/2 cup of the meats.  Garnish with parsley.

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Breakfast Chicken-Fried Pork Chops with Eggs

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I make a lot of “surprise meals”: dishes that sound “eh”, but taste “wow!” and leave me feeling fantastic.  The idea of pork chops, particularly leftovers, for breakfast, doesn’t inspire me much.  One morning, I didn’t have bacon or sausage, but was greeted by another cut of pork in the fridge and thought, “Why not?”  The results were amazing!

Breakfast Chicken-Fried Pork Chops with Eggs

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 egg

1/2 cup almond flour

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. sage

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

3 tbsp. coconut oil, divided

4 fresh or leftover bone-in pork chops

8 additional eggs

Additional sea salt and pepper

Directions

1. In a shallow dish, beat the egg.

2. In a second shallow dish, mix the almond flour and garlic powder, sage, salt, and pepper.

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3. Heat 2 tbsp. of the coconut oil in a pan over medium heat.

4. Coat each pork chop in egg, then in the almond flour mixture.

5. Fry the pork chops in the coconut oil until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side for left overs, and 5-6 minutes per side for fresh chops, or to preferred doneness depending on thickness.  (Keep in mind that pork chops cooked medium are both okayed by the USDA and delicious! No more dried out chops from the 80’s!)

6. Melt the last tbsp. of coconut oil in the pan and fry the eggs to desired doneness.

7. Top each chop with two eggs and season with salt and pepper.

8. Dig in and start your morning super satisfied!