Tag Archives: Paleo

Curried Pumpkin-Cauliflower Soup

 

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That’s right. Another pumpkin recipe. But it’s only September, and with our first real cold front coming through tomorrow, I believe it’s high time for soup to hit the household menu.

Soups are perhaps my favorite cool-weather food to prepare. They’re incredibly simple, and they’re a fantastic way to consume a variety of vegetables without having to force another forkful of cold, bitter greens into your mouth. Pumpkin, in particular, as well as plenty of other winter squashes, bring a particular savory sweetness to this soup that plays against the tingly warmth of the curry spices. The coconut milk and  cauliflower, being a common ingredients in Indian fare, tie the flavors all together with velvety richness.

 

Curried Pumpkin-Cauliflower Soup
{paleo, gluten free, vegan-optional}

2 tbsp ghee, butter, or coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated (about a thumb-sized knob)
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups cauliflower florets
1-14 oz can pumpkin puree (about 2 cups)
1-14 oz can full-fat coconut milk (about 2 cups)

In a large saucepan, melt the ghee, butter, or coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until mostly translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, coriander and salt, and stir for a minute or two until highly fragrant.

Add the stock, cauliflower, and pumpkin puree. Bring to a boil, then lower to a steady simmer, and cook until cauliflower is soft and easily pierced with a fork.

Remove from heat, add the coconut milk. Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or by (carefully!) blending in batches in either a blender or a food processor.

 

Sweet Potato, Apple, & Poblano Hash

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One of my very favorite things about this time of year is that the great variety of seasonal chiles appear in the farmers markets and grocery stores. As a native Texan, you might think that my favorite of these is the jalapeño. It’s not. Those things are perfect paired with cream cheese for Armadillo eggs or for stuffing tamales, but they’re not my favorite. No, mine’s the poblano. It barely makes the chart on the scoville scale, carrying just a tinge of heat, but provides a lot of flavor. I never make chile con carne the same way twice, but my best versions always contained roasted poblanos. But that’s another post.

Lately I’ve been eating a lot of hash. The tiny baby-bite-sized cubes are perfect for Isaac to pick at, and I find that a dish of hash with two eggs baked on top makes for the most satisfying breakfast. This morning I found myself (sadly) without bacon, but when I realized I had a green apple and a farmers market poblano on hand, I realized I could make a hash perfect for a September breakfast.

 

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Sweet Potato, Apple, & Poblano Hash
{gluten free, paleo}
Serves 2

1 large sweet potato
1 green apple
1 poblano chile
2 tbsp pastured lard, ghee, or coconut oil
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 green onions

Dice the sweet potato and apple into a fine dice. These need to be finely diced rather than chopped into large cubes, so that they will cook sufficiently in the pan.

Cut the poblano in half length-wise, remove the seed, membrane, and stem, and finely dice.

Set a cast iron pan over medium-high heat and add the fat to the pan. All the fat to heat up, but don’t let it get so hot that it smokes.

Add the sweet potato, apple, and poblano to the pan and toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Allow to cook on medium or medium-high, stirring ONLY OCCASIONALLY. You want the sweet potato to develop some caramelization, and that won’t happen if it all keeps getting tossed around. After about 10-15 minutes, test a piece of sweet potato to make sure that it’s cooked through.

Sliced up some green onions and serve on top.

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*DON’T FORGET! I’ve got a giveaway going on HERE through 9/16/14 at 11:59 PM. Don’t miss out! *

 

 

Halfway there – 21 Day Sugar Detox

Ed and I are already halfway through our 21 Day Sugar Detox! This round has brought a few different challenges than the first did, as well as some new opportunities. You know how necessity is the mother of invention? Well, it’s something like that. Here’s how things are going so far:

Weight loss: I’ve lost what was left of my pregnancy pounds and then some. However, I met that on day 2 of the detox, so it probably had more to do with my pre-existing eating patterns.

Detox symptoms: Ed didn’t appear to have any negative reactions, but I suffered some cold/flu symptoms last week. I didn’t experience this during my first round. My best guess for this is that the first round was with the ebook guidelines, which suggested an additional starchy carb for EACH MEAL for the nursing modification, while the current guidelines only suggests a starchy carb at least once a day. I don’t have an intellectual problem with eating more starches (I normally have a moderate carb diet already), but since Ed isn’t on an energy modification, it’s usually easier just to steam up some cauliflower for both of us instead of preparing a starch source for myself in addition to everything. Thus, I’ve been eating lower carb than I normally do.

Positive reactions: Ed’s moods have improved and we’ve both been better at eating more vegetables.

Cheats?: Of course. Last week Ed ate a jelly donut at work without thinking, and when he forgot his lunch today he ate at Taco Bell, later noting that everything tasted very processed and super-sweet. My cheats have really been “bending” of the rules. For example, 2 pieces of approved fruit instead of 1, a full 16 oz of kombucha instead of 8, or level 1 approved rice at the Thai restaurant even though I’m following level 2. Today I ran out of green-tipped bananas and supplemented with my frozen overripe bananas. THAT tasted REALLY sweet! Other than that, I think the biggest cheat was the Thai restaurant. We both ordered red curry and stuck with rice, but I’m positive the sauce had sugar in it. Ah well.

Food I’m missing: Chocolate. Wooo boy.

Best detox meal: PIZZA. I made this cauliflower crust and loaded it with peppers, spinach, mushrooms, olives, Italian sausage, tomato sauce, and a FULL POUND of whole milk mozzarella. It was so beautiful I instagrammed it, and Ed said it was better than Dominos or Pizza Hut!

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Worst recipe: I’m working on a tortilla recipe. It’s still in the fail box in my mind, but I’m not giving up!

Best recipe adaptation: Alton Brown’s Shepherd’s Pie. I’ve used this recipe for my Shepherd’s Pie for years since the flavors are so spot-on, so when I was inspired to make a 21DSD-friendly meat pie, I went back to this recipe for guidance. In the end I made quite a few changes. Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb, so technically this would be closer to a Cottage Pie since I used beef. I also wanted to make my meat stretch, so I added diced mushrooms and … chicken livers! I’ve been meaning to get more organ meats into my diet, and grinding livers and adding it to ground beef is both nutritious and economical, and it makes no difference in taste. I changes a few other ingredients to be more detox-friendly, and I did make two different toppings for Ed and myself–a cauli-mash topping for him and a Japanese sweet potato topping for me!

 

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 Shepherd’s (Cottage) Pie  – (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Primal, 21DSD, WAPF)
Adapted from Alton Brown
Serves 6

*For sweet potato topping:

2 lbs Japanese sweet potato
2 tbsp butter, ghee, tallow, or lard
1/4 cup milk type drink of your choice
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk

For cauliflower topping:

1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup chicken or beef stock
2 tbsp butter, ghee, tallow, or lard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 egg yolk

For the filling:

1 tbsp butter, ghee, tallow, or lard
1 small chopped onion
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb liver, finely diced either by hand or food processor, or ground (I used chicken, but I have it on good authority that lamb liver is great as well)
2 tbsp arrowroot flour**
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup beef or chicken stock
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp fish sauce (Red Boat brand is sugar free and therefore 21DSD-friendly)
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

If using sweet potato, peel and chop your sweet potatoes into medium chunks. In a large pot, add the chopped potatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to boil and allow to cook until potatoes pierce easily with a fork. Using either a potato masher, a food processor, or hand mixer, mash or puree the potatoes roughly. Allow to cool a bit. Add the butter, milk, salt, and egg yolk and continue to mash or puree until smooth. Some small chunks are fine.

If using cauliflower, roughly chop the cauliflower, discarding the steams and leaves. In a large or saucepan, add the stock and cauliflower and cover with a lid. Bring to boil, then lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook until cauliflower easily pierces with a fork. Drain liquid and allow to cool a bit. Add butter, salt, pepper, and egg yolk, and puree or mash with a food processor, potato masher, or hand mixer.

Set a large saute pan over medium/medium-high heat and add butter. When melted, add onions, carrots, and mushrooms and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for several minutes until the onions soften and become fragrant. Add ground beef and liver and allow to cook, again stirring occasionally until meat is fully cooked and incorporated. Sprinkle the arrowroot flour, salt, and pepper over top of the meat. Stir to mix into the meat, and allow to cook for several more minutes. Add the stock, tomato paste, fish sauce, rosemary, and thyme and allow to cook until the sauce has thickened somewhat, which should take about 5 more minutes. Mix in the peas and remove the pan from the heat.

In a casserole dish, pour the meat filling and then pour the topping atop the filling, using a spatula or back of a spoon to spread the topping evenly, smoothing out the edges to create something of a seal for the juices.

Place casserole dish in the oven and allow to bake for about 25-35 minutes, until topping is lightly browned. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

*Sweet potatoes are only appropriate for the energy modifications during the 21 Day Sugar Detox.

**Arrowroot flour is OK during the 21 Day Sugar Detox when used in sauce-thickening applications such as this one.

 

 

The 21-Day Sugar Detox

Tomorrow I start the 21-Day Sugar Detox.

This isn’t my first rodeo with the 21DSD. I was riding high on the sugar train at the end of my pregnancy and in my early postpartum weeks. So at one month postpartum, my sister, Katie, and I embarked on our first sugar detox. The hardcopy book wasn’t released yet, and we both used the ebook form for level 1, using the nursing modification for myself.

As difficult as the detox was at times, I rather enjoyed the “clean eating reset.” It forced me to meal plan again and actually eat real meals instead of snacking. And I did find it effective in curbing my sugar binge.

Today, I find myself living in Virginia (Yeah. Military life for ya), finally settled in our new home, and entering a new year with zero expectations of what’s to come. I’m already within two pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight, through a combination of breastfeeding and eating mostly primal, and my sugar cravings aren’t really that strong (though all I want is lots of dark chocolate!). But I have fallen back into the habit of not really preparing well-rounded meals for myself , so it’s time for another reset. I’m taking this challenge at level 2 this time, though still with the energy modifications for nursing.

I’ll update progress on this round here, and probably share some recipes or meal ideas. Here we go!

Winter Squash & Chestnut Soup

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Today, on the very first day of October, I turned off my air conditioner and opened my windows. There’s a slight chill in the air and I’m breathing it all in deep.

It’s really starting to feel like fall here. I spotted several yellow spots on varying trees. I can probably wear long sleeves without (too much) problem. At night, I wear sweatshirts when I go outside, and we even had a fire in our fireplace a few nights ago. My Netflix movie came in today. Sleepy Hollow.

I’m so ready for this.

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I’ve been eating a lot of soup lately. It makes for a really fun fall lunch, and it makes sure that I consume more homemade bone broth. Some people can drink the stuff like water. I can’t. But in soup (or pot roast), flavorful stock is the secret to umami-filled meal.

The (other) secret to this soup is the presence of chestnuts. Chestnuts aren’t (quite) in season here yet. Plainview won’t see them until December, but my hometown of Fort Worth will probably have them by Thanksgiving. I just happened to stock up on some last Christmas, peel them, and freeze them for recipes this year. Today I decided to fish them out and use them is this delicious autumnal soup. You can use jarred chestnuts. I’ve seen those year-round in several higher-end grocery stores (Market Street, Sprouts, Central Market, etc.).

I also used acorn squash for this, but other winter squash varieties like pumpkin, butternut, or kabocha would work perfectly as well!

 

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Winter Squash & Chestnut Soup
Serves 2-4

1 tbsp butter or coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 tsp salt (if using storebought broth, stick with one teaspoon and go up from there)
1 cup peeled chestnuts
3/4-1 lb winter squash flesh, cubed
3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup filtered water
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp fresh thyme
Yogurt, sour cream, or heavy cream for topping (optional)
Salted, toasted squash seeds for topping (optional)

Over medium-low heat, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once melted, add onion and salt and allow onion to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add chestnuts, winter squash, and garlic to the saucepan. Continue to cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add broth, water, black pepper, coriander, and allspice together in the pot. Stir and cover with a lid. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

Turn off heat and add in fresh thyme. Carefully transfer contents of the saucepan to a blender or food processor. On low-speed, blend until smooth, approximately 3 minutes.

Pour or ladle into bowls and serve as is or topped with yogurt/sour cream/heavy cream and squash seeds.

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12 Weeks of Christmas Treats 2012

 

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Here begins the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats for 2012! Remember when I participated last year? Well it’s time again! Hard to believe it’s really twelve weeks until Christmas!

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I decided to try something new this year. Last year most of my entries for the blog hop were gluten free (the red velvet cheesecake brownies being the lone exception). This year, I will continue to make all my entries gluten free, but I will also be experimenting with some grain-free options. They are certainly not low-carb in most cases, and keep in mind, treats are treats and I will treat them as such. I make no presumption that these are “healthy,” though I do choose to use real food ingredients and keep dietary limitations in mind. When it all comes down to it, these are for pure enjoyment and seasonal celebration. As they should be!

Now let’s get on to it!

To start things off this year, we’ve got to head right into the pumpkin. And for the record, making these cupcakes required the last of my first stash of canned pumpkin for the season. One of the things I love about pumpkin is that it’s essentially pumpkin season four months out of the year. These translate well from fall right into Christmas time! The fact that I eat pumpkin year-round is entirely beside the point…

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Grain-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes

Adapted from Elana’s Pantry
Makes 1 dozen

1.5 cups raw almonds
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
3 tbsp applesauce
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp molasses
1 cup pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or combination of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor or high speed blender, combine the almonds, arrowroot, salt, and baking soda together until you get as fine of a meal as possible without turning it into weirdly seasoned almond butter. Then add all the rest of the ingredients and process for an additional 2-5 minutes. This will help smooth the mixture.

Fill a cupcake pan lined with papers with the batter, filling each cup about 2/3 full.

Bake for 20-22 minutes. I bake these for a bit longer than I do flour-based cupcakes. This helps the protein structure set a bit better, I think.

Allow to cool completely before frosting. I’ve learned that almond flour-based baked goods tend to taste better the longer they are out of the oven.

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Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter
1/2 package of cream cheese
1 lb powdered sugar (normal powdered sugar contained cornstarch, making this not grain-free. However, organic varieties sometimes use arrowroot in lieu of cornstarch. Or you can blend your own granulated/turbinado/coconut sugar for makeshift powdered sugar)
1 tsp vanilla

In a mixer, whip butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until soft and smooth. Then slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Smear or pipe onto cooled cupcakes!

 

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Here are my submissions to last year’s blog hop!

Oatmeal-Apple Cookies
Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
Nutella Cookies
Gingerbread truffles
Aztec Brownie
Orange-Cranberry Scones
Chai Cupcakes

 

 And check out all these other lovely blogs!



Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Hard Cider

 

Growing up, I didn’t eat a variety of vegetables. Most of my green vegetable consumption consisted of iceberg lettuce smothered in ranch dressing or green beans out of a can sprinkled with salt. Oh, and steamed broccoli was my side dish of choice going out. I just wasn’t exposed to much.

 

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But then I went away for college and all that changed. I ate asparagus, zucchini, artichokes, spinach. So many new foods and so many new preparations! I’m pretty sure I grew up thinking that I disliked vegetables, but now I firmly believe that one much taste a food in a variety of different preparations before concluding you actually dislike the food itself. One vegetable I think many dislike is the Brussels sprout. I don’t blame people for disliking it. It’s bitter and smells a little like gym sock, especially when steamed. But I don’t steam my Brussels sprouts. No, the tiny cabbage has become one of my favorite cruciferous vegetables (steamed broccoli with melted butter and salt still wins), but I either roast or braise mine! And when you pair Brussels sprouts with the salty savoriness of bacon and sweet tang of hard cider, you’ve got a great fall side dish! And just in time for the weather to turn cold. Smile

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Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Hard Cider

Serves 2-4

1 lb Brussels sprouts
3 large shallots, sliced
3 large rashers of bacon, chopped
1/2 bottle of hard cider
salt & pepper to taste

Heat a pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and sliced shallots and allow the bacon fat to render out and the shallots to become soft and fragrant.

In the meantime, using a knife or a slicing blade on a food processor, slice the Brussels sprouts into shreds.

When the shallots are soft and bacon fat fairly well rendered out, turn the heat up to medium-high and add the shredded sprouts. Saute for several minutes at this higher heat. When the sprouts are bright green (after about 3-5 minutes), pour in the hard cider, stir, and allow to cook down until there isn’t any cider pooling in the pan (a few more minutes). Salt and pepper to taste.

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Is there any food you disliked growing up but learned to love?

Summer Fruit Tart

About two weeks ago, I ate nectarines and plums for the very first time. This may seem a shocker for some, but here in Texas, peaches are the “big deal” fruit of the season. However, most peaches around these parts aren’t really ready until July. But the nectarines, plums, and apricots, however, are ready for the picking.

When Edgar first ate a nectarine (same time I did), he confessed that he may like nectarines more than peaches! (To that I responded that it wasn’t peach season yet, so he couldn’t really make that assessment. Winking smile )

When I first ate on, I realized that I needed to turn nectarines into dessert! Stat!

When the sun comes out every year as the mercury rises, I think we all tend to stash away our chocolate desserts and reach for the fresh fruits of the seasons. Since many people I know disliked cooked fruit, I came up with this fruit tart that is only about 2/3 cooked. And given my recent efforts toward simplicity in cooking and baking, I decided to make the crust with almond meal and sweeten the entire dessert with only honey and fruit. Thus, this dessert is grain-free and wholesome. And given the simple construction of this confection, you can easily swap out portions to cater to your own tastes! Red current jam or whipped cream instead of lemon curd? Berries instead of stone fruits? Go ahead and experiment!

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Summer Fruit Tart

8 oz (about 2 cups) almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
4 oz (1/4 c) solid coconut oil
1 egg
1 T honey

1 full recipe Lemon curd (I followed this recipe exactly. In the interest of respect for other food bloggers, I’m not listing the recipe here. Follow the link and you’ll find the original recipe!)

About 3 each nectarines and plums, pitted and cut into wedges
About 1 tbsp honey. If too thick to spread with a basting brush, thin only SLIGHTLY with warm water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, salt, and cinnamon until integrated. Then add the coconut oil, in pieces, and cut it into the almond meal mixture with a fork until the mix resembles a very coarse meal. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the egg and honey. Then add the egg mix to the almond meal mix and combine until the dough is one well-integrated ball. Set aside.

Line an 8.5×11 baking pan with parchment paper (or omit this step entirely and use a tart pan! In hindsight I think the recipe would be even better this way). You may have to cut the paper narrow to fit inside the pan. This will be used like a sling to help lift the tart out of the pan later. Take the dough and press it into the bottom of the pan on top of the parchment paper. It will be a thin crust and you may have to use a spoon to spread it.

Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes until firm and just barely turning brown on the edges. Allow the crust to cool on a cooling rack for an hour.

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Once cooled, apply the full lemon curd recipe on top of the crust. It will be a little runny. It’s okay. Call it rustic and lick the curd off your fingers when nobody is looking.

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Arrange the nectarine and plum wedges in a pretty pattern on top of the curd. Then brush honey on top of the fruit to glisten!

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Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Enjoy!

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