Paleo Pigs in a Blanket

What kids (or adults for that matter) don’t love pigs in a blanket??  I know my family does, so when a friend tipped me off to these Applegate uncured cocktail franks, I knew what had to be done.  I found them at Whole Foods, and they were pretty pricey (about $7-8), but worth the splurge.  If you can’t find these in a store near you, you can always buy the Applegate hot dogs and cut them into many smaller pieces.

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For the bread portion, I decided to modify a recipe from the amazing Against All Grain cookbook to see if it would work.  The original recipe is for Rosemary Breadsticks.

Paleo Pigs in a Blanket

1 1/4 cups almond flour

1 egg

1 TBSP olive oil

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

Applegate cocktail smokies

Combine all ingredients (except smokies) using a mixer.  Roll dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper.  You will want them to be thicker than crackers, but not by too much.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough.  I cut the dough into triangles as you can see below.  I was trying to mimic how Pilsbury crescent rolls are when you take them out of the tube.

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Then I cut the triangles in half.

Is any of this making sense?  Ok, good.

Then you roll the smokies up in the dough (start at the wide end and roll up towards the narrowest part of the dough).  Place finished product on a baking sheet.  I like to line mine with parchment paper.

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Bake at 350 for approximately 15 minutes.

Enjoy your kids’ squeals when you tell them you are having pigs in a blanket for dinner!

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Savory Pumpkin Soup (Paleo, SCD)

Don’t everybody go having a heart attack.  I know it’s been forever since I’ve posted.  Life is good, but busy!  Fall happened somewhere since the last time I posted, and that officially makes it soup weather.  So far this season, I’ve made creamy tomato basil soup, french onion soup (which without the crusty bread and massive amount of cheese is ridiculously lacking), and this amazing chicken soup.

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I could go on for days about how much I loved this chicken soup.  It is a bowl of comfort, and I am thinking of making another batch this weekend.

Yesterday, I had planned on us just having leftovers for dinner.  It was a cold and rainy day and I had promised the boys we could have a family movie night.  Soup just felt right, so I googled up “paleo pumpkin soup”.  This lovely recipe was the first thing to pop up and I had all the ingredients on hand.  I changed it up a little to make it more savory, and I liked it so much I’m going to share it with you!

Savory Pumpkin Soup (serves 6)

2 cans of pumpkin (30 ounces total)

1 can of full fat coconut milk (have more on hand if you want to use it as garnish)

2 cups of chicken bone broth/stock

1 8 oz. package of bacon (I use Applegate)

1.5 tsp salt (less if you are using store bought broth/stock)

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp onion powder

ground pepper to taste

1 bunch chopped green onions

Start by chopping up your bacon into tiny pieces and then cook it in a stock pot.  When it is crispy, set it aside, but reserve the bacon grease in the pot.  Now add to the pot your pumpkin, broth, and coconut milk.  Stir until smooth and then add the spices.  Let simmer for 15-30 minutes.  I wanted it to thicken up a bit, so I let it simmer closer to 30.

Top your soup with a drizzle of the canned coconut milk, crunchy bacon, and green onions.  Because even though this only took you a half hour, you want people to think you are fancy.

Enjoy and stay warm!

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A Tough Decision

I have to tell you that I just did something that literally pained me.  I just deleted many of my recipes from the blog.  And I really, really hated to do it.  Something I haven’t talked about here yet is that I have recently begun baking my Paleo goodies for a local organic grocery store.  It has been great, and the products are literally flying off the shelves.  I don’t want you to think that I took down my recipes because I am trying to force people to buy my food.  I promise that isn’t it.  I am a huge proponent of making your own food (obviously!!).  The issue I am concerned with is that someone else locally will see how successfully the food is selling and attempt to copy it.  That would be so upsetting–it literally turns my stomach to think about it.  So I have removed some of my recipes…..although a majority of them still remain.  I hope to share more with you soon….things that I’m not selling, that are easy to make at home…..when I figure out my new schedule and find some spare time.

In the meantime I do hope you forgive me, and understand.

Cookie Dough Balls (Raw, Paleo)

Recently we took Mario to a more homeopathic doctor to help us see if there was anything else we could do to help his remaining symptoms from leaky gut.  If you remember, before we started our dietary journey, Mario was dealing with eczema, hives, repetitive tics, and chronic diarrhea.  Much of that has cleared up, but there are still some nagging symptoms.  He has some very mild skin issues and chronic tummy pain.  We wanted to see if there were any foods that we needed to eliminate and also see how we were doing regarding healing his gut.

The results were kind of defeating.  His gut is still definitely leaky, as evidenced by this list of foods that is causing distress in his body:

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Now this definitely doesn’t mean that he is allergic to all of these foods, although there are some, like casein (the protein found in milk) that his body just goes crazy with.  We are definitely eliminating that, although all he was eating at the time of this test was cheddar cheese.  Eggs and peanuts are also things that have consistently shown up as high problem areas on previous tests, so we are eliminating those as well.   As for the rest, our doctor’s advice was to rotate foods and do our best.

I am trying not to be discouraged.  We really have come a long way as he is completely tic-free and hasn’t had any hives in years.  But we still have a long way to go.

Necessity being the mother of invention…..I threw together this snack on the fly and it turned out great!

Raw Cookie Dough Balls

1 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

2 TBSP raisins

1 TBSP honey

2 TBSP Enjoy Life mini chips

Start by turning your cashews into cashew butter using a food processor.  It takes awhile and mine turned into more of a ball of dough than an actual butter.  For this reason, I’m not sure if jarred cashew butter would work with this recipe.

Add the pumpkin seeds, raisins, and honey to the cashew butter/dough.  I pureed it all until it was nearly all smooth.  Take the “dough” out of the food processor and add in the mini chips.  Roll into balls and enjoy.  Keep refrigerated.

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Everything Crackers (Paleo, SCD, Nut-free)

Every once in a while, my body needs a break from eating nuts.  Mostly because I tend to go overboard with them.  I can’t seem to eat just a handful of pistachios….I have to eat a cereal bowl full of pistachios.  You get the point.  And while nuts aren’t nearly as inflammatory as grains, when you go overboard with them, they can cause issues.  Lately I have had a lot of neck pain that is causing headaches.  So in addition to seeing my chiropractor, icing my neck every chance I get, and getting decadent scalp massages from my husband, I am taking a break from nuts for a few weeks.

Which naturally meant that I had to invent a new nut-free snack—STAT.

These crackers are inspired by Everything Bagels.  I used to love those, but even in my bread eating days, they were a little bread-y for me.  I mostly loved the savory-ness of them, and that is what I wanted to capture in this snack.  The base of the cracker is all seeds and I was impressed with how crunchy they got in the oven.  I put all of my crackers (except the Parmesan cheese crackers) in the dehydrator because it helps them stay crunchy for days and weeks, but I really feel like these crackers would work in the oven.  They might only keep for a few days, but let’s face it…..you’re probably going to eat them all in a few days anyway :)

Everything Crackers

1/2 cup + 2 TBSP raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

2 TBSP sesame seeds

2 TBSP flax seeds (if you don’t have these on hand and don’t want to buy them just sub in extra sunflower seeds here)

1 TBSP poppy seeds

1 TBSP dried minced garlic**

1 TBSP coconut aminos

1 egg

1 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. onion powder

**If you also have dried minced onion on hand, try it with 1/2 TBSP minced onion, 1/2 TBSP minced garlic and omit the onion powder.  This was my intention but I didn’t have any dried minced onion.  Either way, they are delicious.  Just giving you options :)**

Preheat oven to 350.

In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup sunflower seeds and 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds until they resemble a meal/flour.  Add all other ingredients (including the remaining 2 TBSP of pumpkin seeds) and pulse to combine.  You want there to be visible seeds in the crackers.

Spread your mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper.  Then cover with another sheet of parchment paper.  Use a rolling pin to roll the crackers out.  I talk more about rolling out crackers on my Parmesan cracker post if you are interested.

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Use a pizza cutter to cut them into whatever size you prefer.  Sprinkle with a little more sea salt.

Transfer the crackers and parchment paper to a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10-15 minutes.  The baking time will depend on the thickness of your crackers.  Just remember that crackers are very thin and can burn very, very quickly.  Watch them closely!

After my crackers began to brown around the edges, I transferred them to my dehydrator for 3-4 hours to achieve the perfect crunch.

If you don’t have a dehydrator, try baking them at 275-300 for a longer period of time.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the crunch that the oven produced on these crackers.  Please let me know if you make them and what your experience was!!

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Paleo Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Recently my son was bemoaning the fact that he doesn’t eat candy anymore.  Granted, we do allow the boys to cheat every once in a while, but it is far from a free-for-all at our house.  I asked him his very favorite candy and his answer was:  mommy’s favorite Christmas candy.

Ahh, peppermint bark.  Yes, I have been known to eat a bar (or twelve!) of Ghiradelli peppermint bark during the holiday season.  Last year, I started giving the boys little nibbles of it, and they were hooked as well.

So when I announced that I bet I could make an ice cream that tasted like mommy’s favorite Christmas candy, Mario’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head!

I know that most store bought mint chocolate chip ice cream is green, some is even just plain white, but in the spirit of the candy cane, I used India Tree natural food coloring to make ours a pale pink.

Peppermint chocolate chip ice cream is a perfect flavor for a hot summer day…..or to eat while admiring your Christmas lights.  Meanwhile, Mario has declared it the best ice cream ever.  Maybe even the best thing he ever tasted.  I tend to agree…..

Paleo Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

2 cans full fat coconut milk (preferably chilled)

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp. peppermint extract

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup enjoy life chocolate chips or other soy/dairy free dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

India Tree red food coloring (optional)

Combine all ingredients and add them to your ice cream maker.  Prepare according to the ice cream maker instructions.  Enjoy!!

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Smoked Salmon, 2 Ways

Fall is coming soon, and these last few weeks of summer are a great time to start experimenting with healthy lunchbox options for the school year!  Today, at lunchtime, I looked in my fridge and saw some smoked salmon.  I knew it could be a quick and tasty lunch, but racked my brain to find a way to make it fun for the boys.  They were delighted with what I came up with and each of them agreed that they would like to take these in their lunchboxes this fall when school starts.

First I made some salmon and cucumber “sandwiches”.  I kept it simple for my oldest son, by just placing the smoked salmon between 2 slices of cucumber.  Paired it with some fruit and cheese cubes, and it was a super simple lunch!

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For my younger son, who is a bit more adventurous, I mimicked a sushi roll (without the rice of course).

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Started with small sheets of seaweed, and added smoked salmon and cucumbers.  Cream cheese and/or avocado would also be delicious additions here.  Maybe some grated carrots if you don’t have cucumber.  That would add a nice crunch and some color!  For my husband and I, I added some goat cheese.  I have to say, these were a bit messier than making a PB&J, but when it comes to lunch packing, they are so much healthier and didn’t take any time at all!  If you are good at rolling them up, and have a better presentation than me, you might even be able to serve them as little appetizers at a get-together!

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So tell me…..would your kids eat this?

Chipotle Lime Chicken Jerky (Paleo, SCD)

I would love to say that I came up with this one all on my own, but I have to give credit where credit is due.  I was searching online for paleo beef jerky marinades and I came across a message board here.  All the way at the bottom, someone named Joshua gave this recipe.  I made a few very small tweaks and it is GENIUS!!!  Even better, it tastes AMAZING on chicken, which is great because clean, organic chicken is much more affordable than grassfed beef.  I love it because it is a change from that soy sauce/brown sugar typical-tasting jerky.  It has a kick but both of my 6-year old boys can tolerate it.

Not only is this a guilt-free snack (rarely do you hear someone complaining that they have GOT to stop eating organic chicken!), but it is great for snacks on the go, road trips….and even lunchboxes.  Oh yes, lunchbox time is coming soon.

So without further ado…..

Chipotle Lime Chicken Jerky

3 lbs of boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs

2 TBSP smoked paprika

1 TBSP fresh cilantro

1/2 TBSP black pepper

1 TBSP sea salt

1 clove minced garlic

juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup coconut aminos

1 TBSP honey

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

Slice your chicken thinly (sometimes it helps for the chicken to be firmer, so if you need to put it in the freezer for about an hour beforehand, that will help.)  1/4 inch slices are probably ideal, but if it’s a little thicker it’s not going to be the end of the world.  Remove any larger pieces of fat (there is no harm in leaving it there, but they will be more likely to spoil).  Combine all of the other ingredients for the marinade.  Place chicken and marinade in a large container and refrigerate.  Marinate for 8-12 hours.  Remove chicken from marinade and place chicken in a single layer on your food dehydrator trays.  Dehydrate at 155 degrees for approximately 6-8 hours.  The time will vary based on how thick your slices are.  You may want to flip the jerky at the 3 hour mark.  Just keep an eye on it, and remove it when it resembles jerky!

If you do not have a food dehydrator, I know this can be done in your oven as well.  I did some googling, and this website gives some instructions on how to make jerky in your oven.

Enjoy!

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Challenge 2: Shopping More Thoughtfully

In a perfect world, every store would sell only organic fruits and veggies.  All meat would come from farmers who treated the animals with dignity and fed them an appropriate diet.   Dairy would come from cows who haven’t been pumped full of growth hormones.  We could walk into our backyards and grab some eggs from our own chickens for breakfast.  All coffee and chocolate would be fair trade and the workers who harvested it would be paid a fair wage.

Oh yeah, and as long as we’re talking about a perfect world…..we could all afford to buy this food.

But that’s not the real world.  In the real world, sometimes it’s hard to even find organic produce.  In the real world, your grocery store only carries commercially raised meats that have been fed GMO corn.  In the real world, you could stand all day looking at the egg selection at your grocery store and still not know which one was the best choice.  In the real world, even if you have all of the wonderful options at your fingertips, you simply can’t afford to make the best choices all the time.

So let’s get real.  In the past year, I would say our family has transitioned to eating about:

30% organic produce

85% responsibly raised (or wild caught) and appropriately fed meat

70% organic dairy (we don’t do much dairy, but I buy organic milk for our yogurt and use organic half and half for my coffee.  Cheese has been a massive fail for us.  I just grab and go.)

I am so very lucky to have a friend whose parents have chickens.  We get our delicious eggs from them, and supplement as needed (which is about 10-20% with cage free storebought eggs).

So in the spirit of these weekly challenges, where our point is to get us all a little bit closer to where we want to be food-wise, here is the challenge:

This week, while shopping, buy at least 3 kinds of organic produce (ideally this would be produce that you don’t already buy organic).  Make one “better” choice when buying your meats.  Choose wild caught salmon, tuna, or shrimp.  Buy an organic chicken.  Get grassfed ground beef.  If you buy eggs from a supermarket, look for cage free.  For dairy, buy at least one item organic (that you would normally buy conventional).  Local is also a great choice to make, but do the best you can!

Why is this important?  Every time you buy any kind of food, you are voting with your dollars.  Every time you pick up the organic strawberries at Target vs. the conventional ones, it changes an amount in a tally box, and if enough people make this choice, eventually the CFO looks at these numbers and says, these organic strawberries are getting popular.  We need to carry more organics.  Which then helps the organic farmers buy increasing their business.  It is also a wake up call to other farmers that they might do more business if they make a switch to organics.  (Yes, I just totally over simplified that, but hopefully you get my point.)  Alternately, if you keep buying pop tarts and Chips Ahoy, you are telling someone, somewhere:  I am happy with shoveling crap into my body.  More, please.

Choosing organics is healthier for you, and it is healthier for the people working the farms.  It is healthier for our soil and our earth.  But don’t walk in the grocery store and simply buy the first 3 organic kinds of produce you see.  Every year the EWG (Environmental Working Group) releases 2 guides that can help you with these decisions.  They list the kinds of produce that retain the most pesticide residue of all–these are called the Dirty Dozen.  If you are going to buy any organic produce, it is in your best interest to choose foods on this list.  Then there is the Clean 15.  These are foods that it isn’t overly important to get organic.  For instance, if you follow this lists, you will see why we rarely get organic avocados or sweet potatoes, but why we always, always, always get organic apples and celery.

So what about meat, dairy, and eggs?  Why does this matter?  Well, if you are an animal lover like me, you want to have a good feeling about the farms where your food is raised.  If you have to think about the animals who made your food, you would like to think of them in a pasture in the sunshine, not in a dark, infested feedlot, where they are being pumped full of antibiotics.  Also, their diet is important.  Just like your body works best when you are eating foods that were meant for you (not processed food-like substances on grocery store shelves), their bodies work best, feel best, and taste best when they are eating diets that are appropriate to them!  For instance, cows were never meant to eat corn–as a matter of fact it is harmful to their health and digestion!

When the animals are eating like they should and being raised or wild-caught, you are also benefiting (and not just because your conscience feels better).  For instance……

Wild salmon is actually better for you than farmed salmon.

Grass-fed steak has about twice as many omega-3s as a typical grain-fed steak.  And since grass-fed cattle are typically leaner, almost all cuts of grass-fed beef have less total fat than beef from corn-raised cattle.

As for eggs, cage free, farm fresh eggs really are much more delicious than regular store-bought eggs.  Their yolks are big and bright orange and you can see the difference immediately!  I have found, when I have to buy storebought eggs, that the Target brand cage free eggs also have beautiful dark yolks!  I once bought “farm fresh” eggs at a farmers market and was so disappointed that the yolks were small and pale :(

So how to implement all this?  Luckily this is the season of farmers markets.  Granted, not all produce you will find at local farmers markets is organic, but it’s a great chance to ask questions.  Possibly the farmer uses mostly organic practices.  They should be happy to tell you about their practices, and if not…..there is probably a reason.  Many regular chain grocery stores carry some organic produce–I get organic kale and greens at Publix, organic strawberries, celery and carrots at Target.

For meats, I get all of my chicken from Costco–they have organic chicken.  They also have organic ground beef, but it is sadly not grass-fed.  However, this is a step up from conventional ground beef!  I tend to get my grassfed beef and other cuts of beef from local farms (at farmers market or at local stores).  Pork has been a really tough one to come by around here.  When I do find local, clean pork, it is very cost-prohibitive!  I get wild salmon, wild shrimp and wild tuna from Costco.  I have also gotten clean meats by ordering online.  Grassfed Traditions and US Wellness Meats are 2 reputable websites to order clean meat.

Organic milk, cream and yogurt is widely available.  Organic cheeses are less so, but do what you can!

Be sure to check in during the week on Facebook!  Share your organic produce finds or where you got your clean meat.

Happy shopping!

 

Thoughts on the Veggie Challenge

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Things I learned this week during our family veggie challenge:

  1. By turning it into a competition, I had my kids requesting vegetables at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  2. Making vegetables (to suit each person’s tastes) at breakfast, lunch, and dinner takes a little bit longer than I had hoped.
  3. Because they were eating more vegetables, my kids ate less fruit.  I noticed that they tended to stay fuller longer, and requested fewer snacks.
  4. Eating fresh veggies all day long means you have to go to the grocery store A LOT in order to stay stocked up.
  5. Even if you bomb your first two meals of the day, an enormous salad for dinner is a great way to get back on track.
  6. Now that my kids have had veggies for 3 meals a day for an entire week, they no longer consider veggies just a “dinner food”.

Needless to say, the veggie challenge was a huge success at our house.  Did you have any takeaways from this week’s challenge?