Spiced Carrot Soup

Delicious and easy recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma:

Carrot Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 2 tbsp paleo cooking fat (I used coconut oil)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place wire rack over baking sheet.
  2. Lay prosciutto on wire rack. Cook in oven until crisp, approximately 20-25 minutes.
  3. Over low heat, melt cooking fat and saute garlic and onion until tender, approximately 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  4. Increase to medium heat. Add carrots and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add curry powder, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant, approximately 1-2 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  6. Increase to high heat. Add chicken stock and bring soup mixture to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, approximately 15 minutes.
  8. Carefully add soup mixture to Vitamix and blend on variable speed until smooth.
  9. Pour soup into bowls and crumble crisped prosciutto (cooled to room temperature) on top.
  10. Garnish with fresh, chopped cilantro.

Recipe Notes

The Williams-Sonoma recipe uses a soup maker & blender. I used a combination of a dutch oven and my vitamix. Be cautious if transferring to a conventional blender and read the user guide. Many blenders will not respond well to hot liquids (i.e., the lid will explode off sending hot liquid all over your kitchen).

I assume the soup would still taste awesome if made with vegetable broth and without the prosciutto (vegetarian style), but it would lack protein.

Paleo Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Dates are wonderful, glorious treats . . .

But, dates with bacon? Even better! Truly, everything is better with bacon! (See 365 Days of Bacon if you need more proof or validation of that assertion.) There was a time in my life where I did not eat pork; honestly, I’m not sure how I survived. Without further ado . . .

cooked date

Ingredients

raw datesDirections

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Remove pits from dates and replace with almonds (if using).
  4. Wrap dates in raw bacon.
  5. Place dates with seam-side down approximately 2 inches apart on baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes in oven.
  7. Remove from oven and place on paper towels to absorb excess grease.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

I recommend using a full piece of bacon to wrap the dates even though it may seem rather large at first. The bacon will shrink as it cooks.

Wegmans Disappoints!?

I originally hail from Western New York and grew up grocery shopping at Wegmans. When I moved to the DC Metro Area for college, the likes of Safeway and Giant replaced my glorious Wegmans. Yes, Fresh Fields (which is now Whole Foods) was nearby but far too pricey for a poor college student. Trader Joe’s was years away. Fast forward a few years WLOGOLOCKUPBLKand Wegmans made its grand debut in the DC Metro Area; well outside the beltway, but it was here! 30-45 minute drives each way were nothing more than a minor inconvenience to enable me to have my beloved Wegmans again!

When the nutrition challenge started in January, we only needed small add-on items to have on hand – no justification for the trek out to Wegmans. But as the weeks have passed, and my commitment to paleo has remained, I have tried to branch out a bit more in the kitchen. So, we ventured out to Wegmans with the excitement of kids visiting Disney World. To our shock and dismay, Wegmans did not deliver!

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Nutrition Challenge Wrap-Up

I owe you a much overdue update on BCF’s Winter Nutrition Challenge.

As a refresher, BCF – my crossfit box – began a 6-week nutrition challenge on January 24. The challenge generally followed Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint.

Participants were divided into teams, awarded points for eating well, attending WODs, completing weekly challenges, sleeping for at least 7 hours, recording what we ate daily, and setting and achieving a physical goal at the gym. We lost points for cheating.

Summary of the Challenge

Coach Sarah kicked off the challenge a nutritional seminar where she explained the ground rules and provided some interesting background regarding the body’s response to carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods. Our guiding principle came from Crossfit’s founder, Greg Glassman, and his definition of “World-Class Fitness in 100 Words”:

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.

Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.

Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.

Regularly learn and play new sports.

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Slow Cooker Shredded Pork

Another delicious recipe courtesy of Nom Nom Paleo; simple and requiring only a crockpot and 4 ingredients.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig

  • Pork butt (boneless or bone in)
  • Bacon
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Hawaiian sea salt

The one catch? Nom Nom Paleo recommends 16 hours in the crockpot! I did about 10 hours on low (the max on my programmable crockpot) and another 3 on high (so that it would finish before heading to bed).

Recipe Notes

I had difficulty finding Hawaiian sea salt (and was rather impetuous about my decision to make the recipe), so I substituted with Himalayan salt instead. I read comments posted by others that did a similar substitution. I also kept the skin on and removed it only after the pork finished cooking. Also, do a search on Nom Nom Paleo’s website for “kalua pig” to find additional meal suggestions for your leftover pork!

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Homemade Almond Butter

Almond butter is a staple in our household. Whether for a snack with apples, bananas, or celery or as a necessary ingredient in Coach Sarah’s paleo brownies, almond bread, or almond banana, almond butter is constantly disappearing from our pantry.

Here’s another thing: store-bought almond butter is EXPENSIVE – as in $10 or more per jar! Oh, and be careful, not all almond butter is just almonds – some have added oils, salt, or other unnecessary ingredients.

What’s a girl to do? Make her own (thank you, Vitamix). Although raw almonds are also expensive, I find that they are usually cheaper than almond butter (by quite a few dollars).

Ingredients

  • 3 cups raw almonds

Directions

  1. Pour almonds into Vitamix and replace lid plug with tamper.
  2. Turn Vitamix on variable #1 and quickly move through each variable speed before setting to high.
  3. Use tamper regularly to move almonds (then almond meal) through blades and eliminate air pockets.
  4. Vitamix motor will make unhappy sounds but continue blending at high speed until blade churns through butter and movement is visible. This process should take no longer than 1 minute to 1:30 minutes. Immediately turn Vitamix off.

Recipe Notes

Do not blend on low; following Vitamix directions, move quickly through variable speeds and blend almonds on high speed. Blending at a low speed for a prolonged time will cause motor to overheat and shut off (and it may take as long as 20 minutes for the blender to cool down enough to be usable again)

If the blender does overheat before almond butter forms, do not worry. Just let it cool and start again. I will often pause when the container starts to steam from the heat and then start again until I get the desired, creamy consistency.

 

Vitamix Protein Smoothie

Last weekend’s trip to Whole Foods resulted in an item unexpectedly finding its way into my cart – a Vitamix! The additional $50 coupon offered by Whole Foods was enough to convince me that it was time to finally add a Vitamix to my kitchen. Since its arrival, the Vitamix has had quite a workout, and I will share successful recipes. The first (of, hopefully, many), below.

VitamixIngredients

  • 1 cup frozen mixed fruit
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1 thick slice fresh pineapple (no peel, core OK)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to Vitamix.
  2. Replace lid plug with tamper.
  3. Turn Vitamix on and move from variable speed 1 through 10. Switch to high and blend until smooth, approximately 30 seconds. Use tamper as necessary to push ingredients into blades.
  4. Pour smoothie into glasses and enjoy!

Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

This morning I was looking for something a little different. Before paleo, one of my favorite breakfast dishes were potato pancakes. Not the deep-fried kind, but the you-can-still-see-the-shredded-potato kind (with sour cream and applesauce). Today’s challenge was to find a paleo-friendly way to reformulate these – using sweet potatoes.

IngredientsSweet Potato Pancakes

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut oil

Directions

  1. Mix grated sweet potato with eggs.
  2. Add cinnamon to taste.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in skillet until melted and sizzles when splashed with water droplets.
  4. Form sweet potato mixture into small patties and place in hot oil.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side.

Recipe Notes

If the patties are slightly oily, place on a plate with paper towels to drain. I love cinnamon and used quite a bit here. Serving suggestion: add bacon and eggs.