Okra and Heirloom Tomato Salad

The Whole30® Program, created by Whole9

I’m in the final week of my first Whole30! To be honest, it hasn’t been all that difficult, and Pre-Made Paleo certainly helped. (Yes, the long-promised review of Premade Paleo meals is still forthcoming.) Possibly because I tried to stay “close” to the paleo lifestyle even after the nutrition challenge, or perhaps because I’ve done the “no-carb” thing (processed carbs really) a couple of times in the past, but I didn’t go through the carb withdrawal or the “carb-flu” that many experience when converting to paleo or doing their first Whole30.

That is not to say these last few weeks have not been without their challenges. Initially, it was figuring out what the heck to eat – particularly when laziness and exhaustion won over the desire to eat something healthy. Lately, I’ve been struggling with “food-boredom.” A-googling I went, and -BEHOLD!- I stumbled across this amazing recipe for an okra and heirloom tomato salad. Not only did it sound yummy and different, the pictures are divine! Really, go, look! I just needed to find some okra.

I lucked out – a few of the vendors at our local farmer’s market had okra this weekend. My picture isn’t nearly as pretty, but here’s how mine turned out

Okra & Heirloom Tomato Salad

 

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A Whole30 July 4 Celebration

The Whole30® Program, created by Whole9

So, July 4 was Day 17 of my first Whole30. It turned out to be rather successful as well (even giving my husband the thumbs-up to bring beer, bread, and tortilla chips into the house . . . resulting in no temptation to me!).

Dinner consisted of a grilled grass-fed beef burger with caramelized onions, homemade guacamole, and a slice of fresh tomato; a roasted sweet potato; and steamed spinach. Dessert was a smal bowl of fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries).

Recipes after the jump.

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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.

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.

Lenten Meatless Friday: Spinach Quiche

Finally fulfilling a promise made a few weeks ago and bringing you a recipe suitable for paleo followers for a Friday during Lent (i.e., a meatless, paleo recipe).

I will admit that I have struggled these past few Lenten Fridays, asking whether to “stay paleo” or “stay Catholic.” I succeeded, despite the difficulty: salmon caesar salad with oil & vinegar dressing in lieu of the caesar dressing (no croutons or parmesan) for lunch; roasted trout with baked sweet potato for dinner. Another meal involved a visit to sweetgreen with a yummy salad of mesclun, avocado, egg, shrimp, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Paleo_Lent
Sandwiches, fried fish, pasta are great food options for Fridays during Lent, but they certainly do not comport with the paleo lifestyle. Bacon, steak, chicken, burgers, fajita meat, tacos are all great paleo options, but they do not comply with the requirement to stay away from meat. The typical answer: baked/sautéed/roasted fish and veggies. Let me say this: it is all easier said than done when meat is such a significant component of the paleo lifestyle. Hats off to those of you that follow paleo and are vegetarians! Please tell me how you do it!

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Coach Sarah’s Paleo Brownies

Coach Sarah is one of the AMAZING coaches as my Crossfit box and the coordinator of our nutrition challenge (which finishes up next Wednesday, March 6!). From the first time I met her (the ridiculous Hurricane Sandy WoD) to the occasional interaction in class (whether she is there as an athlete or coach) to her nutrition challenge seminar, I continually find myself inspired by her attitude, her approach to life, her acceptance of challenge, and her desire to always be more. Coach Sarah served as my inspiration to start this blog and give the paleo lifestyle a try. So … thank you, Sarah!

Last night I made Coach Sarah’s paleo brownies; now you can be inspired too:

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • nuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in microwave-safe bowl
  2. Microwave on high for 3 minutes

Recipe Notes

These ingredients make a large, single-serving (think of a full cereal bowl). Slightly increase or decrease the cocoa powder depending upon your affection for chocolate. Use cinnamon and different nuts to add some variety, flavor, and texture variations.