Basic Recipes & Local Treats

I often turn my nose at the idea of “paleo-izing” items from modern food culture. Bread, brownies, pancakes, noodles… attempting to recreate these items doesn’t allow you to fully change your habits. One of the first rules of new habits: Set yourself up for success. Not failure.

In my head, I either change or don’t change. Eating paleo bread makes me want to choose regular bread when there isn’t a paleo option. While I’m pretty black and white for myself, I understand folks may be easing their way into this lifestyle change or, perhaps, look to such food items for comfort or tradition.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

That said, I’ve been known to bake chocolate chip cookies from time to time. You can find my Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe in Paleo Parent‘s first book “Eat Like A Dinosaur” along with an arsenal of approachable go-to’s for families or people with a traditional palate including freezable chicken nuggets, fruit roll ups, waffles and more. I respect their copyright and would encourage you to check out the book for yourself, it’s been one of the most used recipe books in our house! Not to mention, there is a children’s book, their familiar back story of (un)health and an easy-to-read allergy index included on every single page.

Now that I got you all amped up on the idea of a delicious chocolate chip cookie, I’ve got great news for my local friends! Betsy’s Bakery created their first prototype! As soon as I saw their Facebook post about Paleo cookies, I grabbed a kid and headed right over. As the story goes, Betsy has Celiac disease and her bakery is entirely gluten-free! She also has dairy free, vegan and now (the most healthy of all) paleo options!

Betsy's Bakery in Mechanicsburg, PA has recently added a delicious PALEO cookie to their gluten free repertoire.

Betsy’s Bakery in Mechanicsburg, PA has recently added a delicious PALEO cookie to their gluten-free repertoire. Remember to support local commerce for the things you want in your life or don’t complain when it’s lacking.

When we chatted briefly about her chocolate chip cookies, future recipes and marketing to the audience of these sweet morsels, she thought Fridays would be a great day to offer fresh Paleo items. I agreed! As a used-to-be Crossfit’er I know how focused I was during the week, but by Friday it was definitely time for a reward. What better way to celebrate then with a naturally sweetened, protein and (good) fat packed dessert that tastes like a cheat, but isn’t! Remember to refrigerate paleo baked goods – fresh ingredients stay fresher when chilled.

ROASTED VEGETABLES

Paleo eating is easy and shouldn’t overwhelm anyone with ‘how to cook’. I am not, repeat, AM NOT a ‘good cook’. In fact, I didn’t begin really cooking, or understanding how to cook, until I decided to eat paleo. Plants and protein, so EASY. I typically roast or crock pot large proteins, I’ll pan cook smaller portions of proteins, and sauté or roast veggies. The creativity comes in the spice blends, medleys and pairings.

Roasted-Brussels-Sprouts-Carrots-and-Leeks-1.jJPG_.jJPG_-1000x288
To roast veggies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Add a dollop of coconut oil or grass-fed butter to a baking sheet
  3. Place in oven till oil is melted
  4. Toss chopped veggies onto sheet
  5. Season to taste (salt, pepper and garlic are my go-to’s, be as simple or creative as you’d like with your spice)
  6. Toss veggies every 10-15 minutes until desired  – typically around 25-30 minutes for most of my vegetables – the softer the veggie the faster it cooks so I may wait to add onions to a sheet until half way through, etc
After greasing the pan, dip your veggie fries in egg then a blend of coconut & almond flours with preferred seasonings.

After greasing the pan, dip your fry-cut veggies in egg then a blend of coconut & almond flours and preferred seasonings. It’s definitely a special treat in our house. Who has time for dredging?

Alternatively – and a great way to cook ‘fries’ (sweet potato, carrot, zucchini, etc):

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Chop vegetables to even sizing, add to bowl
  3. Pour melted coconut oil or grass-fed butter on top
  4. Season with preferred blend
  5. Mix
  6. Add to baking sheet
  7. Toss every 10-15 minutes until cooked

CHICKEN on the bone

I get asked how I roast my chicken a lot. I forget how something so simple can feel so scary for a new cook. It wasn’t 3 years ago that I cooked less than 10% of the time and now I do most of the cooking/preparing. Paleo food is EASY and that’s the whole point. While I roast/bake most of my chicken the same way (350 and flip/marinate every 20 minutes till cooked – whole birds I flip every 40 minutes) the wings I made for dinner tonight were too good not to share. I only regret I didn’t take a snapshot, but they were gone before I gave it a thought. Moist and crispy. They were a flavor so delicious the whole family enjoyed them.

I bake my wings and other chicken parts atop a cookie cooling rack, over tin foil on a baking sheet. Sophisticated.

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Place wings on rack apparatus mentioned above, or something similar
  3. Brush with coconut oil or grass-fed butter
  4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Savory Spice Shop‘s Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning: Hickory smoke salt, Hungarian and California paprika, roasted garlic, toasted onion, black pepper, hickory smoke flavoring and oregano OR ANY OTHER SPICE/MARINADE YOU CONJURE UP
  5. Bake for 20 minutes
  6. Flip wings and repeat steps 3, 4 then 5
  7. When timer goes off the 2nd time, flip wings as you place them onto the tin foil covered baking sheet
  8. Wrap wings – I use an additional piece of foil for leaking and insulation – place in oven
  9. Turn heat up to 450
  10. Bake for 10 minutes
  11. Flip foil package and turn off oven – this is when I make salads, get the table set, etc.
  12. ENJOY!
A friend recently tried my Cookie Bar recipe and was delighted! I haven't made them since I originally posted this photo, perhaps I'll make a batch for an impending slumber party.

A friend recently tried my Cookie Bar recipe and was delighted! It’s been some time since I made a batch, perhaps I’ll whip some up for a certain (about-to-be) 5 year old’s slumber party. A special treat packed with protein!

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Week 6: Menu & Receipt

I don’t have a lot of time today so let’s keep this short and sweet, I hit a total of $109.06. If I were shopping at one store, I would have put back a pack of wings or thighs, or perhaps a bag of apples. Instead I put back my baking essentials of honey, vanilla and something else at the 2nd store, in order to stay closer to the budget of $100. It’s not a hardship to be without stock for cookies or muffins. Choice!

It's a learning curve shopping at 2 stores with this budget so bare with me while I work out the kinks!

It’s a learning curve shopping at 2 stores with this budget so bear with me while I work out the kinks!

This week’s menu was made after I went shopping based on the available funds, sales and meat choices that were in the stores. If you noticed, I used a $1 off coupon for some nitrate free pepperoni – just check Applegate’s website!

Our fries are fresh cut from sweet potatoes and/or organic white potatoes. My sandwiches are on lettuce. And real chili doesn't have beans! Ask a Texan.

Our fries are fresh-cut from sweet potatoes and/or organic white potatoes. My sandwiches are on lettuce… And real chili doesn’t have beans! Ask a Texan.

What are you having for dinner this week? Leave a comment or join us on Facebook to chime in on another topic.

To check out previous $100/week budget Menu & Receipt posts click below.


Week 5: Menu & Receipt

Today was also prep day, which means I’ve been in the kitchen getting meals and food ready for both dinner and the week to come since I got home from the grocery. While one daughter laid down for a while then enjoyed a bath, the other played Operation and Clue Jr. with her daddy at the kitchen table. It was a lovely day.

Now, for this week’s menu.

There's nothing on here that isn't Paleo and it's all grass fed meats. $100 budget.

There’s nothing on here that isn’t Paleo. $100 budget.

And now for the receipt.

Notice I entertained two grocery markets today… a sunday… what was I thinking? However, I wanted to give Wegman’s a chance. Local friends are typically split between the two largest competitors in the area and I have to say, I’m sticking with GIANT for the majority of my shopping. I will continue to use Wegman’s to stock up on grass-fed proteins though. Their variety is to-die-for compared to what GIANT is currently offering and their prices are not insane. I was also a bit blown away by the Gluten Free section, although as I perused, I realized it was just more processed crap that I’d rather not eat. They had a few lower prices on certain items like Almond Flour, but their Coconut Flour inflation made up for it. Also, their gluten-free, non gmo cereals were priced at or higher than GIANT. Since I knew GIANT had Barbara’s brand on sale, and their organic apples (#1 on the Dirty Dozen) were dollars cheaper, I made up my mind that I would stop by on my way home… since it is on my way home.

Kudos to Wegman's for their compact receipt. I spent 70% of my budget there and got 30% less paper.

Kudos to Wegman’s for their compact receipt. I spent 70% of my budget there and got 30% less paper.

I went over budget by $10.61 today, the most I’ve ever gone over. I only have myself to blame, of course, deciding to ask my husband if he wanted lunch meat when I got to GIANT. His response was “No. Bread, soda and chips.” DARN!  The soda and chips alone were $8.19 and I bought my daughter a new pack of hair bands for $2.96. Without these items I would have spent $99.46 between 2 stores.

From the meats I purchased, all were Wegman’s Organic Brand . I also made sure to buy meats that would prepare well for more than one meal. For example, I knew I could use the leftover chicken quarters for a salad addition, we’d have roast beef for lunch and/or a leftovers dinner as well, OR I could use it in a stew. Always make leftovers!

Prep day went something like this:

  1. Chicken wings marinated in Frank’s Hot Sauce, onions, bell peppers, butter, salt and pepper. Baked for dinner at 350 for 45 minutes, turned and brushed twice. 
  2. Chicken quarters baked at 350 for 70 minutes with butter, salt and pepper. Turned and brushed twice.
  3. 4 large meatballs, 8 medium meatballs and a heart-shaped meatloaf made from 2lbs of ground beef and 1lb of ground lamb. Added to the mixture: 2 eggs; 1/4(ish) cup of coconut flour; (in the food processor) carrots, onions, celery, dates;  salt, pepper, thyme and savory seasoning. All sprinkled with garlic salt.
  4. A salad for my work-dinner tomorrow night was prepared while I made dinner salads. I added some of the extra roasted chicken to it after dinner was complete.
  5. Mashed white (for husband) and sweet potatoes.
I shaped my meatloaf into a heart to send my love to the fam while I am working. Thanks to Liz for the idea!

I shaped my meatloaf into a heart to send my love to the fam while I am working. Thanks to Liz for the idea! It’s her Valentine tradition.

After making a whole lot of dinner to satisfy each of our cravings (not my typical m.o.), we have half a dozen wings, 1 quartered chicken plus part of a quarter, and extra mashed potatoes for daytime meals and/or leftover night. Tomorrow, while I am enjoying my protein packed salad, my family will enjoy a meatloaf. I hope to have some leftover meatloaf with an egg Tuesday morning!

I forgot to boil eggs. They are such an important addition to my work-meals because of the protein and fat content. They fill me up and keep me going while on my feet. So, I’ll make time in the morning to boil a few.

What is on your menu this week? Leave a comment and let us know, or join us on our Facebook page to further the conversation.

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Week 4: Menu & Receipt

As you see, our weeks are not set in stone. If we go out of order, I like to cross off a meal so we know what we're dealing with. My husband appreciates variety so I try to mix up my proteins throughout the week. I, on the other hand, could eat the same thing all day until it was gone. Leftovers are my jam.

As you see, our weeks are not set in stone. If we go out-of-order, I like to cross off a meal so we know what we’re dealing with. My husband appreciates variety so I try to mix up my proteins throughout the week. I, on the other hand, could eat the same thing all day until it was gone. Leftovers are my jam.

IT’S BACK.

The past few weeks have been hectic as I am knee-deep in a new career. After being in school all day for 12 months my routine of leftover lunches has now become leftover dinners because I typically work in the evenings. My family is left to fend for themselves (with the help of my menu planning and preparation, mind you) while I work 3-5 evenings each week. My house hasn’t been this organized in a year and we’ve been checking off the Pinterest ‘to do‘ list at lightning speed. Life is good. My weekly shopping trip, however, has been chopped into spurts.

I don’t mind shopping in spurts, but I received a lot of positive feedback on the weekly menu & receipt posts so my intention has been to continue doing a weekly $100 grocery trip and meal plan (you know, to keep myself busy) so, HERE I AM.

I put a few things back this week, like a 2nd box of k-cups ($5.99), in order to afford a few treats. I also decided against the organic butter (4.29) because we have some butter in the house and my sister recently picked us up 2 jars of Trader Joes Coconut Oil, which I have been using more of recently.

  • Budget: $100
  • Meal Plan: 1 week
  • Final purchase: $92.61

Eating As A Family on a Tight Budget

During my hiatus, I will note, we were not living it up, it was quite the contrary as a matter of fact. My girlfriend, Jodi, recently asked “Without pasta or a starchy filler is it difficult to stretch (a dollar)?” and my immediate answer was “no”. We maintain our eating habits, as much as possible because we are committed to health. It’s almost better for us to spend our money elsewhere 😉 We (/I) are nowhere near perfect. Paleo is the goal and we live as close to it as we can. Sometimes, we don’t want to. 🙂

1. Snack less; It is a privilege, not a right

2. Pack meals with protein – no counting calories or controlling portions (within reason). EAT.

3. Cook with coconut oil instead of butter – it adds more fat to our lessened amount of food. Fat = energy and we all need energy to keep our brains and bodies working well.

4. Use more eggs – added protein and fat for a good price

5. Drink (even more) water.

6. GET BUSY and/or NAP – our bodies work best in these conditions

WHEW, Treats! There was a new brand of nonGMO cereal I decided to throw in for the kids, a bag of potato chips, flavored coffee, crackers & cheese and a sack of ENJOY chocolate chips. PRIVILEGE.

WHEW, Treats! There was a new brand of nonGMO cereal I decided to throw in for the kids, a bag of potato chips for the husband, flavored coffee for me, crackers & cheese…for me, and a sack of ENJOY chocolate chips for all of us. PRIVILEGE.

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Week 3: Menu & Receipt

This week, there were several grass-fed meat sales I wanted to take advantage of so I did things a little differently. Instead of creating a base menu from the proteins I had in stock and then buying to fill in the recipes, I started by creating a shopping list based on the weekly circular sales I hoped to get in on. It was 90% meat which will help build protein stock, to then cut costs over the next few weeks. Follow me?

After eyeing up my hunt, I then looked at my presumed financial total and decided which produce we could use to roast, soup or salad easily. Those easy produce choices for my family are carrots (I could have skipped them this week but grabbed a bag since I was at budget) $2.49, onions (1 of the cleanest non organic option) $2.99, (always) organic bell peppers $3.99, cucumbers 2/$1.98, a tub of organic greens $4.99 and to top it off, bananas $.49/lb and (always) organic apples 5lb/$4.99. There were a few sales in that mix of produce, but I found better deals on some items after reviewing the Dirty Dozen App while shopping. One of these days I should start remembering which plants are on which list, but I find I  have the opposite of a photographic memory: as I see it, I forget it.

I predicted $100.03 and the final bill was $99.07.

I predicted $100.03 and the final bill was $99.07.

A few choice notes: I bought a bag of coconut flour because it was on sale AND in stock, a rare sequence of events $5.15. I also bought 2/$10 k-cups and a box of EnviroKidz Leapin Lemurs (my kids’ favorite) because they are Gluten Free AND Non GMO Verified $3.79. Although, I usually wait to buy EnviroKidz brand cereals when they go on sale for $2.99. I’ve also taken notice to the additional varieties of free range, VEG FED eggs in the regular refrigerated section and one brand was on sale at 2 dozen/$5. I was paying $2.99 for half a dozen when I wasn’t able to buy from the local market on Thursdays. WIN. Other than that, I spent the bulk of my budget on meat.

After the days bounty was put away, I saw down with my laptop and used Supercook.com to come up with some ideas to use all this meat, a lot of it ground, in a variety of ways throughout the week. This site allows you to enter what ingredients you have and then recipes containing those things are displayed in order of adherence to your list. GREAT tool for folks who aren’t able to eat certain foods likes eggs, nuts, etc.

menu

Saturday: Meatloaf Balls and Roasted Veggies (use an egg, OR NOT, add puree and/or chopped veggies, maybe wrap a few in bacon! I like to make a ton so I have leftovers for breakfast or lunch plus some to freeze for a quick and easy option for the kids. You can make them as big or small as you like.)

Sunday: Sausage and Peppers with salad (I’ll cook peppers and onions in a skillet with the sausage.)

Monday: Shepard’s Pie (we stayed with friends during Hurricane Sandy and my daughters fell in love with this delicious cold weather food. To paloe-ize, instead of mashed white pots, use mashed sweet OR mashed cauli. And as Uncle Corey reminds: Remember to paint it with butter. No problem! Also easy to make ahead of time.)

Tuesday: Pulled Pork with salad and biscuits (There are so many good pulled pork recipes. I think I’ll use one that involves cinnamon and coffee grounds. I used this great recipe for sweet potato biscuits on Thanksgiving.)

Wednesday: LEFTOVERS, we’ll have plenty between Shepard’s Pie and the pulled pork.

Thursday: $5 Pizza and salad (I’ll probably have more leftovers or cook up some bacon and scallops and eat them out of a bowl with a spoon)

Friday: Turkey Veggie Soup (found it on Supercook! I’ve also seen ways to make it with a chicken broth or a tomato base for the soup – whatever your pleasure!)

Saturday: Pork and Onion Casserole (I wish I could spell that word without spell check.)

I always like to throw a few random ideas for my husband and the kids at the bottom as a reminder. I know it’s annoying. We made Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies from Eat Like A Dinosaur today. As my 5 yo puts it “Mama’s famous chocolate chip cookies!” She even brought them in for her class snack once. The girls are looking forward to having 2 small cookies for breakfast tomorrow. Ha. Less sugar and more protein than standard cereal or pancakes!

Tomorrow I’ll prep a variety of items including meatballs, omelet muffins, hard-boiled eggs, guacamole, and perhaps I’ll prep some more pancakes for my dear little 5yo towards the end of the week. She loves them and they keep her fueled on school days. Plus it’s so convenient to have them in the freezer.

What are you favorite budget saving tips?

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There’s an App for that!

I’m on my iPhone all the time. Whether I’m looking up a word in the dictionary, scheduling my calendar, posting to Pushups and Carrots on Facebook or using it to log my workout, everything I want or need is handy! I’m not a junkie, however. I have 1 page of apps. And I’m not a gamer so everything I download is a tool with a purpose.

Here are a few of my favorite apps that help keep me focused, motivated, and in shape. AND THEY’RE FREE.

 

  • dirtydozenDirty Dozen – Simply lists the 12 most contaminated fruits and veggies. 5 servings from this list will bring no less than 14 different pesticides into your body a day. YUCK. You’ll want to buy these 12 plants organic whenever possible. The app also offers a Clean 15 list which you can find deals on since you’re not committed to organic-only options. It’s an easy go-to when I’m in the produce section. They even have a list of 53 fruits and veggies ranked in order of most pesticides. Apples are #1. I believe 5lb bags of organic apples are on sale this week at GIANT. Just saying.

 

  • nongmononGMO – I’m the asshole standing in the organic aisle just staring at her cell phone. I promise I’m doing something valuable, not texting my girlfriends. Typically, I’m comparing brands via my nonGMO app and finding the brand who doesn’t use genetically modified organisms in their ingredients. I am especially interested if this is a non-paleo item, as I want it to be as clean and wholesome as possible for my 4 and 5 year olds’ bodies. Just because something is labeled organic, does not mean it is the best choice. Research your food.

 

  • workoutsWorkouts – This takes the guess-work out of what exercise routine to perform when I’m running behind, only have 30 mins and can’t think straight because I just rolled out of bed. Choose your target area ie; abs, arms, butt, legs, cardio or full body, then choose your length of time 10-30 minutes. Only have 5 minutes? Make it count. The app provides a count down during each exercise so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it also shows a video of the movement along with posted tips for best form and technique. EASY PEASY. Remember to stretch.

 

What are your favorite apps? PLEASE SHARE!


Sprouts and Cookie Bars

Today was spent prepping dinner, which was sausage, steak and chicken kabob. They were speared with onions, green peppers and carrots. On the side, I had Brussel sprouts and bacon sticks and a salad heavy with mixed greens, cucumber, onion, carrot, celery and hard-boiled egg. Oil and vinegar for the dressing and I was full before my plate was empty. Therefore, my lunch is already packed for tomorrow: leftover kabob emptied out onto a bed of mixed greens.

Sprouts and bacon. Always good. I found this idea on Pinterest.

Sprouts and bacon. Always good. I found and re-pinned this idea on Pinterest. Click the photo for original publication.

I know I’ve mentioned my love of Brussel sprouts and I’m sure you’re all sick of reading about it, but they are my favorite. I love how they grow and every time I pick up a stalk at the grocery, I inevitably have 1 or more strangers ask what it is. Great conversation starter, who knew?! I think I planted brussels last summer just to see that gorgeous stalk in my own back yard. Of course, homegrown taste EVEN MORE delicious. I hope to have success again this summer.

brussel-sprout-540x380

I’m currently awaiting the finished product of a little snack we like to refer to as “Cookie Bars”. It’s like a grainless granola bar without weird ingredients, but more of a protein bar, if you ask me! Plain and simple, it’s a recipe that can be varied in so many ways. Once you make them, it’ll be a go-to treat for the kiddos, if not for yourself.
Cookie Bars

In a food processor add

  • 5-7 Medjool pitted dates and handful of other dried fruit of choice (we used banana tonight)

Process till the dates start breaking down then add

  • handful of pecans
  • handful of whole almonds

Process till the really big chunks are gone then add

  • handful of crushed walnut
  • handful of coconut powder
  • a big squeeze of honey (probably 1/4 cup)

Pulse till mixed around a bit and add 1/4 cup or less of maple syrup, grade B preferably. Pulse till mixed. Must be sticky enough to lump together, if not add a bit of honey and syrup till satisfied.

Once the mixture is fully combined – sometimes, I put it in a larger bowl and use a spatula to smash it around some more, but did fine with just the processor tonight – line a baking sheet with parchment paper and flatten the mixture to an even thickness of about 1/4 an inch or your likeness. I then sprinkle it with cinnamon.

Bake at 325 for approx 20 minutes. I check on mine every 10. Timing depends on the thickness and for thicker bars, I usually flip the entire thing after 20 minutes and bake it off for 10-20 more.

Once the bar is browned, I add some sort of chocolate to the top. Sometimes a high cacao dark chip, melted in the microwave and spread on but tonight I used Enjoy brand chocolate chips because that is what I had. I sprinkled them lightly across the bar, placed it back in the oven for 1 minute then removed, spread the chocolate in a very thin layer then removed the parchment paper, with the cookie bar on top, from the sheet to cool on a rack.

As it cools, it will harden. Once cooled, I break it apart by attempting to cut it into rectangles. Sometimes it cuts well and other times, it’s more of a break line that I create.

If you use the same recipe, slightly less honey and syrup, you can toss the mixture while roasting and create a delicious cereal to be enjoyed with some milk of you choice. Warm it for an oatmeal like sensation.

They were so eager to eat tonight's bars that the chocolate isn't even dry in these photos!

They were so eager to eat tonight’s bars that the chocolate isn’t even hardened in these photos!

My husband couldn’t wait to get his hands on one of these. While I was getting the girls dressed after bath, and before they were cooled entirely, he went ahead and cut them. Warm and delicious! A comfort treat. The girls had one before bedtime tonight. Yet, they are entirely acceptable for breakfast.

Once cool, I store them in Tupperware, with parchment or wax paper between layers in the fridge and the girls help themselves when they wake up or feel a little hungry. I’ll also grab a few and toss into a ziplock bag when we’ll be running around all day. Easy pick-me-up and a delicious treat.

Savings note: Use the ‘candy bins’ at the grocery store to bag your own nuts. It ends up to be more like $2 or less for more than enough compared to $6 for the prepackaged nuts. This is why we always have a variety in our house.