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.

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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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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.

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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.


Week 2: Menu & Receipt

Here it is! Don’t make fun of my bad paint job.

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Our basement door, just off the kitchen.

Menu

  • Saturday: Tacos (seasoned ground beef and salsa on greens with carrot peels, cucumber slivers, chopped onions – check the bad pic on Facebook)
  • Sunday: Kabobs (chicken, pork, steak with peppers, onions, sprouts and bacon) with Brussel Sprout and Bacon Speared
  • Monday: Pork Chops with a salad and mashed (sweet) potatoes (and certainly applesauce)
  • Tuesday: Burgers with salad and fries (or burger ON salad, hold the fries)
  • Wednesday: Chicken Soup (broth, chicken breast, bag(s) of frozen soup vegetables, chopped and peeled additional carrots and onions, seasoned in the crock pot)
  • Thursday: Steak (mmm, steak) with baked (sweet) potatoes and a salad
  • Friday: $5 PIZZA NIGHT (or leftovers)
  • Saturday: Jumbalaya (broth, peppers, onions, garlic, chicken, shrimp and sausage, seasoned in the crock pot)

My shopping list tallied at $100.33 according to my calculator, before check out. That was after I decided to put a few things back to swap out for more proteins; one of the 2 frozen pizzas my husband requested $3.99; the entire stock of k-cups because (I had a coupon for a buy 2) I can get through exactly enough days with the coffee and tea I have $11.98; I put back grass fed hot dogs and resolved to not take short cuts when feeding the kids (besides we have sliced chicken, eggs and there will be plenty of leftovers for lunch options) $5.99; I decided against another jar of olives since I blew through the last one (munchies) and I have guacamole and celery in the crisper I can crunch on instead $2.29.

Choices.

recept

The cashier presented me with the grand total of $102.55. Not bad. Mind you, that also includes $44.44 in NON Paleo foods or housewares items. HOLY SHIT. Imagine if we just ate Paleo.

I’ll also be making hard-boiled eggs for snacking and salad, cookie bars (grainless granola like concoction, basically nuts and honey) and I have apples and bananas to turn into yummy breakfast or dessert options for the girls. That makes a week worth of (almost) Paleo eating.

Some more thoughts on Paleo being as affordable as you want to make it:

  • Robb’s rant, he will always hold a spot in my heart for opening my eyes to the power I have over my own health.
  • I follow Paleo On a Budget on Facebook
  • A quick google search (if you really want to know something, you can find the answer yourself) and here is a nice rundown on ways to cut the budget from the Lean Machine and 15 Tips for Eating Paleo on the Cheap from Following my Nose
  • Now harvest your own information. If you want something, you’ll make it work. Don’t blame anyone but yourself.

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To view more $100/week budget Menu & Receipt posts click below.


Brussel Sprouts – Who Knew?

One word: YUM.

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Shocked? Me too. I am a big huge fan of sauerkraut, so imagine my surprise when I chomped into my first slice of Brussel sprout only to find a hint of kraut upon my tongue! Being a relative of cabbage gives them a similar, yet milder taste to their fermented friends. I had no idea I had been missing out on this yummy treat until my girlfriend served them during a post-bouldering, paleo feast of roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower with meatloaf balls, a dinner I replicated for my family a week later and one they gobbled up.

The next amazing detail to note about Brussel sprouts is that they grow right out of a thick, spikey looking stalk creating a visual feast. This is also how I prefer to purchase them, rather then packaged in containers already removed from the stalk. If you do buy them already packaged, open it up when you get home and remove any yellowed or soft sprouts so they don’t ruin the entire bunch. These sprouts will also give off a sour odor, perhaps a reason for their bad reputation.

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Also potential cause for a bad rap may be in the preparation of the delicious little buggars. If you cook them whole, cut an X in the bottom of each sprout to allow for more internal/even cooking – whether you steam or roast. An undercooked sprout is hard, an overcooked sprout is mushy and stinky, who would enjoy either of those options at dinnertime? I would suggest slicing or dicing these balls of magic, tossing in coconut oil or pastured butter, a little salt, perhaps some garlic and onions and roasting them in the oven alone or with a buddy. I’ve been roasting ours with carrots because I know my girls will eat them. I also just found a recipe pairing them with diced bacon, tossing every 10 minutes for about 30 mins at 350 degrees. This will be on tomorrow night’s menu, guaranteed. Another recipe I look forward to trying is Brussel Sprout Slaw, found in Paleo Comfort Food. I’m drooling just thinking about all the possibilities. (While I have your attention, are any of my readers currently borrowing this book? I’d love to have it back soon for this recipe and others.)

Image More spectacular facts about Brussel Sprouts:

  • One of few vegetables originating in Northern Europe
  • Introduced to America through the French settlers in Louisiana – most are now grown in California
  • Best harvested in the Fall through Spring
  • Related to cabbage, broccoli and kale
  • Contain significant amounts of protein, Vitamin A, C and nitrogen compounds that may prevent some cancers (boiling voids most of this, so try steaming for 6 mins or roasting for 30)
  • A stalk costs $4.99 at GIANT in season and has fed my family of 4 through 3 dinners.

In short, finding out that Brussel sprouts aren’t repulsive little vegetables was similar to the day I learned relish is just chopped pickles, my head almost exploded. I could weep at the thought of missing so much time with these delightful options. I hope everyone continues to try new and old foods alike. Our taste buds, like other sensory cells, wear out as we age which can alter our taste preferences and allow room for more additions to our diet. You never know what might become your new obsession.

I’d also like to extend a special thanks to Wendy for sharing the delight of a roasted, sliced Brussel sprout with me for the first time and also to my husband, Chris, for educating (and making fun of) me about relish, after 30 years of fearing these foods based on name and reputation alone.