5 Great Paleo Recipes for Early Fall

5 Great Paleo Recipes for Early Fall

1: PaleOMG; 2: Against All Grain; 3: Detoxinista

These are the Paleo recipes we loved this summer and will continue to use as long as the grill isn’t covered by snow! These recipes maximize fresh ingredients and flavour “wow”s:

One. 4th of July Triple Protein Burger – PaleOMG

We haven’t decked out this burger quite like Juli has in this recipe (though why exactly, I’m not sure – it looks delish!). Mostly, we use her spice combo to wow our taste buds and our guests, whether or not we add cheese and bacon to the burgers. You’ll never want to add egg or bread crumbs to your homemade burger patties again!

Two. Grain-free Hamburger Buns – Against all Grain

Pair those burgers with these simple and tasty grain-free burger buns by Against All Grain. They don’t take long to make and they taste great.

Three. Grilled Zucchini – Food.com

This is the recipe we started with, but now I just sort of throw whatever into a ramekin with grapeseed or avocado oil. I always include salt and fresh pepper, and usually garlic powder and some dried chili flakes for a bit of kick. Or Italian seasoning. Then I brush the mixture generously onto both sides of the sliced zucchini and lay the slices onto a hot grill. I’m pretty sure I won over my non-zucchini-lover with this one!

Four. Flourless Chocolate Cake with whipped cream and berries – Detoxinista

You couldn’t imagine a simpler, richer, healthier, more moist, more chocolatey cake! We’ve served this to a few different non-Paleo groups and people have always gobbled up seconds! My favourite way to serve it is alongside some whipped cream (either with coconut milk or good-quality heavy cream) and fresh berries.

Five. Perfectly Seasoned Chicken – Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan

All of these recipes are simple, but this is the simplest and easiest to remember by far. And you will use it over and over and over and over! It’s great for both BBQ and oven cooking.

Grab your room-temp chicken (breasts or thighs, whatever) and generously (and I do mean generously!) sprinkle the following on all sides:

  • salt
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • freshly ground pepper

Oven: Place seasoned chicken pieces either on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a glass or ceramic baking dish. Roast uncovered at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.

BBQ: Place seasoned chicken pieces on preheated grill at approximately 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Flip after 7-10 minutes to get grill marks on the other side and for even cooking.

There you have them: five easy, Paleo, and fool-proof recipes that your guests will be raving about and begging you for! You’re welcome.

Happy eating!

Advertisements

Paleo: It’s Back! (Bonus: our favourite Paleo recipes)

20140323-203620.jpg

I know, I know. It’s been aaaaaaaaaages. There are no excuses, but when you have a full-time job and a man and a dog and a house and you co-own a website that showcases the best things to see, do, and buy in rural Ontario, well, your blog moves to the back burner. For years. And years.

But today I decided to grace you with my presence because I wanted to tell you that I’ve gone Paleo. Again. This time, apparently, for good. Or at least for the foreseeable future.

Something’s Gotta Give
After gaining and losing and gaining and losing my “freshman fifteen,” then moving in with Johnathan and doing my last (read: super-stressful) year of school and getting a “big girl” job, etc., those fifteen became more like thirty and nothing was fitting anymore and I decided (again) that enough was enough. I declared that, as of the first Monday in February, I was going to start another Whole30.

YES, I knew that prepping and cleaning would take a lot of time and energy. YES, I knew healthy food would cost more. But I was adamant. Johnathan agreed that he would eat what I cooked (taking into consideration that he doesn’t like to eat everything that I like to eat) and go along for the ride.

So the adventure began… 8 weeks ago. Feels like forever, but for many Paleo-eaters, it’s only the very beginning.

The Return of Real Food
I started cooking Whole30-friendly dishes for both of us: no grains, no sugar, no legumes, no potatoes, no corn, no additives or preservatives, and no dairy for me. As the month went by, my would-be Whole30 turned into Paleo as I found recipes that used honey or maple syrup and made “Paleo-ified” desserts and tortillas and other such indulgences. Johnathan kept his cheese and coffee cream and I started meal planning.

And here we are. We’ve each lost roughly 15 pounds (we don’t own a scale, so the actual amount is a mystery to everyone), our taste in food is changing, and we feel great!

Striving for Balance
At the end of our first month, we decided to “eat socially,” but to stay Paleo during the week. We have few friends and zero family members on special diets, and we don’t want to be “those people” that refuse to eat what is served. Okay, we did that a bit during our first month, but not anymore.

Yes, we may pay the price for it, and we try to make clean food choices when possible, but we are determined to be polite about it.

On our Table…
In case you’re here more for the “Paleo” tag and less for my story, here are some of the Paleo recipes that we LOVE and make often:

That Coffee Cake Banana Bread will definitely make you say “Paleo? OMG!”

‘Til next time…

Whole30 Egg Salad

20131024-220457.jpg

I’m just going to jump in cold with this one, even though I haven’t written anything fresh here for over a year (don’t judge).

I’ve had a request for my exact Whole30 egg salad recipe, so I am happily acquiescing. I didn’t actually know my exact recipe, so I had to make it the other day to come up with an approximation that would work.

Without further ado, Whole30-compliant egg salad:

3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. mayonnaise (make your own with this recipe)

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. paprika
sprinkle dried dill
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and dig in!

Optional (and flavourful) add-ins: onion (of any type), celery or cucumber (for a bit of crunch), avocado! This last one should really not be in the optional section, because avocado makes everything better!

Adjust proportions to taste. Get creative. Try omitting the Dijon and paprika and adding curry powder or paste.

And let me know how you make out or what your other ideas are!

The Hunt for Red, October

tomatoes in bowl

No, not that Red October. Forgive me for bringing Tom Clancy into this.

I am indeed hunting for red things in October, though. The red things? Tomatoes.

Yes, I am still picking tomatoes in October. You haven’t seen my tomatoes yet, because, well, I haven’t been blogging regularly for months. I’ll get to that later, or maybe in another post. For those that haven’t been following me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, I put twelve tomato plants in the back yard of the house that John and I are renting in London. Go figure: I move to the city and finally have a spot for a garden.

Of those twelve tomato plants, which I put into a raised bed about two and a half to three feet deep along one side of our property, four are cherry tomatoes, and the other eight are regular-sized tomatoes, two different kinds. While the regular-sized tomatoes produced a regular amount of tomatoes (I still feel like I’m waiting for an overwhelming harvest of tomatoes that may never actually materialize), the cherry tomatoes are out of control. I have come to call that corner of my garden “tomato jungle.” Because it is: vines that overlap each other and hide what’s behind them, blinding you to the red, ripe fruit under layers and layers of leaves.

tomatoes on vine

To pick the cherry tomatoes, I literally (no, really) had to bend over double or lay on the patio and lift up and move every branch and every other leaf, poring over each conceivable angle of each plant, searching for treasure: ripening tomatoes. This is not gardening for the faint of heart, or for anyone who does not adore either gardening or tomatoes, or both.

tomato jungle

Time and again, I have spent looooong minutes bent over, using the sturdy 2” square sharpened spruce stakes (thanks again, Rona!) to hold me up. I distribute my weight between one foot and one hand on a stake and lean over between the plants and the fence, looking under leaves and branches for a glimpse of red, ripe tomatoes. I pluck as many as I can while precariously balanced, then drop them in a bowl and go back for more.

tomatoes on table

Wash, rinse, repeat until I am either so tired of this exercise or I am pretty convinced there are no more red globes hiding from me.

I’m glad it’s October and these adventures are mostly behind me, but at the same time, I’m so proud of the bounty that I grew in my own little garden!

And now I have frozen tomatoes, regular and cherry, sundried (dehydrated) cherry tomatoes in olive oil, and tomato sauce: the tomato jungle keeps on giving!

~~

(PS: I wrote most of the text of this post at the very beginning of October, before the frost made my tomato plants droop and turn brown. I picked the last of my tomatoes on Sunday, and began to pull them out of the ground. Good-bye, mis tomates: you served me well.)

omelette

Real Food: Life after the Whole30

omelette

Many of you have read all about my recent adventures with food, or, more accurately, lack of many “normal” foods. Towards the end of February, I started what ended up being 54 days of the Whole30 diet, as proscribed by the Whole9 Life founders Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Yes, that “30” in there refers to 30 days, but I decided to go hard-core and do 60 54.

You will probably also be able to tell from the plethora of posts about the Whole30 that I enjoyed it. It was difficult at times, but it forced me to learn about good food. Real food. I had to start making my own salad dressings and using better oils. I began to use all those dried spices that had been taking up space in my cupboard. I started reading labels and growing increasingly disgusted with the food and beverage industry.

For 54 days (not including a “cheat weekend” after the first 30 days), I avoided all dairy, all grains and grain products (including corn and all of its derivatives), all sugars and sweeteners (including honey and maple syrup), all legumes (peanuts, soy, etc.), and most preservatives and additives.

After the first few days, I started to feel consistently great. I had a predictable and steady amount of energy from morning til night, and got great sleep. I was motivated to start running and do ab workouts.

I ate a lot, learned a lot, went through vegetables and eggs like nobody’s business, spent a lot of money on groceries (and I didn’t even get the ideal grass-fed organic meats I was supposed to), and ultimately lost at least 15 pounds (I haven’t done a final weigh-in since losing more weight after the diet was completed). I was getting “wholly healthy,” as I called it.

At the end of my 54 days, I needed a change of pace. Even the Hartwigs admit that the Whole30 is a bit too extreme for anyone to keep up for any extended length of time. The Whole30 is actually a stricter version of the Paleo (Paleolithic, Stone Age, Caveman, etc…) diet, and only meant to be undergone for 30 days here and there.

Having done such an intense diet for two months and then needing to break free, then finding myself in exams, then packing, then moving (to a city and in with my boyfriend=major transition), then looking for a job, and on and on, I fell off the good-food wagon. I guess I’m “lucky” to be one of those people who wasn’t wracked by cramps after every bite of “normal” food after so long an abstinence, but it was altogether too easy to fall back onto more convenient foods.

Convenience and frugality warred against my new good-food habits, and cooking for a non-vegetable-or-healthy-food lover further compounded my dilemma.

I still haven’t fully made peace between the warring factions. Farmer’s Markets have made it easier to justify the purchase of good-quality vegetables and meats, and I am attempting to home-make bread, dressings, sauces, burgers, chicken fingers, and other favourites and staples.

My plan of action is to real-food-ify my kitchen as much as possible. By “real food” I mean non-processed, non-preserved, organic ingredients wherever possible. I will use honey instead of sugar, olive oil instead of vegetable oils, organic flour and vinegar, make my own spice mixes (like seasoning salt), and generally go back to buying items without preservatives and additives.

The trick will be bringing Johnathan along with me, but I accept it as a personal challenge!

Two amazing bloggers help our real food revolution on an almost daily basis: Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food, and Heather of A Real Food Lover. These ladies have made the spices and the sauces, the breads and the pastas, and have real food solutions for almost any “normal” junk-filled dish.

The bread recipe I have been making lately is from 100 Days of Real Food. It has turned out differently every time I’ve made it (I think I’ve been making it with 4 1/2 cups of flour instead of 4 1/4. Oops), but it’s infallibly delicious!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread recipe

What are your go-to real food solutions? How have you managed to wean your household off of additives and preservatives? I’d love to hear your stories!

sanity restored

Why 54 days are better than 60.

54 days

55 days plus a 3-day weekend ago, I embarked on a bit of an extreme diet journey. Extreme from the perspective of most of us who have gotten used to relying on refined carbohydrates and artificial sweeteners and the convenience of processed and fast foods. Normal if you think of how food used to be for most of the history of humanity.

I did what is called the Whole30 diet, which rules out grains and all grain products, dairy, sugars and all sweeteners including honey and maple syrup, legumes, and common preservative and additives such as lecithins, sulfites, MSG, and carageenan. Few people would be able to do the Whole30 all the time. It’s meant as a sort of nutritional reset, a time for your body to heal from all the non-natural stuff you’ve been pumping into it for your entire life. It’s not your fault–it’s our culture’s fault.

After the success of my first month, I boldly decided to do two. My friend Erika did, after all, and she had inspired me to try the Whole30 in the first place.

Something went wrong in my calculations, and I put yesterday in my calendar as the last day, Day 30, time to celebrate! Last week, I began to get excited. I could finally eat some cheese! Dig into the chocolate that has been accumulating in my candy jar, taunting me! Check to see if the bottle of wine I opened before all this started is still remotely good!

Having just come through about 10 days of academic zombie madness, where avoiding that chocolate was an exercise in self-control I didn’t know I had, the idea of finishing became very very enticing.

I could finally relax my Kaiser-esque food regime, buy cheaper food, eat some of the convenient-and-less-nutritional stuff in the freezer, have dinner with someone without a long list of I-cannot-eats.

I got excited, and I began to count on yesterday being the last day. Then, the night before last, I realized my mistake. Yesterday was not day 60, it was day 54! Oh no! A sort of despair started to settle in as I thought about having to forgo that bottle of wine I had promised to share with my BF’s parents on the weekend, about not being able to enjoy the potluck dinner with friends we are attending on Saturday.

And I started to think about what it really means to quit at Day 54 rather than Day 60.

It means I went without grains and sugar and dairy and legumes and preservatives for 54 days!! It means I’m running 20 solid minutes tonight! It means I have lost weight! It also means I have spent so much time shopping and planning and cooking and packing meals and washing the resulting dishes. I have spent so much money on vegetables and meat, money that I didn’t really have. It means I have little patience left for waiting for a sip of wine, a taste of chocolate, a bite of cheese.

It means enough.

sanity restored

I was on a mission to get “wholly healthy.” I didn’t get all the way there, but I got 54 days and 5 weeks of Couch to 5K closer. I learned a lot about food and cooking and spices and oils and myriad ways of making vegetables into something yummy and crunchy.

Now, for me, “wholly healthy” means backing off of the strict diet. Relaxing my boundaries a bit, a little at a time, finding a balance between what I have learned and what my real life is. Taking some time away from the stove and giving it to some of the people in my life. It means enjoying those things that I have always loved, albeit with much greater moderation than ever. It means learning how to say “No, thank you” to a second helping of whatever delightful carb is offered.

It means greater sanity. And sanity, for me, sometimes feels too thinly spread across the fabric of my life. I will take more sanity over 6 more days without cheese or chocolate, thank you very much!

mitZine Vol. 11, Issue 5. April 2012. Article "Real Food: An Exercise in Subjective Ethics". Page 23.

Fresh Ink: “Real Food: An Exercise in Subjective Ethics”

real food

The final issue of this year’s mitZine (alternative student publication I contribute to) hit stands today, and you can find my article about the ethics of real food on page 23: April issue of the mitZine.

Oh, and PS, I got an honourable mention for contributor of the year, two years in a row. I’ll take it!

honourable mention

with an extra hour in the day, i would...

Survival of the Creative and Playful

with an extra hour in the day, i would...

There’s always something that gets me through the two most stressful times of year for a student. Last term, it was Pinterest, Diana Gabaldon‘s Outlander series on audio book, and the Conquist game for iPhone. This spring, it’s the discovery of the joy of Tumblr, Twilight on audio book, and DrawSomething for iPhone.

I also take frequent food breaks. On a diet like the Whole30, it’s possible I look forward to the food less than I did when my snacking included things like salt and vinegar Crispers, chocolate, and cheese and crackers.

The ability to look forward to something, even when it seems like there is no light at the end of the papers-and-exams tunnel, helps propel me through the long minutes and hours alone at my kitchen table.

Three weeks and counting…

doing ANOTHER whole30

Whole30: Redux

doing ANOTHER whole30

Yesterday, I started a Whole30. Again. As in, I’m doing a Whole60 (with a little 3-day break in the middle).

If you’re like most people and are very happy eating bread and flour and rice and cheese and yogurt and milk and candy and potatoes and chips and things out of cans, etcetera, this might seem crazy. One month ago, I may have agreed with you. Now, I am excited for another month of strictness–I’ve gotten so used to feeling great (see my last two posts) and I am eager to find out what else I can accomplish through my nutritional boot camp.

This second Whole30 is going to be even more hard core than the first. Before I explain how, though, I have a bit of an announcement: the founders of the Whole30 diet, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, have asked me for permission to direct other Whole30-ers to my new Whole30 Eats section as food inspiration. Remembering how much I relied/rely on other people’s experiences for food ideas, how could I say no?

In the interest of maintaining the integrity of their program, they made sure I got a copy of their Success Guide. You don’t have to have the book to do the Whole30, but it really is a very handy tool, and it showed me where I could make even better food choices. Also, since I am basically receiving an official Whole30 endorsement, I need to shape up and do things the right way.

That means some things will change:

  • No chewing gum. Gum is artificially sweetened, so it’s a no-go on the Whole30. I wondered about that during my first month, but since I didn’t have the Success Guide, I didn’t have all of the details. I may look into other breath-freshening alternatives, or else really try hard not to breathe on anyone. My apologies in advance. 😉
  • Taking fruit out of the spotlight. Fruit tastes great, can be very fulfilling, is a fantastic complement to most meals, but there is so much naturally-occurring sugar in it that it helps keep the “sugar dragon” alive longer. I want to starve that monster to death. So: I will eat less fruit, including trying to abolish the breakfast smoothie, unless I can make an enjoyable version that contains lots of veggies and little fruit.
  • Abolishing the Breakfast Smoothie. I know. My trusty breakfast smoothie. I will be sad to see it go, but I learned in conversations with Melissa Hartwig that liquid meals aren’t the best choice for those trying to lose weight, because the “I’m full” signal isn’t quite the same as when you’re chewing. I also learned that almond butter, which I was going through at a steady pace, isn’t on the Whole30 “go for it” protein list, but rather on the “eating-it-occasionally-is-cool” list. All this, combined with my decision to move fruit out of the spotlight, means that I will be looking for creative ways to get “real” protein (eggs, meat, etc.) into me at breakfast time, along with veggies.
  • No Fudge Babies. These little balls of Paleo goodness got me through some long evenings of reading and studying. However, they fall into the “no-no” category of “Paleo-ified” desserts, which the Hartwigs clearly forbid, lest that “sugar dragon” be allowed to remain alive. When I get an evening craving, I will eat a few almonds and some veggies.
  • Cutting back on the bacon and cold meat. As much as I loved the (additive-free) bacon and smoked turkey that I found at the farmer’s market last month, I realized that neither one is on the “great” list of proteins, and should be enjoyed occasionally, rather than regularly.
  • Fewer almonds. If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you’ve heard me talk about almonds before. They have been my super snack over the past year or two. While they’re not bad, they’re not on the “best” list, so I’m going to try to rely on them less. When in doubt, eat veggies!
  • New Balsamic Vinegar. I didn’t realize until I read the Success Guide yesterday that my balsamic vinegar (like most cheapies) has sulfites in it. Oops. Sulfites are a “no-no” on the Whole30, so it’s time for a new bottle.
  • Using clarified butter. This is the only “dairy” product allowed on the Whole30. Clarified butter has been melted and the milk solids skimmed away, making it a good fat rather than an evil one. It also helps to start with a good-quality, organic, grass-fed butter. I would venture to say it’s worth splurging on the good-quality stuff.
  • Eating more good fats. There is another diet out there where people eat coconut oil with every meal. On this diet, you don’t have to do that because you’re cooking with coconut oil and coconut milk and olive oil, and eating avocado, etc. I know it sounds backwards, but I’m convinced that good fats can make a lot of difference for a healthy diet. A diet without fats is difficult to maintain–you aren’t giving your body any extra calories, so without good fats, it won’t have much to run on. Besides, coconut and avocado are good for your skin and hair, etc. What did hydrogenated vegetable oil ever do for you?
  • Even more planning ahead. You really have to be on the ball with a diet like this. Especially if you have days like I do this term, where I leave my house by 8:30 am and don’t return until 9 or 10 pm. You have to get creative. You have to spend several hours cooking in order to have containers of good food to take with you when you’re out. You have to be disciplined in your determination to only eat foods you have made, unless you have access to a store or restaurant with Whole30-compliant meals. I don’t, so plan ahead I must. The tough part for me this month is going to be planning for breakfast. The smoothies were pretty easy, even though they took up more time than I had ever dedicated to breakfast on a morning where I had somewhere to be. Now, I have to prepare eggs and veggies… I’ll need even more discipline and creativity for that.

There you have it. My wee announcement, followed by several things that help you think I’m crazier than I was before.