Whole 30 September

After a LONG summer home with the kids (which included a complete relocation and purchase of our first home), I am ready for a reset. Things have not gotten completely out of control food wise, but I could use a good month of squeaky clean eating to kickstart our new schedule and the new school year. So on September 5, I began another Whole 30 (the last was in January). Five days in now, and I think I may have slain the sugar demon. It was a rough go on days 3 and 4 but day 5 seems a lot better. My energy is up, belly is happy, and I am feeling that Paleo high. I plan on doing a before and after summary with my thoughts and pics. I will also post recipes and survival tips as I go along. Stay tuned!

Paleo Beef Meatballs with fresh tomato sauce over mashed cauliflower
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Morning veggie scramble with avocado
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Salad with chicken and toasted onion coconut chips
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Bowl of random goodness
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Veggie egg cupcake with curried mayo
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Saffron chicken vegetable soup

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Chicken fajitas

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Summer Quinoa Salad

It’s been a long time since my last post. Our family of five packed up and moved to a new home in a new state. The amount of work involved was overwhelming, and my little blog here got tossed aside for a few months. We are now happily settled and ready to cook again! Yippee!! During our hiatus we were able to keep our biggest little man gluten free and keep me mostly Paleo (and as always, gluten free).

With the beautiful summer weather here, we have been grilling a lot. I love a big plate of grilled burger/chicken, veggies, and some kind of salad. Recently I discovered that quinoa doesn’t hurt my stomach like I previously believed. And my kids love it. So naturally I have been toying with quinoa salad recipes to go with a great grilled dinner. This one has a Greek twist with feta, but if you don’t do dairy, you could easily leave the feta out or sub it for crumbled goat cheese. Cucumber and chopped olives would be a fantastic addition as well. The possibilities are endless. Feel free to mix it up!

Summer Quinoa Salad

2 cups water

1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinsed and drained)

1 T olive oil/butter for cooking

1 cup diced grape tomatoes

3/4 cup diced red onion

3/4 cup blanched asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (to blanch just drop in boiling water a minute or two then plunge into ice water)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

3/4 tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp each)

2 T olive oil

1 1/2 T vinegar (both red wine and balsamic are delicious)

In a small saucepan, bring the water and olive oil or butter to a boil, reduce heat and add quinoa. Simmer with lid on for about 15 minutes.

Fluff quinoa with a fork and spread onto a baking sheet and put in refrigerator or freezer to chill until cooled (about 5-10 mins).

Spoon quinoa into a bowl and add the veggies, spices and oil/vinegar. Mix gently.

Add feta and incorporate it into the salad.

Enjoy at room temp or cooler.

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Paleo Parents Guest Post

Heres a copy of the guest post I recently did for Paleo Parents. I am lucky enough to know Stacy for a while now, and when she asked me to write a guest post for their blog I was happy to oblige! Visit their blog at http://www.paleoparents.com for great recipes and ideas on how to live as a Paleo family.

I started my Paleo journey about 2 years ago after realizing that I have a gluten intolerance. I had been suffering for years not understanding what it was. Knowing Stacy for a few years, i asked her for some direction. She was happy to help me sort out and understand Paleo, and I have been going strong and feeling great since. I have lost about 25 lbs, have tons of energy, and have unleashed my inner athlete.
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This past December, my 8 year old son had his first flare of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Although he was diagnosed over 6 years ago, we had not had any major issues that a little increase in medicine and a day of rest couldn’t fix. This time it was different. He could not get comfortable enough to rest. It was downright awful. He rolled around in pain for days and despite my background in Medicine, I was powerless. We increased his meds and rode it out, but it was a miserable 2 weeks. Thankfully it did stop, and although he lost a few pounds, he recovered. He still takes the same meds in addition to a number of vitamins and probiotics.
I had wanted to start to transition him to Paleo for a long time, but never took the initiative for this reason or that. The flare was a major wake up call, and I am grateful that I have the knowledge and the motivation to do something to really change his health. I have read a lot on autoimmune disease and inflammation, and I am sure that Paleo is going to be fantastic for him. So, as of January 1, we have begun the transition. The problem is that he is 8 years old. Transitioning him will take time, work, and a TON of patience. I came up with a plan, and decided to do it in a stepwise process in order to allow us to slowly get him used to eating differently. The most important thing to do first was to get rid of gluten. It has been 2 full months now, and I am incredibly happy to report that his gut is better than its ever been. His bathroom visits are normal for the first time in his life, his bloated belly has disappeared, and he is having an easier time doing his work at school. The amazing part is that he sees it too. But despite feeling better, he still misses wheat bread and bagels. So as a result, I have come up with a number of strategies to keep him on the road to Paleo. They help minimize the complaints and negative feelings towards his belly. He is a kid, and no matter how much he understands that gluten hurts his belly, he still has attachments to the foods he used to eat and I need to be receptive to that. So heres a little list of what works for us to make it easier for him.
1. Discuss options before you get to a restaurant. We live in a small town, and know most of the local restaurant menus pretty well. I always make sure to talk to him first about the options that they will have there for him. I assume that one day I wont have to do this but for now it helps. He is used to ordering things that he just cant have now, so being prepared with ideas for him makes for a much more enjoyable meal.
2. Make a weekly meal plan. I usually shop on Sundays so I write my meal plan on our kitchen dry erase board. Then check the stock in the house and make a list. I pack lunch for all 3 kids so I include that as well. This way we always have something to make.
3. Involve the kids. I can’t stress this one enough. Let them contribute to planning. Have them pick fruits and veggies when you shop (our store even has little kids carts). Encourage them to help cook and bake. When they are involved its much more likely that they will be willing to try new things.
4. Add only one new food at a time. Having a new food on the plate surrounded by foods they are used to makes it less intimidating. And if that food has dip to dunk in, it’s a bonus 🙂
5. Make lunches fun. My son eats at a table of his peers. They all have things in their lunch boxes he can no longer eat. Having him involved in picking what we pack for lunch is great, but every once in a while I put something unexpected that he loves in there as a special surprise. Usually it’s an almond flour baked good or an all fruit leather. I even do cheese shaped like the Millenium Falcon.
6. Take it slow. This is probably the most important. Remember that change takes time. School age kids in particular have established their eating habits. Just as adults can have a hard time adjusting to Paleo, kids can too. Taking it slow and keeping a positive association with food is key.
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Sometimes you just need something warm. Its in single digits here most days lately, and that makes me want comfort food. One of our favorite things to eat has always been chili. But since going Paleo, my definition of chili has changed. It used to be chock full of beans, limited in veggies, and had added sugar. Well, not anymore. This chili packs a nutritional punch with lots of veggies, grass fed protein, healthy fats, and zero added sugar. The fire roasted tomatoes really kick up the flavor. Even our most picky kid tester tried and liked this (ok, so I did have to pick the spinach out, but I still say its a win!)

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FIRE ROASTED PALEO CHILI

2 lbs grass fed beef (we buy ours in bulk from US Wellness Meats)

1 medium onion (or half a large one), diced

1 red, orange, or yellow pepper, diced

1 cup baby carrots, sliced into small discs

5 handfuls baby spinach (about 5 oz)

1 large can of crushed fire roasted tomatoes

1 large can of diced fire roasted tomatoes–drain out liquid

1 large can of diced tomatoes–drain out liquid

2 Tbsp of oil or fat for sautee (I use grass fed ghee)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 Tbsp cumin

2 Tbsp chili powder

salt and pepper to taste

avocado

fresh cilantro

In a large skillet on low to medium heat, melt the ghee and add the onion. Sautee until translucent. Add the grassfed beef and brown (grass fed beef is much better browned at a lower temp).

Meanwhile, melt the other 1Tbsp of ghee in a large stockpot and add the peppers and carrots. Sautee over medium heat while the beef is browning.

Once the veggies are softened a bit (5-8 mins or so), add the crushed tomatoes, and both cans of diced tomatoes.

Add spinach.

Drain meat (if you prefer a less oily chili). To the meat, add 1 Tbsp of cumin, 1Tbsp chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, lightly salt and pepper.

Add the meat to the stockpot and stir to incorporate.

Put the remaining spices in the stockpot and bring the heat up until bubbling. Turn heat down and simmer 30-45 mins.

Top with avocado and fresh cilantro.

Rachel is a 36 year old mother of three boys. She has a B.S. in Nutrition and is a Physician Assistant. Because of a love for cooking (and eating!) she will be sharing recipes, tips, and ideas on her blog at http://www.paleofamilyeats.com
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Gluten Free Oat Breakfast Muffins

Here’s a great easy breakfast muffin recipe. I’ve been experimenting with ways to get more protein into my kids, particularly my “meat avoider”. These muffins are not Paleo, but a great transition option. They are 100 percent kid approved and totally delicious.

2.5 c gluten free oats
1 c unsweetened coconut or almond milk (carton, not can)
1 c unsweetened applesauce
2 mashed bananas
2 eggs
3 scoops grass fed whey protein (will do 4 scoops next time)
1 c blueberries
1 T aluminum free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix it all up and put in greased muffin tin. 375 degrees for 20 mins
Makes 12
140 cal, 7 g protein, 23 carbs, negligible fat.

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Slow Cooked Chicken Scarpariello

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SLOW COOKED CHICKEN SCARPARIELLO

9 boneless skinless chicken thighs
5 links sausage (I use garlic and herb chicken sausage), cut to 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp chopped garlic
3 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 8 oz pkg mushrooms
1 5 oz jar of roasted red peppers, cut to 1 inch pieces
2-4 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil for sautée pan
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, brown sausage in a little oil (about 1.5 Tbsp if using chicken, less for pork) over medium heat and transfer to slow cooker.
Add another tablespoon of oil to pan and sautée onions until becoming translucent (about 4 minutes).
Add garlic to onions and cook another 1 minute, stirring the whole time to prevent garlic from burning.
Add onion and garlic to slow cooker and top with tomatoes, mushrooms, and red peppers.
In a small bowl, wisk together the balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, oregano, basil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper.
Add mixture to slow cooker and stir to combine and coat the veggies.
Rinse and pay dry the chicken thighs.
Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder. I do one side on cutting board, and the other while its in the pan.
Add another tablespoon of oil to your pan and brown the thighs on medium/high heat. Don’t worry about cooking through, just brown the outsides.
Add the thighs to slow cooker, put on the lid, and cook on high 3.5 to 4 hours.
I served it with mashed parsnips and french beans tonight, but sweet potato or cauliflower rice are great with it too.

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Chocolate Lava Donuts

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CHOCOLATE LAVA DONUTS

1/2 c coconut flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
1/4 c maple syrup
1/8 c coconut or almond milk
1/4 c melted coconut oil
1 tsp chocolate extract (optional but makes them very chocolatey).
Coconut oil for greasing pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
In another large bowl, combine wet ingredients and beat until well mixed (I used my standup mixer).
Add dry bowl to wet bowl and mix until dry ingredients are blended well into mix.
Grease donut or mini donut pan with coconut oil.
Add mixture to wells, filling just below top (this part is messy because the batter is thick. Use wet fingers).
Bake at 350 for 8 minutes for mini donuts and 11 minutes for full size.

CHOCOLATE LAVA TOPPING

1/2 cup chocolate of your choice (we used Enjoy Life chips)
1/2 tbsp coconut oil

Combine and melt in microwave. I did 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir. And it was perfect.
Dip cooled donut tops in chocolate and let cool a bit.
Enjoy warm and gooey, or put in the refrigerator to harden the chocolate up.

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Paleo Breakfast Lasagna

Breakfast while eating Paleo is a challenge.  Eggs and bacon can get old fast (ok, eggs can anyway).  Because I hit the gym most mornings, I really need a quick option that has some nice protein, fat, and some carbs.  I usually opt to make Paleo Egg Cupcakes (recipe coming soon) and a carb source.  Today, I decided to try a layered egg dish with the carbs baked in.  I can refrigerate cut portions of and grab on the go.

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PALEO BREAKFAST LASAGNA

12 eggs

1 sweet potato

8 breakfast sausage links (bacon could be subbed. I would cook it and crumble), diced

1 cup steamed broccoli, diced

1/4 cup red peppers, diced

1/4 cup green onions, diced (yellow would work, but I find green easier on the stomach in the morning), divided

1 cup baby spinach leaves

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 cup coconut milk

ghee or coconut oil for sautee

avocado for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

First, steam your sweet potato for a few minutes in the microwave to soften a bit.  You can either peel it or not.  I peeled it.  4 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a small skillet on medium, and add the ghee or oil.  

Add 3/4 of your onions (reserve the rest for topping) and peppers and cook until slightly softened and onion is becoming translucent.

In a large bowl, add your 12 eggs and whisk to combine.

Add coconut milk and spices to eggs and whisk.

Slice your potato lengthwise in thin slices (1/4 inch).

Take a brownie pan and grease it well.

Add the slices of sweet potato to the bottom of the pan.  

Layer with half  of  your: spinach leaves, pepper/onions, diced sausage, broccoli.

Pour half of your egg mixture on top of the veggies.  

Add another layer of sweet potato slices and repeat above with the remaining veggie and sausage ingredients, then pour on the rest of your eggs.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 50 mins-1 hour.  You will know its done when the eggs are cooked through and no longer jiggle if you shake the pan. 

Garnish with avocado slices and green onions.

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Chicken Sliders On Paleo Buns

Kids love mini food. I think it makes them actually eat more. So I decided that instead of regular chicken burgers, kid sized sliders are the way to go for my guys.

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For the buns I used Elanas Pantry’s Paleo Bread recipe. But instead of baking it in a loaf, I made them in my whoopie pie pan and reduced the baking time to 11 minutes. They came out great. Each one is perfectly slider sized and slices easily.

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CHICKEN SLIDERS
1 lb ground chicken
1 egg
1/4 c almond flour (if your chicken is very wet you may need a little more)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
2 tsp oil of your choice for browning

Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until well combined.
Heat large skillet on medium/high.
WET HANDS, and add about 1/4c sized ball of chicken to hot skillet and press into patty (I find it hard to make patties before since chicken is sticky).
Cook about 4 minutes (until brown) and flip.
Cook other side until brown, and burger is cooked throughout.
Slice bun in half and put chicken burger on.

Topping suggestions:
bacon, caramelized onions, BBQ sauce
Salsa and guacamole
Lettuce, tomato, ketchup
Flavored mayo, red onion

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Grain And Dairy Free Whoopie Pies

It has been 30 days since my kids have gone gluten free. My oldest (who this is really the most important for) has stayed 100% all month. Not one slip. The two little guys have stayed fully GF in the house, but have had some goldfish or other gluten laden snacks at school a few times. I am worried my 3 year old will not understand why he cant have goldfish when his classmates do. So for him, I think I will just wait until next fall when the snack isn’t shared. My 5 year old gets a packed snack so for him its not an issue.

Anyway, my point is that its been a full month and I decided to make my big boy a special treat. He LOVES whoopie pies. They have some gluten free ones at our local co-op. But, because I’d rather him have something with a little less simple carbohydrate (the cake part in the store is mostly made with rice flour/tapioca/etc…), I decided to make my own. I came up with a great recipe for the cake portion of it that is totally grain free and made with coconut flour. The filling, however, is harder to alter. Its a marshmallow vanilla frosting. How in the world do you take the super high level of sugar out of that??? So for this batch I just went with it. I will be working on a healthier version of the frosting in my test lab. Stay tuned for that in the next 2 weeks. I got a cake pop pan, and the boys and I will be doing some experimenting!!

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GRAIN AND DAIRY FREE WHOOPIE PIES

CAKE:

1/2 c coconut flour

1/4 c cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

4 eggs

1/2 c maple syrup

1/4 c melted coconut oil

1 tsp chocolate extract

In a small bowl, add dry ingredients and mix until combined.

In a large mixing bowl (or kitchenaid mixer bowl), combine wet ingredients.

Wisk wet ingredients until well combined (because the eggs are cold and oil can solidify, you can get little white dots of coconut oil- don’t fret, it will melt in the oven)

Add dry ingredients to wet and blend with mixer until full blended.

Pour into whoopie pie pan (fill half way), or spoon and spread on cookie sheet lined with silicone/parchment.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 5 whoopie pies (or 10 pieces)

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MARSHMALLOW CREME FILLING

3/4 c palm shortening

3/4 c marshmallow topping (I used Toonie Moonie brand–no HFCS)

1 1/4 c confectioners sugar (I used King Arthur’s glazing sugar–no cornstarch added)

1/3 c coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients except coconut milk in mixing bowl.

Use electric mixer or hand mixer to blend them.

Add milk little by little until desired consistency is reached.

Spread between two COOLED whoopie pie cakes and enjoy!

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