Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Vegetarian Paleo "Lasagna"

The countdown is officially on! Less than 24 hours until my whirlwind holiday travels begin. The next two weeks will be overflowing with loved ones, parties, celebrations, and fireplaces. I am bursting at the seams with holiday spirit and joy - almost certainly setting a personal record this year. I hope everyone else is taking part in the holiday cheer and spending as much time as possible with friends and family over the next few weeks.

Tonight's recipe was created during Mal's visit - I made her my best attempt at Italian food. This isn't exactlyyy lasagna, but it definitely had a lasagna flair, and the spices and flavor were spot on. I would not recommend this recipe if you have an undying craving for lasagna (there is no pasta or cheese in this people!), but it really made a fantastic side dish. You could serve it with an almond-flour "breaded" chicken cutlet or your favorite grass-fed steak. The actual instructions and veggies in this are not that important - feel free to switch things up and just get it all layered in your pan. The house will smell like an Italian feast, and you won't be disappointed!

- 1 large eggplant, sliced
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced
- 3 large tomatoes, sliced
- 10 oz fresh spinach
- 1 large sweet onion, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 32oz. can organic tomato puree
- Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, etc.)
- Black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Heat olive oil over medium heat
3. Saute onions and garlic for 10 minutes until golden
4. Meanwhile, pour a little sauce in the bottom of your 9x12 casserole/lasagna dish
5. Put a layer of eggplant (using 1/2 of the eggplant), a layer of zucchini (slices of 1 zucchini), and a layer of fresh tomato slices
6. When onions and garlic are done, add half of the mixture on top of your fresh tomatoes
7. Put a layer of spinach and then half of the can of the tomato puree. 
8. Top generously with Italian seasonings and pepper.
9. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions/garlic, spinach, tomato puree, and another layer of spices
10. Bake (covered with foil) for 45 minutes and then uncovered for another 10 minutes.
11. Let sit for at least 5-10 minutes before serving


Monday, December 17, 2012

Carrot Sweet Potato Latkes

Happy (belated) Hanukkah! My family is a bit non-traditional when it comes to holiday celebrations. We have quite the melting pot in the family, and our favorite celebrations include Paster (Passover + Easter) and Chrismanukkah (Xmas + Hanukkah). I celebrated Chrismanukkah with mom and Ron a bit early this year in Florida, and I tried to make a paleo latke (potato pancake) for my paleo meetup this past weekend. 

I have to admit that these do not taste anything like potato pancakes - they are mostly made of carrots, so the flavor is clearly different. I was pleasantly surprised by these, and they were a great addition to the potluck. I ate the leftovers for breakfast with eggs & spinach.  This is definitely a new and interesting tasty treat! I will probably try these again with a higher proportion of sweet potato and some sauteed onion. An update will follow after the next attempt!


- 8-10 large carrots, peeled & shredded
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & shredded
- 6 eggs
- 5-6 Tbsp. coconut flour
- Salt, pepper, and cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. Mix all ingredients in a very large mixing bowl - make sure everything is well combined
3. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
4. Bake for 10 minutes, flip over, and bake for another 10 minutes
5. Latkes/pancakes should be golden brown on both sides


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Acorn Squash Stuffed w/ Grass-Fed Beef

Happy Chrismannukah everyone! I am so full of the holiday spirit and have been on a holiday shopping rampage for the last 48 hours. I love this time of year and can't wait to be surrounded by all of my favorite people for the holidays. 

Mal is in town, so we have been catching up and spending much needed quality time together after FIVE months apart. We graciously turned down offers to go out for a night on the town last night so we could do our old routine of eating together, watching Grey's, and chatting all night. Life doesn't get too much better than this. Tonight I am going to make this acorn squash recipe again because it is so simple and absolutely delicious. I am promising myself that I will remember to go buy cinnamon before I start cooking this time so I can pump up the flavor a bit. Try it out with your friends and family over the holidays, and add any of your favorite spices. Enjoy!

- 2 acorn squash, halved
- 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
- Cinnamon, sea salt, and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Scoop seeds out of squash, and bake them face down in 1/2 inch of water in a baking dish for 35 minutes until soft (a fork should easily poke through the flesh)
3. While squash is cooking, cook ground beef over medium heat on the stove
4. After 5 minutes, drain all of the fat and then add the onion, garlic and spices
5. Stuff the squash with the meat mixture, sprinkle with extra cinnamon, and serve!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Coconut Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

Did you know that I am obsessed with soup? Well, I am - it is really that simple. There is something so comforting about hot soup in the winter. Check out this interesting article about the importance of eating "warming" foods in the winter. Soups with hearty vegetables will keep your body energized and full of nutrition during the coldest months.  

I have decided that I need to create at least one soup for every color of the rainbow, so today's creation is a beautiful orange concoction. The flavors in this are absolutely incredible, and the recipe couldn't be easier. I would've added cinnamon as well, but I keep forgetting to restock when I go to the store. If I haven't convinced you to buy an immersion blender yet, go buy one! This is the one I have (thanks Mom!), and it is perfect. If you don't want/need all of the attachments, you can pay a bit less just for the blender itself. It's the holidays people - make it happen!

2012 is winding down, and I don't know about all of you, but I have had the most complicated/transitional year of my entire life. It isn't over yet, and while I reflect on all that happened and all that will come, I plan on curling up in my favorite chair and eating a bowl of this beautiful soup. Soup therapy always does the trick... enjoy! 

- 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil
- 2 large sweet onions, chopped
- 2+ Tbsp. chopped garlic
- 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
- 6-7 large carrots, peeled & chopped
- 1 quart low sodium organic vegetable broth (I use Pacific)
- 1 can low fat coconut milk (I use Trader Joes - only ingredients are coconut milk and water)
- Fine sea salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot
2. Add onions, garlic, sea salt, and pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often
3. Add sweet potatoes and carrots and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes
4. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil
5. When it boils, cover the pot, and let simmer over low heat for 30 minutes
6. Let the soup cool for a few minutes
7. Using the immersion blender (or whatever else you have), blend the soup until thick and smooth
8. Add the can of coconut milk and stir until well combined
9. Top with some toasted (unsweetened) coconut flakes if you'd like!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Grass-Fed Beef Taco Salad

Hello from Stamford! December is a month full of travel, and I still have another four mini trips before the month ends. I also am insanely excited to report that I booked a week-long trip to Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires. I spend a week at there ten years ago, and I am well overdue for a return visit. I honestly think that Canyon Ranch is a slice of heaven on earth, and I would recommend every single person to experience it at some point if at all possible. I am about to call my program coordinator to sign up for lectures, healthy cooking demonstrations, and spa/medical services ranging from Ayurveda and ancient Chinese medicine techniques to detoxifying rituals and hypnotherapy. I am going to have a lot of stories when I return, so you should be excited too!

This is a quick recipe tonight - the last of the Florida meals. Mom and I needed a very quick dinner after almost 10 hours of shopping last week. We tag-teamed dinner and were eating in under 15 minutes. This is a perfect dinner for a rushed night that can comfortably serve 3 hungry people!

- Spinach
- 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
- 1+ Tbsp. chopped garlic
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
- sea salt, pepper, and any other spices of choice
- 1 avocado

1. Cook grass-fed ground beef over medium heat until cooked through (6-9 minutes)
2. Drain the excess fat from the pan
3. Add garlic and onion and cook for another 5 minutes
4. Add red bell pepper and all spices
5. Cook for a couple more minutes - as this cooks, set all plates with a layer of spinach
6. Scoop the mixture on top of the spinach leaves and top with sliced avocado

Monday, December 10, 2012

Berta & Bertha aka Eggs in a Basket

A quick post today as I am heading to the airport soon to travel back up north. Today's recipe is in honor of Steph's 28th birthday! These stuffed peppers are named Berta and Bertha in her honor. If you haven't been able to tell, I have been eating a lot of eggs and peppers! I actually have another creation from this morning that I will share soon with another pepper/egg concoction. Hopefully you all are into these ingredients as well! Served alongside of brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, or another green vegetable, they are perfect for the holiday season. 

It is a sad day as I have to leave the retired life in Florida. On a good note, my trip was amazing, and I'm sure I'll be back in no time. I learned a valuable cooking lesson while I was here: cooking is way faster and extra enjoyable when you have a solid cooking partner and a second oven!

- 2 bell peppers
- 4 farm fresh eggs
- Sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Cut the bell peppers in half vertically, and carefully scoop out the insides
3. Arrange the peppers in a baking pan, and crack one egg into each half
4. Season with sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder
5. Bake for 20-30 minutes based on egg preference


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lamb Loin Chops w/ Fresh Paleo Pesto

Happy Hanukkah! Last night we had our annual Chrismanukkah celebration which was wonderful. The non-traditional menu included coconut/almond encrusted cod, cinnamon roasted delicata squash, and a spinach salad with tomatoes, avocado, olives, and herbs. We feasted, exchanged gifts, and had a great evening. Tonight is my last night in Florida, so we are going back to my favorite restaurant Cafe Lurcat. Anyone who knows anything about Cafe Lurcat knows to order the seabass. While the miso glaze isn't 100% paleo, it has been my one and only purposeful "cheat". I am totally convinced that nothing that good could be bad for me. 

If you are looking for a fresh new idea for a main course to impress your dinner guests, you can try out this amazing recipe from my mom. I requested fresh pesto to avoid the cheese in the store-bought kind, and we arrived at this great dish. The meat is Australian lamb loin chops - there are bones and they are very thick, so the cooking time is a bit long for these. This recipe is extremely simple, and if you happen to have a batch of pesto on hand already, there is virtually no prep work. Give these a try, and let me know how they come out!

- 4 oz. fresh basil
- 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. crushed garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- seal salt and pepper to taste
- 8 Australian lamb loin chops (~2 lbs.)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Add basil to food processor
3. When basil is chopped down, add all other ingredients
4. Pulse for 1-2 minutes until smooth - you may need to scrape down the edges every 20-30 seconds so it mixes well
5. Spread the full pesto mixture on top of the lamb
6. Bake for 20 minutes 
7. Flip the chops over, and baste the tops with the pesto in the pan
8. Bake for another 10-20 minutes based on meat preference
9. Let rest for 5 minutes, and serve!

Note: After you cut off the first few pieces of meat, pick these chops up, and eat them with your hands! If Ron did it, anybody can!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Paleo Stuffed Mushrooms w/ Sweet Potato & Spinach

Days 1-3 in Florida have been wonderful. Mom and I had a fun-filled day at the outlets on Thursday. We shopped for over 8 hours and only took a 15 minute break in the middle for lunch. While I never was a huge fan of tailgating in the past (too much beer), we had the best tailgate lunch party in her truck eating paleo salads. We certainly got a few looks, but we didn't care! The day ended when we almost got run over by a teenage driver with hot pink leopard seat covers. We were walking in the rain with bright clothes on and a giant golf umbrella, and she came insanely close to running us over. She rolled down her window to apologize by saying she didn't see us. I was so delirious at this point, I bent over in the middle of the street and started hysterically laughing (trying not to pee) in the pouring rain. Anyone close to me has experienced this situation at least once with me... :)

Last night we cooked a great feast and then played May-I (our signature family card game). The retired life is really agreeing with me, and I may never leave. I highly recommend trying out today's recipe. I used to make something similar pre-paleo that had quinoa (inspired by, and I have wanted to it paleo-style ever since. It is easy and delicious - give it a try!

- 4 portobello mushroom caps, stems removed and insides cleaned
- 2 medium sweet potatoes (or 3 small), chopped
- 2-3 cups fresh spinach
- Olive oil
- Sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Toss chopped sweet potato with a little olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder
3. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until cooked through and a little crisp
4. Add spinach and cook for another 5 minutes until spinach wilts
5. Spoon the sweet potato/spinach mixture into the portobello caps, and put them back in the oven for another 15 minutes

Friday, December 7, 2012

Purple Soup!

Hello from Florida! When I arrived in Naples, Mom took me to Trader Joes and Whole Foods to stock up so I would have all of my paleo staples. While it was 80 degrees when I arrived, I still thought it would be a great idea to make a big pot of soup so there would always be a good serving of veggies on hand. If you haven't noticed yet, I care about the colors of my food almost as much as the taste! A colorful plate tends to be a healthier plate, so I decided we needed to make purple soup. The purple cauliflower (which I've never had before) looked awesome, so we grabbed two heads of it and a bunch of other white or lightly colored veggies so we could keep the color going. The soup came out great, and it was beautiful to watch! Try to eat a different color fruit and vegetable every day of the week - you will nourish your body and enjoy the view along the way. 

- Olive oil
- 2-3 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
- 2 sweet onions, chopped
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1 bunch celery, chopped
- 2 yellow squash, chopped
- 1 bunch white asparagus, chopped
- 2 heads purple cauliflower, chopped 
- 2 quarts organic, gluten-free chicken stock (or veggie broth)
- Black pepper & fresh rosemary

1. Chop all of your veggies! You can use a food processor to save time if you want - roughly chopped is fine since we will be blending this soup.
2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat
3. Saute the garlic, onion, and leek about 10 minutes until soft
4. Add celery, squash, and asparagus and cook another 5 minutes
5. Add the purple cauliflower and the chicken stock and bring to a boil
6. When soup boils, cover the pot, turn heat down to low, and cook for 40 minutes
7. Let soup cool for a few minutes and then puree with the immersion blender until smooth
8. Serve with black pepper and fresh rosemary


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Roasted Chicken w/ Butternut Squash & Cranberries

Hello from my standing desk! I am happy to report that my back is adjusting to all of the standing, and I am feeling great. I feel completely different at the end of the day after standing compared to my old 10+ hour days of sitting. For all of the haters out there (hi Mom!), here is an interesting article from Sunday's NY Times talking about the growing popularity of standing desks and improved office ergonomics: 

So when I made my Fall Harvest Crockpot Chicken a few weeks back, I mentioned that I wanted to remake the dish in the oven to get a crispier take on the same flavors.  I omitted the pears this time, and the dish still came out great. This is just as easy as the crockpot version, and it is done in a fraction of the time. This is a perfect one-pan dinner. I served this with a side of roasted brussel sprouts and parsnips (recipe to come!), and it was a delicious meal. Enjoy!

- 1 butternut squash (1.5 lbs.), cubed
- 1 sweet onion, sliced
- 1 cup raw cranberries
- 1.5 lbs skinless chicken thighs (bone-in or boneless are fine)
- Olive oil
- Sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (I used convection)
2. Lay squash, onion, and chicken in a 9x12 casserole dish.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and spices, and toss until evenly combined.
4. Add cranberries on top.
5. Bake for 45-60 minutes depending on how crisp you want your dish!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Detox Soup

Happy Friday, and happy birthday to my brother Evan! Day 2 with the standing desk was mostly a success. I am definitely sore/tired from ungodly amounts of standing, but I am enjoying the benefits of my new workstation. I absolutely feel more alert standing, and I am constantly aware of my posture and my core. I expect to have superhero health status by the end of next year after 12+ months of paleo, crossfit, and standing while working.  

Today's recipe inspiration comes from my mom. We were talking about recipes, weight loss, and weird fad diets, and she asked me if I had ever heard about the Cabbage Soup diet. I had never heard about this, so I read up on the 7-day meal plan here I definitely have no interest in eating eight bananas with a gallon of milk one day and then 20 oz of beef with 6 tomatoes the next, but the recipe for the "magic" soup looked pretty good. I had never made soup with cabbage, so I figured I would give it a solid try. I tweaked a few things, made it paleo-friendly, and here we are. The soup tastes incredibly fresh and healthy, and it is a perfect addition to my paleo eating plan. I am not expecting to lose 10 pounds in 7 days from this soup, but I will be sure to let you know if it happens!

- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 6 green onions (scallions), chopped
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1-2 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
- 2 green peppers, chopped
- 5 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 head of celery, chopped (about 6 stalks)
- 10 oz. of mushrooms, chopped
- 1 small head of cabbage, chopped
- Two 14.5 oz cans of organic diced tomatoes (no junk added)
- 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Black pepper (and any other herbs/spices you want)
- 8 cups organic, low sodium vegetable broth (or homemade stock if you have)

1. Make sure everything is chopped and prepped! Chopping this many veggies can take longer than you may expect, so it is much easier to make this soup if everything is ready to go.
2. Heat the olive oil in your biggest soup pot over medium heat.
3. Add onion, scallions, leek, and garlic. Cook for 5-10 minutes until soft
4. Add peppers, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and cabbage. Cook another 10 minutes, stirring often.
5. Add the broth, your cans of diced tomatoes, and the black pepper and any other spices or herbs.
6. Bring the soup to a boil and then cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 2 hours.
7. Forget about weight loss, and just enjoy the soup!

Note: This makes a LOT of soup. Be prepared.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Eggplant Chips

There was a big change in the McLagan Boston office (aka my home office) today when I converted my desk into a standing workstation. I have been thinking about this for a couple of months since I heard a great lecture at my first paleo meetup about the benefits of standing at work. I hate sitting all day, and I have a huge problem with body parts or entire sections of my body falling asleep from sitting in weird positions or not moving for a long time (sexy? I thought so...). My desk happened to have adjustable legs (thanks Ikea!), so I had no reason not to try it out. It was a bit of a disaster taking everything off the desk and maneuvering it, but it ended up well. My body definitely feels different from standing all day, and it reminds me of the feeling after a long day cooking in the kitchen on my feet. I wore sneakers all day for a little extra padding/support, and I am curious to see how it goes. Luckily tomorrow is Friday, so it is only a two-day standing work week this week! According to the following article (, my new standing desk should improve my ergonomics, health, focus, mood, and productivity.  I would be ok with any or all of those things!

Today I also attempted round 2 with my dehydrator, and it proved to be much more successful! I attempted to use my mandolin which failed miserably, but I will give that another try next time. I made eggplant chips this time since the slices are so much larger and wouldn't disappear into thin air like the zucchini. The eggplant pieces definitely shrank, but nothing compared to last time. These were a delicious snack, but I am happy and shocked to announce that I didn't eat the whole batch!

- 1 large eggplant, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
- sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, & paprika

1. Arrange the eggplant slices on the dehydrator trays
2. Season with spices listed above (or any other spices/herbs you want to try)
3. Dehydrate @ 125 degrees for 4-5 hours until desired crispiness is reached


So easy, healthy, and delicious! (and Paleo of course...)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Paleo Thanksgiving Turkey

OK, so I know Thanksgiving is almost a week behind us, but I have pounds and pounds of leftover turkey to eat, and I needed to post this recipe. This was my first attempt at making a full turkey, and I was blown away with the result! There is quite a lot to share...

If I focused on the positives, I would tell you that:
  • It tasted amazing
  • It wasn't dry at all
  • I carved it like a pro
  • My dinner guests raved about it
  • The house smelled amazing all day
If I focused on the negatives, I would explain that:
  • I dropped a huge glass bottle of olive oil on the floor when I was elbow-deep in turkey
  • I probably need 5 years of therapy to offset my discovery of the 7 inch neck inside the turkey
  • I sweat as much carving this turkey as I do in my hardest WOD

Clearly the positives outweigh the negatives, and I will definitely be excited (and more prepared) to make another turkey next year! Best of luck to all the first-timers out there!

- 16 lb. defrosted turkey (get a pastured turkey from your local farm if possible!)
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- 1 bunch rosemary
- 4 lemons, cut into wedges
- Sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, and basil

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. Make sure your turkey is fully defrosted, and then remove it from the package 
3. Time to clean the turkey - if you have disposable rubber gloves, put them on! (wish I could say that I had some...)
4. Thoroughly rinse the turkey (inside and out) with water. You may find a bag of giblets, a 7+ inch neck, and other surprises, so remain calm, and save those pieces for later (soup, gravy, etc.) or immediately throw them out so you don't have to think about it (my choice)
5. When the turkey is cleaned, empty, and trimmed of any strange things (veins, excess skin, etc.), put the turkey in a roasting pan. I highly recommend buying a disposable foil pan to save with post-turkey cleanup. 
6. Generously rub the whole turkey with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and then cover it with sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, and basil.
7. Put all of the lemon wedges and the bunch of rosemary into the center of the turkey.
8. Bake for 4 hours (15 minutes/pound), basting every 30 minutes. Flip the turkey after two hours so both sides get a nice golden brown color.
9. Take the turkey out of the oven, cover tightly with foil, and then let it sit for 30 minutes.
10. Carve like your uncle taught you!

Note: Since there was no real sauce or heavy marinade, there was next to no juice to baste the turkey with after the first 30 minutes. I re-brushed some oil and vinegar on the outside to keep it moist. By the second round of basting, there was plenty of liquid from the lemons and the natural juices from the turkey.


Paleo Macaroons

I really should be sleeping right now, but I have too many ideas and thoughts racing through my head. My IIN program is teaching the importance of holistic health and happiness, and while nutrition (paleo for me) is a huge factor in my overall wellness, there are so many other aspects of life that require just as much attention and nurturing. Tonight's recipe is the other Thanksgiving dessert I made last week which was inspired by Elana's Pantry blog entry for gluten free coconut macaroons. To keep the Thanksgiving theme alive for a little longer, I want to share the things I am thankful for today:

1. Meaningful connections with new friends
2. Closure
3. Excitement about the unknown
4. Amazing stories
5. Beautiful (non-coincidental) signs from the universe

In terms of my holistic health, today has been a wonderful day. Looking forward to all those ahead. In the meantime, make some paleo macaroons ;)  

- 6 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup raw organic honey
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
2. Whisk egg whites and salt thoroughly (at least 5 minutes)
3. Add honey and vanilla, and whisk until well combined
4. Fold in coconut
5. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
6. Bake for 17-22 minutes until lightly browned

Note: The original recipe says this should make 48 macaroons, but mine made exactly 24, and I used an actual tablespoon to measure. I definitely recommend doubling the recipe if you need to feed a large crowd!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pomegranate Pecan Brussel Sprouts

My first memory of brussel sprouts was when my mom used to steam them in the microwave when I was a young kid, and the whole house would smell like sewage. I never understood how anyone could even taste such a foul-smelling food. Later in life I realized how amazing brussel sprouts are if you just roast them in the oven. I am still not sure what my mom was thinking back then, but the good news is that she roasts them now too! I can't get enough of these this year; at last night's Thanksgiving potluck, Chris made delicious roasted brussel sprouts with parsnips. It was such a great combination of flavors, and I will absolutely make those together soon. Last week on Thanksgiving, I wanted to make a sweet and savory side dish, so I decided on roasted brussel sprouts with toasted pecans and fresh pomegranate seeds. This was probably one of my favorite creations to date! Sorry to mom and Aunt Randi for giving them stomach aches for making such a delicious side dish... I didn't mean for them to eat so many!

- A lot of brussel sprouts (filled up two 9x11 pans)
- Seeds from 2 pomegranates
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Olive oil
- Sea salt, pepper, & garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (convection if you have it)
2. Wash brussel sprouts, cut off the ends, and cut in half (keep all the leaves that fall off - these are the best part!)
3. Put the sprouts in a baking dish, and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toss until well combined.
4. Add pecans to the sprouts and mix
5. Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on your crispiness preference, stirring every 5-10 minutes
6. When sprouts come out of the oven, mix in the pomegranate seeds, and serve immediately

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Paleo Brownies

It is officially Thanksgiving round 2 today! Chris and I have had quite the afternoon tending to the turkey for our paleo potluck feast tonight. My first experience prepping a turkey was certainly an interesting one. I got some much-needed advice from Mom and Aunt Randi beforehand, but nothing could have truly prepared me. I will spare you the gory details, but let's just say I was mortified when I "discovered" the neck hanging out in the inside of the turkey. The only other disaster was when I dropped an entire glass bottle of olive oil on the floor and glass and oil went everywhere. Mom nicknamed me "Helpful Hannah" for a reason, and I have a feeling that will stick with me for a while. The good news is that the floor is cleaned, the house smells amazing, and in about an hour, my first attempt at a (paleo) turkey will be done! I will post the recipe later this week. You all may be detoxing from turkey recipes for now, but there is always next year!

In the meantime, you can check out this recipe inspired by The Wannabe Chef's almond flour brownies with some paleo tweaks. I made these for Thanksgiving with my family. They were definitely a hit, and my non-paleo family members recommended these warm brownies with a scoop of ice cream to pump up the sweetness that they are used to. These brownies are very rich and absolutely will satisfy your sugar/dairy/gluten-free chocolate cravings! 

- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2/3 cup raw organic honey
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate squares
- 1/2 - 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix almond flour, salt, cocoa powder, and baking powder
3. In a separate bowl, melt the 4 ounces of baking chocolate with the coconut oil
4. While chocolate melts, beat eggs, honey, and vanilla in a separate bowl
5. Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture. Whisk thoroughly, and make sure to add slowly so the eggs don't start to cook
6. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl as well, and mix completely
7. Fold in walnuts if using nuts
8. Pour the batter into a greased 8x8 pan
9. Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely, and then slice and serve!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Butternut Squash Casserole

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! There is a lot to catch up on - I am back in Boston after a few wonderful days with my family. It was so great to see everyone as always, and I feel very thankful to have such an incredible family. 

This was my first Paleo thanksgiving, so it was quite different from a food perspective this year. I had to pass on the stuffing, stuffed mushrooms, mac & cheese, cornbread, marshmallow sweet potatoes, and about 500 desserts, but I made some great paleo-friendly recipes and was able to focus more on the real meaning of thanksgiving. Recipes will be posted all week, and the first one is a quick and easy butternut squash casserole. I am cooking a mini round 2 paleo thanksgiving tomorrow, and I will be serving the leftovers of this along with my first attempt at a turkey. Details will follow... enjoy!

- 5 lbs butternut squash, cubed
- 1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (plus more for dusting)
- Sea salt, pepper, garlic, powder, & cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Boil squash for 20-30 minutes until soft
3. Drain squash in a colander 
4. Add coconut oil to pot and let melt. 
5. Add squash and shredded coconut to the pot with the coconut oil, and mix with a hand blender
6. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cinnamon to taste (I like a lot of cinnamon!)
7. Put pureed squash in a casserole pan, and then top with chopped walnuts and some extra shredded coconut and cinnamon
8. Bake for 40 minutes. If nuts start browning, you can cover the pan with foil for the last 10-15 minutes.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Fall Harvest Crockpot Chicken w/ Butternut Squash, Cranberries, & Pears

Only three days left until Thanksgiving, and I can't wait! This week has been so fantastic with visits from Kelsey (hadn't seen her in 13 years!), Sarah & Mark, Mal tonight, and the Rozier/Topche crew on Wednesday. So many wonderful people to see, so little time! I am very much in the Thanksgiving spirit and created this great Fall recipe with locally sourced ingredients. You can pick up all of these ingredients from your local farmers market and throw it together in no time in the crockpot. You can make this recipe with or without broth. I went with broth this time to get a slighty soupy experience. Next time I am going to make this as a roasted dish in the oven to get everything nice and crispy. The part II version will be after Thanksgiving (and after I buy myself a dutch oven!). This will be Mal's welcome meal when she arrives from Ithaca tonight after a six hour drive. A little fall harvest crockpot chicken and some wannabe rice pudding, and we will be back in business! Only four more hours to go...

- 1 butternut squash (1.5 lbs.), cubed
- 1 sweet onion, sliced
- 1 bosc pear, sliced
- 1 cup raw cranberries
- 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup veggie or chicken broth (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- Sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cinnamon

1. Layer squash cubes at the bottom of the crockpot.
2. Put half of the onions, pears, and cranberries on top. 
3. Add 1 bay leaf and some spices
4. Arrange a layer of chicken on top of the spices
5. Add another layer of spices and the second bay leaf on top of the chicken
6. Add the remaining onion, pear, and cranberries
7. Pour the broth over the mixture (this isn't necessary - I like it because it makes it a little bit soupy) 
8. Cook on high for 3 hours and then low for 90 minutes


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Paleo Chia Pudding

 24 hours until Mal's arrival! We haven't seen each other since July, so this reunion is long overdue. Mal hasn't even seen me since I started my paleo transformation, so she hasn't had the pleasure of tasting any of my new creations. I wanted to make sure she gets fed well when she arrives, so I cooked a great crockpot chicken recipe that I will post tomorrow, and I did my best attempt at "Rice Pudding" paleo style which is really chia seed coconut pudding. Back in the day in Stamford, Mal and I used to eat rice pudding every night after dinner together, so I thought I would finally try to recreate our favorite treat. The recipe is inspired from Deliciously Organic, and it came out great. The texture and flavor differ quite a bit from your standard rice pudding, but this is a simple and delicious dessert good for ice cream and rice pudding lovers like me!

- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla
- 2 Tbsp. organic maple syrup
- 1/3 cup chia seeds

1. Whisk together coconut milk, vanilla, and syrup until well combined
2. Add chia seeds, and stir consistently for a few minutes so all seeds are coated
3. Let sit for 1-2 hours so the seeds can expand in the liquid. 
4. If you prefer it cold (I do), stick the mixture in the fridge or freezer. Note that this will significantly harden the pudding since the coconut milk solidifies at cold temperatures.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Paleo Coconut Bread

OK people - we officially have the mystery of a lifetime. You know the whole OJ Simpson debacle? Well, this isn't exactly the same, but it is equally thrilling. I woke up this morning and noticed a box on my counter from Amazon when I went to get a glass of water. I am assuming my roommate saw it in the lobby and put it there for me. I opened the box and found this cut resistant glove with "maximum protection for employees who cut meat or fish". There was no note, no receipt, no trail of anything. There are only a few people who could have sent this:

1. Ryan - After he sent me the dehydrator, I bought a mandolin, and he is convinced I will sever my hand or at least a few fingers any day now.
2. Evan - He has the perfect sense of humor and has made me crazy with mystery things like this in the past (anyone remember the Scottish voicemail fiasco?!)
3. Steph - She sliced open her hand cutting a bagel on a winter day when we were young, and then proceeded to wave her hand around screaming getting blood everywhere. After that, cutting safety has been a key focal point in our friendship. 
4. Mom - She knows that she somehow raised the clumsiest daughter imaginable, and she is always looking out for my well-being. By the way mom, I am still really sorry about dropping that entire gallon of milk on the kitchen floor!
5. An unknown coworker - I am getting a lot of heat in Stamford for being "Sooo Paleo", so maybe someone is just giving me a hard time...
6. Mal - The list wouldn't be complete without her. I don't think it's her, but she knows me the best and would clearly see the benefits of such a practical gift.

If anyone and I mean anyone has information about this mysterious cut-resistant glove that appeared in my kitchen this morning, please contact me immediately!!

On a very unrelated note, I attempted to make some paleo bread yesterday after watching Ryan make an awesome loaf of bread in Dubai. Some may say I am competitive, but I like to think that I just wanted to get in on the excitement. This bread is interesting... it tastes good, but it has a very unique texture. Picture a dog eating peanut butter smacking its tongue against its mouth and then picture me doing that eating this bread. That pretty much sums it up. With a little almond butter and jam (neither of which I had), this would be fantastic. I will probably tweak this recipe and play with it a bit, but this definitely is a nice breakfast/side bread for anyone looking for a paleo or low carb substitute. 

- 3/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- 6 eggs or 3/4 cup egg whites (I used the whites)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl (use your hands at the end so it becomes more dough-like)
3. Put dough in a greased loaf pan
4. Bake 30-35 minutes until lightly brown (note - this bread will hardly rise)