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!