Paleo – the cereal killer

Paleo granola -- mmm, mmm good!

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how paleo’s going, and what health benefits I’ve seen. And my first instinct is to say ‘crappy’ and ‘none’, but that’s not actually true. Yes, I’ve cheated — a lot. And no, I haven’t lost much weight (about 3 lbs or so depending on the day) – but despite cheating, I have seen some benefits to sticking to paleo 70% (ish) of the time.

Some of these benefits include better skin (not perfect by any means, but I’ve absolutely seen a change my complexion), a noticeable increase in my energy levels (when I don’t cheat), and what I perceive to be an increased immunity. I’ve started to get sick several times over the past few months, but each time it’s sort of passed me over. Is that because of paleo? Or the fact that I started downing airborne like it was going out of style? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

But I digress. One of the things that I haven’t cheated on paleo with is cereal — grains are a no-no, which means cereal is a killer, and even though yes, I’ve eaten bread quite a bit (on average once or twice a week), I haven’t touched the boxed sugary snack despite it being one of my most-favorite foods.

This weekend, I really, really started to miss cereal. So much so that I almost drove to the grocery store to snag a big ol box of my former favs, mini wheats. And then I thought to myself, ‘hmmm, I wonder if I could make a paleo cereal?’. I played around with some ingredients, brought out my beloved silpat baking mat, broke out some raw nuts and coconut, and voila. 20 minutes later I was eating a tiny but satisfying bowl of perfectly paleo cereal.

Want to try it? I know you do. Here’s my recipe from memory — feel free to adjust any measurements and use whatever raw nuts and fruit you have in the house — it’s not exact by any means and I’m confident that most combos would work just fine.

1/2 cup raw pecans, chopped

1/2 cup raw almonds chopped

a big old handful of shredded, unsweetened coconut

1 apple, peeled and chopped finely

4 tbsp (or a small fistful) of dried cherries or other dried fruit

1 tbsp coconut oil, butter, or some other fat of your choice

1 tbsp or so of either honey or maple syrup (I know neither is truly paleo, but I’m ok with that. If you’re concerned, just leave this out)

1 generous dash of the best vanilla you can get your hands on

1 tsp or so of ground cinnamon

Instructions: Mix together the oil, honey/syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla in a small pot. Heat on low until all ingredients are combined in a lovely syrup. Mix the coconut, raw nuts, and chopped apple together, place on a pan with foil, parchment, or a silpat if you’re lucky like me and still have one from your pre-paleo days. Drizzle the syrup over your nut/fruit mixture, and toss to ensure that it evenly coats all pieces.

Put in a 350 degree oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Watch this carefully — it’s easy to burn the coconut. After cooking, toss in your dried fruit, and if you wish to add pre-roasted nuts, now would be the time to do so.

I ate this with some vanilla coconut milk, and let me tell you, it was so flippin’ good, I couldn’t believe it. Next time, I plan to make a bigger batch and use more fresh fruit (mmm, mango!) as well as introduce some seeds (pumpkin? sunflower?) to the mix.

Please do let me know if you try this, and especially it you love it!

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Leftover fried ‘cice’, eggs two ways, and bacon, of course!

So you made the fried ‘cice’ that I spoke of in my last post, did you? Maybe you didn’t have the pork, or couldn’t make it yourself… but you went for the veggie ‘cice’! What in the world do you put on top of it?

Well, in Hawaii, people are ALL about the fried rice and eggs, so I figured why not fry up an egg (over medium) and put it on top? Cook up some bacon, scramble the egg that I tried to fry but broke the yolk, and voila – an easy, delicious breakfast.

Pulled pork and fried ‘cice’

First things first… I’ve been a major paleo-slacker. My husband and I have been in vacation mode for the past month, with him on summer break from teaching until very recently and me feeling too worn out at the end of the day to cook. So we’ve been eating out a lot — and 99.9% of those meals out haven’t fit paleo. We haven’t consumed massive plates of pasta or anything — but some thin crusted pizza here, some fresh baked bread there… needless to say I’ve put back on the 6 pounds I had previously lost from paleo. In the words of one of my favorite bloggers, ‘paleo-fail-eo‘. Yup, fail is right.

But last week I managed to get back in the swing of things, and came up with a fabulous recipe inspired by a pale girlfriend of mine, Kristen.

I’ve often heard of cauliflower as being a sub for starches – mashed potatoes in particular – but I hadn’t heard of it being processed and turned into ‘rice’ until Kristen told me she had tried that with success. Simply insert frozen/defrosted cauliflower florets into  the food processor, turn on ‘shred’, and fry it up with some other veggies and an egg or too, and voila!

Unfortunately, I live in a 450 sq/ft apartment and don’t own a food processor (though I’m totally going to buy one after making this by hand) – so I used a cheese grater to shred the cauliflower. It’s ok, you can laugh. I thought it was funny, too.

My recipe isn’t exact by any means – I more threw things together -and one ingredient that isn’t uh, super paleo (um, soy sauce) – but I feel confident that this recipe would be fab even without those ‘sketchy’ ingredients.

Fried ‘cice’ and pulled pork

Ingredients:

2 packages frozen cauliflower florets, shredded

1 package of frozen stir fried veggies, finely chopped

1 carrot, shredded/grated

4 eggs

4 links of non-nitrate sausage (any kind will do) chopped finely

1 cup of smoked pulled pork (I buy this in bulk from Costco – not sure if it’s a Hawaii thing or not – I hope you can get it, too!)

2-4 tbsps soy sauce (so not paleo) – or coconut aminos (I can’t find this anywhere but supposedly it exists)

1/2 tsp chipotle seasoning

1 tbsp garlic

1tbsp ginger (grated)

Instructions:

Scramble eggs. Set aside. Cook sausage with garlic and ginger in large wok – add grated veggies, soy sauce, and chipotle seasoning. Warm pulled pork in another pot with some water and sauce of your choice (any will do). Serve pork over fried ‘cice’ and enjoy!

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Co-Co-Mo Chicken

I never really liked coconut before I started paleo. Something about it reminded me of sunscreen – which I ironically love the smell of (but would rather not eat).

There were, of course, a few exceptions – my grandma’s Kentucky butter cake, for one (mmmmm, I miss you, butter-soaked-cake) – and of course, girl-scout samoas. But for the most part, I stayed away from the flaky white food, despite living in Hawaii.

But, when I started paleo and discovered coconut oil and shredded unsweetened coconut, something changed. I started to enjoy the hint of nutty sweetness and would deliberately add it to bowls of fruit and smoothies (which would explain why I haven’t lost more weight).

And the other night, I took my newfound affection for coconut to the next level, and created a fabulous new recipe. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Co-co-mo Chicken

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts (or however many you want), butterflied and sliced into somewhat-consistently sized pieces

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup coconut flour

coconut oil

2 eggs, beaten

cilantro (I used dried, I’m sure you could use fresh)

salt and pepper to taste

cinnamon (surprise!)

Instructions –

Dredge the chicken breasts in coconut flour that’s seasoned to taste with cilantro, salt, and pepper. I added a dash of cinnamon – feel free to delete if it grosses you out. Then throw the chicken in the beaten eggs, then lightly coat with the shredded coconut. Heat coconut oil to medium-high (careful – don’t burn it!) and cook chicken in pan until outside is crispy and the inside is no longer pink. Serve with salsa or a fruit chutney. Die of happiness.

My Pal Prosciutto

There’s something about prosciutto.

Who wouldn't love these little slices of heaven?

Don’t you agree? The soft, smoky meat… those paper thin slices that just melt in your mouth… the salt lingering on the tip of your tounge… it’s enticing, seductive – perhaps even you might call it sexy.

I once had a friend who was OBSESSED with prosciutto – in fact, he loved it so much I think he bought a whole massive chunk of it wholesale – you know, like the kind they sell to Whole Foods and butcher shops – and slowly carved it, piece by piece. I don’t think my love is quite that intense – but I will make a 45 minute pilgrimage to the one Whole Foods on this island to purchase it. Yes, I could just buy it from the local supermarket, but I’d like my prosciutto without the DNA-unraveling nitrates, thank you very much. (Yet I haven’t switched over to nitrate free bacon. I know, I’m a little less than logical sometimes.)

So earlier this week, I made the journey over the (many) hill(s) to purchase my beloved cured meat. I walked into the mecca that is Whole Foods, and was immediately on sensory overload. I pulled it together and marched towards my destination – the deli counter.

When I ordered the prosciutto, the kind meat-slicing-man asked me what I was going to cook with it. “Uhhh… I’m just going to eat it..” I replied, slightly embarrassed. There is rarely any cooking that goes along with my prosciutto – it almost never sticks around long enough to be incorporated into a recipe.

And I was telling the truth. I had a feeling the prosciutto wouldn’t make it home with me intact – it’s just TOO far of a drive – and I was correct. Picture this:  I’m driving my beat up car on the long and windy road back home, after a lengthy day and not nearly enough food. The smell of the coveted meat treat is leaking, oozing, wafting out of the protective packing – and I start to salivate. Soon it’s much too strong for me to ignore. I unfold my neat package of goods, and started to literally (my husband hates it when I say ‘literally’ when I’m not referring to something literary. Literally!) shove pieces of the delicate shaved pork into my mouth. The first bite was pure bliss – and I don’t stop. I bet you I could have eaten the entire package (it was just 1/3 of a pound) before I got home – but I somehow snapped out of the prosciutto trance, close up the package (no small feat with WF packing), and threw it back into the grocery bag.

Somehow, I still have some prosciutto, and I can’t wait until breakfast tomorrow, where I’ll lay slices over my scrambled eggs.

Who am I kidding? I’m eating some right now🙂 Go get some prosciutto.

Cheating is wrong – learning the hard way

I went on a little getaway this past weekend, and I knew sticking to eating paleo would prove challenging. I must say, I did great the first day – I refused bread except for a teeny bite (it wasn’t even that good, despite being a 4 star restaurant!), and loved eating primal treats like wild boar loin (seriously) and foie gras.

But, the second day, the Eggs Benedict were calling… and I answered. (admittedly, they were delicious) Then the calzone knocked on my door for lunch. By the time I saw that they featured a Reese’s dessert calzone, it was over. I ate it – the whole thing.

And you know what? It wasn’t even that good. I think the idea of it was much more appealing to me than the actual dessert was. Has anyone else cheated and then found this same thing? You sort of daydream about how ‘pre-paleo’ (yes, I realize that’s a contradiction.) food tastes and would taste again? Warm bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar? Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, wrapped lovingly in a crepe with nutella and banana pieces? Mmm.

So I indulged a little. And it’s ok, because I really saw the effects of my indulgence immediately. Both my husband and I became rather bloated, felt instantly tired after our cheat meals, and were just sort of sluggish overall (which was ok since we were on vacation). And that got me wondering, ‘Is this how I used to feel ALL the time, just without noticing?!?!‘ I think it is.

So we’re back home and back to eating paleo – and it definitely feels good. Whew!

Fat, my friend

I’ve officially been paleo for two and a half weeks now, and one of the most difficult things for me to get used to is the embracing of eating FAT.

I’ve seen varying viewpoints on fat – some paleo peeps say that animal fat is GOOD, bacon fat is FINE to eat all the time (whhhatttt?!??!), olive oil is great, and organic sausage with no nitrates is A-OK to eat every single day.

Of course, my husband loves this – and has fully embraced it. I’ve been trying to – but I find myself still scraping fat off of beef broth that I made, and scooping out oil from my Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Bake. I’ve definitely been eating fat – about a piece of sausage and two eggs every day, avocado most days, and beef with some chunks of juicy fat on others. But it’s weird to make that transition and to convince myself that it’s ok. It’s not, in fact, the fat that’s been making me fat – it’s the sugar, grains, and processed crap I’ve been feeding myself for the past 29 years.

I know that there’s something to it, though, because I’ve been eating more fat that usual, and still enjoy carbs like sweet potatoes and fruit – and I’ve lost at least 3 pounds since I’ve started. I think I would have lost even more, but I haven’t worked out since starting paleo with the exception of a short walk here and there due to a fairly severe-and-unrelated-to-diet cough that I’ve had for almost 3 weeks. Yuck.

Has anyone else had a hard time embracing the ‘eat the fat’ mentality? And does anyone know how to get rid of this dang cough?

The double killing of a cow

It started out so right.

A hunk of beef, rubbed down with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and minced garlic… then onto browning it on all sides and creating a simple yet delicious sauce with tomato paste, homemade stock, balsamic vinegar, and the pan drippings… a pile of baby carrots, thickly sliced red onions, and gorgeous sweet potatoes…

But after 12 long hours in the crock pot, it was so, so wrong. See below. It even looks wrong.

Consider this a warning to you all – a hunk of beef, no matter how fatty or well seasoned, should not be in a slow cooker for 12 hours. The cow already had to endure one death – it’s just plain cruel to kill it again.

To be fair, the recipe I used actually was fabulous – it’s here, from Kalyn’s Kitchen, in case you’d like to give it a go. I made some modifications to her instructions, of course – I left all the fat on the meat (yay, fat!), didn’t measure anything (I rarely do), and used tomato paste with some water (it’s what I had) instead of sauce or diced tomatoes. What was left of the sauce in the pot was delicious – the carrots and sweet potatoes were unreal – probably after soaking up all the fat from the beef – but the meat itself was very dry, due to about 5 extra hours in the crock.

In the spirit of not wasting food (or, ah, being ravenous with hunger), we ate it anyway – and after whipping up some extra sauce and throwing it on, it was somewhat palatable. But the next time I make a roast, I think it will be on the weekend.

*And cows everywhere started cheering.

I’m roasting!

Before I started eating paleo, I hadn’t really cooked beef… ever. Sure, I had heated up leftovers from a restaurant, and I may have even slapped a burger on a grill at a lone picnic or two, but I hadn’t actually cooked the stuff from start to finish.

But I’m ready to learn, and purchased a big hunkin’ roast at Costco last week, and was ready to roll it on into the crockpot. I made up a recipe (see below), and while it smelled amazing, the roast actually ended up somewhat dry despite the meat falling off in shreds. I found this curious, as I had added more than enough flavorful liquid to the crock – and as it turns out, that was my downfall. Below is my modified recipe – I’d recommend not covering the roast even 1/3 of the way up with liquid – if it’s a fatty cut, it should provide some liquid on its own. Tyler liked it anyway, though – and it was definitely flavorful. The carrots were unreal – by far the best part. Mmm! I served this with sautéed veggies and some bacon smashed sweet potatoes (yum!)

Ingredients:

Spice Rub –

1/2 tbsp sea salt

1/2 tbsp ground pepper

1 tsp cumin

1 tbsp oregano

1/2 tbsp Italian herbs

1-2lb roast

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

Coconut or olive oil

1/2 Red onion chopped

1/2 cup Red wine

Water (though I’d leave this out making it again)

4 bay leaves

Baby carrots

Directions: Combine the first 5 ingredients, and massage into all sides of the roast. Heat oil of your choice in the pan, add garlic, and sear the roast on all sides. Make sure the oil is hot enough – otherwise, you’ll lose your spice rub. Throw the roast, carrots, and onions into the crock, add the red wine, and place the bay leaves in the liquid. (Be sure to remove the bay leaved before serving though – they’re for flavor while cooking only.) Set it to low for 7-8 hours, and enjoy!

I didn’t take a pic of the finished product, but here are shots of the process.

Kale – it’s what’s for dinner

Kale has always been a little scary to me. It looks like lettuce, but tastes nothing like it – it’s slightly bitter and chewy, and generally unappealing to me.

However, in researching Paleo, I noticed that there were several recipes that included kale, including roasted kale that supposedly tasted like salty chips. And I like salty chips! Mmm! And, I happened to have kale on hand, as I had recently picked up a bag of fresh locally grown veggies thanks to a deal I got though Kanu Hawaii and Oahu Fresh. I took advantage of being home sick for the day and dragged myself out of bed and into the kitchen, where I proceeded to wash, rip, and roast the kale.

Here’s what I started with, and what I ended up with – it was quite amazing how the kale shrunk down.

Wow, right? I tried a piece, and it actually was delicious – although I    discovered too late that I used way too much salt. The next batch that I made was much better, and I think it could easily be eaten as a snack or used as a garnish for meals. Yum!

If you’d like to try it, here’s the super-duper easy recipe!

-1 bunch kale

-olive or coconut oil

-sea salt and other seasonings of your choice (I used cinnamon and salt for my second batch, and it worked really nicely)

Directions – preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash kale and dry VERY well. Rip the leaves from the stalks into bite sized pieces (bigger is ok than smaller, as they shrink down quite a bit). Spread onto pan (I used my silpat baking mat on a cookie sheet – if you don’t have a baking mat, try parchment paper or foil – would probably work just as well), and drizzle with oil of your choice. Sprinkle sea salt (careful not to use too much like I did) and roast for about 10 minutes.

Enjoy your crunchy snack!