White Turkey Chili

White Turkey Chili on White Sweet PotatoDo you know what traditionally goes in white chili? White beans! Dried beans are a legume and they aren’t typically part of a Paleo lifestyle. My take on beans is that they’re okay on occasion if you tolerate them and if they’ve been soaked first. They’re a plant and certainly better than a box of processed ick with an endless ingredient list of non-foods. However, they have anti-nutrients that block absorption of other important components of the foods we eat, they are difficult to digest (surely not a secret), they are fairly high in carbs which can be a challenge if you are working on getting lean, and meat is simply a more bio-available source of protein.

But I like white chili so I went to work. I am a huge fan of cauliflower’s versatility and use it quite frequently to replace other foods (think rice, potatoes, chickpeas, etc.). Not only is it a great stand-in for the white beans in this dish, but it adds bulk and nutrients and an extra serving or two of veggies. Honestly, what could be wrong with that? Since it cooks up to be fairly tender, you can even mash a bit of it in your bowl to thicken it.

This is one of those dishes that can be served in a variety of ways, too. Here I have it piled on a white sweet potato, but I had the leftovers on chopped chard one day and shredded cabbage the next, allowing the heat to soften the greens. You can eat it just the way it is too – I imagine a big mug or bowl. And remember to adjust the seasonings to your taste! I used mild green chiles but some hot ones would have been great too, just a bit too much for my family.

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! It made great leftovers for lunch and, even though my husband mentioned that 95 degree weather didn’t really lend itself to chili, he didn’t complain once he tasted it!

White Turkey Chili

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 onion, chopped

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey

5 cloves of garlic, minced

diced green chiles, 7 oz. can

2 tsp. dried oregano, crushed between fingers

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne

frozen cauliflower, 12 oz. bag

2 1/2 c. vegetable or chicken broth

1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided

Directions

1) Melt coconut oil over medium high heat. Add chopped onion, bell peppers, and 1/4 tsp. salt and sauté for about 5 minutes until beginning to soften.

2) Add the turkey, garlic, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, breaking up the meat, until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

3) Add chiles, spices, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir to release the flavor of the spices, about 30 seconds. Add the broth, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer the chili covered for about 30 minutes.

4) Remove the lid, add the cauliflower, return to a boil and simmer again, uncovered this time, for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.

5) Top with cilantro, avocado, tomato, and enjoy!

Serves 4-5

Paleo Pesto

Dairy Free Basil PestoThis is the first year I’ve had a vegetable garden and my only regret is that I have let so many growing seasons pass me by. It is rewarding, exciting, beautiful, and delicious! Chard, basil, and zucchini have been in full swing for a few weeks now so I’ve been making batches of pesto and either using it throughout the week or freezing it for later. It seems that every time I cut a bunch of basil down, I am rewarded the next day with fully grown and happy plants again. The weather must be just right this year and I am very grateful!

Pesto typically has cheese in it which gives pesto some depth and richness and a certain mouthfeel. As I’ve continued to make this version, though, which is dairy-free, I’ve realized that I actually like it without the cheese. The individual flavors stand out a little bit more, and not in a bad way. I particularly like tasting the richness of the toasted pine nuts which seem to really shine here.

If you’re wondering what to do with a bunch of pesto around, here are a few things that I like to do: Dollop it on eggs; mix it with tuna and chopped tomatoes; add it to sautéed zoodles; spread it on hard boiled eggs; use it to top a burger; or toss it with shrimp or chicken and grilled bell peppers. There are really so many things you can do with it and it always elevates the dish to that next level.

Paleo Pesto

4 cups basil leaves, packed

3 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted

1 small garlic clove

juice from 1/2 a lemon, about 2 Tbsp.

1/2 tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Directions

1) Place all of the ingredients, including 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, into the bowl of a food processor. Begin processing and drizzle the additional 3 Tbsp. of oil slowly through the chute, allowing the pesto to come together.

2) Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a little more salt or lemon as needed.

Spicy Slow Cooker Pork

Pork with green chiles 2014I have had some busy mornings with busy afternoons lately and that can make it difficult to eat right in the evenings. Unless I pull out my slow cooker, of course. You probably know the rules already – for me, it has to come together quickly and I don’t want to do any extra browning of this or that. I just want to throw it all in the pot and come home later to something tasty. This does not disappoint!

I didn’t even thaw the meat. My pork was already cut into one inch pieces so I put the whole block in the crock pot, added the other ingredients, stirred it after a few hours, and a couple more hours later, it was done. If your pork isn’t frozen, that’s no problem – it just won’t take as long. The chiles I used were quite spicy so if you like it milder, go ahead and use mild green chiles. And you can serve this a lot of different ways. I went with a pile of spaghetti squash, but there’s no reason you can’t wrap it in a Paleo tortilla or top a baked sweet potato with it. Or even just eat it on it’s own. I’m already looking forward to leftovers!

Spicy Pork Slow Cooker Stew

2 lbs. pork, cut into 1″ pieces, frozen

1/2 onion, chopped

7 oz. diced green chile peppers, canned, hot or mild

1 c. full-fat coconut milk

4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1 Tbsp. dried oregano, rubbed to release flavors

1 1/2 tsp. salt

cilantro, optional

Directions

1) Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Stir, breaking up the chunks of pork and combining everything well. Cover.

2) Cook for about 2 more hours until pork is tender.

3) Plate, top with fresh chopped cilantro, and serve.

Serves 6

Chipotle Turkey 2014

Ground Turkey with ChipotleOne of these days, I’m going to post my taco salad recipe. It’s one of those recipes that is never exactly the same, but it’s always delicious and it’s super simple to make. The problem is that whenever I make it, I’m kind of in a hurry so I don’t stop to write the recipe down. And that’s why it never gets shared. Or maybe it’s because I keep sharing salad recipes and I don’t want you to think that’s all I eat, so I’m pretending this isn’t one…

Anyway, last night I decided to make taco salad and instead of doing my regular taco meat, I wanted something a little spicier so I went for a chipotle version. This meat is great on top of a salad, of course, or wrapped in lettuce or scrambled with some eggs or on top of cauliflower mash…you get the picture. Make it, stick it in the fridge, and have spicy emergency protein at your fingertips!

Chipotle Turkey

1 tsp. coconut oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tsp. salt, divided

1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey

2 tsp. minced chipotle pepper in adobo

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled between fingers

2 tsp. tomato paste

1/4 c. water, optional

Directions

1) Melt coconut oil over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and 1/2 tsp. salt and sauté for 3-4 minutes until translucent.

2) Add ground turkey, chipotle, garlic powder, oregano, tomato paste, and other 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, breaking up the turkey, until browned and done, 10-15 minutes.

3) If the meat seems dry, add a splash of water. And done!

Serves 2-4

 

Cajun Broccoli Salad

Cajun Broccoli Salad 2014I know! I know! Another salad! I keep thinking I need to cook more main dishes for the site, and I definitely will, but you always need something on the side. Right? And as I go through my day and cook for my family, I make salads like this one that I just love and feel are worth sharing. Especially since it’s summertime so it’s nice to have something cooler alongside whatever you’ve grilled. But I’m probably not fooling anyone – I’d eat this salad all through winter too.

What got me going was that we were invited to a friend’s house for a Cajun boil and I was in charge of bringing a salad. I love broccoli salads and I started wondering if they were typically Cajun. I still don’t really know the answer to that because I couldn’t find a definitive answer. Instead I used my imagination and made my own. If you’re Cajun and reading my blog, I apologize in advance if I’ve overstepped my bounds. I hope you like the salad anyway!

Cajun Broccoli Salad

3 med-large broccoli crowns

1 large red bell pepper

5-6 mushrooms

2 large stalks of celery

3 scallions

5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

Dressing

3/4 c. Paleo mayo

1/2 lemon, juiced about 2 Tbsp.

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (more or less to taste)

Directions

1) Blanch the broccoli: Bring a large pot of water to boil and throw in a handful of salt. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets. Add them to the boiling pot for 3 minutes. Remove and run under cold water to stop the cooking process and keep the bright green color. Place in a large bowl.

2) Chop the bell pepper into 1/2 in. pieces, very thinly slice the mushrooms and the celery (a mandoline can come in handy here), and thinly slice the scallions. Toss all the veggies in the bowl with the broccoli.

3) Make the dressing in a small bowl by mixing all the ingredients together well. Toss the salad with the dressing and taste to adjust seasonings, adding more salt or Cajun spice as desired.

4) Serve garnished with bacon crumbles.

Serves 4-6

Beet Salad with Radishes and Dill

Beets with Radishes and DillI confess. This picture is deceiving. When you toss the salad with the dressing, the entire thing becomes a glowing pink. It’s beautiful, but if you have an aversion to pink food, you might want to steer clear of this one. If, however, you are a fan of pink – or you don’t care because you love beets – then this salad is for you. The first night I made it, my husband couldn’t even wait to let this one get to the table. I said something about it being pink and wondering if that would be a problem for my blog readers and he just said, “It’s delicious!” Twice. While taking another bite. I ended up having to recreate it almost immediately because I like to have my salads carry over to the next day so I can eat them at breakfast with my eggs. So I did! Once you have your beets cooked, the rest is a snap.

There are a lot of different ways to cook beets. I respect people who roast them and I think steaming is a great way to maintain the nutrients, but I usually end up cutting off all but an inch or so of the stem and root ends, plopping them in a pot of salted water about half-way up the beets, and simmering them with the lid on until they’re tender when poked. I’ll turn them over during the process so they cook evenly and when they’re done, I stick them in a container and peel them once they’ve cooled. I’ve found that to be the simplest way for me to cook beets. If you have a favorite method, feel free to share it – I’m always willing to try something new!

Beet Salad with Radishes and Dill

7-8 small to medium beets

4 scallions

10 radishes

Dressing

2 Tbsp. Paleo mayonnaise

1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

3-4 sprigs of fresh dill, about 1 Tbsp. minced

Directions

1) Cook the beets using your preferred method. See notes above for how I typically do it. When the beets are cool, peel off the skin, and chop into 3/4 in. pieces and place in a bowl.

2) Thinly slice the scallions and radishes and add both to the bowl of beets.

3) Mix the mayonnaise and lemon juice in a small bowl and then spoon over the salad. Toss well, marveling at how bright and pink it is, and sprinkle dill on top.

Note: This salad could also be plated first with the dressing drizzled over the top to keep the colors separate. Momentarily anyway.

Serves 3-4

Do The Best You Can

Teddy Roosevelt quoteI’m a bit of an all-or-nothing kind of girl. My life, particularly where it relates to food and exercise, has been filled with periods of “good” and “bad”, “on” or “off”. It wasn’t until recently (like last week when I blogged about progress) that I realized I’ve actually found a semblance of balance. It turns out that my balance looks a lot like a teeter-totter, not something straight across and even but rather something that goes up and down. Still it’s fairly balanced. I don’t eat perfectly Paleo, but I get back to what nourishes my body pretty quickly, and I don’t workout with perfect intensity every time, but on most days I get my workout done. The thought that I’m finding some consistency in my habits, even if what is consistent is that there is variability, is one that I welcome. It feels good.

I remember when I first started eating Paleo and learning about what is best to put in our bodies. I wanted organic fruits and vegetables only, grass-fed meat and dairy only, everything the best that we could get. I was all-in for sure. I recognized the value of that and wanted to do everything that I could to help properly nourish my family. But it can get expensive and sometimes it can be difficult to adhere to all of the best principles. So what’s a person to do? Throw in the towel and eat cupcakes and pasta because they’re easy to get? I don’t think so.

In my opinion, the answer is to do the best with what you have! In general, choose the best quality fats and protein that you can afford. Coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil – these are all great fat sources. Canola oil and processed vegetable oils? Not so much. In fact, I avoid these oils as best that I can and never use them at home. As for meat, if you are cooking with a fattier cut, it’s worth it to splurge on grass-fed or pasture-raised, especially if you plan on eating the fat (like chicken skin). Fat from these sources is actually healthy for you, but it’s a different story with conventional, feed-lot animals. If this is what you can afford or have access to, though, don’t despair and give up. Consider sticking to lean protein or removing the extra fat from other cuts. Here’s the thing: it’s better to go with the lean (conventionally produced) protein than to skip it all together and head to the pasta aisle. Your body gets abundant nourishment from protein and risks inflammation and leaky gut from grains.

The same goes for organic fruits and vegetables. I would love to eat homegrown all the time, but that’s not realistic for my family. I’d also like to eat locally and organically all the time, but even that isn’t practical for us all the time. That doesn’t mean I give up on the desire to support our local farmers and focus on organic produce, it just means that sometimes I have to make a different choice. As often as we can, we choose local, organic produce but in the end, I’d rather eat conventional zucchini than no zucchini at all. I have to have my zoodles!

If you’re choosing when to buy organic, I recommend you shop judiciously. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen:

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas
  12. Potatoes

If you can get these organic, do! If you can’t, though, these foods still offer valuable vitamins and minerals and are worth keeping on the menu. Just wash really well and peel when you can, but don’t stop eating vegetables because you can’t get organic.

Here are the Clean 15. These foods don’t have a lot of pesticide residue or have a thick peel so you can stick to conventional to meet your budget.

1. Avocadoes
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbage
5. Sweet peas – frozen
6. Onions
7. Asparagus
8. Mangoes
9. Papayas
10. Kiwis
11. Eggplant
12. Grapefruit
13. Cantaloupe
14. Cauliflower
15. Sweet potatoes

You don’t have to be perfect to nourish your body. Just remember to do the best that you can and never stop learning and striving to support your life with delicious, healthy food. It’s totally worth it!

P.S. If you have any questions you want to put out there, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to explain more!