Chipotle Meatballs

Chipotle Meatballs 2015Meatballs are quite seriously one of the best Paleo snacks around. You can make a giant batch, eat some for dinner, save a few for the week, and freeze the rest for emergency moments. You can also make them taste like just about anything, which is really important if you love variety and traveling the globe through your food. I’m from California and one of the things that I miss deeply about living there is the ability to wake up and, on any day, have a craving for a particular nationality’s cuisine that I can satisfy virtually immediately – either by going to an amazing restaurant or by readily finding the ingredients and making it at home. I love living in Colorado, but California (I’ve lived up and down the coast) is truly a foodie’s heaven. But…since I don’t live in CA anymore, I need to feed my heart and soul with flavors that transport me. Otherwise, I get bored.

If you are new to Paleo or you are trying to reinvigorate your Paleo eating, then I suggest you make a batch of these. They’re delicious, easy, and you can do a bunch of different things with them. We ate them just like in the picture with a dollop of quick guacamole and a handful of veggies that we grabbed because we were in a hurry, but you could slice them and have them in a Paleo tortilla or wrap them in lettuce and add salsa or serve them with a Mexican inspired cauliflower rice. And you know what else? You can just eat them! Pre-workout, post-workout, protein-filled snack…whatever you need! Seriously, meatballs save the day.

You could probably add an extra minced chipotle pepper if you like it spicy. I also had to feed a 10 year old so I didn’t want to go overboard. As I think about these, I’m wishing I had some Carrot-Jicama Chipotle Slaw handy because they would make an excellent lunch paired together. Whatever you do with them, I hope you enjoy it!

Chipotle Meatballs

About 3 lbs. of ground beef

1 shallot, finely chopped, about 3 Tbsp.

2 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

2 1/2 tsp. onion powder

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. chipotle powder

2 1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (3 if you like it spicy)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place meat and all the seasonings in a large bowl.
  3. Mix everything together gently but completely.
  4. Form meatballs that are about 2 oz., or small golf ball sized, and place them on a cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes, switching oven shelves about half way through.
  6. Check for doneness and cook another 3-5 minutes if not done to your liking.
  7. Let rest for about 10 minutes and then enjoy!

Notes: These keep well in the refrigerator or freezer for future snacks and meals, so make a bunch!

 

 

 

Spiced Nuts

Spiced Nuts 2015It’s officially winter! There is snow on the ground and it’s cold. It seems that in Colorado, summer lingers and even fall stays warm, with a few days of cold to remind us that winter is around the corner. And then one day, it hits and winter settles in for a while. Not like in the mid-west, but enough so that you know it’s time for the holidays to arrive. This year has been a little different for us as a family. We’ve had more official parties and not quite as many spontaneous get-togethers with friends. It’s been busy, sometimes challenging with different schedules, but just in case a friend gets the urge to stop by, I’ve kept some spiced nuts on hand. You never know when someone might pop over and a few nuts and a bottle of wine will be just the thing to take the chill off.

It’s really easy to pull out a tub of nuts from the pantry, and I don’t have anything against that at all, but sometimes it’s especially nice to elevate that experience just a little bit. I think it lets your friends know that they are special, that they are worth that extra step, and for this reason, I’ve worked on a recipe that makes everyone feel warm inside, but that is so simple that it can be pulled together quickly. Almost at the last minute.

Whatever nuts you like will probably work well here. I usually add cashews to the mix but on picture day, I had run out so pecans and almonds made the cut. There are all kinds of spiced nut recipes out there and I know it can be hard to choose, but I’ve been hooked on these for a while now and find that they appeal to many different palates. The egg white might seem like a strange component, but it’s the best secret! It creates a light, crispy coating on the outside that sort of reminds me of what tempura does to veggies. I think it might be what makes these so special.

I hope you enjoy this spicy-sweet combination so much that you share it with friends, family, and maybe even strangers. If you make any changes (I’ve been considering adding something herbaceous next time), please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear!

Spiced Nuts

about 3 cups of mixed raw nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews, whatever you like best)

1  Tbsp. coconut oil melted

2 1/2 Tbsp. coconut sugar

2 1/2 tsp. chili powder

2 1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 egg white

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place nuts in a large bowl.
  3. Melt coconut oil in a small bowl and mix spices and salt into the bowl.
  4. Pour, or scoop, the spices and oil onto the nuts, including sprinkling the coconut sugar on.
  5. Mix well – either using a wooden spoon or your hands.
  6. Taste to determine if more spices or more nuts are necessary to make this perfect for you.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk egg white until frothy and then add to the nuts.
  8. Mix very well. Then keep mixing. You want to ensure that everything is evenly coated.
  9. Spread nuts on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes. Stir and continue baking for 10 minutes.
  10. After about 25 minutes, bake in 5 minute intervals, stirring, until done to your desired darkness. This can vary, but watch carefully as nuts can burn quickly.
  11. Remove to a cool place – a bowl or counter. They will crisp up as they cool. Taste, share, and enjoy!

 

Salsa Baked Eggs

Baked eggsBaked eggs are my new favorite thing! Well…favorite might be a bit of an exaggeration. And baked eggs are hardly new, so maybe that initial statement is a little over the top. Truly, though, these are so quick and simple to make that they are right up there with having washed greens and hard boiled eggs as a staple in the fridge. They came about because I like to make something that my husband can have for breakfast that is quick and portable. For a long time now, I’ve made egg muffins or frittatas with various ingredients. Those are great to have on hand too, but there’s something I really like about having a thin layer of meat that holds everything together. I think it looks pretty too.

I have made countless variations already and I’ll post some others in time. I’ve used ham, pastrami, prosciutto, and could imagine roast beef, as the bottom layer. I’ve done all sorts of sautéed veggie combos for the middle layer. But for some reason that I can’t explain, I’ve always mixed my eggs with the vegetables before baking. What I discovered, though, is that I love having the egg in its entirety with a tender yolk and the white separating the layers. It’s even faster to make that way, too, so it’s a bonus. Now imagine not having to precook anything. Slice of ham, dollop of salsa, egg, and into the oven. So easy.

I preferred these cold so that the salsa was back to an expected temperature, but they were fine hot too. And a sprinkle of cumin or chipotle powder would work well on top! If you experiment with some ingredients, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about the combinations you’ve found that work!

Salsa Baked Eggs

12 slices of deli ham

12 Tbsp. salsa, divided

12 eggs

Coconut oil to grease the tins

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin tin lightly with coconut oil.

2) Lay 1 slice (or 2 if they are small and you need more coverage) of ham in each muffin cup.

3) Add 1 Tbsp. of salsa in the bottom of each cup.

4) Drop in 1 raw egg per muffin cup.

5) Sprinkle salt, pepper, and any other seasonings on top.

6) Bake the egg cups for 20-25 minutes. (20 minutes for a tender center as pictured above.)

7) Press lightly in the center to check for doneness. Remove from the oven, let cool, and enjoy!

Go-To Guacamole

Go-To Guacamole 2014To me, guacamole is one of those foods that doesn’t really need a recipe. In fact, I think that perhaps writing down what you put in your guacamole might even be like putting this fantastic condiment in some sort of food jail. I believe it’s meant to be an expression of the cook, a playful conversation between the different ingredients that you choose to put in, something that can be changed on a whim. It really depends on the flavors of the individual ingredients too. Is your avocado more or less ripe? Is your onion sweeter or spicier? How strong is your garlic? Plus I think it might also be that avocadoes are so incredibly delicious, you have to try really hard to mess it up. At least in my opinion. So go for it! You might even surprise yourself.

That being said, a few years ago I was at a friend’s house and she had become somewhat of a guacamole aficionado. She shared a recipe, or rather more of a technique, that had come from her brother-in-law and ever since that day, this has been my go-to guac. I might do something different when the mood strikes – a little more lime, some cumin or coriander, orange or lemon as the citrus component, extra garlic or other combinations that stray even farther from the base – but when I just want a straight-up, no-nonsense guacamole, this one never fails. Thanks, Lauren and Raf!

Go-To Guacamole

1 large avocado or 2 small avocadoes

3/4 Tbsp. lime juice

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. minced sweet onion

1 Tbsp. minced jalapeno

1 Tbsp. minced cilantro

6-8 little cherry tomatoes, diced

1/4 tsp. salt + more to taste

Directions

1) Start by cutting the avocado in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop each half out in one piece and place pit-side down on a cutting board. Cut each half in half again, as if you were cutting at the equator. Then slice lengthwise into very thin slices, 1/4 in. or less. Finally cut the slices horizontally. The goal is to have very small little chunks that hold their shape while also getting a little creamy when mixed with the other ingredients. Put the avocado dice in a medium bowl.

2) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix very gently. Taste to adjust seasonings, adding more lime juice or salt, a little more jalapeno, whatever makes it taste right to YOU.

3) Dollop on everything, use as a dip for veggies, eat next to eggs at breakfast, lick the spoon!

 

 

Buffalo Deviled Eggs

Buffalo Deviled EggsA few of you out there might have some hard boiled eggs laying around right now. If you’ve been Paleo for a while, you might even have a constant supply of hard boiled eggs around. Here’s a little something to do with them that is fun, delicious, and super quick. These make an excellent appetizer, lunch, or snack. You can even be fancy and pipe your filling into the eggs, but I used a spoon because it was lunch time and I was hungry! Add more or less buffalo sauce to make these to your spice level and also be sure to use a hot sauce that doesn’t have a bunch of junk in it. I use Frank’s Original because it has peppers, vinegar, water, salt, garlic powder and nothing else. I used 3 eggs here, but this recipe is great for doubling or tripling. Make however many you want because they’re sure to get eaten!

Buffalo Deviled Eggs

3 hard boiled eggs

1 Tbsp. Paleo mayonnaise

1 1/2 tsp. hot sauce (I used Frank’s Original Buffalo Sauce)

celery, diced to garnish

freshly cracked pepper

Directions

1) Peel and cut hard boiled eggs in half. Pop the yolks out and place in a small bowl. Set whites aside.

2) Add mayonnaise and hot sauce to the yolks and stir to combine thoroughly. Taste and add more hot sauce to taste.

3) Spoon or pipe filling evenly into each egg half. Plate and sprinkle with celery dice and black pepper.

Serves 1-2

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Tuna-Stuffed Eggs

Tuna Deviled EggsHard boiled eggs are little protein packed miracles, if you ask me. They are delicious on their own, portable, easily made in advance, and happy to be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. I love having them on hand for meals or snacks or for a protein boost in a salad. They make a great appetizer or nibble if you have a bunch of people coming over. Really, when you get down to it, hard boiled eggs are simply amazing.

Since I make them so frequently, I thought I’d share one of the ways I like to stuff them. I was making tuna salad the other day and adding some chopped egg when I decided I wanted to try reversing the idea. Instead of egg in my tuna, how about tuna in my egg? It worked beautifully and made for a nice change at lunch. Pair these eggs with a bunch of fresh veggies or a lovely salad and you have a satisfying meal. Or pack a couple for after a heavy weight workout and your muscles will be thrilled. Be sure to let me know how you like your deviled eggs in the comments. There are so many fun variations, I love to hear about them all!

Tuna-Stuffed Eggs

4 hard boiled eggs

1 small can of tuna, about 4-5 oz. drained

1 Tbsp. Paleo mayo

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. capers, minced

1 scallion, minced

pinch of paprika

salt & pepper to taste

Directions

1) Drain tuna and place in a medium bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard, capers, scallions, and pepper to taste. Mix gently but thoroughly.

2) Cut hard boiled eggs in half lengthwise. Pop out the yolks and add them to the tuna. Break up and mix together.

3) Sprinkle a little salt over the cut side of the eggs. Fill each cavity with the tuna mixture. These can be filled quite full since the tuna adds volume to the mix.

4) Dust with paprika and eat!

Serves 2 (or more as an hors d’oeuvre)

Honeyed Walnuts

Walnuts with honey and black pepper

Sticky, crunchy, sweet with a kick, honeyed walnuts are truly divine. They can be used to top salads, like my Tuna-Apple Salad (post coming soon!), or sprinkled over sweet potatoes or even eaten as a snack. There’s not much more to say about these except maybe, be careful. They are rather addictive!

Honeyed Walnuts

3/4 c. walnuts

1 tsp. coconut oil

1 tsp. honey

pinch of salt

fresh cracked pepper

Directions

1) Melt the coconut oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the honey and mix together.

2) Dump in the walnuts and stir to thoroughly coat all the walnut pieces in the coconut-honey mixture. Let cook for about 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently so they don’t burn. If they start to get too brown, remove immediately and place on a plate to cool. They will become crunchy as they cool down.

Zoodles and Eggs

Zoodles with eggs 2014This is my comfort food. There is something incredibly soul-satisfying about a bowl of simple noodles, or in this case, zoodles. They are perfect for any time of day – even if you think you don’t have enough time. Trust me! It’s remarkable just how quickly these come together. In fact, I make them all the time for breakfast, but they’re delicious and wonderful at any time. They even make a great snack! If you have more than ten minutes, it’s great to let the salted zucchini noodles sweat out some of their moisture, but if you only have five minutes, don’t let that stop you from making these. There will be a little extra moisture to cook off, but they’ll still taste great! These are incredibly versatile too – add a dollop of pesto, throw in some chopped herbs, add sliced sundried tomatoes…lots of options. I’ll get around to trying a bunch of variations one day, but for now, I just keep making these. Simple.

Zoodles and Eggs

1 zucchini

salt

2 tsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 eggs

pepper

Directions

1) Julienne a zucchini either with a spiral slicer (like this) or a julienne peeler. Place the zoodles in a colander and salt generously, a teaspoon or two. Let rest for as long as you have, but even 5 minutes will help draw out some moisture.

2) Preheat a sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil, red pepper flakes, and crushed garlic. Allow to sizzle for a minute and become fragrant but not brown.

3) Rinse zucchini noodles thoroughly and add to the pan. Toss with the seasoned oil for about 3-5 minutes. When nearly done to your liking, they should still have a bit of bite to them, push them to the side and crack two eggs into the pan. Allow to cook a minute or two, crack some pepper over the eggs and zucchini, and begin to scramble the eggs in their half of the pan. When they are close to done, mix them thoroughly with the zucchini noodles and finish cooking.

4) Pour onto a plate or in a bowl, slice some avocado on the side, taste to adjust seasoning, and take a break from your busy day with these simple noodles.

Demystifying the Hand Roll

Sushi Hand RollsFor years, I have been afraid to make sushi of any kind. I always thought that I should leave it to the experts or that it was too fussy and time consuming. I do actually think that the best sushi is made by superior sushi chefs; there is a way to cut and arrange the ingredients that makes some sushi better than others. Recently, though, I saw a recipe in NomNomPaleo’s new cookbook, Food for Humans, that made me think I could do it. I haven’t made her version yet, but I have all the ingredients so I will be. Instead, I found myself hungry and needing something fast so I broke out my nori and went to town.

Nori is dried sheets of seaweed. You can get them toasted or toast them yourself. I bought them ready to go. If you have a favorite brand of nori, I’d love to hear it. I use Emerald Cove that I got from our local Vitamin Cottage and it is amazingly delicious.

Nori is also really nutritious. One large sheet, enough for two hand rolls, has a ton of minerals to support your health. Notably, there is a considerable amount of iodine, which is an essential mineral that has been added to table salt for years because it is a simple way to prevent iodine deficiency, a leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities. These days, many people have switched to kosher salt or other non-iodized salts, which means we’re getting less iodine. Nori is one excellent and palate-pleasing way to make up for that!

Since making my first hand rolls, I have eaten them every single day. They have been a snack, a side next to some soup, and full on lunch. They are so quick and easy to throw together – I truly didn’t realize that. I am going to share three of the recipes that I made this week, but the variations are endless. I don’t have a picture of the chicken one because I kept eating it before taking a picture of it. We don’t have a lot of opportunity to get fresh fish here so I use whatever protein I have. I’m sure I will make a shrimp one, a tuna one, and a crab one in my near future, and then all kinds of other proteins.

Here’s the basic idea: Protein, crunchy veggies and/or fruit, something creamy like a sauce or avocado (or both!), and any other flavor additions like herbs, hot sauce, etc. I like to start with something creamy on the bottom, add the protein, then the crunchy elements, then top with a little avocado. Or avocado on the bottom, sauce on the top. Or just herbs on the top as with the Basil-Apple-Beef roll. Just start experimenting!

Asian Chicken Hand Roll

1 nori sheet

2-3 oz. cooked chicken

1 small (Persian) cucumber

1/4 bell pepper, preferably red, yellow, or orange

1/4 avocado

1 Tbsp. Paleo mayo

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

1/2 tsp. coconut aminos

A couple shakes of hot sauce

salt to taste

Directions

1) Break or cut the nori sheet lengthwise down the middle. Shred or finely chop the chicken. Slice the cucumber, bell pepper, and avocado into very thin strips. Mix the mayo, sesame oil, coconut aminos, and hot sauce in a small bowl.

2) Hold the nori sheet shiny side down in one hand. Spread 1/2 the sauce from the top left corner to about the middle of the sheet. Layer on 1/2 the chicken and a few slices of cucumber and bell pepper. Add the avocado slices last and a little pinch of salt. There might be some leftover veggies to snack on.

3) Fold the shorter, right hand corner (if the nori is in your left hand) over first and then start wrapping the longer side around to form a cone. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just rolled up! Eat immediately so the nori doesn’t get soft.

Spicy Beef Hand roll

1 Nori sheet, cut in half

1 Tbsp. Paleo mayo

A couple shakes of hot sauce

2 oz. cooked beef, thinly sliced (I used flank steak)

1/4 of a bell pepper, very thinly sliced

1 mini cucumber, very thinly sliced

1/4 of an avocado

salt and pepper

Directions

1) Hold the nori sheet shiny side down in one hand. Spread 1/2 the spicy mayo from the top left corner to about the middle of the sheet. Layer on 1/2 the beef and a few slices of cucumber and bell pepper. Add the avocado slices last and a little pinch of salt. There might be some leftover veggies to snack on.

2) Fold the shorter, right hand corner (if the nori is in your left hand) over first and then start wrapping the longer side around to form a cone. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just rolled up! Eat immediately so the nori doesn’t get soft.

Apple-Basil-Beef Hand Roll

1 Nori sheet, cut in half

1 Tbsp. Paleo mayo

2 oz. cooked beef, very thinly sliced (I used flank steak)

A few very thin slices of apple cut into matchsticks (I used some of my son’s Ambrosia apple)

Basil chiffonade, about 1 Tbsp.

Directions

1) Hold the nori sheet shiny side down in one hand. Spread 1/2 the mayo from the top left corner to about the middle of the sheet. Layer on 1/2 the beef and several apple sticks. Add the basil chiffonade.

2) Fold the shorter, right hand corner (if the nori is in your left hand) over first and then start wrapping the longer side around to form a cone. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just rolled up! Eat immediately so the nori doesn’t get soft.

5 Wonderful Winter Snacks

Winter berriesFirst of all, I’d like to apologize for being away so long! For the start of the holidays, my son and I dashed off to California to visit some of my family and dear friends. It was a special time and I am grateful for every minute that I spent loving and socializing with some pretty amazing people. Just before leaving to CA, though, I had a teeny-tiny cough that was trying to break through. I made it the entire trip without fully succumbing, but by Christmas Eve, on our flight home, I was breaking out the tissues. Sadly, I have very few memories of Christmas Day. It was spent in a daze of tissues and brain fog. Plus a nap.

Since discovering this Paleo lifestyle, I have rarely been sick, but my California trip was a little less than perfectly Paleo and I’m sure my immune system was busy fighting other intruders. I am finally beginning to resurface from this cold and I’m looking to the start of a new year with a new Paleo challenge. With that in mind, it’s time to start prepping because the potential for success during a Paleo challenge increases exponentially with solid prep and planning.

During my last Whole 30, one of the things I learned about myself is that having some snacks on hand helps me to be successful. I work out at a high intensity on most days and I often have a crazy schedule with long stretches between meals. If I’m hungry, it’s important for me to have something healthy to reach for because it is much easier to stay in control of my choices when I’ve stayed in control of my hunger. I also learned that I have a tendency to grab nuts because they’re quick, easy, and portable. This time around, I’d like to steer clear of nuts as my primary snack and focus more on protein and veggies.

Here are 5 wonderful snacks just right for winter – most without nuts!

Meatballs/Patties – Why make 1 pound of meatballs when you can make 2? Seriously. One of the handiest things to have around is a little stash of meatballs or patties. They can be flavored in so many different ways that they’re bound to satisfy a craving or two, and since they’re a powerful protein snack, they can easily double as post-workout fuel. A couple of these with some veggie sticks and maybe even a little guacamole or sauce on the side makes for a filling, nutrient dense snack. The next time you’re making meatballs for dinner, definitely double the recipe!

Soup – I love a good bowl of soup. I actually like it year round, but there’s something especially comforting about it in the winter. It is an easy way to get in some extra veggies at any time of the day, and when you just need a little something to help you make it to dinner, a cup of soup can fit right in. I have several that I love, but my favorite right now is my Cumin-Scented Zucchini soup. It’s light and simple and it warms you to the core.

Egg Muffins – The protein of champions! Eggs continue to be controversial, but in the Paleo world, eggs are definitely in! I have eggs on most days for breakfast and look to eggs as a snack as well. In case you’re wondering, I have always had good blood work, but when I had it tested after switching to Paleo, it got even better! When I’m looking for a high-protein, portable snack, eggs are awesome. Sauté up any variety of vegetables, add some cooked meat for an extra dose of protein, toss in some herbs and seasonings, pour the whole thing into muffin tins lined with parchment paper cups, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Done. I have a couple different recipes that I’m working on right now – so stay tuned!

Dates & Walnuts – If you followed my last Whole 30, you know that I may have had a moment or two when I overindulged in this particular snack. It happens to be one of my favorite sweet treat combos ever since I was introduced to it many years ago in France. There, in fact, you can get your dates still on the branch, fresh and sticky sweet. Nature’s candy. So grab a date (fruit, not human), slice or tear it open lengthwise, pop in a walnut half, and munch away. I actually tear them completely in half because I like to increase the walnut to date ratio so they’re a little less sweet. When we have company and they’re having a dessert that doesn’t work for me, I have a couple of these and feel completely satisfied and even a little bit spoiled.

PaleOMG’s Pumpkin Microcake –  If you’ve been enjoying some holiday candy or other treats, then this will not taste sweet. However, if you have been doing a Whole 30 or sugar detox, then this can feel like a treat, without actually being sweet. It’s reminiscent of the holidays with the pumpkin and spices and sometimes that’s exactly what you need next to a cup of hot tea. If you’re feeling like a touch of indulgence without the regret, try this. I’ve never actually used the chocolate on top. I generally opt for a simple dollop of coconut butter.