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.

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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.

5 Fantastic Fall Snacks

Fall Paleo Snacks

The other day, I had a bit of a snack attack and realized that I need to be better prepared for those times during the day when I am legitimately hungry but it’s not quite mealtime. That got me thinking: What are the snacks that satisfy me most?

Here are my five favorite snacks for fall…

Sweet potato, tuna or salmon, lemon and optional avocado – Not a catchy title, in fact kind of cumbersome, but this is probably my all-time favorite snack. It’s my go-to when I only have a few minutes to eat or I need some pre-workout fuel (with avocado) or post-workout fuel (without avocado) or a quick lunch on the go. It’s quite simply awesome.

Dump a can of tuna or salmon in a bowl, mash in about 1/4 or 1/3 of a cup of cooked sweet potato, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Pre-workout (or other random times), I will also add 1/4 of an avocado. That’s my favorite way to have it. If it’s post-workout, I might skip the avocado because the fat can slow the absorption of the nutrients my muscles need. (I confess, though, since I am not a performance athlete, I have been known to throw caution to the wind and just eat it how I like it!)

Hard-boiled egg, veggie sticks, olives – Another quick and easy snack, especially if your eggs are already prepared for the week and you’ve taken a minute to cut up some vegetables as well. Grab whatever veggies you have on hand (carrots, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, jicama, etc.), slice an egg or two in half and put salt and pepper or a dollop of mustard (my favorite) or paleo mayonnaise, and throw in a handful of olives – any kind – and you’re good to go! Veggies, protein, fat – a perfect combination!

Warm apple with coconut butter – In truth, I do this cold or hot. Cut your apple into slices, any variety is fine, and spread a couple teaspoons to a couple tablespoons of coconut butter on it and eat it like you mean it. In the evenings, this is delicious as a treat! Just cut your apple and cook it in the microwave until it’s soft – a minute or two. Put a spoonful of coconut butter in so it begins to melt and get all gooey, sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy this totally healthy indulgence.

Cauliflower hummus with chicken strips or veggie sticks – No chickpeas for the paleo eater so we’ve had to come up with something different to give us that warm, earthy, fantastic dip that so many of us love. Super-nutritious cauliflower works amazingly well as a chickpea stand-in and quickly absorbs the garlicy-lemon-tahini combo in hummus. I like dipping veggie sticks in my veggie dip, but it is also terrific with some leftover grilled chicken cut into strips. Once again, the protein-veggie-fat combo rules.

Check out my recipe for Cauliflower Hummus and get snacking!

Leftovers – I would be remiss if I didn’t say at least once that leftovers make a fantastic snack. When you’re listening closely to your hunger and satisfaction cues, sometimes there’s just a little bit of dinner or lunch left over – not enough to make another meal, but too much to waste. And frankly, eating like this is so tasty that I don’t want to throw stuff away anyway. When you have that little 1/2 serving left, just box it up and save it for the next day when the munchies hit. There’s no set breakfast-lunch-dinner meal ingredients anymore. This is paleo! If your beef stew was delicious for dinner, then it’s great for a snack too!

Paleo Cauliflower Hummus

Paleo Cauliflower Hummus

I don’t know how to tell you this, but I think I can live without chickpeas. I used to love hummus and was pretty disappointed when I learned that chickpeas were out with paleo due to the fact that they’re quite difficult to digest and meat is simply a more dense protein source. I quickly realized that I was going to need to find a replacement because I really enjoy Mediterranean flavors and having a little something to dip my veggies in when I’m feeling snacky is a real treat. So here we are with what is quickly becoming my favorite vegetable – cauliflower! It’s not my favorite raw and it’s not my favorite roasted, but rice it or puree it and flavor it any way you want, and suddenly all things are possible!

Paleo Cauliflower Hummus

1/2 a head of cauliflower, roughly chopped

2 cloves or garlic, chopped

2 Tbsp. tahini

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1-2 Tbsp. water

1/2 tsp. salt or more to taste

olive oil drizzle (optional)

paprika sprinkle (optional)

Directions

1) Steam the cauliflower. I used a Ziploc steamer bag and microwaved it for 4 minutes. You want it soft but not water-logged. Put in a food processor.

2) Add the remaining ingredients (except the drizzle of olive oil and paprika), beginning with 1 Tbsp. of water, and puree until you have a smooth consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides and add the 2nd Tbsp. of water or more until you get it creamy smooth to your liking.

3) Allow to rest for about 10 minutes until the flavors have melded. Drizzle with extra olive oil, sprinkle with paprika, and eat with abandon.

Serves 4

*Note: This would be delicious with some cumin added as well!