PALEO SNACKS: The good, the bad and the grody.

Hi guys! It’s been a while since my last post. I am in the middle of a big move and I have been a hot ball of flaming stress. Hopefully once I get settled in I will be posting weekly again. Ok this is the first part of an ongoing series I am calling THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE GRODY. If you were a kid in the 80’s or early 90’s you know what grody means. If not, just try really hard to figure it out. I’ll give you a hint. IT’S NOT GOOD. This series will replace last summer’s SNACK ATTACK because I like this better. Honestly i’m just trying to bring back the word grody. So let’s talk about PALEO snacks!

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Paleo foods have come a long way mang. Like, wow. I don’t know if you guys remember when the whole Paleo craze first started…the food itself is good…high quality, grass-fed meat and eggs, lots of veggies. But people love snacks and no diet is going to go well without lots of snackable options. And i’m sorry but there are only so many handfuls of nuts one can eat. So some wraps and crackers and “cookies” came out and every single one tasted like nothing but coconut and it was really gross. If you really wanted a good Paleo treat, you had to bake them yourself. I have an excellent recipe for Paleo Snickerdoodles right here on the blog in fact. But sometimes you don’t feel like baking and you want to snack on the run.

I got really excited seeing some of the newer products on the market pop up at my local Whole Foods. So, you know…for science, I decided to buy a bunch and eat them. Now I can share my own personal opinion with my very humble amount of followers. If you like my recipes and posts maybe you will trust my opinions. I got to eat a bunch of snacks so i’m cool.

The Good (from MOST goodest to pretty darn good)

Hail Merry Chocolate Almond Butter Tart

You can find these little treasures in the refrigerated section at Whole Foods. In addition to the chocolate almond butter tart they have a lemon, Persian lime, mint and dark chocolate. I had heard really good things about Hail Merry snacks on other blogs and IG’s from health food bloggers but I was still skeptical. I imagined them being dry, hard, and tasting overwhelmingly like coconut. Nope, this is the real deal right here. The chocolate almond butter filling was soft, the crust was fantastic and nutty. I loved the texture. I love surprises and this little treat was a major surprise. I can’t wait to try the other flavors. Seriously if you are in a Paleo, Keto, GF or low carb diet and you are craving a sweet treat, check out Hail Merry. Lemon is next on my list. I’m coming for you little lemon tart!

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Siete Tortilla Chips

I think the two top food items that keep me from ever being able to be Paleo are tortilla chips and Ramen. Really all noodles. And Red Velvet Cupcakes. Ok, a few things but I really love tortilla chips. Sweet potato chips are not the same. I saw these at the market maybe three times before I decided to try them. Tortilla chips with zero corn in them? I just knew they had to be gross. They just HAD to be. And I imagined they would taste 100% like coconut. I was very happy to be wrong, and i’m not very often happy being wrong. These are SO good and surprisingly close in taste and texture to an actual tortilla chip. They are a little lighter but in a good way. They even look like real corn tortilla chips. Honestly, it’s completely wacky how good they are. My biggest problem was stopping myself from eating them all cause they might be Paleo but they are still high calorie. So like, don’t eat these every day.

Siete Cassava Coconut Tortillas

I am not sure if tortillas are snacks but they COULD be depending on what you make with them so I decided to include them. And they were just fucking fantastic so they deserved an entry. If you haven’t already figured it out, I am concerned with things that taste TOO much like coconut, especially savory foods. And this is straight up called cassava and COCONUT. But they didn’t taste at all like coconut. In fact, other than being thinner, they tasted a lot like regular flour tortillas. When I first took one out of the package it felt dry and hard (like the gross brown rice flour tortillas I tried in the past) but once you heat them up they get super soft and the texture is spot on. I know this brand also makes almond flour tortillas, which I need to try next. Honestly, these are the bomb. I might just buy them even though I tolerate wheat just fine, because they are freakin’ delicious.

Purely Elizabeth Grain-Free Almond Butter Granola

YASSSS QUEEN ELIZABETH. I love this chick. I love her granola. Also a big fan of the Chocolate Sea Salt but that one isn’t Paleo. This one is completely grain-free and super snackable. It can also be a breakfast but I usually have a handful (or two) as a snack between meals or pre-workout. The almond butter flavor is subtle and I love the nut blend. I will be buying these products forever. FOREVER AND EVER. She just came out with a granola bar line so you know i’ll be checking that out. 

 

The Bad

Eating Evolved Coconut Butter Cups

I was super excited to try these but they were not so great. The dark chocolate was bitter, and I like super dark chocolate. I feel like you are better off just buying 70% or higher dark chocolate than this earwax. I tried the “banana cream” flavor which was more like banana chalk than “cream”…there’s a lot of good, low sugar, dairy-free chocolate out there, don’t waste your time with this, I mean you can but I wouldn’t. 

 

The Grody

Eating Evolved Primal Chocolate: Crunchy Caramel

Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope. I wanted to take a picture of this in the garbage can but I forgot I already threw it in the garbage last week after one bite. GRODY TO THE MAX.

 

Listen, there are a bunch of really good Paleo snack options out there right now. Cassava flour is amazing and I look forward to more Cassava products coming up in the grocery game. Hail Merry snacks rock. Not a fan of any Eating Evolved products. I’m glad there were more “GOOD” options because i’m trying to be more positive in general. Snack hard. Peace. xoxo


 


 

Chinese Shrimp Tacos with Roasted Bok Choy

Hiiiiiiiii. I haven’t posted for a while because I have been suffering from recipe-block. I’ve learned that’s a real thing. I would either cook something and not think it came out well enough to post, or I wouldn’t like the photos. OR…I just couldn’t think of anything new and it has been driving me loco. Getting ready for a big move so the stress of that hasn’t helped…

I asked someone very dear to me if he had any suggestions on what I should cook next. He said I should do something with shrimp and peppers. That got my brain mush swirling. I wanted him to know his ideas are valuable to me. I was committed. And peppers are pretty awesome. All the kinds of peppers. Shrimp is pretty awesome too. Definitely my favorite pink food.

Taco Tuesday had JUST happened and I needed to cook something ASAP before this blog turned to dust. I bought some Bok Choy, which I thought I might use in a curry but my brain started dancing around and I started dreaming up a taco that would be just different enough from a Taco Tuesday taco, but you know…still a taco. A Taco Thursday type of taco. This taco right here ——>

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Looking at the picture of this Thursday taco is making me hungry and it’s Friday. My reward for finishing this post is getting to cook a Thai curry…sans Bok Choy. I think I am finding it’s better to post hungry.

Anyway, this was crazy easy to make and extremely time efficient. It was done 30 minutes earlier than I planned. A delicious mistake. And the Bok Choy can roast while you are preparing everything else. Niiiiiice.

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I ended up using Rudi’s spelt tortillas which I flipping’ LOVE. They taste exactly like regular bleached white flour tortillas except they have the nutritional benefits of spelt (my latest fav grain)…I cannot taste the difference. CAN. NOT. And they are soft too, not like icky gluten-free tortillas (though if you find a gluten-free tortilla that doesn’t taste like hardened wax paper please let me know)…Rudi’s is the illest.

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Now, the secret weapon. This jar of chili garlic sauce I found in my cabinet that I totally forgot I even bought. This is Lee Kum Kee brand and I found it at my local Whole Foods Market. If you can’t find it at your market, you can order it on Amazon.com!

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If I were to try this recipe again I might add some raw shredded cabbage for a little extra crunch, though the water chestnuts help with that too. Crunchy is my favorite flavor. 🙂

Here’s how you can make it yourself:

Ingredients 

1/2 pound large white shrimp, peeled and rinsed in cold water

1 medium red bell pepper, cubed

1 can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1 tsp finely chopped garlic

2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce

3 heads bok choy, separated and halved length-wise (if too wide)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

chopped cilantro for topping

salt & pepper to taste

spelt (or your preferred) tortillas

 

Directions

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

On a foil lined baking pan, line up the cleaned, separated bok choy stalks and drizzle in olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss a little with hands. Place in oven for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces over half way through.

In a large skillet melt the coconut oil on medium and add the garlic and bell pepper. Sauté about 10 minutes or until pepper starts to soften. Add shrimp and water chestnuts and toss until all is coated and the shrimp starts to turn pink.

Lower heat and add the chili sauce, soy sauce, ginger powder , chili flakes and salt/pepper. Sauté for another 5 minutes or until shrimp is completely pink and cooked.

Remove bok choy from oven and heat tortillas. Add shrimp mixture to tortillas. Top with 2 slices of roasted bok choy and chopped cilantro. Serve with a big salad.

Stuff. In. Your. Face.

Ok, whew…curry time!

xoxoxo

PK

Meditating on Winter Soup w/Purple Potatoes

So a couple of weeks ago I went on my first daylong meditation retreat. I have been meditating seriously ( very serious, man) for about 8 months now. I tried a few different schools and techniques, including Zen Buddhist meditation before stumbling upon Perfectly Here Mindfulness Center in the SFV, CA. What I liked about it was it seemed like a science-based approach to meditation and I am all about science. Science is cool. I wanted to learn exactly WHY the brain benefits from meditation, not just left alone to stare at a wall for 45 minutes when I had no idea what I was doing. I started with the level 1 class and I have just wrapped up the level 2. I have definitely picked up some positive habits taking these two courses and noticed that I have been handling STRESSFUL SITUATIONS…a lot better. So I figured the next step was to attend a daylong.

I had ZERO idea what to expect but I knew it would involve a lot of meditating, for a long time…like all day…hence, daylong. I was really worried that it would be too much for me, that I would run out screaming, interrupting everyone else’s journey to serenity. Luckily that totally didn’t happen. The time flew by and we changed up the meditation styles so frequently I never got bored. And I found the group meditation environment actually helped me meditate better, which is weird, right?

My favorite part was lunch. Obviously, yeah, cause food. But this wasn’t just regular eating this was MINDFUL eating. Everyone prepared and set up for lunch in complete silence, and we all sat together in complete silence. It was a little weird at first (especially hearing everyone chew) but it was also strangely intimate. We were served a vegetable stew that was so comforting and belly warming in it’s simplicity. Especially on a chilly, dark day. And keeping with the mindful teachings I thought about the journey of the vegetables…growing in the dirt, being picked by farm workers, riding in the truck, being displayed in the stores. I thought about another woman at the retreat who I knew had been given the task of chopping the vegetables for the soup. How we were all eating the outcome of her labor. And suddenly the moment became beautiful and exciting. Not to mention the soup was fabulous.

I decided then that I was going to make a veggie soup too! I wanted it to be colorful and comforting and belly warming and encourage the same thoughts of gratitude the retreat soup had given me. The perfect soup for the crisp December weather.

I knew I wanted to have sweet potatoes in the soup because that was my favorite part about the retreat soup. When I went to church (aka Whole Foods Market) to buy supplies I came across these gorgeous Japanese PURPLE sweet potatoes. I fell in love with the vibrant color and felt like it radiated the vibes I wanted my soup to have. So I picked up some purple baby reg potatoes too, you know, to double the purple power. Two kinds of purple potatoes and kale provide the OOMF for this hearty soup. I hope you love is as much as we did in my home. We served it with some dark, crusty rustic bread.

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Ingredients

2 cups Japanese purple sweet potatoes, cut

1 1/2 cup purple baby potatoes

2 bunches kale, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 cup white mushrooms, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 can white beans (or kidney beans), drained and rinsed

4 tablespoons organic miso

6 cups veggie broth

2 cups water

1 tablespoon turmeric

salt, pepper to taste

Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 1 hour

In a large pot, combine veggies, water and broth. Bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat.

Add spices and let cook on low about 45 minutes or until potatoes are begin to get tender. Add the miso and beans and cook for 15 more minutes.

Serve alone or with crusty bread. Keeps excellent in the fridge for leftovers. Grub down!

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Sardine Pizza (aka the best pizza ever)

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Ok maybe not the best pizza ever if you hate sardines, but I love those little babies. I have been trying to find natural sources of B vitamins in food and sardines are tiny nutritional powerhouses. In addition to B vitamins, sardines are loaded with protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin A, D, E, K…and that is the short list. Sardines are badass.

I remember picnics with my dad as a child, he would have tins of sardines packed in marinara sauce and a loaf of freshly baked French baguette. The most simple meal that ignites happy and comforting feelings in my brain. I will always connect sardines with youth and simplicity in my mind. I’m weird.

Annnnnnd of course…I love pizza. Though I did notice that as I changed my diet and begun to eat healthier, my body could no longer tolerate the sodium explosion that was Domino’s or Pizza Hut. Which is weird because I use to LIVE off fast-food and delivery pizza. Now when I eat chain store pizza I always feel gross and bloated afterwards. So I wanted to try to make my own.

This was my first time making a pizza and I swear it was so good I can’t imagine eating crappy chain pizza ever again (excluding real New York pizza…mmmm)…I can’t wait to experiment more in the pizza arts.

The dough is actually really simple to make. Here is a great, easy to understand one from Food.com http://www.food.com/recipe/quick-and-easy-pizza-dough-117532

You can also buy pre-made pizza dough. I’ve seen it at both Whole Foods Market and Trader Joes. Here is my fav:

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I didn’t have a rolling pin handy (just ordered a fancy stainless steel one on Amazon.com but it has yet to arrive) so I pulled and stretched the dough by hand, which is a little more tricky. Either way works. Then I sprayed the stretched dough with some coconut oil spray and set aside on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet (which I also sprayed with a little coconut oil).

Pre-heat the oven to 400.

Grab your favorite sauce or make a super quick and easy one with some tomato paste, garlic, oregano and olive oil sautéed slowly in the skillet.

The fun part. Toppings! Here’s what I used:

1 cup sauce

1 medium tomato, chopped and diced

3 medium balls fresh water mozzarella

1/2 cup feta cheese

2 cloves chopped garlic

2 cans of sardines packed in olive oil

Fresh basil leaves

Pepper

The photo at the top of this post shows how it looks right before I stuck in the oven.

I baked for 15 minutes, then rotated the pizza pan and baked for another 10. That seemed to be perfect. Crisp but tender crust.

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I made this for two people and there was not a leftover in sight. I must say, I was pretty proud of how this turned out. Will definitely be posting more pizza recipes in the future! Maybe every Monday I will make a new, exciting experimental pizza, hmmmmmm…

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xoxoxo

D

Pokemon Salmon

Ok yeah I am totally cashing in on the Pokemon Go craze with that title, whatever, BUT HEAR ME OUT. Pokemon means “pocket monster”. I bake the salmon and veggies in a foil pocket. And a salmon is kind of like a river monster? Whatever, this was awesome, I am trying to get more fish in my diet aaaaaaand, I paired it with an amazing summer salad. Check it out…

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I got me a gorgeous piece of salmon at my sanctuary, Whole Foods Market. Isn’t it pretty? I started by laying it on a big piece of foil on a baking sheet, squeezed the life out of half a lemon onto it’s shiny flesh and then sliced it three times to help it cook through and added bonus, made perfect portions. Then I sprinkled this glorious mixture all over it: Bespoke Provisions lemon rosemary salt! I love this stuff, I even use it to make popcorn (recipe for that coming soon!)…I got this fancy salt on Amazon.com.

I sliced up some zucchini and arranged it around the salmon. The oil from the salmon cooking should be enough to make the zucchini tender and flavorful but I also gave it a very LIGHT spritz of coconut oil spray and some fresh ground pepper.

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Next I topped it with another similar size sheet of foil and folded over the edges, like a POCKET. I took a knife and stabbed three little slits at the top of it.

I then baked at 400 and set my timer for 30 minutes.

While that monster baked I filled a large bowl full of baby greens and things I found in my fridge and cupboards. Tomato, sunflower seeds, a can of garbanzo beans (drained) some leftover cooked golden beets, a ton of pepper and topped with my FAV Lucian Italia fig balsamic from ThriveMarket.com.

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The zucchini was seriously the best I have EVER had. I usually ALWAYS cook zucchini in a skillet but this method was fantastic, will definitely be doing it this way again. Oh the fun lessons to be learned in a kitchen!

xoxoxo

D