Sunday Snaps, 01-04-2015

Happy first Sunday of the year! It has been quite the month, hasn’t it? (I also now do realize the irony of “Sunday Snaps”: this doesn’t seem to be a weekly thing at all. More like monthly. Ah well, better luck next time.)

Its been a whirlwind guys. I suppose the holidays always are, but this year seemed to go really fast. Now I have the post-holiday blues, mostly because Christmas isn’t for pretty much a whole year minus 1 week, and it won’t be appropriate to wear all glitter errythang until next New Year’s Eve. Life is hard sometimes.

This Christmas was low-key, which was exactly what Christopher and I needed after a stressful and crazy busy fall. We figured out that since September, either one or both of us had been traveling or having guests stay with us almost every other weekend and sometimes back to back weekends. Also a perk of a New Mexico Christmas? Shooting guns. And biscochos. And Ponchoclaus. (He had a donkey. With a reindeer antler headband.) Nope, not a joke, and yep, a New Mexican staycation was just what we needed:

Old town Mesilla on Christmas Eve

Old town Mesilla on Christmas Eve




Ponchoclaus is real. 

Ponchoclaus is real. 



Can't stop eating

Can't stop eating

And it has been full of gorgeous scenery, especially the past couple weeks:





A friend just told me that eggs are actually considered protein/meat and not dairy. Whatt???? Mind blown. I mean, it makes sense, it does. Its not like an egg is made of cheese and milk or anything, but then why is it always found in the dairy section?? And why hasn’t anyone informed me of this? I’ve gone almost 27 years thinking eggs were dairy. Step it up, world. I’ve lived in ignorance for far too long.

I’ve really noticed the prices of food going up the past few months. Admittedly, healthy eating, and especially following a paleo diet, is always more expensive than conventional diets, but really. Is it just here in the southwest? Anyone have insight on this one? I am baffled.

I am currently obsessed with my new Christmas gift acquisitions, which include a blanket scarf and a pair of Hunter boots. I think they're super cute, but Christopher has been looking at me quizzically and asking why I am insistent upon wearing a blanket around me neck and bright red rain boots in the desert. Men. They will never understand. 

Many in the paleosphere are doing a Whole 30 this month, which is admittedly a great idea following holiday eating. Currently, I feel like this:

I thought about doing a Whole 30 as well, except I’m going to D.C. soon, where I will inevitably eat 10 Georgetown Cupcakes and drink approximately 12 moscow mules, so I’m holding off. Until then, I’ll be continuing to indulge in these wonderful paleo treats I recently posted:

Paleo, dairy-free caramel hot-chocolate with homemade marshmallows

Paleo, dairy-free caramel hot-chocolate with homemade marshmallows


Paleo hot chocolate bar

Paleo hot chocolate bar


Paleoish Kombucha Gin Ricky

Paleoish Kombucha Gin Ricky


Non-dairy chocolate "ice cream" with peppermint-mocha marshmallow swirl

Non-dairy chocolate "ice cream" with peppermint-mocha marshmallow swirl


After I’m back from my D.C. weekend, I’ll be strict paleo…at least until the next sprinkled pastry comes along. But really, I’ve even working on some detox-ready, paleo-friendly recipes. I can’t wait to share, but here’s a sneak peak:



Clearly, this photo is appropriate right now. Except I have been diligent about doing Hot Yoga lately, which I feel detoxes my body, but I really have no scientific evidence to back that one up. I just like sweating. It makes me feel good. And the showers after a long sweat are epic. I also like wearing my lululemon yoga pants for doing actual yoga, and not my normal lululemon routine of drinking coffee while browsing through instagram.

Today is my last day of break before returning to work, and I am so sad. My days of lounging and doing nothing are over. During break, Christopher has figured out a gentle way to tell me to go find something else to do and not bother him while he watches football. Very subtle:

 

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 brings you lots of happiness and health!

 

P.S: If you haven’t seen my Top 10 Faileos of 2014, go check it out here. You’ll get a good laugh:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Never Woulda Guessed

I don't know about you, but I love a good biscotti in the morning with my coffee. (AKA a legit reason to eat dessert for breakfast. The Italians know where its at.) I find this especially luxurious on weekend mornings, and sometimes I'll wake up earlier than I have to during the week to ensure I can enjoy some morning coffee bliss before the start of my inevitably chaotic day. I've especially enjoyed my coffee these past couple weeks with visitors from out of town, cherry blossoms in full bloom, and sunshine streaming in through the windows:




I realized a little bit ago that the biscotti I have had over the last few months was me actually veering off of Paleo, and there really wasn't a reason as to why. After a few test batches (and some sticky, messy Paleo failures) I created this Paleo biscotti recipe, and in my taste-tester's words: "I never woulda guessed":  

Paleo Dark Chocolate Speckled Biscotti

Makes 4 medium sized loaves of biscotti

  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups Almond flour
  • 1 1/4 cups Cashew flour
  • 4 tbsp Coconut flour
  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate


  1. Cream butter, vanilla, and eggs together until just mixed. Add coconut sugar and beat again until blended.
  2. Add in almond flour and cashew flour, alternating flour types in 1/4 cup intervals while still mixing.
  3. Add coconut flour, one tablespoon at a time. Make sure that the coconut flour is well incorporated.
  4. Add rice flour and mix well.
  5. Add in chocolate and mix until incorporated.
  6. Divide batter into 4 equal sections.
  7. Spray a baking sheet with olive-oil or coconut-oil spray. Form each dough portion into a loaf on the pan and press down to ensure that all loaves are are 3 inches thick and about 7 inches long. You probably will need two pans.
  8. Bake loaves at 350 for 40 minutes.
  9. Remove biscotti from oven, lower oven temperature to 200 degrees, and let biscotti cool for about 10 minutes.
  10. Once slightly cooled, very carefully slice biscotti into 2 inch sections. Then slightly separate pieces by creating a few centimeters of breathing room between each piece.
  11. Place biscotti back in oven on middle rack and bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour.
  12. Remove and enjoy with coffee!



photo 5.jpg

*Note: This recipe makes an enormous amount of biscotti. If you're like me, an enormous quantity is perfect to have on hand. If not, set some of the batter aside and freeze it in an airtight container and thaw when you're ready to bake it. (Or I can imagine that you can just halve the recipe.)

** Baking for so long on a low heat dries the biscotti, making sure that it becomes very crisp. If you do not want dry biscotti, just shorten the second baking time a bit.

***Since this recipe uses white rice flour, the rice in this biscotti will count as a starch (not a grain!). Make sure to take note of this, especially if you are following a strict Paleo diet. 

I've Got Sunshine...

…ooonnn a rainy daayy.

I’ve been singing this song to myself all day. All day through 7 hours of jury duty, all day through the torrential downpour dropped upon DC, and all day through the 20 degree temperature drop that immediately propelled us back into winter.

Today, during my jury duty lunch break, I thought it was good fortune that the rain had stopped and the skies were starting to clear. I decided to be healthy and go on a walk. (A walk! Of course, that’s what healthy people do when they have a few minutes to spare. They go on walks…and stuff.)  About halfway through my lunch break, those once semi-clear skies suddenly filled again with gray clouds and such strong wind gusts that I was somehow standing in the middle of a busy DC street with my sunshine yellow umbrella turned inside out being pelted with the largest rain drops I’ve ever seen.  I was soaked head to toe for all the world to see.

photo 10.jpg

You know, sunshine. I’ve got it.

But really, I do, because, with exception to today, spring has finally sprung, the days are getting longer, and last week my Dad sent me a cooking care package from California that included lemons and rosemary grown from his backyard:

photo 2.jpg
photo 4.jpg


I’ve been obsessed with the lemons ever since. Lemon tea, lemon infused water, lemon peel baths, and lemon facial scrubs (post coming soon!). Naturally, I decided to make some Paleo lemon bars. These homegrown lemons are just so good, and are a perfect spring treat.

Paleo Lemon Bars

Makes 20 lemon squares

photo 22.jpg

Note: adapted from Taylor Made it Paleo’s Recipe: http://taylormadeitpaleo.com/2013/08/16/lemon-bars/

Crust:

  • ½ cup lightly salted almonds
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • ½ tsp. baking powder

Filling:

  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. cashew flour
  • 3 tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1 ½ tbsp. lemon zest
  1. Grind salted almonds in a food processor into they have turned into almond butter.
  2. Add the rest of the crust ingredients to the food processor and process until crumbly.
  3. Spray 13x9 inch pan with olive oil or coconut oil spray. Spread crust mixture evenly into pan.
  4. Bake crust for 10 minutes at 350.
  5. While the crust is baking, mix filling ingredients in a food processor.
  6. Pour filling over crust and continue to bake for about 15 minutes.
  7. Once the filling for the bars is firm but still a bit wobbly, remove from oven and let cool to set.
photo 5.jpg

  

Was St. Patrick Paleo?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Normally, I would say what a great spring holiday it is, but here in DC, its miserable. Overnight, it snowed up to 10 inches in some places, effectively shutting the city down for the 10th snow day since January. I even got stranded in Houston overnight on my way back from my weekend trip to New Mexico, although to be honest, I didn’t mind- it extended my time in the sunshine just a little bit more. I literally went from this beautiful southwestern weather:

desert.jpg


5k.jpg
cacti.jpg

To this:

snow.jpg

Ugh. Take me back.



I'll be the first to admit it: I have a serious sweet tooth. Scratch that- I have a serious chocolate tooth. Forget sugar, just give me chocolate. (Unless, of course, you have some German-quality Gummy Bears, then you can give me those...in addition to the chocolate.) I also have serious mint cravings. Mint chocolate chip ice cream and I go way back. Shamrock Shake season at McDonald’s used to be my favorite. It was my favorite up until I realized that every time I ate one, I felt so incredibly sick. Somewhere along the line, I put two and two together and figured if I something was making me feel sick, I shouldn’t put it in my body. Also, I'm a little creeped out by just how green those things are. So there’s that.

When I switched over to Paleo, I was worried about not being able to enjoy the *ahem* sweeter things in life. Giving up grains? No problem? Processed foods? No problem. (Good riddance.) Most of dairy, starches, and limiting fruit? No problem. Desserts? Problem.  BIG problem.

A lot of my Paleo recipes and experiments focus on desserts, mostly because its what I really enjoy. When I first switched to Paleo, I tried to replace all the foods I had favored throughout my life with Paleo friendly versions of them: almond flour pizza crust, coconut flour cupcakes, cashew flour cookies, almond butter banana bread. These are great alternatives, don't get me wrong, but I quickly learned that even these replacements should be limited. Although lots of these recipes follow the Paleo formula, the focus really should be on consuming vegetables, healthy fats, and animal proteins. These are the things that combine together to create optimal health, immunity, and energy.  Paleo baking recipes are wonderful treats, but should you really be consuming the 100 almonds that have been crushed to make that almond meal pizza crust? The 30 cashews that have been crushed to make the batter in that single Paleo cupcake? Probably not- diets should be more balanced, even if it still is Paleo.

So after a few months of Paleo baking my little heart out, and finally realizing that I can't exist off of almond flour everything, and realized that I needed to start approaching pleasing my sweet tooth in a different way. Eventually, I came to this recipe. Actually, I didn't really come to it, a friend of mine asked me one day: "So have you tried Chia Seed Pudding?".

What? Chia Seed Pudding? What? I hadn't heard of it, but she immediately listed off a recipe, and ensured that it was "the best". This girl knows her stuff. and she really nailed it on this seed pudding thing. Chia Seed Pudding is so easy, has only a few ingredients, and can be flavored probably 100 different ways. It really is the best. (Thanks Kathy!)

Since it is St. Patrick's Day, I festively flavored this pudding version with mint. If you don't like mint, just leave it out, and you'll have chocolate. I've also listed some varieties below if you would like to try out a different pudding flavor.


Shamrock Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 4

csp2.jpg
  • 16 oz. canned coconut cream (canned coconut milk will work too)
  • 2 tbsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract
  • 11/2 tsp. mint extract
  • 4 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 7 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp. melted raw honey
  • Chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)
  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Refrigerate for 1 hour and then serve.
  3. Really, that's it. 

 

Variations:

  • Mint Cream: omit the cocoa powder from the above recipe, increase the vanilla extract by an additional 1 tsp.
  • Chocolate: omit mint extract from above recipe
  • Vanilla: omit the cocoa powder and mint from the above recipe, increase the vanilla by an additional 1/2 tbsp.
  • Maple Pecan: reduce the honey by 2 tbsp, add 2 tbsp. maple syrup. Stir in pecans.
  • Mocha: add 1 tbsp. instant coffee granules, omit mint extract
  • Mint Mocha: add 1 tbsp. instant coffee granules
  • Coconut chip: omit mint extract, add 1/2 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 
csp13.jpg
csp11.jpg

csp6.jpg

Tuesday: the worst day of the week

Ugh, Tuesdays. TUESDAYS.

At my old job, my coworkers (Now I am lucky enough to call them my friends) and I came up with this theory that Tuesdays are the worst day of the week. Here’s why: when Tuesday morning rolls around, you’re still exhausted from Monday shenanigans. On Tuesday, you still remember the happy glow of your past weekend, and realize that there are so many days until you can get to that bliss again. On Tuesday, you haven’t even gotten to hump day yet…and we all know that there are just no inappropriate jokes to say about Tuesdays. Tuesdays are just the worst. The. Worst.

 

On Tuesdays, I am rarely motivated to do anything. It’s amazing if I make it to the gym after work, and to be honest, its miracle if I actually go out and do something social on a Tuesday night. Most of the ridiculous fights I’ve picked with my boyfriend have been on, you guessed it: Tuesdays. And the worst night classes in both my undergrad and graduate school years? On Tuesdays. (You’re such a jerk, Tuesday. I hope Karma gets you.) By the time Tuesday night rolls around, I rarely cook- I usually eat leftovers or whatever snacks I can piece together to try to form a legitimate meal. I call this technique creating an artful, eclectic charcuterie (Haha, yeah right), but really, this is just Tuesday speaking through me again in food form. Oh, and actually getting up on time Tuesday morning to make a decent breakfast? Ha. Please……..Oh, was that a serious question? Yeah…. No. Tuesday breakfast never ever happens. Not ever.

For all the reasons I have listed above, I bring you a recipe I have titled “Tuesday Oatmeal” because it is quite possibly the easiest 4 minute Paleo breakfast you can make in the morning. I make this mix ahead of time and store it in a water bottle for easy pouring. (Helpful when I am trying to make myself breakfast at 6am and still fumbling around because I am half asleep.) You can choose to keep this in any storage container of your choosing, and please note that the serving size for the “preparation” stage is for one ½ cup serving, not for the entire prepared mix.


 

Tuesday Oatmeal

Mix makes 4 servings

Grain free, dairy free, gluten free

chia1.jpg

 

To make ahead:

  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed) Golden flaxseed meal is also an option
  • ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

When preparing:

  • ½ cup already prepared chia seed mix
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla almond milk
  • Toppings of your choice (chocolate pieces, fruit, almond butter, cashew butter, nuts etc.) optional
  • 1 tsp. raw honey optional
  • 1 cup water
  1. Mix chia seeds, flaxseed meal, and coconut together. Store in a container.
  2. When ready to prepare, pour ½ cup chia mix into a bowl and add water and almond milk. You may add honey if you would like some sweetness, but it is not necessary.
  3. Microwave for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir well, add toppings if you would like, and enjoy!
  5. Just get through Tuesday J
chia6.jpg


chia8.jpg



P.S I originally saw this recipe months ago on another grain-free blog. I tweaked this recipe for my own tastes, renamed it, and now cannot find the original recipe author. If anyone out there sees this recipe out on another blog, can you let me know? I would love to cite them and be able to give them credit for the inspiration! Thank you!

 

P.P.S. Once, I put in a spoonful of Nutella into this, and it was amazing. And then later I tried a spoonful of cookie butter. That too was amazing, but so not Paleo. But, you know what they say about Tuesdays….. 

chia4.jpg