​Summer Veggie and Egg Flatbread

So….

I created and photographed this recipe back in September, but then forgot all about it. Like totally, completely, utterly forgot about it until I had a dream about it. What?? No, really. I had a dream about flatbread.

Granted, some of my dreams have involved food before, however, they usually involve things like cupcakes or cookies or brownies or dancing marshmallow fluff. Essentially, I only dream about incredibly unhealthy desserts. Except I sometimes will dream about coffee, but thats more like a nightmare that I ran out in the morning before work on a Monday.

Analyze that Freud.

Even though I have a really excellent memory, I still do forget things. It happens with stress, which is a typical reaction from most people. But guess what? Its May, which means Cherry Blossoms in D.C., intense thunderstorms in Iowa, 75 degree weather in the southwest, and…snow in Chicago. Ok, maybe not snow quite still snow-season in Chicago, but its happened before. (Sorry guys.) You cant be stressed with all this excellent weather on the horizon, literally. (Heh heh heh, get it??!)

This flatbread is very versatile: for being grain and gluten-free, it has an incredible texture that is both chewy near the middle and crispy around the edges. It is fantastic the way I styled it, with an egg and avocado, but lends itself well to piling high with other fresh veggies….dare I even say this could be your new favorite paleo flat-bread pizza crust?  Make sure to try this recipe alongside some fresh spring veggies and some fizzy drinks. And dont forget to grab those sunglasses while you eat this outside on your patio. It is almost summer!


Summer Veggie and Egg Flatbread

Serves 3

For crust:

  • 1/2 cup warmed water, divided  (about 100 degrees)
  • 1 packet dry active yeast
  • 1 cup tapioca starch, divided 
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1 tsp. freshly chopped thyme 
  • 2 tsp. freshly chopped basil 
  • ½ tsp. salt 
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
  • 2 tbsp. flax seed 
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil, plus additional for oiling

Toppings:

  • 2 tbsp. butter 
  • 1 tsp. fresh garlic 
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/8 cup Porcini mushrooms 
  • 1 small tomato, sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast (or cheese of choice if you can tolerate dairy)
  • ½ cup fresh arugula 
  • 1 egg 
  1. In a large bowl, add ¼ cup warm water. Add packet of active yeast. Let sit for about 10 minutes until yeast has activated. It should be foamy. If water has not foamed, throw out yeast and start over; no foam means that yeast is not alive.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Add remaining water to bowl. Mix in tapioca starch, coconut flour, thyme, basil, salt, nutritional yeast, flax seed, and olive oil. Stir by hand until all ingredients are well combined and a dough begins to form.
  4. With oiled hands, form dough into a large bowl.
  5. Place a sheet of parchment paper over a baking sheet. Place ball of dough in center of sheet. Begin  to roll the dough out with an oiled rolling pin to create flatbread. Flatbread should be about ¼ inch thick.
  6. Place flatbread on middle rack of oven and bake at 450 degrees and bake for 6 minutes.
  7. After 6 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and remove flatbread from oven.
  8. Top flatbread with butter, fresh garlic, and mushrooms. Return to middle rack of oven and continue to bake for 15 minutes.
  9. After 15 minutes, add basil, tomato, avocado, nutritional yeast or cheese, and arugula to the flatbread. Add the egg by cracking over the center of the flatbread, being careful not to break the yolk.
  10. Return to the middle rack of the oven and continue to bake for 7 minutes. 




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Tomato Soup Sky: a sign from above

Guys. The night I made this recipe, I received a sign.

Like, a sign from above. Literally.

I was making this soup, when I saw this orangey-red light from outside my window. I stepped outside, and saw the best winter sunset so far in New Mexico. And it was THE EXACT SAME COLOR AS THE SOUP I WAS MAKING. That’s right. Tomato soup sky. A sign from above. Yep.

This was such a change for me, I mean actually having gorgeous weather past October and having sunsets instead of watching the light start to disappear at 3:30 is a huge deal. Spending my childhood in Chicago means that I am used to the darkness and the cold. Bitter cold, snowy cold, blustering cold, bone-chilling cold- I think there are just a many words to say “cold” in the Chicago vernacular as there is to say “snow” in the Inuit cultures.

After childhood, I went to college in Iowa, where it was, surprisingly, even colder. Even more, I spent many weekends traversing over into the Dakotas, on road trips and adventures, where I discovered that it was even colder. As in colder than Iowa and Chicago. Perhaps combined. I spent a spring break in college on a farm in central South Dakota, and it was by far the coldest spring temperatures I had ever seen.  (On the other hand, summers were temperate and blissful.)

One of my takeaways from these trips into the tundra were the foods served. Fresh greens in winter were scarce, even in grocery stores. Fruits were more common, but they were often not very flavorful, presumably from the long journey that the fruits had to go through to even get to that often forgotten corner of the country.

Meals served were often heavy, hot, and filling: dumplings, liver and onions, potatoes galore, pot roasts, steaks, and soups.

Oh, the soups.

There’s a reason why our grandmother’s ate so many homemade soups in their time: if made from bones, they are packed with nutrients that ward of viruses, which typically come knocking as the temperatures start to drop. Soups are a way to incorporate tougher vegetables that survive throughout the winter months: parsnips, potatoes, carrots, yams. And of course, soups are warm, which everyone agrees is both comforting and soothing in those dark, wintery days.

One of the greatest soups I have ever had came from a woman in South Dakota who created this recipe all on her own.  It is hot a bubbly and frothy and pure goodness in a bowl. It’s a tomato soup, which sounds boring and wimpy, but this homemade tomato soup packs so much richness and flavor that it really should be in its own category. The original recipe called for 4 cups of heavy whipping cream (!!!), flour, and a multitude of other ingredients that just aren’t paleo. For this post, I’ve modified the original recipe to make it dairy free and primal friendly, but have still kept the integrity of the rich flavors. I’ve also added my own flair to the recipe, a flair that is definitely influenced by my most recent Southwest, warm-winter, adventure. If jalapenos aren’t your thing, just omit them. You can also omit the swirl, especially if you just want a classic tomato soup recipe.  You’ll still get a full-bodied soup, but without that spicy, South of Vanilla twist.


Paleo Jalapeno Tomato Soup with Sundried Tomato-Avocado Cream Swirl

For the soup:

  • 6 cups fresh, whole tomatoes
  • ½ large white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 4 roughly chopped jalapenos, plus additional for garnish (or more to taste) (Optional)
  • 6 tbsp. grass-fed, organic, unsalted butter (I love Kerrygold)
  • 6 1/3 cups unsweetened original flavored almond mild, divided
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • Salt to taste

For the swirl:

  • ¼ cup Sundried Tomatoes
  • 1 Avocado
  • ½ cup unsweetened, unflavored Almond Milk

For the soup:

  1. Remove skins from tomatoes by slicing an X on the bottom of each fruit, then placing in a large pot and covering all tomatoes with water.
  2. Bring tomatoes in water to a boil for about 6 minutes. Once skin starts to peel back from tomatoes, drain water from pot.
  3. Let tomatoes cool completely before peeling off skins. Discard skins, and place peeled tomatoes back in pot. Peeled tomatoes should be soft at this point and slightly cooked.
  4. In your pot with peeled tomatoes, add butter, garlic, onion, and jalapenos. Sauté on medium-high heat until garlic and onions are fragrant and onions are translucent.
  5. Add 1/3 cup of almond milk to tomato mixture, and let simmer until almost all the liquid is gone.
  6. Remove from heat, and spoon tomato mixture into a blender. Be very careful not to burn yourself, as this blending process emits a large amount of steam. You may have to blend in two separate batches depending on your size of blender. Blend until smooth.
  7. Place blended tomato mixture back into the pot, but reserve 1 cup of the mixture. Place this 1 cup of the tomato mixture in a separate large bowl.
  8. In your separate large bowl with 1 cup of the tomato mixture, add the tapioca flour and baking soda. Whisk until frothy and all the tapioca flour has been absorbed. It may take awhile for the tapioca flour to absorb completely, and it is important to keep whisking, as the flour can easily clump.
  9. Add tomato mixture with the flour and baking soda back into the large pot with the rest of the blended tomato mixture.
  10. Add 4 cups of the almond mild, and heat of medium-low. The soup should never come to a boil, it should just bubble. Stir often to ensure that the soup does not stick to the bottom of the pot, about 15 minutes.
  11. Once the soup is bubbling, add remaining 2 cups of almond milk, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, garlic salt, and paprika. Stir in spices, and heat on medium heat for about 15 more minutes.  Scrape up any burned pieces from the bottom of the pot; this will add a richer flavor.
  12. Serve immediately, or garnish with swirl or jalapenos. (Optional)

For the swirl: 

  1. Combine all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until smooth. (There still may be small pieces of sundried tomatoes.)
  2. With a spoon swirl in the cream 1 tbsp. at a time until you have desired swirl. 






Why Paleo?

"So why Paleo?" 

 

I've gotten this question a lot since embarking on this journey. A LOT. Along with the questions, I have also gotten a lot of cavemen and bacon jokes. (Just to clear things up, I do not live in a cave and roast things over a fire, and I do I eat bacon for every meal. ;) ) 

I went on this lifestyle change because, quite simply, I needed a change. For years I thought my fatigue and low energy levels were from of a combination of a rigorous school schedule, stress, and just generally overexerting myself. In May of 2013, I decided to take my health and energy levels into some serious questioning; there was no reason a 25 year old should be sleeping 9 hours a night yet waking up exhausted and having heavy brain fog throughout the day. On top of all that, I actually had trouble sleeping through the night, had some persistent acne that hadn't resolved since middle school (!), caught strep throat every 6 months, and regularly suffered from nausea 1-4 times per week. In spring of 2013 I had an unexplained anaphylactic allergic reaction that sent me to the ER and reason to carry not one, but TWO EpiPens on me at all times.  (The doctors still don't know what I am allergic to, nor why I went into anaphylaxis.)

Although I had been successful in my life up until this point, this was only from sheer motivation, willpower, and espresso, and I knew that I was quickly running out of steam. I was tired of being tired. I was tired of feeling sick all the time. 

After a summer of heavy research (books, research articles, blogs, podcasts, etc.), I decided to try out the Paleo, or Paleolithic, diet. During the last week of August, 2013, I decided to try out Paleo for 6 weeks. I told myself that I could do anything for 6 weeks, and if I didn't like it, I could simply quit….but honestly, I've never looked back. Paleo has changed the whole way I look at a diet and food; It has truly been such a positive lifestyle change. 

My energy levels improved drastically, and I no longer felt like I was dragging every day. My cognition improved: I felt more alert, focused, and sharper. I haven't gotten strep throat (or even so much as a cold), I sleep through the night, and I have cut down my caffeine consumption from 4-5 cups of coffee a day to 1. I stopped counting calories, my skin cleared up for the first time in a over a decade, and I can remember exactly 3 days over the past 6 months where I have taken any type of aspirin or ibuprofen. 

My whole goal of starting this way of eating was to regain control over my energy levels, but Paleo changed things that I didn't even know I could change. My intense cravings for sweets went away. (Don't get me wrong, I still have a sweet tooth, but those havetohaveitrightnow cravings are gone.) My mood stabilized. (No more mood swings, less moments where I was crying and didn't know why I was crying.) My stamina for workouts increased. (I am currently scheduled to run my first half-marathon in April.) 

The first 4 weeks of starting Paleo were hellacious for me. I had done enough research so I knew that this was headed my way, but it was absolutely miserable. I had the "paleo flu" for two weeks straight, and my fatigue actually got worse than it was before. Long ago, I eliminated fast food, conventionally raised and farmed food, and some processed foods from my diet. I have long been a believer in organic, sustainable farming methods, so I thought I wouldn't have as tough as a time switching over to Paleo as other people have. I was wrong. I had terrible headaches, malaise, and I ate more avocados in those first two weeks than I ever thought possible. Seriously, I was the girl at the grocery store buying three bags of avocados at once time. 

Although I am a strong believer in Paleo, I do not follow the diet 100% of the time. I occasionally will still have a plate of pasta, a slice of pizza, some cubes of cheese, and I am definitely a fan of a glass of wine. I love chips and salsa, and I love ice cream. There are some things in life that I don't want to give up permanently, so I've realized that having these foods every once in awhile is ok. There are many people in the Paleo Community who differ from me on this issue. 

 

This whole way of thinking and eating has changed my life, and I'm starting a blog to document this journey as well as collect the recipes I have tried out or have created. It has been incredibly empowering, and I hope that someone else can benefit from my journey as well! I also plan to document some of the other things I do in my life- like DIY projects and traveling!