Paleo Super Bowl Snacks

Chorizo and Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey-Balsamic Drizzle with Andalucia Holiday Cocktail

Ummmm hi I'm Kristina and iminlovewithchorizo. Andfestivedrinks. And especially when they fantastic food is combined with fantastic drinks. Wins to everyone all around. Confused? Keep reading. (Especially because toady's recipe is with Dani, one of my favorite people ever.)

When I moved to New Mexico, I quickly became enamored, ob.sessed. actually, with chorizo. Chorizo perfectly combines flavors usually found in Mexican food, tangy pork, and sublime spiciness. Chorizo is greasy, definitely, but I have yet to find a meat spiced quite as perfectly tasty as chorizo. 

Chorizo is most commonly found as a counterpart to eggs, like in a breakfast burrito, and less occasionally as a topping on flatbreads and pizza. Chorizo isn't wildly common outside of the Southwest; I think this might be because a lot of people are scared of chorizo, they just don't know how to make it so they stick to the most tried and true ways.

Last year, I created my Sweet n' Spicy Bacon Wrapped Dates, and they continue to be one of my most popular recipes on South of Vanilla. They're so loved, that even I have fallen into the habit of making them frequently. Currently, they're my most favorite breakfast (I know, not even a breakfast food...but there is bacon?), when I even bother to eat breakfast, because I can eat them easily while driving. I even made these dates last year for our family's Thanksgiving where they were agreed upon as "divine".

For this Thanksgiving, not only have I given you another variation of dates, but I’ve paired up with Dani from Care to Pair to give you the perfect Thanksgiving drink pairing for this new favorite recipe. Dani and her husband Andrew created an Andalucia Cocktail, which is entirely uncommon and definitely underutilized. This cocktail is made with walnut liquer and sherry, and pretty much screams “holiday” in a cup. Swoon.

And it totally goes great with this recipe.

Bacon wrapped dates definitely were a trendy food of 2014, but I am taking my date game this year to the next level. I know you see where I am going with this next: chorizo combined with dates. And goat cheese, because ummmm, goat cheese.

These Chorizo and Goat Cheese stuffed dates are so. good. Trust me, they won't last long. You might even want to make a double or triple batch. The honey-balsamic drizzle even makes them food channel worthy, but no one needs to know that it took all of 2 minutes to come together.

I am definitely making them this Thanksgiving (and every other week this year), especially since they make for such a gorgeous presentation, ESPECIALLY since these come along with an unusual and festive drink. Enjoy!

Some cook's notes:

  • Goat cheese isn't paleo, but some people tolerate the type of lactose found in goat milk much better than cow's milk.
  • The parsley in this recipe is mainly for garnish, you can omit if you would like.

Chorizo and Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Honey-Balsamic Drizzle with Andalucia Holiday Cocktail

Andalucia Cocktail Recipe here

For the dates:

  • 30 dates, pitted lengthwise
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • 1/2 lb chorizo
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano

For the drizzle:

  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup balsamic
  • 2 tsp. Olive oil
  • Dash of salt
  1. In a medium sized frying pan, brown your chorizo. Set aside and let cool completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a lipped baking pan with parchment paper.
  3.  In a large bowl, add cooled chorizo, goat cheese, garlic, and oregano. Using a large spoon, mix well until well incorporated. You may want to use your hands.
  4. Fill dates by placing approximately a teaspoon of chorizo goat cheese mixture into each date.
  5. Place filled dates onto baking sheet and bake on middle rack for 25 minutes.
  6. While dates are baking, whisk honey, balsamic, olive oil and salt. Set aside.
  7. Once dates are done baking, assemble on a platter and drizzle with honey-balsamic.
  8. Enjoy immediately and serve with Andalucia Holiday Cocktail.

Triple Fat Breakfast Brussels Sprouts

3 years ago, if you had told me that I would have a Brussels sprouts obsession, I would have called you crazy. Certifiable…

…but here I am, at the head of a paleo food blog starting to pick up steam, posting recipes about nature’s edible green gems.

Yes, that’s right. I just called Brussels sprouts gems. And while we are on the subject, did you that its not brussel spouts. Its Brussels sprouts? Annnnd the correct way to spells Brussels sprouts is with a capital letter “B” but a lower case “s”.  I don’t know why. If you knew the reason, I would be open to listening, however, truthfully I am far too preoccupied to even do one more Google search right now. Not a joke- I really am that busy these days. (Good problem to have though, seriously.)

When I first made this recipe, I ate it so quickly that I didn’t even have the time to photograph it. When I made it the second time…same thing. And the third time….do I even have to say it? It took me four times of making this recipe to have the willpower to take a quick pause and shoot some photos before digging in. It is that good.

Annnnnnd, yes, I am still talking about the Brussels sprouts. Before you really think that I’ve gone off the deep end, I sent this recipe for some friends to try out before I posted it, and one even told me that she’s never eating Brussels sprouts any other way again. (Hiiiiii Sandra!)

Recently, I have been loving eating veggies for breakfast: I feel accomplished by getting in some greens in the morning, I am fueled throughout the rest of the day, and eating veggies for breakfast makes me feel like real health nut.

These South of Vanilla Brussels sprouts even have a fried egg on top with shiitake mushrooms, which undeniably make everything better; those two ingredients together are a killer combination. This recipe has, as you can tell from the title, 3 types of fat: butter, duck fat, and the rendered fat that come from the bacon. These three fats may as well be a paleo holy trinity, because oh my goodness, its amazing. Brussels sprouts are even coming back into season as we head into mid-late fall (Side note: whhhhat?!), which means that not only will they soon be in abundance in grocery stores, but they will taste. even. better.

Some Cook’s notes:

  • This recipe calls for 3 types of fat, but if you don’t have one of the fats on hand, or cannot tolerate butter, you can use a combination of what you have. (i.e. 4 tbsp. butter instead of 2 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. duck fat or tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. rendered bacon fat.)
  • I use a skillet to roast these so I can cook from oven to stovetop easily, but if you do not have one, a lined baking sheet with a frying pan will work just fine. (PS using a cast iron skillet adds some extra iron to your food. Hooray!)
  • I like my eggs runny, especially for this recipe, but definitely know that runny eggs, since they are still partially raw, can pose health risks associated with undercooked eggs.

Triple Fat Breakfast Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main course

  • 1.5 lbs. Brussels
  • 1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (or about ½ cup fresh shiitake mushrooms)
  • 3 thick cut slices of bacon
  • 2 large shallots
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. smoked chipotle
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. duck fat
  • 2 tbsp. grass-fed organic butter
  • 4 eggs
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry Brussels sprouts. Slice each one on half and place in a large bowl. Quarter if your Brussels sprouts are very large in size.
  3. Dice bacon slices, mushrooms, and shallots.  Add to bowl with Brussels sprouts.
  4. Add garlic, spices, coconut sugar, duck fat, and butter to bowl. Stir until Brussels sprouts are well coated with spices, fat, and bacon is well incorporated.
  5. Add seasoned Brussels sprouts to a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. (See note above if you do not have a cast-iron skillet.)
  6. Place skillet on top rack of your oven and roast for 35 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and place on stovetop. Turn to high heat, and stir the Brussels sprouts continuously while the stove-stop is heating.
  8. Push Brussels sprouts to the side of the pan, making an open circle in the middle of your skillet.
  9. Crack your eggs in this space, being careful not to crack the yolks.
  10. Fry your eggs for about 4 minutes, or until desired consistency.
  11. Remove from heat immediately and serve.


Tangy Brazilian Lemon-Garlic Shrimp Spinach Salad with {and a special giveaway!}


Spices make the dish, I am totally convinced.

When I first made the big leap and eliminated all artificial ingredients back in 2008, I noticed a huge difference between conventional dried herbs, spices, and rubs than their natural counterparts. 

Most spices, sadly, have fillers and MSG (though maybe not by that name) in their mixes. Lots of spices and dried herbs are irradiated, meaning that, in summary, the packaging process removes a lot of the health-boosting properties these spices have while inadvertently adding some free radicals. The whole spice industry isn't the best situation; you really do need to be conscious and know where your spices come from. If not, you could ruin your pricey grass-fed steak with chemicals.

High-quality spices are expensive, I will totally admit that. However, like I said before, they definitely make the dish, and good spices make a big difference, which is why I support smaller spice companies that come out with quality products; Samboroso is one of those companies.

For total transparency, I am an ambassador for Samboroso, which means I receive product in exchange for posting about them. However, I want to make it abundantly clear that I will never post anything about any product, within this post or in the future, that I do not believe in or back 100%. I hope you trust me on this one.

With that out of the way, Samboroso's spices are truly high quality. Samboroso is a family-owned company, and although not paleo, they have similar view and ideals when it comes to food. These spices are Brazilian, which I sadly am not super well versed in, but honestly their spices are hands-down amazing and so full of flavor. I am really obsessed and have been using them on everything from salads to steak to veggies.

Today, I have a special gift for you all today: a giveaway with Samboroso. One lucky winner will get a spice blend all to themselves, which is perfect because I also have a recipe to go along with it. See below for a rafflecopter giveaway, you know the drill.

Today's recipe is a super quick and easy shrimp and spinach salad with a little Lemon-Garlic Samboroso twist. Its a little tangy, a little spicy, and packs a whole lot of flavor. Enjoy!

Tangy Brazilian Lemon-Garlic Shrimp Spinach Salad

Serves 2 as an entree

  • 16 oz. shrimp
  • 2 tbsp. high quality, grass-fed butter
  • 1/8 cup Shiitake mushrooms, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2-cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tbsp. Samboroso Lemon-Garlic Rub
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or more, if preferred)
  • 5 cups spinach
  1. In a large saucepan, melt butter on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and shallot. Sauté until shallots are translucent.
  2. Reduce heat, add lemon juice, olive oil, and wine and let simmer on low until liquid reduces by about 2/3 volume, about 10 minutes.
  3. While liquid is reducing, wash and dry spinach and place into serving bowls.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high. Add in Lemon-Garlic rub, crushed red pepper, and shrimp, stirring to ensure that spices are well incorporated and shrimp are coated. Let shrimp cook for about 5 minutes while stirring, being careful to not overcook.
  5. Remove from heat immediately and pour shrimp and liquid over spinach.
  6. Let spinach wilt slightly and enjoy.


Chocolate Donut Coffee Pops


If you recall, I created quite the buzz in the 4th of July when I teamed up with Tito’s Vodka to create these Cocoberry Vodka Pops. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to come up with some sort of popsicle recipe than can rival the great vodka pops, but no luck…

…and then it came to me. People like alcohol and popsicles, but what else do they like? Coffee and popsicles. With donuts. And Chocolate.  So, I created these: the Chocolate Donut Coffee Pops.

Truly, I couldn’t have done it without Flavor God’s Chocolate Donut Seasoning, which you definitely need to buy right now. No, really, it sells out really fast. It is integral to making these popsicles, but also integral to making everything else all kinds of wonderful. (Like Chocolate Donut Seasoning on waffles, and on cookies, and in coffee, and not to be redundant….but on chocolate donuts.) I am also amazed because all the ingredients in the Chocolate Donut Seasoning don’t even seem like they should taste like a chocolate donut. BUT THEY DO.

On a totally related note, you definitely need to make these popsicles right. Now. Why? Because the beginning of the school year is coming up and I know all you readers with kiddos heading back to school need something to fuel you through the insanely early mornings. (Why do most schools start at 7:30? Whhhyyy?)

Oh! And kids can’t eat these. Nope. Why? Because they are filled with COFFEE. And chocolate donuts. But they don’t need to know that last part.

I think I’m onto something with this adult-only popsicle trend.

Some cook’s notes:

  • If you cannot get your hands on the elusive Chocolate Donut seasoning, you can swap out the seasoning with 2 tbsp. dark chocolate cocoa powder and 2 tbsp. coconut sugar. These won’t be chocolate donut popsicles, but they will be chocolate coffee popsicles at the least.
  • The butter and MCT oil is essentially the recipe for bulletproof coffee (fatty coffee), but now obviously in popsicle form.

Chocolate Donut Coffee Popsicles

Makes 8 popsicles

  • 18 oz. freshly brewed coffee
  • 3 tbsp. chocolate donut seasoning
  • 3 tbsp. MCT oil
  • 3 tbsp. grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised butter
  1. In a blender, blend all ingredients.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds, and let freeze for at least 6 hours. 

Grain-Free Garden Sandwiches

Hey guys, want to know something fun? I used to be an RA in college. As in Resident Assistant. As in creator of great events, and giver outer of housing violations. I was hated and loved, which definitely fluccuated according to the weekend. I was watched carefully by everyone on campus, which was actually super creepy looking back on it. Letmelivemylife. No, I don’t want to hear about the guy you met at the bar during $1 you call its. I don’t care if it was love at first shot. No, really. I don’t.

Since I was an RA at The University of Iowa, which meant I worked where I lived, breaking away to get work done was extremely, I mean, extremely difficult.

Don't get me wrong, I loved (most) of my residents, but it was difficult being productive when everyone either wanted to chat, needed to vent, or had a situation that needed to be solved. right. this. minute.

Sometimes I would go hide in one of my co-workers rooms (Hi, Sara! Hi Samantha! Hi Ben! Hi Mike!) but when I really needed a break, like a break from the world, please everyone be quiet, no-I don't-care-that-you-can't-burn-your-favorite-vanilla-candle-in-your-room-for-the-tenth-time kind of a break, I went to this place called the Iowa House.

The Iowa House was a restaurant inside a hotel inside the Iowa Student Union. (Seriously.) The hotel was reserved mostly for parents of visiting students, and because of its odd location, students rarely visited, and didn't know that there was a cafeteria-style restaurant available to all students, regardless of any hotel reservation.

The kicker, though? Current students could charge their account for their meal, whatever card the university had on file for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Which meant that not only could I have a peaceful meal, but I could charge the meal straight to my mom's card. If you're reading this mom, I'm sorry. And thank you!

This cafeteria was full of ready-made options like salads and sushi, but also was full of made-to-order pastas, burgers, and flatbreads. My favorite, however, was this garden sandwich, which was essentially just a veggie...sandwich....but with hummus and cream cheese.

If it sounds weird, it because it is. It totally is. It is weirder than weird. Cream cheese and hummus together sounds completely gag-worthy, especially when you throw in onions and spinach, but trust me when I tell you that it is SO. GOOD. 

I recreated this delicious, yet bizarre sandwich, because not only does it bring me back to my college days, but its a more creative way to get some raw veggies in. Technically, hummus isn't paleo because garbonzo beans are a legume, but if you can tolerate it, I don't think there's anything wrong with a little bit o' hummus. YOLO. Yolo, my friends. I'm only 3 years late on my newest catch phrase.

Some cook’s notes:

  • If you want to have regular cream cheese, by all means, go for it! Paleo versions of cream cheese, although delicious, do take some time, so be mindful of that.
  • You can use any veggies you prefer for these! I just listed the ones I usually have when I made these sandwiches.

Garden Sandwiches

Makes 4 sandwiches

  • 4 grain-free bun or bread recipe (find mine here) 
  • Paleo Cream Cheese (I like this recipe here as well as the cashew recipe here)
  • ½ cup of your favorite hummus
  • 1 cup diced lettuce  or spinach (or salad green of your choice)
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup Sunflower Sprouts
  • ¼ cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 sliced avocado
  • ½ sliced green bell pepper
  1. Spread desired cream cheese on one side of bun, and hummus on the other.
  2. Fill with veggies.
  3. Enjoy!

Perfect Summer Fruit Salad (Hello 4th of July BBQ!)

n my junior year of high school, my French class when to the Alliance Francaise in Chicago. My teacher had been coy about the whole trip, only saying that it would be a “cultural experience”, which is really such a French thing to say.

The Alliance Francaise is an organization focused on the promotion of the French language and culture. They regularly screen French films, host coffee clubs, offer Adult French language classes, and connect native and foreign French speakers with one another.

On this high school field trip, however, our focus was on seeing a French movie (In French, naturally), and participating in a French cooking class. Now, because I was super nerdy (still am, let’s be honest), I was totally into the whole idea of a French cooking class. The class was conducted in French, the ingredients and directions were listed in French, and the food was French.  I was prepared to make some classic French dish like beef bourguignon, a la Julia Child, but the instructor thought otherwise.

Looking back, the simple fruit salad the instructor chose was definitely appropriate for a group of high schoolers who regularly depended on EasyMac and Ramen for their afternoon snacks. I, of course, thought otherwise: I had been cooking with my dad and baking with my mom in the kitchen since I could walk. Fruit salad in my mind was not deserving of its own lesson. I mean, you essentially cut up fruit and put it in a bowl. How was a French fruit salad any different?

But I was wrong.

Our French cooking instructor told us that the secret to making a delicious fruit salad was not only cutting fruit in somewhat uniform pieces, but adding vanilla extract. Yes, vanilla. My mind was blown then, just as is continues to be now. The vanilla, essentially make a sweet syrup, coating all the fruit and drawing out all their natural flavors. Delicious. 

Ever since that class, when I have needed to take an easy to prepare dish to a party or a gathering, I take this. Every time, someone always comes up to me and asks: “what on Earth is in this? It is the best fruit salad I have ever had.” 

Ahhh, see. The French. Their cooking. They just know.

Some cook’s notes:

  • Your fruit can be cut in advance in stored in individual airtight containers to save on prep time the day of serving, however, many types of fruit will start to brown. Adding the lemon juice will delay the oxidation process and thus delay browning, but it will still happen with time.
  • I have made this fruit salad with many different types of fruit, depending on what is in season. Feel free to swap in an out what you find at the grocery store and what you have on hand- it will always end up fantastic!
  • Softer fruits like peaches, bananas, and kiwis will become very soft at a much faster rate. Be mindful of this while you choose your fruit to use. 
  • Be careful on how much vanilla extracts you add: too much can cause an overwhelming, somewhat bitter vanilla flavor. If you want a stronger vanilla flavor, add a tiny amount at a time, tasting along the way.
  • Make sure your slices of fruit are small enough to spear with a fork; trying to shove half an apple in your mouth with a fork is embarrassing at any party. (But alone is a-ok!)
  • Please make note of the serving size. If you are making this just for yourself, or even 2 people, halve or quarter the recipe. 

Perfect Summer Fruit Salad

Serves 6-8, as a side

  • 1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. high quality vanilla extract
  • 3 Apples
  • 16 oz. Strawberries
  • 4 oz. Blackberries
  • 2 Bananas
  • 1 Grapefruit
  • 2 Valencia Oranges
  • 2 Small Blood Oranges
  • 3 peaches
  • 4 Kiwis
  1. Cut all fruit into somewhat-uniform pieces.
  2. Place into a large bowl.
  3. Add vanilla, and thoroughly mix. Add more, to taste, but see note above.
  4. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container.