Our Pizza Had Eyes


I love having visitors, and I love being able to share my recipe creations with guests. Wouldn’t it be great if I just owned a little operation where I could just have visitors and then cook for them? What’s that called? A Bed & Breakfast? 26 going on 70 over here. 

My visitors the past couple weeks have kept me very busy here in the South of Vanilla household, and for the next couple weekends, I’ll be traveling places myself. The weekend before last, my best friend Nikki stayed with me and we were major tourists in DC…. As in: “Excuse me, sir? Can you take a picture of us with this beautiful, historical, Washingtonian tree? No, no lengthwise too…..hold on, let me put my hand on my hip.”

Besides taking pictures of trees, we managed to perfect the ambitious Unicorn Selfie:

And thought of clever ways to take pictures with the monuments:

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We even found a walk-in wine cellar filled floor to ceiling with champagne behind a secret, hidden "door" (spice cabinet) in a basement kitchen. Umm hello? DREAM COME TRUE. 

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One evening, we decided to get a non-Paleo dinner at an authentic Italian pizzeria, and we were excited when we saw shrimp pizza on the menu. Shrimp Pizza?? We were thrilled, but then disgusted when the shrimp on the pizza still had their tails….and their heads….with their eyes on them. Their eyes. THEYWERELOOKINGATUSEATINGTHEM:

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Never again. It was the universe telling us to think twice before veering from Paleo, even if that weekend special looked pretty tasty.

What was tasty though? A weekend full of Paleo cooking. I even made a nice vegetable dish for breakfast one morning while Nikki was here: Almond Zucchini Sauté. Of course, you can serve this any time of day, but I served it as breakfast one morning along with an Avocado Egg. (There has got to be a better name for an Avocado Egg, but I haven’t found one. I make this so often, it has become its own word in my head. Not “Avocado Egg”, but more like “Avocadegg”. Maybe I will call it that. Avocadegg. It will be a trend….maybe.)

Anyway, this veggie dish looks elegant, and it only takes 10 minutes to throw together. I highly suggest it:

Almond Zucchini Sauté:

Serves 2

 

  • 1 cup mini zucchini, sliced lengthwise
  • ½ c sliced almonds
  • 3 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Toss almonds in olive oil in pan.
  2. Heat almonds and oil on low heat until just fragrant. Stir frequently so almonds do not burn. 
  3. Add zucchini and parsley to pan and increase to medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes. Zucchini is done when tender to the fork but not soggy.
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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:

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To this:

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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

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  • 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 
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