​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. 




IMG_3263.JPG

IMG_3264.JPG


Carrots are for Wanderlusters

One of my loves is traveling. I will spend all my time, money, and energy traveling if I get the chance to. (This 40-hour workweek thing is severely getting in the way.) I attribute my wanderlust to my parents first sticking me on a plane, alone, when I was 6 to go visit family. I've been hooked ever since. By time I was 17, I had ventured through a lot of the U.S, most of Western Europe, and some of the South Pacific. My family's theory was that the world was the best teacher, and they weren't wrong: traveling gave me the motivation, empathy, and open mindedness that truly makes me successful in not only my job, but in my interpersonal relationships as well. WTG fam, you're the best.

Regardless, following a Paleo diet is really challenging when traveling. First, there are always temptations. Second, local food at your destination is always just so good, and of course you want to try the local grub. Third, after you return home after a week or a long weekend of planes, trains, taxis, subways, or buses (maybe all), the last thing you want to do is cook. You want to chill the heck out on the couch with some takeout while watching reruns of Madmen. (Side note: why Don, why??? Megan is perfect, you're an idiot.) Or is this just me that is like that? Come on guys, I can’t be the only one.

I've realized that when eating out while traveling, it's not too hard to find restaurants that can cater to a Paleo lifestyle. After all, almost all restaurants serve vegetables and meat, which are two of the big building blocks of Paleo. However, finding organic, sustainably raised items, and grass fed meat continues to be a big challenge. (Unless you're traveling to Portland ;) ) To this point, I say do your best, and be diligent about being strict when you return home.

By far, airports are the worst for healthy food options, so I've also got into the habit of traveling with snacks. I always carry a bag of nuts, a piece of whole fruit, some dark chocolate (so I won't be tempted by all those new airport froyo places popping up), and either some protein bars or a small container of my Tuesday Oatmeal. (All you need to add is hot water! Starbucks is always so generous with supplying me with a free small cup of hot water to make this while on the go.) Depending on how long I'll be gone for, I might also take some protein powder or ground flax seed to blend into shakes, and I always take some coconut charcoal capsules when I realize that I've accidentally had too many grains, or had too much liquor:


Circa 2009. Jesus. 

Circa 2009. Jesus. 

I will note that when going through security, TSA sure does love looking through my bag of Paleo goodies, and they seem kind of let down when they've realized I'm just taking chia seeds on a plane. Also noteworthy to TSA? My hair. 80% of the time I get a head pat down (head massage?) after going through the metal detectors. I realize I have a lot of hair, but could I really hide weapons of mass destruction in my messy bed-headed bun? Apparently, airports around the U.S think so.

When I return from traveling, I also make sure that I have some premade Paleo meals ready, or meals that I can just pop into the oven. I've mentioned this recently, but I've been really into tricking myself into eating vegetables, especially when I've returned home from a trip and have been eating out a lot; it's my way of doing a little detox. In order to try up my veggie intake without feeling like I'm eating leaves for days on end, I try to mimic the texture of whatever non-vegetable dish I'm craving. Which is why I am so in love with this creation:

 

3 Ingredient Carrot Fries

  • 1/2 bag of carrots (I used tricolor carrots, but regular carrots are just the same.)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • Paleo friendly mustard, aioli, mayonnaise, or ketchup for serving.


  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Wash carrots and pat dry with either a clean towel or paper towels.
  3. Cut off the tops of the carrots, and then slice carrots into long strips, about 1/4 inch thick.
  4. Place on baking sheet, and drizzle olive oil over carrots. Use hands to coat all sides of the carrot slices with the oil.
  5. Ensure that carrot slices are place evenly on baking sheet.
  6. Sprinkle sea salt over carrots.
  7. Place in oven on middle rack and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.  With tongs, flip carrots over, and continue to bake for another 25 minutes.
  8. Carrots should be crispy and start to curl at ends. At the end, watch closely, as they could start to burn.*


I always eat these babies with a garlic mustard aioli from Trader Joe's. I've never been a big ketchup fan, so I love my carrot fries with this. I've made it on my own before, but for time saving, I'll usually go with this one from Trader Joe's. No sugar, dairy, and tastes delicious!





*Since carrots are a root vegetable, they will start to taste bitter when they burn. This couple be something that you like, but many people don't.

  

A Home is not a Home Without a Rhino

I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t get anything done in the week. By the time I wake up late (every morning), I am stressfully hurrying from one thing to another until perhaps the hour before my bedtime where I force myself to chill the heck out so I can actually fall asleep:

 

The past few weeks have been so hectic for me (half marathons, visitors, traveling) that I have not updated this blog as much as I wanted to. I was just talking to a friend this past week (over Cinco de Mayo margs after we ditched the gym, naturally) about how we feel tricked about real life. Kathy and I met in grad school, when our lives were consumed with taking 10 hours to write an evaluation, spending late nights/early morning in libraries, and spending the 3 weeks surrounding midterms and finals on a coffee IV. Luckily, we survived, and have moved onto spending time together doing more fun things. Like buying these necessary animal busts for our homes:

Horse bust takes on D.C. 

Horse bust takes on D.C. 

Kathy and I assumed that after we graduated, we would have enormous amounts of free time after our day jobs. We could work out everyday! We could go to happy hour whenever we wanted! We could go on all the trips we've been dying to do! Ha. Hahahaha. No.

We feel tricked by life. Lies. Complete lies! Whoever has a rockin’, balanced life outside of a 40 hour a week workday is one talented soul. I am so non-productive outside of work that I rely on my weekends to do things like food prep, recipe creation, apartment cleaning, and just generally having a social life. I am so dependent on my time off on weekends, that when I need to go into work over a weekend, my following week is filled with baby carrots, avocados, and wine for dinner. Because that’s obviously how you stay Paleo when on a time crunch  ;)

Amidst the workweek chaos, I’ve been trying to up my vegetable intake lately. This has been a challenge. A couple weeks ago I almost broke down at lunch when I remembered that I had packed myself a.n.o.t.h.e.r. s.a.l.a.d. Since then, I’ve realized that I need to trick myself into eating my vegetables in less obvious ways than just downing a plate of leaves. (I’m 26 going on 6 sometimes.) Recently, I’ve realized that I can drink my vegetables in smoothie form. (Ummm duh, I am clearly late on this trend.) Smoothies are perfect because I can make a ton at one time, they freeze well, and I can grab one as a literally am running out the door in the morning. Since the weather is starting to change from spring to summer, here is one of my new favorite creations, and you can’t even taste the vegetables:

Paleo Spinach Pina Colada

Serves 2

  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ½ cup coconut cream or coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cup whole spinach leaves
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple*
  • ¾  cup frozen strawberries*
  • ¼ cup ice cubes

*You can swap out fresh fruit instead of frozen if you have that on hand. Just make sure to increase the ice to ensure that you smoothie is icy and cold.

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender with the ice and fruit at the bottom of the blender.
  2. Pulse until most of the ice and fruit has been broken into small pieces.
  3. Stop blending and stir with a large spoon every few second to ensure that all the spinach leaves incorporate and blend into the drink. Once everything has started to break down a bit more, blend on higher speeds until well blended and frothy.

 


*As you can see, I styled my drink with a lemon wedge, when it absolutely has no lemon in it. Why? Because it looked cute and I used all my strawberries and pineapples before I thought of the necessity of a garnish. I am full of logic, I know.