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.




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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!




Better than Pizza…salad?

Better than Pizza…salad?

Yep, I just said that.

Did I just say that? Better than pizza salad? I definitely did. Just said it.

Because its true. One night, Christopher and I were having a cleanoutthefridgenight, which is essentially a night where we eat all the random stuff in our fridge before it goes bad, when we had this salad.

Ok, so no, the salad just didn’t appear, but I did throw it together in about 5 minutes with leftovers we had in the fridge and some dried spices from the pantry. And then, I set a bowl of it down in between a plate of pickles and some reheated pizza….and well, the rest is history.

Although to be truthful, I suppose this salad could have been called “Better than Pickles Salad”, but that just didn’t seem as catchy.

So here we are, after we both chose to eat a salad instead of pizza…which I never really saw coming. No warning. I suppose we will all be better prepared the next time this happens.

This post, I’m assuming, is also well timed, as we probably are all reallllly sick of cooking elaborate meals at very stressfully placed holidays during the year…or maybe I’m the one that’s sick of cooking.

Not that I don’t love the holidays, I think my love for holidays and the changing seasons has been very well documented at this point. Its just that Thanksgiving’s strategic placement near the end of the semester, at the start of severe weather flight delays, and less than a month from Christmas, which is less than 2 weeks away from New Years is just crazy-making. I vote to space these holidays a little bit better. Not only would there be less stress, but if we moved some of these to summer, we wouldn't have to worry about the nor'easters that always seem to cancel 5 million flights right before or after Christmas. Don't even get me started on my Christmas break last year where I was stranded in Chicago during the polar vortex. The. Worst. Ever. There were no down coats big enough for that excursion. 

So here we have it, a really impressive salad that you can make within 5 minutes, without cooking, that will impress your family and friends. It is a perfect way to use leftover chicken or turkey. (I told you this recipe was aptly timed.) It also doesn’t matter what types of salad greens you have- they all taste great. As of posting this, I have had this salad with romaine, arugula, kale, and bok choy. It is now glaringly apparent that I’ve had this salad about 10 times since its first creation.

I should note that Vegenaise isn’t exactly paleo; although far better than conventional mayonnaise, it contains safflower oil. Safflower is an industrial oil, although it has been noted that of all the industrial seed oils, this is probably the best choice as long as it is extracted without chemical or heat. Soy-free Vegenaise, however, does not contain grains, gluten, or dairy, so you’re safe there. For a truly Paleo option, I recommend making your own mayonnaise to substitute, however, this would increase the time to make the salad from 5 minutes to possibly 15. And really, You Only Live Once.  So Eat That Vegenaise.

YOLOSETV.

Or maybe we should just stick to YOLO.

And then make this salad.



Better than pizza….salad?

Makes 3 large salads, or several small salads

  • 8 cups of your favorite salad greens
  • 1 cup of Soy-free Vegenaise, divided
  • 2 cups leftover shredded chicken or turkey
  • ½ cup red grapes  
  • 2 medium sized celery stalks
  • ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts (optional)
  • 1 ½ tbsp. dried dill
  • 1 tsp. dried onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried garlic powder
  1. Slice grapes in half lengthwise and dice celery stalks finely.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix leftover chicken or turkey with ¾ cup of the Soy-free Vegenaise, diced celery, halved grapes, chopped hazelnuts, dried dill, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir until well incorporated.
  3. Add Vegenaise /poultry mixture to salad greens. Stir to incorporate, and add remaining ¼ cup Vegannaise slowly to thoroughly coat all greens. Serve immediately.*

*If you want to make this in advance, hold off on adding the Vegenaise mixture to the salad greens until just before serving to ensure that the greens remains crisp.  





I'm Really Sick of Bacon

I'm really sick of Bacon. 

Ok, not really. I love Bacon. 

Bacon has definitely had its turn in the spotlight, I’m pretty sure we can all agree on that. I’ve talked about this before, but Paleo has gotten a bad rep for being a “health fad” that emphasizes eating bacon and calling it healthy. Ok, I get it. There aren’t many stereotypical “diets” out there that say its ok to eat bacon, so of course that facet of this diet would get attention. However, a true Paleo diet emphasizes a ton of veggies with healthy, sustainable, grass-fed, organically raised animal proteins on the side. If you were to take your dinner plate, ¾ would be a vegetable variation, and the remaining quarter would be a plant based protein (ex: nuts, hemp, coconut) OR a type of meat. Lets contrast that with Standard American Diet “my plate” recommendations from the FDA. Let’s also correlate the body composition, vitality, and health between someone who follows a primal lifestyle and someone who follows the recommendation from our governmental departments. (p.s. lots of bills passed by our government, are financially backed by large agriculture companies. Let’s just ponder on that one for a while.)

Ok, sorry for the rant. I just get so annoyed when people come up to me and ask my why I think eating bacon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is healthy. I suppose the simpler way I could have addressed that, besides getting started on an FDA rant, was to just say that I eat bacon probably 2 times a month. If that. Even now, I’m getting so burned out about hearing about bacon that I’ve turned to other delicious pork options. Like pork belly. Or prosciutto. Mmmm prosciutto.

My best friend, Nikki, made these prosciutto wrapped asparagus recipe that was so great when she was visiting once. Nikki has been on-again off-again Paleo for a while, but like most people, decreases her Paleo efforts when she finds herself incredibly busy. (She’s a middle school teacher, God Bless her.) I immediately fell in love with her simple little asparagus prosciutto recipe, and it is most definitely blog worthy. Whether she knew it or not, Prosciutto is a little salty by nature, so I’m inclined to think that it lends itself well to tough vegetables like asparagus.

I love when Nikki visits

I love when Nikki visits



Spaceship selfies

Spaceship selfies

Prosciutto is also expensive, but an expense I think is worth it if you’re not consuming it daily. Imported prosciutto can sometimes be three times the amount of domestic prosciutto, because the curing and pasteurization process is different than American prosciutto. Also, importing anything raises the cost, for obvious reasons. (How do I know this prosciutto trivia? I had an intense prosciutto conversation with an Italian butcher about a year and a half ago. I think he thought I was a little weird.) If you haven’t tried imported prosciutto, I highly recommend doing a side-by-side comparison tasting of domestic and imported prosciutto, kind of like a pork flight. 


Asparagus Wrapped Prosciutto

Serves 2, generously


  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (be mindful that prosciutto is salty by nature)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • Crushed red pepper to taste, optional
  • 8 oz. prosciutto
  • 2/3 bundle of asparagus
  • Toothpicks
  • Parmesan cheese for garnishment, optional*
  1. Mix olive oil and garlic powder together.
  2. Rub oil mixture onto asparagus and coat thoroughly.
  3. On a baking sheet, create groups of 2-4 asparagus stalks.
  4. Tightly wrap prosciutto around each prosciutto group. Secure with a toothpick.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for minutes.
  6. Remove toothpick just before serving. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add cheese if desired. 

*Parmesan cheese is technically not Paleo. :) 



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.

  

I Wish it Was Called Asparagi

C is for cookie. 

Spring is for asparagus.

Ok, maybe not, but if I had to choose a star vegetable to represent spring, asparagus would be it. In my opinion, asparagus tastes extraordinarily better in spring, when it is in season. So much so, that I rarely eat it any other time of year. Personally, I prefer the skinner asparagus (I never understood why it wasn’t called asparaguses, or better yet….Asparagi. Asparagi.), because I think they’re less stringy and more tender. Another fun fact?  White asparagus is the same as the typical green asparagus, but exposed to less sunlight while growing, which causes the white appearance. (Thanks for the in-service, Whole Foods!) What about purple asparagus, you ask? I’m not sure. Purple asparagus looks like octopus tentacles to me. Weeiirrd. I’ll stick to green asparagi, thank you very much.

As many of you readers may (or may not) recall, my Dad sent me a care package of goodies from his garden in California, which included Meyer Lemons. I’ve been using them creatively (aka putting them in everything and seeing what tastes good. Check out these lemon bars here) This time, I used them in the asparagus, and served a rooftop dinner to my cousin while we enjoyed my city rooftop and the lovely views. My cousin is not Paleo, but he pretends to entertain the ideas of the Paleo lifestyle choice, and he’s always been more than complimentary of my cooking.

Of course, asparagus wasn’t the main dish for this rooftop meal (Stay tuned for a chimichurri marinated steak), but they were pretty good and made a great presentation. (Plus, I’m all for easy dishes when entertaining.)  Also fun for entertaining? Alcohol. (I know, not Paleo….at all. But sometimes you just have to live a little.) My friend who I went on the Dogfishhead Brewery trip with just started her own blog all about food and pairing. She’s insanely talented, and has fancy certifications in both the wine and the beer world. If you’re entertaining and want to create drink pairings that go along with your menu, check out her blog here

Oven-Roasted Lemon Asparagus

Serves 3


  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, plus lemon slices for garnish
  • ½ tsp. powdered garlic
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Dash of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Wash and trim the bottoms of the asparagus
  3. Place in baking dish, drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over asparagus.
  4. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and ground pepper over asparagus. Toss asparagus slightly to ensure that all stems are evenly covered with juice, oil, and spices.
  5. Place lemon slices on or around asparagus for decoration (This is optional.)
  6. Place in oven and bake for about 12 minutes. Watch carefully because asparagus can become overcooked easily. Asparagus is done when a fork can be inserted without much effort, but stalks are not soggy. (Skinnier asparagus= less baking time, thicker asparagus= longer baking time)