Oatmeal Cookie Dough “Larabars”

Ok, this one may be a little cliche.  We’ve long since passed the point where people figured out how to make their own Larabars…got it.

oatmeal cookie larabars

But (according to my husband, at least) these are the best he’s had, homemade or no.  As a guy who, working construction, subsists on a diet of trail mix, larabars, and Justin’s nut butter packs…I think I’ll take that as a compliment.

make your own larabars

Oatmeal Cookie Dough “Larabars”
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c dates, firmly packed
  • ¾ c raw cashews
  • ⅓ c raw pecans
  • ¼ c raisins
  • 1 T coconut oil, melted
  • 3 T ground flax
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t apple pie spice
Instructions
  1. Give the raisins a rough chop, either by hand or with a few pulses of the food processor. Trust me. It gets the raisin-y flavor to the whole bar.
  2. Place the cashews and pecans in a food processor. Pulse until you have a meal the consistency of sand.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients except the raisins and pulse until it forms a smooth ball. Add a teaspoon or two of water if it doesn’t come together after a few minutes.
  4. Add the raisins and pulse a few times until they’re evenly distributed.
  5. Using your hands, press into a parchment lined dish or baking pan.
  6. Refrigerate for about an hour, then remove. Cut into bars and enjoy!

home made oatmeal cookie larabars

Sweet and Tangy Cocktail Meatballs

So I happened to find myself at a loss of dinner ideas, and for once Pinterest really wasn’t helping.  I texted my husband asking what he wanted for dinner, and he responded “Swedish meatballs.”

sweet and tangy cocktail meatballs from tgipaleo

I took a double take.  Did he mean the ones like at Ikea with all the brown gravy?  Or the ones my parents’ friends used to have in a crockpot at parties in the ’80s?  You know, the ones with the reddish brown sauce that was so freaking addictive?  The ones that aren’t actually Swedish meatballs at all but we call them that because we have absolutely no clue what they are?  Yeah.  he meant those.

sweet and tangy cocktail meatballs

I found a bunch of recipes for cocktail meatballs that fit the profile.  Thank goodness I’m not the only one who loves them so much…except they’ve all got gobs of sugar and apparently a lot of recipes use grape jelly.  I mean, sounds absolutely delightful but not really my cup of tea these days.  At least, not on a weeknight.  So I came up with these…and as usually I feel the need to apologize for my crappy photography skills.  I wish I could do them justice.  Hard to do when the dish is such a sloppy mess…which is part of the reason they’re so freaking good.  And totally worth the shame of your husband walking through the door and catching you spooning the sauce out of the pan into your mouth.  I know.  So classy.

Cocktail Meatballs
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 8 dates
  • 1 c hot water
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • ½ c rice vinegar
  • 2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
  • 1 T coconut aminos
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ½ t dried mustard
  • ½ t salt
Instructions
  1. Let the dates soak in the hot water for about 15 minutes or so. You can do this while you’re prepping everything else.
  2. Form the beef into meatballs.
  3. Heat the oil over medium high heat and cook the meatballs until they’re nicely browned on all sides.
  4. Whilst the meatballs are cooking away, combine the dates, hot water, tomato paste, coconut aminos, cinnamon, mustard, and salt in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.
  5. When the meatballs are done, remove to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the vinegar to the pan to de-glaze.
  7. Add the date/tomato sauce. Whisk to incorporate all the drippings and bring to a simmer.
  8. Add the meatballs back into the sauce and stir to coat.
  9. Cover and simmer together for 10-15 minutes.

 

Cheesy Chicken Skillet (minus cheese…)

So, remember my Cheezey Spaghetti?  Well, if Pinterest is to be trusted, the new big thing in dairy free “cheese”-making is butternut squash.  Its got that hint of sweetness but takes on a really nice savory quality without being overpowering, which made it the perfect substitute for the cashews in my original “cheeze” recipe.  Hell, it’s even got the perfect color, right?

paleo cheesy chicken skillet 2

Good lord…these pictures are gross.  That’s what I get for using a crap camera.  And for eating at 9 at night.

This recipe really reminds me of those casseroles of old my mom used to make with Velveeta…*sigh*.  Epic.  What we’ve ended up with here is a pretty rich plate of goodness that is probably one of the most nutrient dense meals you can put together in 30 minutes that isn’t, like, plain chicken and vegetables.  And, obviously, without velveeta.  Whole30?  21DSD?  GAPS?  Autoimmune?  Yep, gotcha.  Don’t like chicken?  My next little experiment is going to be with some ground beef…I’m thinking a kind of cheeseburger casserole kind of thing?  Enchiladas?  Vegan option?  I’m dying, you guys.  Possibilities.  Endless.

Cheesy Chicken Skillet (minus cheese…)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 thick slice bacon, cut into lardons
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 2 lbs chicken, cut into chunks
  • 3 c butternut squash puree (I used one medium squash, baked, cooled, and mashed but canned is fine too)
  • 1 c coconut milk
  • 1 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 T dry mustard
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 4 T apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a heavy skillet, fry up the bacon over medium high till browned.
  2. Add the garlic and leeks and sautee for about 2 minutes, then add the chicken, browning on all sides.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, mix together the remaining ingredients (this is the “cheese” sauce).
  4. Pour the “cheese” over chicken, stirring to coat. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

 

Fudgey “Peanut Butter” Brownies (Paleo and Vegan)

Soooo if you could just stop whatever it is you’re doing right this minute and get your oven ready for a little Valentine’s love, that’d be great.

paleo brownies

I had a snow day yesterday (and another one today, in fact) thanks to Snowmageddon.  Seriously, I grew up just an hour west of here and we have *never* had a winter like this.  I mean, sure, every couple of years we’d get a big snowstorm…but it was A snowstorm…not A BAZILLION snow storms.  We’d get single digit temperatures…but not single digit temperatures for days on end.  Whatever.  Anyway.  Snow day.

I had a few comments on my avocado brownies expressing some…concern…that they didn’t come out as good as they should have.  I’ve been blogging long enough to realize that this is just going to happen from time to time, and I do take a genuine interest in failed attempts at my recipes, or just things people don’t like about them that I can address with stuff I make down the road.  As far as the brownies are concerned, some folks didn’t like the texture (which many others claim to love, so not sure what to do there), thought they weren’t sweet enough (to which I say just add more honey or use pre-sweetened baking chocolate), or…and I guess this was just one but it stuck with me…that the taste of eggs came through a little too much.  So, that was a noodle scratcher.  Thankfully I had a whole day to waste…and it only took a couple of tries to get a brownie that is not only egg-free, but that is probably the most dense, fudgey, rich chocolaty thing I’ve ever made.  Score.

As far as substitutions go, I use sunflower seed butter when I want that “peanutty” flavor, but any kind of nut butter will do.  For a more neutral flavor, I love cashew butter…it’s great for a smooth, almost yellow cake-like taste.  For a nut and seed free option, coconut manna is great–I’ve used it in past brownie recipes and it provides a subtle coconut flavor that gives a little extra sweetness without any more sugar.  Also, if you don’t have/don’t want to use avocados, one ripe banana will do the job.

Fudgey “Peanut Butter” Brownies (Paleo and Vegan)
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c sunflower seed butter (or any nut butter, or coconut manna)
  • 1 large avocado (or sub one banana)
  • ½ c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 t vanilla
  • ½ c maple syrup
  • handful of chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Puree the avocado first in a food processor. Make sure ALL lumps are gone.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients except for chocolate chips to the food processor and pulse until smooth.
  4. Stir the chocolate chips into the batter–it will be thick.
  5. Spoon batter into a greased 8×8 baking dish.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Because of the chocolate chips, it may still be a little gooey in the middle.
  7. Cool completely before serving.

 

 

Pulled Pork Irish Nachos

Know what happened to me yesterday?  I was doing homework and reached into my bag to grab my Orgo notes and *almost completed* homework assignment when I realized it wasn’t there.  Panic ensued.  THEN I realized I *may* have left it in the student lounge in my physics building so I drove all the way to campus.  Doors locked.  Not to be thwarted, I walked the entire perimeter of the building until I found a delivery entrance that was open.  Then navigated through the basement maze till I found a stairwell that was open.  Then made it to the lounge where I saw my notebook and homework sitting untouched on the table…through the glass of the locked door.  Cue tantrum.  Echos of my displeasure rang down the empty halls.  No janitors to be found.  The lock was resistant to being picked by a hairpin.  Or pens.  Or my car keys.

pulled pork nachos

So…I had to print a new copy of the assignment (due first thing Monday…I was not going to chance the lounge still being locked at 7am).  I’d already done it once, how bad could it be?  Yup…genius I am that bitch took me 3 hours.  Cue tantrum #2.

So Super Bowl!  Actually, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to use the actual name of the event without infringing copyright or something.  It’s true.  No, really.  Ever wonder why all the TV commercials just call it “The Big Game?”  The NFL is protective like that.

This it fortunately or unfortnately one of those years where I have no legitimate preference for either team–Seattle and Denver both have awesome programs, great coaching, great cities, and hot quarterbacks.  I guess I’ll pick Denver, though, since I actually lived there for a year.  Fair?  Good.  Let’s go eat football food.

For this recipe you will need Pulled Pork and Sugar Free BBQ sauce.

Pulled Pork Irish Nachos
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1-2 lbs pulled pork (leftovers work well)
  • 1 recipe Sugar Free BBQ sauce
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1 t sage
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • chopped onion and tomato, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice up your sweet potato with a mandolin or by hand. Make your rounds as thick or thin as you want but the thicker they are, the longer they need to cook.
  3. Lay out your rounds on a greased cookie tray. Brush the tops with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with about half the thyme and sage and garlic and as much salt as you’d like.
  4. Bake for about 10-15 mins, until browned. Carefully flip, then brush the other side with a little more oil and spread the second half of the seasoning.
  5. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a plate and top with a mound of hot pulled pork and some BBQ sauce. Enjoy!

 

 

Zesty Sauteed Collard Greens w/ Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes

Collards are the new kale.  What can I say?

collard greens tgipaleo.com

For those of you who may be skeptical, I admit collards don’t have the best reputation.  I mean, generally they come out straight up *boiled*…goopy, bland, and just plain nasty.  These are not like that.  Sauteeing them with all this simple goodness not only lets the flavor permeate and keep the texture right where it should be, but actually keeps too many of the oh-so-lovely nutrients in these deep green leaves from leaching out and getting thrown away.  Whoever thought it was ok to boil leafy greens…ew.  Just ew.

Zesty Sauteed Collard Greens w/ Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 6 cups collard greens, chopped
  • ⅓ c sun dried tomatoes, dried or in oil
  • ⅓ c olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. If you are using dried sundried tomatoes, soak in hot water for 10 mins or so to plump them up.
  2. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of the oil over medium high heat in a large pot or heavy pan with a lid.
  3. Sautee the garlic until nicely browned and fragrant.
  4. Add the collards, stirring to coat in the oil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Allow the greens to simmer for 5 minutes or so, until wilted.
  5. Add the remaining oil, sundried tomatoes, vinegar, and seasoning. Toss to coat. Cover and simmer 5 minutes more. Serve.

 

Breakfast Cookies

Ah, mornings.  How quickly you lose your appeal once I have to start getting up for school again.

I really shouldn’t complain.  My husband is up around 4:45 every morning for work since his commute is hellacious (welcome to the mid-atlantic…), and it was he who inspired me to make these little guys.

paleo breakfast cookies |tgipaleo.com

You see, my darling husband is kind of a manorexic child.  And I’m kind of an overbearing, secretly 80 year old housewife.  He’s one of these people who just…won’t eat if he feels like it’s easier to stay in bed an extra 5 minutes than to eat something.  And it drive me bonkers…mostly because he’ll bitch for days about how tired he feels and wonder if he’s sick.  No, dear, you’re just starving to death.  I imagine mothers of teenagers feel the same.

If a cookie is too much work to grab first thing in the morning, then I suppose you’re beyond help…

Breakfast Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c coconut flour
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ c almond meal
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • ¼ c coconut
  • ½ c coconut oil
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • ¼ t salt
  • ¼ c raisins
  • ¼ c pepitas
Instructions
  1. Mix together the coconut flour, eggs, baking soda, bananas, coconut, almond meal, coconut oil, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  2. Stir in the raisins and pepitas.
  3. Form little balls of cookies dough and press down onto a prepared cookie sheet so you have flat rounds of your desired size.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 mins, until the cookies are slightly browned.

 

Pad Thai

My winter break was almost seven weeks long.  Seriously.  I have never…in my LIFE…had this much time off to do absolutely nothing.  Maybe it would be OK if I was like all of my classmates and took a trip somewhere?  Or if I was capable of sleeping 14 hours a day?  Except no.

The house is cleaner than it’s been or will be for decades.  I’ve put in a bazillion hours of MCAT prep.  I volunteered at the hospital.  The pups have gotten more walking in the last 6 weeks than they had all last year.  Ate a few too many of those chocolate covered acai berries (the ones from Costco…dangerous).  Too much…*way* too much…has been spent at Target.  I don’t know what else to do, you guys.

Class starts next week and it’s the home stretch…4 more months of pre-med and then…well, I’ll let you know.  Maybe.  Lots of *life plans* in the works and I’m honestly not necessarily sure how it’s going to pan out.  Not gonna jinx it.  Nope nope.  I can tell you, though, that we will be…moving…again.  Since I left college I have moved through 3 different states, 1 year-long deployment to Iraq, 5 different homes.  Six if you count my CHU in Iraq but I really don’t think that counts.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone unless you have some weird desire to live in a big tin box and sleep on a plastic mattress that smells like mothballs.  Blech.

Paleo Pad Thai

Enough of that…how about I make you dinner?  Following my weird BBQ fetish, I’ve been doing a lot of Asian cooking lately.  And by that I mean I’ve been putting fish sauce and coconut aminos in *everything.*  I recommend it.

This dish can be made meatless or with chicken, shrimp, beef, pork…or all of the above.  We like options, don’t we?

Pad Thai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • ⅓ c apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ c coconut aminos or tamari
  • 1½ T hot chili paste
  • ¼ c fish sauce (omit if you want this to be vegan)
  • 3 T palm sugar
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1 c snow peas
  • 3 green onions (scallions), sliced
  • ½ c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Slivered almonds and lime wedges to garnish
Instructions
  1. Put the spaghetti squash in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 mins. When finished, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Using a fork, remove the squash strands into a bowl and set aside.
  3. While the squash is cooking, whisk together the vinegar, coconut aminos, chili paste, fish sauce, and palm sugar in a small dish. Set aside.
  4. In a high rimmed pan or pot, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat.
  5. Add the garlic, sauteing until lightly browned, then add the onions.
  6. When the onions are translucent, reduce the heat to medium and add the spaghetti squash and snow peas. Toss to coat in the oil and garlic.
  7. Add the sauce, stirring to coat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. When you are ready to serve, add the scallions and cilantro, mixing well.
  9. Serve garnished with slivered almonds and lime wedges.

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

…without peanut butter.  Obviously.  Fair warning: I think these are great when made with sunflower seed butter, but they’ll be green.  No joke.  Chemistry wins again.  So I just used chunky almond butter.

IMG_2847

I used my Roasted Strawberry Jam in these but any Paleo-friendly (or not…I won’t tell) jelly or jam is fine!

5.0 from 3 reviews

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c coconut flour
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ c applesauce
  • ½ c almond butter (or any nut butter…or coconut butter for nut free)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • About ½ c or so of jelly or jam
Instructions
  1. Combine all your dry ingredients.
  2. Beat the eggs with the cashew butter and vanilla. Stir in the applesauce.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine.
  4. Spoon into your lined cupcake tins to about ½ full.
  5. use a spoon to make a little well in the batter and place a teaspoon or two of jelly inside. Top with a little more batter, ensuring that no jelly peeks out.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top.
  7. Makes 1 dozen muffins.

 

BBQ Pulled Chicken Platter

Did you notice a trend in the last few days?  My January barbecue obsession comes to a close with a plate full of July picnic fare…

IMG_2846

Sugar-free BBQ Sauce

Butternut Baked “Beans” <—-Seriously, cannot stop eating this stuff.

No-Mayo Avocado Slaw

And finally, a super quick and easy formula for some meaty goodness to top it all off.  You could even do the whole BBQ Sundae in a jar.  You know, with the pickle spear on top?  Too cute.

IMG_2832

I just used leftover cooked chicken breasts to throw this together, but you can also toss some cutlets (or a whole bird) in the slow cooker for the day and it’ll be ready to go!

BBQ Pulled Chicken

2 lbs cooked chicken (leftovers work really well!)

1/2 recipe Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce

**Shred the cooked chicken.  Pour on the sauce and mix away.  Serve.

(Too easy.  I love it.)