Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce

I don’t know what it is but I’ve had this wicked craving for barbecue for the last few weeks.  Which is totally weird because…at least I’m pretty sure…that’s summer food and we just got snowed on for the zillionth time the other day.  I had a 7am shift at the hospital, too…meaning I got to drive down St. Paul while it was still dark, negative degrees out, and before anything had been plowed or salted.  And, sorry Maryland drivers…but you’re not very good at driving even when it’s sunny and 75.  Not cool.

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So anyway, the thing about the sauce.  It’s totally a cop-out to waste a whole post on a sauce.  I’m fully aware.  But for realsies I love this sauce.  It also happens to be sugar-free, which is always a good thing, but is kinda important since we’re on the 21DSD at the moment.  Notice I didn’t add an optional tablespoon of honey or molasses though…and that’s because this stuff is crazy good without it.  On anything…and I mean anything, like steaks, eggs or even on veggies or as a dipping sauce for (Paleo) chicken nuggets.  Spoiler alert…I made a little something with this stuff I’m going to share tomorrow that Ross and I have been inhaling all day.  Lovely mental image, I’m sure, but I think you’ll be OK with it ;-)

Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 6 oz (1 can) tomato paste
  • ¼ c apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ c water
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t paprika
  • ½ t dried mustard
  • ½ c coconut aminos
  • 1 T prepared Dijon mustard
  • ¼ t cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic. Sautee until the onion is transluscent.
  3. Quickly but carefully, whisk in the tomato paste and the vinegar until smooth.
  4. Then whisk in the water and coconut aminos.
  5. Add the spices. Continue to stir to keep out any lumps.
  6. When the sauce comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium low.
  7. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Store in an airtight container or jar in the fridge.

 

No-Mayo Avocado Slaw (Paleo, Raw, Vegan)

I made some health-related New Years Resolutions this year.  Hey, even on a Paleo diet it’s easy to fall into a rut when you get a little too cozy with all the junk food that seems like a good idea just because it’s “Paleo.”  Live and learn.

The theme of the dietary stuff is to get more veggies.  It’s pretty simple, and if ANY diet can agree on anything it’s that we could always get more veggies.  So my biggest resolution is to include something green at every meal…I’m also committing to at least one meatless meal a week.  Too easy.

Ross and I are also doing a 21DSD this month.  Which means I’m going to be really cranky for the next week, then totally high on life.  I love Diane’s program…more than anything it’s a great wakeup call.  Unlike a generic Paleo challenge or even a Whole30, it hits you hard by cutting out anything that contains sugar…to include fruit sugar…and get your system back on track.  I feel like other challenges–while great and highly effective for folks new and/or skeptical of the whole Paleo thing–offer a little too much room for error since you’re allowed fruit and starch.  And I also like that the sugar detox is only 21 days…that extra week makes a difference ;-)

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So here’s a quick side I threw together.  I made an ass-ton, since I’ve had this weird craving for summery food even though it’s 7 degrees outside.  It’s great for any meal of the day, too…try it with eggs in the morning, on a salad for lunch, and just as-is for dinner and I’ve met my green veggie goal for the day.  Another bonus?  I didn’t have to make home-made mayo.  I love it SO much but it’s more work than I have energy for at the moment.  And that’s probably because I’m balls deep in my sugar detox hangover.  Yeesh.

4.0 from 1 reviews

No-Mayo Avocado Slaw (Paleo, Raw, Vegan)
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ c rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • ¼ c full fat coconut milk
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 4 c shredded cabbage
  • 2-3 c packaged broccoli slaw
Instructions
  1. Place the avocado flesh in a food processor with the garlic, mustard, salt and pepper.
  2. Pulse until mashed up.
  3. Add the vinegar and coconut milk a little at a time, pulsing until smooth.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage and broccoli slaw with the avocado mixture. Stir to coat.
  5. Serve immediately or store in the fridge. Makes 6-7 cups.

 

Top 10 of 2013!

Another year, another load of recipes.  Probably not as many as I would have liked…but then again I surprised myself with a few of them.  Like this?  No idea it would become a weeknight staple.  Or these cupcakes??  Holy crap.  I’m shocked I came out of my sugar coma like…at all.  Had some real downers, too.  Oh, boy…did I ever.  But of course I just didn’t even bother posting so let’s pretend like they never happened, shall we?  OK.  Good.

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10.  Sweet Potato Muffins.  I realized that the last time they made an appearance was when we lived in Texas.  Kinda warms my little heart when I realize people still go back to some of my oldest posts.

9.  Apple Pie Muffins.  Easily my favorite breakfast item of the year. (I was a little shocked these didn’t even make top 20, though!)

8.  Banana Pancakes.  Banana Pancakes are great.  I mean, that guy wrote a song about them and everything!

7.  Magic Bars.  Gah!  These were dangerous in their simplicity.

6.  (TGI)Paleo Bread 2.0.  Because everyone needs a sandwich now and then.  Am I right or am I right?

5.  Avocado Ranch Dressing.  Is it bad I can’t talk about this without thinking of Homer Simpson hooked up to the ranch dressing hose.

4.  Three Ingredient Hawaiian Pulled Pork.  The beauty is in the simplicity.  And in the fact that I can throw this together in 30 seconds before I leave the house at some ungodly hour.

3.  The BEST Paleo Vanilla Cupcakes.  Because of course they are.

2.  Avocado Brownies.  I used a LOT of avocados this year…

1.  My Absolute Favorite Protein Pancakes.  I love a little controversy.  (“Protein powder is Paleo!”  “No it’s not!”  Fight!  Boo!  Hiss!).  Either way, they were the most read post of the year.  For something posted in October?  Not too shabby!

Roasted Strawberry Jam

Yeah, I know.  I didn’t realize you could roast fruit, either.  Well, not until the foodie blogosphere started blowing up with roasted strawberries on, in, and around all kinds of stuff.  Crazy, but I like it.

Roasted Strawberries

I love making my own jam since it’s really the only way to get any kind of jam or jelly without all the additives.  Kinda sad, since all it is is mashed up fruit and you’d think it would be easier than having to find the ONE health food store in the state that carries something like that.  Don’t worry.  This is way easier.  The roasting of the strawberries gives it a lovely, almost smokey flavor, too.  So devilish.

If you want to sweeten it up a bit, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of honey.  This stores really well in the fridge–I don’t “formally” can mine so it only lasts two weeks or so.  You can absolutely can it, or do what I do and just keep it in an airtight container.

Strawberry Jam

Roasted Strawberry Jam
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb whole fresh strawberries, halved
  • 2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 t lemon zest
  • 2 t unflavored gelatin
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine strawberries with coconut oil and stir to coat.
  2. Spread the strawberries on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
  3. Roast the strawberries at 350 for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and transfer back to the mixing bowl.
  5. Mash up the strawberries to desired consistency (I like my jam on the chunkier side) and add the gelatin and lemon zest. Stir to combine.
  6. Pour jam into prepared jars or other containers. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight before serving.

 

Review: The Paleo Diet Bar

I think the search for the perfect Paleo protein bar is one a lot…a LOT…of folks have taken on but rarely get right.  Larabars are great, but they’re pure sugar.  AMRAP, Rx Bars, and even the more-Primal-than-Paleo Quest Bars are all nice to have around for emergencies but, at least in my case, I’m still looking.

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Or I was until I was given the chance to sample a couple of the new Paleo Diet Bars.  OK, so the name isn’t the most creative, but what hooked me was that they’re the first meal replacement/protein bars to be officially endorsed by Dr. Loren Cordain, one of the most instrumental figures in the Paleo movement.  Why so special?

“The company making them has gone to extensive lengths to ensure they are Paleo specific. They even did a potassium sodium breakdown to ensure hunter gatherer composition” (Jon DeLeon, Paleo Diet Foods)

While you guys know I’m really not all about turning Paleo into an exercise in historical re-enactment, I was pretty impressed with the macro- and micro-nutrient panel.  The bars boast an impressive 17 grams of protein (from nuts, hemp, and egg whites) and 9 essential amino acids while being completely soy, dairy, grain, and legume free.  The ingredients are all things I can pronounce, too…alway a good thing!

  • Almonds
  • Dates
  • Egg White Protein Powder
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Dried Cranberries (Cranberries, Apple Juice Concentrate)
  • Hemp Protein Powder
  • Strawberry Juice Concentrate
  • Coconut Oil
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Cinnamon
  • Sea Salt

There are two flavors available–cranberry almond (my favorite) and cinnamon raisin (also good).  The bars are hefty enough to be a complete meal replacement so as a snack half was plenty for me.  Overall: great flavor, filling, and portable.  I got to test them during finals, so they were just what I needed to grab and go in the morning but are also a terrific option for the holiday season and all of the flights, road trips, and customer service lines that come with it.

My verdict?  Give em a try, fo’ sho’.

Spicy Asian BBQ Meatballs

I saw this recipe for Thai Burgers the other day on MDA and haven’t stopped thinking about them all week.  No, really…I’m on break at last and the prospect of cooking and eating real food for 6 weeks has made me positively euphoric.

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And so the day comes…yesterday…after the first wave of holiday festivities are over and I’m ready to make a nice dinner at home for the two of us.  Oh, so I’m finally going to make these burgers.  Except.  I have…nothing.  Well, except ground beef.

With an Asian theme still on the brain and pretty much nothing but leftover veggies to work with I turned out a batch of meatballs instead.  Just…too good.  Maybe not as pretty as the burgers, but I’ll take it.

Spicy Asian BBQ Meatballs
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs ground beef or pork
  • 3 T fish sauce
  • 3 T chili paste
  • 2 T coconut aminos
  • ¼ c coconut milk
  • ½ t ground ginger
  • ¼ t garlic powder
  • ¼ c chopped green onion (or any onion for that matter)
  • ¼ c chopped mushrooms
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. With your hands, mix the ingredients until blended but DO NOT overmix or else the meatballs will be tough.
  3. Shape the mixture into meatballs (golf-ball size for me), and arrange in a greased baking dish.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.

 

No-Bake Goat Cheese Cheesecake Cups

You need to understand something…I have a sociopathic love for goat cheese.  And for cheesecake.  So 1 + 1 = delicious creamy richness beyond belief.

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Thank you, How Sweet Eats, for inspiring me once again.  Forgive my lack of cute little Mason jars.  I’m still working on that one.

No-Bake Goat Cheese Cheesecake Cups
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz chevre, softened to room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ⅔ c sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ c heavy whipping cream
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ t almond extract
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
Instructions
  1. To make the compote, place the raspberries in a microwave-safe dish and nuke for 1 minute, then mash them up with a big spoon or fork. Chill in the fridge till it’s needed.
  2. In a stand mixer or in a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and goat cheese together and slowly add the condensed milk until well combined and no lumps remain.
  3. Stir in the whipping cream, lemon zest, and almond extract.
  4. Again using an electric mixer, beat till well combined.
  5. Spoon the cheesecake into 4 cups, glasses, or ramekins and chill for about 3 hours, or until firm.
  6. Top with raspberry compote.

 

Easy Butternut Squash Risotto

Risotto is seriously intimidating to make.  I mean, c’mon…how many competitors on Chopped get destrominated because they try and fail…miserably…to make risotto.  But I love it enough that I took the plunge and gave it a shot.

So, listen, I’m here to tell you it isn’t that bad…this was such a nice winter meal that was definitely do-able…on a weeknight, no less.  Just takes a little extra TLC.  It’s one of those dished that requires your full attention whilst cooking–so I’d recommend you have everything ready to go before you start–veggies chopped, broth hot, wine glass filled…

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Oh, and for all the radicals out there, yes, I am fully aware that this recipe has dairy and–*gasp*!–rice.  Maybe those aren’t part of your Paleo, but they’re sure as hell part of mine.  I eat rice.  And cheese (sometimes).  Deal with it.

For everyone else…enjoy!  There is also a couple of substitutions to make if you want to keep this bad boy dairy free.

Easy Butternut Squash Risotto
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Cook time: 
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Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c arborio rice
  • 5 c chicken stock
  • ¼ c butter**, divided in half
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 c diced butternut squash
  • 1 t sage
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1 c shredded Parmesan cheese**
Instructions
  1. To make the squash easier to work with, place the cubes into the food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times to get them nice and fine.
  2. Heat the stock in a saucepan to a light simmer. Have a ladle handy.
  3. On a burner next to the saucepan of stock, heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add half the butter.
  4. Sautee the onion, squash, garlic, mushrooms, squash, sage, and thyme for about 5 or 6 minutes, or until the onions are transluscent.
  5. Add the other half of the butter and the rice.
  6. Stir the rice and the veggies to coat for a couple of minutes and add enough stock to just cover it.
  7. Continue to stir and as the rice absorbs the liquid, add another ladle-full of stock.
  8. Repeat this process for about 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  9. Stir in the Parmesan.
  10. Serve as a side or as the main event.

**To keep this recipe dairy free, simply omit the cheese and use coconut oil in place of butter.  Add a little coconut milk to create a creamy texture.

Ridiculously Easy Balsamic Grilled Pork Chops

My camera has been MIA for a few weeks…and then last night my phone decided to walk off, too.  Cue the iPad photos.

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So this one was kind of a last minute thing, as my cooking endeavors so often are these days.  We’ve got finals next week and to say I’m just strung out would be a major compliment.  My daily routine for the last 10 days has pretty much been “wake up drink coffee go to library drink coffee study all day drink coffee come home collapse into catatonic heap on the couch and fall asleep watching reruns of Parks and Rec.”  Winning.

This is a great dinner on those days you don’t really want to cook but maybe, just maybe, want to have something that resembles “real food.”  I’ve been eating waaaaaaaay too many baked potatoes…with pickles straight from the jar…and spoonfuls of almond butter…yeah.  Sometimes it’s nice just to eat off a plate, you know?

Ridiculously Easy Balsamic Grilled Pork Chops
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large, bone-in pork chops
  • ½ c balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped (or ½ t garlic powder)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Place pork chops in a dish.
  2. Pour vinegar on the chops and add oil and seasoning.
  3. flip a couple times to coat.
  4. Cover and marinate at least an hour (I left it in the fridge all day while I was at school).
  5. Heat a grill pan (or heavy skillet) over medium high heat with a little olive oil.
  6. Cook on each side for about 4-6 minutes, until juices run clear.
  7. Steam some veggies on the side. Consume with utensils. Fell all grown up.

 

An Oldie but Goodie…Because it’s December and I LoveLoveLove Eggnog…

**This is a re-post from last winter…I probably made a dozen batches of these as gifts and, well…for myself.  I made a few tweaks since it went up last year and it’s already making an appearance for this holiday season so I’m sharing again!**

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As I was a-stalking the interwebz last year I found this recipe.  Couldn’t not do it.  Just couldn’t.  I love eggnog.  I love chocolate.  I LOVE that it’s required on pain of death to keep my house full of baked goods during the whole month of December.

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So, um…eggnog isn’t Paleo!  Oh, wait…I HIGHLY recommend this Paleo eggnog recipe from Health-Bent.  (I like maple syrup instead of sugar for this one).  It’s totally bonkers, you guys.  Even if you’re too lazy to bake it into anything, just do it because eggnog is awesome.  I also found some great organic nog at Safeway that’s Primal-friendly (it’s got heavy cream in it), so all hope isn’t lost if you don’t feel like making your own, either.  If you’re like a certain husband of mine (*cough*) who doesn’t like eggnog for some godawful reason…just…just get out.  Now.

Eggnog Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c Coconut Flour
  • 5 Eggs
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • ½ c Cashew Butter (or coconut oil for nut free)
  • ½ t Salt
  • ½ t Baking Soda
  • ½ t Gluten Free Baking Powder
  • ⅓ c Maple Syrup
  • ¾ c Egg Nog
  • ¼ t Vanilla
  • ½ t Nutmeg
  • 1 c Chocolate Chips
  • **Vanilla Frosting**
  • 1 c Palm Shortening *or* coconut oil
  • 2 T Heavy Whipping Cream *or* Canned Coconut Milk
  • 1 t Vanilla
  • 2 T Maple Syrup
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. Beat the eggs, whites, egg nog, butter, vanilla, and maple syrup. By ½ cup-fulls, add the dry mixture and whisk until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill lined muffin tins ½ full with batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick.
  4. If you want to do a loaf instead, bake in a loaf pan, same temp, for 50-55 mins.
  5. For the frosting, beat all the ingredients till light and fluffy!