Banana Bread Muffins

I took a little hiatus from the Internet for the Lenten season, which is at least part of the reason my last post was forever ago…except school has me pretty much clawing at water so the break from not only social media but, well, everything online was amazing for my study habits.  Suddenly I realized where all that time went when I was all like, “OMG I have no TIME to study!”

I haven’t been cooking much, either.  It’s terrible.  90% of my food consumption since February has come out of a crockpot.  I could make some fancy posts about it all…but it was pretty much either beef or pork.  Like, whatever giant hunk of meat I saw first at the store.  Tossed it right in there and pressed the go button.  Boom.  Week of meals right there.

banana bread muffins paleo

BUT!  I finally got around to some baking for Easter brunch.  Yay, muffins!  Nothing crazy, but as always, a little experimentation with some oldies turned into something glorious.  I made my first batch last week and this one is definitely a winner.  It’s the first time I’ve used psyllium husk in baking but it really does give a much more gluten-y texture without giving me the bubble guts like a lot of gums out there.  If you don’t have it, it’s totally skip-able, but it really does add a little oomf.  Feel free to add nuts or chocolate chips or whatever, too…I guess I’m just boring.

Banana Bread Muffins
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Prep time: 
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Serves: 15
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c coconut flour
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ c cashew butter
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • ¼ c maple syrup or honey
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t vinegar
  • 1 T psyllium husk powder
Instructions
  1. Mash the bananas with the cashew butter and maple syrup (or honey) in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the dry ingredients, vanilla, and eggs to this mixture.
  3. Beat the batter with an electric mixer for 3 minutes on high, until fluffy.
  4. Add the vinegar and beat for about a minute more.
  5. Spoon into prepared muffin tins about ¾ high.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
  7. Makes 15 muffins

 

 

 

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
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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...)
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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 8x8 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
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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.

 

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…

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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.)

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
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Prep time: 
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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.

 

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
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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.