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

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

IMG_2826

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 ;-)

IMG_2829

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
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.

 

Detox Salad

As soon as I saw this recipe pop up in my Facebook feed, I hopped on the bandwagon.  I mean, who DOESN’T need something wholesome to eat in between Halloween candy binges?  (Oh, Reese’s Pumpkins…you are my nemises…)  Buuuuuut when I went shopping my TJ’s didn’t have any beets or sunflower seeds (seriously, WTF?), so I kinda just grabbed anything and everything I thought would taste good together.

detox salad

Here’s my own riff on this salad, and it’s pretty damn good.  Filling, so healthy it hurts, and a great way to change up my daily Big Ass Salad.  I’ve had this every single day for lunch this week with some chicken and it’s so much more fun than spinach and tomato.  Plus, you know, it’s got superfoods in it.  Kale and cabbage and apple cider vinegar, OH MY!

Detox Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
**This recipe can be scaled. I made a HUGE batch to last the week.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 4-6 cups shredded kale
  • ½ c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ½ c RAW almond butter
  • 2 T fresh grated ginger
  • ¼ c apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Toss the cabbage, carrots, kale, and cilantro in a big salad bowl. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the lemon juice, almond butter, ginger, and vinegar.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
  4. Serve immediately or store in the fridge.

 

Cheezey Spaghetti (Vegan!)

Oh yeah, you read right.  Ross and I had a VEGAN dinner last night.  It was also Paleo…which I tend to get excited about since there is so little that happens to be Vegan AND Paleo AND is substantial enough to make a meal.  Seriously, you can’t give me a salad with no meat and call it a meal.  You just can’t.  So, no, this isn’t a salad.

IMG_2551

I do have an strange interest in Vegan cooking despite my taste for flesh.  I honestly have a lot of respect for the Vegan movement–like Paleo, Veganism ultimately seeks to better the health of our population with good, clean food and do away with nasty ass farming practices and pumping our food sources full of hormones and antibiotics and stuff.  The more militant members of the movement get a little weird, sure, but so do the militant members of the Paleosphere.  A healthy diet shouldn’t be intimidating or make us feel like they’re bad people for not buying in.  I can be an asshole sometimes, I know, but I hate it when bloggers and spokespeople get condescending–like I’m not truly Paleo if I make Paleo desserts…or include dairy sometimes…or because I don’t follow so-and-so’s definition of Paleo to a tee.  Um, yeah.  Bite me.

What I do like about Veganism is the focus on the benefits of a plant-based diet.  Not all that soy-based crapola, but the emphasis on quality produce and sources of naturally occurring nutrients.  Lately, I’ve been working on making my own diet more plant-based…I think one thing we can all do to improve our health is to get more veggies.  Animal protein is an essential part of our diet, but a lot of folks, even those who have been Paleo for a long time, believe Paleo is all about eating massive quantities of meat and fat and very little of anything else.  I like my steak and bacon and all that as much as the next gal, but seriously.  Filling my plate with produce and supplementing with animal protein is much more effective.  And colorful.  You need veggies and other plant matter to get a number of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants and high-quality carbs that your body can access for quick fuel.  For me, thinking less 50/50 animals to plants and more 35/65, perhaps.

So this cheezey spaghetti.  I was blown away at how good it was–the sauce tastes like Velveeta.  It’ll undoubtedly make an appearance again soon.  Like, on a cheeseburger.  Or with bacon.  Oh, geez, this would make a hell of an eggs Benedict.  My quality of life just got soooo much better.

(Cheeze Sauce recipe from Oh She Glows)

Cheezey Spaghetti (Vegan!)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 c + 2 T raw cashews
  • ¾ c vegetable broth
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ c nutritional yeast
  • 1½ T Dijon mustard
  • ½ t onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bake the spaghetti squash at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Split in half and scoop out the flesh with a fork into a large bowl and discard the seeds.
  2. Place the cashews in a food processor and pulse until fine.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine.
  4. Scrape down the sides and continue to pulse until the sauce is gooey and smooth.
  5. Add the sauce to the spaghetti squash and toss to coat.
  6. Transfer to a baking dish and bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until heated through. This dish can be made ahead without baking and baked just before serving.

 

Avocado Ranch Dressing (Dairy Free)

Who said salad had to be boring?  Well…me.  Trust me, it took a LONG time to get used to eating so much salad after I went Paleo–a lot of the time it’s just the easiest option whether you’re packing your lunch or just trying to order something at a restaurant.  But its not the salad part that gives people fits, it’s the lack of good dressing.  Oil and vinegar gets real old, real quick.

IMG_2423

This dressing is good for more than salads, though.  I use it on sweet potato fries, on top of chicken and fish, and I made a killer casserole with it that I’ll be sharing soon.  There’s a reason we all love the original Ranch dressing, just not all the nasty chemicals, additives, seed oils, and dairy.  Clearly I’ll be keeping this stuff around!

4.3 from 6 reviews
Avocado Ranch Dressing
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Ripe Avocado
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 can Full-Fat Coconut Milk
  • 1 T Lemon Juice
  • ¼ t Salt
  • ¼ t Black Pepper
  • 2 T Fresh Dill
  • 2 T Fresh Chives
  • ¼ t Paprika
  • ¼ t Cayenne Pepper
Instructions
  1. Pulse the avocados in a food processor until broken up.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Pulse to combine, then puree till smooth.
  3. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.