Sunday, September 29, 2013

It's Chili Time

As much as my family cooked growing up you would think that I would have been some awesome cook when I moved out....NOT! When I left for college I knew how to bake, as that was my job growing up. Past that I made spaghetti from the box and mac n' cheese. When Kevin and I got married I started to cook a little but it was mostly Rice-A-Roni to go with chicken that he cooked. Clearly times have changed.

Some where along the way I started making chili. For 15 plus years I've winged it. I knew what ingredients to pick up and what fresh ingredients went with it. I never had an actual recipe for it. That is until last fall when a friend asked for it. I figured it was time to write it down. 

  • 2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 lbs ground meat, browned
  • 5 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 28oz. cans TJ Marinara Sauce 
  • 2 green bell pepper, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Amanda's Chili Seasoning doubled if you like a stronger chili flavor, like me :)

1. Dice up tomatoes, onion and green peppers. Add to large pot with marinara sauce and heat through. 
2. In a separate skillet brown your meat then add a single or double batch of Amanda's Chili Seasoning. Mix seasoning thoroughly into meat.  
3.   When meat is done add to the pot and continue to heat through on low for about 20-30 minutes. Add salt and pepper as needed to taste. Turn chili off and let sit covered on stove for a few hours or serve right away. We love it best after it sits over night. 

I enjoy serving my chili with a dab of paleo mayo on top and some crunchy fresh cabbage. It is a great substitute for sour cream. Plantain chips are also a favorite for the kids to add in place of cabbage.

This chili also freezers perfectly so you can save it away for another chili day. 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Prep Day Game Plan

For those of you that have sat with me through a prep class you know this is what my weekly menu looks like, except this is neater. I use the back of Charlie's school work sheets and sort it into three sections and write breakfast, lunch, and dinner across the top. 

I've typed in this weeks menu for you so you can see the thought process that goes into meal prep. Please remember in advance that i'm almost 1 1/2 years into this. You need to find what works for ou. I've found that by making a full menu for the week, to include each meal, it enables us to be prepared and not buy too much at the store.

Please also keep in mind that for those of you on Whole30 not all the above meals will / could apply to you. I have 2 boys in the house that eat paleo but not Whole30 (I think they'd move out on me! lol). Most of the breakfast options are for them. Kevin usually has eggs, meat and veggies. I'll eat whatever I find in the fridge. If nothing else then I eat eggs, meat and veggies also. The majority of the lunches this week are the boys as well. The leftovers usually apply to Kevin and I, which you'll see the 'leftover lunch' menu. Dinners apply to everyone.

You'll notice a block in the lower right labeled 'Next Week' and this is literally for next week. Often times as I'm asking for everyones wish list for eating, or I'm browsing through cookbooks / Pinterest I find items that we haven't had in a while or just want again. Those I list on the menu so I don't forget about them next week. 

On the lower left you'll see 'Extra Prep Items'. These are just that, other things that need to be made also , for one reason or another. This week we are having chicken salad and coleslaw and both require paleo mayo, so that's on the list. The boys are also having muffins to go in lunches or after school snack. There are several season mixes that are needed also for different meals as well. I usually keep taco seasoning made but we are running low. I'm slowly adding to my premixed seasonings as our cookbook grows. The newest one is sausage seasoning. We are now purchasing just ground pork and making sausage from scratch. The taste is much better and I control what goes in it. 

The notes in red tell me what can be done in advance for each meal. Today was my prep day and I completed the meatballs, shredding cabbage, making taco meat, made fauxtato salad (not on the list but was a whim at the store), shredded rutabaga, made chili, pre-made the spice mixes, made mayo. We have meals ready now for Sunday through Wednesday of this week. Depending on how it goes (how hungry everyone is) we will make the pulled pork on Wednesday or Thursday. Overall a good day and a good start to the day. 

Tomorrow, since there is a group coming over from the gym for a prep class I held off on making chicken salad until then as it's on their list also. Kevin will grill up all our chicken at the same time. It's all about efficiency. Cook ONCE and eat multiple times :)

Please keep in mind that prep does not mean you have to set aside an entire afternoon to cook until the fridge is full. Although this is my favorite plan of attack it doesn't always work. There are weekends that prep just doesn't happen. However I still create a menu and a plan. It will require is to do a little prep each night in order to prepare for the following day. So perhaps after we come home from the gym and eat (because our meal was ready) then we clean up the dishes and spend 30 minute on a meal for the next day. It can be as little as putting some meat in the oven to cook while we shower. 

Take a look at your schedule and see what will work for you. It may take a bit to get into a routine that works for you. 

I hope this gives you some idea on how to attack your week!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Egg Free Breakfast and Post WOD Snacks

I was asked recently for some egg free breakfast options. Below are ones that we've made and enjoy. There are a few at the end that I've not made but will be doing so soon.

One of the things I came to terms with early on in paleo is that breakfast is no longer breakfast like we are raised to think about it. Breakfast is the first meal of the day, the first opportunity to fuel your day properly. It doesn't have to be traditional breakfast foods. One of my all time favorite breakfasts is taco salad. Getting past the notions of what breakfast should be vs what it can be makes paleo much easier. It's not always for everyone but give it a try. Pull out some of yesterdays left overs and re heat them, you might be surprised.

Rethink your breakfast ideas.

Breakfast Bacon Maple Meatballs (Post WOD)
This is by PaleOmg. I omit the maple syrup for Whole30 as well as the bacon unless you have a sugar free paleo bacon. They are wonderful for post WOD, snacks, and meals. Make these during prep and you'll have a few days of snacks / meals. These go great with some sautéed spinach for breakfast or a green smoothie (spinach, banana, frozen berries and coconut milk all blended).

Brussel Sprouts & Sausage
For Whole30 leave the bacon out if it has sugar. Also be careful of the sausage that you use if you are doing Whole30. This is a great breakfast as well as for any other meal. It reheats nicely so can be prepped ahead of time.

Rutabaga Bacon Breakfast Hash (Post WOD)
Again for Whole30 remove the bacon. If you don't like eggs or can't tolerate then remove those as well. What you have left still works very good together for a breakfast. You can substitute the bacon grease for ghee.

Apple Butternut Squash Hash
I'm sounded redundant but remove the bacon like above. If you like eggs then you can add to this one.

Sausage and Egg Sandwich (Post WOD)
For this filling sandwich remove the egg and just have the patties and sausage. The patties also work on their own for breakfast. However the patties are made with eggs, so if you can't tolerate then this one won't work for you.

Winter Breakfast Bowl
I've not made this one like all of the others. However after reviewing the ingredients there shouldn't be any reason why this why this one doesn't taste great. I'll be adding this to our 'to make' list.

Bananas and Cream Paleo Oatmeal
This is another one I've not made but will be soon. We've made another banana oatmeal that was wonderful. Again all the ingredients are good so it should be yummy!

Create your own breakfast skillet
This link gives you some great ideas on different things to put together in your own egg free skillet. Pick and choose to create your own.

More Post WOD options:

Sweet Potato Latkes
You can pre make these and add meatballs or another meat of your choice.

Sweet Potato Hash
This is one of the first paleo meals we made and is still a favorite. Make a batch of this and your are good for the week!

Jicama & Meatballs

Baked parsnip cubes and meat of your choice

One last thing to wrap up this post. I found this listing of starchy paleo carbs to help you out when selecting what to make for your post WOD snacks. You'll want a starchy card and protein. The options are endless!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Warm Breakfast

Back in the olden days (a year and a half ago) my kids loved their oatmeal, especially on cold days. Since oats were gone from our diet they've made do with Paleo cereals, which they love. However that warm creamy oatmeal for really cold days has been missing, until this!

This past winter while I was searching for new meals I came across this great recipe from Paleo Spirit. I was delighted to see that one of the ingredients was Flax Meal. I first stocked this item for this recipe and we've used several times since then. I like adding new ingredients to the pantry. We've gotten to the point with our pantry that even the odd ingredients are stocked in there. I like when I look at a new recipe and have all the seasonings or dry ingredients (saves on the grocery bill). 

This took maybe 10 minutes to put together!

Paleo Breakfast Porridge
by Paleo Spirit
You can find the recipe here.

                2 ripe bananas (or one large, very ripe, plantain), mashed
                2 cups coconut milk (or 1 can plus extra water)
                3/4 cup almond meal
                1/4 cup flax meal
                1 teaspoon cinnamon
                1/2 teaspoon ginger
                1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
                1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
                1/8 teaspoon celtic sea salt
                maple syrup or raw honey (optional)
                toppings like berries, unsweetened coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, etc… (optional)

I put all the ingredients into a pot and heated over a medium fire. I did leave out the maple syrup / raw honey and it tasted very good. With the dish heated through I served to the boys plain. I put a few almond slices on mine and it was very good. I’m going to re make this again this next week and remember to pick up some blueberries to top it with.

So the next cold morning you are craving something warm give this recipe a try!


Sunday, September 15, 2013


Every week when I’m asking the family for their input on the menu we generally end up with some type of burger on the menu. They are fun, easy and can be personalized once they hit your plate. I would say burgers have smile factor in our house! What prompted a burger post though you ask? I noticed last week that we had THREE burgers / patties on our menu on accident. We had Kevin’s Burgers, Salisbury Steak and Sweet Potato and Kale Chicken Patties. Again not intended to have 3 in a week, but wow was it a great week with smiles all around.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Kevin’s Burgers

I swear one of the reasons I married this man is he can cook. He makes recipes up on the fly and they always turn out great. The only downside is he doesn’t write it down and generally can’t repeat the same one twice. I had to nail him down on the burgers and insist on a measurement.

This is for a family of 4. We either make 4 or 8 burgers depending on when we are eating them. If it’s on a work out night we make 1/2 pounders.

1 lb ground meat
1 lb ground turkey
1 tablespoon heaping of Montreal Steak Seasoning

All of the burger dinner variations here are mine because again I’m the most adventurous with food in the house.  Charlie only eats his with ketchup, Dawson eats his plain, and Kevin generally eats his with mustard. I’m open to what ever I feel like putting on it. My favorite way lately is to lay it on a bed of lettuce and dress it like a regular burger with tomatoes, onions, pickles, olives, mayo and lots of mustard and maybe even some Louisiana Hot Sauce.

The great thing about burgers is you can order them at a restaurant with no bun or cheese along with a side salad and have a great Paleo meal! Keep that in mind!

This awesome burger was from Ted Montana’s Grill and it’s called The Kitchen Sink. It starts with a burger on the bottom under all that then is topped with mushrooms, onions, ham, bacon, and an egg. I threw all that on top of the lettuce, tomato and red onion. I made a little salad and it was wonderfuly delicious. Don’t ever tell me you can’t eat out because you eat Paleo, I’ll prove you wrong! Oh and the asparagus was beyond yummy too.

Sweet Potato and Kale Chicken Patties recipe here

For these I used ground turkey because I had no desire to put raw chicken in the food processor. Call me crazy but that doesn’t sound like fun.  I also have to admit I was a little nervous about the smells that came while I was cooking all the veggies going into this, mainly the kale. I hear about all the benefits of this funny looking veggie, but have yet to love it. When I threw it in the food processor it smelled like fresh cut grass, which is one of my favorite smells (that’s another story altogether).  When I then added it into the pan and it continued to smell like grass I was worried, but pressed on with great hopes that it all worked out.

I made these the night before after dishes were done (prep work!). Please note that these have to sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Ours sat overnight so when we arrived home from the gym late the next night it took 20 minutes to get dinner on the table. I love that! We had these with a green salad. I very quickly got over the whole grass smell, as it was gone after cooking, and what was left was an amazing tasting patty! So what was lesson learned on this one? Don’t go by smell alone.

This night everyone picked their own veggie and I selected artichoke hearts with mine.

Everyday Paleo’s burger selection is here

There are two favorite burgers that we’ve had from her newest cookbook, Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook, which are the Curry Burger on page 146 and the Ground Pork and Apple Sliders on page 116.

The Curry Burgers I wasn’t expecting to like because of the curry, however they are a wonderful new flavor! Here I have it paired with cauliflower rice. The best recipe for cauliflower rice that we’ve found is in the Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook on page 176. (This weeks tip….go get the book, it rocks!!!!)

The Ground Pork and Apple Sliders are a great new twist on burgers with the sweetness of apples baked in them. The recipe calls for cooking the stovetop but we’ve found baking them to be easier.

Everyday Paleo Salisbury Steak is here

I remember eating Swanson Salisbury Steak when I was little and thinking it was the best thing since sliced bread! Considering I won’t touch bread now or Swanson Salisbury Steak I’ve come a long way baby! However I so badly wanted that meal so I went in search of a proper recipe that fits our diet / lifestyle.

This was a great quick meal that delighted everyone. I did alter the recipe a little bit by cutting the amount of mushrooms in half, as Kevin isn’t a fan. Additionally I did add arrowroot to thicken the sauce. It may have thickened on it’s own in time but everyone was hungry and I was impatient and hungry. We paired this with a great salad for dinner. This is being added to our favorites / quick / easy categories.

At the end of the day if you asked me if I’d prefer any one of these burgers or a burger on a bun it’s not even an option. (oh and I was a HUGE burger on a bun freek in a previous life) Hands down any day of the week I’d pick my Kevin’s Burger Salad and wouldn’t touch a buned (is that a word?) burger with a 10 foot pole, no kidding.

So revisit the burger category and have fun!


Friday, September 6, 2013

A Challenge and some food play...

So earlier last week on Facebook I put out an open invitation for some food challenges. What were people looking for in Paleo? What dish did they want to paleo-ize? The following was one of those meals.

Stir-fry is something Kevin and I have made since our college days. I remember when we purchased our first walk and I believe we made stir-fry weekly if not multiples times each week. In more recent years it's become a family favorite. Rice was also something we enjoyed, pre paleo. If you think about it, minus the rice, stir-fry is a no brainer for paleo as its meat and veggies. Where the challenge comes in is a good 'rice' and a great sauce that is gluten free and soy free. We've always winged this but we wrote it down this time. I think this is our favorite one so far mix.

Kevin's Stir-Fry

2 large carrots, sliced up
1 green pepper, sliced up
1 red pepper, sliced up
1 head broccoli, cut into small pieces
3 green onions, diced
1 1/2 lbs chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 head cauliflower, riced in food processor

1/2 cup coconut aminos or gluten free soy sauce
3 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1 tablespon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon ginger
3/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon arrowroot 

In your skillet cook the chicken until done. Next add your cut up vegetables and add to skillet with your meat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add your sauce and mix in for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. 

For your cauliflower rice add to another pan and sauté for about 5-6 minutes. Once softened I added 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and mixed through. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed. You can certainly just serve the sauté cauliflower plain and thats fine. I don't care for it plain. 

The stir-fry was served over the flavored rice. It married so well together! The sauce you can certainly cut back on if you don't want that much. We like having sauce to soak into our cauli rice. 

Ok so on to meal two that I'm dying to share. We got some prep done this week, but not as much as I'd like. This happens some times and we deal with it by prepping at night while one of us does dishes after we come home from the gym and the kids are settled in. Tonight I got out of work late, Dawson had boy scouts and I had a date scheduled with Charlie. Busy night, but fun. Of course NOTHING was prepped. Italian meatballs were on the menu still and are easy to put together. The veggies left in the fridge at the end of the week were rutabaga, broccoli and spinach and a jar of garden tomatoes left over from last weekends canning. 

I threw the meatballs together:

1 lb ground turkey
1 lb ground meat
1 egg
2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried oregano, slightly heaping
2 tsp tried parsley, slightly heaping
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, slightly heaping

Mix all ingredients and make approx 1 1/2" size meatballs and place on a cookie sheet. I use parchment paper on my cookie sheet to avoid the huge mess afterwards. Put meatballs in 350 degree oven and bake for about 30 minutes until done. 

While the meatballs were cooking I pealed then grated up the rutabaga in the food processor (large grate). Knowing I've used it as a potato substitute before I was hoping to just make it a flavored side dish. In a skillet I added about 2 tablespoons of grass fed Kerry Gold butter (my bacon grease jar is empty!), 1 tablespoon of minced garlic and 1/2 a red onion diced. Once the garlic and onions were sautéd for about 5 minutes I added the rutabaga. I cooked this down until softened for about 5-10 minutes. Once softened I added about 2 tsp of salt and 3 tsp of pepper and mixed in. 

For the sauce you can use your choice of tomato sauce. I food processed 2 left over tomatoes and added to a sauce pan with about 1 1/2 cups of left over organic tomato sauce, 3 tablespoons of organic tomato paste and 1 table spoon of italian seasoning. This was heated to a boil, then shut off for serving. 

For the heck of it since the rutabaga came out good I tested with some sauce on top and to my surprise it was awesome. So my happy accident produced from the weeks left overs came out as one of the best spaghetti and meatball recipes we've made. In the past we've used the traditional spaghetti squash and zucchini, but by far this one is my favorite noodle. It has a firmness that the other don't have. The family loved it. 

At the end of the week as the fridge becomes empty, meals can sometimes be challenging if you've cooked everything on your menu. However I find that's when some of the best 'fridge fusion' (tm @ paleotabs) happens. Whats left at the end of the week really should work together somehow because it's meat, fruit and veggies. You just have to have an open mind and be creative. 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Paleo Football Menu

Apparently football season has started, or so I hear. Seriously I do know football is a fall sport. I also know that the Super Bowl is in January / February. I enjoy watching the commercials with my family  and cooking lots of fun foods to snack on all day. 

I was recently challenged to create a paleo football menu. So I've pulled together a host of wonderful recipes that my family enjoys and that will foot the bill for a football gathering. 

Bacon-Wrapped Chorizo Stuffed Dates 
(I've not made this one but will this week. It's food wrapped in bacon so really what could go wrong?!)

Lettuce Boat Tacos
I use homemade Taco Seasoning by Whole New Mom. Use some nice romaine lettuce for the boats and fill with taco meat, guacamole, diced onions, diced tomatoes and what ever other toppings you like on your tacos. 

Plantain Chips and Guacamole
You can certainly make your plantain chips, however I purchase mine from Trader Joe's and they are wonderful and clean. Make some fresh guac and you are ready to go. 

These are hot dog bits wrapped in a paleo dough. For the hotdog I use Applegate Farms nitrate free. It's a wonderful tasting clean hotdog. These a winner with everyone. 

Date Balls
If you've ever invited me to a meal I generally bring these and they are a hit every time. These are from Everyday Paleo cook book (the first one). 

Italian Meatballs in Sauce - 

  • 1.5 lbs ground meat (I use 1/2 ground turkey and 1/2 ground meat)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbl of Italian Seasoning

  • Mix the above ingredients, roll into approximately 1" balls and bake for about 25 min at 350 degrees. Add the cooked meatballs to your favorite marinara sauce or use TJ's brand which is clean and comes in a big green can. Heat everything and serve or leave on low in a crock pot.  (If' I'm using 2 lbs of meat I will round out the tblspoons to heaping so the flavor carries)

Pulled Pork with Coleslaw
The pulled pork is by Everyday Paleo and is outstanding! A 4-5 lb pork butt goes a long way. This pairs perfectly (like in the same fork bite) with my plain jane coleslaw. For the coleslaw shred or dice up the amount you want to use then add paleo mayo, salt and pepper. To make the best mayo I follow The Clothes Make the Girl and this recipe. Double this recipe for your game day feast because you'll use it for veggies. 

Veggies with Hot Paleo Mayo dip
Make your own veggie tray. Think OUTSIDE the normal veggies to make it fun. For the dip use paleo mayo at the link above and add hot sauce to taste. I use Louisiana and add quite a bit until it's a nice pink. We like some spice. It's the best veggie dip. 

Fresh Fruit - No brainer here. You need some sweets and these fit the bill. Don't BUY a fruit plate, make your own. 

There are no words for how awesome these are for breakfast or any meal!

Last but not least another no brainer. Of course leave out the beans for the paleo version. I've made chili for years and I've always winged it. However I was asked last year to write it down. So here's my chili. 

- 2 medium onions, chopped

- 2lbs ground meat, browned
- 5 tomatoes
- 2 cans TJ Mainara Sauce
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped
- Amanda's Chili Seasoning

Dice up tomatoes, onion and green peppers and add all to a large pot with marinara sauce and heat. 

In a separate skilled brown the meat. With the meat browned add the chili seasoning mix and cook into meat. When the meat is done add it to the pot and continue to heat through for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper as needed to taste. Turn off the chili and let sit covered on the stove for a few hours, or serve right away. Tastes best if it sits for a while. Leftovers are awesome! I serve my chili with diced cabbage and paleo mayo. Yes mayo, it acts as sour cream and is yummy!

I could go on with more football day recipes but this is certainly a good start. So many of these items can be prepped the day before and simply reheated on game day.