Keto Trail Mix

Summer Days are fully upon is in the Pacific Northwest. My days are filled with endless trips to swimming lessons, spray parks, karate class, parks with large climbing structures, and picnics outside. The kids are super easy to pack snacks for. They love strong cheese, sliced apples, bananas, nuts, dried fruit, goldfish crackers, bottles and bottles of water, and literally any fruit they can get their sunscreen-covered hands on. It's trickier for me, as I personally don't want to eat three bananas and cheese crackers for lunch. 

I started making this easy trail mix to carry along with our summer activities. It's literally cubed up aged white Tillamook Cheddar, sliced Pepperoni and Bacon Sticks from Hemplers, and very crispy, crunchy Fletcher's Bacon. It's hardly a recipe, but it's amazing, and very worth making! It made for great snacking throughout the past week. It's easy to carry in my purse and the kids love eating it too! 

Ingredients: 

Slice the pepperoni / bacon sticks into half inch cubes. Add them to a bowl. 

Add the cheese cubes to the bowl and gently mix. 

Stir the crispy bacon in and enjoy! 

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Chipotle Meatballs

Ingredients: 

  • 6 slices of Hempler's Bacon
  • 1 pound of ground beef 
  • 1 pound of ground pork 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/3 c almond meal 
  • 1 tbsp oregano 
  • 3 chopped chipotles in adobo 
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 onion, medium dice 
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes 
  • 1/2 cup beef stock 

Slice the bacon in 1/4 inch slices. Chop it up a few times again to make sure there are no large pieces.

Add the chopped bacon, both pounds of meat, salt, and the eggs to a bowl.

Mix well, but be careful not to over-mix as you will make the meatballs tough. 

Add the almond meal, oregano and chipotle. Lightly mix again. 

Heat a pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Test a small piece of the meat mixture by taking it and frying it. Taste it and season accordingly. I added a little more salt to my batch. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop the mixture into your palm (it helps to get them wet, so the meat won't stick) and roll them into balls. Once the oil is hot, put each meatball in the pan.

Sear the meatballs until the move easily when you nudge them. Turn them occasionally to ensure they are seared on multiple sides. When they are seared, pull them from the pan and place them on a plate on the side. Add more oil to the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until they are golden brown. Be sure not to let the garlic burn as it will impart a bitter flavor to the dish. 

Add the meatballs, along with the tomatoes and stock to the pan. Put the pan into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Cut one in half to make sure they are fully cooked. Enjoy! These are delicious with rice, in a tortilla, or even with spaghetti or spaghetti squash. 

Harissa Ham with Chipotle Bourbon Glaze

So everyone- Easter is this weekend! I guess that's mandatory ham day for some, and since I had a ham in my fridge with no plan for it, I figured I'd cook it up! I didn't think I liked ham. I've never made a glazed ham before... In fact, I honestly don't recall ever cooking a ham at all. I thought for Easter, I might try one out and see if I could make a less traditional, less sweet one that I liked. This was a winner! This ham is smoky, spicy, slightly sweet and packed with flavor. Success! I grilled a pineapple to offset some of the heat from the Harissa and Chipotle pepper. The natural sweetness was healthier and tastier to me than the reduced can of juice I've seen in the past. Grilled pineapple is delicious regardless of why it's here, and this was a great combo! 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 ready-to-eat cooked boneless half Hempler's ham 
  • 1/4 cup Harissa 
  • 1 pineapple 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 

Glaze:

  • 1 chipotle in adobo, chopped small
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar 
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 1/4 cup bourbon 
  • 1/2 cup 100% apple juice (no sugar added)

Hempler's Hams are great! This one was the perfect size to feed my family (even though the kids only ate the very inside where no glaze could touch). The boneless half hams are about 2.5 pounds each. This is a great size for everyday use if you're not feeding an Easter brunch crowd of 12. After this successful baked ham, I think I'll be making more! 

Take your Hempler's Ham out of the fridge half an hour before you need to cook it in order to bring it to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 325 and set the rack in the lower middle. Put the ham in a roasting pan. 

Rub the ham with the Harissa. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for one hour. 

While the ham is baking, peel and core the pineapple. Cut it into 8-10 wedges and coat it in the olive oil. 

Grill the pineapple for 6-8 minutes a side on a hot grill. 

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Add the chipotle, sugar, maple syrup, bourbon and juice in a saucepan. 

Bring the glaze to a boil, then reduce to medium low and cook for 4 minutes or until reduced by half and syrupy-sticky. 

After the ham comes out, increase the oven temperature to 400. Put some of the pineapple wedges around the ham, then pour the glaze over the ham, letting it drip onto the pineapple. Return the pan to the oven and bake uncovered for 20 minutes. 

Slice the ham and serve at once! If there's any leftover meat, it makes an amazing sandwich! 

Pea Salad with Bacon and Charred Onion

Spring is right around the corner, and then summer, and thats means BBQ's and picnics galore! Just thinking about it makes me want to go buy a new grill. (We caught ours on fire at a large party last year and now the six burners heat unevenly and it seems to leak propane out when not in use... Ugh.)

Pea salad is one of those nostalgic picnic dishes that everyone has had. Except me. Last summer was the first time I've ever had or made a pea salad. I started with a zippy homemade mayonnaise, mixed in some peas and a blackened, charred onion and finally topped it with the Hempler's Uncured Bacon.

Bacon makes everything better in my opinion. The bacon is cooked until just chewy, not how I normally like my bacon - crispy and crumbly. The chewiness is just better in this salad I think. If you prefer a more cooked piece of bacon, go for it. Just thinking about this pea salad makes me want to go make bacon... 

Ingredients:

  • 6 strips of Hempler's Applewood Uncured Bacon
  • 1/2 red onion, charred on a grill, under the broiler, or in a cast iron pan on the stove until blackened
  • 1 pound frozen peas, defrosted 
  • 1 cup homemade mayonnaise - recipe below 
    • 1 whole egg at room temperature
    • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar (Apple cider vinegar works well too)
    • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard 
    • 1/2 tsp salt 
    • 1/2 tsp pepper 
    • 1 cup avocado oil (olive oil works, but I find the flavor too pronounced for a lot of things. The avocado oil is less strong-tasting.)

Put the egg, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in the bowl of an immersion blender and puree until smooth. While still running the blender, slowly pour in the cup of oil until thick and creamy. (I make all of our mayonnaise. This stuff just doesn't compare to store-bought mayo! You'll never go back!) 

Cook your bacon over medium heat until just cooked and slightly crispy.

Let the bacon cool on a paper towel-lined plate so drain off some of the fat. 

Dice your charred onion into a medium dice and set aside. 

Slice the bacon into 1/2 inch slices and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the almost all of the bacon, onion, peas, and 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise. Stir, taste for seasoning and optionally add more mayonnaise. I liked mine fairly saucy, so I added more mayonnaise. (But I'm a  mayonnaiseaholic...)

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Add the leftover crumbled bacon you had reserved and serve. I guarantee this will be the first salad to dissapear at your next gathering! 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

The rain and dreariness in Tacoma have been unrelenting lately! All I've wanted to do is crawl onto the couch with a good book and a mug of tea. This weather brings out the roast vegetable desire in me as well though, so I've managed to actually feed my family healthy, tasty food while still getting my couch snuggles with the kids in. Brussels Sprouts are a great way to go! They're easy to grab in whatever increment/quantity you need to feed your family as well as inexpensive and super versatile. I'm in the "I love brussels" camp, although there are plenty I know in the "I would rather die than eat a tiny cabbage for dinner" camp. Whatever, to each their own! (More for me!) I have discovered that almost NO ONE can resist a sprout that has been roasted until caramelized and tender. Add to that the amazingly delicious and meaty goodness of Hempler's Thick Cut Uncured Bacon... and we have a match made in heaven! I'm going to be sad when winter is over and we lose these tender morsels of flavor! 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 pounds small brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved (quarter the big ones)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar 
  • 6 strips Uncured Center Cut Hempler's Bacon
  • 1 tsp kosher flake salt 
  • A few grinds of a pepper mill

Preheat the oven to 425 F. 

Scatter the brussels sprouts on a baking sheet. Drizzle over the olive oil and vinegar. 

Slice the strips of Hempler's Bacon into 1/4 inch slices. 

Mix the bacon into the brussels and mix well. 

Place the pan in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes are up, stir everything together and place back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until crispy and golden on the edges. 

After they are crispy and delicious (taste one!), check for seasoning. Mine needed a tiny bit of salt and a few twists of a pepper mill. 

Chocolate, Bacon, & Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Valentine's Day is coming RIIIIIGHT up, and I have such a fun, exciting recipe for you! My wedding cake was a chocolate cake with a salted caramel ganache and bacon filling between the layers. It was such an amazing cake that represented both Sean and I so perfectly. I still dream of that cake... It was a gift from a close family friend who is a professional baker, and I remember eating the top layer a year later and wishing I had saved more. (Who wants to eat year old cake? ME!)

I started thinking about what to make for Valentine's Day for Sean this year and eventually I came to this idea. It's a paleo chocolate brownie made with fluffy almond flour and very little sugar. The chocolate cupcake recipe alone is amazing. Then I paired it with a salted caramel made with coconut sugar and coconut cream and a buttercream made with bacon fat AND butter. Just to bring it over the top a bit more, I used Hempler's thick cut center bacon to make an adorable bacon heart. WHO DOESN'T WANT A HEART MADE OF BACON??? (Vegetarians, but they're likely not reading this post :) ) Hempler's was the perfect bacon for this because it's a delicious bacon with the perfect thickness. They use honey instead of sugar to cure the bacon, which is healthier and perfect in my book. ANYhow. Go get some Hemplers's bacon here and make yourself, your sweetie, or your mailman these cupcakes at once. I promise they'll be asking for more next year! (Or next week...)

Ingredients: 

Bacon Hearts:

Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup almond flour 
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks 
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (they sell cans at Trader Joes, or just use the thick white part from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk) at room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup (ghee) clarified butter
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla 

Salted Caramel Filling: 

  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup ghee 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla 
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt 

Bacon Buttercream: 

  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar 
  • 2 egg whites at room temperature 
  • 1.5 tbsp bacon fat 
  • 6.5 tbsp butter at room temperature, at room temperature, cut into 6 pieces 
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla 

Start with the bacon hearts. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan or roasting pan (anything with high enough edges that the fat won't melt off the sides) with aluminum foil. Cut your bacon slices in half. Take both pieces of bacon and fold them into a heart on the sheet pan. 

Bake the hearts for 20 minutes or until crispy. 

Set the hearts on a paper towel-lined plate until ready to use and pour the fat through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Set the fat aside and throw the bits in the strainer away. 

Now make the cupcakes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin pan. (I found a super cute heart-shaped one by Wilton for $8, can't beat that!)

In a medium bowl, mix the almond meal, coconut sugar, baking soda, and salt. 

Melt the chocolate and the coconut cream in a double boiler over low heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the ghee and mix it in. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool slightly. 

Stir the eggs and vanilla into the melted chocolate. 

Stir the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture using a whisk until just combined. 

Scoop the batter into the greased muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes.

As soon as the pan is cool enough to handle, run a knife along the sides and remove the cupcakes to a cooling rack. 

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Now make the salted caramel filling. Wash out the pan the chocolate was melted in and add the coconut sugar, coconut cream, and ghee. Stir with a spatula slowly until everything is melted over medium heat. Bring to a soft boil and add the vanilla and the salt. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for two minutes. Remove the pan from the double boiler and continue stirring until it becomes a smooth liquid and stops bubbling. The caramel will thicken up as it cools, so don't worry if it's a little thin. 

Now make the buttercream. Wash the double boiler once again. Add the coconut sugar and egg whites.

Now make the salted caramel filling. Wash out the pan the chocolate was melted in and add the coconut sugar, coconut cream, and ghee. Stir with a spatula slowly until everything is melted over medium heat. Bring to a soft boil and add the vanilla and the salt. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for two minutes. Remove the pan from the double boiler and continue stirring until it becomes a smooth liquid and stops bubbling. The caramel will thicken up as it cools, so don't worry if it's a little thin. 

Now make the buttercream. Set the bowl of a standing mixer over a pan with two inches of simmering water. Whisk the sugar with the egg whites by hand until the sugar is completely melted. Take bowl off the heat and let it cool slightly. When the bottom of the bowl is cool enough to handle, move the bowl to the mixer with the whisk attachment. Run it on medium high speed for 5 minutes until the mixture becomes lighter in color and creamy. (If the mixture feels at all hot, keep whisking. You can't make a buttercream with a hot sugar base, or the frosting will break.) 

Turn the machine to low and add the bacon fat. Once it's completely mixed in, keep the machine on low and add the butter pieces one at a time, making sure to whisk between each addition. Once they are all added, turn the mixer to medium-high and whisk for five more minutes until it is very smooth and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and mix thoroughly. 

Using a teaspoon measuring cup or a small spoon, scoop out the middle of each cupcake. 

Fill the holes with the salted caramel sauce. 

Put the bacon buttercream in a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe frosting over the top of each caramel-filled cupcake. 

Garnish each frosted cupcake with a bacon heart. (If any of your bacon got to crispy while baking, these would also be beautiful and delicious with bacon crumbles on top!) 

Whole30 - Summary

So my whole30 ended a while back but being as I was at a wedding and away for the weekend, I wasn't able to share my results yet. I just counted, and I ate 59 eggs in 28 days. That's amazing! : ) 

I loved it! I loved the food I ate and the way I felt the whole time. I genuinely felt like lunches were the only difficult meal for me because those were the hours I was running errands and most likely to be away from the house. That being said, I did eat more RX bars, Lara Bars, and apples as "lunch" this time than I normally do. I try and make a point to cook enough for dinner at night for both Sean and me to eat for lunch the next day. That generally keeps things on a healthier note, saves money on overpriced sandwiches and salad bars, and we know we get to eat really tasty lunches! I think that lunches and my love of dark chocolate (and wine) are the main reason I couldn't stay on a whole30 forever. It's easy and great for so many reasons, and yet there are a few that just make it necessary to stop after a certain amount of time. 

I know the point isn't to lose weight. The point of a whole30 is to feel better and conquer your cravings. I feel that I accomplished that, but I did want to lose weight -and I did! I weighed 142 when I stopped (two days early too, because we went to Timberline Lodge for a wedding and there was just no way I was attempting that while on vacation!). I managed to lose 10 pounds, which is amazing! Even now, a week and a half later, I feel less bloated and don't crave sugar. I did put a splash of half and half into my coffee today, and I lived. Full-fat dairy does fine with me, so I will most likely occasionally have some. I still buy unsweetened almond or coconut milk for home, and I still make sure the sausage and tomato sauce I buy doesn't contain sugar. The 80/20 method works for me. I can eat very clean and healthy 80% of the time and have more of the occasional foods 20% (cauliflower pizza crust with fresh mozzarella anyone?!?!).

I also have to say having a fridge full of random vegetables and meats without a solid plan helped a lot. It's so easy to think you have all your meals mapped out and then realize something is missing and be blown off track. It's easier for ME to have a solid plan for dinner and a sort of idea about breakfast and lunch. For breakfast I usually consumed eggs, mainly because I love eggs and think they're super tasty and really healthy. Having all the vegetables at hand to make a scramble/omelette/hash is always an easy way to go. Sometimes you want sweet potatoes, kale and hot Italian sausage for breakfast. The next day you may want poached eggs over a bed of sauteed mushrooms and greens. Having all sorts of vegetables at hand just means that your creativity and recipes can be that much more accessible. 

I still have a ways to go with losing the baby weight, but I feel like it's attainable and not so daunting now. I was also able to throw away all of my pregnancy leggings, so I can at least fit in my normal clothes now! I'm confidant the last 20 pounds will come off easily in the next few months. I may even do another whole30- we shall see!

Whole30- Day 25

For breakfast I made a hash out of potatoes, sausage, red bell peppers, onions and jalapeños. I then tossed on two fried eggs with super runny yolks. Yum!!! 

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Lunch was leftover African Chicken soup.  

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For dinner I made a sausage, potato, and kale soup. I used bone broth and some coconut cream to thicken it. I love soups of you cannot tell! They're really the perfect food! I'll put the recipe for this up in the next few days, as everyone needs this soup in their lives ASAP. 😊

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Whole30- Day 24

Breakfast today was sausage and kale with a fried egg on top.

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At the local grocery store they had red peppers for a dollar a bag so I'm drowning in red peppers now... I made a frittata with red peppers, Swiss chard and sausage. I stirfried all my veggies and then poured the eggs in, then tossed that under the broiler until it was cooked- about three minutes. I intended to eat half of this today and half for lunch tomorrow but Sean came home from work and ate it as a pre-dinner snack... 

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For dinner I made west African cashew soup.  It was delicious!!! It's chunks of chicken thighs and almond butter and more red peppers... The soup was from the Paleo soups and stews book which I am loving! 

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Whole30- Day 23

Monday is here again! Today started off with as much excitement as any day... Liam came down complaining that his ear hurt... I know what that means! So rather than take him to school, I took him to the doctor who confirmed he did indeed have an ear infection. Something about winter weather making him stuffy always seems to give him an ear infection. This is his third. (Somehow Ellie didn't inherit my tiny ears and ability to get an ear infection with the drop of a hat...) So since I was running him around, I quickly threw some breakfast on the table. The kids had more pancakes, which seems to be a huge hit lately and I made another fridge hodgepodge. I had zucchini, kale, onions, tomatoes, and some Isernio's chicken sausage. (I also had multiple cups of coffee with unsweetened coconut milk!)

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Lunch was a giant green salad. I blanched some broccoli, sliced up a whole head of romaine, cut up half an avocado, and tossed it with some remaining Green Goddess dressing. I topped this with some sliced tomatoes and crumbled more sausage on top.

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For dinner I made Chicken and Dumplings Soup. I've never had it before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. The chicken was juicy and falling apart, and the dumplings were plump and chewy. The dumplings were made of a mixture of almond meal and cassava flour and they were super easy! The meal was extremely comforting and homey. If you were sick, I can see how this would be the ultimate comfort food! I'm digging this new "Paleo Soups and Stews" book by Simone Miller!

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Whole30- Day 22

People ask me for suggestions and tips quite frequently for making the Whole30 process easier, and the number one thing I can say is to stuff your fridge with vegetables. I walk every aisle of the produce department. I get whatever I need for specific dinner recipes and then just grab things for breakfasts and lunch, and sometimes snacking. I can't tell you how many mornings have ended up like this one; where I stand at the fridge and grab a hodgepodge of vegetables from the fridge and make a super FAST meal that's satisfying and delicious. Today took me maybe five to ten minutes from start to finish. I grabbed broccoli, kale, garlic, tomatoes, a zucchini, a chunk of a yellow pepper and the tube of sausage I had in the fridge. It was essentially a stir fry that I deglazed with some sherry vinegar. It's always a different variation on the same thing. It's basically a hot salad... since I'm not a cold breakfast person. You can top it with sausage or eggs, you can mix up the vegetables. It's so easy and so good! You don't always need a recipe to eat really well! 

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I didn't get a picture of my lunch as I was driving the kids around and running between errands. I had an apple and a bag of carrot sticks with some almond butter. (Anyone tried that Kirkland brand almond butter? Yum! It's a great value!)

Dinner was the roasted poblano pork and sweet potato chili verde. The boys were watching football, so this was deemed appropriate "football food". It was honestly even better the second day! I'm really glad we doubled the recipe because between dinner, Sean's lunch at work, and dinner again, we ate it all. Oops! Too bad there was none of the salsa left I cooked the pork in, because it would have been an amazing way to poach eggs! Next time...

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Whole30- Day 21

The weekend is here!!! I had to get the kids out of the house at 8:30 anyway because Liam started swimming lessons at the Y today. I actually enjoy having a reason to get up early on the weekends. I feel like if jumostarts tour day and ensures you don't spend the day lounging on the couch in PJ's. It just makes me feel more productive!  

When we got home, I made a huge, humongous batch of bkuebeeey pancakes for the kids and this veggie stir fry with crumbled Isernio's chicken sausage on top. I used the chub roll today; it's literally a tube of sausage. I just cut off what I wanted and tossed the rest in a ziplock in the fridge. Ridiculously easy! And delicious!!!  

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Lunch was carrots, a Lara bar and an apple. I wasn't super hungry and was trying to get the kids to the grocery store, which is always a fun weekend adventure! 

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Tonight sean was out with friends in Seattle. This meant that the nine pound bone-in pork shoulder was my porblem... 😀 I deboned and cut that thing into chunks like a champ! Sean saw my end results and said I cut too much fat off- he accused me of being too OCD with the pork. But I had fun!!! I roasted a bunch of poblanos, garlic, onions, and jalapeños and blended them with cilantro and thyme. It made the tastiest salsa verde ever! It's from my new "Paleo Soups and Stews" book by Simone Miller of Zenbelly. The book is awesome and I've marked about ten recipes to make soon! There's even notes on how to use the pressure cooker for making a lot of them . The roasted tomatillo pork chili verde is a good place to start cooking from the book! 

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Whole30- Day 20

Breakfast today was a sautéed and sliced up Italian Sausage from Isernio's again. It's just so easy... I poached two eggs and had half an avocado as well. I have a serious addiction to avocado and fracked black pepper so I covered my plate in pepper. Yum!  

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Lunch was a sort of recreation of last night's dinner. I used most of a head of big bushy red leaf lettuce, half an avocado diced up, and another chicken breast that I chunked up as well. This green goddess dressing... it's so damn good. It's super fresh and tangy and just makes you want to scoop it straight into your mouth. If guacamole and pesto had a baby, this would be it! 🥗 

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Dinner was a recipe I found on Heather Cheisto's blog. I skipped the white wine but everything else was compliant. It was creamy mustard mushroom chicken. I used the coconut cream can from Trafee Joe's that I'm so obsessed with. I think I have two cans left- I need to make it there soon!!!  

Chicken recipe: http://heatherchristo.com/2015/03/22/chicken-with-creamy-mushroom-mustard-sauce/

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Whole30- Day 19

Sorry this is a day late! It's been hectic around here! Breakfast today was a chicken, mushroom and zucchini hash. It was AHHmazing. Leftover chicken in the fridge is never a bad thing!  

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For lunch I grabbed an RX bar because we were running around picking up children and getting Sean's suit tailored for a wedding next weekend...

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Dinner was at bookclub. I couldn't eat the lasagna that was served so I brought a giant green goddess salad and another girl (also on a whole30) brought grilled chicken. It was delicious! I'm seriously addicted to green goddess! This one is a blend of coconut milk, lemon juice, olive oil, Basil, parsley and avocado. Yes please!!!  

Green Goddess recipe: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dairy-free-green-goddess-dressing/

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Whole30- Day 18

Breakfast was a sauté of mushrooms, kale and sausage. I topped this with fried eggs and some fracked black pepper. SO awesome!  

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Lunch was leftover chicken zoodle soup, in between errands and picking up kids. In the process of this, I seemed to have fried my MacBook... hoping it comes back to life!!! Life without my laptop is going to be very hard!  

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For dinner I made these super fun, whimsical sausage meatloaf cupcakes. The kids liked them, I liked them, sean ate three... they're so fun! The recipe is posted. Everyone make these today!!!

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Sausage Meatloaf Cupcakes

Meatloaf cupcakes are something I've been dreaming of making for a while. I thought they would be fun and whimsical and a great idea for kids. I also wanted to boost the flavor of these little cakes by adding a good amount of sausage. This particular meatloaf mixture is 50% lean ground beef and 50% Hot Italian Sausage.

The Isernio's Sausage has been a lifesaver and game-changer for Whole30. Almost all of their sausages are clean! There's no sugar, dairy, additives or awful hormones in them. They're delicious and perfectly juicy too. They are my go-to for cooking almost anything lately, and they're locally made so I like supporting them! (Where to buy Isernio's)

These cupcakes are paleo and completely Whole30 compliant. They're fast, easy, and delicious! 

Ingredients:

For the Whipped Sweet Potato Frosting: 

  • 4 Sweet Potatoes 
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk 
  • 1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil 
  • 1 tsp salt 

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil 
  • 1 small onion, diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 pound lean ground beef 
  • 1 pound Isernio's Hot Italian Sausage, taken out of the casings
  • 2 ribs of celery, small diced
  • 1/3 cup almond flour 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • 2 scallions or chives, sliced thin for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350. Place the sweet potatoes on a lined baking sheet (they ooze a syrupy-like substance that's hard to clean when they roast.) and pierce them all over with a fork. Place them in the oven to bake for one hour, or until you can easily poke them with a fork. When the potatoes come out, leave the oven on for the cupcakes.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and fry until softened and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Take them off the heat and set aside. 

Add the beef, Isernio's Sausage, celery, almond flour, egg, and spices to a big bowl. 

Add the cooked onions and garlic last, so they don't bun your hands or cook the egg. Mix everything up using your hands. 

To check the seasoning, use a chef tip and cook up a little bit of the mixture. You can't try it raw because of all the raw meat, but if you saute up a tiny portion, you will know how the final product will taste! 

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Place the meat-sausage mixture in a 12-cup muffin tin. You don't need liners for the cupcakes or oil for the pan, because the fat in the meat will cook out and do that for you. (If you want to serve these for a party, cupcake liners might be fun!) 

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Bake the cupcakes for 30 minutes. 

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When the sweet potatoes are cooked and cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and put it in a mixing bowl. 

Add the coconut milk and the ghee (clarified butter). Mix thoroughly and check for seasoning. Using the whisk attachment, whip the potatoes until thoroughly mixed and fluffy. 

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Take some of the potato puree and add it to a small ziplock or pastry bag. Cut off the tip and pipe the potatoes onto the meat. 

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Aren't they Cute!?!?

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Garnish each cupcake with the scallions or chives and place on a serving tray. I found each person could eat two or three of these, and children were satisfied with one. 

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Enjoy! If you make these make sure to tag #goodlifeeveryday and #Iserniossausage! Happy Cooking! 

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Whole30- Day 17

Breakfast was some Italian sausage cooked up with two scrambled eggs. I added some chopped parsley (always better with a touch of green!) and some hot sauce because I'm a junkie. 

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I was grocery shopping at lunch so I grabbed a piece of baked chicken from the store. These things have saved me on numerous occasions. One of the hardest parts of eating healthy and clean is grabbing on-the-go food. Without eating pasta salad or sandwiches, it's often difficult to eat outside your home. Most grocery stores have baked or rotisserie chicken, and the ones I've seen tend to my minimally processed and seasoned with salt and pepper only. I ate this once I got home with a bag of baby carrots and some hardboiled eggs. Other safe bets include a salad bar, whole fruit, and plantain chips with guacamole. Yum! 

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For dinner I tossed five chicken thighs, some ginger, garlic, salt and apple cider vinegar into the Instant Pot with 8 cups of water. I made a delicious broth, then moved it to the stove and added in 8 oz of sliced mushrooms, a cup of diced carrots and 4 zucchini I spiralized. I shredded the chicken meat and added some Togarashi for heat. I love Asian Chicken Zoodle Soup! 

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Mexican Stuffed Potato Skins

I think Potato Skins are amazing! The skin has all the vitamins and nutrients and I love the chewy, firm texture of them. I DON'T love the unhealthy versions you see in so many restaurants, so I set out to make a healthy, delicious, guilt-free version. I sauteed up Isernio's ground chicken with my favorite taco seasonings, added in some onion and garlic and then used the potato skin as a base. Sean actually refuses to call these anything other than po-tacos. (Potato tacos is actually a pretty fun thing!) I made a Paleo Ranch dressing and tossed some of that on as well. These would be such a fun Super Bowl dish! (Where to buy Isernio's)

Ingredients: 

  • 4 Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean 
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 pound Isernio's Ground Chicken 
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin 
  • 2 tsp salt 
  • 1 head romaine

Pico De Gallo:

  • 1 tomato 
  • 1 jalapeno 
  • 1 bunch cilantro 
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion 

Paleo Ranch: 

  • 1 cup homemade mayonnaise 
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream 
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill 
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives 
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 425. Pierce the potatoes all over and set them on a baking sheet. Bake them for 50 minutes-1 hour until you can easily pierce them with a knife. 

Saute the onions and garlic until softened and aromatic. 

Add the ground chicken to the pan and crumble it up as it cooks. Sprinkle over the paprika, coriander, chili powder, cumin and salt. 

Finley chop the lettuce and set this aside. 

Stir all the ingredients for the pico de gallo and taste for seasoning. 

When the potatoes are fully cooked, take them out and slice them in half lengthwise. When they are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh, making sure to leave 1/4 inch along the sides so they hold their shape. 

Fill each potato skin with some lettuce, some chicken mixture, and the pico de gallo. 

Blend all of the ranch ingredients together and taste for seasoning. Drizzle this over the potato skins and serve with a side of this ranch and some hot sauce. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve at once! Bon Apetit!