Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Posts tagged “paleo

Fueled by Whole Foods! (Nike Women’s Half Marathon Series)

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So, I finally had time to get out to Whole Foods and start using the gift card they gave me to feed myself during my half marathon training (the Women’s Nike Half Marathon in San Francisco on October 20th). For about $65 dollars, here’s what I bought:

  • 1/2 Gallon So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
    (will use in smoothies, sometimes morning coffee)
  • 1 pound bag frozen raspberries
    (will use in protein shakes with protein powder, ice and coconut milk)
  • 1 package Diestel sliced herbed turkey breast
    (love their products, a healthy splurge indeed!)
  • 1 head of organic cauliflower
  • 1 small block of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
    (.25 pounds or so, my biggest splurge on the list!)
  • 3 pound bag frozen triple berry blend
    (will use in protein shakes with protein powder, ice and coconut milk)
  • 2.87 pounds of broccoli crowns
  • 1.17 pounds of organic bananas
    (will use in protein shakes with protein powder, ice and coconut milk)
  • 1.82 pounds of Grenache grapes
  • 1 pound of Organic Girl Super Greens
  • 1.5 pounds of parsnips
  • .75 pounds of coconut flour
    (will use in occasional treats after long runs)
  • ,75 pounds of almond meal
    (will use sparingly to make gluten free bread or occasional treats)
  • 1 orange flesh honeydew melon (my favorite fruit!!)

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This was my awesome dinner tonight, almost all of it made from the ingredients on my shopping list today from Whole Foods. It was a Diestel Turkey salad (2 1/2 slices), on a bed of Organic Girl Super Greens (dandelion, arugula, spinach mix), 2 hard boiled eggs, 1-2 Tbs grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, eggplant “croutons” and studded with about 1/2 cup of organic Grenache grapes. I don’t typically use dressing because the egg and cheese make everything so flavorful I don’t need it. :)

As far as the running goes, I have an app called Runkeeper to log my daily mileage. Here’s a look at my run this past Sunday. I wanted to put in a long run on the roads because I had not done one in a while. I was even wondering if I could make it past 10 miles! Followed by the map are my mile splits:

run map

1 mi: 9:05
+12 ft elevation climb

2 mi: 9:07 +1 ft elevation climb

3 mi: 9:01 -10 ft elevation loss

4 mi: 9:18 -3 ft elevation loss

5 mi: 8:44 -18 ft elevation loss
(water stop at 5.25 miles)

6 mi: 8:59 +23 ft elevation climb
(ran kinda through the mall and through the tunnel into Old Sac… AWESOME)

7 mi: 8:09 +15 ft elevation climb

8 mi: 8:20 -5ft elevation loss

9 mi: 8:35: +4ft elevation climb
(water stop around 9 miles)

10 mi: 8:36 -3ft elevation loss

11 mi: 8:47 +4ft elevation climb

12 mi: (last .24 of my run in front of the Sacramento Zoo) 9:38 -8ft elevation loss

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I am planning on running a short race the first weekend of October, but otherwise will mostly be concentrating on building my road tolerance and endurance.
If you would like to check out my profile and my running on Runkeeper, click here.

Look for another post using my groceries from Whole Foods, coming this week and more on my training as well!

You can find Whole Foods on Facebook here and on twitter here. My local store is in Roseville on Facebook here. The Nike Women’s Series is on Facebook here. Now get out there and go running! :)


A Fairytale Destination in Carmel Valley: Stonepine Estate Resort

Chateau Noel
OK pinch me, because I must have been dreaming.

But, it wasn’t a dream. It was real…

The latest cavegrrl.com getaway was to the idyllic Stonepine Estate Resort, located in Carmel Valley. Carmel Valley is twelve miles inland from Carmel, (its more celebrated sibling). To be honest, I preferred Carmel Valley because of the sunshine and warmer temperatures.

The Estate boasts 330 secluded acres of gently rolling oak-studded hills, an affiliation with the Historic Hotels of America (formerly Relais & Chateaux). The Mediterranean-style Chateau (pictured above) is framed by 12 formal gardens. Chateau Noel includes eight luxuriously appointed suites, each lavishly named and decorated (with namesakes’ approval) after the Hentschels’ (the current owners of the Estate) favorite designers, champagne, china, jewelry, honeymoon location, philosopher and artist. There are also four cottages on the property: the Briar Rose, the Paddock House, the Gate House and the Hermes House.

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Inside the Chateau… The Magnificent Foyer

Our visit was tailored to one of the packages now offered at Stonepine called the Carmel Valley Wine Discovery, which included:

  • 2 Nights in One of Stonepine’s Houses or Cottage Accommodations
  • Welcome Amenity Upon Arrival
  • Full European Breakfast Each Morning
  • Romantic Fireside Dinner for Two in the Chateau Noel
  • Chauffeured Carmel Valley Wine Tour in the Stonepine Rolls Royce (optional upgrades to Cachagua Vineyards are available)
  • Wine, Cheese and fruit at One of Stonepine’s Picturesque Venues

We were treated to a stay in the Don Quixote suite, which is actually hidden behind the wall of the library on the first floor of the Chateau Noel. The suite features a separate sitting room with fireplace, king bed, two bathrooms and French doors leading to a secluded garden and patio.

secret passage closedThe Don Quixote suite is hidden behind this wall.

secret passage open
doorway to our room
The doorway to the Don Quixote Suite.

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welcome goodies
Our welcome amenities: a few snacks and a bottle of wine, a Hahn Cabernet Sauvignon.

thankyoucard
The card pictured above was a note from the owners of the Estate, Gordon and Noel Hentschel. They purchased the Estate in 1983 and restored it in 1987.

Andy and I already felt welcome and knew we were in for one of the best hosted trips I have ever experienced.

backyard
This is the private backyard outside the Don Quixote Suite.

Our room boasted  2 bathrooms (a his and hers).

kristybathroomI just love bubble baths, so this bathroom was perfect for me.

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Andy’s bathroom had one of the nicest shower stalls I have seen in a hotel setting.

After rubbing our eyes and giggling in delight about the state of our room, we got ready for dinner. Typically, dinners are held in the dining room, but the staff at Stonepine had something more special in mind for us. Here’s a shot of the dining room, which is the setting for the Estate dinners.

dining room

There is another dining table alongside this one that is identical to it. There are wine bottles of everything (Palmaz, Far Niente for example)
randomly decorating the room… just waiting to be opened… :)

We were led into the great room which has a beautiful fireplace and a piano, to enjoy a glass of wine and some appetizers before our dinner.

fireplace_greatroom
We sat on the couch and were served a plate of melon and prosciutto, and some salmon bruschetta.

appetizers
Then after a while, we were lead into our private dining room for the evening. It was the library adjacent to our room! The setting was stunning/dreamy. I felt like I was on a movie set. :)

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andy_dining_libraryHere’s Andy at the table, and that is the same wall that opens and leads to our room.

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As you can imagine, we were more than happy with the romantic dinner setting.

soupThe first course was a butternut squash soup with crème fraîche.

watermelonsalad
The second course was a salad made of organic baby arugula with watermelon and feta cheese served with a dijon vinaigrette.

For his entrée, Andy chose the salmon:
salmon dinner
It was served with a blend of harvest semoule, edamame and Red Bell Peppers. Look at what a happy diner! :)

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I ordered the pan seared filet mignon with mushrooms and merlot reduction served with a potato-parsnip mash, sautéed broccoli and grilled zucchini.

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And I was very pleased with my meal as well!

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Dessert was a chocolate mousse (Andy polished off both of them, and I didn’t get any photos, because dessert just isn’t my thing (anymore) ;) However, I did enjoy another glass of wine and time together in front of the fireplace with Andy. The whole setting was just unbelievable/surreal, and you have to experience it someday yourself.

The next day, we worked out and ran around the Estate. It was some of the hardest running I have done in a while… basically like a cross country course. Here’s the map:

run1Then it was off to breakfast. I loved the buffet spread. Plenty of Paleo options!! My favorite was the fruit salad. It had the best raspberries I have ever tasted, so I am pretty sure they were local and probably picked within a day of serving them.

breakfast buffet
Andy and I also ordered two poached eggs each, which I have found is the safest way to order eggs so that they don’t come cooked in butter or some strange oil. :) They were served with a sautéed spinach and onion mix and some tomatoes.

poached eggs bfast day1
We chose to sit outside that day. I can’t say it enough, but the weather cooperated so much that weekend. It was just nice to sit out in it as much as possible.

breakfastpatio
Then a few hours later, our concierge Jordan took us wine tasting in downtown Carmel Valley. That’s him on the right. :) He’s from France and pretty familiar with the grape! Our first stop was Mercy Vineyards Tasting Room located at 40 W Carmel Valley Road, Unit A, Carmel Valley. All the wines at Mercy showcase the Monterey County Arroyo Seco AVA and are sourced from three contiguous vineyards, all located in a specific part of the appellation - the dried riverbed.

mercy tasting room2
mercy wine glass
mercy sauv blanc
The partners at Mercy come from Foley Estates. The vintners Mark and Mike have known each other over ten years and combined have been in the wine industry for over 45 years. They specialize in chardonnay and pinot noir, but also make a sauvignon blanc and a syrah. They are open for wine sales and tasting Thursday-Sunday, 11:30am-4pm.

Our next stop was Talbott Vineyards. (25 Pilot Road, Carmel Valley Village) Their tasting room is decorated with a menagerie of bikes and things with wheels, all lining the walls and hanging from the ceiling!

talbott tasting room
Talbott Vineyards is an estate winery that grows & produces Chardonnay & Pinot Noir from two of Monterey County’s grand cru sites: their Diamond T Vineyard in Carmel Valley & the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The winery was founded by Robb Talbott, and the wines are crafted by Dan Karlsen.

talbott motorcycles
The tasting menu at Talbott has two columns. One for Chardonnay and the other for Pinot Noir. The wines from Talbott were really something to experience. Especially the Pinot Noirs. My favorite was the RFT Pinot Noir, while Andy favored the Sarah Case Pinot. $75 per bottle. Yowza! Thanks 30% industry discount. Like a boss, Andy bought a bottle of each of them plus whatever else I liked. Thanks, Andy. ;)

Our third (and final) stop was Cima Collina. Their tasting room was also impressive, but in a different way. It looked very country-rustic. The wines were impressive as well. The winemaker at Cima is Annette Hoff and she specializes in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet blends. Andy and I also found some really nice wines to buy there, too. One of our favorites was their Chalone Pinot Blanc, and I really liked their Non-Vintage “Howlin’ Good Red (of which 25% of the profits from the sale of this wine goes to the local SPCA), so again, I made Andy buy some. ;)

cima collina tasting room
The folks at Cima really made an impression on me, and I wanted to let you know about their event on October 12th. It’s a fundraiser for the Monterey County SPCA, so if you are in the area and are an animal lover, this is the event for you! See the poster in the photo below for details!

event poster cima collina
After all that tasting, I was ready to relax. Jordan drove Andy and I back to the chateau at Stonepine. We relaxed in our room for a little while ;), then shortly after, we walked across the lawn to the Waterfall Pavilion and were treated to an afternoon happy hour wine and cheese presentation. Jordan prepared several cheeses for us to sample along with a bottle of local Chardonnay by Heller. #magic #ilovecheese #jordanhowdidyouknow??

cheese plate with wine
Here’s a shot of the majestic Waterfall Pavilion:

Waterfall Pavillion
You know those moments in life you wish you could just freeze and live in forever? The afternoon at the Waterfall Pavilion was just like that. :) Here’s a picture from my view sitting in the Pavilion:

back facade of stonepine
This was a book I stumbled upon in the collection of books at the Waterfall Pavilion. It was a great read! I got a kick out of reading some of the passages to Andy because he already practiced them (like a good gentleman) ;)

how to be a gentleman
After our time at the Waterfall Pavilion, we decided to head out to dinner. We ended up at a place recommended by Jordan called Cafe Rustica. I will recommend the restaurant, too. We sat outside on the patio and were warmed by a little heat lamp. The food was good and my company was even better. It was a charming European bistro. I can’t wait to come back to Carmel Valley and try another one of many dining establishments. I also hear Corkscrew Cafe is a great lunch place. :)

The next morning we went on another run, this time a little longer. Here’s the map of that run:

run2
Not the fastest run of my life, but at least it was a workout. :) After we cleaned up, we headed for breakfast number two. I was feeling a little sad because it was almost time to leave Stonepine, and this is not a place one is eager to leave! This time for breakfast Andy and I ordered an omelet and two bowls of fruit. OK, I eat like a truck driver sometimes. Don’t judge. ;) I gave Andy my croissant (he needed it more than I did, although I did take one bite of it). It was superb, but my omelet was even better, and once again, the fruit was so good: a mixture of 3 kinds of melon, pineapple, strawberries and raspberries. And bottomless coffee. We were spoiled!

omelet bfast2
Here are a few more shots I took of the property, as well as some pictures supplied by the PR company who promotes Stonepine Estate:

rollsroyce
One of two Rolls Royce owned by Stonepine Estate.

View from Taittinger SuiteView from the Tattinger Suite.

groundsThe grounds view from the back of the house.

barinroomThe bar that was adjacent to our room.

Stonepine Night-3The incomparable Stonepine Estate at night…

Andy and I have agreed we will come back to Stonepine (annually, perhaps), as we love Carmel Valley so much. It’s funny because I didn’t know such a place existed even a year ago, yet so many celebrities ( Johnny Depp, Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Diane Sawyer, Brooke Shields, Bill Gates, Jim Carrey, Renee Zellweger, Warren Buffet, The Rolling Stones, Shakira and Joe Montana) have made Stonepine their destination. Now I know why. It’s a very special and private place. Once you are past those gates (and believe me, it’s a high security place for people who don’t want to be seen), it’s like stepping back in time, even into another country.

I can’t say enough about the kindness of the staff at Stonepine. They are all people I hope to see year after year. Thank you to Relevance PR for arranging my visit and a huge thank you to Gordon and Noel Hentschel for accommodating us. Stonepine Estate is one of the most lovely places we have ever experienced and I look forward to our return.

You can find Stonepine Estate on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here. For more information on accommodations and room rates, click here or call 831.659.2245.


Pig of the Month: The Gift that Keeps on GIving

At cavegrrl.com headquarters, I frequently get emails from different marketing representatives offering to ship me samples of their client’s product, hoping I will love it and tell all of you about it. Often, I get pitched for products that are gluten-free (but not grain-free) and still get several offers from people to send me candy, cake and the like from my old blog, which I rarely even update. So, it’s refreshing to get a request from a company that offers a line of products I really love.  And this time it’s worth the extra miles on the treadmill.

I bring to you the Pig of the Month.

Pig of the Month has taken your favorite meats and snacks and made them even better. Pig of the Month is an online retailer specializing in world famous barbecue.  Their products have been featured in several top national media outlets AND personally endorsed by The Chew’s Iron Chef, Michael Symon, and now, me! :)

Established in 2010 by Lea Richards after leaving her high stress job in finance, Ohio Based Pig of the Month BBQ is the product of a beloved family tradition and the result of one family’s insanely wild goose chase for the best barbecue. With a smoking technique that was perfected over decades, the company ships homemade, all natural BBQ products ranging from a variety of meats, sides, and sauces straight to your door!

I have now had the chance to try 3 of the products sent to me by Pig of the Month. Here’s the care package I received about a month ago:

pigpackageIt contained:
1. 1 pound of Duck, Pear, and Port Sausages
2. 1 package of 6 slices chocolate covered bacon
3. 1 pound Applewood Smoked Bacon
4. 1 pound Garden Herb Bacon
5. 1 rack (2 lbs.) Memphis Style Baby Back Ribs

The first item Andy and I tried were the ribs.

ribs
We put together a little dinner around them with mashed sweet potato & cauliflower, as well as grilled vegetables:

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Then we tried the Duck, Pear & Port Sausage. I also made Brussels sprouts l’orange and sweet potato wedges with a grapple balsamic ketchup.

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1234981_10200883998195485_376274403_n  salad
With the Garden Herb Bacon that came in the package, I made an apple, bacon, toasted walnut and arugula salad. I made the dressing with: 1 tsp crushed garlic, 1 part lemon juice, 2 parts apple cider vinegar, and 2 parts extra virgin olive oil, salt to taste.

pigofthemonth_bacon
I gave the Chocolate Covered Bacon to Andy for a part of his birthday present. The bacon is made of nitrate free applewood smoked bacon, draped in a layer of 72% Swiss chocolate.

Other bacon cooking ideas include:
1. Use the bacon as a wrap around your favorite items when grilling: asparagus, scallops, meats.
2. Wrap around a feta-stuffed fig or pecan stuffed date and bake in the oven to create an amazing appetizer.
3. Lay on a rack inside of a baking pan, coat with date sugar, cinnamon, and a little maple syrup or honey and bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes: candied bacon!

For more ideas, there are a ton of recipes on the Pig of the Month recipe page here.  Use the coupon code “ILOVEPIG” for 15% off your next order. PS: If you live in Dayton, Ohio (where I happened to spend the first 25 years of my life) or the surrounding area, you can pick up your order at their facility!!

You can find Pig of the Month on Facebook here and on twitter here.


Recap of the California State Fair Cooking Demo & Recipes

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Look at that beautiful crowd! I want to thank all the people who came out to our cooking demo at the California State Fair. I realize many people were just passing through the kitchen and saw a place to sit down for a while, but there were a lot of people who stayed through our class, and many who actually new about Paleo, and wanted more information.

I was impressed there were a few couples in the crowd that showed up to see the demo because they already practice the Paleo/Primal diet/lifestyle. They were so nice to us (important because of my semi-stage fright/shyness), and it was fun to compare notes and results. It was a real encouragement to have like-minded people in the audience cheering us on!

Andy made a dish from last year, his ever-popular Bacon Wrapped Dates, which are simply three of the best ingredients you can find, bundled in a little package and secured with a toothpick. Pecan halves, Medjool dates and thick-cut premium (preferably applewood-smoked) bacon. Below is Andy making a tray to be baked in the oven (while we are actually doing the cooking demo) so some samples would be ready to be passed around before the end of the class.

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We were supplied with pitted Medjool dates (along with the rest of our ingredients) this year thanks to Savemart. The pitted dates saved a step in prepping those trays, as Andy places half a pecan in place of the pit, and wraps the date in one half slice of thick cut bacon, then secures each piece with a toothpick.

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After your tray looks like this, place in the oven at 400°F and bake for 12-15 minutes (start checking them when it gets close). The bacon should be cooked and browned.

For my part of the demo, I made this Paleo Mud Pie. Recipe is below:

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Serves 30-40 people

Crust:
3 cups almond flour/almond meal
1 stick of butter or 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine crust ingredients and spread on a large baking/jellyroll pan (you’ll want the pan to be at least 2″ deep).

Bake the crust for 20 mins at 375°F, or until you can smell the butter and the crust has turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare your filling:

For the Filling:
8 medium -10 large Avocados
1 cup honey (ohhh yeahhhh)
8 Tbs Almond butter (once again, ohhh yeahhh)
1 cup cocoa powder
3 Tbs instant coffee
1/4 cup hot water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Topping:
1-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Place the instant coffee in the hot water and allow to dissolve completely.
So, since there are a lot of ingredients quantity wise, you’ll want to split the recipe into half and then mix it all together in a big bowl. For instance: In a food processor, pureé the 4-5 avocados in a food processor, add 1/2 cup honey, 4 Tbs almond butter, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, then 1/2 the coffee mixture and 1 tsp vanilla. Transfer the mixture into one big bowl, then repeat with the remainder of the ingredients.

Then you’ll combine both chocolatey mixtures into one big bowl and stir together to incorporate fully. When the two mixtures are combined completely, spread them over the cooled crust, and then refrigerate the pie for 2-3 hours before serving.

To serve, sprinkle 1-2 cups chocolate chips over the pie. If you can get mini-chips, even better. I prefer the Enjoy Life brand because they are dairy free.

Paleo. Chocolatey. Mocha. Goodness.

The State Fair experience makes me want to do some local cooking demos/classes. Would anyone be willing to attend/pay for that sort of thing? Just curious. Leave me a note and tell me your thoughts!! xo


Make Your Favorite Summer-Inspired Recipe with Whole Foods! $20 Gift Card Giveaway!!

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I just made a terrific summer inspired dinner with ingredients from Whole Foods. I spent $54 dollars for everything you see in the above picture. And, it comfortably feeds four people.

My friends at Whole Foods had this great idea for a gift card giveaway on cavegrrl.com and sent me $40 to buy ingredients and showcase a recipe. Well, I spent a little over $40, but I did get more than a pound of chicken sausage (1.12 pounds), a package of sliced pancetta, a 1/2 pound of hazelnuts, 1/3 pound of mushrooms, 1 1/3 pounds yellow squash, 1 1/3 pounds zucchini squash, 1/3 pound of olives, 1 package of tarragon, 3 shallots, 1 lemon, an entire bag of kale salad (1 pound), 2 baguettes made by Against the Grain Gourmet, AND a bottle of French white wine. :)

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And what did I prepare with all of the groceries? A brown butter summer squash linguine with chicken sausage, a warm kale salad, garlic buttered baguettes, served with a French blanc de blancs.

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For the warm kale salad you will need:
1 pound kale salad
1/3 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 package of pancetta, sliced or diced (if sliced, you will want to chop/cut into finer pieces)
3 shallots, finely diced
1 Tbs olive oil

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and sauté the shallots until they are translucent. Then add the pancetta and the mushrooms and cook together until the pancetta browns. Add the kale and turn with the ingredients, allowing it to wilt in the pan. Cover the pan with a lid to help wilt the kale. Add all of the salad and steam until the kale is barely tender. Set aside and prepare your summer squash linguine.

For the Brown Butter Squash Linguine, you will need a tool called a julienne slicer. I just bought one this past weekend in order to make the recipe and it has kind of changed my life. I’ll be making squash linguine at least once a month now! :)

I snagged the recipe from Fine Cooking.com and you can click here to find it.

1-1/2 lb. young yellow (summer) squash (about 4)
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon or parsley
1/2 lemon

You’re basically going to slice 4-6 summer squashes (I used green and yellow) to their core with the julienne slicer. It’ll make fine strips that when cooked are the texture and size of spaghetti noodles (linguine, maybe not so much as the recipe advertises) ;)

You’ll melt the butter and add the hazelnuts cooking until the butter reaches a nutty brown color, about 2 minutes. Then you’ll add the squash and salt. Coat the squash with the butter and hazelnuts, and continue cooking for about a minute. Then you’ll stir in half of the chopped herbs, and squeeze a little of the lemon over the squash and toss. It’s a pretty easy and totally rewarding operation! :)

The sausages were easy to prepare. I bought the house special chicken sausage with spinach and feta, exclusively made at Whole Foods. All I did was sear them in a hot pan and finish them off in the oven. Then, I sliced them on a bias to serve. :)

The bread was prepared with a little bit of crushed garlic stirred into melted butter and lightly brushed on the baguette slices. I placed them under the broiler until they were toasted to perfection.

And that, my friends… is one wonderful meal at about $13.50 per person including wine. :)

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My friends at Whole Foods want to give you a $20 gift card. So, enter by commenting below (tell me your favorite summer recipe or meal), and if you have a twitter account, follow me and retweet the link to this blog post for an extra entry (be sure to leave me your twitter handle in your comment!). I will announce the winner this Sunday. Good luck!

You can find Whole Foods Market on Facebook here (Roseville location here) (Sacramento location here) and on twitter here (national) and here (Sacramento) and here (Northern California)! :)


Recipe: Rhubarb and Onion Ketchup with Wine Pairing

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Ultimate wine pairing: Rhubarb Ketchup and New Harbor Sauvignon Blanc.

Yes, believe me. It happened. I made butternut squash fries and a nifty little “ketchup” to pair with them. It turns out that the wine I happened to also be sampling was a perfect match for the tangy, tart New Harbor Sauvignon Blanc.

Here’s the recipe, it’s very simple.

3 stalks rhubarb
1/2 large yellow onion
2 Tbs molasses
3 packets of stevia or 2 Tbs honey
1 tsp salt

Chop rhubarb into 1 inch pieces and finely dice the onion. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a pot and sauté the onion until it’s translucent. Then turn down the heat to low-ish/medium and add the rhubarb. Then add the molasses, salt, and stevia, and about 1/2 cup of water. Cook on low heat until the mixture becomes a thick ketchup consistency.

Its just that easy. Serve on top of potatoes, pork, chicken, or better yet, lamb burgers!

Happy 4th of July! :)


Black Tie Bacon Wrapped Dates and California State Fair Cooking Demo Date Announcement!

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Happy Wednesday! I thought I would quickly share with you a few desserts I brought with me to a party last night. I know, the whole chocolate covered bacon is passé, but I’ve been putting bacon where it doesn’t belong (tee hee) SINCE JUNE 2009;) Anyway, here’s what I’ve got:

“Suit and Ties” (Black Tie Bacon Wrapped Dates with Pistachio and Chocolate Chip Filling):
Pit some Mehjool dates (one per person you would like to serve), stuff with pistachio butter (1 cup ground pistachios with 1 Tbs coconut oil) and mini chocolate chips. Roll in bacon. Bake at 350°F until bacon is brown and crispy. Dip in white and dark melted chocolate or simply drizzle with melted chocolate. Voilà!

Cookie Dough Bites:
Make the recipe for Gluten Free Cookie Dough. You can substitute mini-chocolate chips for added cute factor. Roll the dough into bite sized pieces, dip in melted chocolate.

I’ll be doing a live cooking demo with Andy at the California State Fair this year: Saturday, July 27th at 7pm!! Any requests? What would you like to see Paleo-ized?


Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

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I have a problem. It’s this recipe I invented for cookie dough. It’s addictive and I have had it, ahem… for breakfast the past two three days. But only a little bit at a time, with fruit. I swear. Can’t. Stop. Eating it.

You don’t bake it. You just eat it. You know, like you would straight out of the tube an institutional-sized tub. Sigh. Yes, because it’s way easier to stick your face in a vat of dough than it is to actually have to measure ingredients and use any muscle at all to stir it around in a bowl. I know you are stronger than me and none of you have ever purchased this product or eaten it only by candlelight the light from the fridge on your face at midnight. ;)

Anyway, to avoid the sugar, wheat and all the unnatural ingredients that cookie dough normally contains, I came up with this recipe over the weekend (as I was making a recipe from OMG it’s Paleo? called 5 Ingredient Avocado Pudding.) I made the pudding with the idea that Andy and I would use it as a dip for bananas and apples. The recipe called for chocolate chips, and it made me think of chocolate chip cookie dough and a possible recipe for that… we could dip the fruit in that, too! Oh joy!

The secret in the cookie dough is Mehjool dates. They’re probably one of my biggest indulgences (60 calories apiece!). Not only do they give the dough sweetness, they also provide a molasses/caramel flavor. And, for diehard Paleos, I have made it two ways. Some people don’t believe in using butter at all, some people don’t eat any legumes at all. I myself, enjoy organic garbanzo beans once in a while. So, review the recipes below and tailor them to your own needs. :) Each one serves 2-4 people. Enjoy.

PS: You’ll need a food processor for this one. Puréeing dates is tough on the forearms. ;)

Recipe One: Paleo Version
Ingredients:
5-6 pitted dates (chopped)
3/4 cup toasted almonds
1 Tbs coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbs honey
1/3 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup coconut flour
pinch salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks (this brand is great!)

Procedure:
Pulse the almonds in the food processor until they are a fine meal consistency, then add the coconut oil. Process until the mixture turns into almond butter, then add the chopped dates, honey, the vanilla and the salt. Then remove the mixture and transfer into a small bowl. Add the coconut flour and some coconut milk until the dough is the consistency you like. Then stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate until you are ready to eat. OK, I’m ready. What about you? :)

Recipe Two: Primal Version
Ingredients:
5-6 pitted dates (chopped)
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1/2 cup organic garbanzo beans
2 Tbs greek yogurt (I use 0% fat)
2 packets stevia
1 Tbs grass fed butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup coconut flour
pinch salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks

Procedure:
Pulse the almonds in the food processor until they are a fine meal consistency, then add the butter. Process until the mixture turns into almond butter, then add the garbanzo beans, the greek yogurt, the stevia, the vanilla and the salt. Then remove the mixture and transfer into a small bowl. Add the coconut flour and some coconut milk until the dough is the consistency you like. Then stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate until you are ready to eat! As I stated earlier, I love to use the dough as a dip for apples, but you can form into little pieces and use as a topping for Greek yogurt or as a treat on ice cream. There are also plenty of recipes out there in the paleosphere for “paleo” ice cream using coconut milk. Here’s one from PaleoOMG :)


OMG That’s Paleo? Cookbook Preview & Recipe: 5 Ingredient Avocado Pudding

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Today’s recipe for 5 Ingredient Avocado Pudding is brought to you by PaleOMG’s Juli Bauer and her new cookbook, OMG That’s Paleo?

It was actually Andy who found Juli’s site PaleOMG and brought it to my attention when he saw her recipe for Chocolate Waffles, sent me the link and said, “Let’s make THESE!”
I started following Juli and really liked her down-to-earth personality and writing style. (Which actually encourages me to write more like myself and not so formally.) I especially loved her cooking videos. It takes a lot of courage to be on camera like that! :)

Some of her instructions on the website make me snicker (because I sometimes feel like writing them in my own recipes), such as this line in a recipe for Easy Chicken Dinner in 1…2…3:
“Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Not sure if it’s totally cooked through? Cut it open and look. Duh.” :P

A year later, and Juli has an entire cookbook! I have flipped though it and am looking forward to making her version of the popular Canadian dish poutine, as well as Bacon Chicken Alfredo. I especially appreciate the book’s 5 Ingredient Meals section (in which today’s recipe is included).

There is even space below each recipe to make notes if you change something in her recipes to suit your own tastes. The recipe for the Avocado Pudding is below, though since I was making it for dessert for both Andy and myself, I doubled the recipe. Also, it can be made vegan by sweetening the avocado with maple syrup or stevia drops (to taste) instead of honey.

Thanks to Juli for sending me a copy of OMG That’s Paleo? for review. You can buy it on Amazon here.

5-Ingredient Avocado Pudding
Prep time:  3 mins
Total time:  3 mins
Serves: 1
Ingredients:
1 avocado, mashed
3 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs + 1 tsp raw honey
2 teaspoons sunbutter (or other nut butter)*
pinch of salt
dark chocolate chips (optional, but rather necessary in my case) ;)Procedure:
Mash up the avocado.
Add in powder, raw honey (or syrup), sunbutter, pinch of salt and mix thoroughly.
Top with dark chocolate chips. Yes, please.

*TIPS: I used a pistachio nut butter in the recipe. Trust me on this. It’s gooood. Also, for best results, use a food processor to purée the avocado and remaining ingredients. Refrigerate before serving. Top with chocolate chips just before serving.

You can follow Juli on twitter here and like PaleOMG on Facebook here.

If you’d like to see Juli herself prepare the above recipe, her video tutorial is below:


Meatless Monday: Cauliflower Sweet Potato Tots

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Last Saturday was the annual Komen Race for the Cure at Cal Expo, and Andy won his division! (Race photo by Morinico Photography)

To celebrate the win, I made one of his favorite foods (pizza!) these Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Tots (the pizza was a primal-ized BBQ Chicken Pizza, which I will share with you later this week). I had made an earlier version of the tots last week for myself, but was not satisfied with the texture or really, the flavor. This time, I used a combination of cauliflower and sweet potatoes, and it was a success! I also coated the tots in almond meal for extra crunch. Here’s the recipe!

1/2 head caulflower
2 medium sweet potatoes
3 large eggs
1/4 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/8  cup coconut flour or gluten free flour (to use as a binder)
cracked pepper (to taste)
salt
1/4 cup olive oil or a can of olive oil spray

1 cup raw almonds
1 Tbs coconut flour
1-2 tsp your favorite spice mixture (you can be creative here: chili powder, curry, rosemary, cumin)

Peel and cut potatoes into cubes and microwave until soft. While the potatoes are microwaving, pulse the (raw) cauliflower in a food processor until it’s texture is finely “crummed”, do not purée. Set aside in a large mixing bowl. When the potatoes are tender, set aside and allow them to cool.

Rinse out and dry the food processor, then pulse the almonds until they are almost breadcrumb consistency, then pulse in the coconut flour. Then if you wish, add in your favorite spices or extra parmesan cheese to finish off the breading. Set mixture aside on a plate and rinse and dry the food processor again.

Preheat oven to 385°F

Then place the sweet potatoes in the food processor and pulse to mash them up. Then add the cheese, the coconut milk, the eggs and the coconut flour, and pulse until smooth. Then remove the potato mixture and add it to the cauliflower crumbs. Stir until well combined.

Coat a baking sheet with olive oil or olive oil spray. Form the cauliflower and sweet potato mixture into little cylinder shapes and then roll in the almond/coconut flour/spice mixture. Set each shape on the baking sheet. This recipe will probably yield about 24 tots. Lightly drizzle the tots with olive oil, or pulse them lightly with the spray. This will help them get extra crisp.

Bake in oven until golden brown. (30-40 mins) Salt to taste. :)


Product Review: Wonderful Pistachios’ New Flavors: Salt and Pepper, Sweet Chili

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A few weeks ago I was sent two varieties of Wonderful® Pistachios to sample and tell you about. Their new flavors are Salt & Pepper and Sweet Chili. I am pretty “nutty” about pistachios to begin with, but these new flavors piqued my interest even more!

Did you know that pistachios have only 160 calories per serving (30g), are an excellent source of vitamin B6, copper and manganese and a good source of protein, dietary fiber, thiamin, and phosphorus?

I prefer pistachios because they are about 3 calories less per nut than an almond. We used both varieties as an emergency salad topping a few nights ago when we were out of walnuts! They were so good. Other recipe uses: Coarsely grind the pistachios in a food processor and use them as a coating on lamb or turkey, grind them even further into a nut butter, or just enjoy them right out of the bag.

By themselves, the Salt and Pepper variety make a flavorful and satisfying snack. You can swap Wonderful® Pistachios Salt & Pepper for popular kettle-fried Salt & Pepper chips – pistachios give you 49 nuts per serving; compare that to just 15 potato chips per serving (who eats just 15 potato chips?) ;)

I preferred the Sweet Chili. They had an exotic sweet and spicy flavor and a great crunch. A perfect substitute for flavored tortilla chips with three times the fiber and protein.

Wonderful® Pistachios 7 oz. bag like the ones I sampled retails for $4.99. You can find Wonderful Pistachios on Facebook here and on twitter here.


Natural Products Expo West & My Trip to Anaheim

I have to say: I am the luckiest unlucky person I know. I just got the boot from my job, but that allowed me to go on a (pretty much) free trip to Anaheim to attend the Natural Products Expo West. So, I guess when one door slams in your face, another one opens and it leads to Disneyland! ;)

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The Natural Products Expo West showcased a record number of new natural and organic product launches, and provided the definitive community platform for brands, retailers and influencers in the natural, organic and healthy living sector.

Natural Products Expo West drew more than 63,000 industry members and 2,428 exhibiting companies at the Anaheim Convention Center, March 7-10, 2013 in Anaheim, CA. Engredea and Nutracon, the ingredient and supply chain’s most comprehensive trade show and conference were co-located with Natural Products Expo West.

Natural Products Expo West provided a unique view into the forces and product trends fueling the growth of the global natural products industry in every category, including food, beverage, supplements, beauty, household and pet products.

Trends prominent at Natural Products Expo West, with significantly more product options launching into the market, include gluten- and allergen-free products, sprouted foods, healthy snacks, non-dairy alternatives, vegan and paleo offerings, and healthier, cleaner kids’ products.

Natural Products Expo East 2013 will return to the Baltimore Convention Center, Sept. 25-28, 2013 in Baltimore, MD. Follow @NatProdExpo or #ExpoWest on Twitter for ongoing conversations or connect on their Facebook page to keep up with their latest developments.

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My favorite products at Expo West? Well, I just love the Diestels and their line of deli meats. And I picked Sante Nuts Pistachios as Best of the West. Other favorites were True Bar (Hazelnut especially!!) and the Zing bar. I especially love it when the marketers give me a whole case of their product!! The aforementioned bars are not completely Paleo, but are gluten-free and non-GMO and totally appropriate for an occasional treat. Especially on heavy training days.

You can follow @NatProdExpo or #ExpoWest on twitter for ongoing conversations or connect on their Facebook page.

During my time in Anaheim, I stayed at Ayres Hotel Anaheim. The hotel is located close to everything! It is directly across the street from the Honda Center (where the Mighty Ducks play) and walking distance from Angels Stadium. It is a short shuttle ride (ART!!) from the Anaheim Convention Center, Disneyland and California Adventure.

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I loved staying at Ayres I will stay there every time I visit Anaheim. I enjoyed the nightly wine and guacamole reception from 5:30-6:30pm. You’d think they’d planned this just for me as much as I love wine and guacamole! :) My room was spacious and was equipped with a refrigerator and microwave. Very useful for Paleo people and having to bring your own food along when traveling. There is free breakfast available daily with fresh fruit, oatmeal, cereals, eggs, sausage, bacon, coffee, tea, milk, juices, and more. I was able to enjoy the eggs because they don’t add any weird oils or butter to them.

One of the best things about Ayres was the staff. They were so nice and accommodating. They allowed me to leave my bags at the hotel during Expo West. I drive a Smart car with no trunk, and I didn’t want things in my car left visible to potential thieves (I had to park at Angels Stadium to shuttle to the convention center). Also, during my stay they explained to me how Anaheim Resort Transportation works to me (and a few other guests), so I was able to save $10 on parking at Disneyland.

I worked out in the gym two days of my stay and discovered a great bike path to run on directly beside the hotel. So, if you like to run outdoors or if you are a cyclist, take note. This is a great place to stay for you! I ran three miles out and back. It’s a semi-hilly and fun run that will definitely burn some calories. There’s also an outdoor pool and a spa.

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So Ayres Hotel and staff… thanks. You guys are rad. Follow them on twitter here and like them on Facebook here. They run a lot of deals and do a lot of giveaways. It’s such a great place to stay and I will definitely be back!

Lastly, I want to thank Disneyland. I was able to be a kid again for a day with my press credential. I had so much fun. I rode so many rides! Space Mountain, The Matterhorn, It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Haunted Mansion and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I was even able to find a Paleo friendly snack at Bengal Barbecue! They have meat and vegetable skewers!!

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I think my favorite ride is at California Adventure. It’s called Radiator Springs Racers and based on the Cars movie. I also checked out Mickey’s Fun Wheel and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror while I was there. It was definitely the Happiest Place on Earth for me and my only regret is that Andy or my nieces were not there with me to enjoy it. Here are a few pictures I took while I was there. I got my picture with Donald Duck because we share the same birthday. :) Thank you so much, Disneyland! Catch them on twitter here and on Facebook here.

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FITzee Foods Serves Pre-Portioned Paleo-friendly Meals

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To be honest, I didn’t really think the meals Andy and I were sent from FITzee Foods were going to be that much to write home about. I have NEVER liked frozen food meals (Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers, etc) because quite frankly, they all taste God-awful. Also, I believe in taking the time to cook something free of additives and preservatives that are in most frozen meals. Blech. However, since FITzee Foods meals seemed to be atypical of the aforementioned brands, I agreed to have some shipped to me for a review (even though I was a little concerned about their flavor, texture, etc).

After some trepidation, I thawed out our meals from FITzee Foods, heated them up, and tried to plate them the best I could for a picture. I will admit I even made a salad and parsnip chips as a back-up meal in case the meals were inedible–by the way, the salad and parsnips ended up being great side dishes. Apologies to FITzee Foods for my slight doubt of their product. ;) Blind tasted, I would not have known the meals were pre-packaged or frozen.

FITzee Foods‘ meals are prepared daily with fresh, organic, and all-natural ingredients. All meals and snacks are available in a variety of specifically portioned sizes to fuel each individual’s unique lifestyle. All you need to do is heat and eat. They have a full menu with breakfast, lunch, and dinner that caters to special dietary needs, including meals that are Paleo-friendly. They also list the calorie content of different-sized portions for each item. The meals can be picked up in their store in San Diego, or shipped nationwide.

The two meals we tried were the BBQ Pulled Pork with Garlic Red Potatoes and Creamy Spinach (557 calories) and the Thai Coconut Curry Chicken (447 calories). I couldn’t believe how fresh the meals tasted after being frozen for at least a month. The Thai Curry still had vibrant flavors of cilantro and red curry paste with a coconut milk broth, and the BBQ Pulled Pork was sweet, spicy and tender, and the spinach was a fresh bright green. The medium-sized meals we sampled were the perfect dinner portion for a female about my size (5’1″, 120-125 pounds). Since our taste test, the company has added a few more Paleo options I am looking forward to trying.

You can find FITzee Foods on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here. To see some customer ratings, you can check out their Yelp page here. You can order online from their web store here.


Simple Squares: Simple Ingredients

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I found Simple Squares at the Fancy Food Show last January, and they were also featured at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo last month. The makers of Simple Squares were kind enough to send a sample package to me. I was really impressed with the quality of ingredients and the different/unique flavors. Each flavor is made with five ingredients, and they happen to be all natural and organic.

The flavor line-up includes Cinna-Clove, Coconut, Coffee, Rosemary (my favorite), and Sage. Coming soon will be Ginger. The bars are not overly sweet and actually a little bit savory. With those components, I could almost see them cut into small pieces on a cheese plate, and paired with wine as an appetizer or a dessert.

But the company’s founder Kimberly Crupi Dobbins (whom I met at the Fancy Food Show) says she developed Simple Squares after traveling extensively (42 straight days) and being advised to follow an elimination diet. Which I am sure if any of you have tried to cut wheat, sugar, and dairy from your diet and tried to have a snack at an airport or even on a plane, you know it’s pretty tough. Kimberly says, “Refusing to compromise yet recognizing the need to indulge, I set out on a mission to create great tasting and healthy snacks.”

Simple Squares are high in protein, low in sodium and sugars, contain no wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, or corn, and no refined sugar brown rice syrup, or agave nectar. Sounds perfectly Paleo to me. :)

You can buy Simple Squares directly from their website or find them in your area by entering your zip code in the Store Locator here.

You can find Simple Squares on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.


Grilled Monkfish Medallions with Mustard featuring Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Today’s recipe is from The New York Times Wine Club website and was brought to you by the makers of Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We were introduced to Tazah at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Andy coordinated the product sample at the show, picked the monkfish recipe, and even prepared it for us. I didn’t have to do anything but smile and pose with the bottle of Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sometimes I have it pretty easy. The recipe is fantastic and Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil is versatile enough to use in a recipe and also use in a salad dressing (which we also did the very same evening).

One of the photos is the monkfish with the marinade, and the finished plate includes one of our favorite sides: parsnip chips, sautéed eggplant (both prepared with Tazah Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a garnish of kiwi. I was really impressed with Andy’s cooking (he’s above average to start, especially when preparing meat, but this time was a real treat!!). The meal turned out so great! The flavor component that is key is the orange zest. It really amplifies the flavor of the sauce.

To make this recipe completely paleo you can use coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce.

Grilled Monkfish Medallions with Mustard

Ingredients
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 thick slices of monkfish, each about 6 ounces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 orange

Directions
Combine the mustard, orange juice and soy sauce with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Beat well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place monkfish in a glass or ceramic dish and pour 6 tablespoons of mustard mixture over fish, turning each piece to coat both sides. Set aside at room temperature.

Preheat a grill or broiler.

While the grill is preheating, place the remaining olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden. Stir in the grated orange zest and the remaining mustard mixture. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grill or broil the monkfish 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Briefly reheat the sauce to a simmer, stir it and spoon it over the fish.

For more information on Tazah, you can call (323) 664-8956 and find them on Facebook here.


Whole Foods Market & Cook Taste Eat Blogger Contest: Chocolate & Cinnamon Pepita Butter Ice Cream

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Whole Foods Market and Cook Taste Eat, a website created by Michael Mina and fellow foodie friends dedicated to helping everyone cook and eat better, have teamed up to offer food bloggers across the Continental U.S. the opportunity to become a Cook Taste Eat TV star.

This is my entry for the contest. It’s a dessert to celebrate Cinco de Mayo using Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value™ Coconut Milk.

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Chocolate & Cinnamon Pepita Butter Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks

I used cinnamon and pepitas to incorporate classic Mexican ingredients in my recipe. I also featured Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value™ Coconut Milk as one of the main ingredients instead of using milk or cream. I used a Patron tequila liqueur to flavor the ice cream. Additionally, I used agave nectar and dates instead of sugar to sweeten the dessert. You’ll need an ice cream maker to recreate this dessert. Here are the ingredients and procedure:

Ingredients:
For the ice cream:
2 – 14 oz. cans Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value™ Coconut Milk (full fat, not light variety)
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 banana
10 dates
3 Tbs agave nectar
2 Tbs Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa

For the cinnamon pepita butter:
1 1/2 cups toasted pepitas
2 Tbs coconut oil
2 Tbs agave nectar
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

For the chocolate chunks:

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup coconut oil

Instructions:
For the ice cream: Combine all the ice cream ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse/blend until smooth and creamy. Place in a bowl and set in the freezer so that mixture will get extremely cold. Chill but do not freeze while you prepare the cinnamon pepitas butter.

For the cinnamon pepitas butter: Toast raw and unsalted pepitas in the oven on a cookie sheet until they are lightly browned. Then transfer them to a food processor and pulse until they become a grainy texture. Add the coconut oil and pulse until mixture becomes the texture of peanut butter or almond butter. Add the agave nectar, cinnamon, and salt, and blend until well combined. Set aside.

At this point you can remove the ice cream mixture from the freezer and pour it into your ice cream maker. Follow individual manufacturer’s instructions, but the mixture should start to resemble ice cream within about 20 minutes if you have an electric model. While the mixture is in the machine, you can prepare the chocolate chunks.

For the chocolate chunks: Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave and stir until fully incorporated. Chocolate will be a thin, syrupy texture. Spread on a wax paper lined baking pan and place in the freezer or refrigerator and allow to harden. Once the chocolate is firm, break it up into little chunks and set aside. Reserve a little to use as a topping when you serve the ice cream.

Once the ice cream is made, transfer it from the machine into a large bowl and set in the freezer for 10 minutes to allow it to firm a little more. After 10 minutes, remove the ice cream and stir in spoonfuls of the cinnamon pepitas butter and the chunks of chocolate. I love big chunks of ingredients in my ice cream, so a little stirring will do. Then place the ice cream back into the freezer one last time for 20-30 minutes and allow to harden. Serve with a little of the melted chocolate.

In exchange for writing this blog and tweeting a link to this blog, I received an entry into the Food Blogger to Media Star Promotion. For the Official Rules, click here.

PS: This recipe is paleo friendly and gluten free. You can use honey or stevia in place of the agave nectar. You can leave out the chocolate chunks to make it completely dairy free! :)


Cobb Salad Featuring Santé Nuts

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On the evening of January 31st, I made my favorite meal–a Cobb salad–so that I could enjoy chicken and bacon one last time until March 1st (at least, maybe longer… we’ll see how it goes). During the month of February, I’ll only be eating seafood and eggs as my main sources of protein. Gone are the days of bacon-wrapped dates, at least for a while… ;)

Why am I going mostly vegetarian? I just felt like I was eating too much meat, that’s all. It was getting to be pork or chicken or beef almost every single night for dinner. I don’t feel like it’s very good for me or for the environment, even though I buy organic and grass-fed meats when at all possible. I asked myself if I would have been willing to kill and butcher every single piece of meat that I had eaten since my diet has been so meat heavy (in the last two years). And, though I would have definitely been willing to hunt/forage/kill/clean some of the meats in the meals Andy and I have enjoyed (especially the holiday ones), I have to admit I would not want to have to kill something everyday or clean it everyday. I’d rather go pick an apple and get down with some almond butter! ;)

I decided since February is the shortest month, it would be completely doable to cut out feathers, fur, or animals with snouts. ;) I’ll be enjoying seafood once or twice a week, nuts (in moderation), some cheese (organic), Greek yogurt, and rarely–organic beans/lentils for protein. Not as Paleo, but again… I am always questioning why salami or bacon is Paleo and some other things like organically grown beans, corn, or rice aren’t…

I had a charcuterie plate for dinner about 2 weeks ago, and I was just sitting there thinking, man… I probably shouldn’t be eating this. So many calories and cholesterol… So much meat… So much salt. Need. To. Cut. Back!

So veggies for a month it is! But first…

I studded my last meaty meal with Santé Roasted Salted Pecans, sent to me after attending the NASFT Winter San Francisco Fancy Food Show. What I liked best about this variety of Santé is that it didn’t have any added sugar like some of the other varieties do. I rarely buy pecans because of their high calorie content, so when I get them sent to me, it’s a rare treat.

In addition to the Roasted Salted variety, Santé also offers Candied Pecans, Cinnamon Pecans, Sweet & Spicy Pecans, Candied Walnuts, Cardamom Cashews, Chipotle Almonds, and Garlic Almonds.

Some fun nut and wine pairings can be found on their website here.

You can buy Santé Nuts local to Sacramento at Whole Foods market and at Draeger’s in the Bay area. There is also a product locator you can use on their website. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.

This month, stay tuned for some vegetarian recipes using more products from manufacturers I met at the Fancy Food show! It will be exciting to use my creativity in the kitchen and share with you here… maybe even gain some vegetarian readers while I am at it.


Gluten Free Expo in San Francisco, February 9th & 10th!


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The 1st annual San Francisco, CA Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo (www.gfafexpo.com) will be held on February 9 and 10, 2013 at the San Francisco Marriott Airport Waterfront Hotel.  Jenny McCarthy’s non-profit organization Generation Rescue is the primary sponsor for the event (www.generationrescue.org).  In addition, Dr. Peter Green from Columbia University will be the keynote speaker (www.celiacdiseasecenter.org).

The Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo was started by Jen Cafferty of gfreelife.com in 2008. Jen’s team is excited to include San Francisco as part of their “road show” in 2013. More than 2,500 people are anticipated to attend the Bay Area’s first sizeable gluten-free event in years!

The following gluten-free experts will be at the expo:

Silvana Nardone (www.silvanaskitchen.com), founding editor-in-chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine

Cybele Pascal (www.cybelepascal.com), who has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show

Kyra Bussanich of Crave Bake Shop (www.cravebakeshop.com), who won two episodes of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network

Kathy Smart of Live the Smart Way (livethesmartway.com), who has appeared on the Dr. Oz show and will be the face of GlutenFreeFind.com

Brandy Wendler, Mrs. Alaska 2011 (brandywendler.blogspot.com)

Amy Fothergill (www.amythefamilychef.com), who is a chef in San Francisco

The Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo is the largest and fastest growing gluten-free consumer event in the United States. Their growth continues in 2013 as the GFAF Expo expands its event locations as well as their focused demographic.

The Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo will bring the nation’s leading chefs, best-selling cookbook authors, and highly regarded nutrition and health experts to help people learn how to prepare healthy, tasty meals and baked goods without gluten and some of the most common allergens. With over 100 vendors, attendees can sample products before buying them at the store.

“Living on a restricted diet doesn’t have to mean living without the joy of cooking, baking and eating foods that look and taste great,” said Jen Cafferty, mother of two and founder of the Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo. “There is nothing like this in the area – a place where individuals, parents, and others can spend from a few hours to a full day sampling hundreds of products, and discovering that special dietary needs and cookies that taste like cardboard are not synonymous.”

I can’t wait to connect with other gluten-free people as well as gluten free product manufacturers, and bring some of their products to this website!

Open to the general public, the event features themed cooking sessions that will enlighten both beginners and more experienced home chefs, as well as a vendor fair, where attendees will meet and sample among more than 100 gluten-free companies under one roof. All of the vendors are 100 percent gluten-free and many also will showcase products free of the top eight allergens: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.

The Expo will include a dedicated area featuring nut-free products. The Expo is not just for those who are gluten sensitive and have food allergies. It is a great resource for those who have celiac disease, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, food intolerances, anti-inflammatory diseases and those who are autistic. The Expo is a perfect platform for athletes and those who are health-conscious. Offerings will include raw foods, supplements, health foods, protein bars and shakes, and detox options.

A variety of experts will give presentations on topics including:

-Pie Crust 101

-The Science Behind Gluten-Free Baking

-Safely Eat Out & Travel Gluten & Allergen-Free

A detailed schedule can be found at http://www.gfafexpo.com/san-francisco/classes

The Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo Vendor Fair will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10, 2013 at the San Francisco Marriott Airport Waterfront Hotel. The cost to attend the Vendor Fair is $20 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 – 12. Early admission tickets (9 a.m.) are available for an additional fee online. General tickets are available online or at the door. The ticket price also includes an allergen-free arts and crafts area for kids, as well as staged presentations related to gluten-free living and cooking.

To purchase tickets or obtain additional information, including vendors, presenters’ bios and the full schedule of classes and stage presentations for each day, visit www.gfafexpo.com.

There are 45 million people with food allergies and intolerances. More than 18 million Americans are on a gluten-free diet. Over 3 million Americans have celiac disease. Celiac disease is two times more common than Type 1 Diabetes and seven times more common than Multiple Sclerosis. About 1 in every 133 people has celiac disease – a condition in which the body cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and commercially available oats. More than 300 symptoms ranging from digestive issues to depression are linked to celiac disease, and more than 95 percent of people who have it are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. A gluten-free diet is essential for those with celiac disease, which many sufferers erroneously believe or have been told by medical professionals is irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance. In addition, many families with autistic children are reporting a reduction in their children’s symptoms with a gluten-free diet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an average of 1 in 110 U.S. children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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About the Expo:

The Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo is the premier gluten and allergen free event in the United States. The GFAF Expo serves over 20,000 people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivities, auto-immune/anti-inflammatory diseases and autism as well as athletes and the health conscious community each year.

As founder of the Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo and President of Gluten Free Classes, Jen Cafferty is a nationally recognized expert on cooking and living gluten & allergen-free. She considers it her personal mission to help others who follow a restricted diet learn delicious, nutritious and convenient ways to live a happy and healthy life.


Wordless Wednesday: Paleo/Primal Meals at Home

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

OK, maybe I’ll write a few words. ;)
The above slideshow are shots of a few meals Andy and I have had so far in 2013. All we need is a monster salad, a slab of meat and perhaps some root vegetables. I often enjoy these dinners more than dining out because we control all the ingredients, portion size and the cost of our meal. I even made parmesan “chips” to go on our salads in one of the photos. :)

Do you have a favorite Paleo/Primal meal? Please share in the comments section below! I found this recipe for cauliflower breadsticks, and I am thinking of trying them tonight!


Like Unique Varietals? Try St. Amant Winery in Lodi

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If you’ve never heard of St. Amant Winery, here’s an introduction. They are located in Lodi where lately, especially the last 3 years, some of my favorite red wines have also originated.

I first discovered St. Amant wines at a tasting at Treasure Island (in San Francisco of all places) during Fleet Week. I had the St. Amant Barbera and I thought it was the best red wine there. So, my recent interest in local Tempranillos has me searching around Lodi  to see what I can find. It’s becoming more and more popular of a varietal there. It turns out that St. Amant has been growing Tempranillo a long time. Their 2009 was their 8th vintage, so I’m guessing they’re not just trying to be trendy. ;)

In fact, St. Amant was growing grapes prior to the beginning of commercial wine sales in Lodi. In 1979, Tim Spencer (the late father of the current owner, Stuart Spencer) owned a couple of acres of Zinfandel vines and grafted them to five Douro Valley Portuguese varieties: TintaCao,Touriga, Alvarelhao, Souzao, and Bastardo. By 1981, he produced his first vintage port.

In 1996, the winery relocated to Lodi. St. Amant (named after Stuart’s mother’s maiden name) is one of the first wineries in Lodi to list Lodi on their label. Since the move, Stuart has been making some of the most interesting and food friendly wines including: a Verdelho, the aformentioned Barbera and Tempranillo, a Touriga, a red blend: Speakeasy Red, and of course the ever popular Old Vine Zinfandel (2 varieties). The current lineup also includes 3 different kinds of Port.

Last night’s food pairing (with the 2008 Tempranillo) was a baked sweet potato topped with broccoli, onions, hard boiled egg, and Diestel Turkey Chorizo. I also added a little Greek yogurt and black pepper. ;)

I encourage you to visit St. Amant this weekend, especially if you are looking for a special bottle of wine as a gift. They are located at 1 Winemaster Way, Lodi, CA. You can also find them at Total Wine & More or fax your order from this form here.

You can like Lodi Wine on Facebook here.


Spinach Bread, Where Have You Been My Whole Life?!?

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WARNING!! Do not make this bread. It will only make you crave more of it. I got the recipe from my friend and fellow food blogger Julia Mueller who writes the wonderfully delicious blog The Roasted Root. I met her during the Diestel Turkey Ranch visit–she and her boyfriend were sitting across from Andy and I at dinner. It’s great to meet people who have heard of Paleo or even slightly follow the diet. They asked me if I had ever heard of “spinach bread”, and I said, yes, I think I had heard about it on Mark’s Daily Apple, but I never made it and kind of just forgot about it. They gave me the URL to her website and the link to the recipe. Recipe tweaks such as using collard greens instead of spinach were discussed, as well as using half spinach/half collards. Whatever you do, MAKE A DOUBLE BATCH! :) It’s like…”Spinach bread…where have you been all my life?” It’s not that it tastes like bread… but the texture is flexible and you can pick it up and it doesn’t fall apart… making it perfect to cut into squares or use as a wrap… a spinach blanket… oh, it’s just wonderful… :)

And then…what did I make to fill the bread? I met Joan and Heidi Diestel in Davis a few nights ago to buy some of their chicken eggs (not really available/distributed except in Sonora) because they are the best eggs I have ever eaten. Hey, eggs are like one of my favorite foods. I didn’t know when I would be able to meet up with my egg suppliers again, so I bought 4 dozen. I told you, I love eggs. :)

Instead of just eggs, Joan and Heidi sent me home with 4 varieties of ground turkey to try. They call this line of turkey product “chubs”. On Saturday night, I cracked open the regular variety and decided that since the spinach bread was flavored with sundried tomatoes and mushrooms, I would flavor the turkey with herbs and spices found in Italian cuisine. On the side, Andy and I had one of our favorite things: Parsnip Chips–which also happen to be addictive. Below is what I came up with:

Spinach Bread (this is the recipe doubled)
Ingredients
3 pounds frozen chopped collard greens (1.5 bags)
6 eggs
6 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 tablespoon oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
10 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
salt, pepper to taste

Procedure:
Put the oven on at 350 degrees. Spread the greens out on a sheet pan and for 10 minutes or until the greens thaw out. Heat the oils and butter (if you are using butter) garlic, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes. Cook the ingredients until the mushrooms have reduced and absorbed the garlic and the oils. (5-7 minutes) You’ll be able to smell when they are done. :)

After you remove the greens from the over, squeeze the water out of them. Show everyone how mighty you are by doing it with your bare hands. ;). Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl, then place the greens in the mixing bowl with the beaten eggs.  Add the sauteed ingredients into the mixing bowl and mix all ingredients well, ensuring the eggs are well incorporated.

Line a sheet pan with parchment, and spread the “bread” batter across it. Bake until the bread dries out in the middle and the edges begin to brown. This will take about 40-45 minutes. Now for the meat filling!

Italian-O Diestel Turkey Patties (makes 4-5)
Ingredients
One “chub” Diestel ground turkey (regular variety)
2 Tbs fresh or dried basil
3 Tbs chopped garlic
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 chopped onion
2 Tbs dried oregano
2 tsp thyme
1 egg
1/2 cup pasta sauce
salt and pepper to season

Procedure
Brown the onion in a skillet with 1 Tbs olive oil. Add the herbs to the pan and heat them slightly to bring out their flavor. Allow to cool slightly and then add the egg and the onion mixture to the ground turkey in a bowl, and add 1/2 cup of your favorite pasta sauce (we used 365 Organic from Whole Foods). Mix with your hands until well combined and form into patties. Then use the same skillet you used to brown the onion to heat some more olive oil and cook the patties. You only need to flip them one time and they will be fragile, so make sure the pan is hot and you give the patty enough time to cook on the first side. Flip and brown the other side and remove from the pan.

Then cut the cooled spinach bread and assemble your turkey patties. Top with more pasta sauce and another slice of spinach bread. And there you go! :)

You can find Julia and  The Roasted Root on Facebook here. And you’ll probably be able to find me making more spinach bread tonight. :)


Cobble Gobble: Eat More Turkey!

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One thing that I took away from my tour of The Diestel Family Turkey Ranch last week is that people don’t really eat all that much turkey. As Americans we probably only enjoy it a few times a year. Maybe the problem is that we associate a lot of fear in cooking such a large and expensive piece of meat. Traumatized by an overcooked bird or a fried turkey explosion? Do we brine or do we not brine? Do we cook it breast side down first? What do I do with the carcass?!?! Maybe we overeat so much during the holiday turkey dinners and have so many incarnations of turkey leftovers, that the thought of having a turkey once a week sounds completely unappealing.

But forget about the larger 20-pound creatures for a moment. If you didn’t have to prepare a monstrosity every time, wouldn’t you love to have turkey once a week or even every couple of days? Think about all the possibilities…. not just turkey lunch meats, but turkey burgers, turkey bacon, turkey sausages, and even turkeys that are the size of roasting chickens? What if you didn’t even have to cook the turkey?

After the Diestel tour, Andy purchased a Diestel turkey breast (from their store on the ranch) to have for dinner at some point the following week. He marinated overnight (Greek style) and then grilled it. The next day he brought some over so I could make a version of my latest obsession, a Cobb salad, only this time, it would be a turkey Cobb salad!

I’m not sure why I am so in love the the Cobb right now. It could be because I love everything in one and the only thing non-Paleo in it is the cheese (I don’t use dressing either because to me it’s not needed with so many other toppings).

The Cobb originated in 1937 at the Brown Derby, when the restaurant’s owner Bob Cobb wanted a late night snack. I imagine it was a kind of TV’s Chopped moment when he raided the cooler and the pantry and combined what he could find inside: head of lettuce, an avocado, some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, some cold breast of chicken, a hard-boiled egg, chives, cheese, and of course bacon. Even Cobb knew that bacon makes everything better. ;) The salad dressing Cobb invented ontained red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, garlic, olive oil, dry mustard, and salad oil. Soon everyone was asking for The Cobb Salad, and since 1937, more than 4 million salads have been sold at Brown Derby restaurants.

And that’s what I have had for dinner the past three nights! Last night I wanted to see how wonderful the Diestel Turkey would be in a Cobb. And it was everything I hoped. My Cobb salad had organic Earthbound Farms lettuce (herb blend–with dill in it, my favorite!!), heirloom tomatoes from Feeding Crane Farms, avocado, hard boiled Diestel chicken eggs, blue cheese, bacon, and of course the grilled Diestel turkey breast. We also had sauteed onions and mushrooms on the side, which I enjoy with almost anything.

We enjoyed the salad paired with a Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir. By the way, both chardonnays and pinot noir work very well with a Cobb Salad.

So it’s that easy. Just take the chicken out of your favorite recipe and put turkey up to bat! Turkey Cordon Bleu, Turkey and Dumplings, Turkey Chili, Turkey enchiladas… the list goes on. And, if you are gluten free or Paleo, there are tons of chicken recipes on the internet that you can swap in turkey meat instead.

For more recipe ideas or to see the full line of Diestel products, you can click here.


Gluten Free Pumpkin Pecan Breads & Apple Parsnip Soup

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I made this duo (the pumpkin breads were my own recipe and I borrowed the soup recipe from Cooking Light) for a wine party Andy and I went to last Friday.

I always make sure to bring Paleo friendly food to a potluck, but I especially like making comfort-type foods that non-Paleo people think they might miss if they cut wheat or sugar from their diet. The Pumpkin and Pecan Breads are such a treat! :)

Pumpkin & Pecan Breads

This recipe makes about 18 cupcake-sized breads. Each one can be served with the soup. You can place the bread in the bottom of the bowl and pour the soup over, or you can pour the soup in the bowl first and tear apart the breads using them as croutons.

Ingredients
2 cups pumpkin
1 1/2 cups chopped pecan
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup honey
8 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon crushed ginger

Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except for the pecans. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, and coconut oil. Add wet ingredients to the dry mixture and fold until just combined. Incorporate the pecans and then pour the batter into a loaf pan or into a cupcake pan with liners.

Bake until the middle of the breads gently spring back and the tops of the bread are golden brown.
Now for the soup….

Apple-Parsnip Soup (from Cooking Light Magazine–dairy ingredients omitted)
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 1/2 cups chopped peeled Pink Lady apple (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 1/2 cups chopped peeled parsnip (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup apple cider
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preparation:
1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add apple and the next 4 ingredients (through garlic); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add parsnip, chicken broth, and apple cider; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until parsnip is tender.
2. Place half of parsnip mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat the procedure with remaining parsnip mixture. Stir in salt and pepper.

Allgood Provisions: Gluten free, Non-GMO, and Organic Snacks

Last week, I was sent a variety pack of snacks made by Allgood Provisions. The samples came in 8 ounce pouches and included cranberries, pistachios, and trail mix. Other varieties include: Organic Almonds, Maple Roasted Cashews, Organic Cherries, Organic Raisins and Banana Chips.

I was reading the Sacramento Bee on Saturday morning (Wednesday’s Taste section) and I found this recipe that just happens to have all Paleo ingredients. It’s authored by Chef Sara Moulton, former editor of Gourmet magazine. It also calls for pistachios, so it was a perfect opportunity to try the pistachios Allgood Provisions sent me!

This salad is sweet and savory and just phenomenal. I love it because it takes boring carrots and brings them to a new flavorful level. Andy and I both were scheduled for long runs the following day, so instead of typical carby runner fare: bread, pizza, pasta, we had beef, eggplant and the carbs came from this salad. It’s the perfect fuel for running! Andy did the math and figured the entire recipe was equivalent to eating three Powerbars. People always ask me where I get my carbs while eating Paleo, and here’s my answer. :)

Grated carrot salad with dates and pistachios

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time (for cumin seeds): 4 minutes

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon paprika, sweet, hot or smoked, or a combination
1 teaspoon honey
1 pound carrots
1/4 cup chopped pitted dates (about 4 whole)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup shelled natural pistachios, walnuts or almonds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon shredded fresh mint

INSTRUCTIONS
In a small skillet over medium-low, heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until they turn a shade darker and become fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the paprika and the honey.

Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, coarsely grate the carrots, preferably using the coarse grating disk on a food processor. In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the cooled oil-cumin mixture, the dates, lemon juice, pistachios and salt, using your hands to incorporate the dates.

Stir in the mint just before serving.

Recipe photo credit: Matthew Mead/Associated Press

Allgood Provisions products are available at Whole Foods Market.

You can find Allgood Provisions on Facebook here and on twitter here.


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