Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

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Sweet Potatoes with Dukkah

This is another side dish we had during our Easter feast over the weekend. It’s just potatoes sautéed in coconut oil (Tropical Traditions is the best!) and sprinkled with a nut and spice blend called dukkah.

If you missed the recipe before, allow me to introduce you to dukkah… the nut and spice blend that is to meat and vegetables as sprinkles are to ice cream. A magical little topping that makes everything taste irresistible. 🙂 Below is how to make enough for this recipe and also enough to store in your cabinet and use on other things like fish or sautéed vegetables.

Dukkah
You can modify/change-up these ingredients to your liking:

1/4 cup ground coriander
5 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons dried mint leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

Nuts:
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup raw pistachio nuts
1/2 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup cashews

It’s easiest ( I think) to roast all the nuts in the oven first, until they are golden brown. I do this on a sheet pan at 350° until they turn color. Be sure to watch closely, they will burn fast.
While the nuts are toasting in the oven, toast the herbs, spices, and seeds until they are brown/toasty/aromatic. Allow each of them to cool completely.

Place the nuts and seeds, along with the mint and salt, into a food processor and pulse into a coarse consistency.

This is the finished product…
Now that you have your spice blend, you will want to slice the potatoes into disc shapes… thin enough so that they will cook through without taking too long (see picture above). A good tip is to microwave them for a minute or so to get a jump-start on their cooking.
Next, heat up some coconut oil in a frying pan/skillet and put the potato slices in (don’t stack them up… just cook them one layer at a time). Pan fry them until tender and sprinkle them with the dukkah. Use as much or as little as you like. Cover the pan with a lid and cook until they are fork tender.
When you plate the potatoes, you can sprinkle them with a little more dukkah as a garnish if you desire.

Paleo Recipe: Gingersnap Crusted Ham

I’d like to start this post with a big thank you to Tropical Traditions. They sent me a huge jar of coconut oil to try out in my Paleo recipes. I ended up using it in the Paleo Gingersnaps that I used to crumble up and coat the ham below. Here’s a picture of their product. It’s not only good in cooking (use it in the place of –and in the same ratio as–any butter or oil), but excellent as a moisturizer!


So look at the crusty beast below! Can you believe it is gluten free? 🙂 This Gingersnap Crusted Ham was a “side” for our Paleo Easter Meal. I snagged the idea for it from the Alton Brown recipe I first made years ago.

What You Will Need:

One 2 pound”City” Ham (I used an Uncured, Nitrate Free, Hormone Free, Vegetarian Fed Ham)
You will find that 2 pounds of ham is actually only about 1/4 of a normal sized ham. 🙂

3/4 Cup Dijon Mustard

1/2 Cup Maker’s Mark Bourbon (in a spray bottle)

2 Cups Paleo Gingersnap Crumbs (To get the crumbs, you have to make the gingersnaps themselves.)

Paleo Gingersnaps
1.5 cups Blanched Almond Flour
1 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 Tbs fresh ginger or ginger paste

1 omega 3 Egg
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/8 cup molasses

1/4 cup Coconut Oil (Tropical Traditions for best results!!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (including lemon zest).
In a small mixing bowl beat eggs, honey, molasses, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer.
Pour wet ingredients into dry and beat with hand mixer until combined.
Add coconut oil into batter, and continue to blend until combined.
Press the dough out flat on a parchment lined baking sheet, about a tablespoon in size. Bake cookies for 15 minutes at 375.

Let cool completely then break the cookie into crumbs and set aside.

Procedure:

1. Place the ham in a glass baking dish and paint the dijon mustard on it with a pastry brush.

2. Then take the gingersnap crumbs and coat the ham until it is completely covered in crumbs.

3. Spray the ham with the bourbon to seal the crumb coating.

4. Bake the ham in the oven at 350° for about 10 mins, then take out the ham and lightly spritz the it with more bourbon. Return the ham to the oven and bake it until the crust is golden brown, or if you are like me, you can get the crust a little more brown than that. Let rest about 5-10 mins and then carve to serve.

Mmmm….HAMMALICIOUS!


Leftover Easter Eggs? Make Hard Boiled Eggs with Avocado, Cumin and Curry

Here’s a great recipe to use all those leftover Easter eggs!
It’s one of the many great dishes the BF and I enjoyed this weekend in Tahoe. We ate a completely Paleo Easter dinner on Saturday evening, and day by day I will be sharing everything we had and how to make it!

Hard Boiled Eggs with Avocado, Cumin and Curry

Ingredients:
6 organic cage free eggs
1 avocado
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry
1 tsp garlic pureé
pinch of salt to taste
optional: fresh black pepper on top
1-2 beets

To prepare the beets, cut them into cubes and boil them until they are tender. They will slip out of their outer skins much easier after they cook. Cut into little “diamond” shapes and set them aside.

Hard boil the eggs and peel them out of their shells. Cut them in half and scoop out the yolks into a small bowl. Cut half an avocado and mash it together with the yolks in the bowl. Add the spices and garlic puree and the salt to taste. Spoon the mixture back into the egg white halves. Top with cracked pepper.

Garnish the finished eggs with the beet diamonds.

Tomorrow I will show you how I made a Gingersnap crusted ham Paleo style!


Paleo Dining: Speak up! Ask questions! Take charge!

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Dining out can be a little tricky on the Paleo diet. Standard restaurant menus are a gauntlet of gluten, sugar, and dairy laden dishes, not to mention the cheap seed oils that are used to prepare them.

The above slide show is from a restaurant at which my Paleo partner and I dined called Coyote Bar & Grill.

In the title I say, “Speak up!” because in order to stick to the principles of a gluten-free, sugar-free diet, you are often times going to find yourself in need of certain menu substitutions to make restaurant meals work best for you. And THAT IS OK! You are the customer, and you are paying for your meal. You should enjoy it and not fret about what the server or the chef will think of you if you ask for something special.

Of course, substitutions and modifications might not work so much in a chain restaurant (especially fast food) because food is not made to order), but typically most restaurants are glad to accommodate a customer with special dietary needs. Especially if they ever want to see that customer ever again.

When we dined at Coyote, we were very hungry from running in the Carlsbad 5000 5K race. Directly after the race, my boyfriend had conquered a half chicken at Pollos Maria, but it was 4 hours later, and his appetite had come back with a vengeance. And I was ready to eat, too, after running harder than I ever have in my entire life.

For our appetizer, we ordered the “Guacamole Especial”, which on the menu is listed as “homemade guac, cheese, salsa fresca, tortilla chips”. All I had to do was ask if they could substitute some sort of raw vegetable for the tortilla chips, and please leave off the cheese. They were very agreeable and the BF and I were able to enjoy a perfectly Paleo prelude to our entrees. 🙂

For my main course, I ordered the Grilled Seafood Salad: Grilled scallops, prawns, fresh fish, mixed greens, Feta cheese, tomato, baby corn & Lemon-Cilantro Vinaigrette. To make it Paleo, all I had to do was ask the server to leave off the dressing, and I picked around the cheese and the baby corn. Everything else was perfect!

BF ordered the Grilled Salmon and asked for double grilled vegetables instead of the wild rice. The dinner also came with a mixed greens salad. We also ordered 4 shrimp skewers ala carte. After my salad, I could only eat one of them. I also wanted to note that instead of dressing, I often mix in guacamole into my greens. That way I avoid sugars and soy oil blends (often GMOs) that are notorious ingredients in salad dressings (even house made ones).

So, remember when you go out to eat, you’re in the driver’s seat. You can choose where to go and several details about your meal (in many cases down to how it is prepared). Don’t worry about being a pain if you ask for something that’s not exactly spelled out on the menu. Ask how things are prepared and stay away from adjectives like “breaded, fried”. Words such as “grilled, raw, steamed” are your new best friends!

Happy dining to all my Paleo friends out there!

PS: If you have any Paleo/Primal dining tips/tricks please feel free to share them below! 🙂


Make this Now, Thank Me Later! German “stir fry”

This one’s from the archives.
Thanks to all for supporting the new site!!

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Seriously, make this now. If you don’t like sauerkraut, you might like this dish. If you don’t eat bacon, all I can do is apologize.

German “stir fry”

What you need:
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Red or White Wine
Red Onion
Garlic
Acorn or Butternut Squash (cubed)
Eggplant, Zucchini Squash
Apple, Granny Smith, Fuji, or Gala… any non-mushy apple will do.
Bacon (as many slices as you like—you can also use pork sausage in place of or in addition.
Sauerkraut

It’s funny how our tastes change as adults. I used to HATE sauerkraut as a kid and refuse to eat it. I would go to the Waynesville Sauerkraut Festival with my mom every year, but refuse to sample any of the food there. Now I love sauerkraut, and it’s one of my favorite foods. It is fibrous, low calorie, and filling. I might be getting married to it soon.

I came up with this recipe to honor my new found love, and I have been eating it several times a week. I call it German stir fry because the recipe contains a few of German ingredients, and they are all cooked together basically like I do with a stir fry.

You can use eggplant or not, or squash or not, it all depends on what you like. I really prefer cooking to baking a lot of times, because most recipes are so flexible. This one is as well.

To prepare:
Slice the onion and sauté in oil. Salt the onions to help them caramelize. Cook the onions down and add a little wine or vegetable stock if the pan gets too dry. Add the squash and cook for 5-10 minutes. Add the sqaush, then add the apple next. Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a separate pan until fully browned and crisp.

When the squash and potato are nearly cooked, add the eggplant, and cook until eggplant is tender. Chop the bacon and the sauerkraut and toss in. Heat thoroughly and remove from heat.


Paleo Recipe: Hard Boiled Eggs with Avocado, Cumin, and Curry

Hey, I know these eggs don’t look all that exciting. I made them as a last minute surprise appetizer for the Wintun Ranch Grass Fed Steaks we had as our main course last night. According to the BF, “they almost upstaged the entire dinner!” I really loved them too, and am actually going to make some more tonight. As you can imagine, after dining with someone who has Adam Richman’s appetite (but far better metabolism), these eggs were “gone in 60 seconds”. 😉

So, wanna give them a try? Depending on how much you want to make, you can multiply the ingredients. I will give the ratio for the amount of eggs I made last night: 3, yielding the six portions you see in the picture. 🙂

Hard Boiled Eggs with Avocado, Cumin and Curry

Ingredients:

3 organic cage free eggs

1/2 of one avocado

1tsp cumin

1/2 tsp curry

1/2 tsp garlic pureé

pinch of salt to taste

optional: fresh black pepper on top

Hard boil the eggs and peel them out of their shells. Cut them in half and scoop out the yolks into a small bowl. Cut half an avocado and mash it together with the yolks in the bowl. Add the spices and garlic puree and the salt to taste. Spoon the mixture back into the egg white halves. Top with cracked pepper.

I am going to dice some beets to top the eggs with tonight when I make them again, as this will make them a little more visually appealing without affecting the taste very much. I will update with a new picture and instructions on the beets tomorrow.

Happy Sunday!

UPDATE! 

I added beets to garnish the eggs, and they look and taste great.

To prepare the beets, cut them into cubes and boil them until they are tender. They will slip out of their outer skins much easier after they cook. Cut into little “diamond” shapes and place on top of the avocado and egg filling. Here is what it looks like:


Chicken Larb in Cabbage Cups

Image

1 head of cabbage

2/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
1/3 cup fish sauce
2 teaspoons Thai roasted chili paste

1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass
1 tablespoon thinly sliced jalapeño pepper
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Separate the cabbage into individual leaves.

Mix the first 3 ingredients together with the garlic, set aside.

Melt some coconut oil in a skillet and sauté the green onions, pepper shallots, and the lemongrass until tender. Transfer to a different pan, then cook the ground chicken in the same skillet used for the shallots/onions. When chicken has cooked most of the way through (make sure you have broken it up with a spoon into small pieces while cooking). Pour in the sauce mixture and add the cooked vegetables. Add the cilantro and mint.

Spoon into cabbage pieces. This recipe feeds 4 as an appetizer and 2 as a main course.

Serve with a white wine such as Le Casque’s 2008 Roussanne. You can find it at their winery located in Loomis, CA. For more information, you can visit their website here.


Dukkah Spice Blend and Curried Cashews

During my journey with Paleo, nuts have been a staple in my diet. When eaten raw or dry roasted (dry-roasted at home, not purchased as roasted/salted), they are exceptionally nutritious. So, today I’d like to show you two recipes showcasing nuts as a sort of condiment, and nuts as a snack.
The first recipe is called dukkah. We use it to season our vegetable sautees. Cauliflower, kale, chard… it really takes the flavor of the vegetables to another level! 🙂
Dukkah
You can modify/change up these ingredients to your liking:

1/4 cup ground coriander

5 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 tablespoons cumin

2 tablespoon black peppercorns

2 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 teaspoon dried mint leaves

2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

Nuts:

1/2 cup raw hazelnuts

1/2 cup raw pistachio nuts

1/2 cup raw almonds

3/4 cup cashewsIt’s easiest I think to roast all the nuts in the oven first, until they are golden brown. I do this on a sheet pan at 350° until they turn color. Be sure to watch closely, they will burn fast.

While the nuts are toasting in the oven, toast the herbs, spices, and seeds until they are brown/toasty/aromatic. Allow each of them to cool completely.

Place the nuts and seeds, along with the mint and salt, into a food processor and pulse into a coarse consistency.

This is the finished product…
Snack Two!
Curried Cashews and Almonds

1 cup cashews

1 cup almonds

1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbs coconut oil (melted)

Toast the nuts in the oven or in a skillet until they are golden brown.
Place the spices in a mortar and pestle and grind to incorporate the curry and the red pepper flakes.

Drizzle 1 Tbs coconut oil over the toasted nuts and then sprinkle the curry powder mixture over it. Stir with a spoon to coat the nuts completely.

Bag them up and sneak them into any sort of function where the food options are limited/non-Paleo!!

This way, you won’t starve–you eat clean–no matter what, you win–you might be/or eventually be the sexiest person in the room. #truth!


Chocolate on the Paleo Diet

So, big disclaimer here… if you are trying to lose weight/lean out on the Paleo diet, you should probably obstain from eating chocolate altogether… but if you are at a healthy weight, or at a weight you are comfortable maintaining (maybe you get a lot of “dee-ammns” when you walk by the opposite sex?), then OK, you are allowed to have a little chocolate in moderation on the Paleo diet.I am really not that much of a dessert person anymore, unless it’s fresh or dried fruit and almonds. I even used to do a small cheese arrangement, but in the past few months I have been more strict than ever doing Paleo, so I rarely even have cheese anymore. Practice what you preach, you know? 🙂

But recently, my boyfriend and I went to the Winter Fancy Food Show, and one of the vendors present was TCHO Chocolates. I made a connection with the company because I think it’s important to buy products from companies who make it a point to sell organic and free trade items.
Organic and fair trade, and the highest concentration of cacao that you can find in this bar, the 99%… which, is spectacular with a port or a late harvest zinfandel.TCHO also sent me some other samples to try, such as these Dark Chocolate Organic (yes!!) Baking Drops. They clock in at 68% cacao.

I melted them down and used them to make a classic treat: Chocolate Covered Strawberries.
And if you are going to have chocolate on the Paleo diet, that’s just about the best way to do it. You can go with a chocolate that is not as sweet and it’s portion controlled because there is only so much chocolate that can fit on the berry. How many berries you eat, however, is up to you. The best thing about this dessert is that the chocolate is so intense, you wind up not eating that many.
To melt the discs, I heated some coconut milk in a bowl in the microwave (not boiling, but hot enough to melt the chocolate. Depending on how many strawberries you plan on making, place some of the chocolate discs in another bowl and add the heated milk (about 1/4 cup per 6-8ozs of chocolate). Stir the chocolate until it is smooth and add 1/2 to 1 tsp of your favorite liqueur.
Then dip the strawberries and set them on parchment or wax paper and allow the chocolate to solidify. To speed up the process, set them in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. Share with someone special. 😉

You can find TCHO on Facebook here and on twitter here.


Sacramento Food Film Festival is March 10th! Tickets going fast!!

Some of the best movies I have seen in the past few years have been all about food!!

More specifically, documentaries about our food and its production and distribution.

Needless to say, the inaugural Sacramento Food Film Festival is right up my alley! It will be held on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at Guild Theater from 10am to 10pm. So basically, come out like you are camping out for a deal on an HDTV at Best Buy on Black Friday, ok? 😉

I know a lot of you seem to be aware and conscious of the serious food issues/problems that this world faces, but these movies will educate you (as well as entertain and provoke thought) to what is really going on and really going wrong with our global food supply.

Here is the film lineup for the day:

10:15 Lunch Line 63 min.

Lunch Line follows six kids from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago as they set out to fix school lunch — and end up at the White House. Their unlikely journey parallels the dramatic transformation of school lunch from a patchwork of local anti-hunger efforts to a robust national feeding program. The film tracks the behind-the-scenes details of school lunch and childhood hunger from key moments in the 1940s, 1960s, and 1980s to the present, revealing political twists, surprising alliances, and more common ground than people might realize.
11:30 The Last Crop 50 min.

The Last Crop follows Jeff and Annie Main, and examines how one family’s mission to preserve their small working farm’s existence for future farmers is challenging the status quo of farmland conservation and farm succession policies within California’s 36 billion dollar agricultural industry. I saw this movie early this month and absolutely loved it. Since the filmmaker keeps adding on to the length of the film as the story progresses (as it is a work in progress), it will be a little longer than 50 minutes.


12:30 Dive 53 min.

Inspired by a curiosity about our country’s careless habit of sending food straight to landfills, the multi award-winning documentary DIVE! follows filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and friends as they dumpster dive in the back alleys and gated garbage receptacles of Los Angeles’ supermarkets. In the process, they salvage thousands of dollars worth of good, edible food – resulting in an inspiring documentary that is equal parts entertainment, guerilla journalism and call to action.
1:30 Future of Food 88 min.
The Future of Food has been a key tool in the American and international anti-GMO grassroots activist movements and played widely in the environmental and activist circuits since its release in 2004. The film is widely acknowledged for its role in educating voters and the subsequent success of passing Measure H in Mendocino County, California, one of the first local initiatives in the country to ban the planting of GMO crops. Indicative of its popularity, the Future of Food showed to a sold out audience of 1,500 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco in 2004, a benefit for Slow Food, where it was introduced by Alice Waters.  

3:00 Food Matters 80 min.

With nutritionally-depleted foods, chemical additives and our tendency to rely upon pharmaceutical drugs to treat what’s wrong with our malnourished bodies, it’s no wonder that modern society is getting sicker. Food Matters sets about uncovering the trillion dollar worldwide ‘sickness industry’ and gives people some scientifically verifiable solutions for overcoming illness naturally.


4:30 Ingredients 67 min.
Inspiring and rich, INGREDIENTS unearths the roots of the local food movement and digs into the stories of the chefs, farmers and activists transforming our broken food system. This upbeat, beautifully-photographed film introduces us to the verdant farms and pioneering restaurants where good food is produced and served. From innovative farm-to-table programs in Harlem to picturesque sheep farms in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, INGREDIENTS shows the heart of an alternative food system – healthy, sustainable and tasty.

Through interviews with world-class chefs such as Alice Waters and Greg Higgins and sustainability-minded farmers in Oregon, New York and Ohio, INGREDIENTS weaves an uplifting tale that is equal parts earthy rebellion and mouth-watering homage.
Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth, INGREDIENTS is a fun, open-minded film that will satiate both veteran slow-food fans and the uninitiated alike.

Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth? Guys, need I say more? 🙂

6:00 Farmaggedon 90 min.Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasona-bly burdensome regulations. The film serves to put policymakers and regulators on notice that there is a growing movement of people aware that their freedom to choose the foods they want is in danger, a movement that is taking action with its dollars and its voting power to protect and preserve the dwindling number of family farms that are struggling to survive.


7:45 Farmers Panel Discussion 60 min.
WHAT’S ORGANIC ABOUT “ORGANIC?” delves into the debates that arise when a grassroots agricultural movement evolves into a booming international market. As the film moves from farm fields to government meetings to industry trade shows, we see the hidden costs of conventional agriculture. We also see how our health, the health of our planet, and the agricultural needs of our society are all intimately connected. The film compels us to look forward, towards a new vision for our culture and encourages us to ask, “How can we eat with an ecological consciousness?”

For more information on the event go to: http://sacfoodfilmfest.com

Special thanks to sponsors Simply Recipes, Whole Foods, Slow Food Sacramento, Munchie Musings, Mikuni Sushi, Guild Theatre, and the Sacramento Co-op.

You can find the Sacramento Food Film Festival on Facebook here!!

PS: If you buy a ticket by March 1st, you will be automatically entered to win a restaurant gift card from deVere’s or Ella.

Buy tickets here now! Hurry because the Guild only holds 200 people and tickets are going fast!!


Last Night We Had a Paleo Dinner at: Il Fornaio, Downtown Sacramento

I thought I might start a little series on my website called “Last Night We Had a Paleo Dinner at…”
I will showcase all the meals we have out and show you how you can eat almost 100% Paleo anywhere you go. It’s all about choices… 🙂
Seafood Trio Appetizer with parsley sauce.

House salad… we could have asked for no beans (but, my legume consumption is a rarity anyway and not the worst of Paleo offenses), I did ask for the dressing on the side. 🙂
We split a meal of game hen, sausage, and lamb with carrots, green beans, and spinach!!

Paleo Recipe: True Love Blood Orange and Red Onion Salad with Kalamata Olives

I just love going to the farmer’s market and buying whatever catches my eye. Last Sunday, it was blood oranges. Here’s a quick salad that’s completely Paleo using those that beautiful citrus I picked up!! This recipe serves 2 people as an appetizer or side dish.
Ingredients:
3 blood oranges, sliced widthwise
1 red onion, sliced into rings
10-12 Kalamata olives, sliced into rings
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Gaea Laconia P.G.I.,
kindly sent to me by the reps at Gaea.)
Procedure:
Peel the oranges and slice them widthwise so the slices will look like the picture above. Lay one layer of them out on a plate and then slice the onion into rings and lay them over/on the oranges. Then arrange another bit of oranges around the onions. As you are doing this, you can squeeze a little of the juice over the onions and the plate. Then chop the olives into little rings and sprinkle over the onions and orange slices. To finish, drizzle the olive oil over the salad.

So unique, but simple to prepare, and beautiful on the plate. I named the recipe “true love” because of the ring shapes in the salad (the symbol of eternity), and all that red/orange color in the mix.

It might sound like an odd combination, but I hope you try it. 🙂
Happy Valentine’s Day!

Paleo Superfood Potluck!!

Hi there! I am sitting here writing this post while my twitter feed is overflowing with people tweeting about pizzawingsnachossupersh*ttysuperbowlfoodoneword.

Sorry, but WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!?!

OK, so I am kind of shaking my head, trying not to judge, and thinking back to a time I didn’t eat so well or look all that good, or for that matter FEEL all that great.

I have been Paleo for eleven months now, and since last March I am stronger, faster, sharper, and just better than ever. An old saying, but I believe it’s true: You are what you eat.

I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t care about you. 

Or about the health of the human population in general and the quality of our food supply. See, when you buy cheap, processed food, it creates a demand for more of the same. I know it’s easy and convenient to eat fast food or hard to pass up that juicy burger/pizza/french fry basket… but know this: even french fries are fried in cheap soybean oil… most likely grown by seeds from Monsanto and genetically modified in some form. Even the non fast food places in downtown you go to for happy hour. Cheap veggie oil, people!! The only oil you should be (pan) frying in is olive or coconut, PERIOD!

Backing down a bit….

All I am asking is that you make better choices, and your body will be reward you generously.

So many of my friends complain about being sick all the time. I haven’t been sick all year long. I hear about migraines, flu, colds, and the list goes on and on and on and on. I also know if the complainers cut out all the garbage some of these ailments, would in fact magically disappear! If you are skeptical, take a look at my pictures… I will paste them below in a bit…

And also skeptics, all I ask is 30 days of your life. It’s a crazy scary commitment to stop eating your Subway sammies, your pizza, your #crapfoodofchoiceIknowyouhaveonewealldo.

Cut grains, sugar, dairy, and legumes, as well as artificial sweeteners. You’ll probably lose weight, but that will just be a pleasant side note to how much better you will feel in general.

And you can have super fun parties with great food just like this!! (BF’s awesome house not included)

Here’s the whole spread. So much good food. Eat like this everyday with even minimal exercise and you will lose and maintain your weight and live to be 100 years old. True story.
Our good friend Rick brought this Macadamia Nut Crusted Ahi Tuna Salad. So for those of you who say “I don’t have time to eat Paleo/prep food…” Sorry, yes, you do. Super convenient to stop by Nugget Market, Whole Foods, etc, and point to what you want. As long as it’s grain/gluten/sugar/dairy free.
Great contribution to the potluck, Rick. I believe this salad can be defined as a pot of luck. 😉
Thank goodness I hung on to my hotel/catering pans and equipment. This dish is actually Brussels sprouts, which I shredded in my food processor. I baked 2 pounds of bacon (because it was a double recipe) and crumbled it up and also dried out some roasted chestnuts and chopped them up to throw them in the mix as well.
So recipe is basically something like this:
Shredded Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts (or Pecans)

1 pound of shredded Brussel sprouts
2 sliced onions
1 jar of roasted chestnuts* chopped
*(Optional, really. You can also use a nut of your
choice like pecans, walnuts or almonds.)
1 pound of bacon
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Garlic
You should prep the sprouts in advance, shred them in the food processor.
Bake the bacon on a sheet pan on parchment to get it extra crispy.
The parchment will absorb the extra bacon grease.
Dry out the chestnuts or toast your nut of choice and chop up.
Sauté the onions in the olive oil and add some salt, get them carmelize-y… 😉
Add the Brussel Sprouts and cook to barely wilt them.
Place sprouts/onions in a hotel pan or jelly roll pan and douse them with balsamic vinegar. Roast for about 10 mins at 400. Then take em out and top with the chopped bacon and nuts of choice. Ding!
Gluten Free Almond and Hazelnut Rosemary Crackers
Ingredients:
2 cups almond flour
1 cup hazelnut flour
1 teaspoon celtic sea salt
2 teaspoons rosemary, minced
8 medjool dates, chopped
3 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
2 tablespoon olive oil
In a large mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, hazelnut flour, salt, soda,
rosemary and chopped dates.
Mix in egg and oil until well combined
Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper until ⅛ inch thick
Cut dough with pizza cutter into the size of cracker you like.
Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.
Greek Meatballs (recipe to come). I think these were my favorite dish of the night…
Well, unless you count the Bacon Wrapped Dates natch 😉
This was salad a contribution from our dear friend and fellow wine lover, Lynda.
It was a spinach salad with dried cranberries, with goat cheese, walnuts, an orange vinaigrette.
Andy’s famous Girlfriend-Fetching Bacon Wrapped Dates
(So, I’d go on a date with that guy any day.)
To make them: I am pretty sure he just gets the Medjool dates (love!!) and some really swanky thick cut bacon from Taylor’s Market. Then pits the dates, places a pecan in the middle, and wraps a half slice of bacon around the date. Then you bake them at 400 degrees. Watch them closely. The natural sugar in the dates will burn easily. And don’t use the maple bacon. It will burn and maybe catch on fire. That is not what you want. 😉
Catherine brought a chocolate fudge torte thing. Recipe and proper name of the dish to come!!
Here’s the little centerpiece I labored on. I do kind of miss cake decorating.
The cakegrrl still lurks inside of the cavegrrl. 😉
But, I use my powers for good and not evil, so you will never see me make anything with sugar or flour or and processed crap. #Iwillnotberesponsibleforyougettingcancer. #sugargivesyoucancer
Almond butter filling inside the cake. Recipes to come in the next few days.
Paleo cake pop. Yes, that just happened.
Recipe to come.
That’s all for now. Nighty night from Paleo land.
Oh yeah, BTW… I promised my pics.
OK here’s one of chubby wubby from last year around this time.
Photo taken by Diana Miller.
And then here’s me on New Year’s Eve!! Oh yeah!! Thank you Paleo!!
Self indulgent MySpace-esque photo taken by… MYSELF!! Wheeeee!!!
IF you are local to Sacramento and want to LEARN more about Paleo, you can join my Facebook group, Sacramento Beyond the Paleo. Lots of love and support in the group in a really unsupportive world of gluttony, dough, flour and things rolled in sugar.
One life to live and one shot in this world.
Why look or feel anything less than your best?

Sacramento Film Screening: The Last Crop, January 31st, Sierra 2 Center



The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op Sponsors Screening And Discussion To Support The One Farm At A Time Project



SACRAMENTO, CA – A documentary film in progress about the efforts to preserve local farms, The Last Crop, will be screened in Sacramento, Tuesday, January 31, 6:30 p.m., Sierra 2 Community Center, Curtis Hall, 2791 24th Street Sacramento (See Details Below).

Filmmaker Chuck Schultz, pioneering organic farmers Jeff and Annie Main of Good Humus Farm, young farmer and veteran Eric Hart, and innovative leader of the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Paul Cultrera, will be a part of the panel discussion following the screening.

THE EVENT: The Last Crop, a documentary film in progress about the efforts to preserve local farms will be screened in Sacramento followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker Chuck Schultz, pioneering organic farmers Jeff and Annie Main of Good Humus Farm, young farmer and veteran Eric Hart and innovative leader of the co-op movement Paul Cultrera, General Manager, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op.


WHEN: Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 6:30–9:00 p.m.

WHERE: Sierra 2 Community Center, Curtis Hall, 2791 24th Street

TICKETS: $15/$10 Co-op Owners and Students

Advance Registration: (916) 868-6399 or www.sacfoodcoop.com

About: To enjoy local food, we must preserve our local farms. The Last Crop is a documentary film that tells the story of Jeff and Annie Main of Good Humus, who like many farming families, confront an uncertain future as development impinges on their rural community and their children choose careers off the farm. What sets the Mains apart is their resolve to ensure their land will be affordable and productive for future farmers.

While interest in local food is increasing, farmers are getting closer to retirement age and farms are being lost to development. Without local family farms, consumers will lose the local food that they are now beginning to appreciate. One Farm At A Time is a collaborative project that is raising funds and awareness to protect Good Humus Farm, operated by Jeff and Annie Main, and eventually help other local farms to ensure opportunities for young farmers and sustainable sources of local food for generations to come.

One Farm AT A Time has raised approximately $200,000 toward the purchase of an easement to protect Good Humus Farm in perpetuity. $4,000 in matching funds have been offered by the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Davis Food Co-op and Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation to encourage individual donations at upcoming events over the next month.

You can like The Last Crop on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

For media information contact Karen Bakula & Company, Inc. (916) 442-0957 or (916) 715-9117


Paleo Recipe: Saffron Chicken with Cauliflower "Rice"

My boyfriend’s mother (who I hear enjoyed cooking as much as I do) passed away recently, and left a treasure trove of spices behind, including an abundance of saffron. So I started to think about how we could put some of those precious red threads to good use, and here’s what came to mind. 🙂

Another great thing about this dish is that it is 100% Paleo. I am so encouraged to find more and more people locally who are curious about/have started the Paleo diet. Here I am approaching ten months, and I don’t see any reason to stop now. I am healthier mentally and physically than I have ever been, and I know it is due to my diet and workout routine.

Saffron Chicken with Cauliflower “Rice”
Ingredients:
2 large organic skin-on chicken breasts or chicken thighs (about 14-16 oz of meat)

1/2 stick clarified butter or coconut oil

1 1/2 large onions
2 Tbs of lime juice
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 Tbs of tomato purée
Optional: 1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 portions each of 1/2 cup of saffron infused water

(Prepare this by adding 1 Tbs of scalding water into a mortar and pestle with 4 or 5 threads of saffron, grind the saffron and then adding the saffron mixer to the rest of the water. One you will use in the chicken portion of the dish, and one will go in the cauliflower rice.)
salt and pepper to taste
You’ll also need one head of cauliflower for the “rice.”

Preheat your oven to about 310°F.
Quarter the onions, and then fry in 1 1/2 Tbs clarified butter or coconut oil until transparent.

Gently fry the onion in a large pan until it becomes transparent. If you want to put in the mushrooms, you will add those at this point, too. Brown them with the onion, and then add the chicken pieces, salt and pepper and sear the meat so it becomes browned on the outside. Add the turmeric, tomato purée, and lime juice to the saffron infusion, and then pour over browned chicken. Mix the infusion into the onions and chicken so that everything is well coated. Add about one cup of chicken stock or broth to the pot.
Allow to simmer for a few minutes, then cover and place in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Of course this will vary depending on the thickness of the meat.
While the chicken is in the oven, cut one head of cauliflower into pieces and pulse in a food processor until it becomes the texture of rice or couscous. Heat a skillet and melt 2 Tbs of butter or coconut oil. Then, sauté the cauliflower rice and season it to taste. Allow the cauliflower to cook a bit, and then add the second saffron infusion. Continue to heat the cauliflower and cook to desired tenderness.
Slightly before the chicken is done, remove from the oven and let rest. Portion the rice on your plate and serve with the chicken pieces and the sauce in the pot.
If you are interested in the Paleo diet and live locally, please contact me. I have started a Facebook group called “Sacramento: Beyond the Paleo” and would love to have you join us, even if you are not fully Paleo and just want to learn more about the diet. You can find me on Facebook here and follow me on twitter here. Cheers!

Sacramento’s Dine Downtown Week: Mayahuel and the best steak ever!!

Hello Sacramento! Welcome to Dine Downtown week! I just want to take a moment of your time to recommend a restaurant that might not yet be that well known. It’s called Mayahuel (pronounced Ma-Ha-Kwell) and it’s located diagonally from one of my other favorite restaurants, Ella. You’ve heard of Ella, right?
OK, well back to Mayahuel and Dine Downtown. It starts today and you must try this restaurant. First, they brought out this soup. It was made with nopales, and a little on the spicy side. It was kind of like an amuse bouche. 
During this time, the BF and I made our wine selection for the evening–yes, you can get decent wine in a Mexican restaurant–the Napa Toro Chardonnay. Feel free to like them on Facebook now. 😉 Because it was actually pretty good wine. 
I have to give a shout out to our server, Franscisco. He was the epitome of service. So polite, and so genuinely kind.
After meeting us, he presented the two appetizer choices from the Dine Downtown menu. First, was the Eclipse de Sol: it was composed of beets, orange rings in a citrus sauce with pickled onions, peanuts and a touch of oregano. 
Then came the soup, called Flor de Calabaza con Perfume de Tequila: a Creamy Squash Blossom soup with infused tequila. Yes, please! It was topped with tortilla strips, providing a pleasant crunch.

And now, for the stunning entrées. And I am not kidding here, they WERE stunning. I was so blown away with the flavors, the amount of food on the plate, and how perfect everything was cooked.

First, my BF ordered the Mixiotes de Pollo en Adobo Huasteco: Chicken and mushrooms with nopales in a Cascabel & Pasilla chile Adobo sauce, served with white rice and Mexican zucchini slices. The chicken was super tender and the sauce was mild, yet incredibly flavorful. As you can see, the portion was very generous. The wine we chose previously (the Napa Toro Chardonnay) was a great complement to this dish.
And then, let me present to you, the best steak I have ever had in a restaurant, the Ojo de Costilla con Costra de Chorizo Rib eye steak with a chorizo crust, on a bed of seasoned mushrooms in an adobo salsa. I was literally cutting my steak with my fork. It was exquisite, and I am not exaggerating. If you only try one thing off the menu at Mayahuel, please give this a go, (order it rare or medium rare). It will knock your little stockings off! I didn’t even mention the chorizo. It was so flavorful and added another dimension to the meal.
And then out came the mariachi band… they were wonderful and the crowd was loving it. I was so pleased to see the restaurant packed around us and everyone was in a convivial mood.

Then it was time for dessert. First, our server Francisco, brought out the Pastel de Queso y Chayote (a Chayote cheese cake and mole in chocolate sauce). Mole is a perfect addition to a dessert because of its components and texture. The chayote works in the dessert because it’s a squash and has an inherent slightly sweet taste and tender texture. That being said, I don’t think you’re gonna find this at the Cheesecake Factory, folks, only at Mayahuel! (Thanks to the BF for tasting the sugary treats).

The other dessert option was the Flan de Chile Ancho. It was a flan made with ancho chiles of all things, and finished with Grand Marnier. It has a beautiful strawberry and blueberry garnish. The BF tells me the combination of the ancho and the Grand Marnier was uniquely flavorful.

So, not only do you get the food I just showed you above, but for the $30, included at the end of the meal, is the 1/2 ounce tequila tasting. Our bartender, Oscar, was extremely knowledgeable and passionate, and had a true encyclopedic knowledge of tequila.

The tequila we tried was the Jose Cuervo Platino, and it was served in a champagne flute in order to provide the best tasting experience. It’s truly the stemware that makes all the difference in a tasting. It can really bring out the oaky and fruity notes of a particular wine or beverage. What a nice little digestif, and it was such a treat to get some background information on tequila from Oscar.

If you haven’t been to Mayahuel Tequila Museo, you are missing out on a true downtown gem. Dine Downtown week kicks off Monday, January 9th and runs through Wednesday, January 18th. This event is a great way to try out some of Sacramento’s finest.
Mayahuel is on Facebook here and on twitter here. To make reservations, you can call them at or check them out on Open Table here.

More Turkey, Love

Are you still looking for ways to de-turkey? Look no further!! Here’s another completely different and interesting dish.

Yesterday, after a great 8 mile run in the morning, and a barrel tasting at Revolution Wines in late afternoon, I made dinner and yet another Paleo dish with turkey.

This time, the BF and I were kind of celebrating, so we opened my sample of Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut by Freixenet. This sparkling wine has notes of blackberry and blends Trepat with the Pinot Noir to create a unique rosé.

The grape percentages are 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Trepat. It scored 87 points and an “acclaim” rating in Wine Enthusiast Magazine. It has a 11.5% alcohol content and is aged 9 months in the cave with second fermentation in the bottle.

The Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut retails for about $18 per bottle, so it’s a little more fancy than an everyday sparkler. But this was not just an everyday sort of day. 🙂
Want to find this wine? Use this Wine Locator to find Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut near you and use this link to find them on Facebook.
Turkey with Rosemary Butter Couscous and Roasted Root Vegetables
For the turkey dish, I took one cauliflower and pulsed it in my food processor until it resembled couscous. Then I sat it aside.
For Thanksgiving dinner, I had made a rosemary infused butter by warming 2 sprigs of rosemary in 1 stick of butter. I didn’t allow the mixture to boil, but warmed it enough so that the rosemary oils seeped into the butter. Then I strained the butter and let it resolidify in the refrigerator. I used the rosemary butter to saute a red onion and about 1 1/2 cups of mushrooms. After cooking the vegetables for about 5-10 minutes, I added some garlic and then added the cauliflower “couscous”. For color, I added some fresh parsley from my It’s Organic produce box, then about 2 cups of turkey, torn from the leg and breast areas.
The roasted root vegetables are leftovers from our Thanksgiving meal, and I will explain how to make them in my upcoming complete Thanksgiving meal breakdown, which should be a real treat for those of you who are gluten free or Paleo.

Custom Holiday Meals from Whole Foods

The Holiday Order Station at Whole Foods Sacramento, at the left entrance of the store. 
On Wednesday, I was invited to pick up a sample holiday dinner from Whole Foods Sacramento. They wanted me to help spread the word on how they can take the hassle out of cooking for your holiday gatherings. I was sent a list of some of the items that are included in a typical holiday meal, such as: a small organic pre-cooked turkey, a Field roast stuffed en croûte, Health Starts Here stuffed acorn squash, Health Starts Here posole soup, Glazed sweet potatoes, Broccoli cheddar potato gratin, a Pumpkin pie, Wine, and Holiday Flowers. 
As many of you know by now, I don’t eat a lot of things on that list at all. I follow the Paleo diet, which is gluten, grain, and dairy free. It might seem a little extreme to avoid all of those items (even during the holidays, which are traditionally all about eating and celebration), but it is so worth it to me because I am doing well maintaining my weight loss by eating this way. I remain so focused on my athletic performance and just feeling healthy everyday I am on the planet! Life is too short to have medical issues, especially ones you can fix by eating clean! 🙂
Since a lot of the selections did contain corn, gluten, sugar, etc, I asked the marketing contact if we could put together a special meal and speak to all the people out there who have gone gluten free. People like me who are very selective and care about every bite. She agreed, and I am so happy to show you what Whole Foods can put together for you. It’s completely guilt free eating and the only thing you might miss about the meal is cooking all of it… if you like to cook like me. 😉
Here is the full spread they put together all laid out on the table. As you can see, it was spectacular. My list of Gluten/grain, and sugar free items were as follows: Crudite, fruit, & cheese, Organic Turkey, Brussel Sprouts with Shallots and Pecan, Roasted Root Vegetables, Wine, and Organic Flowers.
The crudite included broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, green bell peppers, celery, and a dip in the center. I tasted a little and it had sour cream base, but it was not the typical unappetizing ranch you find on a vegetable plate. This had more of a delicate scallion flavor. Of course, I avoided it because as far as dairy is concerned, I save myself for cheese!! 🙂 And vegetables this fresh taste great on their own.

This is the organic turkey. Preparation is so simple because the turkey is already cooked when you buy it. All you have to do is thaw it out and then bake it. I picked up my meal from the store at around 2pm, and simply continued to thaw the turkey before placing it in the oven at around 7pm. It was ready to eat by around 7:45 or so. The meat was delectable and so tender. I believe organic meats are the only way to go!!

This is the side of roasted root vegetables, it contained parsnips which are one of my favorite vegetables EVER!! It also has carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, and pecans. Wow. Pretty much my favorite things coming together on the plate. I make a dish pretty similar to this, so I wasn’t surprised to love it so much.
These are the roasted Brussel sprouts with shredded cabbage. Since sprouts are a form of cabbage, the dish was a neat little duo because of the two different textures. And pecans are like candy to me. Another wonderful side.
This is what my plate looked like all put together. 
And then, the cheese! Since I don’t do sugar of any kind anymore, cheese is my true indulgence, and I eat fruit to keep away any major sugar cravings. This little cheese and fruit tray was so pretty and contained a few different cheeses: some bleu, a brie, and two other cheeses that were spreadable. The tray also contained blackberries, strawberries, grapes, and blueberries. Then there were wonderful Marcona almonds, walnuts, and little bars of compressed fig in the box. 
Everything I ordered was perfect and packaged up so nicely. There was also a bottle of nice Riesling in the mix. Whole Foods has a great selection of other wines as well. Chardonnay or Pinot Noir would also be a great match for all this food.

To learn more about the holiday menu selections, you can go to http://holidayworthsharing.com You can also follow Whole Foods on Twitter @WFMNorCal Tag #WholeForTheHolidays for a chance to a win a turkey dinner! There will be one winner a week. Good luck!

To order your holiday meals you can go to: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/shop and to see a complete holiday forum with recipes and tips for a perfect party, you can go here:
http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/holidays/


It’s Organic Produce Delivery Service and Homemade Paleo Dinner!

Every other Tuesday, I receive a box like this from a company called It’s Organic Delivery! They are one of a few produce delivery services available in the greater Sacramento area.

Here is a peek of what comes inside an all-vegetable box. It serves a family of 2-4 and costs $34.99 per delivery or $31.99 with promo code.

A mixed fruits and vegetables box serves a family of 2-4, is $34.99 per delivery or $29.99 with a promo code, and contains between 10-12 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables.

A fruits only box serves a family of 2-4 costs $34.99 per delivery or $31.99 with promo code and is packed full of organic fresh fruits.

As a reader of cakegrrl.com, I’d like to offer you the promo code to enter when you sign up! It is “organic5off”

If you are still considering a produce delivery service, but aren’t sure what to do with a lot of things that come in the box, please stay tuned to my website because I’ll be throwing out lots of ideas for you!

To sign up to receive your produce from It’s Organic, please follow the link here.

There are many reasons I have gone organic for nearly all of my fruits and vegetables. Yes, it is a little more expensive, but I believe that buying organic will eventually pay off in the long run. I hope I don’t have to tell all of you how toxic pesticides are. If you are trying to be healthy and getting in all your servings of fruits and vegetables, what is the point if they have loads of poison on them from pesticides? It is so very important to avoid putting chemicals into your body. The best thing I heard today that really puts things in perspective is… “if they have to wear gas masks to grow your food, what are you supposed to eat it with?”

Beyond that, buying organic is important because it creates a demand for organic. Why is this important? Have you considered the farm workers who harvest your fruits and vegetables and their daily exposure to toxins in the pesticides? What about the fact that when you buy local and organic, you help to stimulate your LOCAL economy? 🙂

And, yes, you DO have to actually wash, cut and MAKE SOMETHING out of what is in the box, but the best part is that they deliver it straight to your door! It’s kind of like Christmas Day for me when my produce box arrives. It’s fun to play a little game of Iron Chef and make meals out of whatever comes to me for the week.

So, this is what I did with the bunch of Rainbow Chard I received. I chopped up the stems…cook those first, because they take a little longer to cook than the leaves do.
Here’s a nice picture of the leaves after I removed the stems. What I did to about 3 or 4 leaves is blanch them in boiling water for about a minute to make the leaves pliable.
And then I wrapped them around some BEAUTIFUL halibut filets purchased from another Paleo friend of mine from Taylor’s Market (HOLLA) (which I rubbed down with smoked salt, curry, cumin, lemon, pepper, cinnamon), and baked them in a 350 degree oven for 20ish minutes.
Meanwhile, I sauteed onions, the chard stems, the rest of the chard leaves, garlic, and bacon in this skillet. I also added some chopped, toasted almonds.
Remember the acorn squash in the beginning of this post? Here’s what it looks like after I baked it, and pureéd it in the blender with carmelized onions, garlic, sea salt, chicken stock, coconut milk, and spices including curry, cumin, cinnamon…
And here’s what the meal looks like completed. I can’t tell you how good it feels to eat this way, so healthy, guiltless, and delicious. I really don’t know how you could eat anything processed or from a box ever again. EVER. Sure it might be convenient, but it’s pretty much LESS convenient to get cancer from stuff you thought was supposed to be food. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me? 😉 I’m telling you this because I care about your health and I want you to look and feel your very best… not because I am trying to be an elitist jerk. You might think you “don’t have the money to buy organic” but I am telling you this: I NEVER get sick. I never have headaches. I don’t have joint pain or allergies. Isn’t that worth giving up a few things to avoid feeling like crap all the time?
This way of eating might be extreme for some, but I think it’s extremely delicious. When you get enough fat and protein in your meals, you don’t need (and after a while won’t crave) any bread or potatoes.
I will step down from my soapbox long enough 😉 to let you know you can follow It’s Organic on twitter here and like them on Facebook here.

Paleo Comfort Foods Cookbook: Making Paleo Accessible to Everyone

Last Friday evening, I stopped by my condo to check the mail and found a copy of the Paleo Comfort Foods Cookbook waiting for me to review. What an awesome surprise! I quickly flipped through it and realized that if it did not say “Paleo” on the cover, I would not have known at first that it was a Paleo cookbook. What does this mean? Well, it means that these recipes are a collection of super delicious meals, snacks, and desserts accessible to ANYONE, even those who are not following a Paleo diet.

What is Paleo? Well, if you have never heard of the Paleo diet, I am glad you are here. The best way to explain it in a nutshell is that it is a diet rich in proteins and fat. A typical day for me is grass-fed beef or organic chicken, a TON of vegetables like broccoli, onions, and cauliflower, butternut squash (and any kind of squash you can think of for that matter, including PUMPKIN!!), a little avocado, bacon on some days, coconut milk, coconut oil, treats like cashews and dates, fruit (berries and citrus). I do have cheese (raw milk blue is my favorite!!), but I am going to dial that back in the upcoming weeks as I would like to lean out just a little bit more. To learn a little more about my diet, you can click here.

When I tell people that I don’t eat bread, processed grains, or dairy other than raw milk cheese, I get a lot of resistance, almost like they are horrified at the thought of ever giving up those things themselves. I guess maybe it is a big deal to some people, but I am not sure why there is not more of a demand for clean and healthy food that doesn’t make us sick. I am not sure why most people take medicine if they have heartburn or high blood pressure when they should first simply take a look at what they had to eat over the last month or year or even at their last meal and maybe ask themselves how long has it been since they walked or jogged a mile? I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m just merely making a suggestion.

I am so puzzled by people who continue to shove known poison into their bodies for the sake of “it tastes good”, “it is cheap”, “it is convenient”. I kind of have a rule for myself as far as what I eat now… usually if it has a commercial or a marketing campaign, I don’t eat it. This pretty much means anything that comes in a package. If it has bright colors or loud fonts, that’s another red flag.

Ah, I rant therefore I am.

The thing is, I am not going to convince someone who is already gulping down transfatty donuts and eating bags of chips and cookies (and oh yeah, those cute little sugar as crackpipe cupcakes I used to make not so long ago) and boxes of Little Debbies (WTF is in a “Star Crunch” anyway?!?) already on the crazytrain fasttrack to heart, colon, pancreatic, liver and kidney diseases. I guess if you are happy living that life, go for it.

But, if you are tired of feeling sick and tired, constantly on a diet and feeling starved all the time (with little to no results), and just frustrated with CONSTANLY CRAVING SUGAR and never feeling full or satiated…well, try dropping a few things from the rotation like the morning cinnamon roll… 😉 Even the evil Weight Watchers has it in for you with their little processed snack cakes. I don’t care if it is only one “point”. 😉

Oopsy, ranting again…

The Paleo Comfort Foods Cookbook is a great resource if you are already Paleo, or if you are just starting out. It has numerous meal ideas and tips, tricks, and even kitchen equipment suggestions to help you make the most of your Paleo cooking. You have no more excuses to eat poorly.

You can buy the Paleo Comfort Foods Cookbook here on Amazon. So many great recipes in one place for under $20. What a bargain for your health and your loved ones who might resist the idea of giving up certain foods. This book is a great transition into the Paleo diet without the feeling deprived.

Just read some of the recipe titles: Bacon Wrapped Dates, Chunky Guacamole, Sweet Potato Casserole, Fried Chicken… does that sound like deprivation to you?

By the way, I made the “Paleo Spiced Nuts” on page 62 and took them along to 2 different parties over the weekend. Guess what? I didn’t have to say, “Oh, these are Paleo” or “Oh, I made these because they follow my diet plan” I made them because I knew they would be freaking delicious!! Just take a gander at the recipe below (I added golden raisins to the mix, they were not a part of the original recipe):

1.5 teaspoons cumin

.5 teaspoons chili powder

1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

.25 teaspoons cayenne pepper

4 cups raw nuts (NO PEANUTS! They are beans, far less nutritious, and not Paleo.)

Nuts to include the following: cashews, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, brazil nuts.

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon coconut oil or organic butter

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup red wine

1. Simmer the raisins in the red wine to plump them up and drain them in a sieve. Set aside.

2. Mix the spices in a bowl and set aside.

3. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.

4. Add nuts and toast until lightly browned, be careful not to burn.

5. Add the oil or butter and vanilla and toss to coat, then sprinkle your spices over the nuts and stir until well combined.

6. Spread the nuts out on a lined cookie sheet (easier clean up this way) and speckle them with the raisins–just place them wherever in little bunches on the sheet amongst the nuts. The raisins give a little sweet to the spiciness that I just love.

7. I set the cookie sheet back in the oven at about 150 to keep warm until I was ready to serve them. Be careful once again not to burn.

You can like Paleo Comfort Foods on Facebook here or follow them on twitter here. Thank you, Julie and Charles Mayfield, what a great book and what awesome people you are. Saving the world one meal at time…

If you are Paleo and looking for mealtime inspiration, or if you are the opposite of Paleo, I encourage you to check out this book.


New Audition Video for Cupcake Wars!


My Audition for Cupcake Wars… and things that were edited out of my audition… ;)

In February of this year, I applied to a television show on Food Network called Cupcake Wars. I was unemployed at the time and was supplementing my income by baking treats on the side. I figured an appearance on Cupcake Wars would be just what I needed to launch my career and perhaps even buy a food truck (or at least invest the money in my baking business). I had big plans. Paint the sucker pink and drive around to all the sugar fiends in Sacramento just as addicted to buttercream as I was!

Then there was my little weight problem. By March of this year, I was tipping the scales at 150ish. (I am 5’1″). Though this is not an obese number by any means, this was heavier than I had ever been since my early twenties. The tipping point is when I got in my Smart car and the tires went flat. JUST KIDDING! It was when I couldn’t FIT into anything but TWO dresses in my closet… Things had to change and fast.

I decided I should stop baking completely. I needed to break up with sugar. It was fun while it lasted. I turned down at least 40-50 people requesting cakes or wanting me to make food for their event or fundraiser. I have to tell you it was really hard for me to say no, but I just didn’t want the temptation to distract me from my path–The path to looking RIDICULOUS!! (see Urban Dictionary definition #2).

I began a style of eating called Paleo, the Paleo diet encourages taking in meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts and eating to satiety. I cut out all refined foods, and mostly anything that comes from a box.
I combined this with an exercise routine I kind of just formed myself. I call it ghetto crossfit. The exercise routine involves hard cardio for short intervals, followed by resistance training that incorporates the entire body in the movements, followed by more hard cardio. In the fitness world, this is also referred to as HIIT or high intensity interval training. I listened to several podcasts to learn as much as I could about nutrition and really, to get my head right. To get me thinking positively about myself. I really love Jillian Michaels, Latest in Paleo with Angelo Coppola, Mark Sisson’s website, and more recently there is an Everyday Paleo Podcast (Sarah Fragoso and Chrissy Gower) and Being Primal TV (Dean Dwyer).

I feel like I have only just begun to live!! I can’t believe I did it all over again and lost the weight and kicked the sugar! I am in the best shape of my life thanks to the Paleo diet and proper nutrition combined with the right amount of exercise at the right intensity and frequency.

So, last week, I got a call from Food Network. And when Food Network calls, you pick up! It was a casting agent from Cupcake Wars. He said he received my application from a few months ago, and they wanted to invite me to submit a video application. Wow. But I didn’t really bake anymore. Hmmm… what to do? I wanted this chance to prove myself, to represent Sacramento, a city I love so much… If I was going to bake again, I wanted to do it my way. 

Everything I made for the audition was Paleo. Gluten-free, no refined sugars. All organic ingredients, down to the coconut oil and the small amount of (clarified) butter I used for fat.
I made Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Avocado and Honey Frosting, a Chocolate Cabernet Cupcake with Chocolate Date Filling and Chocolate Ganache Frosting, and a Vanilla Almond Cake with Chocolate Almond Butter Frosting. All the cakes were sweetened with honey or stevia, or even just the dates and their natural sweetness. The “flour” in the cakes was either almond or coconut or a combo of both. And they all turned out really well, as this was my first attempt at gluten-free baking without a gluten-free mix. I love that. I didn’t put ANYTHING in those treats that was a chemical or had a preservative. There were no food colorings or dyes used. There were no trans fats. Just all REAL food. When you eat REAL food with real fats, it gives you genuine energy and not a sugar high. You stay fuller longer. 

I recruited someone to work with me that I had worked with before, Moriah Piper, of Moriah’s Marvelous Cakes. I felt she would make a great team member if I were selected for the show.
Together we devised a few cupcakes that stuck to my organic, local theme, even though they contained sugar. People should have a choice, even though I feel really strongly about not wanting to sell a treat I would not eat myself. 😉

Here are some pictures from the audition taken by Debbie Cunningham:
  Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Avocado and Honey Frosting
Chocolate Cabernet Cake “Kettlebells” with Date Filling and Chocolate Ganache Frosting

And now the audition itself! It was shot and edited by Marsh Wildman. There is a cameo at the end by the wonderful Scott Fenner, a local chef recently profiled in the Sacramento Bee. The video was shot at House Kitchen & Bar (thank you Chris Nestor). And all of the ingredients I used to make the cupcakes came from Nugget Market in Roseville.

If you could watch this and “like” the video on You Tube, share it with your friends, leave a comment, etc… I would be so very happy!

UPDATE!! Here is the new video!!

Thank you to Donahue Photography 😀


Preface

For as long as I can remember, I have been very hard on myself. And everything in my life I have taken so personally. Of course, these two things combined can be a little disastrous. I have always been extremely self-conscious and shy. This might sound funny to people who have met me before, but I assure you it is very true.

My flaws have nothing to do with my parents, who are both still living, happily married, and fantastically awesome. I will not blame anyone but myself for being a complete mess in the past. What I will do is try and explain why I am the way I am, what I have learned, and how I have changed.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want to help you if you want to hear it. Many people have told me I should testify (don’t laugh, it’s a great choice of word), and I do think my information is good, useful, and somewhat interesting.

I still in transformation mode, both physically and mentally. And even when I am finished with my physical transformation, I will always be in repair mentally. Always working and learning to be a better person.

I will try to not be militant or angry about the advice I give and my opinions on food, diet, and weightloss. When I start to sound preachy, please understand that my words come from passion and experience. I now consider myself to be an expert in hair loss, weight gain and weight loss. And now that I am in a tremendous place right now in my head and my heart, I am ready to write about my past struggles (about which I can look back and see myself squirming and dying to break free), and my current and future breakthroughs (triumphant)!!

There is really a sunny side, and yes, (as cheesy as it sounds) you don’t have to look far to find it because it comes from within… Happy Independence Weekend!


No Fail Kale!

I discovered these chips made by (Rhythm Superfoods) a few months ago when I was looking for new foods that fit completely into the diet I follow, The Paleo Diet. I also bought a dehydrator so I could make Kale Chips at home, but it is a little time consuming and labor intensive. I rarely ever eat anything out of a bag or a box anymore, but these chips are an exception because they are nutrient-rich, raw, vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO.

I love these chips as an occasional treat food (a treat because they retail kind of high at $6.00 per bag, and each bag only contains 2 servings).

What is so healthy about these chips is that instead of baking or frying, the chips are air crisped at a low temperature which maintains raw living enzymes and maximizes nutritional potency.

Kale is considered a superfood, and as a member of the cabbage family, it’s rich in powerful antioxidants, phyto nutrients and carotenoids. It’s also an excellent source of Vitamin A, C, K, B6, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Potassium, and fiber.
I am addicted to the Bombay Curry flavor. Here is the list of ingredients: organic kale, organic cashew, organic zucchini, organic onion, organic carrot, organic yeast powder, organic shredded coconut, organic cilantro, organic apple cider vinegar, organic ginger, organic lemon juice concentrate, organic spices, sea salt. I love that I can pronounce everything in that list and none of the ingredients were created in a lab.
For more information on Rhythm Superfoods and their other products, you can follow them on twitter here, or on Facebook here.