Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Posts tagged “paleo

Fit Eats Café and Food Delivery Service Can Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

Disclosure: I have partnered with Fit Eats to let you know about their awesome cafe and food delivery service that has helped me lose 15 pounds over the course of about a year. Results may vary from person to person. All opinions are my own. Use the promo code kristy65192 at check out to get a $10 credit towards your order!

Truth: I have battled my weight all my life. Correction. I have battled my weight since I was bullied about it in middle school, so let’s say pretty much most of my life. Although I have never been obese, I have been 30 pounds overweight in my lifetime and have yo-yo dieted (up ten pounds, down ten pounds) in the past.

In March of 2011, I adopted at Paleo/Primal diet of no sugar, no grains, and though it helped me overcome binging and helped curb my sugar cravings, I still could not lose the last 10 pounds. The reason why? Even though I rarely miss a day of exercise, quite simply I was eating too many calories than my body was burning off. I was rewarding myself like a dog with food for all the tough workouts I put myself through. Even though I got down to 117 on the Paleo diet, I never stayed there because I didn’t have any portion control. I think I peaked out last July at about 130 before I took major action. I could have actually weighed more than that, but I was too afraid to get on the scale until I lost some weight first!

I know, 130 pounds doesn’t sound overweight to most, but I am only 5’1″ and really do look my best between 110-115 . Plus, I was drinking ENTIRELY TOO MUCH every night and chasing that down with too many snacks (because I just LOVE to eat when I drink)! It was a vicious cycle of punishing workouts/eating and drinking to reward myself for the workouts/guilt/shame/repeat.

On July 5th of last year, I woke up with a major hangover. This is not usual for me, so I really must have tied one during our 4th of July block party. That’s when the shame set in so much I decided to do something about my weight because I truly felt like a marlin. Of course, I have lost weight a lot of times in the past, so I know what is involved and the science is quite easy. You don’t have to go on the Paleo diet to lose weight. You don’t have to go vegan. You don’t have to join Weight Watchers. You don’t have to do a cleanse or do Adkins or start a Keto program or cut everything out that you enjoy. You don’t even need to exercise. I say this carefully because exercise IS important, but if you have a lot of weight to lose, it can be more harmful than good. I truly believe it is more important to clean up your diet before you even consider exercising.

Creating a calorie deficit.
All of the above diets/food plans have been successful with one person or another because they in fact, created a calorie deficit in their bodies–their bodies used the stored calories/energy because they took in less than they needed for the day/week/month. But for most people, Paleo/Primal, Keto, Adkins, are not sustainable for the rest of your life (especially if you are a food blogger like me or have ANY sort of social life whatsoever). There are special occasions where you are going to have the birthday cake or the bread basket with dinner or the side of fries (God, do I love fries). What is most important, is that you don’t have ALL the cake or fries, etc. Trust me, there were plenty of fries that led to the weight gain!

Instead of cutting out everything, I decided I would log my calories (journal them, if you will) with an online food app. I happen to use My Fitness Pal. My calories right now per day are set at 1431. That means I have to eat less than that total in order to lose weight. Since it is challenging to stay under that amount (especially because I like to drink wine with dinner), I exercise 80-90 minutes a day to raise the calorie limit. I like to leave about 1500 calories for dinner.

It has long been argued that weight loss is not possible if most of the calories are eaten at night or if you drink alcohol, but I am here to tell you that is not the case. As long as you have a calorie deficit, your body will lose weight. The key is finding out how many calories YOU personally burn daily just to keep your body alive and running (or your BASAL METABOLIC RATE), and accurately logging everything you eat and drink to create a deficit. It will not matter if it is 100 calories less a day or even just 25 calories, eventually the deficit will add up to 3500 calories and that is roughly one pound. To find your basal metabolic rate (or BMR, and also called resting metabolic rate, click here.

Of course, logging everything you eat does take time, and meal prep takes a lot of time, so it can be a little daunting and seem overwhelming/like a part time job at first.

That’s where Fit Eats comes in!

Fit Eats is a café and food delivery service now serving Sacramento and anywhere within a 300 mile radius of Sacramento. They offer meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and all of them are labeled with nutrition information. They also offer meals that are gluten free, dairy free, Paleo, freezable, and vegetarian. You can buy 1 meal at a time or buy meals for the whole week, as there is no membership or minimum order.

You can buy the meals in the Fit Eats café (they have a downtown location as well as a location in Roseville), but I recommend ordering online to make sure you get exactly the meals you want because they don’t always have everything in stock in the grab and go refrigerators. If you don’t feel like getting in a car, you have have your meals delivered to your home or office for a $2.99 delivery fee on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, and the delivery fee is waived if your order is over $50.

Since I work fairly close to the downtown location, I like to pick up my meals. They come in an insulated Fit Eats totebag that you can choose to purchase or return to the store. My typical order is 4-5 meals, and I end up freezing one of them just to have an emergency meal on hand if my husband goes out of town or out with friends on a particular evening.

The menu rotates weekly, some menu items leave, some meals are added, some meals remain for a while. Like any good restaurant, this depends on the availability and seasonality of the ingredients being used. The meals come in small and large size and cost anywhere from $7.99 to $12.75. Again the nutritional info is printed on the package, and so are all of the ingredients. The same information is on the Fit Eats website so you can know exactly what you are getting before you order. In addition to macronutrient count, they also list Weight Watchers point values.

But I am all about the macros and calorie counting. When the Fit Eats menu comes out every Thursday, I try to choose meals that are the highest in protein, and labeled as Paleo or at the very least gluten free. Also a plus if it is freezable, but not a deal breaker. I mainly enjoy Fit Eats meals (large size) for dinner, as I usually eat a Quest bar for breakfast and steamed broccoli and egg whites for lunch. Sometimes, I’ll have a light cheese stick or turkey jerky for a snack.

Lastly, Fit Eats meals taste great! I have enjoyed every meal I have purchased so far. Some meals more than others, but everything has been above average and far better than any pre-portioned meal I have ever tried. It’s very hard to go back to anything in the freezer aisle at the grocery store after ordering from Fit Eats. Below are some of my favorite meals and examples of what you will find on the menu. Many of them are already on MyFitnessPal, so all you have to do is search for them! It’s that easy.

 

Steak Tacos with Corn Tortillas

 

Paleo Alla Carbonara with Spaghetti Squash
(one of my all-time favorites)

 

 


Chili Cheese Sweet Potato Fries

 


Rosemary Pork Loin with Red Potatoes and Butternut Squash

(another one of my favorites)

 


Steak and Eggs

 

Shepard’s Pie


Ready to count your macros and enjoy delicious food while doing it? To get a $10 credit to your Fit Eats account, use the promo code kristy65192 at check out.

You can find Fit Eats on Facebook here, follow them on Twitter here, and follow them on Instagram here.

You can follow my fitness journey and my other shenanigans in food, wine and travel on Instagram here.


Listen to Me Today on Serious Talk. Seriously.


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Today I am a guest on the podcast Serious Talk. Seriously. hosted by Johnny Flores! We chatted about my rebranding of cakegrrl.com to cavegrrl.com, Paleo, gluten free, bread, Oprah, the importance of having a supportive significant other, alopecia, the changing roles of men and women and even vocal fry! Click below to have a listen and if you enjoy, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes HERE or on Stitcher here. Click the link below to listen! 🙂

http://app.stitcher.com/splayer/f/58636/48107684

You can like Serious Talk. Seriously. on Facebook here, follow on Twitter here.

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SunBasket Offers a Healthy and Convenient Solution for Weeknight Meals

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If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do when you get home from a busy day at the office is go to the grocery store (after sitting in traffic for almost an hour), wade through the aisles, figure out what to make, shop for the ingredients, wait in the checkout line, then actually COOK a full meal after all of that.

Now, if I didn’t work full time with a giant commute, I would be planning out multi-course menus for the week, shopping for the freshest ingredients and taking my time with all the preparations. I would be all about making every night’s dinner an event to remember.

But, for most of us, that’s just not a reality. Enter Sun Basket. The product that delivers a weekly box equipped with 3 meals for 2-4, and inside the box includes everything you’ll need to make them.

With Sun Basket there are easy and delicious recipes that YOU choose weekly for 2 to 4 people at $11.49 per meal. You can customize for a Paleo, gluten-free, or vegetarian diet. All recipes are created by top San Francisco chef Justine Kelly and approved by a nutritionist.

The Sun Basket kits are certified organic and sustainably sourced. All the ingredients are pre-measured which is less hassle and creates less waste. You can feel free to skip the grocery store and enjoy the best seasonal ingredients. You might even enjoy an ingredient that is hard to find or you have not tried on your own!

Sun Basket delivers weekly right to your door. The ingredients are shipped in an insulated box so they stay fresh and the packaging is recyclable and reusable.

So what did we enjoy in our Sun Basket? We chose strictly Paleo options for the week and ended up with the 1. Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups, 2. Steaks with Artichoke-Red Pepper Tapenade and Sweet Potato Fries, and 3. Trout in Parchment with Warm Date and Apricot Salad.

Here’s what it all looked like!

Meal One: Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups, recipe HERE.

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lettuce-cups
Of all the meals in the Sun Basket, this was the smallest in portion size, and could be eaten as an appetizer if you are both really hungry. That being said, I enjoyed it the most because of the several levels of flavors with the pickled vegetables, fish sauce, maple syrup, etc. And, there were cashews in there, too, another favorite ingredient of mine. 🙂

Meal Two: Steaks with Artichoke-Red Pepper Tapenade and Sweet Potato Fries, recipe HERE.

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And meal three: Trout in Parchment with Warm Date and Apricot Salad, recipe HERE.

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If you’re a big eater, then perhaps you might choose the 4 person serving to feed 2 people. I like that the calories and nutritional information is all right there on the recipe card, as well as detailed instructions on how to prepare each dish that is in the box.

One of the best things about Sun Basket is that you can order when you want and skip when you don’t. There is no commitment to order week after week, but you’ll want to order repeatedly once you discover the convenience and taste of the box contents.

You can find Sun Basket on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here, Pinterest here and on Instagram here. To place an order, you can visit https://www.sunbasket.com/home.


Hyatt Regency Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill Home to this Year’s National Alopecia Areata Foundation Conference

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This year marked the 31st Annual National Alopecia Areata Foundation’s Convention, and this year we convened in Washington, D.C.

What the heck is alopecia? Click here to find out.

Though many rallied at the Capitol to raise awareness and urge their congresspeople to consider legislation that would help cover wigs/hairpieces for a patient diagnosed with alopecia, the home of the convention was at The Hyatt Regency Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill, where conference attendees gathered together in support of each other, danced together, cried together, dined together, laughed together, learned together, and did nothing short of have a ball together.

You see, for alopecians, this is the most important event of the year where we can get together from all parts of the world and share our experiences. Because sharing and relating is medicine for the soul. The magic of the conference is that it provides a gathering place for people and their families from all walks of life who are affected by this disease.

NAAF empowerment session
I arrived very late on Thursday night, and did not go to Capitol Hill with the others, but I attended a workshop on Friday afternoon called Empowering Lives, Building Resilience, led by Dr. Renee Thomason.

Then on Friday evening, I was treated to dinner by Roti Meditteranean Grill (located in Union Station). It is only about 1/3 of a mile to Union Station (pictured below).

union station
Inside Union Station, Roti is located on the left side of the building, on the lower level.

roti in union station
If you have never tried Roti Mediterranean Grill, it’s pretty much like a build your own burrito place, but instead with Mediterranean food. What drew me to Roti is that they have a gluten-free/gluten-friendly menu with gluten-free pita bread. Probably enough said there, too. I am sure all my gluten-free readers are now just as intrigued as I was! 🙂

menu from roti
assembly line roti
So, I went with the salad with kabob, tahini sauce, and feta, cabbage slaw #becauseprobiotics!, and a side of hummus with an order of gluten-free pita bread. I would have dined in, but I was ready to head back to my room and relax. Plus, I had some yummy wine to pair with my meal chilling in the refrigerator.

So I scurried back like a hungry little squirrel and spread out my Mediterranean feast on the coffee table in front of the TV in my (rather extravagant for one person) hotel room.

chicken kabob salad from roti
I loved the chicken kabob salad because it was filling and healthy, which is how I like to eat even when I am out of town. I could not tell a difference between this pita bread and regular pita bread, and the side of hummus was enormous, and would be used on other food throughout the weekend thanks to the refrigerator in my room. If you’re curious about the wine, I packed three bottles with me to save money on beverages during my trip. Tonight’s wine was a Chardonnay which is a lovely pairing with grilled chicken.

You can find Roti Mediterranean Grill online here, on Facebook here, on Twitter here, and on Instagram here.

Then for dessert, I snuck down to the Hyatt’s bar, the Article One Lounge, and ordered this cocktail (below) The Ketel One Watermelon Cooler. The title describes exactly the contents of the drink: watermelon, basil, and vodka with a lime wedge. I sat with some other alopecians who were hanging out and having some drinks. I love our community and how you can just ask to sit with someone and you’re accepted. Wig or no wig. It’s whatever makes you comfortable and people understand and can relate. 🙂

strawberry basil drink
The next day, I headed out to explore Washington, D.C. via foot/running. I did a five mile run from my hotel to the Capitol building and down to the Washington Monument and back and below are the pictures I took during the run (while managing to get 5 miles in).

capitol under construction
washington monument close up
When I got back to the hotel, I finished my workout in the StayFit™ Fitness Center. It is a well-equipped gym with several treadmills, ellipticals, weights, a sauna, locker rooms, an indoor lap pool, and an outdoor sundeck. The gym’s set up reminded me of a greenhouse, as detailed in the picture (below). I ran three more miles and did 20 minutes elliptical thanks to the air-conditioning!! 🙂

Hyatt gym
Following my workout and gym time, I headed to another conference session: Ask the Experts. The Ask the Experts presentation was a panel of medical and research experts from a variety of fields to answer questions about the different aspects of alopecia areata including treatment and research. Though I don’t attend the conference anymore in search of a cure (I come for the camaraderie), it’s always interesting to hear the latest research.

NAAF ask the experts panel
Following the Ask the Experts panel, it was time to get blown away by the strength and courage of the panel during the Young Adult Perspective presentation. Seven young adults gave their testimony and answered questions from the audience about their experiences with alopecia. I admired this panel of kids (to me, now at 39) because they were diagnosed with alopecia during more formative years. I was diagnosed at 25 and never had to deal with bullying any of the weirdness an adolescent would have to face like these panelists surely did. They all gave helpful advice to audience members, especially the parents of children with alopecia, on what to say, how to react, and what to do to be a community advocate. It was a powerful seminar to say the least.

NAAF young adults panel
Then I headed back up to my room to get ready for dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Article One. I had contacted the hotel the week of my trip to see if we could work together on a Paleo meal to feature here on my website. The marketing team for the Hyatt Regency Washington, D.C. was very receptive to my request. In addition, I received a room upgrade from a regular room that I paid for to an Executive Suite with many more amenities and a separate living room and sleeping area. My room included a refrigerator and a microwave, 2 televisions, and 2 different air/heating controls for the two rooms in the suite. The Executive Suite includes access to the Regency Club King room (a private access 11th floor lounge with dedicated concierge service, Continental breakfast, daily refreshments, evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres). With the upgrade to Regency Club, I didn’t have to spend any extra money on meals during the day.

I snapped a pic of me all decked out for dinner (before heading up to the Regency Club for some early evening snacks and a glass of wine).

pre dance mirror selfie

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Here’s what the Regency Club room looks like, along with the plate of roasted vegetables I had as an appetizer. How did they know sun-dried tomatoes are pretty much my favorite thing in the world? 🙂

executive club for ballers

appetizers from executive club
Following my visit to the Recency Club, I headed down to Article One for dinner.

article one front
The restaurant is very contemporary with vibrant reds/burnt orange and browns in its decor, and open to the hotel lobby. I was impressed with the open feel because you can still experience the buzz of the lobby, but still feel like you are tucked away for a private meal.

And a very special and private meal it was for yours truly, as I was treated by the Article One staff and Executive Sous Chef Ryan Ward.

I was thrilled with the amount of research Chef Ryan did on the Paleo diet, and I promise you if you have a dietary restriction, all you have to do is let the hotel know when you make your reservation. The staff will do everything they can to meet your needs and make your dinner a memorable one.

For your reference, here is the wine list at Article One.

article one wine list
Since I was informed what my dinner would be as I sat down, I ordered a glass of wine to pair with it. The Stag’s Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon.

stags leap artemis
Then my meal arrived, served by the Chef himself. It was a Rib-Eye steak, cooked medium rare, with turnips and potatoes. There was also a decadent mushroom sauce (I ordered on the side). Let’s just call it mushroom ketchup because I used it as a condiment for the perfectly cooked bites of steak and tender turnips and potatoes.

rib eye potatoes and turnips
rib eye cooked perfectly
I took another shot to show how nicely my steak was prepared. (Annnd also to show off my nails, of course). 😉

Chef Ryan also put together a dessert especially for me with mixed berries and mixed nuts and seeds. I ordered a glass of Pascual Toso Brut (an Argentinian sparkling wine) to have with dessert.

article one dessert
After dinner, I headed back to my room to re-gussy up before the NAAF “Totally Rad 80’s Dance Party”. That’s when I found one last incredible gift from the hotel.

wine and fruit from hotel
The next morning, I headed out on another run, this time to visit the Lincoln Memorial.
I took the following pictures that day, and managed to get a nice 6 miles in:

lincoln monument side
lincoln monument
lincoln monument statue

reflecting pool washington monument
After my workout, which was again finished in the StayFit™ Fitness Center, I got my things all packed up and went down to attend the Closing Session led by NAAF Communications Director (and totally rad DJ) Gary Sherwood, Chief Development Strategist Maureen Smith, and the guest speaker, an NFL linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ryan Shazier.

Gary

Ryan Shazier. Photo cred: NAAF's Facebook page

Ryan Shazier. Photo cred: NAAF’s Facebook page

NAAF Conference Closing

 

I want to thank the Hyatt Regency Washington, D.C. for the room upgrade, as well as the custom Paleo meal and wine I enjoyed during my stay. Everything was perfect including the 24-hour room service (not previously mentioned), which saved me from starving on Thursday night after a late flight and arrival to the hotel. I recommend the Field Greens Salad with Grilled Chicken!

I’d also like to tell you about Hyatt Hotels in Washington 2016 Summer Offer, which is a great deal for anyone who wants to visit D.C. It is available for Hyatt Gold Passport® Members, and offers up to a 15% off stays at participating Hyatt Hotels in Washington DC through September 10, 2016.

Here is the link with more details about this offer: http://www.hyatt.com/content/partnerlandingpage/en/corporate/global/hyatt-member-washingtondc.html

You can find the National Alopecia Areata Foundation online here and find them on Facebook here.

You can find the Hyatt Regency Washington D.C. Capitol Hill online here, on Facebook here, on Twitter here and on Instagram here.

Beginning photo credit: NAAF’s Facebook page

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You Light Up My Life: Flame and Fire Restaurant in Roseville

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Flame and Fire is one of most unique dining destinations in Roseville, and we were finally able to check it out a few weeks ago.

If you already live in that neck of the woods, you probably know about Flame and Fire (located off Hwy 65 in Roseville, Pleasant Grove exit) and their exceptional food. Andy and I had been eager to visit this traditional Brazilian Churrascaria since our visit to another restaurant in the Bay area with a similar concept/dining experience.

What is a Brazilian Churrascaria? Basically, it’s a place where meat is cooked in churrasco style, which translates roughly from the Portuguese for ‘barbecue’. At Flame and Fire, diners can choose from a variety of fifteen succulent types of meat at dinner and seven types of meat and lunchtime. The menu is fixed price and patrons are are served several times throughout their meal.

The food is served by Gaucho Chefs who slice and serve the meats table side. This manner of service is known as Rodizio style and uses a card or chip (with the green side showing) to signal one of the rotating Gaucho Chefs to visit the table and serve what meat he happens to be carrying (cuts of beef, chicken, lamb, pork and Brazilian sausages to name a few). When the diner has had enough, they turn their dining card to the red side to show the Gaucho they do not want more food at the moment.

placecard
The other side says “NO”, but the servers pretty much only saw the “YES” side during my meal. 😉

Before meat service begins, though, guests are invited to visit the salad bar that is packed with over 30 different dishes and sides like Brazilian feijoada (stew of pork and black beans), farofa (a toasted cassava flour mixture), rice and beans. It’s like a compilation of all the best appetizers you’ve ever had.

salad bar one
The salad bar is also adorned with several cheeses such as Origiano Parmesan, Gorgonzola Blue, Coranzon Ronda Manchengo, Swiss and Gouda and cured meats.

wine and cheese
meats and cheeses

To the side of the salad bar there are large containers with fish stew, rice and a potato dish with bacon and cheese.

fish stew

The little kid in me wanted to try everything, but I knew I should save more room for all the meats that would come to our table, so I opted for a salad with a few different toppings and actually used the chimichurri sauce available on the salad bar as my dressing (the healthiest option on the bar because it contains only herbs and oil). TIP: Grab some for your meats later on in the meal. I also tried some of the wonderful cheeses available.

salad bar two
salad bar three
Often, Andy and I order a glass of wine (a starter glass, if you will) just as we are being seated. I usually go for something with bubbles! Then we peruse the wine menu together and find a bottle of wine to share that we think we will both enjoy. We decided on a bottle of Spanish wine made by Numanthia because it would pair nicely with the meat.

wine

I should also mention the little side dishes that are placed on the table to enjoy with every meal at Flame and Fire, pao de queijo (melt in your mouth cheese bread) and fried bananas:

bread
bananas

After we finished our selections from the salad bar, it was time for the gauchos to add our table into their rotation of service. It is very lovely to watch the servers come around one at a time and offer you what they are carrying. Below are a few of our favorite items from the evening, and some of what you can expect to see during a dinner service:

ribs

parmesan pork on plate
cutting pork
pork tenderloin
Picanha
my favorite cut

meat trio
lambchops

andy with meat

We sampled picanha (top sirloin) and the restaurant’s signature meat dish, fraldinha (bottom sirloin) and my personal favorite, chicken wrapped in bacon, Brazilian sausage, filet mignon, lamb chops (Andy’s favorite), pork ribs, parmesan chicken. Everything was so tasty and the interactive service was so much fun!

We were too full for dessert, but Flame and Fire does offer a delicious endings to their feast with a signature Flame & Fire Sovrete (ice cream) or Traditional Brazilian Flan. Also, roasted caramelized pineapple can be sliced at your table!

gaucho slicing
You can find Flame and Fire on Facebook here , follow them on Twitter here and check out their Instagram page here. Make a reservation to dine at Flame & Fire by clicking here.

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SunBasket Makes Cooking Paleo Meals Easy! Part One

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Today’s post will be several in a series I am doing with a company called SunBasket. They are one of several home-cooked meal kit delivery services that have popped up as of late. I am particularly fond of SunBasket because you can order strictly Paleo meals that are organic and non-GMO. I also love the story behind the company.

Additionally, all meals are developed by top San Francisco chef Justine Kelly (formerly of The Slanted Door) in partnership with Sun Basket’s in-house nutritionist Kaley Todd, ensuring that each dish is balanced, nutritious and delicious.

Also, I am excited to bring this company to your attention because the Paleo diet is something that is only truly sustainable if you 1.) Can cook at least a little or 2.) Can carve out the time to cook at least a little. Andy and I are a little spoiled because we alternate shopping and cooking to churn out Paleo/Primal meals everyday. But, we don’t have kids and have pretty flexible schedules to allow the time to do so.

I am thrilled to help introduce SunBasket because they can take the thinking/guess work out of dinner for three nights a week and even do the shopping for you. The meals come complete with everything you need to make three full meals for two people. The only thing you will have to do is the dishes!

box-in-kitchen

For my first box, I was sent 3 meals, one of which was Winter Albondigas with Shredded Cabbage. I was pretty impressed with the way everything was labeled and the pre-printed recipe cards that came in the package.

package of ingredients
ingredients
As you can see above, everything is clearly labeled and pre-measured. In most cases, the only prep that has to be done with the meals is to chop up some of the produce.

Vegetables Prep
And chop away I did, as I chopped the onion, carrot, cilantro, cabbage and segmented the lime. The butternut squash used in the meal was already peeled and chopped for me. OK, now that’s easy, because if you have ever cooked a butternut squash, you know what a pain it can be to peel and remove the seeds.

Following the recipe, I sauteéd the vegetables (as you can see below). Meanwhile, I prepared the meatballs that were to go in the soup:

saute vegetables
Meatballs Prep

The meatballs were a blend of ground pork and beef (antibiotic and hormone free) with chopped cilantro, egg, and a provided spice packet. I was able to make 11 pretty decent-sized meatballs from the meat and ingredients given.

finished soup

After simmering and reducing for about 30 minutes, you end up with a delicious meal for two. The soup preparation was so simple, yet the flavor was as if I had spent hours in the kitchen!

Recipe:
Winter albondigas with shredded cabbage

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 4 ounces cabbage
  • 1 lime
  • ¾ pound butternut squash cubes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 6 ounces ground beef
  • 6 ounces ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • Meatball spice blend (oregano-cumin-coriander-garlic)

1. Prep the vegetables
Peel the onion and cut into ½-inch-thick pieces.
Scrub the carrot and cut into ¼-inch-thick half moon slices.
Finely chop the cilantro.
Cut the cabbage into thin strips.

2. Cook the soup
In a sauce pot over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, carrots, and squash. Season with salt and pepper and cover, stirring occasionally until the vegetables start to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stirring to coat the vegetables. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the soup slightly thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Make the meatballs
In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and pork. Add the egg, spice blend and half of the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, and mix well until combined.

Using wet hands, form the meatball mixture into 2-inch diameter balls.
Add the meatballs to the soup. Bring the soup back to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the meatballs are just slightly pink in the center, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Serve

Cut the lime into wedges. Divide the soup between two bowls and top with the remaining cilantro and cabbage. Serve with lime wedges.

Nutrition per serving:
Calories 710, Protein: 37 g, Total Fat: 44 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 21 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6.5 g, Saturated Fat: 12 g, Cholesterol: 185 mg, Carbohydrates: 43 g, Fiber: 12 g, Added Sugar: 0 g, Sodium: 490 mg

Stay tuned for the next recipe from SunBasket! The best part is that I can keep the recipe cards and buy my own ingredients if I want to make the same recipe again. 🙂

For more information on ordering SunBasket meals, you can click here. Sign up for SunBasket now and get 30% OFF your first delivery.

You can find SunBasket on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here, Pinterest here and on Instagram here.


Have an Offal Day Returns Sunday, August 16th 2-5pm!

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Last Sunday, I ran into Catherine (of Munchie Musings) at Cochon Heritage Fire Napa (held at Charles Krug Winery). She was happily grazing the wonderful offerings at the annual festival of all things grilled meat, just as Andy and I were. Over full bellies, we discussed some of the upcoming food events in Sacramento. While chatting she mentioned her festival Have an Offal Day 3, and I agreed I would pass the information about the event to you! 🙂

Have an Offal Day #3 takes place on Sunday, August 16th from 2 to 5 p.m. at Mulvaney’s Next Door (1215 19th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811).

What is Have an Offal Day? Well, it’s a day that honors offal. You know, the nasty bits. The parts of animals that are left when all the pretty and prime parts are butchered and sold. It’s things like hearts, kidneys, blood, intestines, from animals such as lambs, ducks, chickens, beef, and pigs, well, you get the idea.

The lineup of chefs this year includes:
Carina Lampkin (Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery)
Danny Origel (Roxy)
Tyler Bond (Dirty Feet Dining, Kru)
Keith Breedlove (Culinerdy Cruzer)
Patrick Mulvaney (Mulvaney’s B&L)
Brian Mizner (Hook & Ladder)
Brenda Ruiz (Biba’s)
Brock MacDonald (Block Butcher Bar)
Wes Nilssen (de Vere’s Pubs)
Don Dickonson (Yang’s Noodles and instructor at IOT Culinary School)
Andrea Reiter (Capital Dime, soon The Patriot)
Hank Shaw (James Beard winning author)

TICKETS are $68 (no additional fees)

Your ticket price covers the venue and other event expenses, as well as benefitting the Food Literacy Center. Thank you to the chefs that jump at the chance to play with offal for a day and to the audience willing to try it! 🙂 That’s so Paleo! Thanks, Catherine for all the meaty details.


Meatless Mondays: Quick and Easy Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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We enjoyed this homemade soup (my own recipe) on Saturday night paired with delicious gluten free and vegan sandwiches from Pushkins Bakery. If you haven’t tried their “adult grilled cheese” or “the buzz”, please do. Both sandwiches are vegan and gluten free and are utterly delicious. It was fun to have a completely vegan meal for a change. 🙂

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato (peeled)
1 large onion
3 to 4 large red bell peppers
1 head of garlic
2 shallots
4 roma tomatoes
1 quart vegetable stock

1 1/2  tsp cumin
1 1/2 red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp paprika
salt to taste

1-2 Tbs olive oil per baking sheet

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 385°F.
Prepare 2 half sheet trays by greasing them liberally with olive oil.

before cooking potato onion
peppers

Chop all vegetables into uniform pieces. Place the onion and the sweet potato on one tray. On the other tray, you should be able to fit the chopped tomatoes, peppers, garlic and shallot. Important because the potato and onion will take slightly longer to bake. Bake the vegetables in the oven for about 40 minutes, checking to make sure nothing is burning and rotating them on the pan to prevent burning.

The peppers and tomatoes will be ready to remove from the oven when the peppers blister slightly and the garlic is roasted and tender. From the time you remove the peppers and tomatoes, leave the potato and onion tray in the oven ten minutes longer.

cooked potato and onion

roasted red pepper and tomato

other ingredients
In a blender, begin to blend all the vegetables. There will be more than one blender can hold, so blend a little at a time with the vegetable stock. Since you will be enjoying the soup, add the stock to the consistency you like (I used all but about 1/2 cup of the stock), as thick or as thin. Empty each round of blended vegetables into a very large bowl so that they will mix together.

Then add all of your spices and flavorings. The crushed red pepper, paprika, coriander, and the cumin and salt to taste. Stir the spices in the bowl manually. Then in batches, return the vegetable mixture to the blender and mix until completely smooth. Pour the smooth soup into a new large bowl.

This soup can be made up to a day ahead of time. Just simply ladle into serving bowls and reheat. I’m confident this will be one of the easiest, yet most tasty soups you will ever make! 🙂 We paired the soup with a 2011 Handley Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley and a 2012 St. Rey Celeste, Candyhill Vineyards (Revolution Wines).

wine pairings


Celebrate Thanksgiving with Sweet Potato Latkes and Beaujolais Nouveau!

TG Spread 2014
Thanksgiving 2014. Last week, Andy and I celebrated a little early because we will be in Mexico for the actual holiday, and I couldn’t resist making something special to pair with Georges Duboeuf’s new release of Beaujolais Nouveau—the inveterate red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France, that is only fermented a few weeks before being released for sale annually on the third Thursday of November.

Retailing at $10.99 nationwide, the 2014 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau complements an abundance of holiday dishes, from savory roasts to cranberry sauce. Suggested serving temperature for the Nouveau is between 62°F – 66°F, which is just slightly cooler than room temperature, to enhance the aromas and fruit flavors.

Our spread included:
turkey roulade stuffed with shitake mushrooms, shallots, chorizo and bacon, on a bed of carrots, celery, mushrooms and onions

turkey roulade
cauliflower and leek soup with a gluten free shortbread (did not take a closer image, snap!) 😉

sweet potato latkes

latkes

bacon wrapped persimmons and bacon wrapped dates

bacon wrapped persimmons

2014 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

2011 Walt Pinot Noir

Thanks to Georges Duboeuf for providing the bottle of Beaujolais!

Now the recipe for the latkes—skip the sweet potato casserole and give these a shot!

Sweet Potato Latkes

Ingredients:
3 sweet potatoes
1 yellow onion
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 cup coconut oil (melted)

Procedure:
Preheat oven (425°F)

Peel sweet potatoes and grate them, using the large holes on the grater, into a large bowl—I cheat and use a food processor on the shredder setting.

Grate the onion, too. Then, squeeze out as much liquid from the potatoes as you can and then add the grated onion to the bowl with the potatoes.

Add all other ingredients and combine. Using your hands works best, so keep a towel nearby or work close to the sink.

Prepare two baking sheets by pouring melted coconut oil on them and coating the entire tray.

Then form the potato mixture into 4-inch (or so) discs and place on the baking sheets until you have filled them up.

Brush the tops with a little melted oil and bake to desired crispness. I recommend checking on them and flipping them midway through baking to get both sides crispy.

Remove from oven and drain on paper towels prior to plating/serving.

ENJOY!! Happy Thanksgiving 🙂


Nike Women’s Half Marathon Entry Winner #2: Congrats to Karla!

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Last month, Whole Foods Market, Nike and I gave away 2 entries to the sold out Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco.

I wanted you to meet the entry winners, so you might perhaps comment below and cheer them on for the upcoming race on October 19th! Maybe you’ll even look them up in the race results following the race.

The second entry winner is Karla Euler from Jackson, GA. I asked Karla to share a little bit about herself, her daily diet, and how she is preparing for the race:

I am a 52 year old US Army Vet, mother of 3 grown daughters and grandmother to two beautiful grandchildren, both age 5.  I grew up in Southern California and now live in Jackson, GA.  I work as a Deputy Court Clerk so I spend most days inside a building which drives me to spend my off days outside as much as possible!  I enjoy yard work, hiking, swimming, biking, pretty much anything that will keep me outside and spending time with my family 🙂

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 I have always tried to maintain a healthy life style and I did up until my 2 grandchildren were born. I found myself making many excuses not to eat right or exercise just so I could spend all my spare time with my grand kids. The Nike Women’s Half Marathon will be my first and has given me the motivation and determination to get myself back into a healthy life style. I have ran numerous 5k and 10k’s in the past, but I am super excited about the SF Half!!  I have been diligently training for this and have loved getting back into exercise and healthy eating. I have more energy overall and feel better physically and mentally both.

The following is a typical day of eating for me:

A Cup of Black Coffee and then out for a run; I find that I do better when I don’t eat before a long run as I tend to eat dinner pretty late at night.

Breakfast:
Bowl of Oatmeal and a Banana, Black Coffee

Lunch:
Deli sandwich on wheat bread, cottage cheese with fruit

Dinner:
Baked Fish, yellow rice, garden salad, glass of milk

Additionally, I do take a multi-vitamin, fish oil, calcium supplement, and glucosamine tablet daily as well as drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

karla 1

Thanks to Karla for submitting her story to cavegrrl.com. I am hoping to meet her on the day of the run and wish her luck in person! 🙂 Thanks to Nike and Whole Foods for allowing me to give two other women the chance to run in the race.

You can find Whole Foods on Facebook here and on twitter here. My local store is in Roseville on Facebook here.

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You can find the Run Nike Women’s Series and more information on the race on Facebook here.


Nike Women’s Half Marathon Entry Winner #1: Congrats to Cathy!

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You might recall a few weeks ago that Whole Foods Market, Nike and I gave away 2 entries to the sold out Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco.

I wanted you to meet the entry winners (I’ll be featuring one today and one next week), so you might perhaps comment below and cheer them on for the upcoming race on October 19th! Maybe you’ll even look them up in the race results following the race.

The first entry winner is Cathy Wiggs-Hong from the Los Angeles, California area. I asked Cathy to share a little bit about herself, her daily diet, and how she is preparing for the race:

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Hi my name is Cathy.  I am a 34 year old mother of 3 girls ages 9, 4 and 1.5.  I am a stay at home mom with the girls now, but I previously worked as a pediatric physical therapist.  I love to be active, and enjoy all outdoor activities.  As a family, we love to go to the beach, the pool, and Disneyland.

The Nike Women’s half marathon will be my second half.  I’ve completed many shorter distance races, but have actually come to enjoy the training and actual race of the 13,1 miles.  I try to eat pretty healthy in general, as I am still nursing my youngest child, but I often find it difficult to keep it as healthy as I’d like because of how busy I am.

I find that when I food prep I eat much healthier, that is something I am striving to get more consistent with.  I’ve also noticed that when I “eat clean” I feel so much better both physically and mentally, that is real motivation for me to try and keep it up.

The following food journal is what I ate today and is pretty typical of what I normally eat.

Breakfast: Yogurt with strawberries and blueberries
Snack: Baked mini flat pretzels and dill havarti cheese, honey crisp apple (shared with the littlest)
Lunch: Grilled chicken breast with side salad
Dinner: BBQ’d hamburger with lettuce and avocado, baked sweet potato fries

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Water throughout the day, as well as a multivitamin, glucosamine supplement, calcium, and a broad spectrum antioxidant supplement.

On days that I run, I also have a protein bar or shake following my runs.

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Thanks to Cathy for submitting her story to cavegrrl.com. I am hoping to meet her on the day of the run and wish her luck in person! 🙂 Thanks to Nike and Whole Foods for allowing me to give two other women the chance to run in the race.

You can find Whole Foods on Facebook here and on twitter here. My local store is in Roseville on Facebook here.

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You can find the Run Nike Women’s Series and more information on the race on Facebook here.


Fogo de Chão in San Jose: A Meat Lover’s Paradise!

When Andy and I visited San Jose a few weeks ago, we dined at a Brazilian churrascaria called Fogo de Chão (pronounced fo-go dée shown). It’s located in Santana Row close to Hotel Valencia, our host hotel for that weekend. A churrascaria is a place where meat is cooked in churrasco style (Portuguese for ‘barbecue’), and it’s pretty much like Paleo heaven. 🙂

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kitchen window
If you have never dined at a Brazilian steakhouse before, there is a procedure to the meal, and it’s really quite fun. After being seated, diners are given a cardboard token (looks like a drink coaster) that is green on one side and red on the other. This token is used to signal the gaucho chefs to begin meat service to your table. But first, it’s off to the salad bar!

The salad bar features premium items such as 24 Month, Aged Parmesan, Aged Manchego Cheese, Prosciutto, Brazilian Hearts of Palm, Artichoke Bottoms, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Smoked Salmon, Italian Salami, Jumbo Asparagus, Tabbouleh and Shitake Mushrooms, not to mention at least large bowls full of different lettuce mixes to use for the base of your salad. It would be easy to get full on just the salad bar alone, so pace yourself.

salad bar 2

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salad bar

When you are ready for the meats to be served, turn your token green side up, signaling that you are ready for our gaucho chefs to begin tableside service. This continuous service is known as “Rodizio” style.

There are 16 cuts of fire roasted meats to choose from including top sirloin, filet mignon, rib eye, bottom sirloin, beef ribs, lamb, chicken, pork ribs, pork loin (encrusted in parmesan cheese and linguica (a Brazilian-style, cured pork sausage). The gaucho chefs are very attentive and efficient. I would advise you to come not only hungry, but starving! Below are some of the meats the gaucho chefs serve on a nightly basis:

meats
Pictured from left to right: Lamb (cordeiro), Chicken (frango) Pork Ribs (costela de porco), Pork Loin (lombo), Pork Sausage (linguica), Top Sirloin (picanha), Beef Ribs (costela), Bacon Wrapped Filet and Bacon Wrapped Chicken. Wow! So very Paleo! 🙂

When you are full, you flip the token to the red side until you are ready for more offerings.

specialty meat
In the photo above, Andy is being served the signature steak of the restaurant, the Picanha (pea-CAN-ya), a prime cut of top sirloin.

The meal also includes limitless service of traditional Brazilian side dishes, including: pão de queijo (warm cheese bread), crispy hot polenta (like polenta fries), garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized bananas. (not so Paleo) 😦

sides

Fogo de Chão is a recipient of the prestigious Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence for eight consecutive years. I chose a reasonably priced Cabernet made by Trapiche (a label I had at least heard of before). It was quite good.

wine

Below, the gaucho chef serves Andy a bacon wrapped filet mignon, and a bacon wrapped chicken.

Bacon wrapped meat

birthday boy
Someone looks happy! Ask him how many lamb chops he had! 😉

Then, after we had signaled we were done with our meal, one of the gaucho chefs brought out this cake to celebrate Andy’s birthday. What a fun dinner! Thanks so much to the staff at Fogo de Chão, San Jose for taking such good care of us! 🙂

dessert

Lunch at Fogo de Chão San Jose is $34.50 | (Salad Bar Only – $24.50) and is served Mon-Fri 11:30-2:00.
Dinner is $54.50 | (Salad Bar Only – $29.50) and is served Mon-Thur 5:00-10:00, Fri 5:00-10:30, Sat 3:00-10:30, and Sun 12:00-9:00.
Children 6 and under are complimentary. Children 7 to 12 are half price.  Any beverages, desserts, tax, and gratuity are additional.  An 18% gratuity is added to all parties of 6 or more.

You can like Fogo de Chão on Facebook here, and follow them on twitter here.


Roasted Carrots with Curry and Pecans

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Every year Andy and I get together with another family for a nice dinner party on the back deck at our house in Incline Village. We collaborate on a menu for our guests and make a fuss over the food and wine. The first year, we tricked everyone into eating a fully Paleo meal. Since then, all the guests know it’s a Paleo meal, and no one seems to mind. 🙂 No one misses the bread or the sugar!

Typically, I am in charge of two side dishes, and Andy grills the meat (main course), makes a big salad, and makes his classic Bacon Wrapped Dates.

I have to say, Summer Solstice Party Number Three was a success and for one of my sides, I made and served these carrots.

I used a stevia sweetener called Pyure Sweet in the recipe. Many thanks to the manufacturer for sending me the samples.

Ingredients:
(feeds about 8-10 as a side dish)
1 cup pecans
5 pounds carrots
8 Tbs coconut oil (or butter)
1/4 cup Pyure Sweet
1 Tbs molasses
1 Tbs curry powder
1/2 cup lemon juice
Sea Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper

First, you’ll need to toast the pecans. You can do this in the oven or in a skillet on low heat. Whatever works for you. Just be careful not to burn them. Let them cool once toasted, and give them a rough chop. Set aside.

So, I personally choose the oven to toast my pecans, because it heats up the oven for my carrots that go in next. I have the temp at about 375°F for toasting the pecans. I heat it up to about 400°F when it is carrot roasting time.

Before the carrots go in, you’ll need to clean them up by peeling and cutting them into “french fry” shapes. It’s up to you what size you cut them down, but make sure they are uniform so they will cook evenly. Then, put them on a sheet tray (or two) that’s well oiled/greased (coconut oil or olive oil works best), salt liberally with sea salt, and roast until browned. I would tell you how long to leave them in the oven, but it all depends on how thick you have cut them, so I am leaving that up to you.

While the carrots are roasting away, you can make the curry sauce. Melt 8 Tbs of coconut oil (or butter) together over low heat in a saucepan with 1 Tbs molasses, 1/4 cup of Pyure Sweet stevia blend, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and 1 Tbs curry powder. Make sure all ingredients have combined over the heat (without boiling) and set aside.

Remove the carrots from the oven when they are close to being done. Drizzle the curry sauce over the pan/pans of carrots. Return to the oven and roast an additional 5-10 minutes.
Then the sauce has saturated and cooked into the carrots, remove them from the oven, and sprinkled the toasted pecans over them.

Serve the carrots warm or room temperature. A perfect party side dish and a true crowd-pleaser! 🙂


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.

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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.

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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:
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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.

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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:

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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:

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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!

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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:

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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.

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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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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.

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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.” 😛

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.