Autumn without the treats

Just two years ago around this time, you would have found me in the kitchen using up all the flour & sugar making some deeeeelicious treats. Fall has always been my prime time for trying out special recipes and getting into a good grove with baking my favorites (I still have a fall baking magazine from 2012 that I just cannot bear to get rid of because there are so many goodies inside!). But for nearly the past two years, I’ve been eating paleo.

Last year, I pretty much relied on Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain books. They are so good. And it was fun to learn grain-free baking! But in recent months, my restrictions have increased (boooo!) and I am now grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free, egg-free, nut-free (almonds/cashews), garlic-free, and mostly sugar-free. This pretty much puts me in the AIP camp (autoimmune paleo).

I’m usually pretty good at eating as I should (and trying to make it interesting!), but man oh man! the fall goods! the pumpkin! It’s sometimes depressing walking into Trader Joe’s and shielding my eyes from what used to be some of my staples. I know that a more virtuous person than me would accept these limitations and not dwell on them. Me, however – I need to get creative and find ways to keep me satisfied without lusting after Kevin’s english muffin with pumpkin cream cheese (which I still do…).

Some of my saving recipes as of late that still give me that taste of fall (all paleo/AIP):

  • Crockpot Clam & Pumpkin Chowder from the Urban Poser – I haven’t made it with clam yet, but usually incorporate some sort of protein (turkey patties, prosciutto). It is delicious and we’ve had it once a week for the past several weeks.
  • Pumpkin, Bacon, and Chive Biscuits from the Urban Poser – THESE BISCUITS! They are fantastic and totally compliant. Well, they call for eggs, but I instead used flax-eggs with great success.
  • Squash Porridge from the Urban Poser – one week I had this four days in a row – any type of squash works. It’s that good. I did have to remove the chocolate chips (even the dairy/soy/nut free ones!) as well as the honey when my doctor and I decided I should avoid allllllll sugar. But with the strawberries and a bit of coconut manna, it’s still pretty dang wonderful. And what a breakfast to wake up to on a fall morning! I pop the squash in the oven immediately upon waking, do my morning things, and then enjoy this bad boy.

Other things that I’ve daringly incorporated into my diet for the sake of their incredible health benefits are sardines (actually pretty good as long as I do NOT mistakenly get the ones with skin & bones….gross), chicken liver (the first time I cooked these I had to mentally get over what I was eating, but have since enjoyed them!), and more collagen. So it’s been a new type of fall for me, but I’m surviving :). Let’s pray this is all temporary, though, and that full healing will come!

Top Recipes // July

I’m a bit late – I wanted to post this for July since August will be the month of limited cooking as we’re in transition (I packed up pretty much everything kitchen related yesterday). But here it is! My favorite recipes for last month!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am looooving this grain-free sandwich/burger bread/bun. It really comes out like it does in that picture. It can be a bit dry, but I guess that also means it’ll last longer? We wouldn’t know. One batch makes 4 buns, I’ve doubled it to make 8.

This bread is also good – a delicious almond & flax seed mix. It’s a nice breakfast bread, and it’s essentially an excuse to get a good serving of Kerrygold butter.

This buffalo shrimp & cabbage salad was SO refreshing. Typically our lunches consist of kale, nuts, avocado (if we have any to spare), olive oil/balsamic vinegar, and some type of meat…sometimes. Needless to say, while I enjoy it, the repetition gets to be a bit much. So when we venture into new territory, it’s exciting. I’d had a head of cabbage in the fridge for…a while, but that’s why I love cabbage. It lasts long, it’s packed with nutrients, and it provides way more servings than you think it will. We also had frozen shrimp in the freezer and kinda improvised with a lot of other ingredients. But all in all, it had the essence of this recipe. It lasted several servings and was super tasty.

Paleo nachos. No explanation needed. This was the inspiration, but we’ve taken it every which way since. And I have not looked back. We always have sweet potatoes on hand, the rest of the ingredients vary. But it’s just.so.good.

Anything with eggs is always a free for all, but Kevin says my sweet potato quiche is the best quiche I’ve ever made – eggs, sweet potatoes (sautéed for a bit), arugula, bell peppers (sautéed with sweet potatoes). And topped with just a bit of sour cream.

My special homemade granola! Reasons I love living by Trader Joe’s – super inexpensive nuts & seeds! Which makes for an awesome grain-free granola. Cashews, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes…smash it all up, add some maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt, and bake for 12 minutes at 350. It’s so good. The perfect snack for me.

And lastly – let’s not forget the buffalo popcorn. A simple & fun snack for hanging out with the husband and watching a movie or playing a board game. Literally, just make some popcorn (pre-bagged or on the stove), heat up some butter & buffalo sauce…mix. Boom.

I’d like to thank pinterest for expanding my horizons.

 

Collections // 2

Reading // As is my way, I got a little caught up in re-reading some Harry Potter recently. On book six at the moment – I keep myself to no more than a chapter a day.

Cooking // whatever is in our freezer. We only have about three weeks left actually in this apartment (we’re traveling for another two weeks) and I want to make sure all the meat I bought in bulk once upon a time gets eaten! Which it will. No problem.

Baking // grain-free breads. I’ve found a few good recipes, but this is my favorite. It’s not an everyday occurrence (don’t want to make a habit out of eating “bread”), but it’s super tasty when we have it.

Watching // umm…one of the Marvel films every week. You could say Kevin and I have a problem, but we personally think it’s a fine art being able to watch a film over and over. Especially when the movie is so rich! Last night was Iron Man 3, before that Avengers, before that Thor, before that Captain America…you get the idea. We just really love these films.

Listening // my younger sisters cd mixes. Since she graduated and will not be needing a car in DC, my parents passed the Acura onto us (which we’re so grateful for!). She generously left some fun mixes in her car, and it’s funny what similar taste we have. A fun variety to, from Coldplay to Tupac to the Weepies…it’s all over the place.

Wanting // another Stitchfix box! I had a gift card from my birthday that allowed for two fixes (spent a bit over my allotted amount), and now I’m addicted. I don’t foresee it happening anytime soon, but a girl can dream!

Making // homemade organic & natural makeup! It seems that I go a little bit deeper each month into a more crunchy way of life, and partly because it’s so much fun and fulfilling to create from scratch (and to know everything I’m using/eating/surrounding myself with). I’ve made a pretty successful powdered blush and powdered foundation thanks to the recipes of Wellness Mama. The concealer didn’t turn out as I expected, but I think I know the issue…but it means I gotta re-do it. Another time!

Traveling // the past few weekends have been here in Boston, but August will be the month of travels – a grand family vacation on the Cape followed by another trip to Quebec! Followed by our cross country road trip to Duluth!

Grain-free & Dairy-free Shepherd’s Pie

I hope everyone had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and remembered to honor the Saint who we celebrate! I didn’t have much time to do anything super special, but we woke up to Celtic music, had Irish Soda Bread, enjoyed shepherd’s pie (below) for lunch, and then Kevin was able to go the Cathedral for midday Mass and get our annual St. Patrick’s Day shamrock! I also listened to the Celtic Pandora station all day at work…so that was a little treat.

If you’re wondering why I was so determined to make Shepherd’s Pie while completing a Whole 30, please read here (where there is also a recipe for compliant Irish Soda Bread).

Bottom line: Shepherd’s Pie is delicious and comforting and, when using the right ingredients, moderately healthy and nutrient dense. So all the Irish and Irish-wannabes enjoy!

Shepherd's Pie

Grain-Free & Dairy-Free Irish Shepherd’s Pie

Filling

  • 1 lb. pastured, organic ground beef
  • 4 organic carrots (chopped 1/4 inch thin)
  • 2 organic celery stalks (chopped 1/4 inch thin)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 3/4 C organic beef broth
  • 3 Tbsp. organic tomato paste
  • 4 tsp. arrowroot powder (or just thicken to your liking)
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt

Topping

  • 1 cauliflower head
  • 1/4 C coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1 Tbsp. Ghee
  • 1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F). For the filling, cook the ground beef in a large pan (very technical terms). Once the meat is cooked through and you’ve added your seasoning, add the chopped carrots, celery, and onions and sauté. Alternate adding the tomato paste, beef broth, and arrowroot powder until you get a nice and thick consistency. Put off to the side. Boil water and throw in the roughly chopped cauliflower (I did this part the night before so I didn’t have to worry about the topping). Once it is soft enough to mash, drain the cauliflower and mash it, mixing in the remaining ingredients. Pour the filling into a lovely 8X8ish dish, and then spread the cauliflower mixture on top. Bake for about 15 minutes and then if you’re feeling daring you can broil it for another 5 minutes to get a nice browned top.

This amount filled me and Kevin for three full meals (with a little side of cabbage and arugula). Super delicious and loaded with flavor, so I don’t feel like I’m missing the dairy that I love so much. So enjoy! And keep it on hand for a festive occasion!

Breastplate of St. Patrick

Grain-Free & Dairy-Free Irish Soda Bread

While there really is never an “ideal” time to do complete a Whole 30, I figured Lent would be the easiest, since it’s really not much of a time to indulge anyway. And I’d say it’s worked out well, thus far. My one hesitation, though, was the few great feasts during this solemn time – St. Patrick’s Day, the solemnity of St. Joseph, and the solemnity of the Annunciation! As a Catholic who strives to live the liturgical year in a very real way, I am all on board with fasting, but I am just as much on board with feasting – all in the right time.

St. Patrick’s day is a big feast in the Gearns household. One of the first things I learned about Kevin back in the day was that St. Patrick is his favorite Saint. There are numerous reasons for Kevin’s love of this great man, and I’ve come to know him and appreciate him so much more over the years. I think too often people just associate him with this secularized holiday with parades, Guinness, and pubs. And by all means celebrate, but do not forget the man whom we honor!

Anyway, we dream about fun ways to celebrate this feast with our family, and this year being our first, is more of an intro year since I am so busy with two jobs, we don’t have access to a bonfire (yes, that’s one of our goals), annnnnd I’m doing this ridiculous diet where I can’t eat anything fun. So out the window went my grand plans of Irish Potato candies (a long tradition in my family), Guinness chili, bangers and mash, and the like. But I was determined to still make some festive food, even if I could not use the typical ingredients.

So project one: Grain-free Irish Soda Bread! I’ll admit, I was skeptical (as I always am when I start eliminating standard things like FLOUR), but this recipe held it’s own! Inspiration started here to help me get started with flour ratios (the world of non-grain flours is still a complex one to me). For me, less is more. I just get overwhelmed if I see an ingredient list of 15+ items. I abstained from any sugar or sweetener, and it still tastes great. So the following is what I settled on:

  • 1-1/4 C Almond Flour
  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Milk (full fat)
  • 1/2 C. Raisons

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Whisk all the dry ingredients, and then add in the vinegar, eggs, and coconut milk (almond milk works well too). I used my kitchenaid stand mixer on low (don’t beat it too, too much!) and then mix in the raisons. Lightly oil a cookie sheet, and place the dough in a ball shape on the sheet. And for the final touch, add that simple cross with a knife. Place in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes!

When it is done, thoroughly enjoy with some Kerrygold Butter (that’s compliant, right?). I promise you’ll like it. 🙂