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!

that [delicious] gluten-free, blueberry pastry

Last Sunday was the brunch for The Guiding Star Project here in Duluth. If you haven’t heard of them, you should look them up. They are a phenomenal organization doing ground-breaking work in the world of holistic & life-affirming women’s health. We were invited by some friends to attend at the Graysolon Ballroom (um, stunning). We had a lovely time and were so glad we went.

But I did something that day I don’t normally do.

I ate a gluten-free, blueberry pastry.

Yes. Katie, the self-proclaimed anti-grains queen (who was also on day 15 of her second Whole 30) ate a gluten-free pastry filled with grains, sugar, and dairy. And it was damn good. Now why on EARTH would I do such a thing when I’m trying so hard to improve my health?

Let me tell you. Up until the first time we conceived, I had become obsessed with nutrition. While there were reasons that made it necessary for me to look more carefully at what I was consuming, I went full-throttle into the world of “let’s eliminate everything and maybe it’ll work.” Do I still think grains are harmful to most, if not all, people? Yes. But I became so regimented and strict with myself that any mess-up would lead to extreme guilt and shame. (Like when I blamed myself for eating a piece of bread just before we miscarried.)

I love my lifestyle. I genuinely enjoy eating paleo. I am grateful for the Whole 30 and the perspective on food it’s given me (and I’d recommend it to anyone). I’m even inclined to start the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol soon (which is like a few steps beyond the Whole 30 – no eggs/nuts/nightshades).

But just as someone can be a slave to food by over-indulging in unhealthy items, I too can let food rule me to the point of deeply fearing a cupcake. How ridiculous! While there have been good intentions of bettering my physical health, I’ve failed to notice what it was doing to me psychologically.

So I very intentionally ate a gluten-free (blueberry) pastry. And it was delicious. And I felt fine. Maybe it wasn’t the best choice and maybe I’ll regret it. But I had lost the freedom I once had in choosing what I eat, and I am now re-claiming it. It’s important to me that I be happy. That’s not to be confused with gluttonous or over-indulgent. No. I probably won’t dip back into grains anytime soon, for sake of prudence. But I need to know the reasons for which I am doing this, and I need to freely choose this path.

So there. I’m a work in progress and I hope that’s okay. 🙂

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Soup

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I’m always trying to be creative with the meals I prepare for our family. For the past many months, it has felt like I haven’t really had a kitchen to work with, so our food consumption has been a bit off. But we’ve been getting back into the swing of things and are back to a more paleo diet (with some full-fat/organic dairy mixed in here and there). And with the beautiful season of fall upon us, I’ve been enjoying putting together various soups. I love soups because they are so simple, yet, when done right, can be delicious and satisfying.

I came across this recipe on Pinterest, and while I ended up making something very different, it served as lovely inspiration. This is a hearty soup, and can be as spicy as you choose.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1 15-oz can black beans
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 3 cups cauliflower
  • 2 large boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to tase
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

Instructions:

  1. Boil water in a large pot, add chicken & cauliflower. Once chicken is fully cooked, remove from water (along with cauliflower), shred with fork, and set aside.
  2. Empty the pot of the water and add in the remaining ingredients and stir for a few minutes.
  3. Add in the chicken and cauliflower, mixing well. The cauliflower should be almost mashed, if not entirely, for added thickness.
  4. Your proportions may vary depending on how you like your soups. For greater thickness, add more coconut milk (or heavy cream and/or butter for less coconut flavor). For less thickness, add water. For spicier soup, add more buffalo sauce. 🙂

We enjoyed this soup with a little bit of sour cream on top (yes it’s dairy, but it’s sooo good). This made about 6 full servings for us and we kept it in the fridge for 3 days. I can’t wait to make it again!

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 (sautĂ©ed for a bit), arugula, bell peppers (sautĂ©ed 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.

 

Whole 30: Day 27

How I made it to day 27, I’ll never know. I literally thought about doing a whole 30 for MONTHS and could not bear the thought of a week without cheese, chocolate, lattes, and chips. Truly. But I was driven to do it for reasons that I could not ignore. And here I am almost done! And Imma be real with you – it’s not that hard! I mean, it is but it isn’t. I honestly haven’t even thought much about being on it in the past two weeks. We buy the food we can eat, and we prepare that food. We don’t eat out much anyway, and the times we have gone out, it’s been fine. I may have occasionally bent the rules by not being a stickler for hidden sugar in a few things (particularly at a restaurant), but other than that – golden.

How do I feel? Great. I mean, once I got over the nasty cold, things improved tremendously. I am not craving grains. I am not craving dairy. I don’t really get hungry between meals. I haven’t gotten sick of eggs & sweet potatoes. I’ve made some delicious meals that are twists on grainy/dairy-filled classics. It’s challenged me a bit in the realm of meal planning, but as long as we have enough food on hand, things go well.

Now typically when I tell people what I’m doing, their response is “so do you just not eat?” NOOOOOO! Everyone wants an explanation of what exactly I can eat (expecting it to be a list of 2 things). So what has filled my fridge & pantry this month?

Meats & Protein

  • Pastured, grass-fed beef
  • Organic, free-range chicken (of all types)
  • Wild caught fish (salmon, cod, tilapia, shrimp)
  • Canned tuna fish (in water)
  • Organic, free-range eggs (so many eggs!)

Produce

  • ALL THE SWEET POTATOES
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Avocadoes
  • Organic kale
  • Organic arugula
  • Red cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Organic apples (honey crisp!)
  • Plantains (a newfound love!)
  • Oranges & clementines
  • Kiwi!
  • Bananananas

Extras

  • Organic coconut (milk and oil)
  • Dijon mustard (yummmmm!)
  • Almonds & pecans
  • Lara bars (because I can’t help myself)
  • Beef & chicken broth (organic, no added sugar)
  • Canned tomatoes & tomato paste (crucial!!)
  • Jars of roasted bell peppers
  • My unbelievable, homemade almond butter! (will share soon!)

There you have it. It’s a lot of foods. Not gonna lie, though…it’s pricey. I’ve gone all in and worked on buying more organic too. Why? If the goal of this is to seriously improve my health, and I continue eating meats with loaded hormones and produce with pesticides…then I won’t accomplish what I wanted. So while it’s more expensive in some ways, it’s worth it if I’m clearing out my system of anything harmful. There are still ways to save money and be smart about it, though. To be fair as well – I’m not buying junk like chips and salsa, I’m not buying expensive cheeses, I don’t really pick up any “treats” – and once I’ve eliminated all of that stuff, there’s more wiggle room than you’d think.

Would I recommend this? YES. SO MUCH YES. And I’d recommend it to anyone. Even if you’re the vision of health, you don’t have any obvious issues, and love your body. Why? It requires discipline, which I think is a virtue most of us could always strive to have more of. Think of all the times we indulge without realizing it – that mocha latte, cupcakes for a co-worker’s birthday, out to dinner with friends and family, an evening sweet on a snowy day, a treat for Sunday…I am the queen at finding all sorts of “reasons” to give in. And I don’t foresee myself giving up all tasty treats here on out, but just knowing that I can say no as much as I have…that’s a good feeling.

The Whole 30 has also changed the way I look at food and nutrition. Well, it’s actually been a long road and this cleanse is more so just confirming things I’ve already been thinking. But I am truly so much more aware at what goes into my body – the meats that most grocery stores sell, the 50,000 extra ingredients in so many products, the amount of sugar one could consume in a day without realizing it at all. Being aware and understanding that quality matters. And whether we have a food allergy/sensitivity or not, the government and food industries have certainly steered us wrong as to what we should be putting in our bodies.

So I plan on continuing a more paleo diet, with some added organic or raw dairy in certain forms (and maybe a bit of natural sugar here and there). I’m sure I’ll have slip-ups (April does bring with it Easter and my birthday, sooooo), but I’m so grateful I had the push to do this. Just a few more days!