Happy Thanksgiving To You!

Paleo + Life | Bacon-Wrapped Turkey
This pretty beastie is my all-time favorite. All other turkeys pale in comparison to the joy of the bacon wrap!

How is it already Thanksgiving time? I was just discussing with a friend how it always seems like “Oh, it’s two weeks away, I don’t need to worry about that yet!” and suddenly it’s HERE. Whoops.

But no need to fret: one of the reasons I adore Thanksgiving is that it’s really the simplest holiday to manage. Not like Halloween, with costumes and candy and trying to plan treats that won’t make one feel bad afterward; or all of the hoopla surrounding Christmas (and which, I might add, has been going on since darned near August!). Turkey Day is the best because it’s just three parts: Buy food. Cook it. Eat it.
Depending on your family, there may also be football (we are sports-averse, so this is not us), or a trip to the movies (sadly, the tot is not quite old enough for this yet), but the heart of this holiday is the meal. It’s a food blogger’s dream come true.

Every year, I try to make the meal just a little bit different. Sure, there’s always turkey, and there’s gotta be dressing (NOT stuffing and yes, there is a BIG difference), but the sides and desserts are where I like to have my fun. This year, I’m thinking:

It’s simple, totally Paleo, and easy as the proverbial pie. I’m so looking forward to a relaxing day of cooking up some goodies for the family.

What are you thinking of making for this foodiest of holidays? Drop a line in the comments if you’re so inclined.

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

Strawberry Cucumber Salad | Paleo + Life

As I write this, great sheets of rain are pouring down outside, our fireplace is going full blast, and I’m making an immense mug of tea. It seems an odd time to be thinking of light, fruit-based dishes like this one. Strawberries, in particular, seem to be the heart of summer.

However, it happened that when I went to the grocery store, I was thinking about salad. Well, about roast chicken and salad. Specifically, about how boring this salad would be, because I always do roast chicken with a big salad. I was also thinking how very, very tired I am of the same old tomato salad, and what on earth could I do instead?

While I was standing there in the produce department, I noticed a stack of strawberries. The combination of the crisp, meaty smell of roasted chicken in my basket and the sweet perfume from the berries reminded me of a lovely meal I’d had at a restaurant ages ago. The salad was fantastic, with strawberries, blackened chicken, corn, black beans — I don’t remember anything else about that evening, but that salad was perfection.

Thus inspired, I picked up the berries, some balsamic vinegar, and dashed home to try to make something like it. In the end, this salad was more like a cousin than a twin, but it added a twist to the routine, the kids happily gobbled it up, and it was lovely having a little bit of summer in the middle of my autumn.

Strawberry Cucumber Salad


  • 1 head romaine lettuce, cut in a chiffonade
  • 10-15 sorrel leaves, cut in a chiffonade
  • 2 tablespoons mild fresh herbs, such as salad burnet or parsley
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into half rounds
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large bowl, combine romaine, sorrel, herbs, berries and cucumber slices. Toss gently with salad tongs.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil and vinegar, stirring vigorously. Drizzle the mixture over the salad.
  3. Grind salt and black pepper over the salad to taste. Toss salad again; serve immediately.


Our kitchen

Our kitchen, when we bought the house.


That is how I feel with no fridge. Yes, we have the mini fridge, and no, no one is starving, but I am longing to have my proper fridge back. I miss having the ability to store a bigger quantity of food, and plan meals over a longer period of time, and the convenience of being able to just do a leftover night on the spur of the moment.

I suppose, in some ways, this is what it might be like to undergo a remodel — which I have contemplated almost from the moment we bought the house. I love our neighborhood and our sunny, south-facing lot, and I am of course grateful that we have a roof over our heads (no easy feat with six of us to house), in terms of style, our house is, well, meh. It basically does the job of keeping us warm and dry, and we have made a few minor updates since this picture was taken, but I know it could be so much more.

It feels a little weird to discuss this here on the blog — remodeling doesn’t seem like a particularly “Paleo” topic. But I think it fits in, even if it’s a stretch. Paleo is about making yourself healthier, which to my mind includes setting up your home to facilitate healthy choices. My goals for the kitchen, I think, will do that.

I want to add a full-sized freezer, so that we can buy a side of beef from a local farm and have room to store it. I’d also like to add pantry space so that I have room for fermentation projects like homemade sauerkraut and kombucha. I would like more counter space so that I have more room for cooking with the sous vide. Finally, I really want a prettier space to work in. That would feed my soul, which at times feels almost as important as making the practical kitchen functions go more smoothly.

I’m sure there are other things that I’m overlooking. If you’re so inclined, please do leave a comment with your favorite thing about your kitchen. I would love to know what works for you.

Kaput, or Get Well Soon Tea

I had planned to post a recipe this week, but I suddenly found myself in food blogger hell.
My fridge died. It requires some part, probably from the deepest pits of Mt. Doom, and untold dollars to set it to rights. So my recipe progress will be a bit stalled until that happens.

Oddly, the freezer is still working fine. Because of this, and because we purchased a tiny dorm-style fridge to tide us over, we have been, if not exactly comfortable, at least able to continue feeding ourselves. It requires regular trips to the store (not exactly daily, but close), which makes me feel very fancy and European. Ooh la la indeed.

This death of the fridge has coincided with my youngest girl being under the weather. She doesn’t want to eat much, but she does love sweet things. Since I had blueberries in the freezer, honey in the cupboard, and a tiny little squeezer of lime juice in the mini-fridge, I made this tea for her.
The frozen blueberries, aside from being chock full of vitamins, quickly bring the tea down to a reasonable temperature (cool enough for my little, but warm enough to still be soothing).


Get Well Soon Tea


  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon gelatin (I use Great Lakes, in the green can -- it dissolves perfectly)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/8-1/4 cup frozen blueberries (do not thaw)


  1. Combine lime juice, honey and gelatin in a heatproof mug. Pour in boiling water; stir thoroughly.
  2. Add frozen blueberries. Serve immediately.




I have been reluctant to write this post, which I’m fairly certain means that I need to do it. So here goes. This is a little bit more intimate than usual for the blog, so if you just come for the food (which is totally okay with me — sometimes you just want some food!), feel free to sit this one out.

As you may have noticed, I took a break from the blog for a bit, because I wanted to concentrate on studying for my professional licensing exam. And study I did. Every day, for hours at a time, my world was condensed down to a coffee shop and a set of purple workbooks I grew to hate.
If it wasn’t a workbook, and it didn’t scream or bark, I didn’t pay it any attention.

Despite the months of effort, I did not pass my exam. Again.

This was pretty devastating, as you can imagine. All that time and effort. All the hours I missed playing with my kids and enjoying the summer, not eating right, not exercising — and all of it for naught. Just to find out, once again, that I was thisclose to passing, but once again fell short.

I’ve been rather down on myself as a result. Going back to school as a married woman with  three kids was hard. Having a baby in the middle of that was harder still. But I did it. I managed to get through it and looked forward to having a somewhat simpler life.
Yet this exam is the last hurdle before I can do what I’ve trained to do for years and I just. could. not. get it. What is wrong with me? I thought. How am I such a failure?

I think y’all can see where my problem is. Somehow, I decided my worth as a person was directly related to what I achieved in the world. That my value as a human being was only important as far as what I did, what I was able to do, how impressive I was able to be. How ridiculous is that?

I know better. It took me a really long time to learn that lesson, but I know it. Still, I am an academic achiever from way back, and I have a strong sense of myself as “smart”.
Smart is a big part of my identity and who I have always been.
So when faced with a professional/academic disappointment, I turned on myself. I forgot to show myself compassion, and gentleness, and support. I forgot to treat myself the way I would treat a friend.

Now, I’m going to tell you a little story:
Lately I’ve been trying to clean up my language. I am generally an unapologetic potty mouth, but our paleo baby is squarelly into toddlerhood now. Even better, he’s at that wonderful stage where as often as not, he parrots whatever I say. Since I prefer not to get kicked out of mommy & me activities because of my little foul-mouthed sailor, I started substituting the phrase “Cussword!” for what I really mean to say. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is nearly as satisfying as the real thing. (And highly amused when the boy runs through the house yelling “Cussword! Cussword!”)

So I’ve said a few (okay, more than a few) cusswords about this entire situation. I’ve careened between frustration and rage, and gone from despair to fury and back again. I’ll probably feel this way for a while longer. And that’s okay: I accept that I will occasionally be down about disappointments like this.
But I am trying to remember to treat myself as if I matter. To remember that what I do does not define who I am. That I am more than the numbers on a scoresheet, and that I am worthy of respect, from others, and from myself, simply because I exist. That I need balance in my life, and health, and that sacrificing those things, no matter how worthy the goal, is not how I want to live.

It’s a work in progress. But isn’t it always?

Honey & Pepper Roasted Carrots

Roasted Carrots

Paleo + Life|Honey & Pepper Roasted Carrots

Oh, what a long, strange trip it’s been. Suddenly, it is the first day of fall. Looking back, summer flew by, though I can clearly recall individual days that seemed to last forever.

While I feel like I still need time to really settle in to the rhythm of fall, the thing I am most glad of is the cooler weather and the ability to cook in my kitchen again. I have missed it terribly, but so much of the summer was just too hot to live. Fall, now, this is my time. There’s just so much good food to be had.

Like these carrots, for example. I am a complete sucker for rainbow carrots. They cost a bunch more than regular carrots, but I don’t even care. Colors! Yellow ones, purple ones, even the usual orange ones are pretty spiffy when arranged prettily on a plate.

You may be surprised to learn which variety is your favorite — I love the orange varieties of carrots, but the yellow ones are my favorite, as they are milder and sweeter. The purple are a bit intense: they seem almost beet-like in their musky overtones.

A couple of notes: Go easy on the pepper (and a little heavier on the honey) if you are making this for little ones, unless yours are like my oldest, who loves spicy things about as much as she loves us. Sensitive palates may balk. Also, if your honey is a really thick variety, try zapping it in the microwave to get the right consistency for drizzling. You don’t want to use immense gobs of honey; the idea is to gently enhance the natural sweetness of the carrots, not overwhelm it.


Honey & Pepper Roasted Carrots


  • 2 pounds rainbow carrots
  • 3 tablespoons oil (melted coconut oil is my favorite)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (if yours is quite thick, warm it up in the microwave)
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Wash, gently scrub and pat dry the carrots. Lay them flat on a cookie sheet.
  3. Drizzle the carrots with the oil, rotating them to ensure that all sides are coated. Repeat with the honey.
  4. Sprinkle the carrots with pepper and salt. Place them in the oven, roasting until they are carmelized and "give" when poked with a fork (approximately 25 minutes).
  5. Remove from the oven and serve.

On The Go: Paleo Snacks

Paleo Snacks | Paleo + Life

Portable snacks are a lifesaver around here. Between the kids’ schedules and ours, we are on the go a fair amount. While there are a few paleo staples I have all the time, like hardboiled eggs and beef jerky, I thought I’d share a few, lesser known paleo snacks with you as well.
We rely on these sorts of things to stay as paleo as we can when we’re out.

Exo bars: These bars, made with cricket flour, are amazing. I was mostly amazed that they didn’t taste like the bottom of a dirty shoe (because, honestly, the idea of eating crickets sounded pretty darned gross). But it’s not just that they aren’t bad, the taste is actually good: the flavors are true, fruity and intense. The toddler has gotten more particular about his snacks as he heads into the terrible twos — even old reliable snacks like bananas and applesauce are rejected about half the time — but the blueberry vanilla Exo bar is the one he snatched out of the pile and demanded to eat RIGHT NOW. In my book

EPIC bars: I dig these because they are more savory than most. The vast majority of snack bars are fruity and/or sweet, which can be cloying after a while. Epic bars, though, taste as if a bratwurst has been flattened and turned into a portable snack. Beef Habanero Cherry is my favorite, though I have not yet tried the lamb and mint version.

Larabars: A Paleo classic (is there such a thing, really?), Larabars are a reliable treat that satisfies my sweet tooth pretty readily. Most of them are even clean enough for a Whole30: the ingredients are generally dates, nuts, and fruits (make sure you read the label carefully, as most, but not all, are paleo).

I really like the variety of flavors available, too, though I almost always choose Cashew Cookie for its simple deliciousness. Of the latest flavors, Pineapple Upside Down Cake is my new favorite, though Chocolate Covered Almond is a close second.

Vermont Smoke & Cure: These RealSticks are a nice alternative to beef jerky, which is my usual snack. They are not inexpensive, but they are delicious. I like the BBQ and Cracked Black Pepper flavors best — the pepper is sharp and feisty, while the BBQ has a classic southern-style tang.






Butter Tea

Butter Tea Bl This is not the post I intended to write today.

I had grand plans involving honey, and cherries, and ginger — but I also have hungry teenagers. That bag of cherries never stood a chance. Sigh.

Instead, I’m revisiting a lovely winter evening in the early 2000s. At the time, my beloved and I had just moved to Minneapolis — during an icy, snowy January. Although we were from Chicago, this was a whole new level of winter. We felt like human popsicles much of the time.

Butter Bl

Just a pat of butter…

Since we were new to the city, just exploring our neighborhood was novelty enough for us.
We lived close enough to Uptown to walk, and frequently found interesting places there. On one of these excursions, we discovered a teeny little Tibetan restaurant. Though I can no longer recall its name, I remember steamy warmth that instantly fogged my glasses, turmeric-yellow walls, and momo (dumplings) filled with intensely flavored meat.
I also remember that my husband, more adventurous than I, ordered yak butter tea. At the time, he loved it, but I was certain such a thing would never cross my lips. Nope, no, negatory – absolutely not.

You all see where this is going, right?

Coconut Oil Bl

And a scoop of coconut oil…

A decade later, we are eating paleo, and we discover “bulletproof coffee. ” My husband, as I may have mentioned, loves coffee. Every morning, he grinds his own beans, makes coffee in the morning to drink at home, takes a cup to commute with, and keeps a single serving coffee maker on his desk so that he can refresh his cup after lunch. I’m convinced that the reason he agreed to buy our house was its proximity to four local coffee shops, two of which roast their own beans.

When I told him about this insane coffee trend, we had a good giggle over the craziness of blending perfectly good coffee with butter and coconut oil — but then we tried it.

Tea Bl

Add a cup of hot tea and blend.

Frothy like a latte, the combination of butter and coconut oil gave it an extra richness that was better than milk alone. We quickly added it to our regular repertoire of beverages. But a few months later, while listening to a podcast, the guest suggested trying the bulletproof recipe with tea.

A light bulb went off in my head, and I immediately flashed back to that cold night, and the wonderful meal, and the ‘crazy’ tea that had stayed in my memory all this time.
I tried it, and it was overjoyed to find it just as good as I had imagined.

Froth Bl

20 seconds later, voila! Butter tea. For this batch, I added cinnamon afterward, but I think it’s better included with the other ingredients.

The most important thing here is the tea. A good strong one is a must, as the butter/ghee and coconut oil is going to smooth out whatever sharp qualities it normally possesses. I used a chocolate pu-erh, which was very tasty indeed. While the chocolate notes were a complement to the cinnamon I included, it’s not necessary; the tea is delicious either way.

Butter Tea


  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup strong black tea
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided (optional)


  1. Combine butter, coconut oil, tea and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a high-speed blender. Process on high for approximately 20 seconds, or until well mixed. Pour into a large mug. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon on top; serve immediately.

Opening of the Market

Last week, I had one of my favorite days of the year: the season opener of my local farmers market. I have gone every year since we bought our house, and know what to expect, but there’s an effervescent joy I succumb to every time the season begins.

Opening days are frequently the same wet and rainy drizzle that makes up an Oregon winter, with just a few hardy souls willing to brave the damp. But not this day. On this day, the sun splashes across the cool blue sky, lending a sparkle to the afternoon, if not warmth. It is definitely sweater weather. Still, the memory of winter is fresh, and these rays feel luxurious in contrast. It is glorious, and I am again, so thrilled to call this place my home.

Market Sign

Flower Basket

Humongous hanging baskets from one of our favorite vendors.

Market Crowd

This was a surprisingly good crowd for opening day — thank goodness for the nice weather!

Sample Salad

Radish and green salad in a freshly made vinaigrette. It was delicious — I’ve been using the spice mixture in a variety of dishes since then.


Cacao Bean

Can you believe this is a cacao bean? I had never seen one in person before. It’s quite striking.

Sampling the goods

The tot, of course, prefers sampling to learning how chocolate is made. Clever boy.

Paleo Chocolate & Cinnamon Mug Cake

I am still adjusting my schedule — a much more active little one presents some difficulties — but I needed to share with you all this delightful creation. I present: mug cake.Chocolate & Cinnamon Mug Cake | Paleo + Life

“Really, Cher?” I hear you saying. “Mug cake? That’s so 2013.”

Perhaps mug cake is a bit past its new and exciting stage. But you know what it also is? Delicious.
I adore mug cakes, and I am not ashamed. Especially since paleo mug cakes have fairly healthy ingredients. Eggs, bananas, a bit of spice for flavoring — these are staples I use just about daily.
(Speaking of spice: I have always wondered: just what the heck is in “spice cake” anyway? I need to investigate. I bet a spice-cake style mug cake would be amazing.)

This recipe is quick and easily adaptable to whatever spice you have on hand. Two things to note:

1) This works best with liquified oil. If using coconut oil, warm it before using so that it isn’t solid.

2)For best results, be sure to mash the heck out of the banana. If you don’t like banana or want to lower the carbs, a thicker applesauce (like my Apple Sassy Applesauce) is a fine substitute.

Paleo Chocolate & Cinnamon Mug Cake


  • 1/2 large banana
  • 1 egg
  • 2 heaping teaspoons cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil


  1. Combine banana and egg in a large coffee mug; mix thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients, stirring after each addition. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, depending on the power of your device. Serve immediately.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...