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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/butter-tea/

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/paleo-chocolate-cinnamon-mug-cake/

T’s Quick Pickle

Quick Pickled Veggies | Paleo + Life

 

My oldest boy loves to cook, which is fantastic, because occasionally I need him to start dinner while I’m picking up the younger girl from school. He is happy to do it — he often says he wants to be a chef like his dad. He will suggest a meal from time to time, but usually asks what I would like. This results in a flurry of texts between us. Occasionally, those texts are misunderstood, which can result in some, er, interesting meals. Even more occasionally, those meals turn out to be better than what I’d originally planned.

Last night, for example, I decided to pick up a rotisserie chicken, cheese and tomatoes so that we could make tacos. Since I knew we had it at home, I asked the boy to chop up some lettuce. Then I gave him an off-the-cuff recipe for a simple vinaigrette to put over some shredded carrots, so we would have another vegetable in the dinner. However, he misunderstood that I wanted two separate things — and mistook the cabbage for a head of iceberg. So he shredded both cabbage and carrots together, then put them in the vinaigrette. The result? Surprisingly delicious.

Quick Pickle & Chicken Wrap | Paleo + Life

Crunchy, crispy and tangy, this little pickle turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to roast chicken and lettuce wraps. It was so tasty, I had it for breakfast again this morning. It’s basically a cole slaw, but even better because it’s faster than my usual version.
I’m pretty excited to have an inventive little partner in crime. Here’s to more happy accidents in the kitchen.

T’s Quick Pickle

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cabbage, shredded
  • 2 fat carrots, shredded
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir thoroughly. Allow flavors to meld for at least 15 minutes; serve immediately.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/ts-quick-pickle/

A Near Miss

041415 Near Miss

Sigh.

Sadly, I did not pass my exam.

It’s disappointing not to have passed regardless of how much my actual score was, but I think I’m almost more disappointed because I was so close. How close? A few points — three questions would have made the difference. So instead of celebrating this week, I’ve re-started my study program.

I’m sure that somewhere in the universe there is something inspirational that will cheer me on my way — lists of the many famous people who have taken, and failed, this same exam are very popular, for example — but right now I’m not there. I am a little sad, a lot annoyed and even more determined to crush it next time.

Paleo Check In: March 2015

Welcome! Check ins are a monthly series of posts meant to document my progress towards better health, a stronger body, and general awesome paleo rockstar status. Find the first one here.

I haven’t done a check in post for a while; feels like a good time to revisit these.

Food

With all of the studying I did over the last few months, my “80/20″ devolved to something like 55/45 while I was outside of the house. However, the longer I eat paleo, the less tolerance I have for processed food, so cooking at home has been much the same.

I feel like I’ve been cooking quite a bit, but only two recipes made the blog this month. Fortunately, they are good ones:

Sage & Pepper Pork Chops
Compound Butter

Body

Does anyone remember the phrase “freshman fifteen?” You know, how when you go off to college, it’s pretty common to put on a few pounds? Well, I have found the “bar exam eight.”
All that sitting and reading is no good for the waistline — or any body part, really. Not to mention that I have a strong mental association of studying with some sort of sweet.
In my mind, studying equals coffee (because let’s face it, sometimes studying is not that exciting). Coffee equals pastries, because coffee shops always have delicious sweet things to go along with the beverages, so therefore, studying has always meant treat time.

So long story short, I need to do some deprogramming. Too many items of clothing that had been loose are now tight. Not to mention that if I did not pass the exam, I will need to try again in just a few months.  It’s important to me to work on breaking that association now.

Mind

Somehow, I believed that finishing law school free up tons of time and that I would be able to really dedicate myself to some new projects and some self-improvement. Feel free to laugh at me now.
What is that old saw about work expanding to fill the time available? It’s entirely true.

My “baby” — now 18 months old — has stopped taking his morning nap. The parents among you will understand my dismay. Despite having been through this before, I still didn’t realize how dependent I was on the morning nap until it disappeared. It was when I did most of my photography/recipe prep for the blog, and I still haven’t figured out how best to find that time again.
While I am excited and thrilled that my busy little monster is becoming such an interesting person, and I’m absolutely delighted that he is so bright, cheerful and interested in the world, I sure do miss those naps.

The school-aged kids have all been on Spring Break as well, which means that when not entertaining the bunch of them, I’ve had to actually leave the house so that the little one could get that precious nap. Happily, we are getting back to the regular schedule this week.

On the plus side, I’ve read several novels in the last week! I really enjoy losing myself in a good book.

Goals

1. Re-focus on my exercise goals. I am aiming for daily sun salutations.

2. Dissociate coffee/tea time with sugary treats.

3. Sleep. I still don’t have this piece where I want it, so I’m trying to break it down. For this month, my goal is lights out/devices out by 11.

What are your goals for the month? Please share in the comments if you’ve got something good planned, or have any tips for getting back on track.

Food Lovers’ Fridays: Compound Butter

Food Lovers’ Fridays: I’m a big fan of bringing classical cooking methods and recipes into the home kitchen. Today’s post is part of a series meant to highlight those traditional techniques and recipes that can be used in or adapted to paleo cooking.

I have been dragging lately. These days I cannot seem to get motivated and I am cranky when I have to try. I guess the whole bar experience took more out of me than I realized. It doesn’t mean I am not thinking of food, or wanting lush, expansive doses of flavor — it just means I’m leaning more heavily on the culinary tricks that offer the most bang for the buck.
Thus, today’s FLF is one of the simplest, but most amazing things I know how to make: compound butter.

It really is as simple as it gets: warm some butter, dice some herbs, moosh together, and serve. If you are a more strict paleo eater, you’ll use ghee. If you aIre vegan, I would try a combination of equal parts red palm oil and coconut oil. The red palm has a rich, carroty flavor that is reminiscent of butter or ghee, and the coconut oil makes that flavor a little less intense, so that the flavor of the herbs can shine.

Because compound butters so simple, they allow for endless variations. My favorites, I think, are  fresh herbs from our garden with just a touch of salt. A single herb works just as well as a blend, so use whatever you’ve got. Compound butters don’t have to be savory, though — a vanilla and coconut sugar version, for example, would be great on a paleo muffin or bread.

I call the attached version Scarborough Fair Butter after the song; it’s my go-to for seasoning our Thanksgiving turkey. Because rosemary and sage are more dominant flavors, I’ve balanced them with a stronger dose of thyme and parsley. It is equally adept at livening up any number of vegetables (try roasted beets or sweet potatoes) or swirled atop a gorgeous grilled steak. That extra hit of flavor is divine.

Food Lovers’ Fridays: Compound Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage, and salt. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  2. Continuing to stir the mixture, add the softened butter. Mix thoroughly. Serve immediately.
  3. If preparing for later, roll the mixture into a cylindrical shape. Cover with plastic wrap, then wrap the bundle with aluminum foil. Place in freezer until ready to use.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/food-lovers-fridays-compound-butter/
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Sage & Pepper Pork Chops

 

Sage & Pepper Pork Chops | Paleo + LifeI am pleased to report that I am done with the bar exam, and my life has started to regain a bit of normalcy. As normal as it ever is, at any rate.

This means I get to focus a bit on fun things, like figuring out how to take pictures again. I am still very much a novice food photographer, and with the last two months being taken up with other things,  my beginning skills seem to have flown the coop. I really want to spend a lot more time playing around with my camera again.

These pictures were not taken when I had time to fiddle around with the camera, but just as we were sitting down to dinner. I served these with sides of butternut squash and sauteed peas, but really, they work with just about anything.
I love chops because they are so easy to customize to your own taste. Mild and meaty, pork chops take on flavors exceptionally well. I love to marinate them (or cook them in the sous vide), because they can be rather dry, but oiled chops, as they are here, stay pretty moist, too. This recipe is one of the simplest, but it works because the combination of earthy sage and sharp black pepper just sings on the palate.

Sage & Pepper Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 6 pork chops
  • 3 tablespoons oil of choice (leftover bacon drippings are especially excellent)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-8 whole sage leaves

Instructions

  1. Rinse the chops; pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Coat both sides of the chops with oil. Salt and pepper both sides, then place them on a baking sheet. Top each chop with one or two sage leaves.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, or until chops are lightly browned and tender. Serve immediately.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/sage-pepper-pork-chops/

 

 

California Citrus Tea

CA Citrus Tea

My in-laws were here for an all-too-brief visit recently. We spent as much time with them as we could, considering that I was deep into my studies, my husband was working and the kids were all in school. Still, it is so rare that we get to see them, so any time at all is a treat.

They also happened to bring a few treats with them. A few adorable things for the kids from their trip to the Bay Area, and some pomelos for my husband and me.

Pommelo Bl

Pomelos are hard to describe. It’s a huge citrus fruit — larger by far than most; it is actually called Citrus maxima. After you’ve peeled the ruggedly bumpy skin, and removed the inch or so of fluffy white pith, you’re left with a fruit that’s about the size of a grapefruit. Speaking of grapefruit, the taste is somewhere between a grapefruit and a lemon, but without the hint of bitterness that gives grapefruit its savor. Instead, it has a gentle fragrance that is slightly floral with a tiny bit of musk. These are light, bright and delicious.

While my immediate thought was how wonderful it would be to candy the peel — seriously, one fruit is so big you’d have it forever — my first taste of the tart flesh changed my focus. Trying to stay healthy while the family drops like flies around me, I knew I needed to turn it into this delicious, soothing tea.

All of the ingredients are so healing: turmeric, full of anti-inflammatory curcumin, and the black pepper which helps activate it; honey and ginger, which help fight off nasty bugs; and of course, pomelos are full of vitamin C. This is not the prettiest drink, by any means — I nearly called this “Ugly Tea” — but the soothing heat and tangy flavor are gorgeous.

Pomelo & Spice Tea

Ingredients

  • 2 segments pomelo, peeled and separated into small chunks (may substitute lemon or other citrus)
  • 1" knob of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions

  1. Combine pomelo, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, and honey in a cup; add 1/2 cup boiling water. With a fork, mash the ingredients together, then add enough water to fill the cup.
  2. Serve immediately.
http://www.paleopluslife.com/california-citrus-tea/

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