Tag Archives: side dish

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.

Potatoes and Pecans

Potatoes & Pecans | Paleo + Life

How goes your January clean eating challenge? So far, so good around these parts. As opposed to last year, when I did my first one, I am actually enjoying it. I feel far less stressed about the process –it’s more of a reminder to myself, since I’ve basically got the “rules” down from a year of being paleo. It also helps that it’s a less restrictive challenge this time around. While I appreciated jumping into the deep end as a paleo newbie, the 21-day primal feels more compatible with my day-to-day life.

Which brings me to sweet potatoes (bear with me, it will make sense in a moment).

Sweet Potatoes & Pecans | Paleo + Life

I have always loved sweets, even pre-paleo, though I tended to reserve them for holiday eating. But it turns out they are full of vitamins A and B-6, among other things. With those kind of benefits, I am happy to eat them year-round.

We steam, mash, bake turn them into fries, pie, breads, even muffins. But at the moment, I’m focusing on quicker dishes, so my daily diet has been more about “how fast can I get food into my face and get back to my work?” than the patient cooking sweet potatoes require.

In order to make that happen, I’ve turned to the microwave. Ours has a “potato” setting, though I usually find that I need to set the machine for two potatoes instead of one (or three instead of two, etc). Still, it helps me get this vitamin-filled deliciousness onto my plate in a hurry. Topping them with coconut oil, pecans and coconut flakes adds healthy fats and makes even a fast snack feel luxurious.

Potatoes and Pecans


  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or ghee
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes


  1. Wash potatoes and dry them; poke them with a fork several times.
  2. Microwave potatoes on high for 12 minutes, or until tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.
  3. Remove from microwave; slice potatoes in half and place into serving bowls.
  4. Split potatoes vertically; slip a dollop of coconut oil or ghee into the potato and mix it into the flesh thoroughly.
  5. To serve, top each half of potato with apple sauce, cinnamon and coconut flakes, and chopped pecans.

Making That Change


Shredded pork, sauteed greens and baked potato. A fairly typical — and easy — Primal dinner. (Trade the sour cream for ghee if you’re on a Whole30.)

I am continuing with the theme of resolutions today. I realized that in my previous post about resolutions, where shared my paleo intro story, I was so focused on encouraging paleo newbies to give it a try right now that I forgot a most important part: my resolutions for the new year, as a more experienced paleo eater. Now that the first blush of romance with paleo is over, what do I do to keep this a sustainable lifestyle?

Here, in no particular order, are my paleo resolutions:

Eat more superfoods.

While I love love love beef tongue and heart (recipe coming soon!), I have been rather irregular about incorporating these and other paleo superfoods like sauerkraut, seafood, and bone broth into my diet. My resolution is to have these foods at least once a week.

Up my vegetable quotient.

Dr. Terry Wahls, author of The Wahls Protocol and recovered MS patient, recommends that we all — yes, even those who do not have autoimmune disorders — eat at least nine cups of fruits and vegetables per day.
Nine! Can you imagine? Some days I’m lucky to get one. (I lean heavily toward protein, since I happen to like meat more than I do veggies.) When I am really on top of my game and paying attention to my food, I average about six servings a day.

My resolution: at least once a week, get nine servings in a day.

Learn to make a really good Paleo bread.

This resolution is more about the family more than me, but there’s certainly some self-interest behind this goal. While I generally prefer not to indulge, and while it may not be super strict paleo, I do think there is a place in a paleo lifestyle for the occasional loaf of bread, crackers, muffins, etc.

My resolution: create the best darn bread I can devise.
(I suspect this resolution will require the assistance of my very talented mama.)

Cook my way through an entire paleo cookbook.

I’ve always admired folks like Carol Blymire, who cooked her way through two foodie masterworks: The French Laundry Cookbook and the Alinea cookbook. While my ambitions are on a somewhat smaller scale, and I’m not certain when I will start, I think it will be lots of fun to make my way through a book and a challenge to expand my horizons a bit more. (Oysters, anyone? Shudder.)

My resolution: Cook every recipe in The Zenbelly Cookbook.

Dial in the paleo lifestyle.

That’s such an odd phrase, isn’t it? To “dial in?” I have a love/hate relationship with it. It sounds jargon-y, and more than a little pretentious, to my ear. On the other hand, it adds a tactile dimension that is often missing from our day-to-day lives, when so much of what we do takes place in “cyberspace.”

I want more tactile experiences in life. It’s part of why I enjoy cooking. The experience of preparing food centers me, helps ground me and makes me feel connected to my body. And in order to have these experiences, I need to take the best care of myself that I can, so I will be in good enough shape to enjoy them!

My resolution: Get more sleep, lower my stress levels, and strengthen my core.
(These are somewhat general, and I know specific and measurable goals are important here. I will need to define this piece more clearly before I undertake it.)

That’s it for me. I think that’s quite enough! I’d love to know what your resolutions are this year, paleo and otherwise. Feel free to share in the comments.


Crustless Carrot Quiche

Crustless Carrot Quiche | Paleo + LifeThe other night, there were just three of us for dinner, which almost never happens. But most of the family were either out or asleep, so it was just one girl, the baby and me. With so much smaller a crowd, I fell back on one of my pre-paleo staples: crustless quiche.

Inspired by one I learned years ago when I worked for a major grocery store chain, crustless quiche has been a regular supper at our house. I have made this so many times, so many ways, I don’t even recall the ingredients in the original.  Aside from the first time, I’ve never made it exactly the same way twice. It’s a very kid-friendly recipe, too; ours love this more sophisticated take on breakfast for dinner.

This is a favorite supper for summertime with a big salad on the side, but at this time of year, I prefer more substantial meals, so I like it with a juicy piece of salmon or a hearty bowl of soup on the side.
If feeding more people, you can easily double the recipe — just make sure your oven-safe skillet can hold that quantity. Your cooking time will be a bit longer, but keep a close eye on it. The high temperature means it cooks pretty swiftly. This is also lovely as a last-minute appetizer; just slice thinner pieces.

Crustless Carrot Quiche | Paleo + Life

One ingredient of note is the cream cheese. While I tend to be more strictly paleo, as a family, we do have some Primal meals (basically, Primal = paleo plus dairy). If you want to stay more strictly paleo, I would substitute a good nut cheese like this one from Primal Kitchen. I have not yet used this genius cultured coconut cream cheese by Beth from Tasty Yummies, but I think it might work since eggs are the star ingredient here. A drizzle of hot sauce adds just the right finishing touch.

Quick Carrot Quiche


  • 8 eggs
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened (sub nut cheese for vegan)
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine eggs and cream cheese; beat well. Stir in grated carrots, parsley, salt and pepper.
  3. Add olive oil to medium oven-safe pan, swirling to coat. Pour egg mixture into the pan of oil and place in oven. Bake for until top of quiche appears firm, approximately 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Delicata Squash Sous Vide

Delicata Squash Sous Vide | Paleo + Life

My friend C., one of my favorite people in the world, has something of a squash obsession.
I have known this woman to buy multiple pounds of winter squashes — even when she was only cooking for herself.
Because she loves food like I love food, I took her squash addiction seriously. However, I didn’t share it until two things happened:
One: I discovered that the skin on delicata squashes is edible. Blew. My. Mind. I have been cooking for far more years than I can recall, and yet this was news to me. Incredibly exciting news, too: anything that makes these vitamin-filled veggies even easier to cook and eat is brilliant in my book.

Two: I spent some time with my new favorite book,The Flavor Bible. Reading over the “Squash” entry, I noticed how close it was to the entry for “Turmeric”, and an idea was born…

Delicata Squash Sous Vide | Paleo + Life

This recipe was pretty much perfect right out of the gate. I attribute that to the generous use of fresh turmeric, which I had never tried before. The flavor is bright — a little peppery, a little earthy, with a menthol-like freshness that is nothing like the dried stuff. Inspired by 101 Cookbooks’ Turmeric Tea, I added a splash of lemon to really punch up that flavor, and a sprinkle of black pepper to enhance turmeric’s natural bite. With some onion, a dab of olive oil, and a little time in the sous vide, the squash becomes even creamier and more delicious.

Delicata Squash Sous Vide


  • 2 delicata squash, scooped out and sliced into rings
  • 1/4 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2" x 1" piece fresh turmeric, peeled


  1. Preheat the sous vide to 185F.
  2. While the oven heats, combine squash and onions in a large pouch. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Grate turmeric over the mixture. Holding the pouch closed, swish the contents around so that the seasonings are spread equally over the squash. Seal the pouch.
  3. When the sous vide reaches the correct temperature, place the sealed pouch in the sous vide and cook for 1-1/2 - 2 hours. Remove the vegetables from oven; set aside until ready to serve.

Paleo “Cornbread” Dressing

Paleo "Cornbread" Dressing | Paleo + Life

Are you absolutely sick of Thanksgiving food yet? I understand if you’re just over it. Most people are. Me, however? I’m still in love with holiday grub. Especially with this dressing.

Every year, I wonder to myself why I only make it on Thanksgiving. I suspect it is because when I was younger and more ambitious, I asked my grandma how to make her cornbread dressing.
(Side note: I didn’t even know stuffing made with bread was something people ate until I was an adult. All the people I knew ate dressing.)

Her instructions began “First you take a duck…” and went on, and on, and on for what seemed like ages. I decided any dish which required me to make two whole other dishes first didn’t make a whole lot of sense, and decided I would just enjoy it at her house.

As the years went by, I changed states. I also changed my mind about how much trouble stuffing was worth. Going home to Chicago was sometimes impossible, so I had to learn how to make a decent substitute. While I never equaled my grandmother’s dressing — she just had a way of “puttin’ her foot in it,” as folks used to say — I came close enough to satisfy my yearning for that flavor.

Paleo "Cornbread" Dressing | Paleo + Life

Since we are eating paleo these days, the main ingredients in cornbread dressing are off the list. My big project, therefore, was to make something that came close. I had planned to test it a couple of times before Thanksgiving, but that didn’t end up happening. On Thanksgiving Day, I found myself rushed and needing to improvise. With a cranky six year old and a starving spouse, I needed to get dinner on the table in the next 30 minutes.
(This did not fill my heart with joy. I am slightly obsessive about special occasion menus in general, and this one in particular. Most years, I spend the month of November planning and re-planning this meal because I enjoy it so.)

Shockingly, the quick-and-dirty version was pretty darned good. My very particular husband ate nearly the entire pan. However, I suspected I could do better. The version here is Dressing 2.0; still quick while having even more flavor.

Following the wise advice of gluten-free girl and the chef (Shauna and Danny Ahern, who have written a multitude of lovely cookbooks), I created my own gluten-free flour mix. Using their recommended ratio of 40% protein/60% starch, and attempting more algebra than I had since the eighth grade, I made a mix of almond, coconut and tapioca flours. Although I measured it precisely with my (new!) kitchen scale (this one is similar*), you might not want such a big batch.  For those of you who want to make a bit less, I used roughly 2 parts coconut/3 parts almond/8 parts tapioca. A store-bought GF mix would work, too.

Paleo "Cornbread" Dressing


  • 1/3 large onion, rough dice
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sage leaves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 4 cups gluten-free flour mix (2 parts coconut flour, 3 parts almond flour and 8 parts tapioca flour)
  • 2 cups cashew meal
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or other oil
  • 5 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups broth


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large cast iron skillet, combine onions, celery, carrots, sage, salt and pepper with a two tablespoons of fat. Saute over medium-low heat until veggies are softened (approximately ten minutes). When done, remove vegetables from pan.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour mix, cashew meal, baking soda and salt; stir thoroughly. Add melted oil, eggs, and broth, stirring after each addition (the batter will be somewhat stiff until Fold in sauteed vegetables.
  4. (There should still be some oil remaining in the skillet from cooking the vegetables; if not, add another tablespoon. Pour the batter into the skillet; bake for 40 minutes or until top is browned and crusty. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

Grilled Eggplant

Grilled Eggplant | Paleo + LifeBecause we have a very busy family, I have a deep and abiding passion for speedy side dishes. Those days when we’re caught in traffic, or need to hustle off somewhere after dinner, demand fast dishes. They get bonus points if they look and taste much more impressive than the twenty minutes I usually have to put them together. Happily, grilled eggplant meets those requirements.

Now I happen to love eggplant, which probably makes me a weirdo. I’m okay with that, though, since it means that it is generally not too expensive and there is plenty of it in stock when I’m at the store. Cooking it like this makes it useful the next day, too: when I grill it this way, eggplant makes a wonderful wrap for sandwiches (thank you, Diana Rodgers,* for that inspiration).

Cooking notes: If you’ve made a flavored oil, use that here. It adds even more oomph to the flavor. Eggplant is quite neutral, so whatever flavoring you add works wonderfully. If you don’t have herbes de Provence, try mixing equal parts parsley, thyme, rosemary, and oregano.  It’s not an exact match, but it is close enough to give you a similar flavor.

Grilled Eggplant


  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or other fat of choice, divided
  • 2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1 eggplant, sliced vertically, about 1/4" thick


  1. Lay out the slices of eggplant on a cutting board; sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, pre-heat a griddle pan over high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil to pan.
  3. In a small bowl, combine oil, herbs, salt and pepper, stirring thoroughly.
  4. Using a paper towel, gently wipe the salt and moisture from the eggplant, then coat front and back of each slice with the oil mixture.
  5. Lay the eggplant slices on the griddle at a diagonal. Sear for 2 minutes. (If crosshatching is desired, you will need to pick up the slice and replace it on the griddle at the opposite angle after the first minute of cooking.) Repeat for the second side.
  6. Remove slices from heat; serve immediately.

* = Affiliate link.

Delicata Squash Za’atar

Delicata Squash Za'ataar | Paleo + LifeOne of the things I did not expect from going paleo is the change in my taste buds. While I wasn’t eating a ton of packaged foods previously, switching to a largely paleo diet has made my palate more sensitive to quieter flavors, like those of delicata squash.

As the name implies, delicatas really are a more delicate sort of winter squash. The rind is not as firm and they cook much faster than harder varieties. Their flavor reminds me of a sweet potato, and I think they would be similarly delicious in a pie or quick bread.

This easy side dish is a good companion for a more flavorful dish like roast chicken or pork; I am also happy to just eat it with crackers.
If you are using it as a side, you can even roast the squash in the oven along with the chicken, though delicatas will cook much more quickly and need to be taken out of the oven first. However you do it, I highly recommend roasting the squash whole. Winter squashes are often extremely hard and slippery, and I like having all my fingers, so roasting them intact makes most sense to me. Then it’s just peel, take out the seeds and stringy bits, season, smash and eat.

Za’atar* is a spice blend common in Middle Eastern food. There are different blends, of course, but the heart of it is sesame, thyme and sumac (which gives it an earthy, citrusy tang). If you’ve ever gone to a Lebanese restaurant, there is likely to be za’atar on the table.
Dried parsley adds a bit more of that grassy, herbal flavor. It’s subtle, but worth adding. Finish it off with a swish of olive oil, and enjoy.

Delicata Squash Za’atar


  • 2 delicata squash
  • 1 tablespoon za'atar
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil for serving


  1. Roast squash in a 350 oven for 30 minutes, or until skin is slightly charred and the flesh gives when poked with a fork. Remove from oven; set aside until cool enough to handle.
  2. When cool, peel squash and cut in half. Using a spoon or small rubber spatula, scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh around them; discard.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cleaned squash, za'ataar, salt and parsley. Stir vigorously to combine.
  4. Add a swirl of olive oil and serve immediately.

* = Affiliate link.

Lime & Rosemary Roasted Broccoli

Lime & Rosemary Roasted Broccoli | Paleo + Life

Once in a very great while, going to the grocery store while hungry is a good idea.

If I hadn’t been hungry, I would not have noticed these broccoli crowns. They were just sitting there, in unassuming mounds of bristly green, looking for all the world as if a giant hand had scooped out a patch of earth from one of the tree-covered hills that surround us here in the Willamette Valley. But the contrast of the bright orange sale sticker and the robust green of the broccoli caught my hungry eye, and I thought, “Why not?”

Why not indeed? I am always looking for something my youngest girl will reliably eat; getting vegetables into her is always a challenge. When I saw the broccoli, I remembered how much she liked the roasted broccoli I made from this recipe. I decided I’d make it again.

Despite my plan to remake the dish, there is something just slightly fickle in me that refuses to ever make a dish the exact same way. Since I was just cooking to be cooking, rather than cooking for the blog (ha, I’m certain every food blogger has said this at one point), I figured I’d just tinker, leave my version in my memory, and go on my merry way.


Lime & Rosemary Roasted Broccoli | Paleo + Life

You see that crust on the edges of the broccoli? Those caramel-colored crusty tips? That, my friends, is the intersection of health and heaven. When I pull the trays of broccoli out of the oven, that crust is what I look for first. That bit that always makes me snatch the tiniest florets right off the hot-hot-HOT pan, heat be damned, because I cannot wait: I’ve just got to eat it. right. this. second.

Sigh. Just thinking about it makes me want more.

Roasted vegetables, as I mentioned the other day, are perfect with a light dressing of infused oil. Since I had just made rosemary oil, that was what I used: the contrast of tangy lime with the deep piney flavor of rosemary is sublime. A generous sprinkling of nutritional yeast adds a cheesy tang, making this dish perfect for vegans and the dairy-intolerant. If you do eat dairy, try this with a grated hard cheese like Grana Padano.

Lime & Rosemary Roasted Broccoli


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds broccoli crowns
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons herb oil
  • 1 lime, sliced in half


  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Break apart broccoli florets; lay them on two cookie sheets. Sprinkle each tray with salt, pepper, and olive oil; massage the oil onto the florets to coat.
  3. Place the cookie sheets into the oven, roast the broccoli until it is fork-tender and the tips are brown and crusty (about 30 minutes). Remove from oven.
  4. When cool enough to handle, scootch broccoli into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, then toss. Add herb oil and toss, then squeeze the juice of one-half lime over the broccoli; toss again. (If desired, use the other half as well.)
  5. Serve immediately.

Food Lovers’ Fridays: Duxelles (Sauteed Mushrooms)

Mushroom Duxelles | Paleo + Life

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

Have y’all ever read Fancy Nancy*? If you know any little girls under the age of eight or so, I’m sure the answer is yes.
If not, I’ll just tell you briefly that it’s a pretty adorable series of books about a girl who enjoys being fancy. I especially love the way the author gives definitions of ‘fancy’ words to her readers: fuschia is fancy for purple; plume is fancy for feather, and so on.

Why is fancy relevant today? Because this dish has a lovely name that sounds fancier than it is. Just think of “duxelles” as fancy for “sauteed mushrooms with shallots, garlic, and herbs.”

Mushroom Duxelles | Paleo + LifeDuxelles really is as simple as fancy cooking gets. The dicing is the hardest part, and that’s only because it takes time to do. When I am making this, I tend to do a less precise cut — more of a rough chop than a proper dice. In a hurry? Chop the mushrooms and alliums (fancy for onions, shallots, garlic, leeks and other related plants) in a good processor. Any way you slice it (ha ha), it is just as delicious.

Note that mushrooms are full of liquid, and will release their moisture as they cook; be sure to let all of this liquid cook off. The end result is concentrated, deep, ‘shroomy goodness that is excellent in omelets or scrambles, as filling in a casserole, stuffing for roasted poultry, or just as a fabulous side dish all on its own.

Variations abound: use a variety of mushrooms, instead of just one; substitute sweet onions for shallots; use thyme or sage instead of parsley — make it as plain or fancy as you please.

Duxelles (Sauteed Mushrooms)


  • 1-1/2 pounds white button mushrooms
  • 2 shallots (for this batch, I substituted 1/2 large sweet onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fat (ghee, butter or olive oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley (1-1/2 tablespoons fresh, minced)


  1. Wash mushrooms; pat dry. Dice and set aside.
  2. Peel shallots and garlic. Dice these -- mince, if you want to be extra fancy -- and set aside.
  3. In large skillet, warm the fat. When melted, add shallots and garlic to the pot. Saute until shallots are just tender (6-8 minutes; if subbing onions, note that they tend to take a minute or two longer).
  4. Add mushrooms to the skillet. Saute until mushrooms have given up their liquid and it has cooked off (8-10 minutes); the mixture should be dry.
  5. Remove skillet from the heat. To serve, season with salt, pepper and parsley.

* = Affiliate link.

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