A Life without Pizza Is Not the Life for Me

Pizza, oh Pizza. Is there any other way to start this post than with a Haiku I found via Google? I think not.

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Simple. Moving. Accurate. Delicious.

I have a very hard time choosing ‘favorites’ in nearly every category, but when it comes to food, you really can just forget it. Too many delicious options to pick one. However, let’s just say that if I had to make a Top 8 List, Myspace style, Pizza would definitely have a permanent spot.

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I couldn’t resist this reference.😂

My appreciation for pizza and all the never ending options out there is serious, so you can imagine the internal struggle I faced when I willingly decided to embrace a paleo way of eating. I knew I felt better when I ate this way, but, but pizza. No grains or cheese? No problemo my friend! I’ve GOT this. That doesn’t apply to pizza though, right? RIGHT?! In the timeless words of the Arrested Development cast, I couldn’t help but think to myself “I’ve made a huge mistake.

Slowly, I came around to the idea that this was what I wanted to do for myself and health and if I didn’t do it then, I don’t know if I ever would have. Many of my processed and unhealthy favorites (i.e. junk food) got the boot when I changed my eating habits and I truly did/do feel better, but it was a process getting to where we are today where I very rarely miss them. Vanessa, the mastermind behind Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind , put it perfectly in her new book regarding the “stages of paleo.”

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Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Part of the journey to acceptance and where we are now is an 80/20 approach. We stick to the paleo guidelines 80% of the time, and the other 20% we enjoy foods that fall outside those guidelines and ‘treat’ meals that are SO not paleo. This helps us to keep our balance and feel our best. Another part of the journey was learning how to cook and bake. I am a big fan of spiralized veggies or spaghetti squash in place of noodles, cauliflower rice/mash/crust, etc., and all substitutions that help you enjoy close to your old favorites without feeling deprived. There are plenty of Pinterest recipes out there that can get you close to the real thing, (I’ve pretty much pinned them all!😁) but when I need to recreate something as dear to my heart as pizza, I don’t mess around. I go straight to the genius that is Brittany Angell. This woman knows what’s up. She never ceases to amaze me with her skills of taking healthier ingredients, often grain/dairy/sugar free so that people with allergies and intolerances can enjoy their food too, and turning these ingredients into masterful dishes you would NEVER guess are healthy. I discovered her Grain Free Thick Pizza Crust about a year or so ago and it has been a staple in our household ever since. I thought I’d pay it forward and share that with y’all today.

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 2.39.45 PMNotes:

I didn’t have Psyllium Husk when I first discovered this recipe, so I have always substituted Xantham Gum in its place.

Brush the partially baked crust with a little oil before adding the toppings. Confession: I use Olive oil spray to grease the parchment paper, my hands when spreading the dough, and the partially baked crust. I’ve found it to be easier and less of a mess.

Brittany mentioned that this crust doesn’t absorb much sauce and she was definitely right! (I may or may not have learned the hard way.) I personally use tomato paste cut with a little oil or watered down and seasoned to my liking. If you do use a pre-made pizza sauce be mindful about how much you use, or else you could end up with a mess on your hands.

The great thing about having a tried and true crust like this is that you are free to tailor it to whatever type of pizza you’re feeling that day. Go paleo and do a ‘meatza’ with just sauce, toppings, and meat of your choice! Go Hawaiian and add pineapple and ham! I’m personally a big fan of mushroom, onion, green pepper, garlic, black olives, spinach, and some sausage. YUM! The more veggies, the better in my book. James loves his sausage or pepperoni. If you tolerate it well, go classic and even add your favorite cheese…in moderation of course! 🙂 Another option that we have used from time to time is Daiya, a non-dairy ‘cheese’ that is a close enough substitute when you’re avoiding dairy. What is your favorite kind of pizza? I’m always up for new suggestions for us to try and would love to hear from you!

White Chocolate Peppermint Pancakes & Paleo Chocolate Syrup

paleo pancakes

White Chocolate Peppermint Protein Pancakes with Paleo Chocolate Syrup. I know it is a mouthful of a description, but I’m sure you’ll agree with me after trying these pancakes that it is at least a very delicious mouthful.

In case you couldn’t tell from my last post, I was pretty excited about the release of the White Chocolate Peppermint Meal Replacement Shakes from AdvoCare. Apparently, I was not the only one, because they sold out in record time (56 hours I believe!) and the second I had a sip of my first shake I totally understood why. They were BETTER than I had even expected. I mean, holiday-spirit-in-a-cup, freakin’ amazing! In case that description doesn’t clue you in to how tasty the shakes are, these fun facts might: James and I ordered 10 more boxes before the glass was empty AND I had TWO the first day in between meals. They were that good. Have I mentioned how much I love this company and products because they clearly love all of us? 😀 😀

I have had so much fun creating several recipes with these shakes, and before you get too bummed out that you didn’t scoop up a box or two before they disappeared like Frosty the Snowman on the first day of Spring, you can substitute any flavor of Meal Replacement Shakes in for the White Chocolate Peppermint and I promise it will still be yummy!

One of James’s favorite breakfast foods is pancakes. I’m still more of a waffle kinda gal, but I love me some pancakes too. Now your regular ol’ fluffy IHOP pancake is most definitely not Paleo, but thanks to some creative geniuses out there, we are still able to enjoy these breakfast staples. Depending on the ingredients you use, some Paleo pancakes can turn out more dense than others (a.k.a. not as fluffy), but I used a great recipe for inspiration that did not leave us wanting.

Anyone that knows me well enough can tell you that I LOVE maple. So naturally I am a big fan of pancakes with maple syrup. In fact, if you and I ever eat pancakes together you’ll likely see me eating a plate more accurately described as maple syrup with pancakes. Good thing in our home we focus on eating to fuel our bodies the majority of the time and not just indulging!

With that being said, I wanted to do something a little different that would compliment the white chocolate peppermint flavor in the pancakes, so I decided to go with a Paleo chocolate syrup instead!

This breakfast is more of a treat, but a less indulgent/equally flavorful alternative to a typical pancake breakfast 🙂

Pancake Recipe

advocare meal replacement shakes

Pancake Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup Almond Flour
  • 2 TBSP Coconut Oil
  • 1 Meal Replacement Shake (Vanilla might be a good option if you don’t have White Chocolate Peppermint)
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 4.5 TBSP Water
  • Oil for cooking

Directions:

eggs for advocare meal replacement shakes

  1. In a blender, add the 3 eggs and blend on high for 1 minute.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth, about another minute. I pre-whisked the dry ingredients in a bowl beforehand to add into the blender, followed by the wet ingredients.
  3. Heat skillet over medium heat and add coconut oil for cooking.
  4. Pour pancake batter into pan and let cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side.

Paleo Chocolate Syrup Recipe

I woke up thinking about how I would make the chocolate syrup for the pancakes and was definitely on the right track, but then stumbled upon an awesome recipe already created. Never one for totally reinventing the wheel, I decided to give it a try! It turned out great and made my morning easier since I didn’t have to do a ‘trial and error’ process with my idea for syrup. This recipe yields quite a bit of syrup, so I saved the rest in a mason jar to use for Chocolate Almond Milk this week.

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Chocolate Syrup Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup organic honey
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Once boiling, lower heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes. The sauce should be thickening, but make sure to stir frequently to avoid burning.
  3. Once thickened, but not too thick, remove from burner and let cool. Pour majority of syrup into a mason jar or other air tight container and use remaining syrup in pan for your pancakes.

I have more recipes using the shakes coming tomorrow, as well as a few more I am behind on posting, so be on the lookout and be sure to subscribe to the blog so you’ll get the updates when I post them!

Also, if you give this recipe a try and enjoy it, think it sounds yummy and want to share, or just feel like saying hi, would you be so kind as to give this amateur cook a comment below? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

(Almost) Paleo Lasagna

Just call me Garfield...

Just call me Garfield…

As the weather around here has begun to cool off, I can’t help but find myself craving lots of standard Fall comfort foods. I’ve been on a soup/chili kick most recently, which has been delicious, healthy, and budget friendly. Talk about a win-win-win.

Lately I have had a major craving for lasagna, but in a mostly paleo household that can be hard to do. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of amazing recipes out there for paleo versions of lasagna and the ones I have tried were extremely yummy…but I wasn’t craving those versions. This pregnancy craving wanted full-out, melty cheese-y, real noodle-y, blast from my pre-paleo past, lasagna. Now there was no way I was going to cave completely, but I found an awesome way to compromise that was ALMOST paleo…It. was. AWESOME. Seriously, it turned out better than I even expected.

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Unfortunately, I’m not the professional foodie my husband is, and didn’t document this amazing meal, but I will still share the recipe and hope that you trust me on this one. The secret ingredient for this recipe was none other than Cappelllo’s  Lasagna Sheets. If your local supermarket doesn’t carry Cappello’s you could make your own paleo lasagna noodles following this recipe or this one. There are also plenty of  paleo veggie noodle alternatives pinned on my paleo dinners board if you prefer those! 🙂

 

 

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Cappello’s Lasagna Sheets rock. Plain and simple. They are gluten free and paleo without the work! I usually am able to get a few meals out of 1 package, so totally worth the price in my opinion. Now, onto the recipe:

Almost Paleo Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package of Cappello’s Lasagna Sheets

Meat:

  • 1 lb Ground Beef (or whatever ground meat you prefer)
  • 1/4 Onion, chopped
  • 1 TBSP Oregano
  • 1 TBSP Garlic Powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Sauce:

You can make your own sauce or use a pre-made marinara. (Just be aware of the ingredients! Watch out for added sugar and unnecessary extras. )

  • 3/4 can of organic tomato sauce (13-15 oz size)
  • 1/4 cup diced green peppers
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 TBSP Garlic Powder (I typically would use fresh garlic, but forgot this time!)
  • 1 TBSP Oregano
  • 1/2 TBSP Basil
  • 3 TBSP Grated Fresh Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1.5 tsp Pepper
  • Any other veggies you like!

Optional: 1 cup Mozzarella cheese

 

Instructions:

  1. Place ground beef in skillet and cook over medium heat. Once mostly browned, add in onion and remaining meat ingredients. Cook until meat is done, approximately 5-10 minutes more and then remove from heat.
  2. In another skillet, add sauce ingredients over medium-low heat and stir occasionally. If it begins to bubble or boil, turn heat to low and keep warm.
  3. In an 8 x 8 oven safe pan or dish, pour enough sauce to lightly cover the bottom of the dish. (I used an 8 x 8 square pyrex pan because I only have to feed James and myself. If you’re making this recipe for more people you could use a 9 x 13 pan and the entire package of lasagna sheets.)
  4. Next, create a layer of noodles by closely placing your lasagna sheets next to each other.
  5. On top of the noodle layer add a layer of cooked meat and top with more sauce. This can be done to your liking, AKA if you like saucier lasagna use more sauce, if not pour lightly.
  6. Add another row of lasagna sheets, more meat, and sauce. (You can repeat this step again if you want/have room in your dish.)
  7. If using cheese, sprinkle 1 cup (it took a lot of self-control to keep it to 1 cup!) evenly across top layer of meat and sauce.
  8. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 15 more minutes.
  9. ENJOY! 😛

 

If you give this recipe a try and enjoy it, will you be so kind as to give this amateur cook a comment below? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Yummy Vegetable/Minestrone Soup!

I know, I know I have a really great track record for blogging on average once every 2 months. How do y’all manage the anticipation between each post?! (For the 5 of you that might actually still follow my blog- Thanks for sticking around and… hi mom!) In all seriousness, I am going to make more of an effort to start writing more frequently and get you up to date on what’s happening in my life (ex: as far as you know, I am still single in the good ol’ BR. Boy, are you in for a surprise!) …and what I’m cooking/baking/eating…because let’s be honest, that’s much more interesting than most other things I might have to say.

ANYWAY, I’m back at it today because I wanted to share an extremely easy recipe that I made for lunch recently that I thought y’all might enjoy. It’s packed with lots of veggies, protein, and was pretty cost efficient which made it taste even better in my opinion. I’m not one to ever totally throw the grocery budget to the wind, but I have also been known to get caught up in a good grocery shopping session when the produce stands are set up just right. (Am I the only one who finds grocery shopping therapeutic?)

After too many inconsistent weeks of spending and saving,  I finally broke down and made a meal plan with a set budget in mind. I even gave myself a challenge by setting the budget lower than what I could have allowed for. Do I know how to have fun, or do I know how to have fun? I ended up spending a bit more than my ‘challenge’ budget, but I also got some super deals on lobster, sirloin, and several staple items we use regularly in our house. Both lunches and dinners were set up and executed perfectly. I don’t think we had eaten that balanced in a long time and everything was delicious! It all was going according to plan…until Sunday night arrived and I had completely forgotten to meal plan again…fail!

When it came time to prepare lunch on Monday I only had one option: get creative. I wanted to get the most out of the previous week’s grocery trip expenses and avoid letting any food go to waste, so I surveyed the kitchen and pantry and whipped up this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as James and I did! It was/is perfect for a cool Fall day 🙂

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VEGETABLE/MINESTRONE SOUP

What’s needed:

  • 1 28oz can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh cut green beans
  • 1/4 cup frozen or fresh yellow squash
  • 1/4 cup diced frozen or fresh green peppers
  • 1/4 cup fresh spinach (I would have used more, but this was the last of what we had!)
  • 4 stalks organic celery chopped
  • 4 whole carrots chopped
  • white or yellow onion chopped (amount to your liking. I cut a slice ~ 1/2 inch thick)
  • Optional: pepperoni slices cut up. I used about 1/4 package of Applegate Farms Natural Pepperoni. Yum!
  • 32 oz chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp bacon lard or grassfed butter
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • 1 Tbsp garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper to liking

*James brought home a rotisserie chicken, so we ended up carving the chicken and adding it to the soup. You could do the same, prepare your own whole chicken, or even use cubed or shredded chicken breast.

Instructions:

  • In a large pot melt lard over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5-7 minutes.
  • Add chicken stock, followed by remaining vegetables and pepperoni if using.
  • Add olive oil and spices
  • Cook for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Finally, add in pre-cooked chicken, reduce heat to low medium, and let cook for 5-10 more minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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Without the added chicken

With the added chicken :-P

With the added chicken. YUMMY!

With the added chicken. YUMMY. :-P

With LOTS of  added chicken. YUMMY 😛

We were able to get 4 meals out of this soup (including second helpings for dinnertime because this pregnant lady currently has the appetite of a high school boy-watch out!) I love how a little creativity helped us to make the most of our budget AND allowed us to have delicious meals. I definitely will be making this again!

Here is the breakdown of what I spent, so y’all can see if this works for your grocery budgets too! Keep in mind that I used only a portion of each package of vegetables, pepperoni, and chicken, so the price would be even less than what the receipts will reflect 🙂

PUBLIX:

  • Fresh Organic Baby Spinach: $3.99
  • Fresh Jumbo White Onion: $1.18
  • Fresh Organic Celery: $2.69
  • Fresh Organic Carrots: $1.29
  • Frozen Cut Green Beans: $3.19
  • Frozen Diced Green Pepper: $1.59
  • Frozen Yellow Squash: $1.89

COSTCO:

  • Organic Chicken Stock (32 oz): $14.11/6, so approx. $2.35 for 1

EARTH FARE:

  • Applegate Pepperoni: $4.99
  • Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes: $1.89

TOTAL: $25.05

Approx. Cost per serving (2 servings for 4 meals): $3.13

Again, this reflected cost is actually even a high estimate because the receipt price doesn’t reflect the amount of each ingredient actually used. WOOP WOOP! Gotta love shopping smart! Clean eating CAN be affordable! 🙂

 

 

Clean Eating Means Clean Shopping

My handsome hubby wrote up this helpful post on what our trips to Costco look like. Like he says, eating clean requires shopping clean!

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When you have a Paleo wife, ya gotta shop pretty clean… AND in bulk. We just made our monthly Costco mega-grocery trip (we go to Costco way more than once a month, but only do the mega-grocery trip about once).

CHICKEN – $2.99 l/b (12 big boneless chicken breasts sealed in individually wrapped freezer safe bags) = $20.96

The best part of the chicken is that there are NO artificial ingredients and NO hormones.

SALMON… DELICIOUS (I’ll make sure Mariah posts the recipe we use on TheRutterLife.com. The farm raised Atlantic Salmon comes in 7 individually wrapped packages (3 lbs. for $25.89).

BISON MEAT – If you haven’t had this then you’re missing out! Bison is leaner than just about any other meat you can find. Check it out for yourself:

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ALMOND BUTTER – At $0.396/oz., it’s the cheapest I’ve seen anywhere including online for a 26 oz…

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Baked Coconut Chicken Nuggets

One thing that I have really come to appreciate as I’ve matured into my mid-twenties is discovering my passions. Some have been slower to develop than others, but one passion that just feeds my soul is cooking. (Try telling me I’m not your punniest friend) It wasn’t until I moved to Baton Rouge that I really began to experiment with cooking and fell in love. Don’t get me wrong, Louisiana has some of the BEST food you’ll find in the U.S. of A., but when it comes to healthy eats it doesn’t quite take first place. As I became more aware of what I was putting into my body I realized I had the most control over my health in the kitchen. And so, I began to cook. I definitely have a long way to go, but I’ve been testing out my skills cooking for James (Shoutout to the best guinea pig er, husband out there) and he has yet to find a recipe that I’ve prepared that he doesn’t like. Say it with me, winning!

One of the very first recipes I prepared after we got engaged was this Baked Coconut Chicken recipe, adapted from paleodietmentor.

I’m a sucker for flavorful, but relatively simple paleo versions of some of my old favorites. This recipe fit the bill and has since become a staple in our house. Here is my James approved and 24 Day Challenge friendly version:

BAKED COCONUT CHICKEN NUGGETS

  •  1lb. boneless, skinless, hormone-free Chicken breastsPaleo Chicken Nuggets
  • 1/2 cup almond flour/meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • *1/2 tsp paprika
  • *1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • coconut oil
  • cutting board
  • pan/cookie sheet with foil

*Depending on my tastes for the day I will swap out the paprika for cinnamon as a fun/sweeter twist.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl or on a large plate combine almond flour, shredded coconut, paprika, sea salt, and black pepper.
  3. In a separate bowl beat egg well.
  4. Cut chicken breasts into 2 inch ‘nuggets’ then dip into bowl with egg until well coated.
  5. Roll chicken nuggets into dry ingredient mixture, coating all sides evenly.
  6. Coat pan with coconut oil, or lightly coat cookie sheet with coconut oil.
  7. Place chicken on pan and bake for 25 minutes, watching for them to turn golden.

That’s about it! I serve these bad boys with honey, organic dijon mustard, or organic ketchup, but the sauce is up to you.

Enjoy!