Prosciutto Wraps!

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After a long summer, I’m headed back to my second year of grad school.  One of the best things about summer has been having the time to garden and cook!  Now that the crush of the school year is upon us again, I’ll be making a lot of these quick, easy wraps.  These prosciutto wraps are yummy, surprisingly filling, and so quick to make!  With the ingredients on hand, I can make them in less than five minutes.  Served with fresh figs and homemade refrigerator pickles, it’s the perfect summer meal.

Ingredients: (Serves 1)

2 Strips of prosciutto (Trader Joe’s sells a SCD and Paleo friendly brand)

Prepared Mustard to taste

2 pickles

2 slices of SCD legal cheese

1/4 of a small avocado cut in slices

A handful of lettuce

Directions:

1.) Spread mustard on the slices of prosciutto.  Assemble pickles, avocado and cheese on one side of the prosciutto and roll it up.  Enjoy!

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Sesame seed encrusted Salmon salad with Creamy Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette

Since getting a new grill for my birthday, Mike and I have been grilling something or other almost every single night! This salad is quick, easy, and incredibly delicious!  Start to finish, it takes me less than 20 minutes to create and has become a go-to in our house for weeknight meals.  The Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette is delicious and I usually make extra to carry with me in my purse for lunches out.

Sesame seed encrusted salmon

Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette: Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil

1 TBS toasted sesame seed oil

1 clove garlic

1 inch knob fresh ginger

2 TBS coconut aminos

2 TBS rice vinegar

1 tsp honey

1/4 tsp prepared mustard

S/P to taste

Directions:

1.) Place all ingredients into a container and blend.  I find that my immersion blender whips up the creamiest version of this vinaigrette that won’t separate.  For a more traditional vinaigrette, grate ginger and mince garlic and then emulsify.

Sesame seed encrusted Salmon salad: Ingredients

1/4 cup sesame seeds

2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

6 cups mixed greens

2 large carrots

1 ounce shaved romano cheese

2 (6 ounce) wild salmon fillets

Directions:

1.) Pre-heat grill on medium heat.

2.) Mix greens with shaved carrots.  Shave romano cheese over the top of the salad.  Set aside.

3.) Mix sesame seeds, s/p. and red pepper flakes.  Coat salmon fillets with mixture.

4.) Grill on both sides for 5 minutes.  Depending on how hot your grill gets, it should be medium rare in the middle.

5.) Serve on top of salad and enjoy!

Asparagus Breakfast Skillet

Breakfast has been a bit of a challenge on the Auto Immune Protocol. Luckily, I happened upon this delicious veggie skillet and have been eating it like a fiend! It’s really flavorful and still tastes like breakfast. Pair it with a banana and coconut milk whipped cream and you’re in business!

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Ingredients:
5-6 small to medium asparagus stocks
3 pieces of bacon
1 cup shredded golden beet
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Salt (and pepper if you can have it) to taste

Directions:
1. Wash, chop, and shred veggies. Cut bacon into bite sized pieces.
2. Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a medium sized skillet for about 2 minutes and then add beets. Cover with lid and cook for about 5 minutes.
3. The beets should be getting brown on the bottom. Flip them with your spatula and add the asparagus to your skillet. Cover again for 3 minutes.
4. Remove cover and use spatula to shift beets if they are starting to burn. Add bacon. Don’t cover but continue to shift them around occasionally, checking frequently to prevent burning. Cook for about 5 minutes and remove from heat.
5. Salt and pepper if desired. Enjoy!

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Chicken and squash soup

I’ve been battling a mild flare for the last couple months. It’s frustrating and discouraging after two years of being virtually flare free to be struggling again. Luckily it’s relatively small, at least compared to previous flares, and doesn’t seem to be getting worse. One step I’ve taken this past month is to try the paleo auto immune protocol. It’s designed to eliminate common irritants and has a whole science of its own, but suffice it to say, this month in addition to the rest of the food I don’t eat, I’ve added nuts, seeds and seed based spices, nightshades, dairy and eggs. Ugh.

I kind of hate it but I keep reminding myself that it’s not forever, that healing comes first, and that it’s a privilege to live in a country where it is possible to make these kind of choices for myself. One food that we’ve been eating fairly regularly, as in multiple times a week, is this simple soup. I buy a whole chicken every week, roast it, and use half the chicken to make this and the bones to make bone broth.

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We love it. It’s simple, rich and filling. Perfect for the AIP. My biggest fans have actually been my in laws who are about as far from being paleo as humanly possible.

Ingredients:
The meat from a roasted chicken, about 3 cups
2 large carrots, chopped
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1 cup acorn squash (about 1/2 squash)
2 cups spinach
2 cups bone broth
2 cups water
Salt and pepper, or simply salt

Directions:
1. Add chicken, carrots, butternut squash, bone broth and water to a pot and bring to a boil. Adjust heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Roast or microwave acorn squash (40 minutes in the oven at 375 or 6 minutes in the microwave). Once cooked, add to pot.
3. Chop or tear spinach. Add after 20 minutes and simmer for an additional 5.  Remove from heat and add salt.
4. Serve and enjoy!

For more information about the auto immune protocol, I recommend reading The Paleo Approach by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne.

Strawberry Shortcake with Coconut Flour

Once again, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted but I wanted to post some pictures of the incredible grain-free Strawberry Shortcake that I made for my birthday!  I used the recipe last July for some patriotic triffle and was excited to see that Jenni, over at the Urban Poser, had made it into a cake as well.
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It was incredible and does not taste grain-free at all.  It’s dense, like a lot of coconut flour recipes, but very moist, sweet and the coconut whip cream gives it a sort of airiness.

I used 9 inch pans so my creation did not turn out as ethereal and lovely as Jenni’s but it was mouthwateringly delicious and a definite crowd pleaser.  Find the recipe and instructions here!

Surviving February: Slow Cooker Pineapple and Chili Pulled Pork

February is hands down, the worst month of the year for mid-westerners.  It manages to simultaneously never end and speed by, giving the poor chump stuck in a mid-west induced haze of flu, stress, and blizzards, the feeling of slow motion whip lash.  You know it’s happening, but you can’t do anything about it.  Mid-westerners, we are the true survivors.

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Fortunately, February also gives me this frenzied craving for all things tropical.  I window shop for dresses without sleeves and blush inducing lengths.  At work, I keep my sanity while holding on the phone by clicking on EVERY SINGLE travel “get-away” package that I see.  And I make a series of tropical inspired dishes that give me the illusory feeling of controlling my own destiny.  Maybe if I eat enough pineapple. I too will win Travelocity’s “Romantic Caribbean Get-Away” sweepstakes.

It hasn’t happened.  But March is here.  It’s sunny today and I am happy to post pictures of mouthwatering Caribbean spiced pork turned mid-western by virtue of the crock-pot.  I snagged the recipe off of paleopot.com and was glad I did.  The sweetness of the pineapple and the heat from the chilies made me ignore the blizzard outside.  I was so absorbed in the meal I didn’t even notice the snow plow, dutifully stacking snow around my little Vibe, making it impossible to leave.

Maybe getting stuck inside isn't such a bad thing after all...

Maybe getting stuck inside isn’t such a bad thing after all…

Paleo Double Chocolate Donuts

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About 3 weeks ago we celebrated my husband Mikey’s 32nd birthday!  The way I grew up, birthdays are not confined to a solitary party or a nice cake and presents.  Rather, a birthday is an event stretching anywhere from 24-72 hours in which the sole focus of everyone’s attention is celebrating the awesomeness that is you.  My mom even made all of us girls separate tablecloths, used only on our birthdays.  Mine was a spangely magenta masterpiece, while my younger sister favored a light pink velour table runner.  Nice work Mom.
Anyway, I was determined that Mikey was going to have the best birthday EVER despite my raging flu, his three hour night class, and all day meetings.  The morning of, I got up early and drove to get his all-time favorite breakfast: donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts.  I pulled through the drive through and leaned out my window into the frigid mid-western morning and said “Hi, I’m grabbing donuts for my husband’s birthday.  Do you have one double chocolate and one peanut cluster?”  “Sure do”, came the automatic reply.  “Will that be all?  Or can I get you one as well?”
Yes.  Yes I will have a light, fluffy, yeasty chocolate donut with Bavarian cream.  Or a thick, dense powdered sugar donut that leaves my lips frosted with a delectable white ring.  Or a few coy, round donut holes, the bane of the dieters existence but ever dear to my own heart.
“No.”  I replied regretfully.  “That’s all.”
Mike’s birthday passed but I haven’t been able to get the vision of those donuts out of my head!  Finally I decided to get serious, and get a darn donut!  This is my favorite variation of different recipes I have tried to get the perfect double chocolate, paleo friendly donut.
Ingredients: (Donut)

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup cacao powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 TBS strongly brewed coffee
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the donut pan very well with coconut oil or oil of choice.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients and sift to combine.  Make sure to use 100% unsweetened cacoa powder.
  3. Combine wet ingredients except for the eggs and stir to combine.  Add eggs and beat until well combined.  You should be able to pour into molds.  If it is too sticky, add a little bit of water.
  4. Pour into donut mold until 2/3 full.  Bake for 10 minutes, no longer.  Remove from molds while warm.

Ingredients: (Frosting)

  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 ounces unsweetened cacao in bar form
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in sauce pan over medium heat until melted.
  2. Add cacao and stir constantly, making sure it doesn’t burn.  Adjust heat as needed.
  3. Add honey and whisk to combine.
  4. Remove sauce pan from heat and add vanilla extract.  Stir well.
  5. Cool to slightly warm.  Dip donuts into chocolate and then let cool.  The frosting will slightly harden as it cools.  Best when slightly warm.
Dunkin' Donuts ain't got nothin' on me!

Dunkin’ Donuts ain’t got nothin’ on me!

 

Birthday Brunches and Almond-Flour Banana Cupcakes

There is something magic about opening up your home for entertaining.  Whether it’s the cleaning up the “lived-in” qualities of your rooms, planning the menu, considering the food restrictions of the guests, buying flowers for the vases or just anticipating the arrival of the guests, it’s magical!  It fills my thoughts for days before and drives me to spend way more time than I have preparing food.

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This past fall, my younger sister Anna moved to my town!  I wish I could say it was to be with her cool older sister, but really it was so should could get an awesome education, explore Chicago and make great new friends.  Check, check and check!  For her birthday this year, I decided to throw her a brunch!  Because I am a selfish cook that wants to eat all of the food that I make (and because I fear cross-contamination) I made all foods either SCD legal or Paleo.

A is for Anna!

A is for Anna!

I wanted to serve a variety of foods so after weighing my options, I settled on this menu:

  • Crust-less quiche made with SCD goat milk yogurt (Find my recipe here)
    • Broccoli, sautéed onion and swiss chard
    • Bacon, sautéed onion and kale
  • Grain-free granola served with fresh fruit and coconut milk (Find Danielle’s recipe here)
  • Fresh fruit with Paleo chocolate fondue (Find my recipe here)
  • Paleo chocolate cupcakes (Find the combo of recipes I used here)
  • Annie’s Blend Tea (A mix of two of her favorite teas in fill-able tea bags)
  • Anna Banana Cupcakes (Recipe below!)
Grain-free granola with coconut milk and topping options

Grain-free granola with coconut milk and topping options

When we were growing up, we would celebrate our birthdays at our Grandma Beth’s house and she would inevitably make us her famous Banana Chocolate Cake for our birthday cake!  Sweet, almost to the point of being too sweet, it was sheer birthday indulgence and we always look forward to it.  Since being diagnosed with Crohn’s, I haven’t been able to tolerate sweets as well and since beginning SCD, there has been no Banana Chocolate Cake for me.  I decided to try and re-create one of our childhood favorites in Paleo form.  I experimented with several different versions of this recipe before settling on this one.

They are light and moist with a lovely fruit driven sweetness.  Topped with rich Paleo chocolate, they brought a rush of nostalgic childhood memories for me and smiles for us all!

The original Anna Banana and her darling friends!

The original Anna Banana and her darling friends!

Anna Banana Cupcakes

Ingredients: Cupcakes 2

  • 2 1/4 cups of  almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or a mix of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and clove in diminishing proportions
  • 3 medium bananas (Make sure they are over ripe or they won’t mash and give you the texture you want)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Icing:

For the frosting, I launched from this recipe of Elana‘s at Elana’s Pantry.  However, I made some alterations.  First of all, I halved the recipe.  I used 1/2 of the Ghiradelli 100% Unsweetened Pure Cocoa Baking Bar (about 1/2 cup).  Second of all, I added 1/3 cup of raw honey and kept the 1/3 cup of coconut oil.  I decreased the vanilla to 1 tsp.  I followed all other instructions.

Instructions:

1.    Preheat your oven to 300.  Line a cupcake/muffin tin with paper liners.

2.    Mix together all dry ingredients until well mixed.

3.    Blend eggs, honey and bananas in an electric mixer until smooth with no large chucks of banana.

4.    Fold in dry ingredients.

5.    Fill the tin about 3/4 of the way with batter.  They won’t rise a lot but aren’t too dense.  (I use an ice cream scoop to fill mine).

6.    Cook at 300 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

7.    Top with Elana’s icing after letting the cupcakes completely cool.

Me posing with empty plates and feeling soooo smug.  :)

Me posing with empty plates and feeling soooo smug. 🙂