Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Carrot Soup with Tahini Dollop

Hope everyone is having a happy and healthy January! For those of you doing Whole 30 or some other kind of Paleo challenge, keep up the good work. You are in the home stretch now! Unfortunately, I sprained my wrist doing a heavy front squat last week and have had to modify all my workouts. This is my first Crossfit injury ever, and it was totally my fault since I didn't accept the fact that I was failing a lift and by the time I dumped it had no strength left and hurt myself. If anything, it made be extremely grateful that we have a box that is huge on proper form and safely, and I learned I should always listen to them when they are telling me to dump a lift! Hopefully I'll get permission from the doc to lift again in another two weeks.
I made this soup a few weeks ago and have been craving it again ever since. Deb is basically my kitchen hero! The texture is so rich and silky that I could have easily eaten the entire batch by myself. I served it with a big side salad, but if you are like my fiance ("It's not a meal unless there is meat") you can eat this as a side dish with your protein of choice, pork would compliment well.

2 Tbl olive oil
2 pounds carrots, peeled, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp table salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cups vegetable broth
3 Tbl tahini paste
2 Tbl lemon juice
Pinch or two of salt
2 Tbl water
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped for garnish (optional)

  1. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper flakes and sauté until they begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
  2. Once vegetables have begun to brown, add broth, using it to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cover pot with lid and simmer until carrots are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small dish, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, salt and water until smooth with a yogurt-like consistency.
  4. Puree soup in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Ladle into bowls. Dollop each with lemon-tahini, and garnish with chopped parsley.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Paleo Kale - Banana Smoothie

Sometimes things are best when kept simple. When I had posted this green smoothie recipe at the beginning of the year, I was kindly asked to loose that recipe for the rest of time from my fiance. I personally liked it, although it does have a green-y taste (not for everyone)  I also mentioned in that post that I had another smoothie with kale and less fruit in it that I will be posting. Surprisingly, this recipe tastes much sweeter and less green! Not to mention there are only 5 ingredients...this is a super easy weekday morning smoothie! It also got my fiance's seal of approval!

1 small bunch kale, ribs and stems removed
Around 11 oz coconut water (play around with quantity I used a small coconut water)
1 banana
1 Tbl coconut oil

  1. Blend the kale, coconut water, and coconut oik until smooth
  2. Add ice and banana and blend again until smooth. You may want to play around with the ice quantity to see what works best for you. I added a couple handfuls in small batches until I got the right consistency.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Paleo Butternut Squash Porridge

One of the most common questions people ask me about Paleo is "What can I eat for breakfast besides eggs?" I was never an oatmeal, yogurt, or cereal girl (prior to going Paleo I usually had a venti cinnamon dolce latte for breakfast) so these things weren't hard for me to cut out. I will admit, it is hard to come up with ideas outside of egg variations, especially if you are trying to avoid fruit.

 I always recommend eating some sort of protein and a vegetable for breakfast if you don't want eggs, such as half a chicken breast and some steamed spinach. It may be hard at first to wrap your head around eating something like this for breakfast, but it's really tasty and will give you boatloads more energy than an Eggo.

For once, I made something different than eggs (I adore eggs) and absolutely loved it! This slightly sweet and comforting "porridge" recipe has officially earned a spot in my breakfast rotation. If you like oatmeal, this may be the closest Paleo option I have tasted! So good!

1 medium sized butternut squash or pumpkin
1 can full-fat chilled coconut milk
Toppings: This is what I used but feel free to play around with your favorites!
Sliced strawberries
Pomegranate seeds

*note: if you are not an early-bird, make the squash the night before, refrigerate then reheat and assemble in the AM
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut the squash in half. Place the squash halves cut side down on a coconut oil -greased, rimmed cookie sheet.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until tender and cooked through.
  3. Allow the squash to sit until it is still warm but cool enough to touch without burning yourself. Scoop out the seeds then scoop out the squash, transferring it to individual serving bowls and mashing it slightly. The flavor and texture is best when it is not pureed or too mashed up.
  4. Pour the milk over each bowl of squash, allowing it to pool at the sides of the bowl. Add desired toppings and a drizzle of honey (if needed). *note: shake the can before opening to evenly mix the coconut milk together as it tends to separate.
  5. Serve. It's better when you don't mix everything together. The coconut milk looses it's punch when mixed and absorbed into the squash.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Slow Cooker Southwestern Pulled Brisket with Cilantro Lime "Rice"

Hello dears! Is everyone having a good week so far? Maybe it's because I just returned from Florida, but it has been so teeth-chattering cold lately that all I want to eat are soups, stews, and anything that gives my belly that warm content fullness! It's no secret that I love my slow cooker, and winter is the perfect time to use it! Whatever you put inside cooks low ands slow, concentrating all the flavor in the pot, and usually always comes out delicious! A slow cooker meal is always guaranteed to warm me up!

When I first started cooking, Smitten Kitchen was my go-to resource for recipe ideas and pretty food photos. The author was one of my inspirations to start this little blog, and her recipe archive is enormous! Some of her recipes could be the farthest thing from Paleo ever, but I was surprised to find some things that were easily adaptable to Paleo!

Slow Cooker Southwestern Pulled Brisket
3 pounds beef brisket
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coconut oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
1 to 2 whole canned chipotle chiles en adobo (Read: 1 or 2 from a can, not one or two cans. I used one pepper; two will give it a real kick)
2 bay leaves
  1.  Season the beef generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat just until beginning to smoke. Add the meat and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker; leave the skillet on the heat.
  2. Add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander, and cumin to drippings in the skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add vinegar and boil until it’s almost gone, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket.
  3.  Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; add the tomato juices, chipotles, bay leaves. Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the brisket until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 hours.
  4. Remove the meat and bay leaves (discard) from the slow cooker into a big bowl and shred with two forks.
  5. Optional: use an immersion blender in the crock pot to completely blend the onions/garlic/tomatoes/juices together to create a slightly thicker sauce. If you like it chunky or don't want the extra step, don't bother. I liked the sauce smooth for this recipe. Return the meat to the slow cooker and stir to incorporate.
Cilantro-Lime "Rice"

1 head cauliflower
2 Tbl freshly chopped cilantro
1/2 fresh lime

  1. Chop the cauliflower into even sized pieces and pulse in batches in a food processor until it takes on a rice-like consistency. Do not over-process or you will end up with mush.
  2. Heat a large pan and dry-saute the cauliflower, stirring constantly to avoid burning and cook through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl, add fresh cilantro, juice of 1/2 a lime, and stir to combine.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fruity Green Smoothie

Happy New Year loves! I'm so sorry for my extended absence. Between the hustle and bustle of the holidays, extra-crazy workload in the office, and a quick getaway to Florida, this little blog had to be shelved for a while. Thankfully, I know my new schedule will allow me to devote more time to River North Paleo Girl and hopefully give you some new and healthy ideas to keep your New Years eating goals on track!

I am not the "resolution" type, and I think the way some people approach them almost sets themselves up for failure from the start. I love my Paleo lifestyle but I will not say I resolve to eat that way for 365 days in 2013. It's not realistic and I know I would fail. Instead I write intentions for the year as well as make plans that can be checked off lists (I love lists) and set goals. I have many intentions, plans, and goals for myself but in case you need some inspiration, here is an example of each...
INTENTION: Laugh Daily
PLAN: Add Yoga 1x a week into my Crossfit routine
GOAL: Accomplish my first Muscle Up!!
I'd love to hear some of your intentions, plans, or goals in the comments section!

Another thing I am trying to do is eat breakfast more often. It's true that it is the most important meal of the day, and lately oversleeping or laziness has kept me from starting my days out right. No more!

This fruity green smoothie is adapted from a recipe I saw online, but tweaked to make more Paleo! If you are trying to cut fruit, obviously this isn't the smoothie for you. I have another Kale paleo smoothie with less fruit in it that I will be posting in the upcoming week so stay tuned!

I enjoyed this smoothie very much, and I hope you do too!

1 1/4 cup coconut water
1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 of a small bunch or 1/3 of a large bunch of spinach
1/2 apple, chopped
1/2 pear, chopped
1/2 banana
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Juice of 1/4 lemon

  1. Add coconut water, chopped head of romaine, and spinach to blender
  2.  Blend at a low speed until smooth
  3. Add celery, apple and pear and blend at high speed
  4. Add banana, coconut oil, and lemon juice and blend again until smooth.
  5. Enjoy immediately!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Best Thanksgiving Cranberries Ever, invented by my Mom

My absolute FAVORITE thing to eat at Thanksgiving, maybe even more than turkey, is my Mom’s cranberries! They have been a staple at Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. Throughout the years she has tweaked it here and there, and has evolved into the ultimate most delicious cranberry recipe that ever was invented in the history of the world. I may be a little biased, but once you try them I think you will agree!
If anything, promise me you’ll never eat cranberries out of a can!
The final recipe tweak came last year, my first Thanksgiving eating Paleo, where my mom went out of her way to make an almost entirely Paleo feast so I could enjoy Thanksgiving during my first 30 Day Paleo Challenge. (yes, she’s really awesome like that) This is the recipe that stuck, I hope you enjoy!
By the way, this recipe is stupid easy, and if made the day before even BETTER because all the ingredients get to love up on each other and marinate and create bliss for your taste buds while you sleep.
12 oz bag of whole fresh cranberries (readily available this time of year but frozen/thawed will work fine too)
1 orange
1 large granny smith apple
½ cup of chopped walnuts
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup beet sugar
  1.  Using a food processor, pulse half of the bag of cranberries until they are chopped into small pieces. Place into a large bowl. Repeat with the rest of the bag and add to bowl.
  2.  Zest the entire orange over the bowl into the cranberries, then peel the orange and whizz in the food processor until completely liquefied/pulpy. Pour into bowl.
  3. Peel and chop the granny smith apple into small cubes. Place into bowl.
  4. Add walnuts, maple syrup, and beet sugar to bowl. Stir to combine.
  5. Cover and marinate in fridge for at least two hours, but up to a day ahead of time.
Enjoy! (I usually eat the leftovers for breakfast the next day until it’s all gone)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

One of the quintessential Thanksgiving side dishes is mashed potatoes. While I love those for a special occasion, I prefer mashed cauliflower on a regular basis. This recipe would be a perfect Paleo replacement on turkey day or whenever you are craving some serious comfort food. The soft, creamy texture is a perfect partner to turkey, and it can be made a day ahead of time as it reheats very well.

I have tried various versions of mashed cauliflower before, and this method is by far my favorite. By roasting them before pureeing, the flavors are much more complex than if just steaming.

2 heads of cauliflower, chopped into even sized florets
2 cloves of garlic
3 Tbl ghee
1 Tbl onion powder
1 cup of vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Fresh chives to garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Place the cauliflower florets and garlic on a tinfoil lined baking sheet and season liberally with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes, until cauliflower is soft, tossing the cauliflower a few times while baking.
  2. In a large pot, add the ghee, onion powder, and vegetable broth. Add the cauliflower and garlic once cooked and use an immersion blender to puree. (If you don't have an immersion blender, a food processor or blender will work, just blend in small batches at a time)
  3. Garnish with fresh chopped chives, and additional salt and pepper if needed