Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The "I Can't Believe These Are Paleo" Brownies

Tomorrow is February 1 which means Valentines Day is right around the corner! Get involved people. I love any holiday where my boyfriend is forced encouraged to send flowers and take me out to dinner.

via Pinterest

Chocolate is synonymous with Valentines Day. Did you know that chocolate triggers the endorphins of your brain that make you feel happy? I'm sure you did, which is why you should make these brownies for that special person who you've been admiring their Thrusters from afar. These will be sure to knock their Innov8s off. Ok, I've gone too far...here we go.

The "I Can't Believe These Are Paleo" Brownies
  • 2 C almond butter (this will be more than 1 jar depending on size)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 C maple syrup
  • 1/2 C beet sugar (this and the maple syrup are paleo-ish/primal, steer clear of this recipe if you are doing strict 30 day challenge, otherwise this should be a treat)
  • 1/4 C coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 oz unsweetened dark chocolate
  • Optional: 1/2 C chocolate chips (I found a dairy/soy free brand at whole foods called Enjoy Life)

  •  Melt chocolate on a double boiler or in the microwave and set-aside to cool for several minutes. This is important. If you melt the chocolate directly on the stove it will burn and taste bad
  • Mix all ingredients together (except any optional additions) with an electric mixer. Smash the banana before adding.
  • Spoon into a coconut oil greased (lighly, I wipe it on with a paper towel) cupcake/muffin pans. I'm sure you could do it in a pan and slice once cooled but I like it this way since they are already portioned out! Side note, a lot of Paleo deserts I have tried tend to crumble if you try to fuss with them too much (such as cut into pieces). This is why I like to use muffin pans a lot.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15
  • Cool before removing from tin.

Hope you enjoy!

P.S. This is my kitchen assistant, Minnie. RNCF mascot, anyone?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weeknight Meal Ideas

Sometimes, I have to come up with culinary creations based on what is left in my fridge and have to be prepared before they go bad. Sometimes they turn out to be great, other times they can be an utter disaster. Below are two different meals I threw together last week.

Mixed Salad

  • Mix arugula leaves, carrot chips, cherry tomatoes, english cucumbers, and apple slices in a big bowl
  • toss with walnut oil, balsamic vinegar, and cracked pepper. walnut oil has so much more flavor than olive oil, and makes me feel like less balsamic is needed.

Kale in Tomato Sauce with Over Easy Eggs

I made this on a night where I didn't feel like having and meat but still wanted to get some protein
  • Chop a white onion and cook in a pot till translucent.
  • Add kale with the stems removed and wilt
  • Add a jar of your favorite tomato sauce
  • Add spices of your choice, I used a clove of fresh chopped garlic, aleppo pepper, garam masala (1tsp)
  • Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, you are really just looking for the kale to be soft and the flavors to have time to develop.
  • In a separate pan, cook two eggs per person over easy and serve on top of your kale.

A few other random comments...
  1. BIG congrats to everyone who competed in War of the WODs today! It was so exciting to see everyone from RNCF who competed and gave their all! You all inspire me to push myself harder! Everyone drink lots of water tonight. :)
  2. The Lululemon warehouse sale violated my wallet and taught me that people will do strange and crazy things (waking up at 6am on a Saturday) for some deals on Luon pants and Scuba hoodies.
  3. I am embarrassed of my ugly plates in the food photos. They were given to me by my mother who got them as a wedding gift over 25 years ago. Every time I look at them I think of the Partridge Family for some reason. I can't wait to get new ones someday. I will not buy them now because I have no money for that nonsense (see #2).
Nighty night lovers!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Peppered Bison, Roasted Acorn Squash, and Spicy Walnut Spinach

Let's talk about bison, baby.

It is delicious! Leaner than beef, this meat is simple to make and makes me feel like a true hunter/gatherer when I ask for two bison steaks from the butcher at Whole Foods. If you like your beef well done, I would stay away from bison because it gets tough if overcooked. Medium rare to medium is the way to go here.

This is how I got things done:

  • clean the skin of your acorn squash, chop off the ends, remove the seeds, and chop into slices
  • toss with about a table spoon of melted ghee (it's paleo, see Whole9) and line on a cookie sheet
  • season lightly with cumin, aleppo pepper, paprika, and cinnamon
  • stick that sexy squash in a 350 oven for 30 minutes, flipping at 15. It is your choice whether to eat the skin or not, depending on the quality of the squash, sometimes it can be a little tough, this time it was good.
  • Season your bison with (teeny tiny) bit of sea salt and a generous amount of cracked pepper on each side.
  • get an OVEN SAFE skillet and get it screaming hot on the stove.
  • throw a little fat in the skillet (olive oil is not recommended since it has a lower burn point, i used ghee) and sear the steaks for three minutes on each side
  • from there put the skillet in the oven and bake for another 7-10 minutes.
  • Finish off the steak with a quick broil for about a minute on each side on high...this is optional but I love the crispy taste this gives.
  • be very careful when removing the skillet cause the handle will be hot and will stay hot for a while
  • most importantly, let the meat rest before cutting into it for about 3-5 minutes. This will allow the temp to come down a bit and keep your bison steak tender and juicy.
post sear, pre oven

For the Spinach:

Popeye would be proud
  • do this part while your meat is resting
  • clean and dry the spinach leaves, I used and entire bunch for two people.
  • place in a big pan, and turn the flame on medium
  • slowly wilt the spinach, tossing frequently
  • at the very end, drizzle on some walnut oil (about a tsp), toss in some walnuts, and sprinkle (generously, depending on how much heat you like) with crushed red pepper flakes.
Here is the final result:

I was going to save half of my steak for lunch tomorrow but that didn't happen. It was THAT good.

Sweet dreams RNCF crew!

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Tented" Salmon and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Of all the sea creatures I eat, salmon is by far my favorite. It took me a while to nail down a good method to cook this yummy fish, but I finally got it right after my mom shared her  "tented" method. This has become my go-to way to prepare fish because it is so easy, and I think the "tent" keeps your entire place from smelling like fish.

Preheat oven to 350

Start with a good piece of Sammy and season with whatever you like. I used a Salmon Tea Rub spice mix. It sounds like a spa treatment, so I hope my sammy enjoyed it while he was baking.
Now you make your tent. Line a baking dish with tinfoil, with the foil going well beyond all sides.
Put Sammy in his tent and wrap up the sides. Be careful that there are no holes for air to get in on the top or sides. This allows the salmon to bake and steam at the same time and keeps if from drying out.
Bake. Check at 25 minutes. If it needs to go a little longer, take it out and close the tent up. It will continue to steam for a few minutes. (cooking time varies by size, this is for 1.32 lbs)

Here's my plate:

The brussel sprouts couldn't be easier. I use this method for most of my veggies.
  • wash, cut the ends off and cut the brussel sprouts in half
  • toss the brussel sprouts in your favorite oil (i used walnut oil)
  • season to your liking. I used an Arabic spice blend that has black and white pepper, allspice, mace, cinnamon, cloves, celery seed, and bay leaves
  • roast on 350 for 30-ish minutes. i put these on the bottom rack of the oven before and during the time the salmon is also cooking.

Also, please feel free to give me feedback! I haven't quite figured out how I am going to format this, how frequently I will post, etc. Let me know what you want to see RNCFitters!!!

Cranberry Almond Upside Down Cakes

These mini cakes turned out really great, but they are a TREAT...as in, don't eat them everyday. I love them because they are sweet, nutty, and a little tart. Just like me! Enjoy!

Cranberry and Almond Upside Down Cakes
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground all spice
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup ghee, melted (or oil of our choice)
  • 1/2 cup honey
For the cranberry layer:
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 TBSP freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 TBSP freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup honey
Preheat oven to 350F and grease your muffin tin.
Combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and all spice in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine eggs, ghee/oil and honey.
Combine wet and dry ingredients and set aside.
Toss cranberries with orange zest, lemon zest and honey. Arrange mixture into a single layer at the bottom of each muffin cup.
Top with cake batter and cover evenly.
Place pan into oven for 20-25 minutes or until tops are golden brown and fully cooked. If your cakes get too brown but need to cook another minute or two place a sheet of foil on top and continue cooking.

(recipe adapted from roostblog.com)