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Grilled Asparagus

I picked up this fat colorful asparagus at the farmer’s market, tossed it in a little olive oil, sea salt, ground pepper and threw it on the grill [on tin foil – I need one of those grilling baskets] with some lemon slices for a few minutes. Served with a side of homemade dill mayo (and some grass fed steaks.) Yum! It’s starting to feel like summer, y’all! 🙂

Yes we have done the steak and asparagus post before (delish recipe from StephyG!). And we’ll probably do it again because it’s just that good! Want to steam your asparagus instead and top it off with orange Hollandaise sauce? Check out Neena’s recipe.

Paleo Pops

So last night I was drunk enjoying some wine and wanting ice cream in my face a little something sweet, but healthy. So I threw together some ingredients I like and was pleased with the results!

Ingredients1 can (13-15 ounces) organic classic/whole coconut milk
1/2 cup raw organic macadamia nuts
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
2 tablespoons organic maple syrup (B grade has more minerals)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preparation

  1. Put all ingredients in a quart sized mason jar and blend with an immersion blender until mixed together like a smoothie. I suppose you could put it in a regular blender but you should know my preference by now. 🙂
  2. Pour the mixture into the molds*
  3. Freeze for a few hours
  4. Eat

* Regarding your molds, I happen to have some ice pop molds. But you can use ice cube trays, small juice cups, nonstick muffin pans or individual silicone cupcake cups. And for the sticks you can get old fashioned wooden ones at kitchen and craft stores, or you can use cinnamon sticks, straws or bamboo skewers. Just put the sticks in when the pops are partially frozen so they will stay in place. A fun book called Ice Pops by Shelly Kaldunski has many inspiring recipes and pictures.

Grain-Free Ultimate Banana Bread

This post is from our friend and guest blogger Michelle Livermore Renfrey, who swears this recipe is the ultimate Paleo banana bread! I can’t wait to put it in my face. Om nom nom.

Ingredients
5 eggs
3/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut flour
2-3 very ripe bananas (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl with a hand mixer, then pour in a greased or parchment paper lined loaf pan.
  3. Bake for 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and a knife or toothpick comes clean when the middle is tested. Enjoy!

“Bulletproof” Superfood Mate

When my friend Emily said she was drinking “Bulletproof coffee” and feeling amazing lately, and that it involved adding pasture butter and coconut oil to her coffee, it sounded like something all the Paleo kids were probably doing and so I researched it and sure enough! Dave Asprey invented Bulletproof Coffee after being rejuvenated by a cup of yak butter tea in the freezing, high elevation mountains of Tibet. His recipe, mold-free coffee for sale and informative comment threads and forums can be found on his Bulletproof Executive site.

But damn it! It is spring. and I just stopped drinking coffee for the season – I just drink it in the fall and winter and that works for me. But I do enjoy green tea or Yerba Mate in the morning and decided to adapt this recipe to make bulletproof [Asprey’s TM] superfood mate. Now I’m hooked! And if the idea of putting butter and oil into your tea and coffee makes you want to gag, just keep reading.* Trust.

Ingredients

1 teabag of organic Yerba Mate (or green tea or 1-2.5 cups of premium organic coffee depending on desired yield)
1 tablespoon unsalted organic pasture (from grass fed cows) butter or ghee. (I was only able to find salted but am searching for Kerrygold brand locally)
1 tablespoon MCT oil or organic unrefined coconut oil
1 tablespoon organic raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon maca powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 tablespoon organic raw honey (or more or less to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder to taste (optional)
Dash cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Honey and herb paste
Honey and herb paste

Once I had the ratios how I liked them, I made a paste with a bunch of honey, cacao. maca, cinnamon and cardamom to store in a small jar, so I could just add 1-2 tablespoons of the paste instead of individually adding those ingredients each day. Efficiency, baby!

Dude looks like a latte!!
Dude looks like a latte!!
  1. Boil water (or brew coffee if using).
  2. In a quart mason jar, add the Yerba Mate (or green tea) and pour boiling water (or just your coffee) to fill about 3/4 full, about 2.5 cups (so it doesn’t splatter when you blend it later) and steep 5-10 minutes.
  3. After steeping (or right away if just using coffee) remove the teabag and add the remaining ingredients and blend for about a minute with an immersion blender until the top gets a little foamy. This really needs to be blended. Stirring with a spoon will make you sad and frustrated, as you force yourself to choke down a gritty drink topped by an oil slick.**

This will yield 2 coffee mugs full if sharing. Adjust amounts accordingly.

This drink is SO delicious, satisfying, creamy and amazing! And of course full of antioxidants, minerals, enzymes and vitamins from your raw superfoods. I have read that while Yerba Mate has many antioxidant benefits and is stimulating (it DOES have caffeine but doesn’t make you jittery like coffee) you probably shouldn’t drink it by the liter or scalding hot. Read more about mate here.

*Embrace the good fat! Yes, even saturated fat. If you are lactose intolerant, you may still be able to enjoy full fat pasture butter or ghee (clarified butter) as it has little lactose in it and not the addictive opioid casein found in cheese. Good fats are essential and will actually make you leaner if used properly.

**Alternatively, if you don’t have an immersion blender (again, why is this? ;)) you can blend in a regular blender but make sure you pour hot water in the blender first to warm it up as they can sometimes break when you pour boiling water straight into the glass if cold.

5 Minute, 5 Ingredient Chicken Tacos

Sometimes you just don’t have the time, energy or ingredients to cook an amazing dinner. Sometimes you just want a healthy, satisfying meal that doesn’t take much time or thought to prepare. This one does the trick, with only 5 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep time. It is a slow cooker recipe, so there is that pesky cooking time – but throw the ingredients in the cooker around noon, forget about it, and have dinner ready to go at six. Or – if you want it NOW, poach the chickenand skip the tomatoes to have it ready much faster.

Ingredients
4-5 organic chicken breasts
1 large (28 oz) can seasoned organic diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes)
1 bunch heart of romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed clean and dried
1 avocado, cubed or sliced
Your favorite salsa or hot sauce to taste (I like Tapatio)

  1. Open the can of tomatoes, and pour 1/2 in the slow cooker. Add the chicken. Pour the other 1/2 on top.
  2. Cook on low 4-6 hours until you can easily shred the chicken with a fork.
  3. Shred the chicken with fork and scoop into lettuce leaves.
  4. Top with avocado and hot sauce

Obviously, you can make this dish more exciting. Squeeze some lime on it and top it with homemade salsa, and/or with shredded pickled cabbage or other vegetables. Or cook the chicken with chicken broth, garlic, coconut aminos and top with veggies a la Everyday Paleo.

Calling All Brunettes

As of a few year ago, I realized I could no longer put chemical dyes on my hair, as even the most “natural” ones made my scalp blister horribly. The last time I used a drugstore box of color (Clairol?) the burning and blistering was so bad and lasted so long that I swore off chemical dyes forever. I suspect Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is the culprit, as it is a very common ingredient and allergen. Google “PPD death” just for fun. The hair color was pretty, but the oozing sores all over my head? No so much. And so the search began . . .

Now I’m going to put this right up front; my hairdresser and I were traumatized in order to spare you. You’re welcome. DO NOT use indigo on your hair if you want to put highlights in within a year!!! 2 years ago waited a few months after doing the henna/indigo and wanted to put some highlights in. They turned pale green. :'( I spent over 3 hours with my poor hairdresser trying to dye it back brown. Bleach will lift the henna and your hair color but NOT indigo, it stays with you permanently. It is also hard to dye OVER henna as henna coats the hair shaft so if you plan to return to conventional dye, it can take a few months for the henna to wash out enough to do so.

The first time I used just the Nupur powder and loved the shine and softness, but I had wanted my hair a little darker brown, not as coppery. (My hair is normally medium brown – the copper was lovely, I just wanted it darker and richer looking and not so red.) So I added indigo powder and a few other things and WOW! My hair is so shiny, soft, pretty, rich looking and feeling now. I am 44 and have done everything to my hair imaginable and I have NEVER been happier with the color or texture of my hair than I am after using this recipe. [Yes it covers grays too.]

This is the formula and process that worked very well for me after different experiments and attempts and lots of research – if you have brown hair and want it softer, shinier, richer, deeper, with coppery shine in the sun.

What you will need to begin (and I usually don’t recommend specific products but I have tried several brands and prefer these, and I do like the henna blend better than pure henna (too orange for me):

  • Nupur henna mix (green bag)
  • Indigo powder (silver bag) Natural Indigo Powder 100 Grams Bag
  • Conditioning hair oil and/or pre-shampoo hair treatment – I have used Dabur Vatika Coconut Hair Oil, Burt’s Bees Avacado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment, deep conditioning masques, all with good results. These conditioners make your hair softer and (almost as important) cut the strong horse poop smell of the henna/indigo mixture. I am sure a few tablespoons of coconut oil (and if you read this blog you have plenty on hand!) and about 20 drops of your favorite essential oil would also do the trick if you don’t want to buy more products.
  • Plastic or glass mixing bowl and spoon (NO metal)
  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Shower cap (or plastic grocery bag in a pinch)

Here’s the process – I start the night before I have nothing to do the next morning – so like a Friday night where I am just going to hang around and clean the house, watch TV etc. for 4-6 hours on Saturday. And you don’t really want to have a hot date planned Saturday night, also due to the straw smell and oily texture that first night:

  1. The night before – in a glass or plastic bowl, using a plastic or wooden spoon, mix up all of the Nupur (green bag) with enough boiling hot water to make a pudding-like paste. Around 2 cups, but slowly add until pudding consistency, a little more watery is better than too dry. I also add a healthy squirt each of the coconut oil and the Burt’s Bees pre-shampoo treatment and mix it all up. Leave it to sit overnight on the counter, covered by plastic wrap.
  2. The next morning – freeze in a ziplock bag the portion you are not planning you use (I have thick medium-long hair, past my shoulders and I freeze half of it) Henna does well in the freezer, and it will be all ready to thaw and use the next time, which is nice. (Indigo does NOT do well in the freezer, so just freeze the unused portion of henna/conditioner mix before adding the indigo.)
  3. Add to the henna/conditioner bowl about 1/2 of the indigo powder mix and enough boiling water to make it pudding-like again. (Some people do the henna, then the indigo after the henna is washed out – that seems even more time consuming but I haven’t tried that process, I just mix it all together and it works great.) It will be greenish. Do not be alarmed.

    It should look like this
    It should look like this
  4. After about 10 minutes, when the indigo has set with the Nupur/conditioner mixture (or however long the indigo powder package says) – make sure you have an old t-shirt on – put on the gloves and carefully apply all over your hair, rubbing it in to make sure it is reaching all the hair. This can get messy, especially the first time . . .
  5. Pile your hair on top of your head and put on a shower cap or tie a plastic grocery bag over your hair. Clean off any henna mixture that has dripped on your neck, ears, sink, floor, etc. – damp paper towels work well. It will stain cloth and skin if left on too long.

    Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful
    Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful
  6. Hang out with that mixture on your head for 5-6 hours. 4 is not enough, sorry, I tried.
  7. When the time’s up, rinse it out until the water runs clear – this can take a WHILE. Rinse with conditioner. Be astounded at the mess in your shower and then rinse off the walls.
  8. The next day, shampoo and deep condition. Don’t be discouraged if your hair feels dry, coarse, and straw-like for a few days if you didn’t add the conditioner. It will soon be soft and shiny!
  9. Bonus – recommended by my hairdresser – Rub a little oil in your hair, combing it through (especially the ends) before styling, which has also helped with the insane softness and shininess. I am obsessed with Moroccan hair oil and Alterna Bamboo oil treatment is nice too (I prefer the dropper to the spray). I put these products on our store page if you want to buy them from Amazon. (I think we get a few cents for each referral haha)
Before – kinda drab, but still warm color
Before – kinda drab, but still warm color
After – SHINY! And soft. And I am trying not to cry staring into the sun
After – SHINY! And soft. And I am trying not to cry staring into the sun

I know it seems like a lot but once you get the hang of it, I think it’s worth it in terms of saving money and having fewer harsh chemicals on your head. Not to mention, the whole point of the endeavor – having gorgeous hair!

Here are before and after pictures. Your hair will look more coppery/red in the sun, and darker/richer in the shade. And it will feel amazingly soft. Good luck! I repeat every 2 months or so.

I might put together some kits if people are interested, let me know. It’s kind of a hassle to track down everything individually.

Easy Paleo Egg Muffins

Adapted from Everyday Paleo and other recipes.

This is such an easy way to make cute, portable breakfast bites! Although these are best right out of the oven, they will store for several days in the refrigerator if you want to cook them at night and grab some to go for breakfast.

The cupcake liners are optional. But I ended up ordering some unbleached If You Care brand and miscalculated the amount and received MANY boxes; I believe the correct metric measurement is a shitton. (In fact, I will mail the first 5 people a free box of cupcake liners who share this post on Facebook and send me your address!) AND the bonus of using the liners is that your hands stay clean and did I mention how cute they are?

Ingredients
1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
1 teaspoon crushed red peppers (optional)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 bunch (about a pound) asparagus
1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
10-12 large eggs, whisked
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Melt the coconut oil or ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add onion and crushed red peppers and stir 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, break the tough ends off the bottom of the asparagus spears and cut into small chunks (about 1/2 inch) and slice the mushrooms.
  4. Add asparagus and mushrooms to the onion in the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. While the vegetables are cooking, whisk the eggs together in a large bowl and add salt and pepper
  6. Once the vegetables are cooked, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Then add to the egg mixture and stir together to mix.
  7. Coat a large muffin pan with oil or put liners in. Tip – fill unused muffin cups halfway with water to avoid burning the pan. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, fill each muffin cup nearly all the way to the top. 10 eggs + additions = 1 large muffin tin.

  8. Place in oven 10-20 minutes, depending on the shittiness of your oven (to borrow from the Cooking Caveman). Remove them when the tops get puffy, fluffy and golden brown.
  9. Pull them out by the liners if using, or pop them out with a butter knife.
I have a few Paleo cookbooks
I have a few Paleo cookbooks

And the variations on ingredients are practically endless! Dice up and cook green and red peppers instead, or add spinach and bacon (pre-cooked, please). Hot peppers! Top with avocado and salsa! [If I ate cheese I would totally add cheese. Shhhh]

 

Berries With Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

Whether you are vegan, paleo, or omnivore, chances are you love an easy, delicious, healthy treat! Who doesn’t? And no added sugar, yay! I keep a can of coconut milk in the fridge at all times for when the mood strikes to whip up this yummy and crowd-pleasing dessert (or mid-day snack, for that matter.) The only advance planning you need is that the coconut milk needs to be chilled in the fridge at least 3-4 hours beforehand. This recipe serves 4 people and is adapted from The Clothes Make The Girl

Ingredients
1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened, organic, classic (whole fat) coconut milk, chilled in the refrigerator at least 3 hours
1 pint blueberries or other berries, rinsed
1 pint strawberries, rinsed, tops cut off and sliced
1 tablespoon (or more or less to preference) of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of sliced almonds, toasted

  1. When you are ready to prepare this dessert, put the chilled can of coconut milk, mixing bowl and beaters from the mixer in the freezer (about 15 minutes).
  2. Clean and prepare your berries, and divide between 4 bowls or parfait glasses. Store leftover fruit in the refrigerator if you want smaller portions.
  3. Toast the almonds in a nonstick skillet, stirring and watching closely for them to become light brown. Remove from heat and put them in a separate bowl.
  4. Remove the coconut milk, beaters and bowl from the freezer, then carefully turn the can over and open it with a can opener.
  5. Slowly drain the light colored liquid coconut into a small jar, then refrigerate for later use (in coffee, smoothies, curry dishes, etc.)
  6. Pour/scoop out the thicker coconut milk from the bottom of the can into the mixing bowl, add the vanilla extract, and whip until it resembles whipped cream; this just takes a few minutes.
  7. Spoon the whipped coconut cream over each of the berry dishes, then top with the toasted almonds. Enjoy!

Variations: Use a different flavor extract, such as almond, or add orange zest. Or add 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder to make it chocolate whipped cream. Or top with toasted coconut. My grandmother, who is 89, asked for chocolate sauce on hers, so naturally that is what she received and loved! (I melted some of her Trader Joe’s chocolate bar in a double boiler). Any leftover whipped cream can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. It is delicious over banana slices also! Or, between you and me, simply out of the jar with a spoon . . .

Slow Roasted Duck

This was probably the best salad I have ever made! The inspiration came from going to a wine bar for dinner the week before and trying to order the special – Warm Duck Confit Salad. It sounded so good! But alas, the kitchen had run out and I thought it would be fun to recreate to stuff my face with for the blog.

On a Friday morning, I decided I would make the salad that evening with a friend. I researched duck confit and learned it takes several days, so that was out. Also, I could only get a whole frozen duck locally, and it was already nearly noon. What follows is my Duck Counterfit (haha) salad. Somehow it turned out fantastically, even though I was “winging” it. (Sorry. Ducking. Oops, again.) I will tell you what I learned you “should” do, given more time, and what I did (ghetto style) and how it all turned out great.

Ingredients:

For the brine

8 cups of water
5 tablespoons coarse salt
1/2 orange, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and slightly mashed
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bunch (10 or so sprigs) of fresh thyme
1 whole defrosted or fresh duck, 4-5 lbs, giblets removed. [I used a frozen one]

For the slow cooker
Liberal amount of coarse ground salt and pepper, enough to season surface of bird
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and slightly mashed [I grabbed from brine afterwards]
1 medium yellow onion, chopped in large pieces
3 large carrots, chopped in large pieces
10 or more sprigs of fresh thyme
2 shallots, peeled
1/2 orange, sliced [I grabbed from brine and added more. Mandarin oranges are perfect for this recipe]
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves

In a large bowl, add the brining ingredients, and mix together. Then add the duck. [You are supposed to brine the defrosted or fresh duck in a sealed ziplock bag resting in a bowl and store in the refrigerator but this made a huge mess and I chucked the bag and flipped the bird after an hour. And the refrigeration police might get mad but I left it on the counter for 2 hours to defrost and brine at the same time as I was running late.]

Swimming Duck
Swimming Duck

After 2 hours, remove, rinse off and let sit in a colander to dry. [My duck was still a bit frozen so I microwave defrosted it for a bit.] Pat dry with paper towels.

Trim off the excess fat near the cavities of the duck, and set the fat aside as you will want to render it for later cooking. Duck fat is GOLD! Truss the legs back with twine, and tuck the wings under [yeah, I didn’t do this.] With a metal skewer or paring knife, pierce the thick duck skin about 30-40 times to release the fat while cooking. Make sure to do this nearly parallel to the duck; you don’t want to pierce the meat as this will stain the duck skin.

Chop up the carrots and most of the onion and put in a layer in the slow cooker, and add the fat. Put some of the aromatics (thyme, garlic, orange, shallot) in the duck’s cavity, and put the rest in the slow cooker, then rest the duck on top.

Your duck will rest on this lovely bed
Your duck will rest on this lovely bed

Cook for 8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. [If I had had more time, I would have cooked it slower and lower, and would have browned it first.]

When it is done cooking, broil in a large roasting pan at 500 degrees for about 5 (or more, keep an eye on it) minutes on each side to make the skin crispy.

Be sure to keep an eye on your duck in the broiler
Be sure to keep an eye on your duck in the broiler

When it has rested about 20 minutes, carve and serve on top of a mixed green salad and shallot dressing. IT REALLY WAS THE BEST SALAD I’VE EVER HAD.

Duck Salad With Herbed Chevre and Pecans
Duck Salad With Herbed Chevre and Pecans

With a baster, extract the fat from the bottom of the slow cooker, and strain into a jar.

When it cools, you can spoon off the duck fat from the top (especially good for cooking potatoes in) and also find something to do with the duck gelatin that is left behind. Personally, I feed the meat Jell-O to my dog as a treat as she goes nuts over it.