Tag Archives: paleo diet

Red, White, and…Green!

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Happy 4th of July America! In honor of the holiday I decided to post my most recent creation in the kitchen.  I called it my “red, white, and green salad” to go along with the patriotic theme.  Our household is learning how to cook in a gluten-free environment nowadays, so I have found myself experimenting with gluten-free swaps.  This recipe used a gluten-free elbow macaroni, and the consensus was a total thumbs up!  I think I even heard the words, “you can’t tell the difference.”  Sweetness to my ears!

Going gluten free is more common nowadays than it was even ten years ago.  My household is doing it for medical purposes, but many people choose to go gluten-free for a variety of reasons.  The time it would take to fully go into this topic would make this post longer than necessary, so I will save gluten-free issues for another day.  Needless to say, if you need or want to take gluten out of your diet, it doesn’t mean you can never have pasta, cakes, or sandwiches again.  

So if you want to try gluten-free, and get some healthy greens in your diet, perhaps you can give this recipe a whirl at your next meal.

For the “meat” of the salad:

  • 2 cups of gluten-free elbow macaroni (any brand will work) 
  • 3 large leaves of lacinato kale, stems removed and roughly chopped 
  • 1/2 cup of julienne sun-dried tomatoes 
  • 1/2 cup of chopped artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup of diced red onion

For the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 or 2 small anchovies, chopped 
  • 1 to 2 tsp freshly chopped parsley 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

I mixed the dressing ingredients together and set aside while I assembled the salad ingredients.  For the kale, I did massage the juice of half a lemon with the leaves to help break down the fibers and cut the bitterness a bit.  Once everything was cooked and chopped, I combined it all in a large bowl and let it cool in the fridge for a bit.  Then it was ready to serve! For hot summer cookouts, this is a great accompaniment without worrying about what is secretly hiding inside.  If you can’t do the kale, substitute fresh spinach leaves instead.  Easy-peasy and still just as healthy. 

So at your next gathering, instead of going to your grocery store’s deli section, surprise your guests with a healthy alternative to pasta salad.  

Happy Birthday America, and until next time,

Cheers!

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“Mylking” it for all its Worth

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This morning I was recovering from a fun and festive Labor Day weekend, flipping through one of my newer cookbooks.  I wasn’t really looking for anything particular to cook or make, just wanted to relax for a few moments and enjoy the beautiful pictures of delicious-looking food.  The cookbook is called “Nourish:  The Fit Woman’s Cookbook” by Lorna Jane Clarkson.  Clarkson is an Australian native and has created a brand of women’s exercise clothing along with an inspiring health philosophy that involves empowering women to feel good from the inside out.  Her cookbook entwines the positive messages she shares with women, and men, all over the world.  You can check her out at MoveNourishBelieve.com, lornajane.com or look her up on Facebook and Instagram.  She has some great inspirational messages I like to save to my iPhone. Today I put my spiralizer away and pulled out my trusty Vitamix blender (these things are amazing, by the way).

Perhaps after the weekend of relaxing with heavier food than I normally eat and lots of yummy cocktails I was feeling “undernourished.”  I grabbed her book after pouring my coffee to see if anything stood out for me to try this week.  One thing I have wanted to do but have not taken the time to master is making my own nut milk.  And in Clarkson’s cookbook, there was a recipe for macadamia nut “mylk,” as she labels all non-dairy versions of the creamy liquid.  With that in mind, I put my spiralizer away (for a bit) and pulled out my trusty Vitamix blender (again, an amazing kitchen appliance).

Nut milk is all the rage now, especially as “clean eating” and dairy allergies have become more prominent for many people.  But sometimes they can be costly or have added ingredients for flavor and preservation (think sugar for the sweetened versions).  There is also coconut milk, but that has such a strong taste for the people in my house, including myself, I tend to stick to a nut milk in my own recipes.  For this particular recipe, all you will need is one cup of some sort of nut.  I decided to stick with macadamia nuts because I discovered last year that I have a sensitivity to almonds and cashews (my two favorites in the world).  But you could use any nut to make this particular recipe, such as almonds, cashews, and even pecans.

Take the macadamia nuts and soak them in three cups of distilled water at room temperature for three hours.  After they are finished soaking, pour everything into your blender and give it a whirl.  This is why I love my Vitamix because it takes mere seconds to completely pulverize anything.  I also added a touch of vanilla extract for a hint of flavor, but you could keep it simple and plain if vanilla isn’t your thing.  Clarkson suggested cinnamon and honey as other additives to make the milk a little tastier, I just haven’t tried these versions yet.

You will need a few glass jars because this recipe yielded about four cups.  The milk will keep for several days in your refrigerator.  You can add it to anything you would use regular cow’s milk in, especially smoothies, oatmeal and breakfast cereals.  If you are looking for another alternative to dairy, perhaps this homemade glass will be a good second fiddle to your normal routine.  My next attempt is to try and find a replacement for my beloved sour cream.   My research has turned up a couple of recipes using coconut cream, so I will let you know how that journey turns out!

Until next time, cheers!

 

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Asian Fried Rice, without the Rice? How Paleo can reinvent the wheel.

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In my quest to continue cooking in the kitchen, I have been trying more and more recipes and personal “culinary” experimentations.  Something that keeps intriguing my taste buds is one of the latest trends in the health and nutrition industry, the Paleo diet.  I find numerous cookbooks, iPhone apps, and websites centered around this ideology.  I am always intrigued about new “diets.”  After reading the books about the Whole 30 program I wanted to dig deeper into the principles behind it.  To become “Paleo” means you eat foods lacking harmful additives and preservatives and have been minimally processed (close to the source).  Basically, you eat as our ancient hunter-gather ancestors ate (Fred Flinstone probably indulged in a few of Wilma’s Paleo dinners).  This diet includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, proteins, nuts, healthy oils and coconut derivatives.  The foods you avoid are all forms of dairy, grains (yes, even whole grain), legumes (think peanuts, beans, and peas), processed sugars and all foods containing additives of any kind.  So long and farewell to Hostess cupcakes and harmful food dyes.  So why would someone want to cut out entire food groups, such as heart-healthy whole grain or protein-packed edamame?  The reasoning behind eliminating these items out of your diet is to reduce digestive issues normally caused by these foods.

So why would someone want to cut out entire food groups, such as heart-healthy whole grain or protein-packed edamame?  The reasoning behind cutting these items out of your diet is to reduce digestive issues normally caused by these foods.

Digestive inflammation is a leading cause of certain health issues.  The problem is many people walking around today don’t even realize they suffer from inflammatory reactions due to dairy (lactose) or gluten.  Simply eliminating foods that contain inflammatory triggers can improve someone’s health in a matter of weeks.  It has also been touted to help some people with their weight loss journeys or improve the autoimmune problems of others.  Paleo has also been linked with aiding some people with their weight loss journeys.  Foods that can trigger inflammation in the body can also add on pounds despite the person calorie counting or exercising every day.  Some researchers go on to say Paleo diets can also help improve cardiovascular health, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and certain autoimmune problems.

Whatever your choice may be, if you decide to go Paleo you will need to clean out the pantry, fridge and freezer and re-stock with Paleo-friendly ingredients.  You may also find yourself doing some cooking and whipping up things like paleo mayonnaise (extremely simple and delicious) or cashew cream (which can be made sweet or savory).   Eggs are also another large staple in the Paleo diet, but individuals with an egg allergy have to get creative on certain recipes.  Other must-haves are good cooking oils such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or any other nut oil (no peanuts, please).  You will need to avoid things with soy or made with corn-based products (canola oil is a biggie), so be aware of what are in the condiments you keep in your fridge (think soy lecithin).  Just start label reading and you will get the hang of watching out for Paleo sabotagers.

If this all sounds too intimidating and time-consuming, there are more and more products coming out on the market geared towards a Paleo lifestyle.  Some items I use at home I found off Amazon or at my local health food store.  If you think this diet would be for you then I highly recommend browsing some good Paleo websites, cookbooks, and magazines.  Find a game-plan to make your major and minor switches in the kitchen easier.  Lifestyle changes are not always easy and these sources contain helpful tips and recipes.  One of my go-to apps on my phone is Nom Nom Paleo (nomnompaleo.com).  You can get step-by-step recipes ranging anywhere from desserts to main courses.

Tonight I made dinner from one of the recipes I thought looked tasty.  It is a new version of Asian “fried rice.”  How do you have fried rice without actually using rice?  The answer is cauliflower.  Put it through a food processor and your taste buds won’t miss this grain one bit.  Some grocery stores may even carry a packaged grated cauliflower that is easy to use in the recipe, which is what I ended up doing tonight.  Cauliflower plays a perfect second fiddle to its carbohydrate counterpart, just watch how long you cook it so the vegetable doesn’t become too mushy.  The meal tonight was new for my husband and I, but he was pleasantly surprised with how good it tasted!

The actual recipe, with pictures and step-by-step instructions, for Asian Cauliflower Fried Rice is posted below.

 

If you wonder what it is you can and can’t drink on a Paleo diet, the options are actually quite good.  Besides water, there are plenty of healthy drinks available, so long as you avoid those bad sugars forbidden by the Paleo Police.  As for alcohol, well there is hope in that area too.  Vodkas made without potatoes or grains are absolutely fine, as are red and white wines (they are made from grapes) and brandy (made from wine).  Avoid things that are made using grain products, such as scotch or beer.  I would drink a nice white wine, maybe a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough region of Australia with the fried rice recipe.  Something that would match the lightness of the meal.  You can eat, drink and be merry all while fueling your body with healthy alternatives.

I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t before, you might be surprised at how easy and tasty going Paleo can be for you.  As I continue to research and experiment with Paleo I hope to let you in on helpful tips or pass on other great eats to make your own journey a little bit tastier.

Until next time, cheers!