Paleo-fied Sloppy Joes

One of the biggest transitions to cooking paleo (and real food in general) is it usually take some time and labor. At least  more time than dumping a box of noodles and a can of cream of whatever soup into a pan! For a busy mom, this is an adjustment. So I’m always on the look out for a quick weeknight dinner that doesn’t compromise on nutrition – or taste!

Here is just that kind of meal. Quick, easy, yummy, and still full of veggies, Paleo-fied Sloppy Joes.

Another plus about this meal is it has lots of veggies hidden in it. I love that my 2 year old who is in a picky phase right now asked for seconds and thirds tonight!

1-2 lbs grass fed ground beef
4-5 carrots
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper
16 oz tomato sauce
3 T tomato paste (I use the double concentrate in a tube)
1 t dry mustard powder
1 t pepper
1-2 t sea salt
1 t chili powder
1 t paprika
2 T honey
pinch allspice
pinch cloves
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T coconut aminos (soy sauce substitue)

Brown ground beef. Set aside.

To save time, I grated the carrots in my food processor. Then I chopped the onion, garlic, and red pepper in there too. Next I tossed all the veggies in the same pan the meat was in (I used the fat from the meat – since it’s grass fed, it’s full of vitamins – and I added a little coconut oil to the pan). Saute the veggies for about 10 minutes until soft and the liquid is gone from the pan.

Then add the meat back in with the rest of the ingredients. Put the top on your pan and let simmer on low for about 15 minutes – stirring so that it won’t burn. Then longer this sits, the better it is but it is also great if you only have 30 minutes to cook.

I served this with a bunch of roasted veggies (squash, zucchini, mushrooms, onions – tossed in coconut oil, salt, and pepper and roasted until brown. Then I tossed in some fresh basil before I served it). You could also try serving the meat over grilled portabella mushrooms, or roasted acorn squash, or baked sweet potatoes.

Enjoy!

Paleo No-Bake Cookies

I got the idea for these cookies from Ingredients, Inc., but made several changes before we reached the perfect cookie (in our opinion!). The first ones were a bit too thin and runny, but after a couple of batches of changes we finally found ones that were worth making again and again. They are a great sweet treat that my kids and husband love.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips (at least 70% cocao)

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1 tbsp. honey

1/2 c. almond butter

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 c. raisins

1/2 c. nut of your choice (we used roasted, salted cashews)

Directions:

-Combine the chocolate, coconut oil, honey and almond butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir often until completely melted.

-Remove chocolate mixture from heat and stir in cinnamon, coconut flakes, raisins and nuts.

-Drop by the spoonful onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet.

-Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator and allow cookies to harden.

-Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Rosemary Bacon Chicken – Quick and Easy!

My friend Nikki has been raving about this chicken recipe, so I finally tried it last night. It’s a keeper! The original recipe is from Paleo Plan, but I changed it up a bit.

(Sorry for the blurry picture. That’s what you get when the food is hot and everyone is hungry!)

Rosemary Bacon Chicken

Chicken Breast (use 3-4 for my family of 4), cut into strips
Juice from 1 lemon
lots of garlic – I used 6 cloves
1/3 c olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Rosemary sprigs – 1 for each chicken strip
Bacon cut in half – 1/2 piece for each chicken strip

Mix the lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a big ziplock. Marinade the chicken strips  at least 3-4 hours – more if you can.

After the chicken has marinaded, place a sprig of rosemary on each chicken piece and then wrap each piece in a half slice of bacon. Secure with a toothpick.

I planned on grilling the chicken, but it was pouring down rain so I pulled out my grill plan inside. Grill the chicken about 3 minutes per side, or until done and the bacon is crispy.

I served this with some of our favorite side – Pan fried carrots, roasted broccoli, and roasted squash and onion. If you have never roasted veggies, you must try it! The high heat caramelizes the veggies and makes it taste as good as it possibly could. I don’t think I’ve met a roasted vegetable that I didn’t love.

Here’s how you roast vegetables:

Preheat your oven to 425. Put your sheet pan in the oven while you are prepping your veggies and let the pan get really hot. Toss you veggies in some melted coconut oil, salt and pepper, and experiment with different seasonings (garlic, thin sliced onions, red pepper flakes, and Penzy’s greek seasoning are some of our favorites). Then pour all the vegetables on the (very) hot pan and roast until they start to get some black spots. I usually stir then a couple times to make sure nothing burns. Broccoli takes about 10 minutes, squash and zucchini take about 20 minutes, and root veggies take up to 45 minutes.

And the carrots:

My kids beg for these, sneak them while we’re praying before we eat, and fight over second helpings. And they couldn’t be easier!

Slice carrots into penny sizes (I make about 2 lbs of carrots and there are no leftovers)
Melt about 3 T grassfed butter in your pan (you can use coconut oil, but the butter flavor is really good here)
Add carrots, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook over med-low heat until they are golden brown (about 25 minutes). They burn easily if the heat gets too hight, so keep an eye on them. you can toss them with chopped fresh parsley if you have some but they are good either way.

Enjoy!

Homemade Salsa and Chicken Marinade

Our Saturday staple is Homemade Salsa and we use it for lunch and dinner. It is so fresh and delicious, and with the spring weather arriving it is the perfect time to pull out the grill. Typically, we grab Turkey Burgers and grill those with a side veggie. Recently, we grilled chopped Zucchini, Squash and Onions that were lightly drizzled in Olive Oil and Sea Salt. We love our burgers with avocado and topped with Homemade Salsa, it makes a delicious lunch or dinner. While you are grilling you can also throw on the Chicken and just reheat them when it is time for dinner. It keeps Saturday’s simple and delicious!
For the Homemade Salsa
2  tomatoes
1/2 red onion
bunch of cilantro
Juice from a lime
sea salt
I chop onion and tomatoes and put in lime juice, sea salt and cilantro and take kitchen scissors and chop it all finely in the bowl.
*For the Chicken Marinade I found it on Every Day Paleo and it was delicious!*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sea salt (optional)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
1 Tbs coconut oil  (I used Olive Oil)
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
2 heads butter lettuce, root removed, washed and dried
avocado with sea salt
Homemade Salsa
In a medium bowl, combine garlic, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and sea salt (if desired). Toss chicken in mixture until fully coated and set aside.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add coconut oil.
Saute onion for 3 minutes. Add chicken and continue to cook until chicken is almost fully cooked (about 10-15 minutes), stirring often.
Just before chicken is done, add red peppers, lemon and lime juice. Stir and cook for 3 more minutes.

Big Ol’ Cobb Salad

This is a great salad that feeds a crowd!  Other than lots of chopping, it’s very simple, and you can mix and match with ingredients on hand.  Below are the classic ingredients for a Cobb, but I have thrown in bell peppers, mushrooms, raw broccoli, dried cherries, etc.  And if you don’t have chicken breasts on hand, rotisserie chicken, cubed turkey or ham all work great too!   The dressing is one use almost everyday because it is healthy, quick and includes ingredients that we always have on hand.  We usually throw it together real fast as we are putting dinner or lunch on the table, so we never measure it!

Big Ol’ Cobb Salad
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

Bag of Mixed Green Salad
6 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1-2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

On a (very) large platter, spread mixed greens. Arrange the bacon, eggs, tomatoes, chicken, and avocado on top of the greens in neat rows. To serve, drizzle salad with dressing, season with salt and pepper.
Brian’s Balsamic Honey Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
salt & pepper

Pour ingredients in a mason jar and shake.  Pour over salad!

Lemon Poppy Seed Energy Bites

About once a week we make some kind of Larabar copy, we usually make a version with cocoa powder, dates, and whatever nut we have.  This recipe was a great change and the kids loved it.  I have also started to learn about the health benefits of lemons, and will add our lemon garlic chicken recipe soon.  Lemon is known for helping to strengthen your immunity system and cleanses your stomach. It is also a great antioxidant.

ImageLemon Poppy Seed Energy Bites
From http://thecopycatcook.wordpress.com

1 cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup shredded coconut
4 tsp poppy seeds
¼ tsp allspice or cinnamon
2/3 cup raisins
3 tbsp lemon juice
grated zest from half of a lemon

Process all seeds, coconut and spices until the seeds are well ground. Set aside two tablespoons of the processed mixture in a small bowl to coat finished bites. ( I actually just put all ingredients in the processor until I had a good consistency.  I didn’t do the coating.)

Add raisins, lemon juice and zest to the food processor. Process until all of the raisins are small and the mixture starts to clump together.

Squeeze and roll the mixture into balls. Coat with the seed mixture and store in the fridge

Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin

I don’t remember where I originally found this recipe, but it is on our “favorites” rotation at our house! I’ve tweaked the original recipe a little to make it paleo, but in my opinion – it’s even better now (the original called for 2 CUPS of honey and brown sugar in the sauce. No thanks!)

Quick, easy, and delicious. Perfect for this beautiful spring weather we’ve been having!

1-2 lbs of pork tenders (depending on how many you are feeding. I make about 1.5 lbs for our family of 4)
2 T parsley (with all the herbs, I use fresh when they’re in my garden during the summer, and dry the rest of the time)
2 t oregano
1 t rosemary
1 t thyme
3-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced  (we like garlic! But use according to your own taste)
1 t sea salt
2 t ground pepper
1 t cayenne pepper

Mix all spices in a bowl then rub into the pork tenders. I put them in a ziplock in the morning and let them marinade for the day.

Make a basting sauce by mixing equal parts of good dijon mustard and honey. I usually use about 1/2 c each, mix them well and then set aside about 1/4 c to serve with the cooked pork.

Put the pork on a really hot grill then turn the heat down to med/low. Baste the pork with the suace every 10 minutes or so (the more the better!). Cook the pork on each side for about 15 minutes, moving it as little as possible. It is done when the internal temperature of the pork reaches 150 degrees. Remove from heat and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the reserved sauce. Yum!

I served it last night with some yummy spring asparagus that I just sauteed in some coconut oil and salt and pepper for about 3 minutes and some roasted sweet potatoes (dice sweet potatoes and toss them in some melted coconut oil and  sea salt and pepper. Put them on a half sheet pan and roast them in a 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Stir them a couple times while cooking to make sure they don’t burn)

Enjoy!

Crock Pot “Creamy” Chicken Tomato Soup

This nutty mama is ready to get this party started! So here is a recipe that has found it’s way to the top of my winter go-to list. Although winter has been somewhat elusive this year, there have been some cold nights where this yummy soup has warmed us up. It’s super easy and I usually have all of the ingredients on hand. This recipe is from Everyday Paleo and you will see my personal modifications in parenthesis. It made enough for the 4 of us to eat for dinner, plus have 2 servings for leftovers. Hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!

Ingredients:

4 frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp. Italian Seasoning (i didn’t add this. not a big fan.)
1 tbsp. dried basil (I added and extra 1/2 tbsp. I’m a big fan.)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 14oz. can coconut milk, full fat
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes and juice
1 c. chicken broth (I used homemade)
1 small can of organic tomato sauce (not in original recipe)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
-Put all above ingredients into the crock pot for 8-9 hours on low.
-After 8-9 hours, remove lid and shred the chicken using 2 forks.
-Place crock pot on warm until ready to serve.
-Enjoy!