Archive for the ‘Sides’ Category

After discovering the Oatmeal Replacement, which consists mainly of applesauce, I decided that it was time for me to try to make my own applesauce.  As you probably know, there are a wealth of options at the grocery store…strawberry applesauce, cinnamon applesauce, apple butter…the list goes on.  I was able (after a lot of label reading) to find a version from Mott’s with no sugar added, but I went through it so quickly that I found myself without any on hand and I was curious if homemade would be better.   Since I always have apples and pears on hand, I decided to give it a whirl.  To say it was delicious would be the understatement of the year.  Every bite got better and better.

I should also say that before starting Paleo, one of my favorite desserts to make was this pear syrup over vanilla ice cream.  I would just slice up a pear and cook it on the stove with a little brown sugar and cinnamon and in no time I would have a tasty topping.  This gave me the idea of trying to add a few pears to the applesauce mix.

I surfed around for a good sugar-free recipe and I stumbled across this one on Paleoparents.com.  I like it because they give you suggestions for what types of apples to use.  Unfortunately, all I had on hand were a couple of Honeycrisps and some Bosc pears, but I figured they would have to work in a pinch.

Guys, this is a hard one to mess up and you may never go back to the store bought stuff!  Now, if anybody knows if I could jar this and store it so I always have my own on hand – let me know…that is not yet my area of expertise!

This made about 3 cups – maybe a tad more.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Here’s what I used:

  • 2 large Honeycrisp Apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
  • 1 Bosc Pear, peeled, cored, and cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon, approximately – I really just sprinkled it on
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, approximately
  • A 9×13 inch glass baking dish
  • tinfoil
Toss the apple and pear chunks with the cinnamon and nutmeg and put in the glass baking dish.  Cover the dish with foil and cook for one hour or until soft.  Mash with a fork – you can do it as chunky or smooth as you would like it, but the whole mashing process took me about 30 seconds because the apples/pears were so soft.

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**Update on this** I tried making these on the grill tonight to avoid running the oven in the summer heat.  They were great!  Slice as instructed below and put in a pot of boiling water for about five minutes (heat up the grill while the water is coming to a boil).  Drain and dry on towel for a minute.  Toss in olive oil and a little cumin and paprika and put on a grill pan.  Grill over medium high heat for about 5-8 min per side.  I found about 6.5 min on each side was perfect for mine!

I have to admit, I have been struggling with the Paleo diet lately.  I’ve been having the same thing almost every day (fish and vegetables or meat and vegetables) for dinner and a salad for lunch, eggs for breakfast.  The routine has become a little mundane and I just feel like I need to shake it up.  You can probably also infer that this is the reason I haven’t been posting as often, I mean how much can you right about a piece of meat with asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli on the side, right?

Well, today while I was searching for some new and exciting recipes for dinner (there will be a Paleo-ish pizza for dinner tonight!), I stumbled across a recipe for Sweet Potato Rounds on one of my current favorite blogs, Everyday Paleo, (originally coming from Nutritionize – which is a new discovery!) that reminded me of my favorite home fries that I used to get at Aunt Sarah’s growing up.  I knew that I had to give them a try.  While I try not to have sweet potatoes too often, they say that people who work out a lot can work them in every once in a while.  Since I definitely qualify in that category, I am having some sweet potato home fries!

I will also add that I was skeptical of this recipe at first as I wasn’t sure how they would turn out – I’ve had mixed results in the past with some of my sweet potato recipes. It did not disappoint.  I couldn’t stop eating them – I kept going back for more!

Sweet Potato Home Fries

1 sweet potato, sliced into quarter inch rounds

2 egg whites

1 tbsp olive oil

A variety of spices (any mix can be used, but I used 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp hot chili powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp oregano)

Salt or salt blend (I used a creole salt blend I had in the cupboard)

Black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prep a cookie sheet with a piece of lightly greased tinfoil.

Whisk together the egg whites, olive oil, and spices (except the salt).  Dip the potato rounds one by one into the spice mixture until coated and place on cookie sheet.  Sprinkle the whole try lightly with the salt.

Cook for 20 minutes, flipping once.  Then, if you want them a little more crispy and browned, switch to the broiler for 5 minutes at most (keep an eye on them as they will brown fast).

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Okay, so lots of small posts today from my one tasty lunch.  As I mentioned in a previous post, chicken salad is a good easy Paleo lunch.  You can pretty much add anything you want to it, but here is what I put in:

Shredded Chicken (I used a 4.99 Rotisserie Chicken that was on sale on Sunday – probably not the best way of approaching this, but I have to tell the truth)

3 Hard Boiled Eggs, peeled and diced

Shredded Carrots (1/4 – 1/2 cup)

1 celery stalk, diced

Pecans, chopped

Almonds, chopped

Paleo Mayo – 1/2 batch or about a 1/2 cup – adjust to your liking

I often add a variety of spices like parsley, sage, thyme, and dill – but I put most of those straight into my mayo this time so it was already mixed in!

Mix all of the ingredients above and serve on top of a slice of gluten-free bread.  I like to add a side of Parsnip “Fries”.

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Parsnip “Fries”

I love to serve these along side my Paleo chicken salad for a tasty and balanced lunch.  I found this recipe from Aarti Sequeira from Food Network that I had to try because I do miss fries.  I didn’t set my hopes high but was surprised when I ended up loving these!  They are definitely a little softer and sweeter than fries, but the Garam Masala adds such an interesting flavor that I didn’t mind at all.  The beauty is that they are Paleo friendly and actually not fried in any way.

I just make a quick lunch size portion for myself, so adjust as necessary.

1/2 large parsnip, cut into fry size chunks (about 1/4 inch think)

2 tbsp grapeseed oil (you can also use olive oil or any other good oil!)

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garam masala

A pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Put all of the ingredients in a plastic bag (I used a quart size ziploc bag) and shake away.  Make sure all the ingredients get coated.

Dump the parsnips onto a foil lined baking sheet and back for about 15-20 minutes – keep a close eye on them though as once they start cooking they can burn fast and all ovens are a little different.

If I weren’t doing Paleo, I would suggest serving them with a Chipotle Ranch dipping sauce – very nice combination.

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It’s a snow day!  I wish that meant that I didn’t have to work, but unfortunately through the magic of VPN there is no such thing as a real snow day anymore.  That being said, the ground is covered in snow, I haven’t been able to leave the house all day, and I just feeling like cooking up something warm and comforting.

My dog on the other hand (who usually will not set foot in the grass without a treat being thrown) seemed to be in heaven.

Who would have thought?  Well, anyways, I love Risotto.  When I stumbled across this barley risotto recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I had to try it.  I have made it about a million times by now exactly as written, but I’ll share with you here my variation.

Serves 4-5

Nutritional Value (Based on 5 servings)

5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used home-made veggie)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, diced

1 large carrot, peeled and chunked (I did little cubes)

7 oz pearled barley

1 tsp sage

1 tsp thyme

1/2 cup white wine (you can sub this with broth but the wine adds a unique flavor)

Half a bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/2 of a zucchini

1 can mixed beans, drained and rinsed (you can use any beans you want or omit them altogether – sometimes I cook dried beans in the slow cooker and add them in)

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup parmesan

salt to taste

In a pot on the stove, bring the broth to a boil.  Once bubbling, reduce heat and keep warm  (you need this to be hot as you add it to the pot of risotto, 1/2 cup portions at a time).

In a separate heavy-bottom pot (I used a dutch oven), heat the olive oil.  Once hot add in the onion and carrot and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 min.  Add the barley and let cook for about one minute.  Add in the wine (or broth – your choice).  Reduce the heat to medium and stir the risotto until all liquid is absorbed.

In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and cook the asparagus for 4 minutes (I actually cook it right in the pot where I am keeping the broth warm instead).  After 4 minutes, use a slotted spoon to take the asparagus out and put straight into a bowl of ice water to keep the asparagus from cooking further.  Remove asparagus from water and set aside.

Add 1 cup broth (from the heated pot), and cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.  Keep adding the broth in half cup portions and cooking until absorbed (about 8 portions, but you may need more), the barley should start to get more tender and the liquid will start to get thick and dense and will no longer absorb all the way – this usually takes about 4o minutes when I am making it.  The barley will still have a little bite to it as it doesn’t get as soft as rice gets (I love the texture).  Add the zucchini, asparagus, and beans and stir.  Add another 1/2 cup broth and cook for about 4-5 more minutes, until the zucchini is softer.

Remove from heat and add the butter and parmesan.  Let sit for a few minutes and then stir to incorporate it all together.  Portion it out into a bowl and top with more cheese.

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Oh my goodness. This was by far my favorite meal in weeks.  I’ll caveat that I didn’t drain quite enough liquid off the beans before mashing them so they were a little more runny than I had planned, but I put them on tostada’s instead of in stand-up taco shells and they were phenomenal.  So you know what led me down this path, I was inspired by these beans, but I made a few tweaks based on my preferences.


I wasn’t even planning on making Spanish Rice but I was craving it at the last-minute, so I threw a few things in a pan and out came the most delicious Spanish Rice I have ever had.

Enough talk – let me just tell you how to do it yourself.

For the beans:

2 cups dried pinto beans

2-3 cups water or broth (enough to cover beans by about an inch)

1 sweet onion

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp mexican style chili powder

2 cloves garlic

1 can enchilada sauce

1 can diced green chilis

Rinse the beans and place into the slow cooker.  Cover with water or broth about an inch above the beans.  Add enchilada sauce, garlic, onion, green chilis, cumin, and chili powder.  Set slow cooker on high and cook for 6-8 hrs.

Once cooking time has completed, drain the extra liquid out (freeze it off to use in future dishes!).  Blend all ingredients together with an immersion blender.  You can add some shredded cheese here if you want, but I think they are great without it!

For the Spanish Rice:

2 cups white rice

1 onion

1 can diced tomatoes and green chilis

1/2 c corn

2 cloves garlic

1 diced jalapeno (seeds/veins removed)

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

2 tbsp tomato paste (start with a little and add as needed – I freeze the rest of the can of tomato paste and cut off slices as needed)

1/2 cup broth (veggie, chicken, or I used the leftover bean liquid from above)

Cook the rice in a rice cooker or according to package instructions (make sure you rinse it first).  While rice is cooking, cook the onion with a little olive oil over medium heat until translucent.  Add in jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, tomatoes, cumin, and corn to onion in pan.  Cook for 5-10 minutes.  Add in cooked rice to the pan and stir them all around.  Stir in tomato paste and broth to taste and desired consistency.

Note:  As I mentioned above, because my beans weren’t thick enough to hold their own in a stand up taco shell, I heated the corn hard taco shell in my toaster oven and then broke it in three pieces to use as a tostada shell instead.  I assembled the beans, a little cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and taco sauce on top.  Served with a side of Spanish Rice.

Oh so tasty.

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I know, again, you may be thinking, really???  Yes, really.  While up front my lunch de jour may not sound appetizing to all, it was very tasty.  Trust me – they are like little bites of luxury when roasted!

I think most people, as children, were turned off by brussel sprouts because some parent decided that boiling them until they were mushy was the only approach.  My parents never made brussel sprouts for me, so I never developed that aversion.  In fact, I didn’t even know what they tasted like.  Imagine my astonishment when I stumbled across them in a cheesy funnel filled with these little cabbages that were crispy and greasy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. 

After having them for the first time, months passed and I didn’t get the nerve to make them on my own, but on a trip with a coworker, he told me about how his wife made them.  I finally broke down and decided to give it a whirl.

The result of this way to simple recipe?  Crispy popcorn like sprouts with a soft and toasty inside.  I could eat an entire bag of them.  They also happen to match nicely with my Smashed Cauliflower from last night and a little dollop of butter.

Serves 3-4 for a light lunch

What you need:

1 bag (about a lb) of brussel sprouts (trim off the stem and peel bag the leaves until you get to the cleanest layer – cut in half or leave whole)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.  Pour olive oil onto aluminum foil, sprinkle salt and pepper on oil.  Place brussel sprouts on top and roll around with hands until they are all oiled and peppered/salted.

Wash your hands and pop them in the oven for 30 minutes.  Shake the pan halfway through so you can get all the edges crispy.  If you like them less done or more crispy, adjust the time up or down 10 minutes.

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