Posts made in July, 2013

paleo lemon squash bread

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in breads, breakfast, featured, snacks | 5 comments

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Remember when I said I haven’t met a squash I didn’t like.  Well, this became a joke between two very good friends and me.  We came up with all kinds of creative ways to use squash in cooking – even the less popular or unrecognizable varieties.

Our favorite use for squash was to bake it into squash bread.  I would make loaves of it for each of them, and this recipe is my paleo version of our favorite.

Obviously food is my passion, primarily because of what it can do for my body – the power it has to communicate, influence gene expression, and ultimately heal.  But another reason I love food is that so much of life revolves around it.  Memories are created and traditions are carried on that include special dishes and foods.  Squash bread is part of a memory I have that makes me laugh and brings me back to when I got to spend a lot of time with two people who are very important to me.

 

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To make my squash bread paleo, I used a combination of almond flour and sweet potato flour.  I mixed the flour with the rest of the dry ingredients and then added shredded squash, chopped walnuts, and lemon zest and stirred to coat.

I chose yellow summer squash to use in this recipe because it is so plentiful this time of year.  Yellow summer squash is not only easy to grow (why you see a plethora of local yellow squash in the grocery, along the side of the road, at farmers markets…), but it is also quite good for your body.  It’s yellow color is the first clue that it contains a healthy dose of beta carotene and lutein – two antioxidants especially good at protecting your vision and fighting free radicals.  Plus, it provides a heaping dose of vitamin C, folate, and manganese.  Manganese is a trace mineral that helps your body metabolize fats, carbs, and sugar and also has been shown to benefit your bones and joints and reduce PMS symptoms like irritability and mood swings.

 

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Next, I beat the wet ingredients together and then added them to the dry ingredients, mixing until well blended.

I poured the batter into a loaf pan and baked the bread for about an hour or until the top looked nice and golden brown.  The edges are good and crispy but the inside of the bread is incredibly moist.  I hope you like this summer squash bread!

 

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5.0 from 1 reviews
paleo lemon squash bread
Author: 
Recipe type: breakfast, bread, snack
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ cups almond flour
  • ⅔ cups sweet potato flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 yellow squash, grated
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup almond or coconut milk
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add squash, lemon zest, and walnuts and stir to coat.
  4. Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together until well blended.
  6. Pour in a greased loaf pan, and bake for 1 hour or until the top is golden brown.
  7. Cool slightly before slicing.

 

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spinach and summer squash frittata

Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in breakfast, featured | 0 comments

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I recently purchased a Groupon for a local box of produce to be delivered to my house.  What I liked best about this company other than the fact that I didn’t have to drive to retrieve my bin of veggies was that they included a page of recipes using ALL of the produce included in that week’s box.

I decided to try out these recipes since I now had all of the ingredients.  My favorite was this frittata, probably because it included squash.  I don’t think I’ve tried a variety of squash I didn’t like, and this time of year, yellow summer squash is everywhere.  I saw stand after stand of squash by the side of the road on a recent trip to Tulsa with my daughter, the grocery store has stacks of local yellow squash, and the farmers market has boxes of them too.  Having many ways to use this abundant veggie is a good thing.

 

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To start, I thinly sliced the summer squash.

 

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Next, I chopped the onion and minced the garlic and combined them with the squash in a large skillet.  I drizzled a little olive oil in the pan, and cooked the veggies for about 3 minutes.

 

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One goal of mine is to eat something green with every meal.  Spinach is probably the easiest green to throw into almost any recipe.  For this frittata, I coarsely chopped a heaping handful of spinach.  After the other veggies had been cooking for 3 minutes, I added the spinach, stirred, reduced the heat, covered, and let it cook for another 10 minutes.

 

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I removed the cooked veggies from the heat and drained them on a paper towel to remove the juice.

 

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Time to add the eggs.  Eggs are a super healthy food and another one that is easy to add to almost anything.  I remember the day when I counted my calories religiously to try to control my weight, and I would separate the egg yolks from the whites and toss the yolks.  What a terrible idea that was!  First of all, an entire egg has between 70 and 90 calories, depending on the size, so two eggs is under 200 calories.  Plus, valuable nutrients are packaged in that yellow yolk – lots of choline (related to the B vitamins and important for brain health, cell membrane structure, protecting the liver from fat accumulation, and in making the neurotransmitter acetylcholine), folate, vitamins A and E, selenium, iodine, biotin (a B vitamin that is good for your hair, nails and metabolism – think energy!), and healthy fats – so choosing to omit the yolks to save calories and decrease fat intake doesn’t make a lot of sense.  I’m sure there were a lot of other empty calories sabotaging my diet more than the few that are in the incredibly healthy egg yolks.  By the way, I no longer have the need to count my calories.  Since I’ve been eating a diet of real food – nutrient dense whole foods – my body has settled in to a healthy weight without me having to play that game.

 

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For the egg mixture, I beat 5 eggs in a medium bowl and added Parmesan cheese, chopped basil, salt, and pepper.  I don’t eat much dairy, but I will include hard cheeses in my diet occasionally.  If you are avoiding dairy completely, try substituting chopped pine nuts and increase the salt to ½ teaspoon.

 

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Next I added the cooked veggies to the egg mixture and prepared the skillet by misting it with olive oil and placing it over medium heat.  When the skillet was hot, I poured in the veggie-egg mixture and let it cook for about 6 minutes or until the edges began to turn brown.  I placed the skillet in the oven at 400 degrees for 5 more minutes or until the eggs were set.

 

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This frittata served my family of four easily.  In fact, I think we ate every bite!

 

spinach and summer squash frittata
Author: 
Recipe type: breakfast, eggs
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 heaping handful of spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 small purple onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (or chopped pine nuts if avoiding dairy)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt (increase to ½ teaspoon if using pine nuts)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil and add sliced squash, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  3. Add chopped spinach, stir to combine, cover, and let cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and then add basil, cheese, salt, and pepper and stir until well blended. Add cooked veggies to the egg mixture.
  6. Spray the other teaspoon of olive oil in the skillet and warm it over medium heat. Once it’s hot, pour in the veggie-egg mixture and let it cook for 6-7 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
  7. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes.
  8. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

 

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paleo banana nut muffins

Posted by on Jul 12, 2013 in breads, breakfast | 2 comments

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How many sleepovers can my children cram into the 11 months of summer?  For some reason, hanging out with friends is much more fun at 2am than during the daylight hours.  The older my kids get, the later they stay up when their friends spend the night.  I’ve learned there is no way of predicting when they’ll arise the next morning – today my daughter and her friend slept until 11:15!  I had already exercised, walked my little dog, showered, taken Ben to golf, taken my dog to the groomer, gone to a doctor appointment, gotten a pedicure, and returned a pair of shorts before their sleepy eyes opened.  On mornings like these, when we have guests, I like to make muffins or a quick bread to feed them.  I can bake a batch of muffins as it fits into my schedule, the muffins are ready to eat whenever the kids wake up, and I know they’re still getting some nutrition without too much sugar first thing in the morning.

 

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The last batch of muffins I made – banana nut muffins – was a big hit, especially with Rob.  Because we are about to leave for our summer vacation, I’ve been trying to use up all of our produce and perishables.  I noticed the bananas were looking less than appealing for a smoothie, but perfect for muffins.

Bananas have long been known to be one of the best pre-workout foods, as they contain easily digestible carbohydrates and potassium – a nutrient that helps nerve and muscle function.  Bananas are especially good to eat before morning exercise when you need a little something on your stomach and to give you energy but you don’t want a heavy meal.  Bananas supply all you need to sustain you through a one hour workout – sometimes called nature’s power bar.

 

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When making muffins and quick breads, I like to use a combination of almond and sweet potato flour.  Plantain flour also works well with almond flour.  For these muffins, I used 1 1/3 cups almond flour and 2/3 cup sweet potato flour.  I sweetened the muffins with honey and added some walnuts and cinnamon for more taste.

 

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5.0 from 1 reviews
paleo banana nut muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: breakfast, baked good
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ cups almond flour
  • ⅔ cups sweet potato flour (or plantain flour)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup almond or coconut milk
  • ½ cup coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Add bananas and walnuts and stir to coat.
  5. Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix together until well blended.
  7. Fill muffin pans ⅔ full, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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chocolate coconut kefir ice cream with seasonal berries

Posted by on Jul 3, 2013 in desserts, fruit | 0 comments

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I took a break from cleaning out my house (I’m determined to go through every nook and cranny this summer!) to make a celebratory dessert.  It’s almost the 4th of July after all, and the holiday isn’t complete without homemade ice cream.  Funny story – when Rob and I got married, some sweet soul gave us an ice cream maker as a gift.  I remember being so excited unwrapping it, as I thought it was such a unique gift.  Growing up, my family was known to make homemade ice cream only a few times, on very special occasions.  It was one of my favorite memories as a kid, and I distinctly remember how much better homemade cream tastes than any store bought version I’ve ever tried.  Since we had just gotten married and essentially were starting our own family, I was very excited to begin this same tradition.

However, when I first got married, I made nothing homemade!!  My best versions of homemade anything involved many cans of cream of chicken soup (or mushroom or celery…) mixed with frozen veggies, layered with other packaged or frozen foods, and topped with the magic ingredient – lots of CHEESE – to form some type of casserole.  So, needless to say, despite my enthusiasm over our ice cream maker, it was NEVER used.

Rob laughed every time we moved (before having kids) from apartment to apartment because I would insist on bringing this huge ice cream maker, still in the box.  Rob and I are the opposite of hoarders – we’re purgers – almost to a fault.  So finally, when we moved right before Ben was born (Kayley was almost 2), he talked me into pitching the ice cream maker and my dreams of our family making homemade ice cream together.

I think it was the VERY next Christmas that my sweet mom (who had forgotten or maybe never knew? that we pitched our ice cream maker) bought me another one for Christmas!!  Rob could barely contain himself as I opened the gift.

But this time around, I use my ice cream maker all the time.  And I’m surprised how easy these ice cream makers are to use!!  And how few ingredients are required!  Only 4 for this recipe.  No ice cream from a store is that pure, and that is why I love to make my own foods, whether it’s bread, juice, milk, kefir, or granola, I can always make my own without so many added ingredients.  And fresher and healthier too.

I believe that good health starts in your gut.  Without a healthy gut, you are unable to break down and absorb needed nutrients from your food, and the lining of your gut can become compromised.  Many things can contribute to a compromised gut lining, one being an imbalance in healthy gut flora and yeast or candida.  A compromised lining of your gut – also called leaky gut – leads to larger particles of not quite broken down food absorbing from your gut into your bloodstream, where they travel throughout your system.  Your body doesn’t much like those unrecognizable particles of food and can alert the immune system that something isn’t right.  This leads to inflammation throughout your body.  One of the best things your can do for your gut is to build your intestinal flora up strong and healthy.  One of my favorite foods to do this with is kefir.

 

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I started making my own kefir a while back, and like so many things, I’m surprised at how easy it is.  Because I avoid dairy, I rotate my kefir grains between whole milk (their favorite) and coconut milk (what I like to drink).  I used coconut milk kefir for this recipe.  Just in case you aren’t into making your own kefir, substitute So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk.

 

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In an effort to be festive, I started by washing some different red and blue berries.  Next, I mixed together the coconut kefir, maple syrup (honey works well too), vanilla extract, and raw cacao powder in a large mixing bowl.  After quickly assembling my ice cream maker (mine is a Cuisinart), I poured the chocolate coconut kefir mixture into it and turned it on.  About 30 minutes later, ice cream formed, and I layered my berries with scoops of chocolate coconut kefir ice cream.  Healthy, festive, EASY, and delicious!

 

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chocolate coconut kefir ice cream with seasonal berries
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 4 - 6
 
Ingredients
  • seasonal berries
  • 4 cups coconut milk kefir or So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk
  • ½ - ⅔ cup maple syrup, to taste (or honey)
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Make sure your ice cream maker bowl is frozen, waiting in the freezer.
  2. Wash berries and gently pat dry.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together coconut milk kefir, maple syrup, cacao powder, and vanilla extract.
  4. Assemble ice cream maker, pour the chocolate coconut kefir mixture into the ice cream maker bowl, and turn it on.
  5. After ice cream forms, serve with seasonal berries.

 

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