This shit is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s. If the Gwen Stefani song doesn’t run through your head every time you hear the word ‘bananas’ then you may be missing out on the worst song possible.

I used to love to bake. Baking each weekend, trying new recipes made me über happy. I used to bake random people cakes in high school simply because I enjoyed it. Baking became a form of meditation and I was able to completely get lost in the process and zone out a little. The delicious smells didn’t hurt, of course. Since adopting the Paleo diet, I have missed the experimentation of baking as well as having the house filled with wonderful smells. I had to resort to candles to help me out – my poor husband was disappointed multiple times!

This recipe definitely delivers. Within a few minutes of putting the bread in the oven, the whole house began to smell and it reminded me how much I had missed baking. Due to not eating many sugars (because my stomach hates them/me), I lost a lot of desire to bake. BUT – this recipe is naturally sweet due to the ripe bananas and coconut flour and oil. Most Paleo desserts produce a dense or dry end product. Leave it on the counter for more than a day and you have an edible brick, but not this guy!  This recipe creates a moist, sweet bread that you could bring to anyone and they would have no idea they weren’t eating a conventional recipe. I get complete satisfaction by sharing Paleo recipes with unsuspecting friends and family – rebellious, I know.

Blog 03.10 019

Banana Bread

  • 4 really ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil.
  3. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and pour into the greased loaf pan.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Start checking on it around 35 minutes by inserting a tooth pick into the center.
  5. Let cool for 20-30 minutes before enjoying.

Pumpkin Pecan Butter

Prior to changing to a Paleo lifestyle, one of my favorite snacks was peanut butter on an apple or banana. The creamy peanut butter is the perfect addition to sweet fruit. When I ditched the beloved peanut butter for the mold free, healthier fat almond butter, it took a while for me to fall in love. I tried multiple brands of almond butter only to be disappointed by the oil-topped jars of bland, blended almonds. Enter Pecan Pumpkin Butter! This recipe will give you approximately two cups of tasty, creamy pecan butter which is the perfect mate to a Honeycrisp apple. This will make your peanut butter detox a much more enjoyable process! However, this recipe is different from the jarred variety in that it has no preservatives so enjoy it within a few weeks.

Big News: If you haven’t found a peanut butter alternative yet and are still envious of those still enjoying the cream goodness, you need to find your local Trader Joes. I promise it will be worth the trip. Stock up on the salted, creamy almond butter – you won’t miss peanut butter ever again. It is a delicious companion to fresh and dried fruit (if you haven’t seen my previous post about almond butter and apricots… get on it!).

Pumpkin Pecan Butter

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (organic if your wallet can afford it)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1-2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  1. In a food processor, blend the pecans until smooth and creamy. This may take 5 minutes or so – keep an eye on your food processor as if you have an older model, you may want to break that up to not kill your motor.
  2. Add the pumpkin, spices, and maple syrup.
  3. Blend until combined.
  4. Store in an air tight container for 2-3 weeks.

If you are tired of eating eggs for your Paleo/primal breakfast, then this recipe is for you.

When people first embark on the Paleo/primal diet path, they often get into a routine of eggs and fruit for breakfast – which can get old really quick. This is often due to the fact that many go-to breakfast foods have become off limits – cereal, oatmeal, granola bars, etc. Eggs are safe for new primal eaters. I am a huge supporter for eggs as they are a powerhouse source of protein and fat and they should be incorporated into the primal diet regularly; however, it becomes boring to eat them every day – I don’t care how many ways you know how to cook them!!

One great way to break out of that routine is to view breakfast as meal #1. Lunch is simply meal #2 and (you guessed it) dinner would be meal #3. Rather than considering foods to be only for breakfast or lunch, thinking of your meals in terms of meal #1, 2, or 3 allows much more flexibility. This frees you up to enjoy any food at any meal. I often enjoy leftovers for breakfast (meal #1) which allows me a ton of variety.

Breakfast meatballs are easy to make and you could easily change up the dipping sauce used or the fruit used in this sauce. This recipe would also make a great appetizer or party food. You really can’t go wrong with bacon inside beef!

??????????

Breakfast Meatballs

  • One pound ground beef
  • 8-12 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat a large skillet and add your slices of bacon. Allow your bacon to brown slightly and add your onion to the skillet. Stir regularly so that onions and bacon do not burn. When onions become translucent, add mushrooms. When bacon is cooked to your liking and onions and mushrooms have softened, remove from heat and allow to cool on a paper towel lined plate.
  3. In a large bowl, add your ground beef, cooled bacon, mushrooms and onions, cumin, chili powder, and salt/pepper to taste.
  4. Mix the ingredients using your hands. Using a fork will work if you don’t want to get messy, but your hands will allow you to mix quickly.
  5. Using a cookie dough or melon scooper (1 inch), create meatballs and place on an aluminum foil lined basking sheet.
  6. Bake meatballs for 10-15 minutes.

Mango Dipping Sauce

  • 1 mango, peeled and removed from the seed
  • 2-3 tablespoons jarred ground mustard (sugar free – they are sneaky!)
  • 1-2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Place your mango in the food processor and blend until your mango has created a sauce (will have some lumps).
  2. Add your mustards and salt to the mango puree.
  3. Dip your breakfast meatballs and enjoy!

Since this post is about sharing a sweet treat, I have found my new favorite snack. Are you ready for this? Salted almond butter (Trader Joe’s brand so far is my favorite) and dried apricots. I don’t know what possessed me to mix the two but it is pure heaven. Especially if you have walked away from peanut butter, this little gem is quite a treat. Seriously, get in my belly.

If your sweet tooth has been screaming at you and you are looking for a treat (or you don’t find my above recommendation appealing…) that won’t send you into an insulin spiked sugar rush, I have a recipe for you. The variations of this recipe could be endless by trying it with different types of nuts and/or dried fruit. The below recipe is my favorite combination. A Paleo/Primal friendly Almond Joy! You no longer need to walk down the candy aisle hiding your eyes from some old friends because you can make your own and know all the ingredients!

Coconut Chocolate Chews

Chocolate Coconut Chews

  • 70% Cocoa or higher chocolate bar
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds or pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (cranberries or cherries are my favorite)
  1. In a microwave glass measuring cup, microwave chocolate for 2 minutes in 30 second intervals. After each 30 second interval, stir the chocolate. If your chocolate requires more time to fully melt, continue using 15 second intervals. Burning chocolate is devastating! You could also use a double boiler to accomplish the same task. Up to you.
  2. Add your coconut, pecans, and dried fruit and stir the chocolate mixture until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Drop by the tablespoon full onto parchment paper. Allow to cool completely.
  4. Enjoy!

If you are embarking on a Whole30 or are in the middle of a 21-day sugar detox, I have provided a sugar-free recipe for you. I learned through my own Whole30 that my body does not tolerate sugar. I never thought sugar affected me that much until I cut it out entirely and saw amazing results. I no longer experience cravings I can’t control or have a dependency on something sweet. So whether you are taking part in a month long challenge or have dedicated your diet to the Paleo/Primal lifestyle, a treat now and then is a nice option. However, this version of the recipe is no where near as sweet as the original (duh, right?). Although, as you remove sugar from your diet, you begin to see how sweet foods are by themselves especially dried fruit

Sugar-free Chocolate Coconut Chews

  • 100% Cocoa chocolate bar (often called baking chocolate or unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or almonds
  • 1/2 unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 unsweetened dried fruit (I had a really hard time finding unsweetened dried fruit. I could only find dried apricots and dried cherries without any added sugar)
  1. In a microwave glass measuring cup, microwave chocolate and coconut butter  for 2 minutes in 30 second intervals. After each 30 second interval, stir the chocolate and coconut butter. If your chocolate requires more time to fully melt, continue using 15 second intervals. Burning chocolate is devastating! You could also use a double boiler to accomplish the same task. Up to you.
  2. Add your sea salt, coconut, pecans, and dried fruit and stir the chocolate mixture until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Drop by the tablespoon full onto parchment paper.
  4. Allow to cool completely.
  5. Enjoy!

Who doesn’t absolutely love the comfort of pasta and sauce? To me, it is one of the ultimate comfort foods. However, if you are like me and no longer eat grains, this dish becomes off limits for…ev…er (hopefully you instinctively knew to pronounce that like Squints from Sandlot to add dramatic effect).

You may have tried replacing the spaghetti noodles with spaghetti squash and found it to be good, but nothing like the pasta you  remembered. Well, my friends, zoodles will change your life! Get yourself a $10 julienne peeler and some zucchini and you are back in Italian business. They absorb the flavor of the sauce and … wait for it … they TWIRL! I have waited a solid year to twirl ‘pasta’! Have no fear, fellow Primal eaters, you can sit down to a bowl full of zoodles and meatballs with no guilt (or stomach disruption) and enjoy!

Cheater disclaimer: I have found the Rao’s Marinara Sauce is absolutely wonderful. It is made with no sugar –  which I didn’t realize, but many/most store bought sauces are made with sugar! It is a little pricey, but I think it is worth every penny! One day I will surprise my Italian husband with a Sunday sauce from scratch, but today is not that day.

??????????

Zoodles

  • 2 zucchini per person (or in my case of a ravenous husband, three per person if I have a shot of having leftovers!)
  1. Wash the zucchini.
  2. Cut the bottoms off of the zucchini. Leave the top stem as this will provide you something to hold on to while peeling.
  3. Using a knife, remove a small slice of the zucchini so that it lies flat on your cutting surface.
  4. Using the julienne peeler, pull down the zucchini until you have peeled all that is available. I found, that once the zucchini has only a small amount remaining, it get difficult to continue to peel. However, due to the thinness of the remaining portion, you can easily slice into small noodles using a knife.
  5. Place all zoodles into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Start checking around 2 minutes as they will get soggy quickly and like spaghetti, zoodles are better al dente. The more zoodles you have, the longer this will take. I like to undercook the zoodles if I am putting hot sauce over them immediately since they will continue to cook and absorb some of the hot liquid. This allows the leftovers to not be too over done as well.

Meatballs

I had a really hard time finding a recipe for meatballs without using eggs. If you can tolerate eggs (I am jealous), there are plenty of recipes out there, but these were flavorful and really delicious!

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced finely
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced finely
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 T parsley
  • 1 t basil
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. In a skillet, saute onion and mushrooms until the onions begin to brown. Add the garlic and continue to saute until the garlic becomes fragrant and golden brown. Add salt and pepper while it is cooking.
  3. In a large bowl, combine mushroom/onion mixture with the pork, ground beef and spices. Mix until combined.
  4. Create 1 inch meatballs (I used a 1 T cookie scooper and then rounded the meatballs with my hands) and place them on the baking sheet. I was able to make around 40+ meatballs.
  5. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Then, turn the meatballs and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. In the same skillet used for onions and mushrooms, heat up your preferred cheater sauce. Add the meatballs to the warm sauce to absorb some wonderful deliciousness.
  7. Server the meatballs and sauce over a hearty bowlful of zoodles!
  8. Enjoy!!

DSCN0464[1]

Pork Carnitas with Fresh Guacamole

I love the flavor of latin food. The combo of colors makes a dish look incredibly appetizing and the complex blend of flavors keeps the palate interested. However, I almost always come to the conclusion that a picture can not capture any of this. I have a pretty typical camera that has the tendency to make meat look undesirable and resemble something my dog makes in the back yard. I can take multiple photos, but I almost always come to that conclusion. So if you think the below picture looks like a giant pile, please give it a shot. I promise my pictures will get better.

This was a super easy main dish to make. The crock pot came in to save the day again making this an awesome meal to make in the middle of the week. I prepped all the veggies the night before while making dinner so the next morning only required me to dump everything into the crock pot and turn it on. Also, I hate buying fresh spices because I always feel like I throw out the rotting unused spices a few days after making one meal with it. This dish uses cilantro in the pork and guacamole, using most of a small bunch. I plated this meal with purple cabbage for a dynamic bite and combo of crunch but it could go with almost anything you are thinking.

Pork Carnitas

  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds of meat)
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced (I used yellow and red)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds removed
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 T sea salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (sugar free- check your labels!)
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock (I made mine using leftover chicken bones but you could use a store bought brand)
  • 2-3 T cilantro
  • 3 cups of shredded purple cabbage (optional)
  1. Place peppers, onions, and jalapenos on the bottom of the crock pot.
  2. Put the pork tenderloins on top of the vegetables.
  3. Cover the pork with the diced tomatoes, chick stock and spices.
  4. Cook on low for 10 hours.
  5. Remove the lid and shred the pork. Stir in the cilantro right before serving.
  6. Plate the pork on a bed of cabbage and top with guacamole (see below recipe).

Fresh Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados (Look for avocados that are virtually black and have some give when you apply some pressure. If you buy avocados that are not quite at that point, leave them on the counter for a few days to help them ripen a little quicker.)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 jalopeno
  • 1/4-1/2 of a small onion
  • 2-3 T cilantro
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
  1. Scoop out the flesh of the avocado. If you have trouble removing the pit, place a knife in the middle of the pit and apply some pressure. Once the knife has cut into the pit some, rotate the knife to turn the pit. The pit should release easily.
  2. Slightly mash the avocado, leaving some small chunks to give the guacamole some texture.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well mixed.

I am excited to share my primal journey with you and help you begin/enhance your own. With a little forethought and enthusiasm, long term health can be found through the use of whole foods. By simplifying your food pyramid, we can put our bodies back on the right track. Check back often for recipes, tips, and inspiration!