Short Ribs with a side of Emotion

Ok guys, I gotta be straight with you.  I’m having a pretty intense reaction to all of the bombing at the Boston Marathon stuff….to the point where I’m not allowing myself to watch the news or turn on any sort of talk radio.  For a good hour this afternoon, I was in complete fight or flight mode, stressing hugely over one of my best friends in the entire world who had been in Boston and had posted some pics of the marathon to Facebook about 3 hours prior to this all going down.  Needless to say, until I heard he was OK, I was a wreck.  Regardless, I’m in a complete state of shock.  The capacity for hate and destruction that some people possess truly terrifies me.  For far too long, I was the kind of person who held grudges, who had a negative outlook, and who saw the darkness in everyone and everything.  The root of this was my own hatred of myself, my place in life, and my body.  I have worked so incredibly hard to NOT be the person that harbors any sort of anger or hatred for anyone or anything, so the events of today have left me completely confused.  Now, I’m not going to make any sort of political statement here, or take any stance….but I AM going to say that I think the root of all of this lies not a gun control issue or a terrorism issue, but a lack of respect and love.  Respect and love for yourself, for each other, for your world, and your future.  Call me simplistic, but that’s where I’m at.  So I’m gonna keep doing what I can to put my positivity out into the world, because God knows there is more than enough hate to go around.

Anyways, other than that, things are going pretty great right now.  I bought my plane ticket for Cancun today!!!  Not gonna lie, I got the jitters when I hit the “book now!” button.  Then immediately had buyer’s remorse…..to which I promptly smacked myself in the forehead and was like “WAKE UP! When are you gonna get to do this?!” So, I’m over that now and have moved on to being SUPER excited!! Had a great day in the gym today….added 20 pounds to my back squat, so there’s that! Plus, I’m over the initial hump of the Whole30 where all I could think about is food.  Because I’ve done this before, I feel like that period was much shorter for me, and now, on Day 8, I’m not thinking/living/breathing/dreaming food!  It is shifting back into a position to fuel me, not just satisfy boredom.  Slowly but surely, I feel like I’m tackling that stupid sugar demon!!  I’m still eating a small amount of fruit each day, but I’m OK with that.  You know what else is great about fruit?  You can add it to savory things and it adds just a hint of sweetness!  Like it did with these….

short ribs

I know it looks like a somewhat gnarly pile of meat….but I swear to you, these were some of the most AMAZING short ribs I’ve ever made!  Plus, they go in the crockpot, so they are SUPER easy to prep, cook, and clean up!  Win all around!

Blackberry Balsamic Short Ribs

  • 3-ish pounds beef short ribs
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 10-15 large blackberries
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 10ish leaves fresh sage, torn into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  1. In a deep skillet, melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil.
  2. Sear short ribs in the coconut oil on all sides.  You only need to get a thin crust on the meat, not cook it through, so about 2-3 minutes per side.
  3. In a bowl, mix together vinegar, tomato paste, and water.
  4. When ribs are seared, add them to your crockpot.
  5. Pour liquid mixture over your ribs.
  6. Add spices, torn sage, smashed garlic, and blackberries in around the meat.
  7. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  I actually cooked mine on low for about 9 hours, then switched it to warm for another 2 (while I was at the gym) and they were great!  Falling off the bone beautifully!
  8. Stuff your face with hearty, rich, savory, meaty goodness!

The best part about this is that I was able to eat and do all of the “cooking” dishes in less than about 35 minutes….which was amazing!  Not to mention, it was nice to have something already cooked when I got home from the gym and my house smells AWESOME!  Sending a whole bunch of love and calming, healing thoughts to all my homies in Boston.  Go love one another.

PEACE. LOVE. and Paleo.

-Meister

Fighting Sugar Demons….

minty temptation

For real.  Sorry if this offends you, it’s truth.

Remember when I talked about those STUPID Lifesavers mints in my desk drawer haunting me?? Yeah, here they are, trying that crap again.  Seriously, every single time I opened this drawer I caught a minty whiff.  It took every bit of willpower I had today NOT to destroy these.  Again, they aren’t even worth it!  If I’m gonna go to sugar town on crappy candy, I’m gonna get after some Hot Tamales…..because THOSE are perfection!

I’m at the successful completion of Day 4 of my Cancun Challenge!  It honestly, food wise, hasn’t been that difficult for me yet.  Yes, I’ve had a couple of random cravings; however, when those pass, I’m good.  I was eating pretty strictly Paleo before I started.  I had completely cut out gluten for over a year, and had cut down on processed junk long ago.  But I have to be honest, the true test will be this weekend.  I always ALWAYS generally do some sort of baking on the weekends.  Not sure what I’m going to do with myself!  Plus, I don’t have family dinner on Sunday to look forward to because my parents left this morning for Maui.  They are jerks.  Flaunting their Hawaiian gear while here in good old O-town, we’ve had every possible form of precipitation in the last 24 hours.  That being said, I’m pretty sure BOTH my folks packed their PaleoMeister shirts, and intend to rock the shit out of them all over that island.  I’m fairly certain there will be photographic evidence of this, and it will likely end up here…..because although they may be jerks, they are FREAKING ADORABLE.  For real, my folks are the greatest!

Guess what else is awesome?!?  I finished my State Testing today!!!  This is HUGE!  So relieved to go back to my regular schedule tomorrow.  Now it’s just 6 glorious weeks until summer break!  On the whole, this year has been amazing so far.  Great coworkers, great building, and GREAT kids.  Gonna really miss some of the 8th graders as they go on to high school….but until that day comes, I’m hoping for a ROCKIN’ end of the year!

Ok, recipe time! I was originally going to make meatballs, but when the evening rolled around, I just wasn’t feeling it!  Plus, I had some beautiful portobello mushrooms in my fridge, so I decided to stuff them!  Realistically, I got lazy and didn’t want to roll a whole bunch of meatballs….so sue me! Also, this red sauce is killer!  I’m a sucker for good red sauces, but getting good flavor without throwing some red wine in can be difficult….but this one nails it!  I apologize that it just looks like a meat pile in this picture.  I promise there is a mushroom under there!!

stuffed mushrooms

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Red Sauce

For the Stuffed Mushrooms (I made these first, then while they were baking, assembled my sauce):

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps, stems removed and “gills” (the brown undersides) removed with a spoon…..carefully scrape them out, you don’t want to tear your mushrooms!
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt AND pepper
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, finely chopped (this ingredient isn’t totally necessary, but makes it MUCH more awesome!)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Mix the meat up with your hands, gently incorporating all of the seasonings and herbs.  Don’t OVER mix it or it will become tough.
  4. Divide your meat into 4 equal portions and stuff into the cap of each mushroom.  You want to make sure you pack it pretty tightly and in an even, relatively flat layer.
  5. Arrange your stuffed mushrooms in a glass baking dish (you might have to use 2 dishes, depending on the size of your mushrooms)
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. While these are baking for the first 30 minutes, make your sauce!

For the red sauce:

  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
  • 1 small can tomato paste (6 oz.)
  • 1 cup liquid (I used water, but your could use any kind of stock)
  • 5-7 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan, add a tablespoon of olive oil.  When warm, add in your onions and garlic.  Saute until the are softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add in your fresh herbs, and lightly toss them with the hot oil and veggies.
  3. Dump in your fire roasted tomatoes and your tomato paste.  Stir slowly to combine.  Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the tomato paste starts to loosen up.
  4. Add in your 1 cup of liquid slowly, until you achieve the thickness of sauce you want.  I used the entire cup, and I still ended up with a thick chunky sauce.  It was perfect!
  5. Stir in your dry seasonings and simmer on low until mushrooms are finished with their first 30 minutes of cooking (about 15 minutes).  You will want to slightly cover it so it doesn’t splatter everywhere, and stir every couple of minutes so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pan.  That would SUCK!
  6. When mushrooms are done, remove them from the oven.  They WILL NOT be done, so don’t worry if they still look pink!
  7. Spoon sauce over each of the mushrooms.  Use as much as you like.  I didn’t drown mine, in fact, I had almost a cup of sauce leftover (which I put in a jar in the fridge for later)
  8. Put your saucy mushrooms back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes.  Cooking time will depend on how thick the stuffing layer is, how thick your mushrooms are, how much sauce you topped with, etc.  When in doubt, use a meat thermometer to check for “done-ness”.  Or if that is too much for ya, after another 30 minutes of cooking, pull one out…..cut into it, and if it’s still pink, put it back in.  It’s not too terribly hard!
  9. Plate up, and smash!  I served mine with some roasted veggies and it was AMAZING!

These turned out surprisingly well, considering the mushrooms were a last-minute game time decision. I took the leftovers to school today for lunch, and a substitute in the teacher’s lounge was like “I know that ain’t what they are serving in your cafeteria! You make that?”  It made me laugh.  Eat up my friends! Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Day 1, on the books!

cilantro lime shrimp

Before I jump into recipe talk, I need to come clean and be brutally honest….I had a LEGITIMATE stare down with some lifesaver mints today in my classroom.  It was beyond stupid!  I’m not even joking when I say that: A. those mints kind of suck B.  I would have eaten one out of boredom, and just because I “couldn’t” have it and C. one of my students TOTALLY called me out on it.  Like I said, it was ridiculous.  This is exactly what happened the last time I did a Whole30.  I started getting random MENTAL cravings for things I don’t even usually eat; however, simply because it’s on the “no list” I instantly want it.  Noooo, I don’t have ANY emotional issues with food.  Clearly not!

Whatever, now that that’s out….today was just a total Monday.  In every sense of the word.  I put myself on autopilot and just went through the day.  Eh, those have to happen every once in a while I suppose.  On the UP side, I should be done with my State Testing this week!!  That will get a huge weight off of my shoulders.  It also means that I get to go back to real life, and better yet, REAL teaching!  Whaaaaat?  For real.  Giving tests is really, REALLY difficult and it sucks the life out of you.  I teach middle school for a variety of reasons, one of which is the amount of energy that I get from my kids.  That just doesn’t happen during testing time because of the serious environment.  Much like sunshine, good food, and excellent music, I need adolescent energy.  I’m weird.  Deal with it.

On to food!  I sat last night looking in my freezer thinking, “hmm…..shrimp?”  So I went with it!  My mom makes this Chinese coleslaw that has crushed up Ramen noodles in it.  She makes it for every summer party she goes to.  I hate it.  In fact, I hate raw cabbage in coleslaw form.  One of my friends describes it as wet grass and I couldn’t agree more…..that was until I had myself some Napa cabbage!  That shit is BOMB!  It’s also about the only cabbage I can stand in coleslaw form.  So, the slaw portion of my dinner was inspired by my wonderful Ma, and her super popular (though hated by me because I’m a jerk like that) coleslaw.  The shrimp was kind of an after thought.  I knew I wanted something spicy and green and fresh.  Plus, I’m totally in love with fresh cilantro right now….so that’s how this shrimp came to be!  Not to mention limes make me think of cocktails, which makes me think of summer…..which I want, NOW.  Here goes!

napa slaw

Napa Cabbage Slaw

  • 1 head of Napa cabbage, shredded (it’s a much more delicate leaf, both texture and flavor….or get regular cabbage if you dig it.  I don’t, not raw at least!)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced finely
  • 1 bunch (8-10) scallions, chopped up….both white and greens
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos (you could use tamari or GF soy sauce…but I’m staying strict to no soy)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, onion, peppers, and scallions in a large bowl.
  2. In a jar (or something else you can shake up dressing in) combine your vinegar, coconut aminos, olive oil, lime juice, and all spices.  Cap the jar and shake the SHIT out of it.  I happened to dance around to Whitney Houston in my kitchen while preparing this.  It helped, trust me.
  3. Pour about half of the dressing over the cabbage and toss well to coat it.
  4. Let it sit in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes to blend flavors and such.  Top it with the sliced almonds and serve!  Top with more dressing if you like yours saucy-er!  Or better yet!  Top it with this shrimp!

Spicy Cilantro Lime Shrimp

  • 1-1.5 pounds of medium sized raw shrimp, peeled, de-veined , and tails off
  • 2 bunches of scallions, white and greens, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 serrano peppers, thinly sliced into rounds (these little guys can get HOT, so if you don’t get down like that, sub out jalapenos, or no peppers!)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  1. In a deep skillet, melt your coconut oil.
  2. When heated, add your shrimp in a single layer.  Season the shrimp with half of the seasoning mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp start to turn pink and curl up a bit.
  3. Flip shrimp and season with the remaining seasonings, it’ll form almost a crust on the shrimp.  Cook for another 2 minutes on this side.
  4. When shrimp is ALMOST cooked through, push it to the sides of the pan.  In the center, add your scallions and peppers.  Saute them for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Toss the shrimp and the veggies together to finish cooking.  Add in your lime juice and toss in your fresh cilantro.  Stir for about 1 minute to heat them through and coat your mixture in the juice.
  6. Devour.  For real.  I’m surprised I was able to snap a picture before scarfing mine down…..let alone exercise enough self control to pack up leftovers!

Here’s to freaking delicious food, kitchen dancing, the light at the end of the tunnel, and day 1 of Operation Cancun in the books!  I dare some stupid Lifesaver Mint to tempt me tomorrow….ain’t nobody got time for that! Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Operation Cancun, commence!

Well folks, I am officially starting my “Operation Cancun” tomorrow.  It’s gonna look a WHOLE lot like a Whole90 with a few little tweaks.  First off, I’m going in on this bad boy with a friend from the gym.  She’s a GIANT motivation to me, and when she mentioned that she has not been able to finish a Whole30, I was immediately like, well that’s because you haven’t tackled it with ME as back up!  For real, they aren’t always easy, they aren’t always fun, but you learn a ton about yourself, your relationship with food, and your digestive quirks.  As weird as it sounds, it’s really enlightening.

Anyway, my Operation Cancun will look like this:

  1. I will be doing a strict Whole30 starting tomorrow.
  2. Days 31-88 (I fly out on day 89) will be completely clean on food, alcohol is another story.  I know already that there are a couple occasions that I will want to have a drink…..and I’m OK with that, it’s literally like 3 different events.
  3. On the rare occasion that I do indulge in a drink, it will be in moderation, and it will only be wine or straight Patron with some lime….no mixed up, sugared up crap.
  4. I realize that it’s not a “Whole90” if I’m drinking.  Don’t be a hater.  Deal with it.  My goals with this time around are not the same as they were when I initially did a Whole30.

So what are these goals I speak of?  Well, honestly…..I bought a bikini.  Like a legit bikini.  That hasn’t happened since I was about 6 years old.  I’m kind of freaking out about the purchase and completely regretting it…..negative self-talk has a way of creeping in.  So this time around, I’m doing this to get myself looking as awesome as possible in that bikini come beach time.  I realize how vain that is, and I’ve accepted it.  In preparation for Operation Cancun, I’ve taken “before” pics in the suit……don’t worry, they won’t be hitting the internet ANY time soon!  SOOO not ready for that!  However, there is a good chance they will be hanging in my bathroom so that they stare me in the face every morning.  I’m still debating whether I want to weigh myself or not tomorrow morning…..I honestly haven’t stepped on a scale in a couple of months, and I’m cool with that.  The data nerd in me wants a number to go off of though….we’ll see what tomorrow morning brings.

Before I jump into my recipe, the biggest tip I can give anyone wanting to do any variation of the Whole30 or to anyone getting into the Paleo life is to MEAL PLAN.  Seriously, there are a ton of great sites out there that can help with this.  Just do it!  It saves hugely on the decision making in the middle of a stressed out week, it saves money at the grocery store if you aren’t buying a ton of random crap you don’t need, and it really REALLY allows for food to be cooked and actually eaten rather than going bad and ending up in the trash.  I sit on Sunday afternoons with a notebook, a pen, and my brain….sometimes a cookbook or a food magazine and this is how I do mine:

menu planning

For real, it keeps me sane.  No technology involved….OG handwriting and chart making!

I’m giving you my breakfast recipe for the week.  I make a HUGE batch of this and then put it into containers for breakfast for the entire week.  That way it is done, and I have no excuses for not getting my breakfast in!

breakfast hash

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

  • 1 pound ground pork (or sausage if you can find it with no sugar and extra crap added)
  • 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded (I used the food processor)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 bell peppers, I used 1 red and 1 green
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, for cooking
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a deep, large skillet, brown your ground pork.  While it is cooking, season it with a small amount of each of your spices.  I also tossed in a small amount of ground sage.  Make sure you break the pork up while it is browning so you don’t have too big of chunks….unless that’s your thing.
  2. When the pork is browned, after 5-7 minutes, remove it from the pan using a slotted spoon.  You want to leave most of the fat in the pan.
  3. Toss in your peppers, onions, and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes or until they soften and become translucent.
  4. Add in your coconut oil.  When it is melted, top your veggies with your shredded sweet potatoes.
  5. Toss the shreds in the oil, then flatten them down into an even layer, covering the entire pan.
  6. Leave them ALONE!  You only want to stir them every 3-4 minutes.  Re-flattening them out into an even layer after each stir. You will cook your potatoes for 10-12 minutes.**
  7. When your potatoes have cooked through, become bright orange, and may even begin to crisp up and brown a bit, add back in your pork and the remainder of your spices.
  8. Stir thoroughly to combine everything and flatten into an even layer again.  Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to let flavors blend together.
  9. Plate up and serve!  I top mine with some fresh avocado and some hot sauce….it rocks!

**Time on this may vary depending on how deep your potatoes are layered in your skillet, how fine they were shredded, how soft you like your potatoes, etc. Just play with it and taste as you go!

Well, here’s to the journey I’m embarking on!  I’m somewhat scared about what I will be like when the reality of no “paleo treats” sets in…..God save us all!  Peace, love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Orange Pecan Cookies

orange pecan cookies

Apparently, I shouldn’t go on vacation.  Ever since I got back from Austin, I have been getting gradually sicker and sicker.  It sucks, pretty hardcore.  I finally caved and am taking the day off tomorrow, mostly to sleep…because I haven’t been doing any of that lately.

In other news, because of said sickness, I have watched several random movies this evening.  I NEVER just sit on my couch and watch movies, like ever.  I get all sorts of antsy, so I’m usually reading or working on some sort of project.  So naturally, I started baking these cookies tonight while watching movies.  I figured, hell, I pay for all of these channels, might as well watch some!  So far tonight, I’ve watched “Friends with Benefits” “Apollo 13” and now I’m watching “The Other Boleyn Girl”.  This movie is nuts!  Henry VIII was NUTS! But Eric Bana is pretty to look at….so this movie is watchable.

On a slightly sadder note, I think I’m gonna hang up my baking mitts for a while.  Starting Monday, I’m beginning what I’m dubbing the “Cancun Challenge”.  I’m 99% sure I’m going to Cancun in July and I want to look as amazing as possible in the swimsuit I just bought.  Therefore, starting Monday, I’ll be officially doing another Whole30…..which will actually be more like a Whole90.  No more paleo treats for me…..but have no fear, I’ll continue to bring you deliciousness.  It just means I’m going to have to rely heavily on taste testers!

Without further ado, here are these tasty little devils!

Orange Pecan Cookies with Orange Coconut Butter Drizzle

For the Cookies (makes about 5 dozen):

  • 5 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • zest and juice (about 1/2 cup) from 2 oranges
  • 2 cups chopped pecans (I used dry roasted, unsalted ones)
  1. In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.  Mix in your pecans with the dry mix!
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix together all of your wet ingredients, including the orange juice and the zest from both oranges. (Seriously, invest in a microplane or a zester, the are AWESOME!!)
  3. Mix your wet ingredients into your dry, combining thoroughly.
  4. At this point, I usually refrigerate the cookie dough for at least an hour.  This makes it WAY easier to roll later.
  5. When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Roll your dough into walnut sized balls (about 1″) and slightly flatten them.
  7. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes. I let mine go for just under 10 minutes and the were perfection!
  8. LET THEM COOL!!!  For real, let them cool for at least 30 minutes before you even think about putting the drizzle on them.  If you don’t want to top with the drizzle, feel free to smash on these bad boys as soon as they are cooled!

For the Orange Coconut Butter drizzle:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • pinch of salt
  • small splash of vanilla (1/8 teaspoon for you measuring types)
  1. Put all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Microwave for about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir all together.
  4. Use a spoon to drizzle the mixture over the cookies all fancy like!  Or if you are feeling really fancy, you can make your own “pastry bag” out of a ziploc bag.  Load your drizzle goo into a baggie, seal it, and snip a small amount of the corner off.  Drizzle that deliciousness all over your cookies.
  5. STUFF your face!!

These are simply delightful!  I hope you enjoy them.  I’m trying my best to NOT eat all of them….please send strong willed thoughts my way as I embark on the Cancun Challenge!!  It’s gonna be really tough, especially because I also won’t be drinking….like at all.  Crazy.  I know.  Last time I did that I lost a whole bunch of my friends over it. Meh, oh well!  Sending delicious paleo treat love your way! Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Post-Travel Blues and Island Pork Stew

Hey y’all!  Coming to you live…….from my kitchen!  Back from PaleoFX in Austin, TX and holy crap, I can’t say how much I love the Paleo/Primal community.  It was incredibly amazing to spend a long weekend with such an amazing network of scientists and foodies that were all there to enjoy, learn, and spread the same message.  This is definitely an event I will go to again in the future.  I TOTALLY geeked out in some sessions, lived out a couple of  fan girl moments, and met a lot of really, really AWESOMELY paleo peeps.  Check this out!! That’s RIGHT!  I met George, the Civilized Caveman and Juli B. from PaleOMG!  For REAL!!  I almost couldn’t make conversation…..I was a completely stupid mix of first date jitters and 14 year old girl at a Bieber concert.  Major thanks to my girl, Missy, for putting her foot down and making me go say “Thanks for being so awesome!!” to these two.

bloggers

And immediately following this, I had enough guts to go personally thank Sarah Fragoso for doing what she does.  For those that don’t know, it was her book, Everyday Paleo, that I creeped through on my coworker’s desk.  SHE is one of the major reasons I’m living a Paleo life today.  She has been, is now, and will continue to be an inspiration to me.  Needless to say, I’m pretty sure we both got a bit choked up when we were talking…

Me and Fragoso

Austin solidified itself as a magical place in my heart.  It had already been one awesome place to visit, but this weekend just confirmed it!  To the point of me job searching teaching positions in the area, no joke.  In addition to the Paleo goodness, I had the opportunity to reconnect with some incredibly amazing friends.  Seriously, those folks and that town really really vibe with me.  Sitting out on patios, drinking ridiculous cocktails, listening to live music, and discussing the world……It was a little piece of heaven!  I sat in the Austin airport last night really bumming hard about coming home…..more specifically, coming back to real life.  I wish I could just suspend the feeling from the weekend and make it last forever!

Anyways, enough whining about leaving the great state of Texas…..I’ll be back there soon enough!  This recipe is one that I made quite a while ago, but talking to a friend made me remember it!  His own words were, “I love pork, I love pineapple, I love stew!  Check, check, CHECK!  I’m all over it!”  I mean, it is pretty amazing.  So amazing in fact, I’m playing with a variation of it for tomorrow night!  Here is the original!

island pork stew

Island Pork Stew…..in the Crockpot

  • 6 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 6 celery stalks, cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, chunked
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons tahini (or you could use sunbutter)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (NOT melted)
  • 1-2 pounds pork (cutlets or boneless chops) cut into large chunks
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated or cut into very small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you want it spicy!)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Chop and layer all veggies into the bottom of the crockpot.
  2. Dump pineapple and ginger in on top of your veggies.
  3. Layer your pork (trimmed of fat, if that’s your thing….or not!) on top to cover your veggies.  You want to make a pretty even layer of pork.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together your tahini, coconut oil, and spices into a paste.
  5. Smear that delicious goodness all over the top of the pork!!  Get messy with it.
  6. Pour your vinegar over the top of the pork.
  7. Set your crockpot to low for 6-8 hours.
  8. When all is bubbly and hot, stir with a large spoon to mix everything up and break down your pork further.
  9. Bowl it up and top with fresh chopped cilantro and scallions!  Or hell, top it with whatever you dig.  Anyway you top it, it’s gonna be freaking delicious!

*** If you are into WICKED hot stuff, toss in a habanero pepper.  Keep it whole and remove it prior to serving.  If you really REALLY like to live on the edge, make a couple of slits in that bad boy with a sharp knife to let more of the oils out into the crockpot while cooking.  Again, don’t say I didn’t warn you, but sometimes, you just gotta get SPICY!  You know I’m right.***

With that, friends, I need to go clean up my disaster of a kitchen and think about going to bed at some point.  Sending much Paleo love from a very VERY full heart……Peace, Love, and Paleo.

-Meister

Laundry, Packing, and bars……GO time!

No, not the drinking kind of bars…although I’m pretty sure a few of those will be involved this weekend, but more like the fruit and nut kind of bars!  Perhaps even venture to call them “knock off” bars…..you know the ones I’m talking about!  Not gonna mention them here….I don’t need to go an get myself flagged, or worse, sued!  Oh the horror!!!  Ain’t NOBODY got time for that!  Anyway, I made these:

larabars

And they were freaking delicious!! So that’s the recipe you all will be granted this evening!

Before I get to that though, times are super exciting!  First of all, I am packing my suitcase (not really yet, but I will be in a little bit) gearing up to head to Austin, TX for a long weekend of Paleo LOVE!!!  Yep, I’m going to the PaleoFX conference. Go ahead and click on that link, find the speakers and schedule tabs and cream your little Paleo jeans.  I’m BEYOND excited!!!  I’m prepared to geek out pretty hardcore, good thing I’ve got my girl Missy with me to keep me in check and out of jail!!

In addition to the conference, Austin may be one of the greatest towns in ALL the land!  I’m pumped to be going back there.  One of my bestest buddies in the whole wide world lives there, and it’s been way too long since I’ve seen his face.  Throw in getting to meet up with one of my totally rad cousins and her BF, and I’m like a fat kid in a cupcake shop!!  Needless to say, this is the EXACT weekend I need before getting into the swing of State Testing at school.

Last bit of exciting news, I picked up these little beauties today!!!

PM shirts

Yep, it’s legit!  I can’t wait to see people reppin’ these!!  Not to mention, the women’s cut ones are completely obnoxious….I mean baby blue/teal with purple screen printing?  I mean, who even suggests that?!?  Oh wait…. MAJOR thanks and props to the guys at Courtyard Ink!  They were totally amazing to work with and created some extremely quality work.  Much love guys, and you are definitely getting any of my business in the future!!

Anyways, enough blabbering!  The bars were super easy to make, did it all in the food processor!  In the future, I’m planning on adding some Paleo protein powder to these bad boys to make protein bars…..oh yeah, that’s happening.  Can’t freaking wait!

Salted Almond Fruit Bars….with a hint of Cocoa

  • 1 pound dates, pitted and chopped into chunks
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped (I used dry roasted ones….salted or unsalted, whatever you dig!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Add your chopped dates to your food processor and pulse until they become a paste.  They will clump into a giant ball, you will have to push it down multiple times….get used to it, you’ll have to do it on almost every single step during these!
  2. Add in your coconut oil, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla.  Pulse until they are incorporated, again, pressing it down whenever it comes into a ball.
  3. Next add in your shredded coconut and your chopped almonds.  Again, pulse until they are all combined, pushing it down when needed.
  4. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper.  You will want to leave a little hanging over the edges so you can lift your bars out later.
  5. Using your hands (it’s honestly the easiest way….so get down and dirty!) press your mixture into an even layer in your pan.  You want to make sure they are pretty densely packed, mine ended up being about 1/2 inch thick.
  6. Toss that pan in the freezer for at least an hour, a couple if you’ve got the time.
  7. Lift your bars out and slice them to whatever size your heart desires.  I got 12 bars out of mine.
  8. Wrap individually in parchment paper and store in the fridge until you want to smash!

If you want them with more of a chocolate kick, add more cocoa!  Want to use a different nut, get after it!  Live your life.  With that, I’d better get on to actually packing!  I might post some randomness from Austin over the next couple of days, but nothing legit until next week…..most likely.  Please understand, k thanks!  Until then, peace, love, and PALEO y’all!

-Meister

Er-mah-GERD! Chocolate Hazelnut Pie!

chocolate hazelnut pie

For REAL!?!?  I’m not even kidding with this pie when I say that my dad is convinced this could be served in a fine dining establishment.  He will eat almost anything I make, but this one topped his list as “I would NEVER EVEN GUESS this is Paleo!!!”  That made my heart happy…..especially when he said he needed an entire pie, not just the one slice I took him.  I’ve been caught saying that this is the recipe that is gonna land me a husband someday.  It’s completely OUT OF CONTROL!  In fact, I can hear the leftovers whispering to me right now from my fridge.  Not even lying when I say that I’m really, REALLY glad I’ve got myself to a better place in my life….because the old me would have eaten this entire pie with a bottle of wine for dinner and wallowed about how crappy things are.  Not saying that won’t happen at some point this weekend, but STILL!  The fact that there is pie in the fridge at this point is a massive triumph!

Today is the last official day of my Spring Break.  I’m somewhat sad.  I did absolutely nothing, and that was great, but I feel like I also haven’t accomplished much. Eh, gearing up for Austin I guess!  Plus, getting back into the routine of waking up early is not going to be fun!  Oh, and it’s snowing today.  What the HELL, Nebraska?  Get your act together!  I’m beyond over this weather!  I’m counting down the days until I leave for Austin, TX next week.  Which I’m completely STOKED for!  I know I’ve said it before, but seriously, I can’t freaking wait!!

Really not looking forward to Open Workout 13.3, mostly because I hate wallballs.  In fact, hate doesn’t even begin to cover it.  I really like having the ability to walk, especially up and down the stairs……I’m already having nightmares of what my legs will be like after I finish that workout.  It’ll be like my first 2 weeks of CrossFit all over again…….going down the stairs backwards, drowning my quads in Icy Hot, and needing to use the handicapped stall for the sheer purpose of having the grab bars if I need them.  No joke.

Alright, enough of my whining.  On to pie!  This recipe takes a bit of love, but in the end it’s really pretty easy.  I mean, you make the entire thing in the food processor….what could be easier than that??

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie

  • 1 bag Enjoy Life chocolate chunks, split in half
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (I used dry roasted, unsalted from Trader Joe’s….they have a good price!)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (plus a bit more to dust your pie pan)
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup hot water (like almost boiling)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (not melted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and make sure you have a rack in the bottom 1/3 of your oven.  It seems weird, but this bad boy needs to cook near the bottom.
  2. In your food processor, place half of your chocolate chunks, your hazelnuts, and 1/4 cup of coconut flour.  Pulse until you get small chunks.  You don’t want them to get too small….this is what gives your pie some crunch.  I would pulse until all pieces are about the same size. Dump this into a separate bowl.
  3. In your now empty processor bowl, add in the rest of your chocolate chunks and your raw honey.  Pulse this until they come together.
  4. While the processor is running on low, slowly add in your hot water and keep blending until all of the chocolate has melted.
  5. Remove the lid and add in your salt, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut oil, and eggs.
  6. Pulse a few times so that it all incorporates.
  7. Now, add back in your chocolate chunk, hazelnut, coconut flour mixture.
  8. Pulse a few times to combine everything.  Not too much though, you don’t want to break your chunks and nuts into smaller pieces.
  9. Pour your batter into a 9 inch pie pan that has been brushed with coconut oil, and dusted completely with coconut flour.  It will almost completely fill the pan, don’t worry!  (I have not tried this in glass, so I would stick to a metal pie pan….I make to guarantees with it baking the same/coming out cleanly with a glass pie plate)
  10. Bake for 35 minutes in the bottom 1/3 of your oven at 350 degrees.
  11. Remove from the oven at 35 minutes, no matter what.  It may not look done in the middle, that is FINE.  It may have risen strangely, that is FINE!  It will all settle itself out, don’t worry!!
  12. Let cool on the counter for an hour.
  13. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight is great too!
  14. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes prior to serving!
  15. Top with paleo whipped cream and SMASH!!!

I topped mine with a few fresh blackberries, because I’m currently obsessed with those!  No berry is same in my house…..Not even lying, plan to share this with friends and family, or be prepared to hide it from yourself.  It’s INSANE!! Peace, Love, and Paleo y’all!

-Meister