Monday, December 31, 2012

Paleo Pumpkin Pecan Muffins

It's December 31st, 2012, the last morning of this year.
 I woke up at 5:30 when I didn't have to, but it's very nice to be able to sit here with my coffee and appreciate the fact that today I don't have to hurry and get ready for my classroom, and hurry out into the cold, and get Isaac to the bus on time.... Yes, sir, I am appreciating the little things this morning - - like how I am in my fuzzy socks and jammies, about to blog about these muffins! (Ger's already got his 6 am class going at CrossFit Countdown. We are doing Victoria, Hero WOD for a fallen teacher. As a teacher, it will be an honor, as all Hero WODs are.)
I made these muffins yesterday and I'm eating one now with my coffee with a little heavy whipping cream. Daisy is curled up beside me - she loves vacation days, too! It's been a very good year.

I hope that as you reflect on your year and look ahead to the upcoming one you make healthy foods a great priority in your life. I'll try to help with that. Anyway, here's how I made these muffins:

I put the dry ingredients into a big bowl:
2 cups almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP cocoa
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp sea salt

I stirred this up with a wooden spoon. Then I put the wet ingredients right into the same bowl:
1 can organic pumpkin (almost 2 cups, if you'd rather roast your own)
4 eggs
1/4 cup almond butter (or pecan butter)
1/4 cup honey

I stirred everything together with a wooden spoon and added 1/2 cup chopped pecans. (I wish I had added some dark chocolate chips, but then Ger wouldn't have eaten them - he's just so disciplined!)

I put 12 paper baking cups into my muffin pan and scooped the batter into the cups. It made 12. They were very full, but were fine while baking.
I put them into a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. I cooled them on a wire rack.

They were very good!  (But, next time, I am going to scoop out the batter into several paper cups in the muffin pan and THEN I'm going to add a few dark chocolate chips to the last of the batter and that way I'll have muffins both ways! Which way are YOU going to make them?)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Perfect Paleo Beef Shanks

This is my second paleo beef shanks recipe I've come up with and I'm calling this one Perfect Paleo Beef shanks because Ger said he could eat this every day. The other recipe is quite delicious, too, just different.

You know how I feel about the bone marrow slipping out of the bones and thickening up the luxurious pan juices and vegetables and strengthens your bones;  it's just so good for you, your body tells you it's delicious.... but here's how I accomplished this WOD fuel:

First, I browned 2 large grass fed beef shanks (one was a fore-leg, one was a hind-leg) in coconut oil with lots of smoked sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. (shanks are THICK) I gave them about 7 minutes per side to sizzle. Ger said I was smoking up the house!

While they were in the skillet I put these things into my crock pot:
1 1/4 cup all natural chicken stock (you could use beef stock - I didn't have any)
1  15 oz can of all natural tomato sauce (check ingredients for no sugar)
3 bay leaves
2 TBSP Garlic Gold Oil ( This is a garlic-infused olive oil. If you don't have that, adjust   and use oil and fresh garlic or minced garlic.
2 TBSP cherry juice concentrate

I put the browned beef shanks into the crock pot and put on the lid. I let it cook on high for 3 1/2 hours.

Then I put in 2 organic sweet onions, chopped, and 2 lbs of organic carrots, peeled and chopped. I let it cook about 2 more hours, until the carrots were tender and the meat was falling off the bone.
That's it. We ate it like we were starving!

Here's a shot of the crock pot just before we ate. Those big grass fed beef shanks are hiding..... Now, imagine that you are looking down into YOUR crock pot.... you can do it!

Please take the time to peel your own carrots - the ones that look like carrots that are already peeled, just to be faster for us have been sprayed with chlorine - yes, chlorine. Google it! Lynn did.

Paleo Toasted Pecan Butter

I got a Cuisinart Premier Series Prep 7  7-cup Food Processor for Christmas from my mom. I picked it out. I love it very much. I wanted to make sure that the first thing I made in it was special to Ger, SO I thought about the things that he likes to eat as a special treat. Now and then I used to order him nut butters from a company called Fastachi. Their nut butters were really good, and really expensive. Pecan Butter was his favorite. So, I decided to make a pecan nut butter as my first food processor endeavor.

I wanted lots of flavor, so toasting the nuts first was a step worth taking.

I took 1 lb of pecan halves and spread them out on a heavy cookie sheet. I put them in a 350 degree oven to toast for 10 minutes. (You might want to go 12, but watch them if you do...) I let them cool on on a rack and then put them into my food processor. I didn't put anything else in - nothing. It didn't need anything else. I turned it on and let it work for a minute or so. First it looked like chopped nuts, then it looked like almond flour (well, pecan flour, lol) and then it started to look oily and THEN it looked like perfect Paleo Toasted Pecan Butter. Now, I did stop it 3 times and work the pecans down off the sides of the work bowl with the spatula. It took, maybe 5 minutes total.

And, there are no words. It's that good. It's also much cheaper when you do it yourself. I'll never order it again.....

                 I hope to be trying to make all my own nut butters now. Almond butter's next!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Vegetable Skillet

How beautiful, how colorful, how healthy does this look? It was delicious and easy and fast. I can't remember what protein I had with this - it was week or more before Christmas.

I cut up 2 red and 2 yellow peppers into long strips and put them into a large skillet over medium heat. I added 1/4 cup of Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock and 1 TBSP coconut oil.

I washed and tore into bite-sized pieces some organic kale and put it in the skillet. I stirred it now and then. I broke a bunch of asparagus off at the ends and threw them into the skillet.

Then I seasoned them with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and lots of dill. Lots. The chicken stock had cooked into the vegetables and it was delicious and I didn't let it get too mushy.

Paleo Chicken Soup (Who Needs Noodles?)

It's that time of year. Many people are sick with the flu, bronchitis, sinus infections, or just bad colds. No one in this household has anything yet, but it's all around us, so I thought a nice, warm chicken soup would be great for the immune systems of my loved ones. Chicken Noodle Soup - without noodles - is a great idea and making it yourself ensures that it's not full of too much sodium or other ingredients that don't fuel us up and keep our immune systems roaring along, fighting off everything that gets sneezed onto us!

So, show some love and make it for your crew soon.
Here's what I did:
I poured 2 32 oz Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock into a huge stock pot. I added 4 cups of cold water.

I peeled and sliced 3 lbs of organic carrots and threw them into the chicken stock and boiled them until tender. (You know how I feel about those "baby" carrots that have been shaped and dipped into chlorine.....)
While the carrots were cooking, I cooked some natural chicken breasts in a little coconut oil with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I made 6 of them and then cut them into bite-sized pieces.

I put the chicken into the stock pot.
I cut up 2 large sweet white organic onions and cooked them in the same skillet I used for the chicken in a little coconut oil. When they were soft I threw them into the stock pot.
I had 2 leftover red peppers that had been roasted with a little coconut oil, so I cut them up and threw them in, too. (If you don't have leftover red peppers, just roast them while you are cooking the chicken, about 15-20 minutes at 350.)
The last thing I added to the stock pot was 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp smoked sea salt, and 1/2 tsp Slap Ya Mama, a white pepper blend. Just use what you have if you don't have that hot Louisiana blend.
I let the soup simmer for another 20 minutes to blend all the flavors.
We had deliciousness along with many vitamins like c, beta-carotene, protein, and I could blog half the day about the wonders of onions....( anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antibiotic, antiviral, and cholesterol-lowering....)

I love this photo. It shouts of commitment; commitment to the upcoming lift. It's like commitment should be to the upcoming meals in our lives. Fuel up!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Garlic Baked Chicken Thighs

My friend Farrah had on FaceBook today  - "Sometimes i wish that I were one of your children so that I could eat your food everyday.  :)" Isn't that a great compliment? I had just posted this photo.

I wanted to make something that wouldn't take too long in the kitchen. This was easy and delicious. Free-range chicken thighs are a great protein source.

I rubbed coconut oil on a broiler pan. I rinsed a large package of chicken thighs and laid them on the broiler pan. I poured a little Garlic Gold Oil ( in a bowl and brushed some of it on each thigh with a silicone brush.

Next, I sprinkled the thighs with Garlic Gold nuggets (you can't have too much garlic, right?)  organic basil, smoked paprika, and smoked sea salt. (You know we are calling Salt Traders Cherry Wood Smoked Sea Salt our"crack salt" because it's so addicting... You all must think I am getting something out of using their salt so much and saying such nice things, but I'm just addicted to the taste!)  The last thing I put on them was freshly ground black pepper.

I put them in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes and then took them out. They sure were good.

                                        Here they are, all prepped and ready for the oven.

Gingerbread Protein Balls

I love the holidays. My youngest, Isaac, woke up this morning with the Christmas spirit. He wanted to help me wrap presents. He also wanted to open our presents here at our house TODAY instead of tomorrow. That took some work, but we managed to pull it off. It was lots of fun! We all got lots of great new stuff, especially stuff to WOD in.

In my flurry of trying to get everything ready a day early I came up with a new protein ball - Gingerbread Protein Balls! They are fast and delicious and have protein and coconut, and THESE have Cinnamon Roll Myofusion Protein and GINGER!

Into a big bowl I put:

4 scoops Cinnamon Roll Myofusion Protein Powder( Vanilla would work, but you might want to add 1        
                                                                          TBSP cinnamon)
1/2 cup coconut oil (NOT melted)
2 TBSP agave nectar or honey
2 TBSP raw almond butter
2 TBSP Gourmet Garden Ginger (find this at Kroger with the fresh herbs)
3 cups unsweetened organic coconut chips( I love You could also use the shredded coconut)
4 TBSP coconut milk

We stirred them up and rolled them into balls. The balls go on wax paper in a 9 x 13 cake pan and go into the freezer for 10 minutes.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Grass Fed Bone Broth and Soup

This is a photo of a monstrous ball and socket hip joint from a grass fed cow. It was a big, meaty bone.
I wanted to make a nice slow-cooked beef broth from it and then do a big stockpot of soup with lots of carrots, onions, and cabbage. I need strong bones and so do all my CrossFit family and friends!

I grew up on home-cooking. I already knew the wonders of mineral-rich bone broth from my mom, my grandmas, and my great-grandma, too. (some of the best country cooks in the world!) The best soups were powerhouses of nutrition. I was raised on beef from my Papa Cecil's farm. This was all WAY before paleo, but it's "in my bones," if you'll pardon the pun....

So, bone broth won't taste right if you don't brown the bones in oven. They need to roast and it totally changes the flavor. (It does more than that, but this isn't where to find that explanation)

I lined a big pan with foil and put that big bone into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.
I added celery, onion, and carrots into the pan and let it cook another 15 minutes.

I transferred ALL of that goodness to a large stockpot. I even scraped off the yummy bits that were stuck to the foil.
I poured cold water in the stock pot, covering the massive bone. It might have been 5 quarts of water.
I also added 3 TBSP of balsamic vinegar and some rosemary and thyme, and 2 bay leaves.
I heated it up to a boil, then immediately turned it down to a simmer.
I did this when I would be home all day. I skimmed off the little bit of stuff floating on the top of the broth a couple of times and then I didn't see it anymore. ( I think they call that stuff scum - isn't that an awful word? No wonder you skim it off!)
I let the broth cook all day and all night, too.

(Now, you could put the broth in containers at this point and freeze for later use. Sometimes I freeze it in ice cube trays and then transfer them to freezer bags)

The next morning I let it cool down and took the bone out and picked the meat off of it. I threw the meat back in, along with peeled organic carrots, a head of cabbage, shredded, and some onion that I'd cooked in coconut oil. I also put in some leftover cooked grass fed burger, just to make sure it had enough protein in it for my crew.

You could taste the strength and good health in this stuff! That was some great soup.
Calcium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus, trace minerals, chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine - that's what I'm FEEDING GER SASSER.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Paleo ish Sausage Balls

This photo speaks for itself. Ger.... and Conner..... look how much he's grown since this video!

This is Conner, John and Cheree's bundle of energy and one of my favorite people at CrossFit Countdown. He's not strict paleo - he likes his cheese. This is his guest blog.

Conner and his mom used to make them with Bisquick. Now, they make them like this:

3 cups almond meal/flour
4 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 lb sausage

Mix together.
Form into balls.
Bake 25 minutes or until browned at 350 degrees.

I don't think they bothered to put coconut oil on their cookie sheet since the sausage would be enough to keep them from sticking to the pan.  Mine are in the oven now, and I did put coconut oil on my cookie sheet.

Friday, December 14, 2012


I've been craving gingerbread - moist and dense and Christmas-y. I'd been tweaking this recipe, and came to the conclusion that it was just going to HAVE to have a little blackstrap molasses in it. Agave, or honey just wasn't going to give it that deep undercurrent I wanted that just had to be there with the bite of the ginger..... so, I guess this recipe is "Paleo - ish." I just wanted you to know. In molasses defense - copper, iron, manganese, etc!

I wanted Ger to know, too.  I told Ger that in the entire 9 x 13 pan, it had a 1/2 cup of Brer Rabbit Blackstrap molasses...... you should have seen his face. He ate a very small piece, said it was delicious, but he won't go back for any more of it. He is so disciplined.

Well, I had a houseful last night and the rest of us LOVED IT! Steven, Jess, Cassie, Isaac, and I all went back for seconds!  We'd cooked my paleo chicken legs and roasted harvest vegetables, too.

So, who's wanting gingerbread? This recipe's not going to be strict paleo, but it sure beats the other gingerbread recipes full of flour and lots more sugar.

In a small bowl, I measured and mixed:
3 cups of almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

In a large bowl I measured and mixed the wet ingredients:
3 eggs ( take them out of the refrigerator early - you don't want them to "unmelt" the coconut oil...)
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 TBSP Gourmet Garden Ginger ( It's in the grocery near the fresh herbs)
1 tsp real vanilla

I stirred the dry ingredients into wet with my favorite wooden spoon, and placed the thick batter into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish that had been prepped with coconut oil.
I baked it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, then turned the oven down to 225 and left it in there for maybe 15 minutes more. ( You know I like it close to gooey.)
I took it out to cool on my Pampered Chef rack. It was JUST RIGHT.

There were many compliments all around.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Venison Butterfly Loin

I know a lot of hunters. I know a lot of CrossFitters who love venison. I think I'm on to something with this recipe. It got rave reviews around here!

I was thinking about what to marinate my thawed venison butterfly loins in. I stood in my kitchen, looking through cabinets and the refrigerator..... something rich, and deep, like deer meat is in the first place. Complex.... even...surprising.

Then I got busy!
In a small bowl I placed:

3 TBSP cherry juice concentrate (see? surprising?)
3 TBSP macadamia nut oil ( olive oil would work, too, but not coconut oil because it would thicken up   in the refrigerator..)
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chipotle chili pepper

I stirred up this lovely marinade. Then I placed my 5 perfect little butterfly loins into this mixture and covered them on both sides. I let them marinate in the refrigerator for 1/2 an hour - I couldn't wait any longer. I did stir and flip them once, about half-way through. (an hour would be even better)

I cooked them in my grill pan in a tiny bit of KerryGold Grass-Fed Butter. I poured most of the leftover marinade onto the top of them, too. They cooked about 5 minutes on each side. I let them rest for about 5 minutes before we ate them. THEY WERE SO GOOD! SO GOOD!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Chili Lime Pecans

We eat a lot of nuts, don't you? I love pecans, plain or my Cocoa Roast Pecans. I've been thinking about how to do a savory pecan and came up with these. We love them!

I took  a big glass bowl and added:
2 1/2 tsp smoked sea salt
1 tsp grated lime zest
1/2 tsp lime juice
2 TBSP raw honey ( you may need to warm it if it is very thick. Agave nectar works, too, if you use that)
1/2 tsp chipotle chili pepper ( you may want to add a bit more...)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
 1 egg white

I whisked these ingredients and then added 16 oz of pecan halves.  I spread them out on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet. I baked them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. (If you use pecan pieces, you may need to bake them a couple of minutes less. Just watch them.)

We all kept going back for more!

 I dropped one and Daisy enjoyed it very much. She just kept waiting for one of us to drop another one!

Scrambled Eggs with Oyster Mushroom Blend

This morning Ger and I had this mix of the leftover Oyster Mushroom Blend with scrambled eggs.  It was really good!
Maybe it's the fresh ingredients - those are eggs from Cooney Creek Farm. I picked them up from the Wild Ramp at Heritage Station in Huntington, WV. I love the grass-fed beef from Cooney Creek Farm, and being able to pick it up at the Wild Ramp is just so handy. I hope all my paleo people get in there and help keep that place going! ( I also bought the BEST ice cream for a cheat meal - it was dark chocolate peppermint ice cream made with milk from GRASS-FED COWS; the brand was Jeni's. Uncommonly delicious, but I digress......)

Back to the eggs! I used 1/2 cup of the leftover Oyster Mushroom Blend. I put it into a small skillet along with 1/2 tsp coconut oil, 1 tsp coconut milk, and 3 eggs. I stirred it up immediately with the spatula and turned it over and stirred it now and then. I sprinkled it with my favorite smoked sea salt ( and organic basil. I flipped it out onto a plate and grated just a bit of KerryGold Ballyshannon cheese on the top! (cheese from grass-fed cow milk, from Sam's Club. Have you tried this yet?)
This breakfast is great fuel for CrossFit Countdown's free WOD for the public at 10am this morning.

Happy Saturday. Make enlightened food choices today.

This is another photo from the Mountaineer Games. It's Ger, and Isaac, and Dustin. It's Dustin's birthday today. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Vegetable Beef Soup, Paleo

Yesterday was Ger's birthday. We did dead lift PRs at the box, then 7 minutes of burpees. Everyone was measured and we all had a target to jump up and hit with both hands. It was a great day at CrossFit Countdown. Even with my wonky wrists, I was proud of getting my dead lift up 5 lbs, to 155! I got 62 burpees, and my left wrist wasn't feeling too bad at all.

After that, many of us went to Panera, to have a quick get-together for Ger's birthday. Mike had made a FaceBook wall to spread the word, and somehow Ger got invited, too! He clicked "maybe!" We laughed about that! We have some of the most wonderful people we WOD with, don't you?

Before his birthday, Ger said this soup was even better than the beef shanks the first time! Here's what I did to make this soup:
I picked the left-over meat from the tendons and stuff that are always on beef shanks. It fell into bite-size pieces. I threw this, and the broth from the Grass-Fed Beef Shanks recipe into the stock pot. (If you haven't made that, you can use any left-over roast.)

This Vegetable Beef Soup is made with the leftovers from the Grass-Fed Beef Shanks. ( I made a lot, or I wouldn't have had any left!)

I peeled and cut up a bag of organic carrots and threw them in and got them boiling, and then turned them down to simmer.
I cut up a head of cabbage and 3 yellow squash into bite-size pieces. I threw that in, too.
I added a jar of SUGAR-FREE marinara sauce and a can of diced tomatoes. ( no salt added)
I also added a container of fresh spinach.
I checked to make sure there were still some onions in the leftovers. If you want, you should cook some up in coconut oil, until soft, and then add them to your soup.
I added a little of my crack-salt. ( Maine Cherry Wood Smoked Sea Salt. 1 lb for $16 and worth every penney. They should pay me - I have a lot of people addicted to this stuff - almost as many people as I have addicted to the Flow Free ap in the Ap Store!)

Anyway, make this great soup. It's so good for your bones! It's great for your immune system, too.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Grass-Fed Beef Shanks

Two couples from my box bought a grass-fed cow, to share. Lucky for me it was bigger than they thought it was going to be. They called me up and asked if I wanted some beef shanks - they didn't know what to do with them. Lucky me! (Thanks again - I love you guys!)

Beef shanks are crosscut pieces of the cow's leg, usually marked front leg (smaller) and back leg. It has great meat, but also muscle and tendons AND a big chunk of very important bone.  You can't cook it fast, and I guess that's why it's not a popular cut of beef.

But, beef shanks are so worth it, if cooked slowly. The minerals in the bone are so important for OUR bones and connective tissue. The marrow cooks out and makes the sauce thick and rich and so good for you. Beef broth adds to the flavor and keeps things moist. Balsamic vinegar adds just the right interesting taste of acidity to the mix. The onions are so delicious in all this rich goodness.

This recipe is for a slow cooker, but you can't just plop them in there. The frontwork is where you build the flavor. Do it like this:

I heated up a big skillet to medium high. I added 2-3 TBSP of coconut oil.
I patted 3 thawed beef shanks dry and salt and peppered them. I used the Salt Traders Cherry Wood smoked Sea Salt. (  I added the shanks to the hot skillet, getting a satisfying sizzle. I seared them on each side for 7 minutes each. I wanted them very browned.

                            (Can you see how thick these shanks are? Aren't they beautiful?)

I took them out of the skillet and put them right into the slow cooker.
I immediately turned my skillet down a little, to medium and added 2 TBSP minced garlic and 2 large organic yellow onions that I had peeled and chopped while the shanks were browning.
As I stirred that up, I thought it would need more coconut oil, but the skillet seemed to have plenty of oil. ( Adjust if necessary. You may want to put celery, too. I didn't, just because I am not a big fan of celery)
  I let the onion mixture cook for 15 minutes, stirring now and then. I wanted the onions to get some brown color.

THEN I added 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp of rosemary. I also added 4 cups Kitchen Basics Beef Broth. I brought it to a boil and turned it down and simmered it for 20 minutes. This reduced my liquid some, of course.
Then I poured the onion-beef broth mixture on the beef shanks in the slow cooker. I added 2 TBSP of Colavita Balsamic Vinegar and stirred. I put the lid on and let it cook for 3 1/2 hours on high. ( 8 hours on low would have been better... either way.)

The meat had come away from the big bones and was tender. I took the bones out and pushed the bone marrow out and stirred it up in the dinner. ( Don't act like that's weird - Google it. That stuff is AMAZING for your bones, and MY bones. We all want strong bones - we lift heavy things up over our heads!)
I served this yummy grass-fed protein with yellow squash, butternut squash, and spinach, all together.

I put the slow cooker in the refrigerator since there were leftovers and made the most wonderful stew-soup stuff the next day.  I'll write that up soon, too!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Paleo Broiled Portobello Mushrooms

I know how busy everyone is, especially this time of year. So, food needs to be planned ahead so that we eat paleo, and eat for energy to drive our PRs. Food also needs to be quick sometimes, yet still delicious. That's what I work toward. We all need more quick vegetable side dishes. These Paleo Broiled Portobello Mushrooms fit the bill!

I preheated the broiler.
I cut off the stems of 6 big portobello mushrooms, even with the cap. ( I left a little of the stem there)
I wiped the caps off with paper towels.

I rubbed coconut oil on my broiler pan.

In a small bowl, I mixed up:
2 TBSP melted coconut oil
2 TBSP Colavita Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 tsp smoked sea salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp minced garlic

I rubbed this mixture onto the top of the mushrooms. As the coconut oil hit the cold portobellos, it thickened up a little and this actually helped it to stick to the mushrooms. I spread it all on them and laid them on the broiler pan, right side up. (the way they grow)
 I put them under the broiler, about 4 inches away. I left them in for 10 minutes. My mushrooms were really big, so if yours are smaller, you might want to check them at 8 minutes.

I served them immediately with my Paleo Crockpot Chicken Breasts and sweet peppers.

freshly ground pepper