Pomodoro “Pasta” with Crabmeat and Fresh Basil

Crab Pomodoro Pasta with Basil

Crab Pomodoro Pasta with Basil

I started up this new blog with intention of posting my favourite healthy meals along with fitness and life posts, but got a little derailed by a post-Mexico pregnancy surprise and subsequent new job, etc.  Also: I haven’t been cooking so healthfully.

I remember being pretty disciplined in my eating throughout my pregnancy with Jude in 2011, save for the first trimester when buttered English muffins were the only food that didn’t send me stumbling, yellow-faced and streaming tears to the vomit toilet.  But this pregnancy has been full of food fails and a total absence of the kind of discipline I’ve been kind of proud to have cultivated over the last few years.  Baby has wanted rice pudding and Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream.  On the weekend it was my Mom’s birthday celebration and I was asked to bring some coconut water and assorted drinks and I also nipped into the Whole Foods dessert section, possessed, to buy some trifle no one had asked for.  I secretly ate a quarter of it in the kitchen while everyone else was on the dock drinking coconut water.

I’ve been doing Crossfit 4-5 times a week throughout my pregnancy (except this last week which has been full of Braxton Hicks and stomach issues) — so I haven’t totally gone off the rails, but it’s time to go back to eating with some regard to nutrition and fitness.  I miss the view of my toes and I have no interest in retaining this cellulite and I have plans to be able to jump off the dock in my Mexico bikini, unselfconsciously, by the end of summer.  And though I’m not sure I’ll go back to 100% Paleo (I want to up the veggies and down the animal in my diet) – I know I want to immediately reduce carbs and get back on the healthy train.

My lithe and athletic colleague mentioned a fail-proof and inexpensive veggie spiralizer last week, I purchased one, and surprise!  Last night’s “pasta” dinner was infinitely more satisfying than rice pudding and Ritz cheese crackers.

Monday Night Pomodoro Pasta with Crab + Basil

Ingredients

Makes 2 good-sized dinners

2 cups sliced fresh cherry tomatoes (local, in season if you can get ’em)

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (best quality you can get)

2 finely chopped small chili peppers, seeds removed

2 medium sized zucchini

handful of chopped fresh basil

1/2 pound of crabmeat (this was a lot — you could probably easily get away with 1/4 of a pound and still garner the sweet crab flavour)

Steps

1. Set up your veggie cutter device.  I made Corey do it because I am notoriously bad with anything with a sharp edge but this was super easy.  Shred up your two zucchini and set in colander to drain.

2. Throw your cherry tomatoes in the blender (I just used a regular old smoothie blender) until they’re pulsed to a texture you like for sauce.

3. Heat up your olive oil on medium heat in a heavy skillet.

4. Throw in your garlic, chili peppers, and tomato and cook for about a minute and a half.

5. Add some salt and pepper and your flaked-up crab.

6. Optional: add a very small (2 tbsp?) dollop of cream if you want this to have a very smooth and rich flavour, but it’s not necessary in the slightest.

Remove your zucchini noodles from the colander, put them in bowls, and spoon hot pomodoro + crab sauce over top.  No need to cook the noodles, the sauce will warm and cook them to a perfect, delicious temperature.  Top with chopped basil and enjoy.

I envision this dish with goat cheese, or shrimp or a veggie medley instead of crabs.  All around healthy, low cal, and amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paleo Apple Crisp

There’s nothing much better in the entire planet than my Mom’s apple crisp, and for years I’ve been thinking about trying to concoct a paleo version, but there were two problems:

1) What Paleo ingredients can you you possibly substitute for brown sugar, butter and oats? Better not to even try, right?

2) Peeling apples. It’s daunting.  Knives and I don’t get along, in any capacity, and skin-on apple crisp would lose some of its marvel, no?

But last night I made a super wicked Shepherd’s Pie with cauliflower mash and this time I didn’t blend the knife and splatter open the whole food processor and so I was feeling domestic and slightly victorious and thought, dammit, imma make a Paleo apple crisp.  I googled some and ignored lots and used odds and sods from my cupboard and I was shocked to discover that this apple crisp was one of the best desserts I’d ever eaten, Paleo or otherwise.

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Ingredients:

6 small red apples (I used McIntosh, but I think any kind might be good.  Maybe not Red Delicious.  I imagine they’d be mealy.

Juice of half a lemon

2 cups almond flour (JK Gourmet brand if you can find it — it bakes better than Bob’s Red Mill)

1 tsp cinnamon (I actually added a bit more than a tsp I think…I dig cinnamon)

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup honey or agave (I used agave)

1/3 cup apple sauce (unsweetened)

**A carrot peeler, if you are ungraceful with knives/peeling/things that involve the slightest degrees of hand/eye coordination.

Side note: Corey found me in the kitchen as I was hacking apples with a knife, feeling wretched that my whole night was going to disappear in uncoordinated fruit butchery, possibly involving hand wounds.  He handed me a carrot peeler from the utensil drawer (I didn’t even know we owned one) and just shook his head gently when I put down the knife to start peeling the apple with the upside down end of the carrot peeler.  So tolerant of my feebleness, my husband.  Anyway. Once he placed it right side up, holy crap!  Peeling apples is kind of joyous!

1. Peel the apples and put them in a baking dish — I used the first corning ware plate I could heave out of the bottom of the bake drawer.

2. Squeeze lemon juice on top of apples and set aside.

3. In a medium sized bowl, place and mix all dry ingredients.

4. In a small bowl, mix up agave/honey, apple sauce and vanilla.

5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.

6. When kind of globby and all moistened, place over lemon-coated apples. It doesn’t have to look perfect, I kind of put a blob of topping in wherever I saw fit.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, or until the apples are super soft and glisteny.  Try to wait for it to cool until you devour.

Bonus: this is even better the next morning.

Weekly Paleo Fave: Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps of Unadulterated Joy

I hesitate to put this recipe on the blog because it’s so damned obvious, kind of like putting up a recipe for (store bought) yogurt with sliced bananas.  You just do it, right?  Cause all the stuff is just sitting there and it’s easy.

But the thing is, this is by far dinner that my family enjoys the most.  And it’s quick, inexpensive, nutritious, delicious, and super customizable.  You can make a vegetarian version or a carnivore version — we use free range chicken but if you’re anti-meat, extra peppers and onions (and maybe some sliced mushrooms?) would work swimmingly as well.   This is so delicious, we make double batches so we can have it for lunch the next day too.

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Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (free range and organic if you can swing it)

1 red pepper, sliced into strips

1 yellow or green pepper, sliced into strips

1 large  yellow onion,  chopped

handful of cashews

1 head of lettuce…I find butter lettuce and romaine are the easiest

Ingredients for salsa and guacamole.  You can buy store-bought (try to look for brands with just vegetables and herbs and spices in them) but it’s so much tastier and healthier if you can make your own.  Simple recipes for both guacamole and salsa can be found in this post.

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp onion powder

smattering of smoked paprika

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 tsp olive oil

Method

1. In a large pot, toss some olive oil and the smashed garlic and cook on medium heat until fragrant

2. Add chicken breasts and cook through.

3. Toss in peppers, onion and spices.

4. Cook till al dente, or until you suspect the veggies might be tender-crispish.

5. Cut chicken into strips, either right in the pot or on to a cutting board you’ve dredged up

6. While everything cooks, prep salsa and guac (or uncork your store bought versions)

7.Pick apart your lettuce into cups and set aside (like so)

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8. Grind up your cashews in a  coffee grinder, or smash with some kind of kitchen utensil.

9. Pull out any hot sauce you may need.

10. Remove chicken/pepper/onion/spice concoction from pan and place into lettuce wraps.

11. Sprinkle with cashews, guac and salsa.

12. If you’re feeling devious, add cheese (we do)

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Weekly Paleo Fave: Creamy Mushroom Soup

A couple years ago, a little deli opened up in the strip mall closest to our house.   A diminutive, doe-eyed young man in tight cigarette jeans served sandwiches with a hushed voice and a sidelong gaze at Corey. 

Other than listening to him and his amazing lilty voice, my favourite thing about the place was the to-go counter.  They had chicken wings and pesto and delicious salads, meals you could take home and unwrap and not feel too guilty about being a glutton.  But the best item of all was a creamy mushroom soup.  We were pretty sure it was made with 100% cow cream, and quite possibly a delicious alcohol of some kind (sherry? red wine?) and wasn’t remotely Paleo, but it was so absurdly good we snarfed it at least a couple times a month.

Then the deli closed down and was replaced with another restaurant that hung a giant display of sausages on the wall.  That shut down too. The restaurant industry is brutal. 

Anyway. I kept thinking about that delicious soup.  And a possible delicious Paleo version, and last night was the night.

You guys, this is a keeper.  It’s amazing when you’re feeling slightly run down.  And it’s better second day.  I made this last night and tonight Corey had leftovers with a bunch of chicken thrown in.  I had it nuked in the microwave with some extra pepper and a dollop of hot sauce and yes.  Perfect mid fall rainy day deliciousness.

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Paleo Cream of Mushroom Soup

Ingredients

1 tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil if you prefer)

1 large bag of mushrooms (I used regular button mushrooms and filled a whole brown bag nearly to the top with them), sliced

1 leek, sliced

2 large garlic cloves, smashed

1 medium white onion, chopped

1 tsp mild yellow curry powder

tsp black pepper

tsp sea salt

2 cans full fat coconut milk

1 box organic chicken or veggie broth

Method

1. Slice mushrooms, leeks and onions and crush garlic cloves.

2. Melt coconut oil over medium heat in a soup pot.

3. Add mushrooms, leeks, onions and garlic cloves.  Stir fry for about 6-7 minutes.

4. Add in box of chicken or veggie broth

5. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. 

6. Cool mixture slightly until the heat is such that you can easily toss the whole thing into your blender.

7. Pulse the mush/leek/onion/garlic/broth mixture until it’s salsa-chunky.

8. Put back into the soup pot and turn the heat up to medium, add in both cans on coconut milk and the curry.  The curry is not totally necessary but it helps deplete any remaining “coco-nutty” taste while still allowing the soup to taste very much like a cream of mushroom soup — you’ll actually barely notice the curry.  Unless you want to, in which case please feel free to add more.

9. Add in pepper and salt, and more pepper to taste if you wish.

Ladle into soup bowls and guzzle, or make more to freeze for easy meals throughout the winter.

 

 

Weekly Paleo Favourite: 7-Ingredient (Vegan AND Paleo) Ridiculous Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies

Weekly Paleo Favourite: 7-Ingredient (Vegan AND Paleo) Ridiculous Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies

The thing about Paleo right now is that it’s kinda like the Fat Free thing was back in its heydey — everyone is madly scrambling to amble on the bandwagon. A scan through Pinterest reveals things like “salted caramel paleo cheesecake bites” and all kinds of exotic variations of desserts and gourmet appetizers. This diet that is supposed to be all about simplicity seems to be anything but, these days.

I’m all for Paleo Cheesecake. Hell, I want to try it myself. But I know that Paleo “cheesecake” will only be marginally better for me than the full fledged cream version and therefore should be reserved for only pretty special occasions if I want to retain any leanness at all.

Anyway: that was a long winded way of saying: try these cookies. They are amazing, and 100% better for you than regular butter-and-flour-laden chocolate chip cookies. That said, they are still chocolate chip cookies and are not meant as a replacement for broccoli.

If you want to be uber-strict paleo, use unsweetened pure dark chocolate. But these are better if you use milk chocolate chips – which aren’t at all paleo.

Ingredients:

5 cups almond flour (finely ground)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3/4 cup agave nectar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup pure chocolate chips (unsweetened dark or milk, your call.

1) Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.
2) Mix wet ingredients in medium bowl.
3) Make a well in dry ingredients, add wet and stir.
4) On a parchment lined baking sheet, bake at 350 for about 8 minutes, or until edges are golden.**

Makes about 2 dozen small cookies. These freeze well too!
** eat at least a few while they’re hot.

Weekly Paleo Fave: Egg Quesadilla with Guacamole and Fresh Salsa

In 2010, Corey and I took part in a Paleo Challenge at our gym, committed to a seemingly impossible endeavor.  For 30 days, we’d eat nothing but real food: seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, meat, and nothing else.  No dairy, no wine, and no processed anything.  It seemed super extreme,  but irresistible: I could do anything for 30 days, couldn’t I?

The first days licked giant, wire-hairy donkey balls.  I had headaches, I thought about sugar with a lust and vigor I hadn’t felt since I was seventeen.  I had dreams about brie and Ritz crackers, and I picked fights about laundry and the colour of the paint on the bedroom walls. I would have traded my favourite skinny jeans for a latte with real milk.

But a few days in, I started to feel an odd energy, like I was buzzing at a greater frequency than normal.  By day 8, I sprang out of bed in the mornings, wondering why I’d ever felt the need to hit the snooze button 6 times before crawling, bloated for the coffee maker.  By day 30, I could see my ab muscles, and my I felt like She-Ra in my workouts.  At that point I realized: there’s something to this fad.  Maybe, actually, it’s not a fad.

That 30 day challenge was a pivotal event in the shaping of my thirties.  Corey and I are now pretty dedicated Paleo eaters.  My downfall is dairy, and I consume yogurt with some regularity, but wheat is still almost totally off limits in our house.  When we get strict, I can feel it: my skin is good, my midsection is taut, and my muscles are limber and ready to go.  With the summer fading and the fall approaching, we’re committing again to totally cutting out the dairy and getting back 100% on the Paleo bandwagon.

This time, though, I’m going to do a semi-vegetarian Paleo diet.  It seems like a contradiction in terms, but I have been increasingly cognizant of the impact of the consumption of animals (free range or not) and so I want to make all of our Paleo meals meat-optional going forward.  I want to remain true to the premise of eating only whole, natural foods…just with less actual animal (I’m still not ready to again totally give up animal products like eggs)

So here’s a Paleo favourite of mine that can be made for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  But there’s something about breakfast at dinner that is super appealing to me.

Egg Quesadilla with Guacamole and Fresh Salsa

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Ingredients (for a meal for two)

  1. 6 eggs
  2. 1/4 cup almond meal (Bob’s Red Mill is great)
  3. pepper to taste
  4. 4 medium sized chopped organic tomatoes
  5. 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  6. 1/2 finely chopped red onion
  7. 1 hot chili pepper, diced finely
  8. 1 tbsp lime juice
  9. 2 garlic cloved, minced
  10. 1 ripe avocado
  11. juice of half a lemon

You can’t have tortilla wraps on a paleo diet, which saddened and devastated me for that first 30 days.  But I discovered later that if you add some almond flour to eggs, it provides a stiffer consistency and allows you to add toppings and wrap up the egg, tortilla like, around them.  Deliciously!

For this concoction, I filled the egg with homemade salsa and guacamole. (Salsa is chopped tomatoes, onions, hot pepper, 1 clove garlic, lime juice and cilantro — while guac is simply mashed avocado, garlic, and lemon juice)  You can add turkey if you want to go the meat route, and roasted peppers would also be delicious inside this.  I also made a tapendade with roasted peppers, basil, and sundried tomatoes which is awesome as a filling in these, and which I’ll post next week.

I’m on day 1 of strict Paleo tomorrow.  I am super stoked to watch my muscles and energy perk up once again.

Weekly Paleo Fave: Thai Lemongrass Coconut Spicy Soup

Weekly Paleo Fave: Thai  Lemongrass Coconut Spicy Soup

The Paleo way of eating is many things: expensive, effective, super fresh and often surprisingly delicious. But one thing it’s not is convenient. Because it removes almost all processed food, you can really never get a Paleo meal out of a jar or crinkly wrapper.

But you can make this awesome soup, and make triple batches to freeze it in the winter to nuke on one of those swiftly forthcoming chilly fall nights.

There are a few ingredients that are not strict paleo (sambal olek, fish sauce that sometimes has added salt) — and the small amount of sugar is not paleo at all, but you can omit it and it still tastes pretty good. I keep it in there, myself.

Also: if you want to go veggie on this, use veggie stock instead of chicken and omit the chicken chunks (obvs)

Ingredients
2 cups chopped white mushrooms
2 red peppers, sliced into strips
2 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
2 tbsp. fresh garlic
1 tbsp sambal olek
1-2 tbsp fish sauce (I like lots)
1 finely chopped hot red pepper (the wee ones are best!)
3 large chunks of lemongrass.
1 1/2 cans of coconut milk (full fat. Reduced fat helps you with nothing except for a little flavour robbing)
3 cups veggie or chicken stock
1 roasted chicken, shredded (or about 2 chicken breasts)
chopped green onion for garnish
chopped cilantro for garnish
lime wedges (these are key!)

Put a small amount of sesame oil in bottom of large pan, and heat on medium. Huck in the garlic and ginger. Add chopped mushrooms and red peppers and cook till mushrooms are glossy. Add sambel olek and fish sauce, as well as the chopped lemongrass.

Add coconut milk and veggie or chicken stock, and then the shredded chicken pieces.

Cook on medium for about 10 minutes, and then ladle into big bowls. Squeeze lime into the bowls and add some chopped cilantro and green onion.

Amazingly good, and thoroughly filling — a definite family fave.