Almond Flour Banana Bread

Something that I greatly miss eating since starting Paleo has been banana bread.   This was one of my favorite things to eat as a kid, and I even entered it in the county fair in elementary school.  My mother would have to make mini loaves because I could literally eat a whole loaf in one sitting!  I have tried several Paleo recipes before, but they either didn’t turn out right, or didn’t live up to what I remembered growing up with…….until today!

I found this recipe on Pinterest (credited to http://www.thewac.com) and thought I would give it a try.  It has 8 ingredients, 9 if you include pecans!  (And why would you not include Pecans?  Banana bread is so plain without them!)

Recipe:

  • 3 overly ripe bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp Honey (recipe called for 1-2, but I had a feeling that it wasn’t enough, so I added more)
  • 1/4c melted coconut oil
  • 2c almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2c chopped pecans

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take the bananas, eggs, vanilla, honey, and coconut oil and put them in a food processor.  Pulse for about 45 seconds to 1 minute.

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Next, add the almond flour, salt, and baking powder.  Pulse until well combined.

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This is where you can add the pecans.  I stirred in the chopped pecans.

Pour into a well greased bread pan.

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Bake for 50-55 minutes!   Toothpick should come out clean when it is stuck in the middle of the bread.  Let it cool, slice, and enjoy!

Nothing beats fresh warm banana bread!

Nothing beats fresh warm banana bread!

I knew that this was going to be tasty before it even came out of the oven!  The first bite was exactly how I remembered it tasting growing up.

The hard part with fresh out of the oven banana bread, is not eating all of it!  Thank goodness I have learned self restraint!  Or else this would have been gone!  🙂

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Opening a Coconut is hard work!

Growing up, I hated coconut.  I would not eat anything that had it on it.  I thought it was the worst thing ever.  Since I started incorporating aspects of the Paleo diet into my lifestyle, I decided to give it another try.   Gradually I began to eat it more and more, and now I eat it practically every day!

Normally I buy the pre-shredded coconut, but a few weeks ago I got the crazy idea that I should just buy a coconut and open it myself.  Well, it sat on the counter and last night (at 8:30 when I should have been making dinner for us….), I decided that I was finally going to open it.   I watched a few YouTube videos, and it didn’t look that hard, so why not?

You first need to drain the water from the coconut.  And to that, you have to make a hole into the coconut.  The easiest way….use a power tool!  Who said cooking and power tools don’t mix?  🙂

 

First step....coconut and a power tool!

First step….coconut and a power tool!

 

Question is….where do I drill this hole?  On the bottom of the coconut, there are three discolored spots.  Find the darkest spot, and that’s where you drill.  This is the “softest” part of the coconut.

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Drill until you go all the way through the shell.  Now pour the water into a separate container.

 

Remember to strain the water before using it!

Remember to strain the water before using it!

Now this is the hard part…..opening up the shell.  The guy in the video made it look SUPER easy.  He took the back of his meat cleaver and just tapped it and the coconut shell cracked and it was done….Well…this did not work for me.   So…..I used this instead!

What could I use this hammer for?!?!

What could I use this hammer for?!?!

Yep….I am going to use this hammer to open up the coconut.  With your non dominant hand hold the coconut.  With your dominant hand, use the hammer to “tap” around the middle of the coconut.  Continue to “tap” all the way around the coconut until it cracks open.  I tried “tapping” it like was suggested by another person, but that didn’t work.  I had to hit this coconut.  It would not open.  There was no being gentle with it.  It was stubborn.  And it took me about 5 minutes to open it.  But finally, it opened!

Victory!!!

Victory!!!

 

You would think that the hardest part is over, and for the most part, you are right.  But this next part proved to be a little difficult too.  To get the meat out of the shell, take a table knife and gently slide it around the meat of the coconut.

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Then you can just “pop” pieces out until you have gotten all of the coconut out.

 

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As you noticed, there was a brown layer to the back of the coconut meat.  I read that you can use a peeler to “shave” it off.  I tried that…and that didn’t work.  I ended up cutting that part off.  I tell you….nothing seemed to be going right with this coconut.

The empty shell....I worked hard to get this!

The empty shell….I worked hard to get this!

At the end of the evening, I had finally gotten all of the meat off.  I have actually never had fresh coconut (since the shredded kind you buy in the store is usually sweetened).  After all the hard work, I finally got to try it….and it was amazing!

Fresh coconut!

Fresh coconut!

I don’t know how many times I will buy a fresh coconut and repeat this process over and over again…..but it is cheaper to buy a coconut and shred it yourself for your recipes.  Plus!  You get fresh coconut water for smoothies.  Anyone can see the benefits of doing it yourself….question is….is the time effort worth it?  I think it depends on you and how much time you have to spend on cooking/baking.  Since I only work 3 days a week, it isn’t hard for me to do this once a month.  But just because I can do it regularly, doesn’t mean I will.  It is a time commitment to do it, but if you have the time, I recommend doing it!

 

Oodles of Zoodles!

I admit it.  I have fallen in love with zoodles!  Unfortunately, Trip will not let me call them zoodles at home.  😦  He makes me call it “shredded zucchini”.  So, whether we we are having zoodles or shredded zucchini, it is going to be a good meal!

They are super easy to make and it’s a great way to get vegetables into your meal.    The main thing you need is a spiralizer.  After talking to several of my friends and doing research, I bought a Paderno.   I got mine off of Amazon.  You can buy it off of other sites, but Amazon tends to have the best prices.

Now that you have your spiralizer, it’s time to make zoodles!

Ingredients:

  • 3 large zucchini squash
  • two pinches of fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • seasonings to your personal taste

 

Here is a video on how to use your Spiralizer.

I use the 1/8 inch blade to make my zoodles.   After you have made your zoodles, place them in a strainer in the sink.  Sprinkle the salt over them.  After I sprinkle it on top, I will toss them to make sure that all of the zoodles have some salt on them.   Let the zoodles “weep” for about 30 minutes.   It is important to do this so that you get the extra moisture out of them.  If you don’t do this, they will be soggy in the sauce.

 

Freshly made zoodles!

Freshly made zoodles!

After the zoodles have been drained of excess moisture

After the zoodles have been drained of excess moisture

When the 30 minutes are up, you can cook them right away or put them in the fridge to cook later.

To cook them, put them in a pan and heat up the olive oil on medium heat.  Then put the noodles in the pan and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until they are cooked to your liking.

Making zoodles!

Making zoodles!

 

While they are cooking, I like to season them.   Typically I go with garlic powder and pepper.  I recently found this Bruschetta seasoning from Oil and Vinegar.  I loved this on the zoodles!

You can now add whatever sauce you want to them!  I will sometimes add a bit of the sauce we will be eating it with in the pan when they are cooking to infuse a bit more flavor into them.

Zoodles with grilled chicken and marinara sauce

Zoodles with grilled chicken and marinara sauce

 

While this doesn’t replace pasta entirely, it is a great way for people who don’t like vegetables to get them into their diet.

Hope you enjoy!

Chocolate No Bake Cookies

I have been craving cookies recently.   And Trip’s Oreos have been looking really tasty, I have been resisting.  So, last night I whipped up these “No Bake Cookies”.  I remember loving these in elementary school, but wanted to see if I could make them a bit healthier without so much added sugar.

I think I succeeded.  Unfortunately, these are not Paleo, but they are gluten free.   And the best part, they only take 15 minutes to make!

Ingredients:

  • 9 ounces of dark chocolate
  • 1/2c coconut milk
  • 1.5 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 big spoonfuls of almond butter
  • 1/2c coconut flakes
  • 1/3c chopped pecans
  • 1c gluten free quick oats
  • sea salt (optional)

 

Put the chocolate, coconut milk,and coconut oil in a pot and melt over low heat stirring constantly.  When the chocolate is almost melted, add the almond butter and continue to stir until it is mixed.  Once it is all mixed, add in the coconut flakes, pecans, and quick oats.   Stir until all the ingredients are coated with chocolate.  Remove from heat.

Cover two cookie sheets either with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Take a spoon and drop spoonfuls of cookie mixture onto the covered cookie sheet.  (I sprayed my covered cookie sheets with some coconut oil cooking spray.)   If you want, you can top the cookies with a bit of sea salt. The salt will help cut down some of the sweetness.

 

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Put the cookie sheet into the freezer or refrigerator.  Leave in the refrigerator or freezer until set.  I put one sheet in the freezer and one in the refrigerator.  The cookies will be ready faster if they are in the freezer, but they set just fine in the refrigerator.  Both work, so it just depends on how fast you want to eat your cookies!!

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What I like about these cookies is that you can make them really small.  A lot of the time I don’t want a big cookie, I just want a little bite of something sweet.  These quick “cookies” are just enough to satisfy those chocolate cravings!

 

 

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

For the past week, I have been apart of a weight loss challenge group.  For the most part, I eat really healthy.  But like everyone can relate to, I have been slacking on my diet and putting on weight.  Now, it wouldn’t be so bad, but not only have I slacked off on my diet, but I have not been working out.  Not eating right and not going to the gym is the recipe to gain weight!

After a friend on Facebook posted her before and after pictures of her weight loss journey, I thought that I would try this out and see if I could get results.  The formula is simple, eat the right type of foods in the right portions and workout.  It’s that simple.  Easy, no.   Life makes it hard.  You have work, kids, and chores.  Things get in your way.  But you have to stick with it.

Going through this challenge has been hard on me because I have not been able to make some of my favorite meals because of being on calorie restriction.   Although one of the first things I am making will be my sweet potato pizza!  While Paleo, it is higher in calories because of the sweet potato and almond flour, but it is great for a post workout meal!  Over the past few days, I have pretty much been eating the same thing over and over again.  Grilled chicken, sauteed or roasted vegetables, an approved carb option, fruit, yogurt, and my protein shake.   But after a while, you want something different.  Which is why tonight I am having quinoa stuffed bell peppers!  It isn’t pizza, but it is super tasty!

Ingredients:

  • 2 bell peppers (red is my favorite bell pepper, but you can pick an color you like)
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey (or beef if you prefer)
  • 1/4c chopped onions
  • 1 chopped celery stalk
  • handful of baby spinach
  • 1/4c yellow or green squash (or both!)
  • 1/4c cooked quinoa
  • 1/3c salsa (the salsa is to flavor your cooked quinoa)
  • 1/4c of your favorite cheese

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.   While your oven is heating, you need to take the tops off of the bell peppers and make sure that all of the seeds are out.   Once the seeds are out, place the bell pepper in a pot of boiling water.   Cook the peppers for 8 minutes.  Make sure about halfway through you rotate the peppers.  Once finished, dump the water out of the peppers and set aside.

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While the peppers are cooking, brown the ground meat (turkey or beef) in a tsp of olive oil.  I like to season the meat with garlic powder, ground pepper, and chipotle pepper.   Once it is ground, put in a bowl to cool while you cook your vegetables.  I like to cook mine in 1 tsp of olive oil.  I cook the onions, celery, and squash until the onions start to caramelize.  Add the spinach in last for 1-2 minutes until it is all wilted.

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Put your vegetables in with the cooked ground meat.

Mix the cooked quinoa with the salsa.  Combine the salsa quinoa with the vegetables and meat.  You can either mix your cheese in the entire mixture, or you can place it on top of the bell pepper mixture.  I like to mix mine in with the ingredients instead of put it on top.

 

Before cooking

Before cooking

 

Once the peppers are stuffed, bake them for 20 minutes.

After baking

After baking

 

Let the pepper cool, cut in half and begin eating!

Yum!

Yum!

 

This also makes a great leftover for lunch the next day!   Hope you enjoy this nutrient packed and gluten free dinner!

Chocolate Cupcakes

I’m back!  Sorry for being MIA!  I have been busy!  Finished moving in with my boyfriend into his house.  It’s still a mess!  Just because we moved all of my stuff in, doesn’t mean that my stuff is organized.   Actually, the master bedroom is now where all of my furniture is until we renovate the master bedroom and bathroom.  As you could probably tell, this means that we have a lot of things to do around the house before we officially settled.

I did try several new recipes in my absence from blogging……but……they were total failures and I haven’t had time to rework them.   So, to keep your taste buds occupied, I wanted to share with you this tried and true recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes!

I found this recipe through one of the blogs I follow.  The original recipe is for a Chocolate Bundt Cake, but I made these into cupcakes instead for a party.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Put cupcake liners in muffin tin.  I lightly sprayed them with a coconut oil spray.  In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and set aside.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs, coconut milk, syrup, and vanilla.  Stir into the dry ingredients.  Pour batter into the cupcake liners in the muffin pan.  I used a 1/2c measuring cup to put the batter into each liner.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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Now, if you want to get fancy…..which I did with these cupcakes….I ended up making a caramel sauce to “fill” the cupcakes with.  I ended up using this recipe.  I tried to make the caramel sauce from Life Made Full, but I have yet to perfect it.   But the recipe from A Calculated Whisk, was easy to make and so tasty!  I couldn’t stop eating it, even days later I would find things to put it on so I could have more.  If I can’t get the Paleo caramel to work, this will be my go to caramel sauce.  No more store bought caramel for me!

Look at that beautiful caramel sauce!  Yum!

Look at that beautiful caramel sauce! Yum!

 

Take a cupcake and create a small hole in the center of the cupcake.   I used a potato peeler.

IMG_1749Put a spoonful of caramel into the hole.

After you have filled your cupcakes, you can ice them.  For the party, I did a simple chocolate cream cheese icing.

Frosting:

  • 4 ounces of softened unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (to taste)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla (to taste)

Mix the butter and cream cheese together.  Then add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder in gradually.   Those are just some starting measurements that I gave you.  Depending on how sweet you like your frosting will determine how much of the powdered sugar and cocoa that you put in.  I tend to make mine less sweet.

Once you have the icing to your liking, ice your cupcakes and decorate!

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Our friends at the party couldn’t believe that these were gluten free!  I even let a coworker try one the next day, and he still does not believe that there is no traditional flour in them.  🙂

Hope you enjoy this tasty treat!

 

Spaghetti and Butternut Squash Casserole

While working in triage….ok, so maybe I wasn’t working…I was daydreaming about what new things to make and this recipe just popped into my head.  Right now I am going through an obsession with squash.  It’s tasty and super low in calories….so why not?  And I love tomato sauce….so why not mix everything together?

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooked spaghetti squash
  • 1/4 of butternut squash shredded
  • 5c tomato sauce (I used this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo…one recipe made 5c after blending)
  • 2 chicken breasts diced and cooked
  • 1c diced red bell pepper
  • 1c chopped spinch
  • 1/2c chopped mushrooms (since I don’t really like mushrooms, we diced them up super fine)

 

First you need to cook your spaghetti squash.   Cut it in half and bake it rind side up at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  You will know it’s ready when you can easily scrap out the strands.

While the squash is cooking, you can start making the tomato sauce.  I followed it exactly like the recipe on Nom Nom Paleo.   It does come out chunky like she said, so I blended it until it was a smoother consistency.   I can not say enough great things about this recipe.  I could not stop eating it with a spoon.  So good!

When the sauce was simmering, I prepared the rest of the ingredients.   I marinated the chicken in a fat free sun dried tomato marinade.   If you don’t want to marinate it, you can season it to your preference.

Once the spaghetti squash has been made into strands, I mixed everything together in one giant bowl.  Not going to lie….didn’t look like the most appetizing meal I ever cooked.  But I still had high hopes for this.  After mixing all the ingredients so that there was tomato sauce on everything, I put it in a 13×9 glass baking dish.   Then bake it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.  How I judged it on being done was by finding a piece of the shredded butternut squash and making sure it wasn’t very crunchy.

Let it cool for a few minutes and serve!

After baking

After baking

 

Even my boyfriend loved this dish!  If it gets his seal of approval, it has to be good!   It heats up well the next day in the oven or the microwave, so it is prefect for lunch the next day!

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Cookies!  If you know me, you know that I LOVE cookies!  I have not met a cookie that I didn’t like.  And cookies are like potato chips…..you can’t just eat one!

I have experimented with several different recipes, and finally found the one that is my favorite.  I got this recipe from Oh, Hopscotch!  I originally found it off of Pinterest, and is my go to chocolate chip cookie recipe.  People who follow the Paleo diet lifestyle are hooked on these cookies, and even my boyfriend is like, “these taste like real cookies!”.   Well my love, that’s because they are REAL cookies!

Note: I have adjusted some of the amounts from the original recipe.

Ingredients:

(dry)

  • 4 cups blanched almond flour  (I use Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2-3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

(wet)

  • 11 tbsp room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar (or honey, but I use agave nectar)
  • 1-1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp full fat canned coconut milk

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine your dry ingredients (almond flour, baking soda and salt) and set aside.

Cream together all wet ingredients using a stand mixer or a hand held mixer.  Slowly stir in the dry flour mixture until fully combined.   You can use the mixer, but I tend to do it by hand.  Then fold in chocolate chips and pecans.

Cookie Dough
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or you can use a baking mat.   My friend Scott got me this awesome Fox Run baking mat for my birthday and I highly suggest getting one!  Spoon the cookie dough onto the pan.

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Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool and try not to eat them all in one day!

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What I also love about these cookies is that they stay soft for days!

 

 

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Enjoy this tasty Healthy Cheat!  I know I do!

Honey Bread

This has been a busy weekend!  It was a beautiful sunny Texas day yesterday.   Trip and I worked on moving my furniture from my apartment to the house.   On the way home, I had a blow out on the middle of the road and had to go get a new tire an hour before the store closed.  Leaving Paul and his brother to finish unloading the U-Haul by themselves.   Granted….they could honestly it would have been done much faster than when Trip and I loaded it up.  Still felt bad.

After the perfect weather day yesterday, it was not fun waking up to SLEET today.  The weather needs to stop having these mood swings!  With it being so cold, I had to make chili!  To go along with the chili, I made “Paleo Cornbread“.  Trip hates it when I call it that, even though that’s what the recipe calls it.  So, he calls it “Honey Bread”.   This tastes nothing like cornbread.  It is like a dinner cake/bread, but I have eaten leftovers for breakfast….and snack.  It’s THAT good.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Melt almond butter with coconut oil in the microwave, then stir in vanilla extract, eggs, honey and Stevia. Mix dry ingredients (almond flour, baking powder and salt) in a separate bowl. Combine wet and dry ingredients together. Stir well.  Pour into an 8×8 greased (or lined with parchment paper) baking dish or pan.

Before baking

Before baking

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

After baking

After baking

It smells so good!  There is one good thing about this ridiculously cold weather….comfort food!  Hurry up and finish cooking chili before we devour this honey bread!

 

 

UPDATE!!!

I made this using a muffin pan instead of the baking pan.  Cooks for 25-27 minutes and they are good to go!

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Spinach Chicken Rollups

Can you feel is?  Baseball season is beginning!  While my boyfriend is away at Spring Training, my mom has come up to stay with me.  🙂

We have continued our Mother-Daughter tradition of having waffles and bacon, and I got to make her my Paleo Pecan Waffles.   And it was a hit!  She couldn’t stop raving about them.  With that being a success, I had to make sure that I made something else to impress her.   Tonight I made my Spinach Chicken Rollups.    After one bite, she was hooked and you will be too!

Ingredients:

  • 4 small chicken breasts (or two large chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise)
  • 1c frozen spinach thawed out
  • 1/3c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 caramelized onion (if you don’t like onions you can omit this and it will still be tasty)
  • 1 egg
  • 1c panko bread crumbs (I used gluten free and seasoned it with salt and pepper)
  • 1c marina sauce
  • 1/2c shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

First step is to pound out the chicken so it is easier to roll up.  I bought some chicken from Sprouts and they were gigantic.  So I cut them in half lengthwise and it worked out better than if I used it whole.

Gather three bowls to be used for the preparing of the chicken.  In the first bowl put the thawed out chicken with the 1/3c of mozzarella cheese.  The second bowl put the egg and mix it up.  And in the third bowl put the panko bread crumbs.

Spinach Chicken RollupsFirst put the spinach/mozzarella mixture and the caramelized onions in the flattened chicken breast and roll it up.  Secure it with toothpicks.  Then dip it into the egg mixture and once coated with the egg roll it in the Panko breadcrumbs.  Place rolled up chicken in a glass baking container.

Once you have finished rolling up all the chicken, spray with baking spray.

Spinach Chicken Rollups

Put into heated oven for 25 minutes.  Once that is finished, spread out the marinara sauce on top and put as much or as little cheese as you like.   Put back into the oven until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

Spinach Chicken Rollups

I have made this with a side of broccoli, pasta, or over quinoa.  It is very versatile.

Spinach Chicken RollupsDinner was a great success, and now we are going to go and try my first attempt at homemade ice cream.  Hopefully it will be just as tasty!

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