Chipotle Twice-Baked Sweet Potato with Bacon and Avocado (Paleo!)

Hey y’all. Still cold. However, apparently there’s a snowstorm on the horizon…. Which I LOVE. I am ready for  snow, 100%.

As I sit back and think about how  close December is, and how close to an end 2018 is, I think about how much happened in 2018, and how much still has yet to happen as a result of what’s since passed this year. 2018 was a prime example of looking at things through a lens lined with emotional and spiritual maturity, peace and loving energy. What’s that really mean, outside of all the foo-foo stuff? Really, just this – as we begin to evolve more quickly, which is happening more and more each year, it’s easier for us to stay aware of what’s changing and going on around us, and how we can react to best suit our needs and heal.

Again, what does this really mean? Here’s a few examples:

  • Not believing every first thought we have – some are rooted in human emotion and fear, and don’t suit our best interest. Taking a step back and realizing that our thoughts have a greater influence on what goes on around us can make a WORLD of difference in keeping with the positive instead of sticking without knee jerk reaction. Be patient with your thoughts, and allow yourself to process before coming to conclusions.
  • Not sourcing our own value from someone else’s perspective – on the flipside, while your thoughts do control your life around you, they cannot directly manipulate people around you. Focus on only your reactions, and understand that if you’re too worried about someone else’s thoughts, you lose sight and strength over your own.
  • Focusing your sights on not having enough, and whatever lackthereof is ailing you – this sounds counterintuitive if you gloss over it, but this one is the most important. I’m a FIRM believer in the law of attraction, for many  reasons. If you go around thinking about everything you don’t have, it will never be any further from you. You say… but, Sarah, how do I live my life like I have all the stuff I need, if I don’t already have it? Well, you choose your words carefully. You wake up in the morning, count your blessings (no matter how few there are), and thank the universe for the opportunity to gain everything you’re destined to. Once you’ve done this enough times, two things happen. First, you truly see how valuable what it is you do already have, and then simultaneously open your doorway for more.

Everyone is guilty of these thoughts at some point, because we are human. In order to truly evolve and heal, we need to catch ourselves and recondition our knee-jerk reactions into things much more suited for growth, and self love. We also need to stop thinking of self-love as a foo-foo, dirty of silly term, and start defining what that means to us, little by little.

Side note, I was pretty excited to see that my store introduced plum for the holidays – what a great color to finish off the year with. Plum, or violet, or any rich shade of purple, is an extremely powerful color – often associated with royalty (the Advent candles are also purple….) 🙂 I came across a healing technique recently, having to do with envisioning a violet flame – both the color, and visualization, are extremely powerful in that they present a quick spiritual “recharge” that we can do for ourselves.

The  color violet is special in that it holds the highest frequency within the spectrum of colors – this is a scientific fact. By identifying the highest color vibration we know of, we provide a segue to the next level of vibrational light. What’s the brightest thing you can think of, that you’ve seen on earth? Fire.

If I haven’t lost you yet, by envisioning a violet colored flame, we are calling our thoughts to move to the highest level of light our minds can think of. Light such as this has the ability to heal our physical bodies (think of laser therapy), alter our perception of what’s around us (think of illuminating a dark room), and provide warmth and comfort, helping heal our emotional bodies. A quick visualization can put you on the path of healing with a few steps.

In a quiet room, visualize yourself seated and surrounded by violet light. While you’re visualizing it, imagine it flickering as if it were a candlelit  flame – anything to create a realistic image.

  • As you picture yourself immersed completely within the violet light, say this to yourself several times:
  • “I am within the violet light, because the violet light is within me.”
  • Express your gratitude for the opportunity to connect with the Violet Light – this actually is a representation of connecting with your higher self.

If you’ve never visualized something like this, I may have definitely lost you. Trust me when I say that at the very least,  you will feel more calm, and definitely more empowered. Repeat this as necessary throughout the rest of the year.

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I bet you might be hungry after reading all of this. I know I am. Since it’s still COLD as a witch’s…. broomstick, please enjoy this tasty healthy version of a twice baked potato. Gluten-free, dairy free, paleo, keto-compliant, this thing is the bees knees. You won’t be sorry 🙂

Chipotle Twice-Baked Sweet Potato with Bacon and Avocado (Paleo!)

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 90 min

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

  • 3 sweet potatoes, more round/fat in shape
  • 1 lb of thick cut bacon
  • 1 heaping tsp of ground chipotle powder
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 2-3 ripe avocados
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prick your sweet potatoes with a fork, and coat with your preferred fat/oil (I like avocado oil). Bake for 50-60 minutes, until tender. Once cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool before slicing neatly in half. Further let cool once cut and halved. Turn oven down to 350. If using to cook bacon on a cookie sheet, bake until slightly browned. Leave oven at operating temperature. (skillet cooking bacon is fine too – just cook and set aside). Chop into small pieces, and set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, add 1 tsp of your preferred oil and saute onion until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Then add your garlic, continuing to saute until starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, gently scoop the contents of each sweet potato half, leaving behind a thin layer if necessary to keep the skin in tact. Mash the sweet potato, adding the garlic, onion and chipotle. Next, add your bacon. You likely won’t want to taste test for more salt until after your bacon is added, since bacon does tend to add a lot of salty flavor. Add more chipotle, if desired.
  4. Scoop contents back into the sweet potato skins, dividing equally. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until potato starts to form a golden crust.
  5. Meanwhile, as the potatoes are cooking, mash your avocado in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and a pinch of chipotle if desired. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can make this as you would any other guacamole (link to my recipe!), depending on what ingredients you have on hand.
  6. When potatoes are finished cooking, remove from heat and serve with a scoop of avocado on top. Garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy!

-S

Garlic Paprika Thyme Sweet Potato Fries (Paleo, Vegan!)

Boy, do I love me some carbs. It’s sort of a problem.

My jeans have gotten tighter, but such is life when Dogfish Head Punkin Ale AND French fries are involved. Even if this means I have to go out and actually get both of them. Yum? Yes. Since I typically start off complaining about the weather, I’d like to point out that it’s been feeling particularly Fall-ish recently… with the exception of the monsoon and grey skies today, I enjoy that the leaves have been falling. I even went out to the barn yesterday! I didn’t ride, it was raining, but it was nice, crisp and cool. Two thumbs up.

I’m also back into the swing of things with cooking on Sundays… I hope to make a few things that I can pass along on the blog, but I do get a bit… lax…. When it comes to healthy eating as the weather gets cooler. I’ve been exceptionally lucky to not have to worry a WHOLE lot about gaining weight with as much as I do, but as I said… my jeans, they is tight. I will be doing some cardio today, with the intention of eating Guinness Beef stew soon, and some Shepherd’s Pie, and… other potato-ey goodness without sacrificing my waistline.

The good news is, not all carbs are created equal. There are complex carbs, and carbs are fuel! Unless you’re into the Ketogenic diet (which I do enjoy a lower carb recipe every now and again), use your carbs to your advantage, and dress em up with some garlic and zest. Like these, below.

Garlic Paprika Thyme Sweet Potato Fries (Paleo, Vegan!)

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 35-40 min

Ingredients

  • Two large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin, fry-shaped strips (sized to your preference, some people like wedges)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ tbsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together your garlic, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl with your olive oil.
  2. To evenly coat, I like to put my fries into a bag, pour my oil mixture in, and shake… you can also coat sweet potato fries with a brush, or your hands if you enjoy a mess… heh.
  3. On a greased cookie sheet, place your fries in a single layer, evenly spaced, so they cook thoroughly. If you prefer super crispy fries, feel free to turn over with tongs once browned on one side. Once they start to crisp/firm up and brown, remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes before serving. As they dry, they will  continue to crisp.

Enjoy!

-S

Jalapeño Popper Deviled Eggs (Paleo!)

So, I’m starting to think that Fall is never actually happening… it’s sweltering hot, we’ve got hurricanes around every corner, there’s bugs…. There’s a lot of issues with this and it’s just not working out. You know what’s fun though? The Flyers playing, whatever other football game is on, baseball…. While I really only care about the Flyers, you know what I love about sports parties? FOOD.

I’ve had to behave myself a really eat well these last few weeks, because once a game comes on…. Well, willpower goes out the window I can’t help but eat everything in sight. What I really am trying to say is that I haven’t behaved myself at all, and I’ve been eating like a dump truck. Better get crackin’ on the treadmill.

I don’t know about you guys, but while I love the coziness of sit-down Sunday dinners each week, I also love making snacks for game time so there’s more variety, and more choices to eat. A friend at work has brought me jalapeńo peppers, and I knew just what I wanted to make.

Deviled eggs!

The cool thing about them is a.) once you hard boil them, they’re pretty hard to screw up. Not to say I haven’t had a nasty deviled egg in my life, but if you mess them up, you can add different flavors little by little to fix them back up. A great way to jazz them up is to add bacon… because bacon is the best. With that, I had an idea… why not add jalapeńo?

I bring you… jalapeńo popper deviled eggs. I promise you, they’re worth a try.

Jalapeño Popper Deviled Eggs (Paleo!)

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 12 min

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise, plus more if needed
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp paprika, plus more for garnish
  • 1 large jalapeńo(stems and seeds removed), minced
  • 1 heaping tbsp of chives, chopped
  • 3-4 pieces of cooked bacon, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large pot, place your eggs in room  temperature water that covers the eggs completely. Add a pinch of table salt, and a dash of vinegar. (rumor has it this makes the eggs easier to peel).
  2. Bring to a boil, and let boil for 90 seconds. Turn the heat off, and cover. Let sit for 12 minutes.
  3. Once 12 minutes has passed, place your eggs in a bowl of ice water to prevent overcooking. This also cuts down on cool-down time needed before you start to peel. Once the eggs are cooled, gently peel the shells off and discard.
  4. Cut eggs lengthwise in half. Remove yolks and place into medium-sized bowl. Set your white halves on a plate, face up,  to use later.
  5. Mash your yolks with fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar and black pepper, mix well. Next, add your bacon, jalapeńo and chives. Add any additional salt to taste, continuing to gently mix.
  6. scoop the mix into a ziploc bag with the tip cut (big enough for bacon pieces to pass) or a spoon, fill each egg white half with the mixture to desired amount — be generous. Refrigerate, covered, to allow flavors to blend. Sprinkle with paprika just before serving, if desired.

Enjoy!

-S

Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Dip (Gluten Free, Vegan!)

Just a quick update for you all! Tomorrow is my birthday, and I’ve been SUPER busy. I haven’t forgotten about you!

I wanted to give you guys a good recipe for any upcoming parties you have, especially for fall J I love to make my own potato and sweet potato chips, which go really well with this recipe (air fryers for the win, I love Amazon… find mine here). This dip is super quick, super easy, and the last time I made it, it was gone within 30 min. Note…. Double the recipe next time, heh.

Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Dip (Gluten-free, Vegan!)

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Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: n/a

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can of cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • ¾ cup of roasted red peppers (jarred, in olive oil, is what I used)
  • juice from ½ of a large lemon, plus more to taste
  • salt, to taste (I used ~1 tsp)
  • pepper, to taste
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ~1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • optional: handful of crumbled feta (FYI – feta is not vegan… it’s cheese…)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except the feta cheese in a food processor and blend until smooth – about 30-45 seconds. Adjust flavors to preference – you may like additional salt, or lemon.
  2. If using feta, upon serving, stir gently into the dip. I also like to sprinkle some on top for presentation, but note! Again, feta is not vegan.

Enjoy!

-S

Toasted/Candied Nuts

Picture from foodhomeandaway.com, image subject to copyright

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 15-20 min

This is the perfect staple to salads, pasta dishes, or even a snack/charcuterie tray. You can dress them up, make them spicy, the whole nine. Follow this simple “recipe” to make delicious, walnuts, pecans, or more! I always keep some on hand to throw into a recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 to 2 cups of your preferred nut (I often use roasted/unsalted pecans or walnuts)
  • Egg whites from 1-2 eggs, depending on how much nuts you have
  • Spices of your choice – for candied/sweeter ones, I’ll use maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc. For savory ones, I’ll use salt, garlic powder, dried herbs such as parsley, chives, thyme… whatever you want! Be very generous with seasoning

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, add your egg whites and seasonings to a large bowl. Using a whisk or a mixer, briskly whip your egg whites until they are quite foamy. You don’t want merengue-style egg whites, and you definitely shouldn’t have any peaks…. Just enough elbow grease to get the eggs pretty foamy and opaque.
  3. Add your nuts into a large Ziploc bag or bowl, and pour in your egg whites. Stir/shake to coat thoroughly.
  4. Add your nuts in a single layer to your cookie sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until starting to darken/crisp. Don’t be alarmed if they’re chewy when you first remove them from the oven… they will crisp up as they dry. Allow to cool.

Enjoy!

-S

Shrimp Ceviche with Mango Avocado and Lime (Paleo!)

September 6th, and HOTTER THAN HADES! Good thing I’m not allowed to wear shorts to work, because I love a good ol’ fashioned heat stroke. Just kidding… no one loves that.

I figure I should  get some of my recipes up that are the last of summer cooking while the heatwave is still here. I definitely forgot about a few things I made, but it’s just really important that I share them. It’s also really important that I share a show I was recently introduced to, because now I’m hooked and watched it way past my bedtime last night. It’s called Humans, and I watch it on Amazon Prime Video. Without giving too much of the show away, it centers around artificially intelligent “synthetic humans”, whose purpose is to help people do tasks and be of general help. You find out very quickly  that a handful of them are different, in that they’ve been programmed to have feelings. You can imagine that may throw a wrench in things, and you must watch.

Trying to make this short and sweet so we can get right to the food. Go get the last of your freshly caught seafood, because this one is actually really fun and sort of like a science project! Just a PSA about sourcing ingredients for this recipe, it requires shrimp. If you’re like me and want to try and get the most sustainable and toxin-free version of seafood, you may no need to spend the big bucks for wild-caught shrimp. According to an article I came across on Medium.com, (Why Wild-Caught Shrimp Aren’t as Innocent as You Think), Shrimp is one of the most widely consumed seafood categories, which if wild-caught, may impact the ocean’s ecosystem in more ways than we know. Additionally, much of the shrimp in the US is imported and held to a different standard than US food regulations. There’s honestly a lot of grey area (and I don’t really spend a lot of time researching shrimp farms, to be honest…) that I’m not aware of, so I make sure if I make ceviche, I’m buying reputable shrimp. If you have an iron stomach or simply aren’t concerned, buying farm-raised shrimp will do you just fine.

To start, buying frozen isn’t bad – if anything, it gives you some time to decide what you want to do with it. Though I have yet to easily come across truly organic shrimp, there are a few things to look for if you want to make sure your choice in seafood is a smart, sustainable choice. The Marine Stewardship Council or Best Aquaculture Practices often add labels to shrimp so you know what you’re buying. As with any animal, the bigger ones likely have a greater impact than the normal sized ones, so I tend to just get the 21-30 count.

ANOTHER COOL THING! Did you know that the enzymes in citrus can actually “cook” seafood? Both cooking seafood with heat and curing it with citrus juice allows a process called “denaturation” to happen. I won’t bore you with the science… but it has to do with enzymes in the citric acid breaking down molecules within the fish as if it were cooked. Safe to eat, delicious, etc. Makes me think of sitting on the patio at a restaurant in Key West or Costa Rica, eating fresh ceviche with my morning omelette… 🙂

Shrimp Ceviche with Mango Avocado and Lime

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 3-4 hours (marinating time)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb raw shrimp, rinsed, tails removed
  • ½ medium sized red onion, finely minced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 2 roma or vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced into small cubes
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, stems, ribs and seeds removed
  • Juice of 4 limes, plus more if needed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. On a plastic cutting board (no raw anything on wood, if you can help it!), dice your shrimp and add to a shallow pyrex or baking dish. I cut mine into thirds for bite-size chunks.
  2. Add your shrimp to your dish, spreading in a single layer if possible. You want to keep this shallow so the citrus juice can cover the shrimp entirely. Add your lime and lemon juice, stirring to ensure the shrimp is coated. Cover the shrimp with tomato and red onion, spreading to cover any bare spots. Cover and let sit for at least 3-4 hours in the refrigerator to marinate.
  3. Check back after the time has passed to ensure your shrimp is “cooked”. It should appear pink, and opaque. If you see bits of gray, give it a stir to coat (it’s fine to mix the onion and tomato around now) and let stand for another 30-60 minutes.
  4. Once the shrimp is cured, add your mango, cilantro and avocado. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. I tend to squeeze in a pinch more of lime juice for an added bite, as the shrimp tends to absorb much of the flavor.
  5. Garnish with extra cilantro, if desired. Serve with chips or preferred dipper, such as vegetables. I like Siete’s grain free tortilla chips 🙂

Enjoy!

-S

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Garlic, Sage and Mushrooms (Paleo, Vegan!)

More rain. That’s totally fine. It means I’m not missing anything outdoors, and I can sit inside, watch Barefoot Contessa and stare at my dog. And more importantly…. COOK!

It’s September 1, which means a lot to a lot of different people. To me, as a fall baby, a Libra, and lover of all things fall, it’s been a countdown for the last 9 months. I’m not even ashamed of all the plaid flannel, suede booties and cute thermals I have… and the food is a whole different ballgame. Speaking of ballgames, I think other people are interested in football right now…? I love to watch baseball, but my sport of choice is hockey. Go Flyers. I’m a horseperson, so my hobbies aren’t really something people gather to watch unless they partake themselves. But I do love me some football parties, because that means COOKING!

Short and sweet, honestly. This recipe is a repost by request. I posted a little preview on my Instagram a little while back, but here we are with the final product! Gnocchi is one of the few Italian foods I do eat. While I love carbs, I’d much prefer potatoes than pasta. Growing up around a predominantly Italian extended family (though I am not one bit Italian, lol!), I got to see a lot of different ways to make staple Italian dishes. I love ricotta gnocchi, regular gnocchi, the whole nine… but red sauce isn’t something I typically prefer, unless it’s on top of a pizza. That’s a recipe for another time, so let me share with you how to make Brown Butter and Sage Sweet Potato Gnocchi! Yes, you read that right 🙂

These have an inherently sweet flavor because of the sweet potato, so balancing it with hearty mushrooms, garlic and sage just really makes the dish pop. Oh, did I mention these are VEGAN? You can definitely jazz them up by adding some pancetta, but these will do just fine. Promise.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Garlic, Sage and Mushrooms (Paleo, Vegan!)

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed so that any chunks are broken up
  • 1/2 cup of cassava flour, plus more if needed. Sometimes the sweet potatoes hold a bit more water than anticipated, which is no biggie!
  • ~2 tsp olive oil, plus more if needed
  • pinch of sea salt, to taste
  • 1 package of pre-sliced cremini/baby bella mushrooms, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 heaping tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • additional herbs of choice, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Peel and rinse your sweet potatoes, removing any knots. Boil in a large pot, potatoes covered with water until soft. Once finished, remove from water and allow to cool. Place in a large bowl and mash until smooth.
  2. Add in your cassava flour and mix until completely smooth. Add salt to taste. If you prefer a bit of zest, feel free to add a smidge of garlic powder and paprika, a pinch at a time. The flavor will be in the sauce, so don’t worry if it’s light.
  3. This part can get tedious, so be patient! Take teaspoon sized scoops of the mixture and roll into balls. I used a gnocchi roller to really get the shape going, but you can form into an oblong sphere and roll with a fork to get your gnocchi marks.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop gnocchi into it. Once they have risen to the surface, remove, and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  5. If you have one, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into the pan. Add gnocchi and cook on each side until golden, then remove. I’ve tried this with cast iron and regular metal, and they may stick unless you use a nonstick skillet.
  6. While your yams are boiling (or while your gnocchi mixture sits), Add your onion to a large frying pan along with a tbsp of olive oil (or ghee/butter if not vegan) over medium heat. Sauté 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until translucent.
  7. Add your garlic and mushrooms, continuing to stir. The mushrooms may start to release some water, so make sure these remain uncovered.
  8. Once the mushroom and onion mixture starts to caramelize, add your gnocchi to the same pan as well as your sage, and continue to sauté. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Try not to disturb the gnocchi too much, as you don’t want them to break apart. Shimmy the pan to mix until further browned, another 2-3 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Garnish with herbs.

Enjoy!

-S