8 Easy Paleo Alternatives To Your Every Day Diet

As a follower of the Paleo diet*, I try to adhere to the basic principles as best I can, unless I absolutely must eat French fries and drink beer. I have zero dietary allergies or restrictions, but do this more to maintain a healthy lifestyle with some flexibility.

A lot of people as why I care so much about eating things that follow the Paleolithic diet, and why I think it’s a relevant lifestyle in 2017. Let’s be honest, if it were 45,000 BCE and I were wearing a mammoth loincloth, running around barefoot and gathering nuts, seeds and berries for my young…. I probably wouldn’t be ordering Coconaise off of Amazon, or eating Dijon Crusted Chicken (which you should definitely try….).

But… that was then, this is now, and we have OPTIONS! Woo! The concept of the Paleolithic diet is to eat things in the purest form your body can tolerate. I don’t recommend tearing at raw meat as I’m sure someone out there does, but you don’t want to eat processed and refined foods if you can help it. The idea is to avoid an overabundance of carbs from the wrong sources, or to eat anything that inherently impacts the digestive system of an omnivore/carnivore. This part is debated — I am not a scientist, an anthropologist or anything certified to make assumptions about the human body– I have done my own research and have concluded that I feel best when eating this way, except with limited red meat.

So, how easy is it to make the swap on your favorite things? Easier than you think. Don’t be afraid to get creative, and as always, load up on the spices. Always. Bland is only ok when you’re sick! Bring on the zest!

 

Milk

almond-milk

While I used to drink milk as a kid in my cereal, I have really grown out of the idea of dairy as a whole, but most importantly, no milk. My mom only ever bought skim anyway, so there wasn’t anything big as far as taste. If you’re dairy-sensitive, vegan, or just don’t feel like drinking another animal’s by-product, you can enjoy plant-based milks. I find almond milk to be the most versatile when cooking dinner, but specific ones can be used depending on your need. Almond, flax or rice milk work best in desserts, whereas coconut milk and cream work best when making a “cream-based” dish, like this Caprese Chicken recipe.

 

Butter

ghee.jpg

Though this isn’t a great swap for vegans, I love using ghee when cooking, whenever I can. It lends a nice richness to the dish, and is a good saturated fat, just like avocado. It’s good for people who have casein or lactose sensitivities, and it’s a great source of vitamin E. Also, it has a higher smoke point than butter, so it’s great for the frying pan.

 

Bread

sweet potato

Who doesn’t love a fresh hot French baguette out of the oven? I mean, I do. But honestly, since I could and would probably eat an entire one myself, I’m glad to stick to a paleo regimen that avoids bread. If I’m making a burger, or want to eat a little crostini, I love to roast sweet potato or eggplant until crisp so that I can use it as a bun. If you want something a little more wild, put whatever you’re eating between a roasted slab of bell pepper.

 

Flour

flour

This one can be tricky, and you have to get creative. There’s a ton of alternatives to all-purpose wheat flour, and sticking to a paleo diet is great if you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy. I tend to stick to almond flour, as it’s a 1:1 ratio to all-purpose flour, but depending on how “wet” the other ingredients are, sometimes it requires more egg or another binding agent. so the recipe might need to be altered. Cassava flour is also 1:1 and a great alternative. Coconut flour is on the rise, but is MUCH more absorbent than its counterparts. For a cup of regular flour, you’ll only need to use 1/4-1/3 of coconut flour. Typically, you’ll need to add more liquid or eggs. While baking, this usually means more eggs.

 

Breadcrumbs

breadcrumbs

Again…. I love bread, so it’s a disappointment when I have to think about giving it up. Especially panko bread crumbs! A great alternative to breading things with breadcrumbs is crushed plantains, flax meal, or crushed almonds. If you’re adding breadcrumbs to a recipe like meatballs, almond flour is a good alternative.

 

Soy Sauce

soy-sauce

This is for all my sushi lovers and marinade fans out there. I LOVE the nutty flavor of a good soy sauce or Tamari, but neither are 100% gluten free. This is where coconut aminos comes in – I love this stuff, and it only has two ingredients. Soy sauce, while tasty, contains phytoestrogens – these are unfavorable because of their association with hormonal disruption and disease. A little bit here and there won’t cause you immediate harm, but coconut aminos are a safe alternative.

 

Rice

rice

Rice…. The unfortunately delicious part of sushi. While I have yet to make “sushi” with cauliflower rice, I do like throwing it in the food processor and then a frying pan with some lemon, garlic and parsley. It’s light, a good alternative to rice, and a perfect standalone side dish when you add some flavor. The good thing is you can make it into pretty much anything – Mexican, Asian, Indian… add the right spices and you’ve got yourself a good staple.

 

Noodles

zoodles

Ever heard of a “Vegetti”? Think it sounds dirty? Because it does. Once you stop giggling about its name, it’s a lifesaver of a spiralizer when you want some noodles. Throw a zucchini on this thing and you’ve got yourself some delicious pasta! Another alternative, which I’ve made before but doesn’t absorb flavor as much (but is still good!) are kelp noodles. Both of which have the same texture as cooked spaghetti, so load on the spices and you’ve got yourself a great Paleo alternative.

 

Chips

plantain chips

Potato Chips. I love them. Honestly, I can remember when I was younger and they came out with Ketchup flavored potato chips, and I toured the Herr’s factory when they were giving out samples to see if the public liked them. They were gross, as expected, but there are so many other good flavors…. I’m drooling. The good news is, if you go get yourself a mandolin, you can make a chip out of just about anything. I prefer sweet potatoes, kale, parsnips, and really any other root veggie. Salt em a little with some sea salt and olive oil, and put them in the oven at 250 degrees F until they start to brown just slightly.

And there you have it! Not so hard – and you’ll find you get creative to start prepping things the way you like them. If you’ve made a swap for something paleo, gluten free or vegan and want to share, post in the comments!

Don’t forget to head over to my Instagram (@thedivinekitchen) and Facebook (facebook.com/thedivinekitchenblog) and like both if you’re a fan 🙂

Enjoy!

-S

*Note – Products or foods recommended on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I am not a medical doctor, licensed healthcare professional, or dietician, and should you have any concerns regarding your health, contact a healthcare practitioner.

Pumpkin Chai Spiced Cheesecake (Paleo, Vegan)

I’ve had some really great ideas lately for things I want to start doing with this blog. My ultimate goal is to have a cookbook (working on it!), but I want to add a few other cool things to my repertoire too. I have so many little recipes for natural household cleaners with essential oils, herb infused cooking ingredients, the whole nine. Once I get some more time, I will definitely be sharing!

On a side note, Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away, and I’m left wondering where 2017 went. I think I can speak for most when I say that 2016 was just a lengthy and traumatic, so we were all waiting for 2017 to be a nice transition to figure all of our shit out.

I don’t think that happened, because it’s November and I’m not sure what I’ve done for the last 10.5 months. And I only drank a *few* beers.

Regardless, I plan on spending the rest of this year making my time count – I have a lot I want to accomplish, and I’m tired of letting time pass me by. To start, I want 2018 to have newsletters, updates, and I want to share with you all whatever it is you’re looking for when you walk into your kitchen and want to be inspired.

This post is short and sweet, didn’t take a lot of time… much like this recipe J I have another variation of this that I’ll have to post, but I wanted you all to have a delicious, gluten free/vegan alternative to bring to the Thanksgiving table next week! For a person that doesn’t really eat desserts… this one takes the cake. Pun intended.

Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake (Gluten Free, Vegan)

fullsizeoutput_460

prep time: 25 min

cook time: n/a

Serves 12

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1¼ cup Medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Filling

  • 1½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained**
  • ½ cup coconut cream
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup liquid virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tsp chai tea leaves (approx. 2-3 tea bags)

**soaking the cashews for 4-5 hours is best, but you can also soak for about 20-25 minutes in a bowl of boiling water)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

For the crust:

  1. Add dates, cinnamon and almonds to food processor and pulse on high for 1-2 minutes until finely chopped and mixture starts to become sticky when you pinch it together. If the mixture is too dry, add more dates. If it’s too sticky, add more almonds, a small handful at a time.
  2. Transfer your crust to an 8″ springform pan. Firmly press crust into the bottom of the baking dish, ensuring that it is packed evenly around the entire dish and no air bubbles remain. Set aside.

For the cheesecake:

  1. In a blender, add cashews, coconut cream, agave nectar, vanilla extract, pumpkin, coconut oil and pumpkin pie seasoning. Blend on high until filling is very smooth and appears creamy, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Pour half of the batter over the crust, making sure to get rid of any bubbles and that it’s covered evenly. Place in the freezer while you work with the remaining batter.
  3. Add the chai tea leaves to the last half of the batter and blend for another minute or so, making sure the entire mix is evenly blended.
  4. Gently pour the chai batter over the first batter slowly, so as to not mix the two. Tap  the sides of the dish to ensure the layer is evenly covering the rest, and to get rid of any air bubbles.
  5. Place cake in freezer for at least 2 hours to set. Before serving, remove from freeze for about 15 minutes to allow to thaw.

Enjoy!

-S

Full Moons and Moussaka

Remember how I said the weather turned, and I dug out all my sweaters? It was a fluke. It was 60 degrees yesterday, maybe warmer in the sun. I still wore a sweater, and it was the complete opposite of fun. It was un-fun. My building at work had the heat on, too. Because it’s November, right? It should be cold, right? No, because it’s 2017 and we are very much into global warming right now. Yet — today, I walked out of my house in a light shirt, only to find I need the same warm type of sweater now that I thought I needed yesterday.

This weekend was also a full moon. Every time a full moon comes along, I have every intention of doing something special – doing yoga outside, doing some sort of special meditation, or cooking some earthy dish to complement a beautiful night with a bright, clear moon. I end up doing none of those things, but I do notice that without fail, stuff gets weird around a full moon.

The logic in me says, “This is just confirmation bias! Nothing weird happens on a night with a full moon.” The logic needs to be quiet, because that’s no fun, whatsoever. While crazy stuff can happen all the time, I have always found that people act particularly strange and noticeably different during this moon phase.
Since full and new moons happen when the sun, earth and moon are all in alignment, this impacts the tides more than normal, making them stronger and in turn, falling higher and lower. While we don’t notice it on land, don’t you think it’d be a little silly to not consider what impact it has on us if it can move trillions of gallons of water in a cyclical motion? We are more aware and in tune with the vibrations going on around us during a full moon, which, quite literally, is able to illuminate things more than usual.

November is already a powerful month with the vibration of the number 11, so it’s not surprising that people are getting quirky when the entire moon is exposed. As a double digit of the same number, 11 is thought of as a “master number” — so anything occurring during this time is magnified.. both good and bad, because with a double number like this, there’s also balance. This particular full moon could’ve potentially been very confusing — a full moon is the end of a revolving cycle — yet the number 1 has a common understanding of beginnings.  Truthfully, you can take from it what you want. Moon phases are consistent and cyclical, and people tend to see the moon as feminine because of this. At this point in time, the entire moon is exposed, bright and clear – which could be symbolic of moving energy, unearthing problems, concerns, chores or tasks, and approaching them with full clarity.

Whatever the case may be, it is truly beautiful. You can see the little craters, and just thinking how there are footsteps that remain untouched since the landing on the moon is really surreal. Something so still, quiet, and distant can have such an impact on the world around us, to the point where people’s moods change.. it is really cool, is it not? A little floating sky rock moves water next to us from hundreds of thousands of miles away.

We tried to  come up with something we’ve never made this weekend — we landed on Greek cuisine. Fitting for a full moon, as some of the greatest discoveries in astronomy and moon phases happened in ancient Greek culture… things like Ptolemy, Hipparchus, Aristarchus… all the things you learned about but forgot how brilliant these minds were. Greek culture is so rich, so our tribute to that for the full moon was the heartiest and most flavorful dish we could think of — Moussaka! While I know it’s not made by your family Yia Yia, I think Greek grandmas everywhere might say we did pretty well.

Make a note to keep an eye out for everything around you on the next full moon – you might be surprised with what you notice. In the meantime, as it gets colder (and hopefully stays colder), enjoy this delicious dinner 🙂

 

Moussaka

note: this picture was taken from healthyfood.co.uk, which reserves all rights to the photo. Unfortunately, the kitchen was dark and people ravaged the moussaka before I could get a good picture of it. Mine did resemble this image almost identically (in person), and I promise it looks this delicious when you make it.

Prep time: 40 min

Cook time: 30 min

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

Eggplant and Lamb

  • 8 garlic cloves, finely grated, divided
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp chopped mint
  • 3 tbsp chopped oregano
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 3 medium eggplants (about 3½ pounds total), sliced in half lengthwise and then cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 lb ground lamb
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped (ribs and seeds removed)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes

Béchamel

  • 3/4 stick of unsalted butter (if using salted butter, add a pinch less of salt once mixed)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 8 oz of farmer’s cheese, crumbled
  • 4 oz grated Pecorino, grated
  • 3 large egg yolks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Whisk half of the garlic, ½ cup oil, 1 tbsp mint and 1 tbsp oregano in a small bowl.
  2. Thoroughly coat the eggplant rounds with the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Transfer eggplant to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast until tender and browned, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°.
  3. Meanwhile, add about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook lamb and ground beef, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and liquid starts to evaporate, about 12–16 minutes. Drain fat from the meat and transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, add another tsp of oil and allow to heat. Add onion, garlic, ~2½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8–10 minutes. Add jalapeño and cinnamon and continue to cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until onion has browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add paprika, cinnamon and tomato paste and allow to cook for about 1 minute.
  6. Add wine, stirring to mix thoroughly, until reduced and alcohol burns off — about 3 minutes.
  7. Add tomatoes and all of the juice. Carefully break up the tomatoes with a spoon or spatula into smaller pieces… as they heat, they will pop, so be aware.
  8. Add lamb and remainder of mint and oregano and stir to combine. Allow to cook until most of the liquid is evaporated, and remove from heat.

 

Béchamel

  1. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium until completely melted and starting to froth. Add flour and cook, whisking quickly and constantly, until combined, about 1 minute.
  2. Whisk in milk, slowly and a little at a time, and continue to heat, allowing to bubble. Whisk often, until mixture becomes very thick (like pudding), about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in salt. Remove from heat and whisk in farmer cheese and half of the Pecorino. Let sit 10 minutes for cheese to melt, then add egg yolks and vigorously whisk until combined and béchamel is golden yellow.
  4. Brush a 13×9″ baking pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Layer half of eggplant pieces in the pan, covering the bottom entirely. Spread half of lamb/beef mixture over eggplant in an even layer. Repeat with remaining eggplant and lamb/beef to make another layer of each.
  5. Top with béchamel and smooth surface; sprinkle with remaining Pecorino cheese.
  6. Bake moussaka until bubbling and béchamel topping starts to brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

-S

Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs (Paleo)

What weather!!!!

We went from having 80 degree days, to 40 degree nights. I can’t lie, this is my favorite part of the year. Sweaters, jackets, boots, scarves, AHH. And pumpkins! We are having a neighborhood potluck this Saturday, and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. I will definitely be enjoying some pumpkin beer.

I’ve been traveling a lot lately – far away cities for work, traveling back to my alma mater (WE ARE! #2 in the country, go PSU football!), and more or less, not getting enough sleep. Not getting any sleep, for that matter. It was fun putting on nice clothes, a ton of makeup, curling my hair and pretending I was in college again. It was not fun walking around in heels everywhere, though… I’d likely do it again. Kids these days don’t know what life was like before Uber when your campus was huge, your shoes were awfully uncomfortable, taxis were too expensive and subzero temperatures were just brutal.. but you didn’t care, because it was college, and you already had 14 shots so you were still warm.

The only bad thing about traveling is that, unless you’re doing an Airbnb and have full access to every amenity you have at home, you just can’t get a home cooked meal. Though I did get to eat some really delicious things, like shrimp and jalapeno cheddar grits, a real kobe beef burger, jicama fries, tostones, s’mores in a can, Better Cheddar dip, campfire ahi tuna…. among others, I really just wanted to cook myself a dinner and watch tv with my dog.

And that’s exactly what I did last night. I was inspired by hearing someone talk about meatballs on the radio, but… I just don’t like beef meatballs and red sauce. I don’t really like any standard pasta in red sauce, or any accessories that go with it. I wanted something light, but spicy, definitely flavorful, and not time consuming.

Chicken it was!

I thought about doing something like cauliflower rice to make the whole thing paleo, but a good basmati rice is just delicious…. You can definitely put this over something like veggies or cauliflower if you’re strict, though. These lil babes are delicious, full of protein and pretty filling, and they keep well for lunch the next day. And so, it is – Paleo Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs for you.

 

Paleo Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs

fullsizeoutput_444

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 20 min

Serves 2-3

 

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 heaping tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp almond flour

For the sauce:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp red curry paste, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs/seeds removed, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste

Optional: 1 cup of basmati rice, OR cauliflower rice, if strict paleo

 

Directions

  1. In a medium skillet, heat coconut oil over medium high heat. Add first half of onion, and sauté until browning, about 8-10 minutes. Stir to ensure they do not burn. Set aside and let cool a bit.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F as you prep the meatballs.
  3. In a large bowl, add chicken, almond flour, ginger, red curry paste, salt, cayenne, garlic powder, paprika, onion and cilantro and mix thoroughly. The mix should have a slightly red tint to it — if you’re brave and like spice, feel free to add another tsp of red curry paste.
  4. Roll into 1-1.5 inch balls and place on a greased/parchment-lined baking sheet. I covered my hands in a bit of coconut oil first, because chicken sticking to my fingers freaks me out a bit (oh, also.. it’s easier to roll them…)
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they start to brown.
  6. Meanwhile, add rest of onion and red pepper to pan with a splash of oil over medium high heat, stirring to coat. allow to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Once cooked, add tomato paste, red curry paste, garlic powder and salt – stir to mix thoroughly.
  7. Once the mixture is coated with the curry and tomato paste, add coconut milk. Stir thoroughly, allowing to bubble and simmer.
  8. Remove meatballs from oven, and add to the skillet with the sauce — let simmer while moving onto the next step.
  9. Lastly, for the rice – bring 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 tbsp oil and a pinch of salt to a boil. add rice, and turn down to a simmer, allowing to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until water dissipates. Fluff with a fork. If using cauliflower, cut core of cauliflower head out/most of the bulky stem, and pulse the remaining through a food processor until rice-like consistency – heat with 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium high heat until tender, about 4-6 minutes.
  10. Serve meatballs and sauce over the rice in a bowl.

Enjoy!

-S

 

Paleo Mayonnaise

  • All ingredients should be as close to room temperature as possible!
    • 1 large organic egg yolk
    • ¼ tsp finely ground Himalayan sea salt
    • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard (I’m a fan of Grey Poupon… always)
    • 1 ½ tsp lemon juice
    • 1 tssp apple cider vinegar
    • ¾ cup avocado oil

     

    *Note: whisking can be done in place of a food processor– fair warning, you will need some muscle.

    1. Add egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar and salt to your food processor. Pulse until the mixture is uniform, and bright like the egg yolk.
    2. Stream in about a third of your oil through the top and blend until emulsified, about one minute.
    3. Once mixed, continue to blend in the oil in a slow stream until fully emulsified, and blend for another 30 seconds once all of the oil has been added.

    Enjoy!

    -S