Pumpkin Ginger Spiced Muffins (Paleo)

I am not a baker. While I feel as though many of my best recipes are desserts, I think it’s because they’re a version of something everyone already likes… with a healthy twist. It’s like getting the best of both worlds.

In my attempt to fill my life with as many seasonally appropriate things as possible, I’ve studied Pinterest religiously, and canvassed the house with mums and Indian corn. I bought all of my cans of organic pumpkin puree BEFORE the mad Fall rush, and I have even thought of my outfits ahead of time, according to what sweater I want to wear that day. This last one is a fail because the weather is unseasonably warm, but I am determined to fill the house with smells of fall recipes and pumpkins, and spice.

Once the weather cools down, I’ll tackle more fall soups, salads and main dishes, but for now — I will continue my hand in baking. I grew up on carrot cakes,  ginger snaps and potpourri, but I never really had a sweet tooth. I’m not sure what happened between then and now, but I really enjoy baking.

These ‘lil beauts happened after much trial and error, and after a few rounds of bland muffins, I decided to dump in  a bunch of my favorite spices, sub in some pumpkin for apple sauce, and lo and behold, the perfect little breakfast muffin was born. Though they don’t need to be limited to breakfast, I find it’s just enough sweetness with the spice to satisfy. I use unsulphured/unsweetened molasses, which gives them a really nice earthy flavor.

I guess, the moral of the story here is that there are things in life that we don’t think we’re good at, but really, it’s just that we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to succeed. If you were to ask me if I’m a great baker, I’d probably say that I’m terrible… a “baking dunce”, if you will. When I think about it though, I should give myself at least a little credit for the things that ended up being pretty good.

This can really go for anything. A sport, playing an instrument, singing, etc. A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to drive a manual transmission. I thought I was always terrible at it — I couldn’t remember the last time I drove one. I got in, drove away, completely forgetting why I thought I couldn’t do it. Sometimes, you just need to remind yourself that you’re capable of whatever you want to do — sometimes you just need to try it.

Go make these muffins — they’re a delicious and healthy alternative to normal fall cakes and cookies. Yum!

Paleo Pumpkin Ginger Spiced Muffins

fullsizeoutput_3fa

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Makes 12 muffins

 

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup of full fat canned coconut milk, mixed/shaken thoroughly
  • 1/4 cup organic coconut sugar
  • 3 Tbsp organic molasses
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of fine ground Himalayan sea salt

 

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a non-stick 12 cup muffin pan. You can use liners, but I find they get a nice shape when directly in the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, coconut sugar, maple syrup, molasses and vanilla until blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients – almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot starch, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda and salt. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture until just combined – since the flours aren’t wheat based, allow to set for about 5 minutes so everything  can absorb.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups, about 1/2 to 2/3 full. The batter will rise at it cooks.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until starting to brown. You can test the doneness by sticking a toothpick in a few of the center muffins — nothing should stick to the toothpick.
  7. Remove from oven, allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 2 minutes or so before carefully removing them to cool.

 

Optional – if you prefer a more decadent muffin, feel free to mix some leftover coconut milk, maple syrup, pinch of cinnamon, ginger and allspice and drizzle over the top.

 

Enjoy!

Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Paleo)

Everyone has a weakness… my biggest one happens to be food. Carbs, actually. Salty, starchy carbs.

Let’s cut to the chase… it’s potatoes. Potatoes make my world go ‘round.

I love them in literally any form. Chips, friends, mashed, baked, grilled, roasted, sliced, tater tots, latkes, in a soup… everything. I was dared to eat a potato raw, once. While I probably wouldn’t do it again, I definitely remember there being zero hesitation when I tried it the first time.

Over the years, I’ve become what I consider to be a mashed potato connoisseur. I love Thanksgiving and the fact that my family typically supplies ~10 lbs of mashed potatoes each year because they know I just need potatoes in my life. If I get married, I will be having a mashed potato bar. While I’ll never pass up a good heap of potahtoes, some just stand out better than others.

I’ve made Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, and they ended up fine. But let’s be honest, here… who wants potatoes that are *just* fine? I don’t like shortcuts, and I don’t want potatoes that are just “meh”. I like what I like, and that’s just what I like. I’ll only make mashed potatoes a certain way.

There’s something to be said about staying true to your preferences and quirks. So long as they don’t harm anyone, intentionally hurt anyone or impact your quality of life, let your inner weirdo out. Personally, I’m incredibly particular – I like things in a certain order, I prefer to eat things a certain way, I like to make things a certain way. Is it weird? Well, no, I’m sure there are more eyebrow-raising things out there I could be doing, but it’s definitely a noticeable “ism” that I have. These could be anything; physical, intellectual, spatial… anything that doesn’t sit right with you, on you or for you — it’s important to at least make an effort to understand why you’re wired that way, or why something drives you like it does.

With me — and food being most important — I keep my basics the same and rarely stray. All my best mashed potato recipes are made with red potatoes, skin on. I tell myself it adds some vitamins. For holidays, I do add full dairy to my potatoes, but I try to keep that as a treat. As for any other day, I try to limit that as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to add some herbs and spices to your potatoes! Fortunately, since potatoes are so starchy, they’re forgiving if you’re heavy handed. There’s different schools of thought with whether or not ghee fits into a paleo diet, and honestly, if you’re buying high-quality ghee, all the milk proteins, lactose and casein are removed (which by definition, is paleo)

Try these, and experiment with your flavor combos…. and remember, garlic is never wrong.

 

Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes

fullsizeoutput_3f3

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 30 min

Serves 6-8

 

Ingredients

  • 8-10 medium sized red potatoes, washed/scrubbed
  • 2 cups unsweetened/unflavored almond milk
  • 1/3 cup high-quality ghee, or non-dairy butter alternative (if dairy-free)
  • 1 tbsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed or very finely minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • pinch of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Place potatoes in a large stockpot, just covering with water. Bring to a boil and cover. Allow to boil for 20-30 minutes, or until fork-tender.
  2. Drain potatoes and place back into the stockpot. Add ghee, almond milk, salt, pepper, paprika  and garlic. With a hand-masher or mixer, mash potatoes until no large chunks are left and potatoes start to take a smooth, creamy texture. Add additional almond milk as necessary, if potatoes are too stiff.
  3. Turn stove heat back to low, ensuring potatoes are stirred and don’t burn. Add rosemary and parsley and continue to stir thoroughly. If additional salt is needed, add as well. Serve, and enjoy!

**Pro-Tip!** If making mashed potatoes as part of a larger meal, you can make them first and keep them warm for a long time as you continue to cook. Place a large flat-bottomed steel mixing bowl on the stove, and place your stockpot within the bowl. Fill the bowl with just enough water to cover most of the content within your stockpot. Allow water to warm over medium high heat, which will keep the stockpot hot, then turn to low/simmer. Make sure you’re still checking what’s in the pot occasionally so it doesn’t burn! and a CAUTION: allow water within the bowl to cool prior to removing from stove, as bowl and water will remain hot for a while.

Spinach Artichoke Wonton Cups (Paleo)

Happy Monday! Super rainy and gloomy outside, but I’m off work today so aside from going to the gym this morning, I don’t have to leave my house. Yesterday was my birthday (wahoo!) and we had a fall BBQ planned… we cancelled it due to rain. Imagine our surprise when…. It didn’t rain! Oh well – I enjoyed a fun dinner with some great friends, and got to go to bed early…. My favorite.

We had planned the party for a few weeks – the guest list grew bigger and bigger – friends, neighbors, friends of friends, stragglers who liked our neighborhood and wanted to come… more and more people RSVP’d, and I was so excited. We even planned on having the kids paint pumpkins, which quickly turned into adults wanting to paint their own pumpkins.  We’d have cider and dips, pumpkin beer and other delicious snacks.

Then came the rain. I woke up yesterday, it was gloomy and wet… so we decided to cancel. Unfortunately, right as the party started, the sun even came out for a brief few minutes. Great weather, but darn it. I wish it poured – would’ve made us feel better.

For the BBQ, I had planned to make a few cute little hors d’oeuvres, none of which were made because we postponed the party. These cute little cups were delicious and would’ve been a hit. There’s always next time 🙂

Also! The cool thing about these is that the ingredients I used were pretty much 1:1 to non-vegan equivalents — if you don’t have any restrictions, regular cream cheese, mayo and parmesan can be used.

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Wonton Cups

IMG_2036

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20 min

Makes 14-16 servings/cups

Ingredients

  • 14-16 vegan wonton wrappers
  • 2 tsp Vegenaise
  • 1 pkg frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 15 oz can artichokes, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 6 oz vegan cream cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • (optional for non vegan – 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium high heat. Add spinach, onion and artichoke, sautéing 10-15 minutes until liquid is removed and onions are translucent and starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside to let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, place wonton wrappers in a greased muffin tin, shaping them to form a cup. Brush with tiny bit of olive oil to help them crisp. Bake for 8-10 minutes until starting to slightly brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
  4. As the wonton wrappers are baking, mix your cream cheese, vegenaise and spices together with your spinach, artichoke and onion mixture, ensuring it’s mixed thoroughly. Taste and adjust additional spices as needed. (optional: if using cheese, also mix that in now).
  5. With a spoon, add a scoop of the spinach & artichoke mixture into each wonton wrapper. (optional – for non-vegan cups, sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese on top.)
  6. Bake for another 5-7 minutes, until toppings and wrapper start to brown again. Remove and let cool – these things stay molten hot for a bit.

Enjoy!

-S

 

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken (Paleo)

Do you ever have moments where you just feel the overwhelming urge to reorganize your life? As though there’s just too much going on?

Your workspace is too cluttered; your laundry pile is too high; your kitchen pantry is too full of things you never use, bathroom cabinet full of things you don’t need, closet full of clothes you never wear.

I realize that these problems sound incredibly petty, trivial, and honestly misplaced, considering everything going on in society today. But on this day, this moment, and in this life, I felt overwhelmed. I have too many responsibilities that I’ve signed up for, and not enough time to do them. I’ve told friends “no” when they’ve asked me to go out, because I had a looming date with my bathroom that desperately needed cleaning. Seriously? Yes, that happened. I’ve devoted all of my free time to working, thinking that’s what I should be doing.

In reality, I was doing so much more harm than good. If I’m not producing, organizing, cleaning, cooking, doing, acting, driving, riding, reporting, working, running… spinning….. I’m not doing anything worth doing.  If that won’t drive someone to the nut-house, I’m not sure what will. I work 6-7 days a week, sometimes for weeks at a time, and I have to be honest… I’m just tired.

And so – while I haven’t done it yet, I’m making it my mission to take a break – I will take the time to do things like read, or some sort of craft, or just cook for fun. This is important for a couple of reasons…. Both in the long run, and short term. Breaks help you refocus, reevaluate your priorities, and allow you to think about what you’re trying to accomplish.

In preparation of taking a break, this delicious grilled Hawaiian Chicken sounds like the perfect way to start 🙂

 

Paleo Grilled Hawaiian Chicken

fullsizeoutput_3b6.jpeg

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of fresh pineapple chunks or 1 14-ounce can of pineapple chunks, juice reserved
  • 1 cup gluten free tamari sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 green onions stalks, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 ½ lbs chicken breast or thigh (keep consistent due to cook time)

 

Instructions

  1. Combine pineapple, tamari, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, Dijon, garlic, ginger and green onion in the food processor. Blend until smooth, no major chunks.
  2. Trim chicken of any excess fat or other parts, and place in a large bowl. Pour the marinade over and cover for at least 1 hour, up to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat the grill to 400+ degrees F.
  4. Place chicken on direct heat, ensuring to let sit to cook thoroughly. Use excess marinade to coat while grilling, until finished… about 10-15 minutes each side.
  5. Remove from heat once cooked, and let rest under foil for 5 minutes. Serve with some Mexican Corn Salad.

Enjoy!

-S

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms (Vegan, Paleo)

What an interesting few days. Interesting in that “Gosh, this doesn’t seem right” kind of way, but I wish it was interesting in a more upbeat kind of way.  It’s the start of Fall, for cryin’ out loud! Still…. I was angry yesterday. I woke up angry on Saturday, too. The more I think of it, I woke up angry pretty much every day this week. I thought to myself, this is not a good look. Stop it.

But instead of figuring out why I was angry in the first place, I just told myself to get over it and keep going about my day. Well, here’s the problem. Anger is a crazy, blood thirsty demon beast thing. It can escalate, quickly, like a volcano erupting with no notice. What’s left in the wake of anger often times isn’t pleasant. I found this out when a man cut me off in traffic on my way to work last week. And let me tell you. Do not try this at home.

I’m driving through a somewhat-congested city block, and a man cuts me off in traffic, across 2 lanes, to come to a stop in a turning lane. Angry still, I somehow manage to internalize my rage after a morning filled with dog-mess, forgetting my breakfast, forgetting my lunch, and realizing I also desperately need gas in my car but no time to get it.

This man decided it was rightly time to roll his window down, and to yell at me about not letting him immediately cross 2 lanes of traffic when he needed to get somewhere. After about 10 seconds (maybe 3 seconds) of ignoring him, I roll my window down, ask if he really wants to get where he’s going or if he wants to, throw in a few fun expletives, show some She-Rage, and the man promptly rolls his window back up, looking bewildered and surprised. He drives off immediately. I pause, and cry as I enter the parking garage, riddled with guilt for yelling at a stranger.

Now, before anyone tells me that this person could’ve been a psycho and I shouldn’t have indulged, that’s the very point of anger. It’s not waiting for you to use your manners, be reasonable, or to think it out before acting. It’s a primal emotion that comes from a source that needs to be acknowledged. If you ignore it for too long, it will bite you.

However, there’s always a silver lining. Anger is just the root of something we feel about ourselves, even if the anger is aimed elsewhere. Chances are, if you’ve reached the point where something seemingly small angers you, you’ve just uncovered your next lesson on what you need to heal, what you need to work on and where you need to focus your strength on.

You could be harboring beliefs that are actually undermining you, or you could be weighing yourself down with things that, while they seem good for now, they really aren’t helping you move forward. This could be a toxic friend, a well-paying but depressing job, or even just a temporary change of scenery to gain some clarity.

The thing about anger is that it’s everywhere, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Anger should never justify violence towards someone, or other harm, but the sentiment itself should not be shamed. We see it everywhere – an angered animal defending its safety, mother nature wreaking havoc on countries that needed a leg up to begin with. it’s truly a part of everything in this world. However – if you can turn it around and take one lesson away from the pain, your anger will start to diminish and show up less and less. Let it out, and make no room for it to come back by filling that space with happiness. Sounds hard, but it’s as easy as saying no to a pushy friend, stopping yourself from your negative thoughts, or taking a walk and thinking about what to do differently next time.

Give it some thought!

 

Paleo/Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

fullsizeoutput_3b7

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 large portabella mushrooms, washed, stems and gills removed
  • 8 oz vegan cream cheese, softened (can use regular cream cheese if not dairy-free)
  • 16 oz frozen cut leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup gluten-free Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2/3 cup vegan parmesan, or more to taste
  • *optional* 2/3 cup finely shredded fresh parmesan, or more to taste (for non-dairy-free friends)
*note* I used real parmesan on top of them because we had a wedge of it on hand – real cheese is pictured above

Directions:

  1. Brush the cleaned mushrooms with olive oil on both sides and place on baking pan in middle of the oven. Broil on high for 5 minutes each side, or until tender.
  2. Once removed from the oven, drain the liquid from them, place back on a parchment lined cookie sheet stem side up, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn oven down to bake at 375 degrees F.
  3. In a frying pan, sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent and starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, spinach, artichoke hearts, onion, garlic, salt, olive oil, bread crumbs and red pepper flakes. Taste, and add salt or pepper if needed. Remember – the mushrooms absorb a lot of the sodium from the mixture – it’s ok to add a pinch more of spices! If the mixture has too much moisture, add more breadcrumbs 1 tbsp at a time. If it’s too dry, add a tsp of olive oil until mixture has a good consistency.
  5. Using a spoon, place approximately half a cup of spinach mixture into each mushroom, pressing it down to make sure it fills the entire cap. If any mixture is leftover, distribute evenly among the mushrooms.
  6. Sprinkle each mushroom with your preferred parmesan. At this point… the more, the merrier.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until filling is bubbling and starts to brown.

Enjoy!

-S