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.

—–

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

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

Taco-Spiced Turkey Stuffed Poblano Peppers (Paleo!)

Ah, Mondays.

Not just any Monday – the Monday that I go back to work after having a week off. These are the worst kind of Mondays, but honestly… this one wasn’t so bad. I had so much fun at the beach, but I’m glad to be back. I didn’t get as tan as I had hoped, but I think it’s because I panicked when I would get overheated and spray SPF 70 all over myself. Note: overheating does not mean my skin is burning. Idk, there was a lot of wine involved.

Side note: I am wildly allergic to conventional sunscreen! It’s no fun. I had no idea until my late 20’s that the rash I’d get on my armpits, inside elbows, back of my knees and hips was not because “it was hot outside” – I am allergic to avobenzone and oxybenzone. These ingredients create chemical reactions on your skin that filter UVA rays and converting them to energy less harmful to your skin. (source)

Oddly enough, I have topical allergic reactions when using sunscreen that contains this, so I’ve experimented with mineral based sunscreen and I found one that doesn’t turn me into Casper while I still get a safer tan. One I don’t like? Alba Organics mineral sunscreen, in the green tube. If we’re being completely honest, that shit sucks.

Cue the angels! I stopped at the local surf shop on my way home from the beach and picked up my new favorite. It’s called Raw Elements Daily Lifestyle lotion, SPF 30. To be completely honest, I wish I found this sooner. The crappy thing about zinc sunscreen is that Casper hue, and if you rub this stuff in enough, you don’t get it. Plus, it stays on for a loooooong time, so if you’re like me and forget, you’re good. Plus PLUS, it does not harm the oceans, seas, rivers and lakes, so that’s my favorite part 🙂 Check it out here.

Back to food. Last week I decided to make some goodies, I have yet to post them. One of the glorious things were these peppers. These PEPPERS. You could absolutely make them vegan and sub in some crumbled tempeh or soy and a pinch more spices, and I think that would just be phenomenal. Enough with the talking, let’s dine.

Taco-Spiced Turkey Stuffed Poblano Peppers (Paleo!)

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced; or one 15oz can of diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 ½ tbsp taco seasoning
  • 4 poblano peppers, tops sliced off, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 container of sliced cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • ¼ cup of fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
  • optional for non-paleo eaters – cheese and sour cream, for serving

Directions

  1. in a large skillet, add 1 tbsp of your preferred fat and sauté your onions over medium heat until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add your mushrooms and continue to cook until the moisture has evaporated, another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add your turkey and sauté until fully cooked, another 6-7 minutes. Add your tomatoes, juice and all, and continue to cook.
  3. While there’s still moisture in the pan, add your taco seasoning and stir, covering the contents of the pan. Set aside to cool.
  4. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. While it heats up, stuff your peppers with your turkey mixture, ensuring they’re full by pressing the turkey mixture into the pepper with a spoon or fork.
  5. Place in a greased baking dish and bake for about 35-40 minutes, until pepper has wilted and turkey has browned.
  6. Garnish with your preferred toppings (cilantro, and sour cream/cheese, if using). I squeezed some lime over the top of mine before eating 🙂

Enjoy!

-S

Instant Pot Meal! Curried Chicken Salad (Paleo)

Well, well, well – LONG TIME NO CHAT! A lot has been going on this last month – I’ve been MIA and I feel terrible that I haven’t posted anything for you all to make. I moved at the end of April in preparation to build my house, I had a wedding I traveled for, and just general work busyness. I finally had some time to share my recent food adventures, let alone COOK something. I’ve taken a real liking to my Instant Pot, recently. I don’t know about you guys, but crockpot chicken is the best. I’m talking fall-apart-on-your-fork, melt-in-your-mouth chicken made from 8 hours of slow simmering in some juice.

Well… imagine my dismay when I actually used my Instant Pot for something easy, like chicken simmering in chicken broth? Life-changing…. Yes. Sometimes overlooking the simplest things is where we go wrong.

So I decided to throw a bunch of chicken breast in there, set it to cook for 35 minutes, and I was not disappointed. I let it cool and it took MOMENTS to shred with my fork for this recipe, and that is so satisfying. Literally. It is the best thing. I hate shredding chicken because it’s always clumpy. No more clumpy chicken, now! It’s the little things in life.

You could really take this in any direction… a local health food store has something similar, which inspired me to add my own twist to it. I’ll keep this short so y’all can get to eating… yum.

Curried Chicken Salad (Paleo!)

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 35 min

Serves 6-8 as an app, or 4-5 with sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts, trimmed (no one likes that rubbery part. Take that off, yikes)
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins
  • Handful of roasted cashews, to taste
  • 4 large scallion stalks, sliced thin (green and white parts included)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp red curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ½ to 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp Coconaise (or other paleo mayo brand), plus more if needed
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, sliced thin (OPTIONAL – I hate celery and would never include it.. but I realize that I’m the weirdo for that)

Directions

  1. Place your chicken breast in your Instant Pot and add your broth until chicken breasts are just about covered. Secure your lid set to high (or Meat setting) for 35 minutes, lock your vent, and start.
  2. While your chicken is cooking, mix together your cumin, turmeric, garlic, coriander, chili powder, parsley, salt and pepper. One thing to remember is that the chicken tends to absorb a lot of the sodium in things like this – I usually err on the heavier side of salting my sauce so that once the flavors meld, it’s the right taste. Add your scallions, reserving a pinch for garnish later.
  3. Once your chicken is done and you’ve released the steam from your Instant Pot, carefully remove with a slotted spoon so as to not bring much juice over with it and place in a large bowl. Discard broth (or save for your puppy like I did 😊) Shred with a fork to desired consistency.
  4. Once cooled, add your mayo mixture to your chicken. If you feel the chicken is too dry, feel free to add a teaspoon more mayo, followed by an additional sprinkle of curry.
  5. Gently fold in your cashews and raisins and mix thoroughly (as well as your celery, if using). Garnish with pinch of scallions and serve.

Enjoy!

-S<<
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Jalapeno Popper Chicken Salad (Paleo)

It seems there’s a blizzard every week here! It started to snow today, but the real stuff is tomorrow. Will likely be a “work from home” kind of day.

Interesting happenings, these days! I had an amazing hot yoga session last night. It was more difficult than I thought it’d be, but I think it was exactly what I needed. It was a Spring Equinox Yoga workshop, and the focus was all about intentions, and manifestation, and setting the pace for Spring and everything that comes with it. Stepping out of the mud, peeling back the layers, all of it.

Honestly, to some people, no matter how you frame it… sometimes talking about this kind of thing never goes more than surface level. It sounds nice, or it sounds weird, or it sounds like total BS. It didn’t hit me until last night in this class that unless your whole self, whole presence and whole mind is behind something you want to change or have happen, it’s like flying a plane with no pilot, or a car with no steering wheel. Where’s your direction?

So… back to this class. It was the first hot class I’d done in a while. It takes a LOT to get me to sweat, which didn’t seem to be a problem last night. I lift weights, quite heavily, 6 days a week. I ride. I exercise. I eat healthy (except for my beloved cheeseburgers now and again). We started moving in this class and I was SO not in sync with what was going on. I was concerned with my towel bunching up, I touched the girl’s hand behind me with my foot, thought about how strange I must’ve looked trying to balance in this position when, apparently, I seemed to have lost my ability to balance in any direction.

That’s when it hit me. I am literally ignoring the very reason I am in this class. I am here to shed the nonsense, start fresh, press the reset button… and here I am still flopping around in the mud.

I did a mental check of why I was denying myself the ability to just disconnect from everything around me, and more literally than figuratively, I was just holding on to everything I shouldn’t have been. Have you ever grabbed  your laundry out of the dryer and tried to carry it all upstairs in your arms? Dropping socks, picking them up only to drop more… and so on, and so on. It was time I just drop it all and walk away.

It’s both a blessing and a curse to be so acutely aware of these “Aha!” moments. It was as if I heard the record rewind, and I thought to myself… ‘Okay, why did I even bother coming if I’m just going to sit here and worry about all this crap?’ After that point, I pushed through my shaking muscles, the stretching, and didn’t care if I wasn’t as limber as I once was when going through my sequences. No one else cared what I was doing, not one bit. No one else would suffer from me being distracted, except me. The rest of the class went like a breeze. We then sampled some interesting juice, and off we were.

The moral of the story here — whenever you have your “aha!” moment, you’ll get it. Unless you’re there, wherever you are, 100%… you’re at a standstill. and that’s on purpose — that’s the universe’s way of saying “hey! big plans need your full attention!” Once you’ve trained yourself to put yourself in the here-and-now, you can set the pace however you went when you shed all the crap you’re holding onto, preventing you from changing whatever it is that you want.

For now, enjoy this delicious little snack! you can eat it on crackers, in a wrap, however you want.

 

Jalapeno Popper Chicken Salad (Paleo)

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Prep time: 20 min

cook time: n/a

serves 3-4 as a meal, 6-8 as an app

 

Ingredients

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, white meat picked out (set aside dark meat for another use!)
  • 1 large jalapeno, minced; ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 lb. of bacon, cooked until crisp
  • 1/2 of a red onion, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup paleo mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions

  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and sea salt. adjust to taste. if it’s too tangy, add a bit more mayo and whisk. Likewise, add more vinegar or salt if needed. Set aside.
  2. Place your chicken in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer (or fork if you’re really old-school), shred chicken until desired consistency. It should be fine and stringy, like pulled pork, enough to thoroughly mix with the sauce.
  3. Crumble your bacon and add to the bowl of chicken, along with jalapeno and red onion. Gently mix until combined.
  4. Now add your sauce — again, gently stir until combined. Garnish with slices of jalapeno. Enjoy!

-S

Cabbage, White Bean and Potato Hash (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

This holiday is a strange tradition in that it’s celebrated widely, but few truly know its origins (ok, so I guess it’s not that strange).

The day is to commemorate Patrick, who was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Though his mission and praise is widely accepted in the Christian community (obviously), I wanted to point out a few key things.

Typically, when people think of St. Patrick’s Day, they see it as celebration of Irish pride, acceptance of immigrant culture and supporting diversity. That’s a beautiful avenue to take this holiday through. However, St. Patrick’s Day is actually a day of religious observance, especially within the Catholic Church in Ireland. St. Patrick is credited with the conversion of “thousands” of Irish Pagans to Christianity, steering them away from what appeared to be a life of sin and toil. A little bit of background on the Paganism, shall we?

By now, I suppose a few of you are feeling that Catholic guilt, by even reading on about what Paganism is. I know I did when I first learned of it. But really, what’s the issue with someone holding different beliefs than you, that are more rooted in nature (pun intended)? And that’s perfectly fine – Christians and other mainstream religions are often brought up to equate Paganism with a sense of hedonism, impurity, or without fear of holy reprisal. If that’s what you’re taught, it’s really all you know, right? Well…. let’s reconsider.

Interestingly enough, Paganism is a blanket term for any religion not recognized as “mainstream”. Pagan rituals typically focus on honoring a deity or deities rather than complete devotion; observing natural patterns such as seasonal changes, moon phases and lifetime rites of passage. They feast, honor nature through ceremonies, and incorporate the earth and its offerings into almost everything they do. Sounds harmless, right? Well, it is. Check your pre-conceived notions at the door and do some googling – if you find yourself eye-rolling as you read, you’re denying yourself and your soul the opportunity to learn and see something different.

Much like anything else deemed “abnormal”, or weird, I think we’ve ignored a lot of what originates from Pagan tradition and how a lot of modern religions honor this. Even what we know today, of Saints, religious symbolism within Christianity, isn’t so different. I think everyone has the God-given right to believe what they choose, and no one can take that away from them. What I think is even more important is that you also cannot take that away from anyone else, either. We live in a world with 7 BILLION+ other souls – and the idea that each one can see the same thing much differently is absolutely crazy, isn’t it?

Moral of the story, I am not pro or anti- St Patrick’s Day. Some years I get into it, others I like to honor other sides of the traditions that it comes from. If you do decide to do some research today in honor of St Patrick’s Day. I hope you learn something that moves you, and drives you to be accepting of others. I hope that you can draw some correlation to how maybe we haven’t really lost touch with the roots of this holiday, but are celebrating it in spite of what it started out as. Again – believe what you choose, and be passionate about it. But there’s 7 billion seats at this dinner table, and everyone deserves to be there. Honor yourself by honoring others! 🙂

*note: sources of this information are from my own education on these topics. If you would like to do research, please make sure you are relying on fact-based outlets, educational and scholarly articles, and moderated/unbiased media.

 

Cabbage, White Bean and Potato Hash (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

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prep time: 10 min

cook time: 30 min

 

Ingredients

  • 1 small head of green cabbage, sliced, core and large stems removed
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 can of white kidney beans (cannellini), drained and rinsed
  • 3 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ in cubes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil, for sautéing

 

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, add your oil over medium heat. Add onion – sauté until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add your potatoes and cover, allowing to steam. Stir every few minutes and sauté until potatoes are slightly soft, about another 10 minutes or so. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Turn your heat to low. Add your cabbage and stir to mix – cover and let steam, stirring every few minutes. Once mixture is visibly wilted and browning in spots, add your beans. Stir to mix, and cover. Let cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Once mixture is thoroughly heated, remove lid and turn heat back to medium to allow the starches in the potatoes and beans to dry. Sauté for another 4-5 minutes and remove from heat. If you prefer crisp, continue to sauté until at your preferred level of browned cabbage and potatoes. Serve and enjoy! (Optional for non-Vegans – crumble some bacon over the top).

 

🙂

-S

 

Irish Potato Candies! (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

Ahh…. A nice and welcome break from work. I have not stopped cooking and though I don’t plan on doing anything crazy for St. Patrick’s Day, I cooked up a storm! I’ll make this short and sweet… I made these little potato candies and I just love them. They remind me of when I was a kid and we would make them in elementary school.

Irish potatoes are a dessert that originated in the Philadelphia area. Despite its name, they aren’t from Ireland, and they have no potatoes in them (and definitely shouldn’t, ew). Also, don’t let anyone tell you that any nuts belong in them, either. Double ew. Then you roll them in cinnamon, and just like that, you have a little potato!

These are made without dairy, gluten, or any crap that makes you feel bad. More treats to come, enjoy 🙂

Irish Potato Candies! (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

prep time: 20 min (active)

chill time: 20 min

makes 25 potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups of unsweetened shredded coconut (the fine strips, not ground)
  • 1 oz package of Tofutti “cream cheese”
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tbsp light agave, plus more to taste
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cinnamon, separated
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar

Directions

  1. Add your shredded coconut, cream cheese, vanilla, 1 tsp cinnamon, coconut oil and agave to a large mixing bowl and blend with a mixer. If the mixture appears runny, add ¼ cup of shredded coconut and continue to mix until you have a pasty mixture that you can shape.
  2. Chill in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove from the refrigerator and roll into small potato shaped balls and set aside on a baking sheet. Once your potatoes are formed, add the remaining cinnamon and coconut sugar in a large plastic bag and shake to mix.
  4. One at a time, place each potato in the bag and gently shake to coat thoroughly. Remove and place back onto the cookie sheet.
  5. Chill until ready to serve – remove 15 minutes prior to allow to come back to room temperature.

Enjoy!

-S