Spicy Cajun Stir-Fry with Andouille, Veggies and Rice (Gluten-Free)

Ya know… as much of a football fan as I tell everyone that I’m not, I had an overwhelming sense of pride yesterday watching the parade on TV. I didn’t attend in person because I was working, but to see that many loyal fans show their support to a group of hardworking people was a very heartwarming and emotional thing to watch. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people gathered to show celebrate, and for something that has truly been a long time coming, it was incredible to watch. God bless them all, too… it was a balmy 28 degrees F in Philadelphia, and I know that no matter what kind of coat you’re wearing… below freezing is just COLD.

As I was talking to my manager this morning, we were chatting about the email his son’s school sent out, advising that any students that wish to attend the parade may do so, as school will be cancelled and made up  one day next month. I actually found that a lot of surrounding schools, including the school district I live in excused absences for anyone wishing to go to philly. At first, my inner Scrooge thought, “yeah, great idea. Keep the kids home from school. Who needs education?”.  After putting my strict and sometimes rigid knee-jerk reactions aside, I thought about it. This is such an important lesson for people to learn, attending this parade. It seems trite, but let me tell you. It really isn’t. Here are a few things to reconsider about ditching work and school to attend the Eagles parade.

#1 – You’re spending time with friends and family

No sports fan ever ventures into any arena alone, and this is for good reason. When you support a team, you’re supporting a cause – a movement, if you will. You’re spending time with important people, placing value on an important time. By carving out time to celebrate with your friends, you’re also memorializing time spent with them doing something you love. Live a little, go throw a beer up to Doug Pederson as he rides by on that bus with his team, and laugh with your friends.

#2 – You’re showing your loyalty to what you love

For those of us who could’ve attended and given up a vacation day, that’s fine… and more than likely, we won’t notice. Philadelphia (much like any other team) has a lot of hard-working, blue collar folks that waited their whole lives to see something like this, and went without a day’s pay just to live their dream of celebrating a Superbowl win with the Eagles. While some may treat a parade surrounding football as a first-world fantasy commodity, it is so much bigger than that to the fans. Your team will always be there, and if you stay with them through thick and thin, a win is that much more satisfying.

#3 – You’re opening yourself up to more love

This one is sort of mushy when you think of your typical Philadelphia sports fan, but let’s be honest. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t so happy to see that many people gathered around for one purpose. Everyone (the media) loves to portray the Philly fans at large as this wild, sometimes un-classy, rowdy group of people. I’m not saying that’s NOT a little bit true here and there, but it’s derived from passion, and it does go beyond just us over here in Philly. People were absolutely overjoyed to be there – rarely will you see another large public display of appreciation outside of something like the Eagles parade. Go YouTube Jason Kelce’s speech from yesterday – if you can get over his Mummer outfit and really listen to his cries for unity, it was a tale about a group of people that ‘wanted it more’. When you love the game, your tribe, your city, your ANYTHING, there’s so much more love. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

And on that note…. Allow me to give you something that will warm your heart…. and your stomach. It is SPAAHHCY.

Spicy Cajun Stir-Fry with Andouille, Veggies and Rice (Gluten-Free)

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 package (5 sausages) of andouille chicken sausage
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/3 inch slices
  • 1 cup of eggplant, sliced into bite size pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, roughly chopped
  • Cajun seasoning, to taste

For the Cajun seasoning (with lots left over for later!)

  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 5 tsp paprika
  • 4 -5 tablespoons seasoning salt

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pot, cook your rice per directions. (The rice I like only takes 20 minutes to cook, but if your brown rice takes a while, be sure to plan ahead, giving yourself about 10-15 minutes for the rest of your food to cook!)
  2. In a small bowl or jar, mix together your Cajun spices. I like to recycle my old glass spice containers, and you can totally store this spice mix in one as your normally would. Set aside.
  3. While your rice cooks, slice your andouille into thin slices, about ¼ inch thick. Place in a skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Saute until starting to brown on both sides, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Once your sausage has started to caramelize, add your peppers, eggplant and zucchini. Season with 1 tbsp of Cajun seasoning mix to start. Turn the heat to medium high, stirring occasionally. Add a tsp more olive oil, as needed. Continue to cook until veggies start to brown and are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  5. Check your rice – fluff with a fork and remove lid to allow to dry a bit. Add more seasoning to taste, and cook for another 3-4 minutes to brown the dish.
  6. Serve, and enjoy.

🙂

-S

Egg Roll Bowls Without the Roll! (Paleo, Whole30)

I woke up from a particularly unusual dream this morning. It wasn’t unusual in that it was crazy, wild, impossible… it was actually very possible. I was driving in my car on my morning commute, listening to a particular song. I was rushing, because I left my house late, and I came across a slow car in front of me. It was the Kia Soul that’s always in front of me in real life, on my morning commute (that I’ve noticed, because he has vanity plates, drives like cold molasses and I’m cursing him out, normally), and as he put-putted along the road, a giant deer jumped out in front of him. I thought to myself, “wow! had I been speeding like I normally would, I totally could’ve hit that deer.”

And then I woke up.

I have a wild imagination and have weird dreams just about every night, so I thought nothing of it. I thought nothing of how I forgot pretty much everything I needed upstairs, having to take my shoes off and run up 2 flights of stairs about 4 times and adding several minutes to my departure time. I momentarily forgot I had a dog, who needed to be let out and fed — which added even more time. I found myself rushing, throwing my things into my car, and speeding away, late. And there he was, Mr. Kia, tinkering away down the road about as fast as a sloth in an Arctic relay race (are you liking these visuals about the cold? it’s 8 degrees outside). As we’re doing about 30 in a 45, I consider passing him, because I am an asshole driver. Instead, I think better of it and stay put. Wouldn’t you know it that just then, a fairly large deer jumps across the road and is gone without a moment’s notice, several car-lengths ahead? I thought it was weird, until I remembered how my dream went almost exactly like what had happened.

One could think this is a coincidence — you can continue to think that, if you’d like. I took this as a tangible message to stop rushing through things, both literally and figuratively. The interesting thing about the universe is that you get what you give, always. If you’re into science and need proof for everything, Isaac Newton has a law that for every action taking place, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If this applies to matter that we can see, it surely shouldn’t stop there, should it?

Have you ever thought of a song, only to have it immediately come on the radio? How about thinking of an old friend who hasn’t called in years, only to have your phone ring with them on the other line? Have you ever had a “feeling” that something was going to happen, and shortly thereafter, you find yourself in the middle of that “something”? My friend, this is not just a Spidey-sense… you are manifesting what’s happening. This is very important to consider, because this can involve both positive and negative things in your life.

Let’s back it up for those that aren’t into the whole cosmic world unseen. Have you ever come across someone with a bad attitude that just can’t catch a break in life? What are they doing? Are they anti-social — pushing away help and resources when they need it? Are they always down on themselves, convinced nothing good will ever happen to them? As much as people don’t  want to admit, their attitude and actions within themselves is the problem — everything starts internally with this low-vibration energy.  Think about it — changing their inward thoughts about themselves and their world precipitates their external behavior. When they are kind to themselves, those around them start offering their help. The more encouragement they’re given, the more optimistic they become — and with optimism comes confidence, all of which is a significant lift in vibrational energy. Like begets like, and that’s something everyone knows. If you are putting out positive energy, you will get it back in some way, shape or form. This happens both ways.

I’ve just oversimplified this greatly, but it truly does not need to be more complicated. See for yourself — start channeling your thoughts on what you truly want or need in life as specifically as possible. Think about how it would feel to have exactly what you’re thinking of — where are you? What are you doing now that you have it? What does it feel like? What does your life look like now that you have what you have? Keep it positive, open and optimistic, and keep an eye out for messages in response to that. These messages may shift your priority, or even point you towards the realization that you don’t actually  want what you think you do. All that matters is that you do what you can to live your best life 🙂

Onto food… in the spirit of using up what I had in the kitchen and trying not to indulge in some Chinese food for lunch, I decided to make my own twist of a pork roll (without the fried shell, of course!) Try it for yourself… it’s pretty yummy.

Egg Roll Bowls (Paleo, Whole30)

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 30 min

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. of organic ground pork
  • 1 large red cabbage, finely sliced
  • ½ cup broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 cup julienned carrots (about 2-3 large carrots)
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 inch peeled ginger, grated
  • 2 large cloves garlic, grated or diced
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos, plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add your coconut oil.
  2. Add your onion, and sauté until translucent – about 5-6 minutes. Add ground pork, and break apart with your spatula. Sauté until it’s fully cooked, about 10-15 minutes, continuing to stir.
  3. Next, add the cabbage, broccoli and carrots and cook until tender, stirring often- another 10 minutes. You want it cooked but not super soggy – just a bit of crunch left!
  4. Meanwhile as it cooks, whisk together your ginger, garlic, coconut aminos and sesame oil in a small bowl, and set the sauce aside.
  5. Once your main ingredients are cooked, Add the sauce and stir thoroughly but  gently.. you don’t want your sauce to muddy the veggies!
  6. Serve immediately with some hot sesame chili oil, or sriracha.

Enjoy!

-S

Crispy Crunchy Onion Rings (Paleo, Vegan)

Today is a snow day! I’m always a huge fan of snowstorms, especially when it allows me to stay home and cook new recipes in between meetings. However, today my pantry was a bit empty, and my workday was a bit busier than anticipated so I haven’t had a whole lot of time.  Still fun, though!

I woke up this AM and did some yoga since I had some extra time with not getting very far after trying to drive to work. I had a little motivation since I got a nice new YogiToes yoga towel for Christmas, but I forgot how much better you feel after doing some nice stretches and sequences. I need to make it a habit to fit more of that into my weekly routine.

On a more upbeat note, who loves bar food? I do. I love going somewhere and getting nachos. I love fries (potatoes, obvi), I love chicken tenders, and I love onion rings. Unfortunately and fortunately, I don’t really eat any of it anymore. While I treat myself to some French fries every now and again, what I really miss is onion rings. Battered, delicious, stinky…. They’re the best. And yet…. i’d feel like crap after I ate them. Tons of breading, crappy oil, weird onions… so imagine my surprise when I figured out how to make some crispy crunchy un-yun ranggss?

These are delicious plain, or with some sriracha mayo (homemade recipe for some paleo mayo here!). make them for a snack, or for a party. Enjoy!

 

Crispy Crunchy Onion Rings (Paleo, Vegan)

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prep time: 10 minutes

cook time: 20 minutes

Serves 2-3

 

Ingredients

  • one large white onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick rings
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 tbsp tapioca or potato starch
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 pinch of paprika
  • ~2 tsp grapeseed oil, for brushing

 

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk your tapioca starch and almond milk together. Set aside.
  3. In a larger bowl, mix brown rice flour, almond meal, nutritional yeast, salt and spices until completely combined.
  4. Take your first onion ring, submerge into the milk, and then place into the breading, making sure the onion is evenly coated. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Note: If you want them to have that shimmery look like they’re right out of the fryer (even though you took the healthy route :)), brush with a pinch of oil right when you remove from the oven.

 

Serve, and enjoy!

-S

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)

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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

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

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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.

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

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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