Sweet treats from ‘The Paleo Kitchen’

I’ve mentioned before I enjoy the food blog PaleOMG. Juli, the blogger, is young, down-to-earth, often hilarious and sometimes a bit neurotic. She seems to pretty much have her s*it together at the ripe old age of 26, having been through the types of food issues that so many women have, and being willing to share her story. It took me most of my life to realize this in myself, and I’m still struggling. Also, her recipes are good, with her Almost-5-Ingredient-Pizza-Pie being among my favorites.

Anyway, she co-wrote a cookbook, The Paleo Kitchen, with fellow blogger Civilized Caveman, who I’ve read, but I enjoy less.

So, they have this cookbook. AND they were coming to Seattle in support of said cookbook. To not just any bookstore, but the independent bookstore that’s a couple miles from our house, Ravenna Third Place Books. The one the kid and I have been frequenting on a regular basis this year. So, I really felt like I should be there. Not only did I decide to go, but I was going to BUY the book AT the bookstore, and not on Amazon like I normally would. You see, I had recently finished this book about Amazon (borrowed form the library, but read on my beloved Kindle), and it kind of turned me off on supporting Amazon. So in solidarity to my indie bookstore (I bought the last couple of Harry Potters there, even showed up at midnight to pick my copy up), I bought The Paleo Kitchen there, for full price. That plus some books for the kid and a Theo chocolate bar (it’s hard to find that Chai Tea flavor. Third Place is one of the few places that carry it, so I can’t help but buy a bar when I’m there, you know, for just in case.) and I was out 50 bucks. Gulp. Supporting the indies, I kept muttering to myself.

Anyway, I showed up, got great parking, bought the book, took the kid to dinner in the back at Vios (there is a restaurant, IN the bookstore. They serve Greek-inspired food. And espresso. And gelato. This place is my dream. Oh, and there is a pub downstairs, but that’s another story of another time). By the time we were done with dinner the front of the store was packed for the author presentation. I ended up hanging with the kiddo in the kids section, and just listening to them speak. It was kind of cool, because readers often feel like they know a blogger personally, especially one like Juli, who seems to share a lot more than just food tips and recipes. That was kind of neato. Not neato? The lame questions that were asked.

What I loved that George said was about substitutions. It irritates me when, right after Juli or George have posted a recipe, the comments start popping up … “I love this recipe for Slivered Almond-Almond Flour cookies, but I’m allergic to Almonds. Do you have a substitution idea?” Here’s an idea, if you’re allergic, then find another recipe! Anyway, George basically said, if we say to use coconut flour, it’s because it’s the best ingredient for the recipe. If you tell me you made the recipe but swapped in one thing for another and it didn’t work out, it’s because you didn’t make the recipe. It’s like, yes, they MUST get annoyed with all those questions, and his statement there kind of made me thing. YES! So annoying.

People kept asking a variation of “What’s your dream food, your favorite cheat, etc etc” Poor authors sort of kept saying the same thing over and over … I kind of wanted to tell the crowd of chicks (it was, like 95% women. just a sprinkling of males in the crowd) … IT’S A LIFESTYLE. They don’t miss that stuff because they’ve made a lifestyle decision.

Well, anyway. I can yell all I want, but I’m just like those girls, I suppose. Deciding to chow down on one last doughnut before starting another bout of clean eating (tomorrow, I swear!) I’m heading into dangerous territory where my poor eating habits are beginning to affect my workouts, and my overall well-being. But I love those darn sweets. Did you not read that sentence where I bought a chocolate bar at a bookstore? Don’t judge, okay. And just because it’s paleo doesn’t mean it’s not high-calorie. It’s just a different kind of calorie.

So. Clean eating starts tomorrow. Which means less paleo-izing to satisfy a sweet tooth.

So I best be testing out these recipes today, right! Here are a few pics of the first two recipes I tried from this cookbook. They are both dessert/sweets (see paragraph above). It’s been a little warm, and I’ve been a lot lazy, but the pulled pork is next on my list to try. Until then, have a look-see:

Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread from The Paleo Kitchen

Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread. I didn’t swirl the topping enough. but it was yummy regardless. This is one of those few instances where I’m not going to say something about being disappointed with the paleo-version of a dish. This one, was pretty close to the real thing.. Not too eggy, as paleo breads can be. The banana bread was probably the best paleo bread I’ve made … could have been sweeter but I ran out of bananas.

No-Bake Tropical Escape Cookies

No-Bake Tropical Escape Cookies. These were tasty, though I wouldn’t trade them for an actual tropical escape. They tended to crumble a bit, though. Had to eat a two-bite treat in one big bite to avoid having them fall apart. I ate a lot of these.

No Bake Tropical Escape Cookies.

This was the first recipe I tried, and it was super easy, especially when entertaining a little sous chef.

All in all, it’s a good cookbook. I wished each recipe had some additional perspective on what they were thinking/inspired by to create the recipe. It was pretty straight forward in the recipe portion, with bios/paleo info in the beginning. An enjoyable read, and the photos are impressive.

Though I might have been happier had I saved some money buying it on Amazon (No! That’s wrong, keep your moral high ground, aaaaaaaaahhh!)

Hearty paleo breakfast (and one not so much)

Some things just scream paleo, don’t they. This makes up for the donut run I made with my work spouse earlier this week. And the $1 milkshake I just had to try at the office cafeteria.


Portobello mushroom, pan-fried using coconut oil,seasoned with coconut aminos and balsalmic vinegar. On top of that, a fried egg. On top of that, some leftover spaghetti squash seasoned with sea salt and pepper, and a little Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning.

Seriously, wouldn’t you rather …

Can’t these both be breakfast of champions?

Morning Shake

Morning coffee shake

Not the shakes. A shake, like a refreshing beverage. We had about a cup of brewed coffee left in the pot. I had about a cup of leftover coconut milk (light) in the fridge. Add them together with a little bit if sweetener (I used a tbsp of agave nectar) and 3 tbsp of chia seeds to create a shake.

I was lazy. I vaguely recalled a recipe from PaleOMG with similar ingredients, but didn’t want to access the Web at that moment. I didn’t even want to take the blender out. So I combined everything into a tupperware and shook it. Thus, the Coffee Shake.

I kept it in the fridge for at least a day, with a few intermittent shakes of the container. Had a few slurps in between then and today. The remainder came in this morning, when we had no eggs in the house and I was in search of a pick-me-up while doing a little worky-work on this rare middle-of-the-week vacation day.

It was a decent change of pace, but next time I will not be so lazy, and add a few more ingredients, like cocoa powder or vanilla.

Paleo baking

It’s funny, the 180 i did on Whole 30 and Paleo. Whereas at first I thought, how could I possibly eat clean without some funkily fake baked god? Then I realized those fake bakes are never as good as the real thing. Right now I’m not really following either diet to a tee, though still visiting my fave blogs regularly, so I decided to have a little kitchen fun.

I’ve been craving toast lately, so last week I baked a paleo bread. It was all right. I found a medium sized loaf pan and used that in an effort to keep the bread looking like a quick bread. You can’t create a sandwich with it, and looking back I see now what I really wanted was a sandwich. Instead I enjoyed a toasted slice in the mornings with my usual egg, or some freezer jam.


Then I made this thing that was called a sweet potato brownie? Really not a brownie, but a decent cocoa-flavored sweet potato square. The kid enjoyed them, more so than the paleo bread. But in the poor paleo bread’s defense we also had this sweet yeasty cinnamon bread in the house, with a sticky sugary glaze strewn across. She much preferred that.

Back to the sweet potato brownie, aka the CFSPS, it is not something I’ll repeat. I’ll use that SP for a tasty patty/bun, and buy a brownie from the store. They have gluten-free ones, you know…

Well, that was a fun weekend afternoon project. Next time I’ll just read a book.

B.L.T.’s and Beef-Mushroom Soup

Often, when it cook dinner on Sundays, I spend Saturday nights in my pajamas hunting for good ideas. Sometimes I run them by the husband, sometimes I wait til morning. Last night I suggested B.L.T.’s to the husband, mainly to warn him to not eat bacon at breakfast. He was on board, cool.

For some strange reason I thought we’d need something else, so this morning I also bought ingredients for a slow cooker beef soup. Except for the beef broth, which the husband had to get during kitchen prep time. Oops.

Anyway,I bought the husband his favorite ciabatta rolls by Macrina. I bought myself a sweet potato so I could try PaleOMG’s sweet potato noodle bun. It gave me an excuse to try my new julienne slicer (thanks for the birthday gift, sue). I wasn’t confident about the sweet potato noodle bun, so much so that I didn’t use it to sandwich my B.L.T. I did a simple lettuce wrap for that. I did spread some guacamole on top, and as it turns out, it was the frikkin best weirdly prepared sweet potato recipe I’ve tried to date. And pretty easy to make, though now I wonder if I should invest in a Spiralizer. Oh, it might have helped that I used some leftover bacon fat to fry those suckers.


Husband had a B.E.L.T. (added a fried egg). I don’t know why we don’t do B.L.T.’s more often. Oh, right. Maybe it’s because the kiddo’s ended up being a “B” … But here is a pic before her deconstruction.


The beef-mushroom soup was based on the beef-barley soup from my NEW slow cooker cookbook, Slow Cooker Revolution (thanks, Sue!). It barely fit in my slow cooker, but other than that, all was well. I had a small bowl as a test, but will be eating soup at work for the rest of the week, methinks.


Soup ingredients: onion, tomato paste, thyme, carrots, mushrooms, chicken and beef stock, beef blade, crushed tomatoes.

Paleo food truck!

A few days after I ended my food challenge Matt casually mentioned to me that there was a paleo food truck that stopped near our office. OMG Wha??! I remember clearly. He told me Tuesday afternoon that it came on Tuesdays. The next Tues I would be on vacation, so I would have to wait until the following Tues to check it out. That was this past Tuesday. Unfortunately, my whole 30 partner Smita was out on Tues, so I cajoled my boss to try it out. My decidedly non-paleo boss.


Outside the Box camps out in the Crossfit Amped parking lot, across the street from the Bellevue Hyatt (south side of the Hyatt). Simple offering of entrees: pork belly; pork carnitas; turkey adobo something or other. Boss and and I both got the pork belly, served with cauliflower rice and steamed kale. I also ordered a side of plantains.


The plantains were tasty, with a familiar-to-paleo-eaters coconut aftertaste, I presume from the oil used to roast or bake them, but was a bit of a surprise to the boss. Yummy.

For the entree, Boss’ reaction: “Are you not allowed some salt on paleo?” So, the veggies, not really seasoned. The pork was also a little chewy but, I mean it is a food truck. I liked it. I didn’t notice a lack of seasoning, but then, I have been on a steady diet that includes kale and cauliflower for a while now.

She came by my desk later and asked, “what was that white stuff?”
“Um, cauliflower rice? You, like shred, but don’t pulverize the cauliflower? Then you cook it? And it sorta looks like rice?” Boss just nodded. She’s Korean, and I suspect she was thinking what I’ve said a hundred times. It’s not rice. It’s just cauliflower.

Fun to see it from a non paleo perspective. I will try the pork carnitas next time. And will get those plantains again.

On a side note, speaking of cauliflower … The husband recently bought some frozen cauliflower, and the other night steamed it alongside some butternut squash. A little odd, since the kiddo doesn’t like butternut squash, none of us like frozen cauliflower … so … Thanks? I took the steamed veggies and mashed them together. Only tasted so-so. Seasoned heavily with salt. Mildly better. Added a tbsp of butter. Dramatically better … And all for me since no matter what the kid will not touch butternut squash. I finished the leftovers this morning, alongside my egg/egg-white omelet laced with a cilantro chutney. Tasty.

I’ve been back to Outside The Box a few times. Always get the pork carnitas. And those delicious plantains. Kind of indulgent, but I’m ok with that.

I even have a punch card 😐

Slow Cooker Paleo Apple Crisp (take two)

I attempted a paleo apple dessert in the slow cooker again and am much happier with these results. Here was my previous attempt.

paleo apple crisp done in the slow cooker

paleo apple crisp done in the slow cooker

Apple Filling

  • 3 large apples (I used Granny Smith), peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 c unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tbsp raw honey


  • 3 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 c unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 1/2 c walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 c almond flour
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  • More cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, adjusted to your preference
  • boiling water (to soften dates)

Place pitted dates in a small bowl or ramekin and pour enough boiling water to cover them. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and slice the apples, creating even slices of about 1/2 inch thick. Toss apples into the greased slow cooker (I used cooking spray). Combine the rest of the filling ingredients into the SC, adjusting spices and sweetener to your preferences and stir until it is well combined.

Drain the water from the dates and use a fork to mash the dates and create a smooth paste. Combine all topping ingredients in a small bowl and mix until very well combined, then spread evenly over apples.

Set the SC on low for 5 hours. At 5 hours remove the lid and continue on low for another 15-30 minutes. Serve warm!

Or not!

I removed the lid as we sat down for dinner (a delicious repeat of this dish), and by “dessert time” everything seemed set. The apples were soft and the dates provided a dried fruit/sweeter experience. I bet it tastes great with ice cream, or perhaps some coconut milk sprinkled on top.

Kiddo didn’t care for it this time (though she’s been spoiled with birthday desserts this week, including strawberry shortcake and homemade tootsie rolls from a friend’s party today).

I enjoyed it as is. Had two helpings, I did.


Keep Clam and UCONN

The nutrition challenge at my gym is over. And not a moment too soon, because yesterday I accidently stumbled and somehow fell into Molly Moon’s Ice Cream (now at University Village!). Imagine the odds. On top of that it seemed the only thing that softened the fall was a single-scoop of Stumptown Coffee ice cream in a waffle cone. I hate when that happens.That’s a lie. I LOVE when that happens.

Side note. This post is longer than usual. Skip down to the bottom for the one measly recipe I’ve included.

Anyway, this is actually a blog about home. Connecticut, to be exact, my home for the first 18 years of my life. As I’m nearing the end of my 38th year, there is some simple math here. I’ve lived outside of CT for longer than I lived in it. I’ve lived in other cities, mainly Chicago and now Seattle. And, I’ve rooted for other city’s sports teams. I was born a Celtics fan, but you can’t live in Chicago in the mid-90s and NOT be a Bulls fan (Three-Peat!). I’ve gone back to my Celtic-cheering roots, especially that time where they had my man Ray Allen there.  I am somewhat of a Patriots fan. I call them my favorite AFC team. But the honest truth about my fandom there is that I have had a crush on Tommy Brady since the 2000s, and again, that pesky math will show that is a time after moved away from CT. You see, we were a basketball family.

Speaking of basketball, and here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for … I have always, and will always, be a UCONN basketball fan. It’s the only college basketball team I’ve ever cheered for. I remember the first March Madness season I watched. It was the year UCONN made it to the Elite Eight. It was the year of the “The Shot,” a full-court pass from Scottie Burrell to Tate George for the game-winning basket with a second on the clock. It was AMAZING. I’m picturing it in my head right now. I couldn’t even tell you who they were playing because, that’s not the stuff I remember. (I just looked it up. It was Clemson, and the year was 1990). All I know is it that dream season ended with an encounter with Duke and Christian Laettner. But I was hooked, along with the rest of my little state. I’ve never forgotten, and every March Madness I lug out my UCONN sweatshirt (it must be 20 years old now). My UCONN pajama bottoms (random buy from my sis), and the other swag with the hopes of capturing that feeling again. Hometown pride.

When my adopted current hometown city went all gaga for Gonzaga, when, once upon a time, the UW Huskies were actually good for a spell, I quietly nodded and smiled. Because that’s the polite thing to do. And, I’m a polite gal from the East Coast. Also, it’s easy to be polite when you know deep down that your team is way better. Am I Right?

I’m not really a trash-talker, and actually I’m kind of nervous I’ve said too much, so I’ll just go back to my polite ways and chat a little bit about food. About Connecticut food.

I thought it’d be a good idea to create some kind of menu based on Connecticut food for the first Final Four game. Problem is, the memory I have of eating growing up, was mainly Chinese food. White Rice. Ramen. Whole fish. Steamed cauliflower with these little weird dried shrimp mixed in. Fried Rice. Wontons. Etc.

I was trying to go a little more CT and less me. Oh, and add some paleo into the mix, too, since, technically Saturday/game day was still a challenge day… Here’s how I netted out.

  1. Paleo Clam Chowder. Nearly paleo, if you’re okay with a russet potato, which I was. You could easily swap in a sweet potato but I was feeling rebellious.
  2. Roasted sweet potatoes dusted with fresh-ground nutmeg. Why nutmeg? We’ll, we are talking about the Nutmeg State.
  3. Cranberry Juice Spritzer

Items 2 & 3 inspired by my friend KPM/LC friend marfdaze.

The challenge here was the clam chowder. This paleo version uses cauliflower and coconut milk as its base. The coconut flavor is hidden, but the cauliflower flavor is definitely present. I also couldn’t blend it enough to be entirely creamy. I wouldn’t call it ready for prime-time, and probably not something I’ll be adding to the standard repertoire, but fun and sorta reminiscent of a hearty New England clam chowder.

I had told myself that, should UCONN make it into the national title game this year, I could celebrate by making another rendition of the delicious New England Blueberry Coffee Cake (usually reserved for summer, blueberry season) … But instead I’m gonna go for an Italian Pretzel Grinder from PCC (If you call a sub sandwich a grinder, you just might be from Connecticut) and some Cape Cod potato chips (not technically CT, but definitely a favorite of mine growing up).

Getting excited for the game tonight. Woot!

Paleo Clam Chowder

Paleo Clam Chowdah!

Inspired/Cribbed from Paleo Girl’s Kitchen.

  • 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed into florets
  • 1 large russet potato (or 1 sweet potato, if you want to go full-on paleo), diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2-4 slices of bacon
  • olive oil, ghee
  • thyme, bay leaf
  • 1 can coconut milk (I used light)
  • 1 1/2 chicken broth
  • 2 cans or 1 10 oz can of clams

Preheat the oven to 425. Steam the cauliflower 20 minutes. At the same time as the cauliflower is steaming, place the potatoes on a baking sheet, season with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes for the same 20 minutes, stirring midway through.

In a dutch oven cook 2 slices of bacon thoroughly. Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel to remove extra grease, then chop. Using the leftover bacon fat (and some more fat, like ghee, if necessary), add the onions to saute. Add carrots, thyme, bay leaf and finally a little bit of the chicken stock to get the sticky stuff off of the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat down on the burner, then slowly add the rest of the chicken stock, then the coconut milk and mix well.

Add the bacon and cauliflower into the mix. When everything is combined and has simmered for 5 or more minutes, either use an immersion blender or transfer some of the soup into a food processor and pulse/process until smooth. I ended up doing 3 – 4 batch of soup in the food processor at a time.

Once everything is back in the dutch oven, add the potatoes, clams and strained clam juice (try to get any extraneous pieces out of the soup). Combine well, season and simmer for another 10-15.

Cook the last two sliced of bacon and use as garnish on top, along with green onions.

Is that for here or to go?

Panera Bread's Power Menu

Panera Bread’s Power Menu

If I was a good girl, I would bring my lunch to work every day and not spend money eating out. Seeing as how I’m just an okay girl, I feel lucky if I bring my lunch once or twice a week, usually Mondays and Tuesdays, when I have time to think and cook and stuff. Wednesday through Friday, it’s sort of up for grabs. Fortunately for me I work in downtown Bellevue, which offers a number of different establishments that have become my go-to spots when I don’t feel like going to the work cafeteria.

Here are a few places that have menu items that you can paleo-ize, or turn into almost-paleo meals.

Specialty’s. I always order online, because it’s way easier to order ahead of time then walk over and pick up. You don’t have to wait in line while people in front of you ask all sorts of questions. Also, online you can personalize, so always remove the focaccia bread and croutons. Ordering online also helps me stay one step ahead and not cave when a server asks if you want to add a dessert or pastry to your order. Here are my go-to salads with changes:

The Spinach-Bacon Salad, no croutons, no focaccia, and swap the poppy seed dressing with raspberry-walnut vinaigrette. There may be sugar in that dressing. I don’t drench it. I think I’ll live.

Greek Goddess. No feta, no focaccia, add chicken breast (again, the goddess dressing may have items in there, so either skip the dressing altogether or just use it sparingly)

Spicy Thai Peanut is good for off-paleo days, (note the peanuts in its name). But if you remove the won ton strips and focaccia and add the chicken breast, it’s grain-free.

Okay, so maybe all of them weren’t perfect. Let’s try again.

Evolution Fresh. You could probably get any one of the smoothies, and I used to be a Smooth Green girl for a long time until an EF lunch collided head-on with a stomach virus that has stopped me from ordering it ever again. Strawberry Mint, which they had over the summer, was a nice change of pace. I also like their Cucumber Pineapple Ginger juice, available at stores. I’ve only bought it once. Still it was delicious.

My current favorite order is the Lani’s Quinoa Spinach Salad. It seems it’s not on the web site so I can’t tell you the full official name, but it is in the Bellevue store. Here I ask them to remove the chickpeas, but add the grilled chicken breast. In addition to the quinoa and spinach there are other vegetables, herbs and seed mix and a lemon-tahini dressing.

My non-paleo usual is the Kevin’s Quinoa, Organic Kale & Butternut Squash Bowl. It includes feta and black beans, too, and uses a mild harissa sauce. I also have them add chicken.

Any of these can be served as a “simmer” with broth soup, or in a wrap, though I always order it as a cold salad.

I recently added Panera Bread to the lunch mix, because they have an unlisted Power Menu, perfect for Paleo. The “Power Mediterranean Turkey Salad” serves sliced turkey breast over lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, kalamata olives and comes with a side of olive oil and lemon wedge. Super simple.

Finally, there is Jimmy John’s. Dear, sweet old Jimmy John’s. They actually have an option posted on the menu, called the “Un-wich” where you can order the sandwich without the bread and it comes wrapped in, well, I guess the lettuce and the paper. I always get the Turkey Tom (#4). Depending on if I’m feeling sassy or not I may order it with cheese. And, seriously, if I’m at Jimmy John’s I’m NOT going to skip the bread, are you crazy? There’s a reason why I go there, and it’s to get a SANDWICH and guess what, Sandwiches have BREAD. So, needless to say I haven’t been to Jimmy John’s in about three months. Sigh.

Dear, dear JJ's

Dear, dear JJ’s <3

My thanks go out to the servers and wait staff for adjusting their usual habits to create these dishes for me.

Lazy dinner

Sometimes I can’t stand the thought of cooking. On days like that, sandwich-eaters could just make a sandwich. Pizza-eaters could order a pizza. I haven’t called in our usual order into our neighborhood Chinese food joint lately (pot stickers. Beef with Chinese broccoli. House special fried rice with brown rice). So what are my choices? How about a turkey burger, sans bun. I have a few frozen turkey burgers from Trader Joe’s as a just in case for days like these.
I sliced up the avocado to make it fancy, and roasted some leftover veggies.

The non-paleo family member heated up some lime shrimp from the store and created a burrito. The non-paleo child in the family ate the burrito ingredients, without the tortilla. Makes up for her bunny pancakes from breakfast.