The BEST Grain-Free Scones You’ll Ever Have

A thought occurred to me yesterday at work.  I think it’s a pretty common thought that a lot of fast food workers are overweight and unhealthy.  A lot of people in the food industry in fact.  The funny thing is, working in a restaurant can be some serious physical activity.  Number one, you’re on your feet for long shifts. Sometimes I literally don’t sit down for 12 hours at a time.  Secondly, you are lifting heavy things all the time.  Boxes, bags that weigh 50+  lbs, the guys who are lifting 160 pound kegs up on shelves, I frequently carry two 40 lb buckets at a time, etc.  So, if we are doing all of this physical activity why are so many of us overweight?  Obviously it’s the food.  This just proves that no matter how much exercise you do, it really comes down to diet in the end.  When I say overweight I don’t mean by the stupid BMI scale they have plastered at the doctor’s office (according to them I’m in the low overweight section..what?).  I mean having enough extra body fat that it is unhealthy and has the potential (If it hasn’t already) to lead to disease.  Anyway, just a little thing to think about next time you are running 6 miles and head for Mickey D’s after.

Moving on to the real reason I’m writing today.  The most awesome scone recipe in the history of the world.  I know all of this paleo baking stuff is sometimes silly, we really shouldn’t be consuming mass amounts of ground up nuts with added sweeteners, BUT sometimes you just need something comforting and warm and sweet in the morning to go with your cup of coffee and obviously this is the better option compared to Dunkin Donuts.

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Ok I’ll have to admit.  I made these based off of this recipe.  So happy I came across it because it truly is awesome.  I halved the batch and kept the one egg and wanted to use some of my homemade lard in place of half of the butter. I’m really excited to try these with other flavors.  Thinking maple bacon for the fall with some crushed pecans on the top? Anyway, here is my version:

1 cup almond flour

1/4 cup arrowroot powder

1 Tbsp maple syrup

pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp lard, melted

1 Tbsp butter or ghee, melted

1 egg

1/2 cup blueberries

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. In another small bowl, whisk the egg, butter, and maple syrup.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, then fold in berries.  Line a cast iron skillet (or round pan) with parchment paper.  Form into large ball and flatten until you have a circle roughly 6-7 inches in diameter.  Bake at 350 for around 18-22 minutes until the top is golden brown.  I moved mine to the top rack for the last 8 minutes and it turned out perfectly.  Cool and cut into wedges!

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Learning To Have My Ways With Meat…Eat Your Beefy Heart Out.

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This is half a pastured pig and about 35 lbs of grass-fed beef both from local family farms.   I asked if I could have the fat from the pig to make lard, and Matt’s dad was nice enough to give us the heart along with our part of his cow.  I am constantly learning new ways to work with meat, especially the less expensive and a lot of times more nutrient-dense cuts and parts and pieces that most people want nothing to do with.  A little piece of info on the nutrition of beef heart can be found here.  My first experience working with heart of any kind was a rather pleasant one.   I’m not really into liver and would rather have it raw and covered up by the tastes of bananas than to eat it like a regular person.  Julia Child’s chicken liver mousse is alright, just not something I want to particularly eat on a daily basis.  Other than that, my organ meat experiences have been few and far between and I plan to change that.  I pulled the 4 lb heart out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge about 4 days prior to working with it.  I really had no idea what I was doing so I just went with it and trimmed off the sinewy parts.  I was planning to make a Moroccan stew to freeze because there was no way the three of us would consume 4 lbs of heart before it went bad, (not REALLY Moroccan, but Americanized) but wanted to cut off some to taste it just seared medium-rare.  Part of me wishes I would have had a big party and grilled the whole damn thing up on skewers because it really is delicious nice and bloody.  Just like a very lean steak with a lot of iron taste., a little gamey I suppose.  Here’s a photo from before:

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After trimming, I cubed it and seared it on all sides and threw into the crockpot with the following:

1 large cubed sweet potato

2 small onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

about a teaspooon of the following:

red palm oil

curry powder

cumin

cinnamon

salt

pepper

Let it cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6.  The heart doesn’t get quite fall-apart like it would with a regular stew meat.  Like I said, it is completely Americanized and not real deal Moroccan, which I am learning about.  They use ingredients such as harissa and preserved lemons which I don’t have in my pantry quite yet so I cheated a little.  Although not so pretty, the outcome was rather delicious.  Warm and earthy, just as a spicy sweet stew should be.

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Conclusion on beef heart: Preferably eat med-rare.  With a good glass of red wine. Followed by dark chocolate.

DIY Engagement Party (Goat Cheese Figs!)

If you haven’t already heard, Matt asked me to be his wife last month.  (!!!) The date we are planning for is June 21, 2014 if all goes well.  I’m so happy to be planning a wedding and to have his parents who offered us to have it on their farm.  Talk about perfect.  A gorgeous Midsummer vintage wedding set on a farm with horses and a lake. I am also lucky enough to have tons of friends and family willing to help out with everything from the invitations to the food.  And some very talented friends at that.

We had our engagement party at the Winery at Wolf Creek.  We picked some picnic table overlooking a hill and lake with a pasture and goats (yes, goats).  We were able to bring our own food so my step-mom and I brought all of the food. Everyone was so impressed they thought it was professionally catered.  Cheese and crackers with peppered salami, fruit, jams and spreads, watermelon with feta and mint, individual spicy shrimp cocktails, a cupcake and chocolate tower, olives, and these fresh figs with goat cheese, rosemary, and honey balsamic drizzle:

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20 fresh figs

1 small log goat cheese

rosemary

1/2 cup white or golden balsamic vinegar

3 Tbl honey

Quarter figs starting at stem end and leave the bottom intact.  Push the sides out and fill with a dollop of goat cheese.  For the balsamic drizzle, place vinegar and honey in saucepan and simmer gently until it reduces and turns into a syrup (remember once it cools it will become a lot thicker so keep that in mind and don’t reduce TOO much or you’ll have super glue).  Place a couple leaves of rosemary on each fig while the balsamic cools.  Drizzle just before serving with a spoon. I saved my leftover balsamic reduction in a mason jar for later use.

We loved our engagement party and hope the rest of the wedding planning goes just as smoothly! Thanks to everyone who came and helped out.

Here is my favorite photo of the evening:

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Why I now hate the word Paleo

Paleo. What’s Paleo? Is that Paleo? Aren’t you Paleo? That’s not Paleo.

Sometimes I cringe at hashtagging the word on my instagram.  I almost only use it to get my name out there.  If anything, I strive to eat Primal which is based on Mark Sisson’s book, The Primal Blueprint. His approach to the lifestyle is the most acceptable and accessible and DOABLE out of anyone’s I’ve seen.

Back to Paleo. Let me list off why I think the word is becoming annoying.

1.  The “Paleo Police” I see it happen all the time when other bloggers or foodies post online.  “cashews aren’t paleo.” “you’re eating cheese? that’s not paleo.” STFU. When you start going out and hunting your own meat and eating only the plants you’ve foraged, then you can judge.  Good luck in the winter, dude.

2. Things like almonds were domesticated.  Wild almonds are poisonous.  Therefore, not something that would be easily consumed by our pre-agricultural ancestors.

3.  Nor would they be eating large amounts of premade coconut oil.  Or have meat three square meals a day.

4.  Your high heels and makeup aren’t paleo. (I could gear this towards a certain person who is VERY large in the paleo community and very annoying and bitchy. A total PP (paleo police).

5. If I want to eat some pizza every once in a while and feel like crap after, I will.  I know the outcome.  I don’t have some severe form of IBS or feel like dying after one bite of gluten. So I’ll have some effing pizza every once in a while if I feel like it.

What this boils down to is your diet shouldn’t be a RELIGION.  You should eat what makes YOU feel good. Although eating mainly a diet of fresh vegetables, wild or pastured animal meats, seafood, fruits and nuts, and plenty of healthy fats is what undoubtedly the best thing we can do, enjoy life.

Have a f*&$ing  cupcake every once in a while if that’s what you want.

What I’ve Been Waiting For

Two things: COMPUTER INTERNET ACCESS!!!!! Matt went out and bought a net book to use for his future business so while I’m waiting to get my computer, I’m stealing his.  This mean I can finally update here easily so you all will seeing a lot more from me.  Don’t pretend you’re not excited.

Secondly, I got my results from the genetic test back=POSITIVE for the gene mutation that causes Lynch Syndrome.  It was not what I wanted to hear although I had a feeling it was coming.  At least I know. At least I can move on. I already have a number of doctor visits set up to go ahead with the testing needed to check out my insides in multiple locations.  A mammogram today, a uterine ultrasound next week, a GI doctor visit next month.  I feel better and less stressed now that I know.  The wait is definitely the worst part.  Now it’s waiting for the test results to come back.  It now is really time to get on my game and keep myself healthy.  My number one concern is colon cancer so eating a diet full of plant material and making sure my meat is high quality is super important.  Moving on to meat…

We picked up our half of a hog from Whitefeather Meats in Creston, OH.  The pig was raised at Green Vista Farm in Wooster.  Now, I never thought I’d be so excited for box fulls of meat, but when I opened the box full of packages of nitrate-free bacon and sausage among many other cuts and extras (leaf fat and neck bones) I couldn’t help feeling like a little kid on Christmas.   I also have about 35 lbs of grassfed meat hanging out in my freezer with the heart thawing in my fridge.  The day I decide to experiment with that I will probably use the phrase “eat your heart out” about a million times.  (kinda like I kept telling Matt I’d shank him the day I made lamb shanks.)

Onto some recipes.  I have quite a few saved up from the time I wasn’t posting so I chose a few for today.  First, a watermelon gazpacho that is great for a hot summer day and to use up leftover watermelon and vegetables laying around.  Next, a really quick and easy meal I threw together the other night with our first package of pork from our pig and some Hungarian peppers from the garden.  And finally, an easy chocolate coconut macaroon Evan and I made for dessert one night.

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Watermelon Mint Gazpacho

4 cups of watermelon, 3 cups set aside and 1 cup finely chopped

1/2 of a large cucumber

1/2 of a red pepper

1/2 of a yellow or orange pepper

1/4 of a red onion

2 stalks of celery, leaves saved for garnish

6 (or around that) fresh mint leaves

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

juice from a lime

salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients except 1 cup of chopped watermelon into a food processor or high speed blender (I LOVE my Blendtec I decided to splurge on. SO worth it). Pulse until ingredients are all finely chopped (just don’t overdo it, you don’t want a complete puree). Add the rest of the watermelon and garnish with celery fronds and a couple mint leaves.

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Inside-Out Stuffed Hungarian Peppers

3-4 Hungarian peppers

1 lb ground sausage

1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 cloves chopped garlic

1 can organic fire roasted crushed tomatoes

In sauté pan, cook sausage with chopped Hungarians, onions, and garlic.  When browned, add the spices and tomatoes.  Cook on low for ten minutes. Easy enough?

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Triple Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

2.5 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (available in the bulk section of health food stores)

1/4 cup honey

2 egg whites

2 Tbl cacao nibs

2 Tbl cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1/4 cup chopped Macadamia nuts

Dark chocolate to drizzle

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a bowl combine all ingredients except dark chocolate.  Roll into tablespoon size balls and press down onto parchment paper, making the bottom a little flat.  Bake for15 minutes or just until the edges start to brown.  After cooled, melt some dark chocolate (we like 80 %) and drizzle with a spoon over macaroons. The little hands couldn’t even wait until I was done with the photo before grabbing!