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!

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!

Aside

Well, after a year of waiting to take the test, and 6 and a half weeks of waiting on my results, I finally find out tomorrow if I have Lynch Syndrome.  For those of you who haven’t heard me explain it a million times, it’s the genetic mutation that caused my mother’s multiple bouts of cancer and also my brother’s recent cancer. We found out last year a hereditary gene mutation was passed down to my brother and possibly to me, a 50% chance.  I have been anxiously waiting the results and panicking every time an unknown number calls my phone and tomorrow FINALLY is the day.  The stress of waiting has resulted in many almost-nervous breakdowns, tears, and chocolate in all forms consumed in a somewhat large amount.  

       Tomorrow is a turning point. Either way the test comes back, it marks an end to the waiting and stressing. If I end up with the mutation, I will be able to move forward and get the tests and check-ups necessary (and I’ll probably get a little joy out of being able to call myself a mutant. There has to be at least ONE positive thing I can think of!) I will be mentally prepared to take care of myself better, eat only (mostly I should say) foods that nourish my body instead of harm it, and soak up all the GOOD and BEAUTIFUL things life has to offer while I can.  If the results are negative I will first throw a party, then continue learning and teaching, moving on from all of it and starting a new lease on a healthier, less stressed, and more productive lifestyle. So everyone please keep your fingers crossed for me and pray and wish upon stars and moons that it comes back negative. And if it doesn’t, I’ll be ok. 

Biscuits and Crackers, Grain-Free Style.

Sunshine, 36 degrees, crocuses popping up. Spring is just around the corner for us Ohians and I couldn’t be more excited for this dragging winter to be over.  I try to enjoy all the seasons but no matter how hard I try, winter is just not my thing.  Especially the last part of February when spring is so close you can feel it, but snow still covers our cars every morning.  Now it’s March and sun rays were coming through my kitchen window this morning.  I decided I wanted biscuits and so did Evan.  I had tried one other recipe for Paleo biscuits and gravy that tasted more like concrete so this morning I did some research and played around.  I think I found the best base recipe for biscuits, muffins, breads, etc.  I posted this photo on Instagram and had several requests for the recipe so here goes:

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In a large bowl combine:

1/4 cup coconut flour

3/4 cup almond flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 TBL softened coconut oil

1 tsp honey or maple syrup

Whisk 3 eggs in a separate bowl and stir into dry ingredients

Drop into 6 biscuits on greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 or 12-15 minutes.  You could also make these into muffins.  Add dried fruit or nuts or make a savory scone using herbs such as rosemary.  These are delicious served warm with some grass-fed butter and a little drizzle of honey.

 

Another thing I made the other day which was considerably awesome for a paleo remake were these crackers. Evan and I had a picnic on the living room floor.  We used the crackers to go with some local goat cheddar.  Image

2 cups almond meal

1 tsp salt

1.5 tsp herbs such as rosemary and basil

2 Tbl olive oil

2 Tbl water

1 egg white

Combine ingredients and line a cookie sheet with baking paper.  Roll the dough out using another sheet of baking paper on top and a rolling pin until about 1/8 inch thick. Take off the top piece of paper and use a knife or pizza cutter to cut into squares.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown!

Okay so we all love our paleo baked goods.  We all need to remember however that the bulk of our meals should consist of quality proteins and vegetables. I am guilty of letting a loaf of almond bread become my 2 outta 3 meals. So enjoy these recipes…in moderation!

 

Paleo AND organic for $1.75 a meal??

You guys are lucky that I just lost my ENTIRE entry as I was typing it. It was full of me going on about the importance of quality meat.  I’ll just give you a quick summary. Support animals’ health, support local farms, and support YOUR health.  Healthier animals mean a healthier protein for us.

Here is a quick breakdown of what I just spent on 6 meals. (for those of you that think eating healthy is expensive)

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Organic chicken drumsticks, 5 large for $4.52 at Trader Joe’s

1 15 oz can of organic tomatoes for $2.50

1/8 of an onion, roughly $.10

spices and herbs (cumin, chipotle powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cilantro) maybe $.20 if that.

1 cup of a bone broth I had made from marrow bones $1.30

2 sides of greens or veggies approx $2.00

First 2 meals are from the chili I made after cooking off 3 of the drumsticks in the oven this morning, taking the meat off and saving the bones for future stock (about 2 cups which alone makes great light meals or snacks). I had two drums leftover, large enough to each be one meal with a side of vegetables.  2 big bowls of chili, 2 cups of stock, and 2 meals containing protein and vegetables. There you have it, 6 meals or snacks all for around $1.75 each.

Holy crap, it’s been a while.

Hey guys, sorry it’s taken me FOREVER to update! Lots of things going on…new job, art show, and half broken laptop (thankfully Matt’s dad gave us a new one!) I decided to take a job offer at a restaurant (a little more upscale than the previous) downtown as a line cook with a friend who is one of the chefs.  So far it’s hard to get used to being in a new place after 8 years and starting over again as just an employee rather than a manager who was held in high regards at the old place.  I feel disposable now, but I suppose everyone has to start from the bottom and work their way up.  Other than that, it’s exciting to be learning new things and working with foods I never would have before.  It’s a bit stressful, especially  it being the holidays and SUPER busy and working 42-46 hours a week, but eventually I think what will make me happy is working less, spending more time with Evan, and working on something more productive towards my own happiness.  This past year has really given me a different outlook on life and that I need to find what makes me happy rather than wasting half my life away doing things that put me in a bad mood and stress me out.  I’ve been trying my hand at some yoga and some other meditation techniques because I find myself super stressed even at home (and it may or may not have resulted in my falling straight on my face trying to do crow pose…I’m new, leave me alone).

Enough about all that, I guess I should be talking about how our diet is going.  Not diet in the “I’m going on a diet” sense, but our “way of eating”.  I have to admit we failed at the Whole30 after about 12 days.  I forget why…we just did. Then there was Thanksgiving.  I feel like for a minute we went the total opposite direction, but now getting back on track.  I do have to say that while we were eating 100% clean paleo, it was the first time EVER that I did not have any pain or cramping while menstrating. I have never had extreme cramps and all that, but usually just a slight dull pain for the first couple days. I had nothing. Not even a sign that it was coming.  It was awesome.  I lost about 6 pounds in the 12 days.  I have gone back to eating about 80 percent primal and it has made me feel a million times better than on my little holiday binge. I have been doing a lot of reading mostly by Mark Sisson, the author of The Primal Blueprint.  The difference between Primal and Paleo is that most paleo eaters do not eat dairy whereas primal allows a small amount of dairy, preferably raw or fermented and products of grass-fed animals.  I have also throw in his primal workouts which consist of a small amount of body weight exercises and every once in a while sprinting like you’re hunting your prey. I am now 10 pounds heavier than I was earlier in the year but have increased the amount of pushups I can do times three. (10 to 30) I have also done some research on the carnivorous diet of one of the healthiest peoples in the world, the Inuits.  They live on a diet consisting of almost solely raw and boiled fish.  With this in mind, I’ve added more fish and some being raw to my diet. The key to eating RAW FISH is the type and how it is stored.  Sushi-grade fish is caught and held a certain way, and deep flash frozen to kill any parasites (the Inuits would put their fish outside in the ice for the same effect).  I have also found out that freezing un-sushi grade fish for longer periods of time in your home freezer works also, but may result in a less quality flesh.  The other day we went to Whole Foods and bought two whole bluefish, cleaned and degilled, to throw on the grill (and used the heads and bones for fish stock!) and I got a deal on two lovely frozen Ahi tuna steaks from Giant Eagle which I used in a recipe I’ll be sharing in a few.  It feels nice that my “cheat” snack was some organic corn tortillas that we got as a gift from Matt’s parents and some dark chocolate covered espresso beans and pralines.  Surprisingly enough, the morning after my “I just got home from work and I’m STARVING corn tortilla smashing” I’ve had a little digestive issues after eating solely primal for a week or two straight now.  So anyway, here’s the tuna recipe I just made and goddamn, it’s good.  Full of healthy FATS and delicious.

Tropical Ahi Tuna Salad

1 Ahi tuna steak, salt and peppered heavily on both sides

1 avocado

1/4 cup finely chopped mango

1 peeled and chopped kiwi

chopped onion, however much you like

cilantro

Homemade mayo: (this may take a minute but is way better for you than store-bought)

1 egg yolk

a splash of apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup olive oil and warmed up coconut oil (I used virgin which gave the salad a coconutty flavor which added to the “tropical” part)

Beat an egg yolk with the vinegar. Add the oil very slowly and consistently while whisking constantly.  Voila, you have paleo mayo.

Sear the tuna on each side for 3 minutes (this will be med rare or so). Chop and stick in the fridge until cool.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  I added only a couple tablespoons of the mayo and saved the rest for later.

Ok guys, I’m signing off but I promise it won’t be nearly as long before my next post!