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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting ready for Christmas

The title is not a lie. I am getting ready for Christmas. I love Christmas and Thanksgiving, the latter being my favorite, but I love the traditions of Christmas. One of which is baking ridiculous amounts of cookies to give to friends.

Just a small alert: Christmas is 57 days, 10 hours and 38 minutes from right now!!

So, I've started making my Christmas cookie list to make. This year holds a special distinction for me.. paleo vs. non-paleo. Last year I did not make such a distinction, I just made what I wanted (which was like 20 varieties of cookies!). But this year it doesn't look like I am going to do it that way! I have paleo peeps and non-paleo peeps and I want to give to paleo what is due to paleo .. ok bad reference, but you get my point! So I started making my list. Here's what I have so far. This list will most definitely be cut down between now and when the baking starts:

Christmas Cookie List:

Sugar cookies (JB)
Cake pops (Bakerella)
Chocolate chip
Homemade almond joy (JB)
Lauren’s Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies (JB)
Monster cookies (PW)
Oatmeal (me)
Cinnamon rolls (PW)


Chocolate chip cookies (EP)
Raspberry fig muffins (EP)
Pumpkin bars (Me)
Lemon blueberry custard tarts (CPG)
Almond joy chocolate bark (EP)
Peppermint patties (EP)
Mounds candy bars (EP)
Chocolate raspberry bonbons (EP)
Nut butter cups (EP)
Dina’s delightful cookies (EP)
Orange cake (EP)
Gluten free Twinkies (EP)
Hamanataschen (EP)
Chocolate covered cherries (EP)
Orange chocolate coconut clusters (EP)
Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies (RM)
Coconut Macaroons (EP)
Raw energy bars (RM)

A little legend for reference: EP=Elana's Pantry, RM=Rawmazing, PW=The Pioneer Woman, CPG=Cosmopolitan Primal Girl, JB=Joy the Baker, Me = ME :)!

I thought this list was really interesting because I think it shows a shift in the way I eat. A dramatic shift from last year. Given that the paleo (well, as paleo as a baked good can get) list is twice as long as the "normal" list.

If you have an idea or preference or something you definitely want to see in a cookie basket, comment!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Bars

I really wanted to try Elana’s Pantry Pumpkin Bar recipe. So, I decided to make a batch last night. They are super, super easy to make. All I used was my food processor which limited the dirty dish factor and made me happy!

The original recipe called for ½ c agave nectar but I often find that much agave makes things much sweeter than I want. I really like the taste of food and don’t want it to be overly sweet. So instead I substituted with a little less than 1/4c pure organic maple syrup. I also substituted 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice for the spices. I loved it! They weren’t too sweet and were perfect for a rainy fall evening.

Pumpkin Bar

Pumpkin Bars
½ cup pumpkin pure
¼ cup pure maple syrup (I actually used a little less than a ¼ c)
2 eggs
1 cup blanched almond flour
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

In a food processor , combine pumpkin, maple syrup and eggs and pulse for 2 minutes
Pulse dry ingredients into wet for a full minute, until well combined
Pour batter into a greased 8x8 baking dish
Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes

The great agave debate ..

So I was wondering, which is better? Agave or pure maple syrup (make sure you check the label on the maple syrup! Otherwise there might be some surprise ingredients!)? At the end of the day it might not matter a whole lot. After all, sugar is sugar no matter what it looks like! I decided a little research was in order. But don’t get me wrong! I’m not an agave or syrup hater! I use both because I love to bake and love baked goods. I try to stay as primal/paleo as possible, but cakes, cookies, and other baked creations are just not something I can get away from. But, obviously, I don’t eat that kind of food everyday, just on occasion as a treat! The three sugars I use are raw honey, raw agave nectar and pure maple syrup.

I found an article in Organic Lifestyle Magazine that had a breakdown of “healthy” sugars. I’ve never used stevia but have had natural gum with xylitol in it and it wasn’t bad.

Stevia – GI: 0 - Best Healthy Sugar Alternative
Though it is 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar, stevia is not a sugar. Unlike other popular sweeteners, it has a glycemic index rating of less than 1 and therefore does not feed candida (yeast) or cause any of the numerous other problems associated with sugar consumption. Read more about stevia at Organic Lifestyle Magazine (OLM). Please note that Stevia and Truvia are not the same thing.

Xylitol – GI: 7 - Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol sweetener found in the fibers of fruits and vegetables which can cause bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence with initial consumption. It's said to be safe for pregnant women, and is said to possibly treat ear infections, osteoposis, respiratory infections, candida, and is it even helps fight cavities. In fact, in Finland, virtually all chewing gum is sweetened with xylitol.

Agave – GI: 15-30 - A sweet syrup made from the Blue Agave plant, Agave Nectar is obtained by the extraction and purification of "sap" from the agave plant, which is broken down by natural enzymes into the monosaccharides (simple sugars): mainly fructose (70-75%) and dextrose (20-26%). Read more about agave nectar at OLM.

Raw Honey – GI: 30 - A Healthy Sugar Alternative in moderation
With antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, carbohydrates, and phytonutrients, raw, unprocessed honey is considered a superfood by many alternative health care practitioners and a remedy for many health ailments. Choose your honey wisely. There is nothing beneficial about processed honey. Read more about honey at OLM.

Maple Syrup – GI: 54 - Maple syrup is made by boiling sap collected from natural growth maple trees during March & April. It is refined sap and is therefore processed. It has a high glycemic index, and though it is much more nutritious then refined table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, there are better choices.

But it seems the reason Agave is so low on the glycemic index is because the index tests the glucose in food. Agave only has about 10% glucose which means the rest of it is made up from fructose, which is not good. A great article entitled “Agave Nectar Worse Than We Thought” has a lot of information on the agave debate and says:

“In spite of manufacturers’ claims, agave “nectar” is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from the starch of the giant pineapple-like, root bulb. The principal constituent of the agave root is starch, similar to the starch in corn or rice, and a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of chains of fructose molecules. Technically a highly indigestible fiber, inulin, which does not taste sweet, comprises about half of the carbohydrate content of agave.

The process by which agave glucose and inulin are converted into “nectar” is similar to the process by which corn starch is converted into HFCS. The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup—anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites. (One agave manufacturer claims that his product is made with “natural” enzymes.) That’s right, the refined fructose in agave nectar is much more concentrated than the fructose in HFCS. For comparison, the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas is 55 percent refined fructose. (A natural agave product does exist in Mexico, a molasses type of syrup from concentrated plant nectar, but availability is limited and it is expensive to produce.)”

In essence, the hubs was right (there, I said it) all along about Agave, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be and I’m sad about it. I don’t think I’ll be buying any more agave and will use what I have in extreme moderation (it was expensive! I don’t want to just throw it away). I’m still not an agave hater, just an agave skeptic and I’m going to try to limit my intake of it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paleo Latkes

These are a fall staple for breakfast in our house. We love squash and it's not only comforting but also super easy to whip up a batch in the morning or evening. You can make them sweet or savory and they store well in the fridge. I usually make a big batch and cook them up on my griddle and store them layered with parchment paper between layers in the fridge for a few days (as if they last that long).


4c butternut squash, shredded (food processor or shredder)
3 eggs, whisked
1 small onion (optional - I add for a more savory approach)

Optional Toppings:
blackberry preserves
unsweetened applesauce
greek yogurt

In a large bowl make batter by mixing together squash, eggs (and onion if using)
Use your hands to form batter into 3 inch patties
In a large skillet, heat oil (I typically use EVOO but have used Grapeseed in the past with success)
Fry patties on each side over medium heat until golden brown and crispy

Top with your favorite topping or enjoy plain.

Thanks Hubs

Gotta give some props to the hubs for the blogs' face-lift. He thought it was a little ho-hum and took some time to update it for me! He even added a search bar feature! It's so exciting! He's back from visiting the grandparents in Arizona and feeling better and I'm still feeling under the weather (boo!). But, to thank him for updating the blog, I think I'll make some of Elana's Pantry Pumpkin Bars for dessert tonight. Yum, Yum! I'll let you know how they are !!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Paleo Pizza

I've tried a couple versions of paleo pizza. I wasn't impressed. One recipe used almond flour but the crust was too soggy and you couldn't hold it in your hand. I tried to save some leftovers but that was a disaster! There is another "primal/paleo" pizza recipe for a cauliflower crust but it uses a ton of cheese just for the crust alone.

Then along came this recipe. It's awesome. It might be a weekly event in the Trzop-Vos, Vos household as the hubs says. It is easy to make and versitile. I think you could even freeze the crust for future use but haven't tried this yet. You can hold the pizza slice in your hand like "normal" pizza or use a knife and fork. The crust was really tasty too! I call this my almost paleo pizza because I did use some raw milk mozzarella cheese, but you can omit if you are trying to avoid dairy.

Another Mark's Daily Apple Hit - Perfect Primal Pizza The link is actually a video, so below is the transcribed version of the video with some added commentary from me!

Seriously, enjoy!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4 eggs
1/3c coconut flour **make sure you sift to avoid lumps
1/3c flax meal
1/2c coconut milk
spice (optional: I used parsley,basil and garlic powder and highly recommend it!)


Mix eggs, flour, meal and milk in a bowl until it looks like pancake batter consistency. Don't worry it won't be too thin! Add spices if using.

Place parchment on a cookie sheet. **This is a key step! At the 10-minute mark you will need to flip the crust over and parchment paper makes this sooo much easier! I ran out and only had aluminum foil which did not work very well!

Pour batter onto cookie sheet and form into the shape you desire. Any shape will do. I did a rectangle because it was really easy but a circle or square or triangle will work too!

Put crust in the oven for 10 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, remove crust from oven and flip over. Place crust back in oven for 10 more minutes.

While the crust is cooking, prepare your toppings. I used sausage, ham, pepperoni (nitrate/nitrite etc free), onions and mushrooms. I cooked the meats in a skillet and threw in the veggies toward the end just to let them soften a little while my crust was cooking.

At 20 minutes remove the crust from the oven. Top with your favorite sauce (or make your own!), toppings (meats/veggies) and cheese if using.

Put the oven on broil and put the pizza back in the oven for 60 seconds or until the cheese it melted.

Remove from oven, slice, serve and devour!!

** Update! 10/26/2010 - The hubs and I had this for dinner last night. It truly is a great recipe. It's so easy and quick and oh so delicious. I got some more parchment paper and it really made all the difference. It was so much easier to flip. A couple of things I noticed: make sure you don't leave the dough/batter to thick on the cookie sheet otherwise it won't be as crispy as you may like it. Also, don't be afraid to spread the batter a little thinner and cover more area on your cookie sheet. Still a delish recipe and I highly recommend it!! **

Strawberry Ice Cream

Have I mentioned how much I love Elana's Pantry? Back in the summer I really wanted an ice cream maker but was deterred by the hubs. Recently I was out yard saling and found a Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream maker for $8! Score!! So, I decided to give Elana's Homemade Strawberry and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream a try! Mine did not look like the version in her picture. Perhaps it's because I omitted the agave. It was still good but more like Italian Ice. It was my first try at ice cream so I'll give it another try!

Strawberry Ice Cream
(1) 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
(1) 10 ounce package frozen strawberries
¼ cup agave nectar **I omitted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla beans (optional) ** I added

Blend all ingredients in a blender
Pour into ice cream maker and process according to instructions


It's chili time again. I love chili in the fall! This is my sister's recipe and it's so delish, it's my favorite chili recipe! The crock pot makes it a super fast and easy dinner. You can add beans about a half-and-hour before you serve, but since I don't eat beans these days, I omit. Serve with some delicious raw cheddar cheese (just a bit!) on top!

1 lb ground beef
1 lb mild or hot (depending on preference) sausage
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained (usually, I get the chili kind or the onion/garlic kind)
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce (unsalted is always a good choice)
2 T chili powder
1 & 1/2 t ground cumin (this is the secret to this recipe!)
salt and pepper to taste
1 or 2 cans light or dark kidney beans (depending on how much you want) rinsed & drained

1. Brown beef and sausage in skillet until cooked

2. Mix beef and remaining ingredients, except beans in a slow cooker (or pot, if using the stove, add the beans)

3. Cover and cook on low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. The longer it cooks and simmers the better is tastes or until onion is tender -- you can't cook it too long!

**If you don't use a crock pot, add all ingredients and cook until heated through. Cook for at least an hour and a half until it reaches desiered consistency. Boil at first then simmer the remaining time**

4. Stir in beans then cover and cook on high for 15-20 minutes.


It's getting cold outside and there is nothing better than a warm, soupy comforting dish on a chilly fall night. I was worried that the cauliflower in the dish would be overwhelming, but I was happily wrong. It really helps add the rice texture of the traditional Jambalaya dish. This is super easy to make and so delish! The hubs and I even argued over who would get the leftovers.

This is another Mark's Daily Apple hit!!

2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb andouille sausage, cut into ¼ inch thick slices (I use Aidells found @ Kroger)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced crushed
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1.5 cups chicken stock (I used Pacific something organic free range reduced sodium broth)
1/2 tsp dried leaf thyme (I omit because I hate dried thyme)
1 tbsp parsley (fresh is preferable, but dried will do in a pinch!)
1 tsp chili powder
1 large head of cauliflower
2 cups shelled, deveined and cleaned shrimp
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and lightly cook the sausage and chicken over medium heat.

Once golden, add onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until onion becomes translucent.

Transfer items from the frying pan into a large pot. Add diced tomatoes, chicken broth, thyme, parsley and chili powder and bring to a simmer.

While the mixture is simmering (you’ll want to let it go for about 20 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally), place the cauliflower in a food processor and shred until it becomes the consistency of rice. Add the cauliflower “rice” to the mixture and simmer for another 15 minutes until tender.

Add shrimp and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust other spices as needed.

Serve piping hot. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall Dinner

Tonight's dinner was delicious! It was a little time consuming to make the sweet potato chips, but well worth the effort. They are delicious!

Apple-Stuffed Roasted Chicken
Sweet Potato Chips
Sauteed Beet Greens

Beet Greens:
1 bunch beet greens
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and pat dry the beet greens. Chop into manageable chunks. Heat oil in a skillet. Add beet greens and saute until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

Apple-Stuffed Roasted Chicken from Mark's Daily Apple

Click on the link for the recipe, it's not in typical recipe format so make sure you read through the whole recipe. Just a couple of notes. I didn't have duck fat, tallow or anything else animal fat wise to make the recipe. I fried the sweet potato chips in bacon grease then drained them on paper towels.

Official taste-tester says: One of the best combos. The chips are amazing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Paleo Waffles? It's possible!!!

I found this recipe on the blog Jen's Gone Paleo . I wanted something yummy for a special brunch .. they were fantastic!! The original recipe came from the gluten free almond flour cookbook and called for 1/4 cup agave. I don't think they'd be edible if it had more sugar!!! But check out Jen's blog because she gives a lot of substitutions.

2 Large Eggs
1T raw honey
1 T. Vanilla Extract
1/4 C. Water
1.5 C. Blanched Almond Flour
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 T. Arrowroot Powder
1/2 Apple (I used Gala), grated
1/4 C. Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
Grapeseed oil, for greasing

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, vanilla, and water, until smooth.
Add the almond flour, salt, baking soda, arrowroot powder, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly,
Add apple and coconut. Mix to combine.
Scoop or ladle (approximately 1/4 C.) into heated (and greased, if needed) waffle iron.
Serve with 1 T. warm maple syrup (use the real stuff). ** I thought they were so good, they didn't syrup, but what's a waffle without syrup.

The waffles cook super quick, so keep an eye on them. They'd also make good pancakes.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Baked Fish with Mushroom Sauce

This is my attempt at making a dish my Mom used to make paleo. It turned out really tasty though it reconfirmed my dislike of thyme!! Husband gave it good ratings and it will be on the menu again!!


2 tablespoons EVOO
1-1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 pound fish fillets


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 quart glass baking dish and set aside.
Melt EVOO in medium saucepan; add mushrooms, onion, and garlic and cook until liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Add arrowroot, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add coconut milk; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and peel.

Place fillets in prepared baking dish and cover with sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until fish is cooked and flakes when tested with fork.

It only took 15 minutes for it to bake in my oven.